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Forget Me Not



Produced By: http://storymaster.the-code-monkey.com On: 10/2/2011 Retrieved For: sydneyalice5@gmail.com Story URL: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7139708/

Table of Contents
1. Blank Page 2. Tangerine Dream 3. Friendship 4. Helping Hand 5. Home 6. Family Dinner 7. Puzzle Pieces 8. New Friends 9. Sunshine 10. My Heart 11. Confession 12. Breakthrough 13. Wants 14. Small Steps 15. Connections 16. Stranger 17. Family 18. Alice 19. Shattered 20. Morning 21. Ray of Hope 22. Wishes and Dreams 23. Promises 24. Jasper 25. Blackmail 26. Infatuation 27. The River 28. Crash 29. Jane 30. My World 31. Make It Happen 32. Celebration 33. Say You Will 34. Spoiled 35. Worth the Wait 36. Dancing in the Rain 37. I Now Pronounce You 38. Futuretake: Up in the Air 39. Futuretake: Mahina meli 40. Futuretake: Happier

41. Futuretake: Home Sweet Home 42. Futuretake: The Goody Drawer 43. Futuretake: Little Man 44. Futuretake: Sweet Sixteen 45. Futuretake: Someday My Prince Will Come 46. Futuretake: Happy Ever After

1. Blank Page
AN: A plot bunny gone awry. You know how that is, right? Special thanks to Shaina who took time out of her new mommy schedule to beta this. She wouldn't let me post a new story without her. I love you! Stephenie Meyer owns it all.

Chapter 1 Blank Page

Blinding white light. It was too damn bright, and I immediately closed my eyes against the glare. I reached for something anything to cover my eyes from the sunlight. My hand trailed along the bed in a desperate search until it finally fell off the mattress.

This is not my bed.

My bed was much larger and always had more pillows than it needed.

Where am I?
My head throbbed but I struggled to open one eye and lift myself off the pillow. I was successful until I felt my stomach rebel against the movement, and I collapsed against the bed with a frustrated groan. "You're awake," a sweet female voice echoed in my ears. It was an unfamiliar voice but oddly comforting, and I turned my head toward the sound. "I hope you aren't hungry because today is Thursday."

Today is Thursday.
"Thursday is the absolute worst day to wake up in the hospital because there's oatmeal for breakfast," she continued. "We're pretty sure that Old Lady Cope brought the recipe over with her on the Mayflower. It's fairly disgusting and not at all appetizing."

"I'm in theOld Ladywho?" My head was so foggy. "Cope," the woman repeated. "She's the dietician down in the cafeteria. You might think it would be really hard to screw up oatmeal, but somehow, she manages to do it every single Thursday."

"Thursday" I mumbled as I squeezed my eyes tighter and tried to rememberanything. "Why am I in the hospital?" I felt the voice's body move closer to me and adjust my blanket. She leaned over the bed, and the aroma of tangerines and cream flooded my senses. It was overwhelming and delicious, and a horrific thought suddenly entered my mind. Don't they say that your sense of smell is heightened whenever "Am I blind?" I shouted frantically. "Well, I'm afraid I can't answer that," she said as she giggled softly. "Why don't you open your eyes and find out?"

Oh yeah.
"Because it hurts to open my eyes," I grumbled. "I'm not surprised. Whoever beat you up really did a number on you. They also took your wallet, so we haven't been able to notify your family. I'll just notify your doctor that you're awake and then we'll see about getting you something decent to eat." Someone beat me up? My head throbbed worse as I tried to remember that. Why couldn't I remember? It was a struggle, but I managed to open my eyes. Relieved that I wasn't blind after all, I squinted my eyes against the sunlight streaming through the blinds as I surveyed the room. There was a television on the wall and pitcher of water at my bedside. There were a pair of shoes in the chair, and I wondered if they were mine. I tried not to panic when I realized I couldn't be sure. My inventory was suddenly interrupted by a voice one not nearly as feminine and sweet as the one before. "Good morning," the man smiled as he made his way toward the bed. "I'm Dr. Cheney. It's good to see you awake." "Thanks, I think," I muttered as I leaned back against the pillow and closed my eyes once again. "I feel like I've been hit by a train." "Not quite a train, but yes, you took quite a beating," Dr. Cheney replied as he examined the various cuts and bruises on my body. I hadn't really taken a good look at myself, but my arm was covered in bruises and my hand was wrapped in a bandage. "It actually looks worse than it is," Dr. Cheney assured me. "You had some minor abrasions on your hands and legs and there's a pretty big stitch along your forehead." I lifted my hand and winced as my fingers brushed across the wound just above my eyebrow. "Your injuries were minor, which is a miracle considering Charlie found you muddy and bleeding down by the river." "Charlie?"

"He's the sheriff," Dr. Cheney explained. "He and his deputies found you lying unconscious near Sol Duc Falls."

Sol Duc Falls? Is that an actual waterfall? Why was I there?

"Where the hell am I?" "You're in Forks." "Forks" The name was unfamiliar. "Forks, Washington," the doctor clarified. "Where are you from?" What was I doing in Forks, Washington? "I'm from" I closed my eyes as my mind tried to conjure the word and send it to my mouth. "I'm from" I had no idea, and the doctor realized it the same time I did. He shined a light in my eye and asked me to follow his finger as it darted from side to side. I had no idea if I was successful. My head felt like a jackhammer was pulsating inside of it, and his damn miniature flashlight wasn't helping. He slipped it back into his pocket and wrote something on the chart in his hand. "Do you know your name?" "Edward," I replied without hesitation, and I sighed with relief at actually knowing the answer. "I'm Edward." "That's great," Dr. Cheney smiled and wrote something else down on his chart. "And your last name?" I frowned. I had absolutely no idea. "Don't panic. Now that you're awake we can run some tests," Dr. Cheney explained. "Are you feeling dizzy at all?" "Some, especially when you flash that light in my face." "Sorry," he chuckled lightly. "Do you remember anything about the river or how you got there?" I shook my head no and immediately regretted it. Groaning, I closed my eyes and begged the room to stop spinning. "You've obviously been through a traumatic experience," he said as he clicked his pen and stuffed it into his pocket. "Try to get some rest. Are you in any other pain besides your headache?"

Honestly, I ached all over, but the headache was definitely the worst of it. "Not really," I mumbled. "How long have I been here?" "You've been in the hospital for three days," the doctor explained patiently. "Try not to worry. I'm going to order some tests and I'll prescribe something for your headache. Your nurse will be back shortly." My spirits immediately lifted at the mention of my nurse. "The nurse that smells like tangerines and cream?" I murmured tiredly, and the doctor laughed. I couldn't help but smile as I leaned back against my pillows and closed my eyes. "That's the one. She's a favorite around here." I had no doubt. OOO A short intro to test the waters. What do you think? I'm reading "Offside" by Savage7289 and it completely owns me. Not only is it incredible, but she updates everyday! That concept fascinates me, and with my beta's blessing, we're going to try it! Something fun and something different, I hope. We'll see how it goes! I'll need feedback, so let me know how you feel about it. Leave me a review here or let me know on Twitter. I'm Sydney_Alice over there. :)

2. Tangerine Dream
AN: What a response to the first chapter. Thank you! OOO Chapter 2 Tangerine Dream EPOV I had no idea how long I slept, but when I awoke again, the sun was unbelievably brighter and I begged for someone to close the blinds. I sighed with relief as the room grew darker, and I was suddenly assaulted with the same mouth-watering fragrance from earlier. Was that today? Yesterday? I had no idea. I opened my eyes, desperate to find the source of the scent, and my eyes focused on the nurse at my bedside. She was completely absorbed in whatever she was reading on her clipboard, giving me my first real opportunity to look at her. Her brown hair was in a ponytail and she looked as if she needed a good night's sleep. "You're pretty." Deep brown eyes darted up from the clipboard, and she smiled. I hadn't meant to say that aloud, but after seeing her smile, I was really glad that I did. "So you aren't blind after all," she said as she laid the chart down on the bedside table. She reached for the pitcher and began to pour a glass of water. "Although I think you definitely need to have your eyes examined. I'll alert the doctor." "Pretty and humble." I raised myself up against the pillow as she lifted the cup to my lips. The water soothed my dry throat, and I thanked her as she poured me another glass and offered me a large white pill. "For your headache," she said. I swallowed it gratefully. "So your name is Edward," she said as she gazed at my chart. "Yes," I replied.

"I'm Bella." "Of course you are," I chuckled. "What's that supposed to mean?" She asked as she checked my pulse. I felt a tingle on my skin where her fingers touched the inside of my wrist. "Well, Bella means beautiful , doesn't it?" She gazed at me quizzically before grinning. "You can't remember your last name but you can remember Italian?" "Yeah," I frowned as she pulled her hand away from my wrist. "That's not weird at all, is it?" Bella smiled sympathetically as she made a note on the chart before placing a stethoscope in her ears. "Hopefully it's just temporary," Bella said gently. "Be quiet and let me take your blood pressure." It was impossible to keep my eyes off her. Her face was so expressive when she worked. As she took my reading, a small crease formed between her eyebrows that slowly disappeared as the cuff relaxed around my arm. She smiled softly, and I knew instantly that my blood pressure was fine. "Very good," Bella nodded, and I tried to hide my smug smile at having read her so easily. She placed the stethoscope around her neck and removed the cuff. "I bet you're hungry." I was actually starving, and Bella grinned. Apparently, she could read me, too. "Something light for now," she said as she placed the tray over my table. "You haven't had solid food in at least three days. We aren't sure how long you were at the river, but Charlie doesn't think you were out there for more than a few hours." I stared at the jiggly stuff on my plate. "Is that Jell-O?" Why could I remember the craziest shit, but I couldn't remember my last name? "It's supposed to be." She sounded unsure as I poked at the red mass. "I brought you some chicken broth, too. I promise it's better than the oatmeal." I brought the spoon to my lips. It actually wasn't too bad. Maybe I was just starving. "Charlie's the sheriff?" I asked after I swallowed a few spoonfuls. "Yep."

"How does he know that I wasn't unconscious for more than three days?" "He doesn't," Bella admitted. "But we have a lot of wild animals, and since you still have all of your body parts, it's safe to assume you weren't out there long." Well, that was comforting. "You were really fortunate," Bella said gently as she adjusted my blanket. "They don't usually patrol out near the falls. It's a good thing that someone found you. And you have no broken bones and no internal bleeding. All in all, I'd say you're really lucky." I finished the rest of my broth before pushing away my tray. "I'm really lucky," I mumbled tiredly. "I don't know my last name, or where I'm from, or where I live, or what I do for a living" "Your memory loss could only be temporary," she reminded me softly as she took the tray and placed it on the bedside table. "What if it isn't?" She had no answer for that, and I appreciated the honesty in her silence. "I'm tired," I sighed. Bella nodded and adjusted my pillows as I laid back against them and closed my eyes. My headache had lessened to a dull pounding and the room wasn't spinning quite so much anymore. As I began to doze, I realized that I was probably going to survive. The question was did I really want to? I fell into a deep sleep, and my dreams were filled with visions of dark forests and the scent of tangerines. OOO Thank you for the kind words and encouragement!

3. Friendship
AN: I thought we should get to know Bella a little better. This chapter is her POV. Happy 4th of July to everyone who celebrates it! Thanks to Shaina for beta'ing and keeping me in line.

Chapter 3 Friendship BPOV Charlie was staring at me across the kitchen table, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. I'd made his favorite lasagna in hopes that he'd find it in his heart to be understanding. "Bella, you can't be serious." I was. I was completely serious. "You don't even know his name." "His name is Edward," I replied. "Edward what?" I sighed as I rose from the table and began to clear the dishes. "Dad, I'm not asking your permission. I'm merely informing you of my plans, and I hope that you'll be supportive. He's going to need a place to live, and he's going to need a friend." I put the leftovers in the fridge and started the dishwasher, ignoring the intensity of my father's stare. "When you were a child, you used to be a magnet for stray animals. Do you remember that? I couldn't let you walk to the end of the road and back without some flea-infested hound following you home." "And if I remember correctly, you fell in love with those flea-infested hounds even more than I did." Charlie sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Have you forgotten about Lily?"

"Of course not," I sighed, tossing the hand towel onto the counter. "Lily will be just fine with this."

I hope.
"Where will he sleep?" I rolled my eyes and wondered what kind of coronary he'd have if I said what I really wanted to say. I decided not to chance it. There were just some things a father didn't need to envision. "He will sleep in the room above the garage." "I don't like this, Bella." "I hear ya, Chief." Charlie exhaled a noisy sigh, and I knew from years of experience that this was his way of surrendering. "You're a very kind-hearted girl," Charlie said. "For a father, that's a blessing and a curse." I smiled and walked around the table, wrapping my arms around his neck. "I'm like my dad in that way. I see someone who needs help, and I help them in any way I can. It's not a bad thing at all." Charlie patted my arm. "I'm going to keep diggingsee what I can find out about this boy." "I want you to," I nodded. "Can you imagine what it's like to wake up in a strange town with absolutely no recollection of your life? How frightening would that be?" "It would be terrible," Charlie admitted with a sigh. "But we don't know who or what brought him here, Bella. Someone beat him up and left him for dead in the woods. You have to understand that this may be a situation in which you and Lily don't need to be involved." "I do understand that," I replied gently. "But I also can't ignore that, for now, this man needs our help." "Our help?" "Our help," I nodded firmly. "Fine," my father muttered gruffly, "but he's sleeping in the room above the garage." This was Charlie's way of pretending that he had some control over the situation, so I kissed his cheek and allowed him to have that moment. I spent my day off cleaning out the room above the garage. There was already a twin bed there, so I grabbed an extra blanket and pillow from the hallway closet. The room was just used as storage

anyway, so this gave me the perfect opportunity to get rid of some things that should have been trashed long ago. Once the room was tidy and clean, I took a moment to gaze at the plain blue blanket and fluffy pillows and wondered if I wasn't setting myself up for disappointment. Suppose he said no? He'd be discharged soon. Even though I'd had two days off, I'd still called everyday to see how he was doing. I didn't speak to him, of course. That would have raised too many questions, and the one thing we didn't need was more questions. He was having temper tantrums and refusing to eat, but otherwise, there was no real reason for him to stay in the hospital. Without insurance or a steady income, the doctor would be encouraged to discharge him as soon as possible. Edward was going to need a place to live while he tried to piece together the pieces of his life. I couldn't explain why I felt so compelled to help him. Maybe it was because, once upon a time, I'd felt alone in the world. There had been a time in my life when I could have used a friend. All I had was Lily, and while that wonderful, it was also overwhelming and terrifying. Edward had even less. All he had was his first name and a pair of shoes. He was undeniably cute, with his green eyes and chiseled jaw. He also had the longest eyelashes I'd ever seen on a man. But I was determined to keep this arrangement simple for the both of us. I would be Edward's friend. Friends were simple. Friends were safe. Right?

So, canon Bella's lack of self-preservation is alive and well here. Is she nuts? Your reviews make me smile. Thank you so much! I already have people begging me to confirm that we'll have HEA lol. Come say hi on Twitter. I'm Sydney_Alice over there. I also have a Facebook page. It's called SydneyAlice Fanfiction. Come find me! :)

4. Helping Hand
AN: Edward's in a bad mood in this chapter. Wouldn't you be? Thanks to my beta, Shaina, for loving this story as much as I do.

Chapter 4 Helping Hand EPOV The past two days had been absolute shit. How was it possible that I hurt even more today? Every single muscle in my body ached. It hurt to move. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to blink. It hurt to think. Thinking was the most frustrating of all because, not only did it hurt my head, it was completely pointless because I couldn't remember a damn thing. Hell, I couldn't even be certain that my name was Edward. I had no wallet. No money. No last name. Did I have a family? Were they looking for me? Did they care? I took my frustrations out on Dr. Cheney who just kept prescribing pain medication and told me to relax. I yelled at the deputy who came by to ask me stupid questions. I didn't even know my phone number. How the hell was I supposed to know why my body was dumped at the river? And I took my anger out on the nurse who didn't smell like tangerines at all. For the past two days, my nurse had been older and taller and smelled like hospital antiseptic. I hated her. And to show her how much I hated her and this hospital I threw each of my trays across the room. I took great pleasure in watching the nasty-ass Jell-O trickle down the ivory wall. I would take long naps after that. I suspected the bitch was replacing my pain pills with sedatives. I was bored out of my mind and frustrated beyond belief. There was absolutely nothing on television. I flipped through the channels, desperate for anything that might trigger a memory or catch my attention,

but the hospital's basic cable package was seriously lacking in decent programming. I did stop briefly on a PBS station that was interviewing some famous pianist, and my fingers trailed across my blanket as he played, mimicking his movements. Did I play piano? Maybe I was a musician. I had no idea. I angrily turned off the television just as Nurse Ratched reappeared with another tray and more pain meds. I took the pills and ignored the dinner. I didn't throw it this time, though, which was definite progress. I was playing nice because I wanted answers. "Where is Bella?" Nurse Ratched glared down at me as she checked the bandage on my arm. I noticed that, according to her name badge, her name was Irina. I liked Nurse Ratched better. It seemed to fit, although I had no idea why. "Bella will be back tomorrow," Nurse Ratched said. "Perhaps she needed a few days off after dealing with you." I narrowed my eyes. Was that even professional? "But she'll be back tomorrow, right?" Nurse Ratched sighed loudly and pointed toward the tray. "Perhaps you should concentrate on getting your strength back and less time worrying about Bella." "Perhaps you should kiss my " "Everything okay in here?" Bella's voice echoed from the doorway, and I smirked in the bitch's direction. Nurse Ratched rolled her eyes and took the tray away. "Good luck with that one," she muttered as Bella walked toward the empty chair at my side. She was holding a bag of take-out, and it smelled suspiciously like a big greasy cheeseburger. My stomach growled loudly as Bella took a look at my chart. I noticed that she wasn't wearing her scrubs, which reminded me "You aren't allowed anymore days off," I muttered. Bella laughed. "How are you feeling today?" I decided to be honest. "I hate this place, and I'm starving." "That's because you're throwing your trays across the room instead of eating what's on them," Bella grinned as she placed the bag under my nose. I took a deep breath, and my mouth began to salivate.

"Cheer up. I brought you a gift." "Is that a cheeseburger?" "Do you like cheeseburgers?" I didn't have a clue, but right now, I fucking loved cheeseburgers. She handed me the bag, and I ripped into it and stuffed a bite in my mouth before she could even pour me a glass of water. "Slow down," Bella grinned. "Seriously, you'll get sick if you don't." I concentrated on taking smaller bites, but it was the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted. I had no idea what was on it, but it didn't matter. It wasn't Jell-O and it wasn't chicken broth. "I hear you've been giving Irina a hard time," Bella said disapprovingly as she took the seat next to my bed. "She's a bitch," I muttered in between bites. "I'd be a bitch too if you were throwing my trays across the room." I sighed and took another bite. "You're different." "Why am I different?" Bella asked as she handed me a napkin and pointed toward my chin. "You smell better, for one," I replied before wiping my face. "And you're much, much prettier." "All important traits in a nurse," Bella muttered sarcastically, but when I looked up from my food, she was smiling. I smiled in return and devoured my delicious burger. "Feel better?" She asked when I tossed the empty bag into a nearby garbage can. "Much." "Good," Bella smiled and then face turned thoughtful. "Edward, I want you to know that my dad is doing everything he can for you. He's checking missing person's reports throughout the country in hopes that someone has reported you missing. He hasn't really found anything because we don't have a lot to go on, but he's still working on it." "Your dad?" "Charlie," Bella said. "The sheriff is your father?"

"Yes," Bella nodded. "Your vitals look good, and if you can keep that hamburger down, Dr. Cheney is probably going to release you tomorrow." "Thank God because I don't think I could stand another day in this place, especially if Nurse Ratched is on duty." "Nurse Ratched?" Bella laughed loudly. "From that Jack Nicholson movie?" I frowned. "Is that a movie?" Her brown eyes were dancing with wonder. "It's amazing the things that you can recall," Bella murmured. "It's even more amazing the things that I can't," I muttered tiredly. "So I'm getting out of here tomorrow" The enormity of that statement finally crashed down on me. This wasn't good news at all. Where the hell was I going to go? How was I supposed to pay the hospital bill? Bella inhaled and exhaled deeply. "Listen, I know that we don't know each other that well, but I have a room above my garage. It isn't very big but it's clean. You're going to need a place to stay, and I just can't let you live in the woods when I have a perfectly good room with a bed in it. If it makes you feel better, you can get a job and pay rent, although the room isn't really that big and probably isn't worth" She was so incredibly cute when she babbled nervously. She was also, quite possibly, the nicest person I'd ever met. I couldn't be sure, of course, but she was offering me a place to live. I could be a serial killer, and here she was, opening her home to me. "Bella, you don't even know me," I whispered sadly. "Trust me, I know this," Bella sighed. "My father has reminded me of that very fact for the past two days." Her father. The man who had a license to kill and therefore could shoot an amnesiac that might have a crush on his daughter. "Do you live with your father?" I asked nervously. "No," Bella laughed. "I haven't lived with my father since I was eighteen. He visits a lot, though." "How old are you?" "I'm twenty-six," she answered without hesitation. "How old are you?" I tried to force my mind to pick a number. Any number.

"I have no idea," I muttered. It was just another reason why I shouldn't accept her offer. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but surely she could see that this wasn't safe. "Bella, what if I'm not a good person?" I asked sincerely. "All you know about me is what's written on my chart. I could be an escaped convict or a drug dealer. What if I'm the bad guy?" "You're not," Bella whispered softly. She placed her hand on mine, and I sighed as the warmth of her touch flowed through me. "You need a friend. You're right. I don't know you, but you don't know you, either. Not yet anyway. And I want to help you, so just say thank you and stop arguing with me before I press the call button and bring Nurse Ratched back in here." I gently laced her fingers with mine and squeezed softly. Warm brown eyes found mine, and we smiled at one another. "You're sure about this?" I asked one last time. Nodding, she squeezed my hand. "Thank you, Bella," I murmured. OOO I didn't mean to imply that Bella lived with her dad. I guess I left that pretty vague in the last chapter. Hopefully this chapter cleared that up. In case you don't know, Nurse Ratched is from One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. I haven't seen the movie, but I did see the play and it upset me quite a bit! The response to this story has been so wonderful. Thank you!

5. Home
AN: Many of you have asked for longer chapters. As I told one of my readers, it would be hard to do longer chapters and daily updates. I'm good, but I'm not Wonder Woman. :) However, this one is a bit longer. Hope that makes you happy. :) A little progress for Edward in this chapter!

Chapter 5 Home EPOV "So this is it," Bella motioned toward the room. I ducked my head inside. She was right. There wasn't much to it. It contained a small bed and an old lamp on a nightstand. It did have a window though, and I found myself wondering if a small desk could fit there. For just a moment, an image of me sitting in front of a snowy window flashed through my mind, but it was gone just as quickly as it had appeared. Maybe I was a writer. "I know it's not much," Bella explained, misunderstanding my silence. I offered her a grateful smile. "It's perfect," I assured her. Her shoulders relaxed and she smiled. "I'll just let you get settled," Bella said, and then we both laughed. It wasn't as if I had anything to unpack. The only clothes I owned were the ones that the sheriff had provided and I was wearing them. My bloody and muddy jeans and t-shirt were now considered evidence, so the chief had felt compelled to offer me a fresh set of clothes. I wondered if he was a generous elected official or if he just really didn't like the idea of me being naked around his daughter. I was going to need more clothes, which meant I was going to have to find a job. "Dinner should be ready around six," Bella said softly. "I hope you like chicken." "Bella, you don't have to cook for me." "I cook every night when I'm home," she explained. "You're welcome to join us. It's nothing fancy, just chicken and mashed potatoes. And I promise it's not broth." I laughed as my stomach growled in anticipation. Wait

"Us?" "Yes, there's someone you need to meet," Bella said. It suddenly dawned on me that someone as sweet and kind as Bella must have a boyfriend or a husband. I snuck a glance at her left hand and was relieved to see no ring on her finger. So it must be a boyfriend. I didn't like that at all. "Would you like to come see the house?" Bella asked. "It isn't that big, but there are two bathrooms. We only use the one, so the second one is all yours. I put some fresh towels in the linen closet and some shampoo and soap in the shower." I don't know what I expected, but I certainly didn't expect her to open her house to me. The room above the garage was more than I could have hoped for. I hadn't really thought about important things like toilets and showers. She'd really thought of everything. I followed her down the steps and through the back door of the house. It was a simple house, one-story with blue siding and white shutters. Once we were inside the kitchen, I inhaled deeply, taking in the aroma of whatever was cooking on the stove. It smelled delicious and I instantly felt at home. "You're welcome to anything in the fridge," Bella said as she waved her hand around the room. "The pantry is stocked. I usually shop on Monday so if there's anything you need, just add it to the list on the refrigerator." She led me toward the living room, where she pointed out the remotes one for the television and one for the satellite. At the edge of the living room was an upright piano, and my fingers instantly itched to touch the keys. "Do you play?" Bella asked when she noticed my preoccupation. "I don't know," I answered truthfully. "You could try." I wanted to try. I wanted to try, but then I didn't. It was the strangest feeling. "Maybe later?" Bella nodded in understanding. "No pressure, I promise."

"I know," I smiled, and she led me down the hallway. Two bedrooms were at the end of the hall but both doors were closed, giving me no hint of who they might belong to. That was fine, though. She was already giving me so much, and I'd never want to invade her privacy. "I told you there wasn't much to it," Bella grinned. "It's great," I said as I followed her back toward the living room. The house was undeniably small, but it was nice and comfortable and, best of all, it smelled like her. Bella told me to make myself at home while she checked on dinner, so I took the opportunity to glance at the pictures hanging on the walls. There weren't many, to be honest. My eyes fell upon an older picture with a man sitting on the beach, holding a little girl with Bella's big brown eyes. At their side was a woman wearing a wide straw hat, smiling happily into the camera. "Dinner's almost ready," Bella announced as she made her way back into the living room. Her eyes fell upon the picture on the wall, and she smiled wistfully. "My parents and I at First Beach," she explained quietly. Her fingers gently traced along the glass. "I was six years old." She sounded so sad. She'd never mentioned her mother. "She died when I was sixteen," Bella answered my unspoken question. "She had breast cancer." "I'm sorry, Bella." She smiled sadly. "What was her name?" "Renee," she whispered, smiling up at the picture. "She was really wonderful. She liked lots of color, and the less those colors matched, the better. Christmas at our house looked like Mexican fiesta meets Mardi Gras. It was pretty wild." I laughed. Bella looked at me and sighed. "Sorry." "Why are you sorry?" "Because I'm sharing memories with you when you don't have any of your own. I'm probably making you really sad." "Not at all," I shook my head. "And who knows? Maybe it'll trigger something for me." "Maybe," Bella agreed. "Maybe my pretty upright piano will trigger something for you, too."

I took a deep breath and stared longingly at the instrument. "No pressure," Bella reminded me, placing her hand on my arm and squeezing it softly. "I'm going to check on dinner. If you want to play, there's some sheet music in the bench." "Okay," I nodded. Nervously, I made my way over to the piano, trailing my fingers along the keys. I didn't push them, though. I wasn't sure why I was so nervous. Maybe I was afraid to hope. Maybe I was afraid that, if the piano did trigger a memory, that the memory would only give me more questions instead of answers. But I also knew I had to start somewhere. Taking a deep breath, I sat down on the bench and placed my fingers along the keys. I closed my eyes and pressed the white keys, and I smiled when a pleasing sound echoed from the piano. I looked down at my fingers, noticing their position, and I closed my eyes once more. It was at that point that I lost total control of my fingers. They gracefully moved along the keyboard as a sweet melody flowed from my fingertips. The name of the song was a mystery, but that didn't matter in the least. I played and played, letting the song wrap around me as it resonated through the living room. My right foot instinctively reached for the damper pedal. "You'll be able to reach the pedals someday, sweetheart." I gasped loudly as my fingers faltered on the keys. I looked over my shoulder to find Bella standing in the kitchen doorway. She was smiling brightly. "I think it's safe to say you are a piano player," she whispered in amazement. "That was really beautiful, Edward." I turned back toward the piano and pressed my foot against the pedal again. And again. And again. Nothing. "Are you okay?" Bella asked softly. She was standing behind me now, each of her hands on my shoulders. If I told her that I'd heard a voice, would she believe me? Or would she have me committed?

"I'm fine, Bella." "Anything?" I didn't have to ask what she meant. "No, I don't think so." "That's okay," Bella whispered sweetly. "At least we know you're a killer piano player. You were playing that from memory. That's really incredible, Edward." "Yeah," I smiled down at the keys. "I guess it is." She removed her hands from my shoulders, and I immediately missed the warmth. "Hungry?" "Starving," I said as I rose from the bench. "Good," Bella smiled brightly as she tugged me by the hand and pulled me toward the kitchen. "Dinner is ready and there's someone I am dying for you to meet."

We meet Lily next chapter. :) Many of you think she's a daughter; others think she's a pet. We'll see!

6. Family Dinner
AN: First of all, thanks to everyone who voted in the Single Shot Awards. "Feathers" won Best Missing Moment! Thank you! More fun news down at the bottom! Thanks, as always, to Shaina for being my beta. Let's meet Lily!

Chapter 6 Family Dinner I stopped in my tracks as my eyes settled on the two people at the kitchen table. One was most definitely the sheriff. At his side was a little girl with long auburn hair and beautiful brown eyes. She was a carbon copy of the little girl in the picture. Bella had a daughter. My heart sank. Not that having a daughter was a bad thing, but kids typically meant that a man was involved somewhere. However, the only man at the table was Bella's father, so I tried to stay optimistic. "Hi," the little girl smiled up at me and I literally felt my heart clench. She definitely had her mother's eyes and sweet smile. "Are you Edward?" Bella squeezed my hand before letting it go and heading toward the stove. I could feel the sheriff's eyes on me as I made my way over to the table and took a seat. "I am," I grinned at the girl. "What's your name?" "I'm Lily. I'm six. Do you like mashed potatoes?" "I don't know," I replied honestly, "but I'd love to try them." Lily smiled brightly at me as Bella placed a big bowl of potatoes on the table. Clearing my throat nervously, I finally made eye contact with Bella's father and extended my hand in his direction. "You look much better than the last time I saw you," Charlie remarked as he shook my hand and passed me a plate. "I appreciate everything you've done for me," I replied softly. Saying thank you didn't seem adequate

considering the man had saved my life, but I didn't want to go into graphic detail with Lily at the table. Charlie simply nodded and Bella sat down between me and Lily and told us to dig in. Everything was delicious, of course. I found that I really did love mashed potatoes, and this seemed to make Lily happy. She talked nonstop about school. She loved reading and hated math. She loved art but hated science. Today, a boy named Toby kissed her on the cheek and now he was her boyfriend. Bella and I laughed at that while Charlie's face turned an alarming shade of red. After dinner, I helped Bella clean up while Charlie and Lily went into the living room to play a video game. "So, I have a daughter," she grinned sheepishly as she rinsed a plate. I chuckled. "She's really beautiful, Bella." "Thanks," she smiled proudly. "My schedule is nuts, so Dad picks her up from school most afternoons. They spend the afternoon fishing at his pond or watching movies until its time to bring her home for dinner." "What if you work the night shift?" "Then he spends the night here," she said as wiped the counter. "All of her toys are here, and she doesn't really sleep well unless she's in her own bed, so it makes sense." I nodded, noticing how fiercely Bella was continuing to wipe the counter. It looked clean to me. Come to think of it, the entire house was immaculate. I didn't know much about kids, but weren't they usually messy? Bella handed me a couple of plates, and I placed them in the dishwasher as I tried to gather the courage to ask about Lily's father. I knew it was none of my business, but I couldn't help but be curious. Was he around? Would I meet him soon? Were they married? Was he dying of some strange, tropical, flesheating disease?

Hmm. Maybe I wasn't a very nice person in my past life.

"You can ask about her father," Bella encouraged me. "I know you have to be curious." I nearly dropped a glass. "How do you do that?" I asked in disbelief. "Do what?" "Read my mind." "Do I?" Bella asked, grinning at me. I nodded and she turned back toward the sink. "I don't know. I just

find that you're really easy to read." Each of us reached into the sink for a bowl, causing our hands to brush against the other. It wasn't the first time we'd touched, but my hand still tingled from the contact. Her eyes widened, and I knew that she'd felt it, too. "Maybe we just have this crazy connection," I murmured. "Maybe we do," Bella said softly. I shouldn't want to kiss her. She was being so kind to me, and I couldn't take advantage of the situation. I especially shouldn't want to kiss her with her gun-toting father and her little girl in the next room. I shouldn't want to. I really wanted to. Our bodies drifted closer, and my eyes flickered to her lips. "Grandpa cheats." It was as if a bolt of electricity had descended from the heavens, splitting us apart. I jumped to one side, Bella jumped to the other, and I pretended to be very interested in the dishwasher dial as she turned toward the little girl standing in the doorway. I heard Bella exhale a deep breath, and I hid my smile. "Grandpa doesn't cheat," Bella said gently. "He just doesn't let you win." "Isn't that cheating?" Lily asked innocently, and I couldn't contain my laughter as I closed the dishwasher door. I turned to lean against the counter as Bella lifted Lily into her arms. The little girl's arms encircled Bella's neck as they took turns kissing each other's cheeks. It was obvious that they absolutely adored each other. Just then, Charlie cleared his throat from the doorway, and my eyes settled on his. He was watching me closely. He didn't look pissed, but he did look as if he had something to say. He gestured toward the living room, and I nodded in understanding. It was time for the talk.

Fun news! If you'll visit my profile, you'll find that my completed stories are now available for download. Just click the link in my profile, and it will take you to my blog where the stories are available. This will enable you to read them on whatever e-reader you prefer. I also have them on MOBI, so if there's a need for that, let me know and I'll upload those as well. Feel free to download them and share them with friends. All I ask is that you don't edit them in any way and that you share them with age-appropriate friends. I don't want to corrupt young minds. :)

The response to this story has thrilled me! See you tomorrow!

7. Puzzle Pieces
AN: Hello sweet readers. :) Just a reminder - my completed stories are now available on pdf and MOBI. Check out my profile for the link. Enjoy! The theories about Lily's father are so interesting! This chapter will answer a few questions about him. I love Charlie. I think you'll love him, too.

Chapter 7 Puzzle Pieces

Bella's dad led me out onto the front porch where he motioned toward the porch swing. We sat side-byside and stared out into the rainy night. "Does it rain everyday?" "Just about," Charlie replied with a nod. "I've noticed that." "I've noticed some things, too," Charlie said quietly. "I've noticed that you can't keep your eyes off my daughter."

"Not that I can blame you," he continued. "Bella is beautiful and kindhearted." "And I would never take advantage of that," I promised him. "That's good to hear," Charlie said. "She really likes you, and a lot of people went to the trouble of saving your life. I'd hate to have to kill you." I felt the blood drain from my face. "Relax, Edward," Charlie chuckled quietly. "As long as you are respectful to my daughter and nice to Lily, you and I won't have a problem." I leaned back and tried to relax. "You have my word, sir." "I do worry about the circumstances that brought you here," Charlie admitted. "I don't know that you're a good person. I don't know that you're a bad one. But I do know that someone beat the hell out of you

and left you to die in my jurisdiction. It is my job to figure out who did that and why they did it. It is my job to help you, and I plan on doing that." "But you're worried about how my situation could affect your family," I concluded. "I don't blame you for being concerned. I would be, too. If it means anything to you at all, I did consider that before I accepted Bella's offer. I wish I could set your mind at ease, Charlie. I wish I could set mine at ease. I just don't have any answers." "Well, we're going to find the answers," Charlie replied with a firm nod. "Dr. Cheney has set you up with a therapist. His name is Dr. Crowley and you'll be seeing him twice a week. I'm going to keep my eye on the missing person's database. No one matching your physical description or name has popped up, which may mean something or it may mean nothing at all." "What could it mean?" Charlie sighed, leaning back against the swing and making it rock gently. "It could mean so many things, Edward. The easiest explanation is that you don't have a family, but you seem very comfortable around mine, so I can't imagine that's true. It could mean that you aren't in close contact with your family and they wouldn't notice if you'd disappeared. It could mean that you're supposedly away on vacation, which means someone might file a missing person's report when you don't return." "It could also mean that someone doesn't want me to be found," I murmured knowingly. "Or that whoever dumped my body assumes I'm dead." "Yeah, it could mean that, too," Charlie agreed. I stared out into the black night and tried to process that. "We're running the prints found on your clothes," Charlie continued. "There was some tissue found under your nails, which leads me to believe that you struggled. We're also running your prints doing a lot of cross-referencing to try to make a positive identification. This isn't CSI, so this stuff takes time." "I love that show, although it just isn't the same without Grissom." Surprise flashed across Charlie's face. "What?" I asked nervously. "What did you just say?" "I said that I love" Oh. Oh!

I couldn't keep the smile off my face. I was a piano player who loved watching CSI. It was progress, right? "Very good," Charlie chuckled. "And I agree. It isn't the same without him." I actually had something in common with Bella's dad, which was nice, but it seemed completely foreign to me. Did I have a dad? Did I even like my dad? "Anyway," Charlie continued. "I am happy to say that your fingerprints didn't match any in the criminal database, so that will help me sleep a little better at night." So I wasn't a criminal. That was oddly comforting. "In the meantime, a friend of mine owns a sporting goods store in town. He's looking for some part-time help, and he's willing to give you a few days of work each week. His name is David Newton and he'll be expecting you first thing in the morning. I can drop you off when I take Lily to school." I didn't know what to say. "Charlie, that's really nice" "And you're going to need some clothes," he continued as if he hadn't heard me. "I gave Bella a bag of stuff that I found in my closet. It's all new mostly shirts and jeans that she bought me for Christmas that I've never worn. You're welcome to it." Overwhelming waves of gratitude flowed through me. "I don't know how to thank you." "I can tell you how," Charlie said as he rose to his feet and looked back toward the living room. "The two most important people in my life have welcomed you into their home. Don't hurt them. They've been hurt enough." I wanted to ask who had dared to hurt them. Instead, I simply nodded as he stood and made his way toward the door. "And you're sleeping in the room above the garage," Charlie muttered. "Yes, sir." I hid my grin until I was sure he was inside. I remained in that porch swing long after Charlie had gone home. It was peaceful there. My brain was racing and jumbled with all sorts of scenarios and possibilities, but the rain and the motion of the swing relaxed my body and soothed my mind. After a while, the front door opened, and the smell of tangerines and cream mingled with the rain. I closed my eyes and bit back a groan, wondering if it was possible to drown in the scent. I opened my

eyes when I felt the warmth of her body next to mine. "Lily says goodnight," Bella said softly. "Oh, I should go say goodnight to her," I murmured, but Bella shook her head and placed her hand over mine as I started to stand. "She's asleep. I promised she'd see you in the morning." "She will," I grinned, leaning back against the swing. "Your dad is giving me a ride to work." "I heard about that," Bella laughed softly. "The Newtons are good people. You'll like them." "There are a lot of good people in this town," I whispered. I had no idea where I was from but I couldn't imagine that I came from a town as welcoming as this one. Complete strangers had saved my life, given me a place to live, and offered me a job. "Your father is a really good man." "He is," Bella nodded. "He's always been there for me, even when I didn't make it easy on him. He's taken such good care of Lily and me. I couldn't have made it through nursing school without him." Her hand was still in mine, and I watched as our fingers slipped along each other like puzzle pieces. Her hand was soft and small and fit so perfectly in mine. "Bella, where is Lily's father?" I had to ask. If he was going to pull into the driveway at any minute, I had to be prepared for that. Irrational, insane jealousy burned my veins as I contemplated the idea of another man sitting in this porch swing and holding her hand. "Lily's father is dead," Bella whispered. It was the very last thing I'd expected to hear, and I felt like such an asshole. "I'm sorry, Bella." "Don't be," she said quietly. "I'm not."

So, no, Edward is not Lily's father, as so many of you suspected. I had no idea the auburn hair color would create so many interesting theories! My readers are awesome. Still enjoying this? I am, and so is my beta. See you tomorrow!

8. New Friends
AN: Nothing really to say except that I appreciate all of your reviews. :) The encouragement I've received for this little daily experiment has been incredible.

Chapter 8 New Friends

The woods are dark, wet, and smell like pine. The smell is suffocating but at least the blindfold is gone. It's too dark to see, and I know that's the only reason my eyes are no longer draped in the fabric. I struggle to make my eyes adjust to give myself the chance to detect anything that might give me a hint as to where they're taking me but all I see is black. Above me. In front of me. Beneath me. Even the stars aren't cooperating. There isn't a twinkle in the sky. Not one. I can hear water in the distance. A river? A lake? Are they drowning me? My body aches. I have been punched, kicked, and smacked so many times that I finally stopped counting. I'm not a weak man, but there are three of them, and only one of me. Suddenly, I'm tossed to the wet ground. I can smell the mud and then I feel the tip of a shoe digging into my ribs. Kicking me. Once. Twice. Again. I stop counting.
OOO My eyes flashed open as a rumble of thunder echoed in my ears. Rain pelted the roof of the garage, making my head throb worse than it already was. I'd slept like shit thanks to the nightmares. I had no idea if they were actual memories, but they woke me up throughout the night and I'd struggled to fall back to sleep. They were all the same me being dragged through the black night and tossed next to the water. Sometimes they kicked me; other times, they punched me in the stomach. The abuse varied, but the setting and the characters were always the same. Three men, the woods, and the river. I decided that I'd better tell Charlie about the dreams. I'd let him decide if they were important.

I searched through the bag of clothes and found a bunch of t-shirts, hoodies, polos, and jeans. There were even packages of socks and underwear and a new pair of sneakers. I dressed quickly and hung up the rest of the clothes in the tiny closet. Tossing the hood over my head, I made my way down the steps and into the kitchen where Bella was already standing over the stove. "Good morning." "Good morning," Bella smiled before returning her attention to the stove. She was wearing her scrubs and her hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She was so pretty. I had no idea the kind of woman I was usually attracted to. Did I like blondes? Redheads? Short hair? Long? Did I like them to be supermodel skinny or a little curvy? I let my eyes linger on Bella's backside a little longer. I liked curvy brunettes. Definitely. "What would you like for breakfast?" Bella asked as she flipped some pancakes onto a plate. "Lily has blueberry pancakes every morning." I wanted to remind her that I didn't expect her to cook for me everyday, but I had a feeling that it would be pointless. Bella was a mother, and as a mom, she had this deep desire to take care of everyone. "That sounds great," I smiled at her. "I should probably shower first, though." "Okay," Bella nodded. "Sausage or bacon?" "Whatever Lily likes is fine with me," I said as I made my way toward the bathroom. I stopped abruptly and turned toward her. "Thank you, Bella." A soft blush crept across her cheek. "You're welcome," she smiled. The bathroom was fully stocked with anything I could need towels, soap, shampoo, toothpaste. There was even a green toothbrush still in the package. I showered quickly, tried to do something with my hair, and promptly gave up. I dressed quickly, eager to get back to the kitchen. Lily was already there, her hair in a ponytail that matched her mom's. She was smiling brightly as she waved her fork at me. I noticed she was still in her pajamas, and then I realized why when syrup dribbled off her fork and down the front of her pajama top.

"Oops," Lily giggled. I couldn't help but laugh as I picked up a napkin. "It's okay," I promised her. She let me wipe the syrup off but it was impossible to get it all. "Breakfast around here is messy," Bella grinned as she placed a bowl of fruit on the table. Lily just nodded happily and continued stuffing bits of pancake into her mouth. "I can usually handle it if we contain the destruction to the kitchen table." "Kids are usually messy," I shrugged as I poured syrup onto my stack of pancakes. Bella glanced at me curiously. "I mean, not that I know for sure. It just seems that they'd leave toys around or something. Your house is like picture perfect." "Mommy likes to clean," Lily replied. Bella tugged gently on the little girl's ponytail, and Lily smiled up at her mom with her cute syrup-smeared face. "You're a mess," Bella chuckled. "But you loooove me," Lily sang happily. "More than my own life," Bella said softly. "Now, let's go hop in the shower and get you ready for school." Somehow, I finished my breakfast despite the lump in my throat. OOO I couldn't be sure, but I was pretty confident that I'd never seen so many fishing rods in my entire life. Thankfully, Mr. Newton didn't expect me to know a thing about any of this stuff, which was good, because I really didn't. Charlie must have told him about my amnesia because he didn't try to make small talk about my previous work experience or anything like that. He simply gave me a tour of the place and introduced me to Karen, his wife, and their son, Mike. It was the family business, one that Mike clearly planned on inheriting someday. They were nice, and I was grateful that they didn't ask questions. They simply showed me the stockroom and asked me to organize the shelves. It was boring, but that didn't matter to me at all. It was a job, and I was grateful to have it. The monotony of the task also gave me the chance to think about my nightmares. What did they mean? Did they mean anything? It was so frustrating. Throughout the rest of the morning, I couldn't help but think of Bella and Lily. Her confession about Lily's father still confused me. Selfishly, I was happy that he wasn't an issue, but I wondered what kind of asshole he'd been for someone as sweet as Bella to be glad that he was dead. Had he hurt them? Charlie had warned me that they'd been hurt enough. Rage filled me as I considered the very real possibly that he'd harmed them in any way.

My hands began to shake uncontrollably, and I dropped a box of fishing line. Hundreds of brightlycolored spools fell with a clatter against the floor. Karen came running. "Are you okay?" I took a deep breath and lowered myself to the concrete floor. "Sorry," I whispered as I began to quickly pick up the spools and placed them neatly back on the shelf. Karen laughed softly and fell to her knees to help me. "It's okay, Edward. I promise you aren't the first employee to drop something. When he was seventeen, Mike knocked down an entire display of rods. I thought David was going to have a heart attack." I smiled and thanked her as we finished placing the rolls of fishing line along the shelf. "Are you okay?" Karen asked gently. "I don't mean to pry, but Charlie didn't really give us any details." "That's because we don't really know the details," I replied as I grabbed another box and opened it up. "All we know is he found me at the river." "You were in the paper," Karen said. "Well, your story was anyway. This is a little town, and finding a body is big news." "I can imagine," I grinned at her. She smiled back at me, but her eyes were sympathetic. "If you need anything, anything at all, you'll let us know, right?" Karen asked softly. "I promise. Thanks, Karen." I spent the rest of the morning organizing the stockroom. They didn't give me any real directions, so I decided to organize it by department. I thought that would be easier when it was time to restock the shelves out front. I was just finishing up when Mike walked into the room, holding an unopened cardboard box. "This just arrived," Mike said apologetically. "No problem," I shrugged, tearing into the box. "I'd wait on that if I were you," he grinned at me. "There's a pretty nurse out front holding a Subway bag. Unfortunately, I don't think she's here to see me." "Bella's here?" I asked excitedly, and he laughed loudly as I raced out of the stockroom.

She was standing next to the register, talking quietly with Karen. They looked up at the same time, and Bella's face morphed into a beautiful smile when she saw me. "Hi," she said as I made my way to her side. "I thought you might be hungry." "Hi," I replied. We must have been smiling like idiots because Karen giggled and excused herself to go help a customer. "Bella, you didn't have to bring me lunch." "I wanted to," she murmured. Suddenly, she was blushing and nervous. "I ummthought we could have lunch together. If you want. I mean, if you have time" So adorable. "I'd love that," I said softly. She seemed surprised. "You would?" Did she seriously think I'd say no? "Of course I would." "It's turned into a beautiful day," Karen said as she made her way back to the register. "There's a picnic bench out back if you'd like to eat there. It would be nice and quiet." Karen winked at me, and I couldn't help but smile. "Shall we?" I asked, offering my hand to Bella. Nodding, she took my hand, and I led her through the store and out into the sunshine.

I have a rec for you: Dandelion by Iwant2sparkle. Fluff at its best. Well, fluffy so far, anyway. I have signed on to write a one-shot for Fandom for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It's the same sort of deal - a $5 donation for a compilation of stories. The link to donate is on my profile. What are your general feelings about these sort of things? Do you purchase the compilations? I try to write for these charities anytime I'm asked just because I figure if I can contribute in any small way, then I should do that. I'm just curious as to your thoughts on them. See you tomorrow! Major picnic-bench fluff tomorrow. :)

9. Sunshine
AN: Lunchtime fluff. :)

Chapter 9 Sunshine

It was amazing how good the sun's rays felt against my skin. Bella seemed to like it, too. Once we were seated on the same side of the bench, she closed her eyes and smiled up at the sunshine, sighing contently. "You're so pretty," I whispered as I gazed at her. Her eyes popped open and her cheeks were flaming red as she pulled the sandwiches from the bag. "You don't have to keep saying that, you know." "Why not? It's true." She shook her head shyly and offered me a bag of chips. "I'm sure you hear it all the time," I said as I opened the bag and tossed a chip into my mouth. "Not really." "I just don't believe that," I replied. "I bet patients flirt with you all the time." I didn't really like the idea of that, but I couldn't blame them. I'd had a pounding headache and memory loss, and I'd still managed to flirt with her. She rolled her eyes. "Oh yes, because my scrubs are just so sexy." "On you they are." "Eat your lunch," Bella grinned, and I chuckled before taking a bite. "You aren't used to compliments, are you?" I asked as I reached for a bottle of water. "No," she admitted. "Trust me when I say that you've given me more compliments in the last few days than I've heard my entire life." We continued eating our sandwiches as I wondered how that could be. Had Lily's father been a complete asshole?

"Dad told me about your dreams," Bella said. "I hope you don't mind." "Not at all," I replied. "I was going to tell you, but I didn't think it was a good conversation to have around Lily." Bella smiled softly. "She really likes you." "I like her, too." She dropped her sandwich onto the wrapper. "Edward, I have a confession to make." Suddenly, my ham and cheese felt like a brick inside my stomach. "A confession?" Bella nodded. "I didn't really tell you a lot about Lily's father." "Oh," I said softly. "Bella, you don't owe me any kind of explanation. I'm the one who owes you. You've done so much for me." "I just don't want you to think I'm a terrible person," Bella whispered sadly. Tossing my food aside, I quickly swung my leg around the side of the bench. Without thinking, I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her closer. I don't know what possessed me to do it, but she came willingly, and I brushed my nose against her hair as my arms wrapped around her, holding her close to my chest. She melted against me as I inhaled her sweet scent. "I think you're an angel," I murmured softly. I lifted my other hand, letting my fingers brush a few stray hairs away from her eyes. She turned her face toward mine, and I saw the sadness in her eyes. "I'm a good person now," Bella whispered. "Or at least I try to be. That wasn't always the case." "I don't believe that," I said gently. I could see the tiny freckles that danced along her nose, and my fingers flexed, itching to touch them. Or kiss them. I took a deep breath and tried to control myself. "Bella, you're amazing. You're such a good mom." "Lily makes me good," she smiled wistfully. Unable to resist, I brushed the back of my hand across her cheek. Her eyes fluttered closed as she leaned into my touch. "Why is this so easy?" Bella whispered.

I pressed my nose against her hair. "What do you mean?" "Being with you," she said, her pretty brown eyes swimming with emotion. "I don't trust people this easily, especially when my daughter is involved. I don't know a thing about you, and yet, I'm so drawn to you" Embarrassed by her confession, she looked away. She was hiding from me, and I couldn't stand it. Very gently, I cupped her cheek and turned her face toward mine. "I'm drawn to you, too," I murmured tenderly. "You are?" Her voice was filled with disbelief. I smiled at her. "Can't you tell?" I asked softly, nuzzling her cheek with my nose. It was the closest we'd ever been, and unbelievably, she smelled even sweeter. "I don't know," Bella shrugged teasingly. "Maybe you're just a natural-born flirt. We have no way of knowing." "You're right," I chuckled. "There's a lot we don't know. But I do know a few things." Her eyes brightened. "What do you know?" "I know that you're kind," I whispered, brushing my fingertips across her cheek once again. "I know you're a good mom. I know you're a good nurse. I know your father loves you." Bella giggled. "How bad did he threaten you last night?" "Not too bad," I smirked. "He just asked me not to hurt youthat the two of you had been hurt enough." The light in her eyes dimmed. I wanted to swear that I'd never hurt her, but I knew it would be an empty promise. I had no idea the kind of person I was. What was worse was that I had no idea if I had a family or a girlfriend. Or a wife. I wanted to promise, but I also didn't want to lie. "I have to get back to the hospital," Bella smiled softly. She pulled away, putting some distance between

us as she picked up our trash and tossed it into a nearby can. "My shift is over at five. I can pick you up if you like. Lily will be with my dad. The sun is out, so they'll probably be at his pond." "Okay." Bella let me take her hand, and I led her around the store and toward her car. I opened the car door and she settled herself inside, snapping her seatbelt as I closed the door. She rolled down the window and offered me a smile. "Thank you for lunch," I said. "You're welcome." I stared down at my shoe as I raked it across the gravel. "Bella, I wish" My voice trailed off as I closed my eyes.

I wish I could promise that I won't hurt you.

When I opened my eyes once again, she was smiling sadly at me. "I know," she whispered softly. "I wish, too."

"Forget Me Not" has been nominated for Fic of the Week over at The Lemonade Stand. You can vote for up to four stories. If you'd like to check them out: www(dot)tehlemonadestand(dot)blogspot(dot)com. And yes, "the" is spelled "teh" in that web address. No idea why. lol We'll learn more about Lily's dad tomorrow!

10. My Heart
AN: I don't plan to write from Bella's POV a lot, but from time to time I think it's good to see what she's thinking. Thanks, as always, to Shaina for being my beta and to Krista and Katmom for pre-reading.

Chapter 10 My Heart

BPOV The drive back to the hospital was too long because it gave me too much time to think. I was insane. Honestly, I needed to be locked up and the key needed to be thrown away because there was no way that this could end well. I was going to get hurt. My baby girl was going to get hurt. It was inevitable. I knew absolutely nothing about him, and yet I was so attracted. Crazy attracted. Attracted to the point that I couldn't sleep last night because I knew he was sleeping just above my garage and it would have been so easy to slip into his room. I could have climbed into his bed, and he would have held me. That's really all I wanted. Well, not really, but it was an innocent enough place to start. Lunch had been amazing, but I couldn't let myself enjoy it because it was just soeffortless. It was easy and natural, and it scared the hell out of me. He'd pulled me into his arms and held me close as if it wasn't anything out of the ordinary at all. How could it feel so right when it was so new and so complicated? I'd learned long ago that if it felt good, it was rarely good for you. Edward might have amnesia, but he certainly wasn't the only one with secrets. I wish my past was hidden. I wish my demons could be forgotten. But they couldn't be, not when I had a constant reminder in the form of a beautiful little girl that I tucked into bed each and every night. Jamie had given me many things. An alcohol addiction. Scrapes and bruises.

Broken bones. But I couldn't hate him completely. After all, he had given me Lily. Out of all the things he'd given me, she was the very best. I had spent years trying to move on with my life. I'd dated some, but not a lot. It was hard to date when you were a full-time nurse and mother. Honestly, I'd never really been eager to date again. Dating took on a whole different meaning when you had a little girl at home to consider. Few men were looking for a ready-made family, and that was okay with me, because I wasn't looking for a husband. I wasn't looking for anything at all. I was happy and settled and had worked hard to build a new life in my hometown. There were no secrets here. Everyone who'd lived here for more than a decade knew everything there was to know about my life. There were no skeletons in my closet, and while I hated the fact that everyone knew my business, I couldn't deny how wonderful it had felt to be welcomed home with open arms. In our forgiving little town, everyone got a second chance. Did Edward need a second chance? I had no way of knowing what brought him here, but there was one thing of which I was absolutely sure. Somewhere in this world there was a woman looking for him. She might be his girlfriend. She may even be his wife. But there was no way that a man this sweet and handsome could be single. I would bet my life on it. It was because of this that it was essential that I keep my emotions in check. I had to protect my daughter. I had to protect my heart. OOO It was late in the afternoon, and Edward and I were sitting in the porch swing. It was quickly becoming our favorite place to talk. We'd spent the last hour talking about his first day at Newton's, his dreams, and my afternoon assisting in obstetrics. He'd held my hand the entire time. Holding hands was becoming our favorite thing to do. He kept fidgeting restlessly and I knew instinctively that something was on his mind. "What's wrong?" Edward chuckled lightly. "You mean besides having amnesia and not knowing who the hell I am?"

"Yeah, besides that," I grinned. His face softened as he looked down at our entwined hands. "Will you tell me about Lily's father?" Edward asked. I sighed. "Lily's father is a very long story." Edward shook his head. "I know it's none of my business. I justI don't know. I just can't imagine anyone leaving you behind." "I left him," I said quietly. "I left him behind." "He hurt you," Edward whispered. It wasn't a question. "Yes." His jaw clenched, and I squeezed his hand. "Did he hurt Lily?" "He never met Lily," I replied. I took a deep breath and gazed out at the lawn. Weeds were invading my flower beds and the grass was going to have to be mowed soon. Why was I thinking about the grass? Because I really didn't want to think about Jamie, and I didn't want Edward to think I was a terrible person. "You think I'm this wonderful person," I said, smiling sadly. "I really hate to shatter that illusion." "Bella, there is nothing that you could say that would convince me that you aren't," Edward whispered kindly. "You could tell me that you shot him in cold blood and I'd say the bastard deserved it." The sound of crackling gravel echoed from the driveway, and I smiled as my father's police cruiser came to a stop at the edge of the grass. Like a flash, my baby girl was out of the car and racing toward the porch, her backpack slapping against her shoulder. "Later," I promised him, and he nodded just as Lily leapt onto the porch and rushed into my waiting arms. She quickly climbed into my lap and placed a slobbery kiss on my cheek. "I caught four catfish!" Lily exclaimed happily before turning her attention toward Edward. "Tonight's pizza night. Do you like pizza?"

"I don't know," he smiled indulgently at her. "Oh yeah, you can't 'member," Lily said softly. I'd told Lily there were some things that Edward couldn't remember, and she seemed to understand it to a certain extent. They discussed pizza toppings as I glanced uncertainly at my father, looking for any sign of the catfish. Thankfully, the only thing in his hands was a pizza box. I didn't mind fish. What I hated was the mess that was associated with catching, cleaning, and cooking it. That was something else that Jamie had given me. Living in a shithole had turned me into a compulsive cleaner. "We threw back the fish," he assured me, and I sighed with relief as he handed me the pizza box. "I can't stay. One of my deputies called in sick, so they need me back at the station." Lily hopped out of the swing and rushed toward her grandfather for a goodbye hug. Charlie was far more affectionate with his granddaughter than he'd ever been with me, but I didn't mind. I loved watching the two of them together. She made him a little softer, which was something Charlie had always needed. "Homework?" I asked Lily as we made our way into the living room. She shook her head no and headed straight to the piano. Edward watched her curiously as she lifted the bench and pulled out her practice book. She climbed onto the bench and arranged her sheet music, flipping through the book until she found the page she needed. Like always, she began with her scales. After a few moments, Edward joined her, and I smiled when she scooted over on the bench to make room for him. "That was very good," he congratulated her when she'd finished. Lily beamed happily at him before turning the page and continuing to play. He watched her fingers intently, gently correcting when she needed it and happily praising when she didn't. Seeing them together was doing crazy things to my heart. For the hundredth time, I told myself that I had to protect my daughter. I had to protect my heart. I had a feeling it was too late.

We'll hear all about Jamie next chapter. See you tomorrow!

11. Confession
AN: Here's Bella's story. Some readers are asking about an update schedule. This story updates everyday as long as RL and FFn cooperate. So far, so good!

Chapter 11 Confession

EPOV "She's asleep," Bella said softly as she made her way back into the living room. "Out like a light." "I'm not surprised," I laughed as she sat down on the sofa next to me. After Lily's afternoon of fishing, we'd spent the evening eating pizza, practicing piano, and playing video games. I didn't even have to let her win. The kid beat me soundly each and every time. "She had a really busy day." "You're very good with her," Bella smiled at me as she tucked her legs beneath her. "I think it's safe to assume that you have experience with kids." "Do you think so?" I wondered. It was true that I was really comfortable around Lily, but I just assumed that was because she was so cute and well-behaved. It was easy to have patience with a child who was polite, musical, and as adorable as her mother. "I think so," Bella nodded. Her eyes flashed with some emotion that I couldn't name, but she recovered quickly and smiled over at me. "We also learned that you like sausage and pepperoni pizza." "It would seem so," I chuckled. The four slices were weighing heavily on my stomach. "You didn't eat much." "I ate a slice," Bella shrugged as if this was nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe it wasn't. We were stalling. My curiosity was beginning to eat at me, and it had nothing to do with my own memories. I wanted to hear hers. The room was quiet. The only sound was the pendulum swinging on the old grandfather clock standing in the corner. It was relaxing, just sitting here like this. I was always relaxed around Bella. Finally, she sighed and turned her body toward mine. "His name was Jamie," Bella whispered. "James, actually, but I called him Jamie. Everybody called him

Jamie except my father." "What did your father call him?" "Asshole. Deadbeat. Loser" "Ahh," I smirked. "Charlie didn't approve, I take it." "Not at all," she said softly. "But when you're sixteen, your vision isn't always clear. You fall for the wrong guys and do the wrong things." She shifted nervously on the couch, and I took the opportunity to take her hand in mine. Bella gazed at our joined hands for a while before continuing. "My mother's death hit me hard," she whispered. "My very best friend was gone, and I didn't know how to handle it. My dad couldn't help me. Charlie couldn't even take care of himself. He was a deputy at that time, and he started taking every shift he could get just to avoid coming home. I couldn't blame him. Everything in the house was a reminder of her. He just couldn't deal with it." I nodded in understanding as she continued. "I had zero supervision, so naturally I started doing whatever the hell I wanted. I ignored my friends and began hanging out with the wrong crowd. Jamie was the ringleader. I knew him from school we were both juniors but we'd never spoken. One night, we all went to a party down at the reservation and he gave me my first beer. After that, we were inseparable. All we did was party and drink. We dabbled in drugs, but nothing hardcore. Not at that time anyway." Bella took a shaky breath and I pulled her closer to me. Sighing, she laid her head against my shoulder. "About a week before graduation, we were at a party when the cops showed up. I was sober, but that didn't stop my father from cuffing me and taking me to jail. It was then that he realized just how absent he'd been in my life. He apologized, but it was too late. I was seven days away from graduating, and all I wanted to do was get my diploma and get out of this town, so that's what we did. I graduated on a Saturday morning and by midnight we were in Seattle." "What was in Seattle?" I asked. "Jamie had a friend who owned a bar," Bella replied. "We rented a room above it, and he gave us jobs. Jamie was a bartender and I was a waitress. The tips were decent, and for a while everything was okay." She snuggled closer, and I wrapped my arm around her, pulling her close to my chest. My nose drifted into her hair, and I inhaled deeply. Bella smiled up at me. "You're always sniffing me." "That's because you always smell good," I grinned.

She giggled and continued. "Anyway," she sighed, "things were okay for a while. But then the bills started coming in, and suddenly our paychecks and tips weren't enough despite the long hours I was working. I was saving every dime I made, but I had no idea what Jamie was doing with his money. That is, until I walked into the VIP room one night and saw my boyfriend snorting a line of cocaine." I closed my eyes and held her a little tighter. "The bar was just a front for drugs and prostitution," Bella explained softly. "I knew in my heart that it was wrong, but I was young and scared and the person I trusted most in the world was encouraging me to try it. I was exhausted, and he seemed so energetic and alive. So I tried it. Just once, but I did." She grew quiet as I tried to process everything. "Bella, were you a?" I couldn't even say it. I couldn't even imagine it. "A hooker?" Bella asked gently and I nodded. "No, I wasn't. Jamie tried to convince me to be, especially once his cocaine addiction began taking every dime we had. But I couldn't. It was the only ounce of selfpreservation I displayed throughout our entire relationship." "What happened when you told him no?" I asked hesitantly. "He hit me," Bella murmured. "He apologized. He'd hit me again. It was a never-ending cycle that lasted for over a year. During that time I began to drink. A lot. I was lonely and scared and alcohol was much cheaper than cocaine, especially when you worked in a bar. You could sneak drinks all night or bat your eyelashes and convince men to buy drinks for you." She grew quiet, lost in the memories, and I just held her closer to me. "Then one night, the bar was raided and we were all taken to the police station. That's how Charlie found me. He was sheriff by that time and he had a friend on the Seattle PD. The guy recognized my last name and called my father. I was sober, believe it or not, and as far as the cop knew, I was just an employee who didn't know what was really going on behind the scenes. I think he knew better, but he didn't push it. The next day, I was released into Charlie's custody and he brought me straight home." "Wow," I breathed softly. "Yeah," she nodded. "He put me to bed and I slept for days. When I finally woke up, he made me shower and then took me straight to the doctor. That's when we found out I was pregnant. I was only a few weeks along, but it scared me to death. I had no idea what my drinking might have done to the baby. She arrived three weeks premature, but otherwise, we haven't seen any developmental problems." "She's incredible, Bella," I murmured gently. "Such a smart little girl." "I know," Bella smiled up at me with tears in her eyes. "I am so, so lucky."

She blinked, causing a teardrop to trail down her face. I used the back of my hand to gently wipe the tear away. "What happened to James?" Bella closed her eyes. "He was sentenced to two months in jail and then to rehab," Bella replied quietly. "Two days after he was released, he was shot on the front steps of a crack house in south Seattle. I only knew that because Charlie had kept in touch with the arresting officer. He wanted to make sure that Jamie never made his way back to Forks." She glanced up at me and smiled sadly. "He did, though. He's buried at the cemetery just outside of town. Dad said it was okay that he was back as long as his body was in a casket." Bella laid her head against my chest and wept softly. I didn't say a word. What could I possibly say? That I was glad that the bastard was dead? That I was glad that Lily would never have to know her father? So I said the only thing I could say without feeling remorse. "It kills me to know that you had to go through all of that," I whispered against her hair. "You should never be hurt. You should never be afraid." Bella sniffled softly and raised her face toward mine. We were so close, closer than we'd ever been. Her body was warm against me, and my eyes flickered down to her lips. "I'm afraid now," she murmured, her gaze darting between my eyes and my lips. My hand cupped her cheek as our faces drifted closer. "I don't want you to be afraid, Bella." Her eyes never left mine as she took my hand that was pressed against her cheek and placed it against her mouth. I gasped as her soft lips brushed my palm. It was the briefest of touches, soft and gentle and coaxing, but it was enough to make me beg. "Do you have any idea how much I want to kiss you?" Her teary brown eyes suddenly sparkled brightly. "Do it," she whispered.

If you had Edward on your couch, you'd tell him to kiss you, too. Admit it. :) Today is the last day to vote for "Forget Me Not" as Fic of the Week. If you'd like to vote: www(dot)tehlemonadestand(dot)blogspot(dot)com. You can vote for up to four stories. Please check them out.

The support I've received for this story makes me smile so much. Thank you! Tomorrow is an important chapter for Edward. You won't want to miss it!

12. Breakthrough
AN: Thanks to my sweet readers, "Forget Me Not" is one of the Fics of the Week at The Lemonade Stand! Thank you! Also, I have been nominated for three Shimmer Awards. My banner maker is nominated for three banners that she designed for me, as well. If you'd like to vote, the link can be found on my profile. Some answers in this chapter!

Chapter 12 Breakthrough

My body was at war with my mind. I knew, deep in my heart, that kissing her was wrong. There was too much uncertainty and she'd been hurt enough. I couldn't hurt her. I wouldn't hurt her. That was what my mind was trying to convince my body. But the body is a traitor, especially when a beautiful girl is begging you to kiss her. Your blood ignites and your hands roam. Your heartbeat thunders and your breathing becomes shallow as you look into her warm brown eyes and try to convince yourself that it's just a kiss. It's just one kiss, and it's okay.

But it won't be okay if you hurt her.

I closed my eyes in defeat. "You don't want to kiss me." Her voice was shy and sad and it fucking broke my heart. "That's not true," I whispered, letting my finger glide across her soft cheek. Everything about her was soft and fragile. "I want to kiss you more than anything." I meant it, but I knew it wasn't true. There was one thing I wanted more. I didn't want to hurt her.

That's what I wanted most.

Not because I was afraid of Charlie, but because the thoughts of causing her an ounce of pain was like a knife twisting in my gut. It made me even more determined. I needed answers. I needed to know that I could kiss her and not risk breaking her heart. She deserved that. "Bella, I can't hurt you." Her fingertip gently traced the outline of my jaw. "You need answers," she murmured. "Yes, and so do you. You deserve them." Nodding, she pulled away. I instinctively reached for her, eager to keep her with me for just a moment longer. "Bella" "I should go check on Lily," she said, smiling softly at me before walking out of the living room. Frustrated, I ran my fingers through my hair and leaned back against the cushions. Had I hurt her feelings? Didn't she understand that I was trying to do the right thing? I waited and waited, but she never returned to the living room. The grandfather clock struck midnight, and I took that as my cue to leave. OOO The week passed slowly as I adjusted to the routine of my new life. Even though I was only hired parttime, I'd been getting a lot of hours at the sporting goods store thanks to Mike's desire to take a vacation. I was trained on the register, and I couldn't deny how proud I felt that David and Karen trusted me with that kind of responsibility. I had met twice with Dr. Crowley, and despite my irritation with the idea of therapy, I couldn't deny that it was good to have someone to talk to. Granted, I could talk to Bella, but it helped that I wasn't physically attracted to Dr. Crowley. It allowed me to focus, and focus was something I desperately needed. We were discussing the possibility of hypnosis, and I was open to it. I was willing to do anything at this point. Things with Bella wereinfuriatingly platonic. After the almost-kiss, it was as if we now had an unspoken understanding. We didn't hold hands, and we never touched. A wall that had never really been there before was suddenly tall and solid. I understood it. She was protecting herself. We still shared breakfast and dinner and I was growing closer to Lily through the piano, but the relationship that had been building between Bella and I had suddenly came to halt.

I understood it. I hated it. At our next session, Dr. Crowley assured me that it was for the best. "At this stage in your recovery, a physical relationship with Bella would not be the responsible thing to do," he reminded me. "You need to focus on you." "I know," I replied bitterly. The therapist smiled sympathetically, and I sighed. "I just miss her." Dr. Crowley stared at me thoughtfully. "But you see her everyday." "It's different now," I said. "How so?" "We don't touch," I explained as I stared down at my knotted fingers. "And you need her touch," Dr. Crowley concluded. I did. I needed it. Without any real discussion as to why, he gave me my homework for the week and sent me on my way. The homework assignments were usually simple tasks. Exercise. Journal. Read the newspaper. Learn a new task at work. Watch the news. Play the piano. Nothing changed. My memories were still hidden. Even my nightmares were becoming vague and disjointed. Sometimes it was only two men pulling me through the forest. Sometimes there was a woman. Sometimes, instead of rain, it was snowing at the river. By the third week, I had spiraled into a thick fog of depression. Dr. Crowley assured me that it was to be expected given my situation. I started skipping meals with Bella and Lily, preferring to grab something at the diner instead or just not eat at all. I wasn't good company, and I didn't want to bring them down. Instead, I hid in the confines of my room above the garage.

I couldn't be near her and not touch her, so I hid. I did my homework. I went to work. I tried to sleep. Rinse. Repeat. When I was sure that no one was around, I played the piano in Bella's living room. The voice never returned, despite my pressing the pedal over and over again. My therapist was sure that had been a memory perhaps a music teacher or even my mother but I couldn't be certain. But playing Lily's piano with Bella's scent in the air was the only bright spot in my otherwise dismal existence, so I played every chance I could. It was as close to happiness as I was allowed. Today was Friday. Bella's schedule was written on the fridge, so I knew that she was working the late shift tonight. Lily, I assumed, would be staying with Charlie, so I took the opportunity to play. It was only after finishing the first song that I noticed a folded piece of paper sticking out of the top of Lily's music book. My name was scribbled on the front, and I immediately recognized Lily's handwriting. Taking a deep breath, I carefully unfolded the note.

We miss you, was all it said.

OOO The next morning, I was working the register when a customer asked me to point him in the direction of the maps. "Aisle two," I smiled at him. I might have felt like shit, but I was still nice to the customers. "Thanks," the man grinned as he turned on his heel and headed down the aisle. "My granddaughter wants to do some water skiing up at Mason Lake."

Mason Lake.
I gripped the counter as my legs buckled beneath me.

Mason Lake. Mason.

I grabbed a pencil and an old brochure lying on the counter. With trembling hands, I found a blank space on the paper and wrote the name.

Edward Mason.
"Edward Mason," I said softly, testing it on my tongue.

To my ears, it sounded right. To my eyes, it looked all wrong. "Edward Mason," I whispered again. "My name is Edward Mason." For the first time in weeks, I was smiling. Eagerly, I grabbed the phone, desperate to share this information with the most important person in my world.

Okay, before you tell me that I spelled it wrong I know. :) Mason Lake is an actual place in the Olympic National Forest, so I needed to stay true to the spelling. There's also a Mason County and Mason City, both in Washington. I know way too much about Washington state geography. Anyway, we have a last nameor do we? :) Sorry about the kiss. He's trying to be a good guy. It probably won't last. :) See you tomorrow!

13. Wants
AN: NamUs is the National Missing and Unidentified Persons system which is used by families, law enforcement agencies, and investigators to search nationwide for missing persons. This story is fiction, but NamUs is an actual database and they do amazing work.

Chapter 13 Wants

"This is good, right?" Charlie and I were huddled around the computer in his office down at the station. The sheriff had been my second call. My first had been to a beautiful nurse who'd squealed into the phone when I'd apologized for waking her and then introduced myself as Edward Mason. "It's definite progress, but I don't want you to get your hopes up," Charlie said as he typed on the keyboard. "NamUs isn't finding a missing person registration for Edward Mason." "Which could just mean that nobody is missing me." "Right," Charlie nodded, but he looked unconvinced. "As a parent, it's really hard for me wrap my head around the possibility that your parents aren't looking for you." "Maybe I don't have parents," I suggested. "Maybe," Charlie conceded. "But no family at all? No one in this entire country who is looking for you?" A small part of me almost wished that were the case. It would certainly make this situation with Bella easier to handle. I'd have no baggage. No past. No relationships. Nothing that could get in the way "I know what you're thinking," Charlie mumbled as he typed additional information into the search boxes. Eye color. Hair color. Height. "You do?" Charlie nodded. "I don't think Bella would want you wishing away a family," he replied quietly. "A wife maybe, but not an entire family." Reading my mind was becoming a Swan family trait. "I don't think I'm married, Charlie."

"Oh?" The chief looked at me curiously. "What makes you think that?" "Well, I'm not wearing a ring," I explained. "And even if I'd lost it, or if it was stolen, wouldn't there be an indentation of where one used to be?" "Not all married men like to wear rings," Charlie said. "I would." "Hmm." Suddenly, my name was being yelled across the police station by the sweetest six year old in the entire world. I looked up from the computer screen to see Bella and Lily standing behind the glass, waving wildly. They were both smiling as the officer escorted them back, and Lily immediately started running toward me. I knelt down to the ground and caught her in a bone-crushing hug. "You 'membered your whole name!" Lily squealed excitedly. Unable to resist, I lifted her into my arms. "I think so," I grinned at her. Lily wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed tightly. "Sorry," Bella smiled sheepishly. "She couldn't wait to see you." "I couldn't wait to see her, either," I murmured softly. "Or you."

I'm sorry, I mouthed.

I was sorry for so many things. I was sorry for being distant the past couple of weeks. I was sorry for shutting her out. I was sorry for keeping myself locked in my little bedroom instead of spending time with her and her daughter. Bella smiled at me a genuine, breathtaking smile that assured me that she understood and that I was forgiven. Charlie was watching us closely. Nervously, I cleared my throat and turned my attention back to the screen as Lily tightened her hold around my neck. "Any leads?" Bella asked her father. Charlie shook his head no just as a deputy knocked on the door. "Anything?" Charlie asked gruffly. "Not really," the officer replied. "We've tried to get creative. I found a bunch of Edward Masons on Facebook, but the descriptions don't match. Google was even less help because it returned so many results. We're filtering through those right now." "Keep looking," Charlie instructed him, and the deputy nodded before closing the door behind him.

"I just can't believe that no one is looking for you," Bella said softly. "Is it really possible that nobody " Her voice trailed off and she smiled weakly at me. I knew exactly what she was thinking.

What kind of person must I have been if nobody cared that I was gone?
The thought disturbed me. Suddenly, Lily leapt out of arms and took her mom's hand, leading her toward the restroom in Charlie's office. I couldn't help but smile as they walked away. The door closed behind them, and that's when I heard Charlie's sigh. "Son, look, I appreciate that you're trying to keep your distance," he said. "I get it, I really do, but they're missing you a lot." "I miss them, too," I sighed heavily. "I just don't want to hurt them, Charlie." "And as a father, I appreciate that," he nodded, "but you're hurting them now. Did you see my granddaughter's face when she jumped into your arms? If you could bottle that kind of happiness you'd be a millionaire. And you aren't just hurting them. You're hurting yourself, too." "I know," I whispered. "So fix it," Charlie replied firmly. "It's a pretty day. Take my girls to the park or something. Do something fun for a change instead of working a Newtons or hiding yourself in your room. Don't deny yourself of the only friendships you have." Just then, Bella and Lily reappeared. Lily tugged on my leg, and I smiled down at her before lifting her into my arms once again. "Did Grandpa find you?" Lily asked, wrapping her tiny arms around my neck. "Find me?" "She means in the computer," Bella clarified with a soft smile. "Oh," I grinned. "Not yet." "He will," Lily said. There wasn't a trace of doubt in her voice. "Sure, I will," Charlie smiled at his granddaughter and kissed her on the cheek. "I was just telling Edward how much you love the park." Lily's eyes grew wide.

"I love the park," she nodded excitedly. "Can we go?" I glanced at Bella. "Can we?" Her face flickered with surprise. "Sure, you can take her to the park." I heard Charlie cover his laugh with a fake cough. "I want us all to go," I replied softly. "The three of us." Shifting Lily in my arms, I offered my hand to Bella. "Please?" She smiled, and it was beautiful. "Okay," she whispered as she placed her hand in mine. OOO "I have serious issues with the monkey bars," Bella said as we watched Lily climb the apparatus. "I've seen too many kids rushed into the ER with broken arms." "So why do you let her climb it?" I grinned. We were sitting on a blanket in the grass but being careful not to touch. Her hand had slipped out of mine as soon as we'd walked out of the police station. "Because I'm a pushover," Bella laughed. "She loves to climb, so when she turned six we made a deal. She can climb the monkey bars, but if she ever falls and breaks a bone, her climbing days are over." I grinned as I watched the little girl climb. She was careful with her movements, making sure her hands were in position before lifting her leg to the next bar. "She's so happy," I marveled. "She is," Bella agreed with a serene smile. "What about you?" I asked gently. "Are you happy?" "I'm happy that you're speaking to me again," Bella said softly. "The last few weeks have been" She sighed and turned her attention back to the monkey bars. "they've been hard." "I know. They've been hard for me, too."

"Why did you hide?" Bella asked quietly. "Why did you?" She looked confused. "Me?" "We almost kissed," I reminded her. "I remember." "Things were so weird after that," I said sadly. "We never touched, and suddenly we were just" "Friends," Bella finished with a whisper, and I nodded. "I thought that was what you wanted, Edward." I chuckled, but there wasn't an ounce of humor in it. "What I want. It sounds so simple, doesn't it?" Suddenly, she was pulling angrily at the blades of grass beneath her fingers. "It is simple, Edward. What do you want?" Lily had made her way over to the swings, completely happy and totally oblivious to everything else around her. How would it feel to be that happy all the time? I wish I knew. "Bella, you really don't want to hear this," I whispered with a sigh. "All it will do is make shit weird again, and that is the last thing that I want." "Don't do that," Bella groaned tiredly. "Don't assume you know what I want. You have no idea what I want." Her eyes were blazing. She was so pissed, and I should have been, too, but all I could think about was how much I wanted to kiss her right here in the middle of this park. What do I want? I want her. Period. "I'll tell you exactly what I want," I murmured gently. Throwing caution to the wind, I pulled her hand into mine. "What I want is to know that it's okay to touch you. I want to know that we can grow closer, and I don't have to worry about my past interfering in my future. I want to know who I am so that I can know if I'm worthy of your daughter's hugs. I want to know that I am a good person so that maybe, just maybe, I

am worthy of someone like you." She gasped softly. Speechless. She was absolutely stunned speechless, but that was too damn bad because I was not walking this plank alone. "Your turn, Miss Swan. What do you want?"

See you tomorrow!

14. Small Steps

AN: Sweet readers, I know I misspelled Mason. I know it should be Masen. I know this. Edward doesn't know this. I did this on purpose to be a stumbling block in Charlie's search. The confusion won't last much longer. Next chapter, actually. The Mason/Masen thing will be resolved next chapter. Okay? :) Moving right along What does Bella want? :)

Chapter 14 Small Steps

"Say something," I whispered. I wasn't above begging at this point. Her eyes burned into mine. They were beautiful and bright and, honestly, a little freaked out. I understood it. I had just completely opened my heart to her when I really had no right to do so. What could I possibly offer her? What promises could I make? How could she know that I wasn't completely full of shit? Unable to handle the intensity of her gaze, I took a deep breath and looked across the grass. Lily had made a friend, it seemed a little girl with blonde hair and pigtails. They were taking turns pushing each other on the swing. "Did you mean it?" Bella asked hesitantly. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. "Yes." My eyes remained closed, even when I felt her finger touch the back of my hand. She rubbed tiny circles along the skin before tracing each of my fingers. Each movement sent a jolt of electricity through me. I had missed her touch so much. "I want it to be okay that I have feelings for you," Bella murmured softly, her fingers still tracing over mine. "I haven't had feelings for anyone in so long, and it's scary." I opened my eyes and gazed at her beautiful face. "I don't want you to be scared, Bella." She smiled sadly. "New relationships are always scary, I think. But it's especially scary for me because I

want a man who may not be in a position to want me in return." "I do want you," I whispered. "But you may not be allowed to want me," she replied. "I want you to remember your past, but I can't deny there's this very annoying part of me that hopes you don't have one to remember. That's so selfish of me, and I'm not a selfish person." "That's not selfish," I assured her. Wasn't I hoping for the same thing? "It is, Edward. It's very selfish of me because you may be married to the most wonderful woman in the world. You may be a daddy to your own beautiful little girls. We don't know, and that's why I'm so afraid to feel anything for you." "But you do?" I asked hopefully. Bella laughed softly and placed her hand over mine. "Isn't it obvious? Yes, I do." I leaned closer, pushing a strand of her hair behind her ear. "I do, too." We smiled at each other just as Lily appeared, begging for something to drink. A few big gulps of water and she was gone again. "I'm a person who desperately needs things to be in control," Bella said. "I like my routine because it's familiar and comfortable. I like my house to be spotless because I lived in such a shithole in Seattle. I'm a mom, nurse, and daughter in that order. I spend my life trying to be self-sacrificing and in control at all times, and when I'm around you" She sighed heavily and looked across the grass. "So you're saying there's no room in your life for me." The words were painful. "No, that's not what I'm saying at all," she replied gently. "I'm saying that I don't know if there's room in your life for us, and it's that possibility that scares me to death." Bella squeezed my hand before rising to her feet. I watched as she walked across the grass and over to the swings to where Lily was waiting with outstretched arms. Bella lifted her into the swing and began to push, and I couldn't help but smile as the little girl's laughter drifted in the air. They were so happy. I wanted to be happy, too.

Lily yelled my name, and I rose off the blanket and walked across the grass. "Will you push me?" She asked. She had the biggest smile on her face. "I'd love to." I reached for the chain-link, brushing my hand against Bella's. She smiled at me before letting go and taking a seat on the next swing. She watched as I pushed Lily back and forth. We laughed as Lily squealed, and that's when I realized that Bella had it all wrong. She wasn't the selfish one at all. I was. OOO "She never naps," Bella grinned as we both glanced in the backseat. "She had a big day," I chuckled. After the park, we'd stopped for ice cream. Bella had barely gotten her buckled into her booster seat before the little girl had fallen asleep. The ride back to Bella's house was a quiet one. There were things that I wanted to say, but so much had already been said, and I knew we needed time to process it all. We'd been honest, and I hoped that our honesty would allow us to take some small steps forward. "I hear my cell," Bella said as we pulled into her driveway. She parked the car before reaching down into her bag and answering. She said hi to her dad as I climbed out of the car, walking around to Lily's door. I unbuckled her seat and pulled her into my arms. She sighed softly and nestled her head against my shoulder as I carried her toward the porch. Cradling her in my lap, I sat us down in the porch swing just as Bella walked up the steps. Her eyes lingered over us for a moment before she said anything. "She really loves you, Edward." "I really love her, too," I replied with a whisper. Lily snuggled closer and I pressed a kiss against her hair. When I looked up, Bella's eyes were filled with tears. I was so selfish. "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't" Bella took a deep breath and shook her head as she sat down on the swing with us. "Don't apologize for loving my daughter," she said sweetly. Her fingers trailed through Lily's hair. "There are too many little girls in the world who aren't loved by anyone at all." In that instance, sadness overwhelmed me. I didn't understand it, but it left me breathless. I took a deep breath and held Lily a little tighter. "Edward, that was my dad on the phone," Bella said timidly. "He thinkshe's not sure, but he thinks he may have a lead."

"What kind of lead?" I asked nervously. "He thinks he's found your parents," she said.

I decided that my Bella and Edward are going to be quite vocal about how they feel about each other. I think they need that honesty, especially since there's so much in their lives right now that's unsettled and unknown. Tomorrow's chapter is another important one. Lips finally touch, that's all I'm saying. :) See you tomorrow!

15. Connections
AN: Special thanks, as always, to my beta Shaina and my pre-readers, Katmom and Krista.

Chapter 15 Connections

"Are you alright?" Charlie asked. After a quick dinner and bath, Bella was tucking Lily into bed. It was taking a little longer than usual because of the afternoon nap. Charlie had come over right away, laptop in hand, and we'd spent the evening dissecting every word of the newspaper article. "It's so damn frustrating," I groaned quietly. "This just leads to more questions. The very last thing I need is more questions." Charlie nodded sympathetically. "I know, son. But it's definite progress. It at least gives us a link to your past, and now we know about the misspelling. That'll help tremendously." I was apparently Edward Masen with an e. I stared at the computer screen perched on my lap, reading and re-reading the online article, looking for anything. A clue. A sign. A memory. Anything. I didn't recognize the picture, but there was no doubt that I was staring at a picture of my father. It was me. Green eyes. Copper hair. The only difference is that he'd found a way to tame the chaos on top of his head while I still struggled with the concept. His locks were slicked back. He looked distinguished and important. The article was dated January 12, 1986.

Interstate Accident Kills Two An early Sunday morning accident on Interstate 88 has taken the life of a local businessman and his wife. Edward A. Masen, CEO of Masen Industries, was traveling east on Interstate 88 when he lost control of his 1985 Lincoln Town Car. According to witnesses, the car skidded off the freeway and over an embankment. Both Mr. Masen and his wife, Elizabeth, were pronounced dead on the scene. The couple's three year old child was found properly restrained in the back seat and escaped the accident with only minor injuries.
"No seat belts?" I asked with a whisper.

"Sounds like it," Charlie nodded. "It says weather could have played a factor, as well. The city had seen a snowstorm overnight." "Well, that explains why my parents aren't looking for me," I sighed heavily. "I wonder what happened to me after that." "I'm looking into that," Charlie said. "I don't think that will be too difficult of a trail to find. I imagine that you were either placed into foster care or adopted. Either way, there would be a record of that." "And that trail could lead me to another family." "Which might also explain why we weren't finding an Edward Masen that fit your description," Charlie nodded. "You might not be a Masen at all. Not anymore." More questions. More unknowns. Bella returned to the living room and sat down on the couch next to me. She immediately reached for my hand, and breathing was instantly a little easier. Charlie said goodnight, and I thanked him for everything. "I'm sorry about your parents," Bella murmured after he'd gone. I shrugged. "Thanks, but it doesn't sound like I really knew them. I mean, what can you remember at three years old?" "Still," she said, lacing her fingers with mine. "I know." "We could grab my laptop and do some research on Masen Industries," Bella suggested. "You have to be a little curious." I was curious, but it was getting late. "You have to work in the morning," I reminded her. "I know," she smiled before leaping off the couch and running toward her bedroom. She was back within seconds, offering the laptop to me. "I'm curious, too. We'll look for a bit and then I'll go to bed. You can stay as long as you like." "Okay," I grinned.

Bella snuggled close as I typed Masen Industries into the search bar. According to the front page of their website, Masen Industries was a multimillion dollar company specializing in aviation engines and parts. They were still based out of Chicago with offices and factories scattered throughout the world. "Who is the CEO?" Bella asked. I scrolled down the page. "It says the interim CEO is an Alaskan businessman by the name of Alec Miller." The name wasn't necessarily familiar, but it did give me an uneasy feeling. "Alaska? That seems a little strange, doesn't it?" Bella turned from the screen and looked at me with wide eyes. "Edward, you realize what this means, right?" It could mean a thousand different things. "You could be a millionaire!" Bella said excitedly. "Doubtful," I smirked. "I'm apparently not the CEO." "Or maybe you've been replaced as CEO because you've disappeared," she pointed out. "It does say interim." I buried my face in hands and sighed heavily. I had to admit it was a possibility. Hell, at this point everything was a possibility. I was so sick of possibilities. Sensing my aggravation, Bella carefully pulled the laptop out of my hands and set it aside. Without a word, she wrapped her arms around me, hugging me tightly. My hands slid around her back, pulling her closer and holding her tight against my chest. I buried my face in her neck, inhaling deeply and letting her scent and her warmth anchor me. She pulled back slightly, letting her cheek rest against mine. "I know you're frustrated," Bella murmured. "I know you want answers. We'll find them, Edward. I promise we will." "I just want something to be real," I said quietly, nuzzling her cheek with my nose. She tilted her face toward mine, and my breath quickened. "I'm real," Bella whispered. She was real. She was soft and warm and so, so beautiful. Her breath was warm against my face. My eyes flickered to her mouth, and a groan escaped my chest

when I watched the point of her tongue moisten her pink lips. Slowly, I trailed my fingertip across her bottom lip. She whimpered. She fucking whimpered, and it was that sexy little sound that sent me over the edge. Cupping the back of her neck, I gently pulled her lips to mine. They were soft and delicious and molded to mine, as if they'd been designed only for me. I moaned, pulling her into my lap while her hands wove into my hair. We kissed harder as she playfully tugged my hair, making me groan roughly as her lips parted. My tongue slipped inside, gently teasing hers as I crushed her against me. Her legs wrapped around my waist, and without thinking, I pulled her closer, grinding against her. We groaned into each other's mouths.

So fucking good.
Desperate for air, I buried my forehead against her shoulder as we clung to each other. We were both panting heavily and still wrapped around each other like a vine. I never wanted to move. Ever.

I love first kisses. :) See you tomorrow!

16. Stranger
AN: Some Bella POV once again.

Chapter 16 Stranger

BPOV I had always been a big fan of kissing. Slow kisses. Hungry kisses. Sweet kisses. Hot kisses. Innocent kisses. Panty-dropping kisses. I loved them all. Granted, it had been years since I'd been kissed, but over the next few days, I had the chance to make up for lost time. It was the panty-dropping kisses that were the most addictive and dangerous. It was those particular kisses that caused me to burn this morning's toast. It was those same kisses that led me to miss my turnoff, making me ten minutes late for my shift at the hospital. We had been so careful up until now so hesitant to explore whatever we were feeling because of all of the uncertainties in his life. But that first kiss, and the many subsequent kisses that followed, had made all of those doubts and fears seem so unimportant. I would deal with the future whenever the future arrived. For now, I was going to be selfish and happy. It was that determination that was sending me home for lunch. I never went home at lunch, but Lily was at school and Edward had the day off Yes, I was going home for lunchtime kisses. Just imagine if we were sleeping together. I'd probably never leave the house. Bless his heart, he was actually making me a sandwich when I walked into the kitchen. As if I was actually here for the food. He smiled crookedly at me as he placed the sandwich in a Ziploc bag and placed it on the counter. "You can take it with you," Edward said, his voice husky and rough as his hands found my waist, lifting me effortlessly onto the counter and hungrily attacking my mouth. My hands always found their way into his hair, pulling and tugging his head in an attempt to deepen our kisses. I didn't tug hardjust hard enough to make him moan my name. I loved it when he moaned my name. Breathless, he pulled his mouth away from mine and blazed a hot, open-mouthed trail along my neck. My fingers toyed with the buttons of his shirt, and I wondered how totally inappropriate it would be to rip it off his shoulders and beg him to make love to me right here on my kitchen counter.

It was too soon. My mind realized this. It was my heart and my body that needed the constant reminder. "I'm sorry," Edward panted breathlessly against my ear. He was holding me so tightly, and I loved it. I could feel his heart pounding in his chest. "I didn't mean to attack you, I swear." "I wanted you to attack me." He groaned, pressing his forehead against mine. His eyes were dark and full of need. Gently, I trailed my fingers across his jaw, and his eyes closed as he leaned into my touch. "How long has it been for you?" Edward asked quietly. We were beyond being too embarrassed to ask anything. Our confessions in the park had completely ripped the awkwardness away. "How old is my daughter?" I asked with a giggle. His eyes flashed open. "Seriously?" I nodded. "He was the only one?" "Yes," I replied. He smiled serenely. "I want to change that," Edward whispered, sliding his strong hands beneath the back of my scrub top. No awkwardness. He wanted me, and I wanted him, and we didn't have a problem saying so. "I want you to change that," I said softly. Edward pressed a kiss to each corner of my mouth. "Soon," he vowed. It was the sweetest promise I'd ever heard. I had a goody drawer full of accessories that had gotten me through many lonely nights. It was just a

hunch, but I had a feeling there wasn't a thing in that drawer that could possibly compare to Edward's hands, or his fingers "You're blushing," Edward grinned at me. "What are you thinking about?" Okay, maybe there was a little awkwardness. Instead of answering, I pulled his face back to mine, effectively ending that potentially embarrassing conversation. OOO "That must have been some lunch," Bree smiled at me as I made my way back to the nurses' station. She and I had gone through nursing school together and had been hired at Forks General on the exact same day. She was an excellent nurse a little nosy at times, but very professional when it came to her job. "It was a great lunch," I grinned. While I was fine with telling Edward exactly how I felt, I wasn't as forthcoming with my friends. There was still so much uncertainty surrounding us, and I didn't want to have to explain anything to anyone. Bree went to lunch, and I was just starting my rounds when I heard quiet sobbing coming from one of the waiting areas. I glanced inside to see a tiny girl with spiky, jet-black hair weeping quietly into a tissue. "Miss?" She gasped loudly and lifted her head. She wasn't a girl at all. She was a woman, probably close to my age. "I don't mean to disturb you," I apologized. It wasn't unusual to see someone crying in the waiting room of a hospital, but I couldn't help but be concerned. "Are you okay? Can I get you anything?" She sniffled into her tissue. "I don't even know what I'm doing here. I'm not even sure where I am. I've been to so many little towns. It's just been one dead-end after another, and I'm so tired." Confused, I took a seat next to her and gently wrapped my arm around her shoulder while she cried. After a while, her tears began to subside. "Are you visiting a patient?" I asked. "Maybe I can help you." "I wish," the woman whispered through her tears. "I wish you could help me." I must have looked confused because she apologized. "I'm sorry, I must sound crazy to you," the woman sighed. "I'm just so frustrated and scared. How does someone just disappear? How can a man just drop off the face of the earth as if he never existed?" She began to cry again, and that's when I noticed the picture in her hand.

Oh God.
"May I?" I asked shakily, pointing toward the picture. She nodded and carefully placed the photo in the palm of my hand. Bronze hair. Green eyes. "It's been over a month," she whispered softly. "Everyone think I'm crazy for worrying because this isn't unusual behavior. Edward's always disappearing for months at a time without a word to any of us. But this time it's different. I know it's different. I can feel it in my heart that it's different." I couldn't speak. I couldn't form the words. Who was she? SelfishlyhopefullyI looked for any resemblance. I saw none. A girlfriend? A wife?

Oh God.
"The missing person's database finally found a possible match here in" she looked around the hospital. "Where am I?" "Forks, Washington," I whispered. "I didn't even wait for the authorities. It's the first legitimate lead I've had" she continued tearfully. "But I can't bring myself to ask anyone here. Do you know how many hospitals I've walked into, showing that picture and praying that someone recognizes him? And now that I actually have a lead, I'm scared to death to ask because I don't know if I can survive it if they say no!" She began to weep uncontrollably as I gazed down at his handsome face. Slowly, I turned the photo over. Through blurry eyes, I read his name aloud. "Edward Cullen." Cullen. Not Masen.

I would deal with the future whenever the future arrived.

I had no idea it would arrive so soon.

Come say hi on Twitter: Sydney_Alice See you tomorrow!

17. Family
AN: Some fluff at the beginning because I didn't think we'd had enough Edward/Lily interaction. Sappy alert, maybe? Lily is pretty sweet in this chapter. Thanks, as always, to Shaina for being my beta.

Chapter 17 Family

EPOV "You've gotten so good at that chord progression," I smiled at the little girl at my side. She grinned proudly up at me as her tiny fingers continued moving along the keys. Piano lessons with Lily were the very best part of my day, but today was special. Normally, her afternoons were devoted to Charlie, but something important was keeping him at the station. He didn't go into detail, and I didn't ask. Luckily I had the day off and could spend the afternoon with her. "You smile all the time now," Lily commented as she closed her music book. "You were sad before." "I was sad before," I agreed as we climbed off the bench and walked out onto the porch. Lily was like her mom in that she liked her routine. After our piano lesson, we'd always sit outside in the swing. "Because you couldn't 'member?" "Yes," I replied. "It's a little scary when you can't remember anything." She grew quiet as I pushed the swing back and forth with my feet. "I don't 'member my dad," Lily finally whispered. My fingers gripped the chain of the swing a little tighter. I had no idea what to say. Had Bella told Lily anything about her father? "Mommy says that he went to heaven," she continued. It was just further proof that Bella was too good for me. I hoped with all my heart that James was burning in hell. Suddenly, Lily climbed into my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck. "Edward?"

She was so pretty, just like her mother. "Yes, baby girl?" She smiled sweetly and squeezed me a little tighter. "I wish you were my daddy." I closed my eyes, pressing my forehead against hers. How could I love someone this much when she wasn't even mine? How was that even possible? "I would be so lucky to be your daddy," I whispered, emotion threatening to choke every syllable that came out of my throat. Lily smiled brightly at me and kissed me on the nose before jumping out of my lap and running into the house. I stayed in the swing, trying to calm my racing heart. Why should I care about finding my past when I had everything I could ever want right here in this little house? My girls. In no time at all, I'd fallen in love with both of them. After a few minutes, I followed Lily inside. The Disney channel was blaring from the television as she sat on the couch, and despite the volume, her eyes were beginning to droop and her head was starting to fall. "Come here, baby girl," I said gently, sitting down next to her. I leaned back against the armrest and pulled her close to my side. She snuggled up, and within seconds she was snoring softly. Sighing contently, I kissed the top of her hair and closed my eyes, too. OOO I was awakened by soft kisses and the smell of tangerines and cream. It was heaven. "Wake up," Bella whispered softly. I opened my eyes and found Bella sitting next to us. Lily was still tucked into my side and sleeping soundly. I was still a little drowsy and finding it hard to focus, but I could plainly see the tears that were trailing down Bella's cheeks. "Baby, what's wrong?"

She smiled through her tears and gently brushed my hair out of my eyes. "Nothing's wrong," Bella murmured, but her voice was all wrong. Something was definitely wrong. "Just seeing the two of youand" I'd never seen her so emotional, not even when she told me about Lily's dad. "I'll just put her to bed," I whispered. "Unless you want to?" Bella shook her head no, so I slowly rose off the couch and carried Lily to her bedroom. Being careful not to wake her, I pulled back her blanket and gently laid her against the pillows. I pressed a kiss to her forehead before walking back toward the living room. Bella was still sitting on the couch, weeping quietly into her hands. "Sweetheart," I whispered, falling back onto the couch and pulling her into my lap. She clung to me, wrapping her arms around me and burying her face against my neck. "Tell me what's upset you." She continued to cry as I rocked her in my arms, slowly stroking my hand along her spine. I had no idea what to do, so I just held her close to me and begged her to tell me what was wrong. Finally, she took a long, steadying breath and lifted her face toward mine. "I'm in love with you," Bella said softly. It was the absolute last thing I expected to hear, but I knew without a doubt that it was the best news of my entire life. I didn't need a shred of my memory to know that. "I'm in love with you too," I murmured with a smile, wiping her tears with the pads of my fingers. Very gently, I covered the tears on her cheeks with soft kisses. "I love you so much." This just made her cry harder. "Sweetheart, you have to tell me what's wrong," I begged her. "I didn't expect you to say it back," she whispered. "I just needed you to know that I love you so much." "Why wouldn't I say it back?" I asked, cupping each side of her face with my hands. "I think I've loved you from the moment I heard your voice." "Stop," Bella begged through her tears. "You have to stop saying sweet things to me because everything is about to change, and I'm so happy for you. I'm so happy that you're finally going to get the answers you need"

"Bella, what's happened?"

She closed her eyes. "Charlie's on his way over here," she said quietly. "He's bringing someone who has been looking for you. She just walked into the hospital today, and she had a picture of you" Someone was looking for me. She was looking for me.

"Who is she?" I asked robotically. Bella sighed softly and wiped her eyes. "She says she's your sister." I blinked rapidly.

My sister.
"I believe her," Bella said. "She's really wonderful, Edward. I told her about your amnesia, and she's so anxious to see you, even if you don't recognize her. She wanted to come home with me, but I wanted to prepare you. She's been with Charlie for the past couple of hours, telling him whatever she knows, which isn't much"

My sister.
There was a tug on my heart, and for a moment, I could see her. "Black hair?" "Yes!" She whispered excitedly. "Blue eyes." Bella nodded. "Whatwhat did she say?" I asked nervously. The image was still blurry in my head. I had a sister. I had a sister who had been searching for me, and she was here. Just then, Bella's front door opened. Charlie quickly removed his hat once he was inside and glanced behind his shoulder. "Are you ready?" He asked me with a lazy grin. "We stayed away as long as we could. I have to warn you, she's a littleuh, excited."

Bella and I stood up, and then I heard a soft, familiar voice. "Edward?" I was knocked breathless by the wave of emotion that crashed over me. I couldn't even see her, but I remembered. My little sister, with her ice-blue eyes and spiky hair. My little sister, who was so tiny but so very, very loud. My little sister, who loved to play guitar and sing harmony with me. My little sister. Charlie stepped aside, and there she stood. Tears were spilling down her face as her eyes found mine. She looked so skinny and tired, but her smileher smile absolutely lit up the entire room. My sweet baby sister. "Alice," I whispered shakily, and she sprinted into my arms.

Alice is pretty unforgettable. :) See you tomorrow!

18. Alice
AN: I know some of you never read ANs. Please make an exception for the one at the bottom of this chapter. :)

Chapter 18 Alice

Her name was Alice. I was as sure about her name as I'd been about my own. She was a tiny thing, but she'd still managed to knock me against the couch when she'd leapt into my arms. Cradled to my chest, she clung to me and cried, whimpering how she'd been so afraid that I was dead. "Shh," I whispered soothingly. "I'm right here. I'm fine." She stopped sniffling long enough to punch me in the arm. "Where the hell have you been? Do you have any idea how worried I've been? You take off and don't tell anyone where you're going, and then you don't return my emails or texts and" Alice began to bawl once again, and I hugged her tight while Bella offered to make some tea. "Alice, I don't know what happened to me," I admitted with a sigh. Her piercing blue eyes gazed at me. "Bella says you have amnesia." "Yes," I nodded, "So far, I can only recall three things. My first name, my last name, and now you." Alice's eyes brightened. "Me?" "Well, I recognized you," I chuckled. "I called you by name." "I am pretty unforgettable," Alice winked at me, and Charlie and I both laughed. "Definitely a good sign," Charlie agreed. He was sitting in the chair across the room and staring intently at his cell phone. "I'm trying to reach Dr. Crowleysee if he'll make a house call."

Bella returned with a cup of tea, and Alice slid out of my lap and onto the couch. Sipping it slowly, she then smiled up at Bella. "Thank you. This is delicious." "You're welcome," Bella replied softly. She began to walk away, but I grabbed her hand and gently pulled her into my lap. She didn't resist, and I tenderly kissed her cheek. "Stay here," I whispered. Nodding, Bella smiled softly and ran her fingers through my hair. I sighed contently and held her close to me. Charlie cleared his throat. "Is there something the two of you would like to share with the class?" Bella and I laughed. "I love her," I replied simply, "but you knew that already." "You're right, I did," Charlie smirked before nodding toward his daughter. "I assume the feeling is mutual?" "Very mutual," Bella smiled happily. I nuzzled her hair with my nose and she melted against me. Sighing happily, I looked over at Alice who was watching us with tears in her eyes. "You really don't remember anything, do you?" She asked sadly. "I really don't," I confirmed. "I trust you can help me fill in some blanks?" Alice's eyes lingered on mine and Bella's joined hands. "Some, yes. I'm just not sure if you'll want" Her voice trailed off hesitantly and she forced a smile. "I'm sorry. I'm just so happy to see you, and I've never seen you in love like this. It'sa little overwhelming, but it makes me so, so happy. You can't imagine how happy." She certainly didn't look happy. Charlie rose to his feet. "Well, it's late and I know you guys have some talking to do." Alice immediately leapt to her feet and wrapped her arms around his waist. He seemed unsure at first, but then he hugged her back. "Thank you, Charlie." "You're very welcome," Charlie chuckled, patting her on the back. "And very, very tiny. Good night everybody." Bella followed him to the door, locking it behind him.

"I'm going to go check on Lily and give you guys some time to talk," Bella said. "Alice, you're welcome to stay." Apparently, my sister was a hugger because she grabbed Bella and pulled her close. "You're so wonderful," Alice murmured gently. "Really, really wonderful. I want you to know that. Wait who is Lily?" "Lily is my daughter." "Oh!" Alice exclaimed. "How old is she? Can I see her?" Bella looked apprehensive. Alice understood immediately. "Oh, I promise I won't wake her." Laughing, the two of us led Alice into Lily's bedroom. She watched quietly from the doorway as Bella and I made our way over to the bed. As usual, Lily had kicked her blanket to the ground. I carefully tucked it around her body as Bella kissed her cheek. I leaned down and kissed her forehead, and I heard Alice's quiet gasp. My sister was crying, again. Was she always this emotional? "Give us a second, Alice," I asked once we were in the hallway. She nodded and tearfully told Bella goodnight before making her way back to the living room. Taking Bella's hand, I pulled her close to me and leaned down, kissing her softly. She'd been so upset earlier, and I wanted to make sure she was okay before she went to sleep. "Tell me you're okay," I whispered. "I'm okay." "You were so upset earlier." "I know, and I'm sorry," she said softly. "I was just overwhelmed with so many emotions. At first, I didn't know if she was a girlfriend or a wife, and then when she told me she was your sister, I just started crying. It was happiness and relief and a little bit of fear and I just couldn't stop" "Shh," I murmured soothingly, pulling her into my arms. Her head rested against my chest. "There's nothing to be afraid of." "But there is," Bella replied gently. "She could tell you that your heart belongs to someone else and I " "My heart belongs to you," I said without hesitation. "You heard what she said. She's never seen me so in love."

Bella sniffled quietly against my chest as I kissed the top of her hair. "She did say that," she agreed. "Yes, she did." I gently brushed my fingertips across her cheek. "Please don't worry. Not about us. I know everything else is confusing, but I love you and I love Lily. There is nothing that Alice can tell me that will change that." "We love you, too," Bella smiled up at me, a few stray tears streaming down her cheeks. I tenderly wiped them away. Taking my hand, Bella pulled me toward her bedroom door. "Go talk to your sister and then come back to me." "Yeah?" I asked eagerly. "Well, Alice needs a place to sleep," she reasoned with a grin on her face. "I thought she could have your room" Bella was inviting me to her room. To her bed. Like an idiot, I heard myself say, "I can always sleep on the couch, Bella." "No you can't," she replied, sliding her hands beneath my shirt. My entire body shuddered as her warm fingers ghosted over my stomach. "I don't want you to." I moaned softly as she nibbled on my neck. Suddenly, I could care less that my sister was waiting in the living room. She'd be here tomorrow, right? "Go," Bella whispered against my ear. "And then come back to me." "It could be late," I told her. I couldn't remember, but I had a feeling that Alice liked to talk. "That's okay, I have the next two days off. Just wake me up." I promised I would, and I kissed her deeply one more time before heading back toward the living room. I found Alice sitting on the couch once again, and she smiled at me through her tears. "Do you always cry this much?" I teased as I collapsed against the cushions. "Because I really don't remember that." She tried to smile. "I'm just so relieved. I knew something wasn't right. I knew it." Alice's searched my face. "You really don't remember anything?" I shook my head no.

"I'm not so sure that my coming here was such a good idea," she frowned. "Why would you think that?" "Because you're happy. I've never seen you this happy. Honestly, there's very little about your old life that ever made you happy, but this" she waved her hands around the room. "this isn't you at all. I've never seen you so content, and I really don't want to ruin it for you." "I wasn't happy?" This news bothered me. "No, not really," Alice sighed tiredly. "Honestly, I feel like I should get back into my car and drive away, pretend I never found you and let you live your life because you certainly don't have a happy life to go back to." "Am I a bad person?" I asked quietly. It was my greatest fear that I was this horrible person who wasn't worthy of having Bella and Lily in my life. "You aren't a bad person," Alice replied. "You're smart and spoiled and stubborn, but I am too, so I don't really see any of those as negative characteristics." I chuckled. "Alice, you've got to start at the beginning because I seriously don't have a clue about anything. I thought my last name was Masen." "It was," she nodded. I must have looked confused because she sighed heavily and made herself comfortable on the couch. "Are you ready for all of this? Because I can talk all night." Was I ready? "I think I have to be," I nodded. "Just tell me the truth." "Edward, I have always told you the truth. Even when we were kids. I've never been able to tell you a lie." "I mean about everything," I said. "I have to know if there's anything in my past that can interfere with my future." "Your future with Bella and Lily," Alice murmured, her eyes searching mine. "I've neverI've never seen you look at anyone like that. You're not an overly affectionate person with anyone besides me." How odd. I'd had absolutely no problem showing any affection to my girls. To be honest, I craved it. "You really love them, don't you?" I smiled softly. "I do. Bella is so wonderful. I don't know what kinds of girls I dated in the past, but she's..."

"Trust me, she's nothing like the girls you've dated in the past," Alice confirmed. "And you're right, she's amazing. I barely know her and I can already tell that she's very good for you. She was so sweet to me at the hospital." I laughed then. "Bella was so afraid that you were my girlfriend, or worse" "Your wife?" Alice asked softly, and I nodded. She bowed her head. "No, I'm most certainly not your wife." Fear. I could hear it in her voice, and I could feel it in my heart. "Alice, tell me I don't have a wife." She looked at me with wide, terrified eyes. "Edward, I don't have all the details" No. No. "Tell methat I don't have a wife," I repeated firmly. Her eyes were piercing and cold and sorrowful. "You don't have a wife," Alice whispered faintly. And I knew. For the first time in my life, my little sister had just lied to me.

Alright, everyone, repeat after me: I trust SydneyAlice. I trust SydneyAlice. I trust SydneyAlice. Keep saying that. Things are going to get a little rocky for a while. We'll have Alice who doesn't have all of the answers, and we'll have more characters arrive who may or may not be honest people. It'll be a mess for a bit, but if you know me, you know that I'm never happy unless Edward and Bella are working together to solve their shit and that they are together in the end. Fears? Questions? Hate me? Flouncing? Tell me. I'll try to respond and calm the waters.

19. Shattered
AN: Thank you so much for the support, especially for the last chapter. I know it was a tough one. So is this one. But my Edward and Bella are honest with each other, and my Bella is strong. Thanks to Shaina for being my beta, and to Kathie and Krista for pre-reading.

Chapter 19 Shattered Standing in Bella's doorway, I watched the moonlight as it filtered through the curtains, casting a soft light against her face. She was angelic and beautiful, and all I wanted to do was go to her. I wanted to climb into her bed, pull her into my arms, and pretend that my entire conversation with Alice had never happened. My greatest fear had become my reality. I was a married man. According to Alice, my wife was a stark-raving bitch, and my family disapproved to the point that I hadn't even invited them to the wedding. Alice hadn't been sure that the wedding had even taken place, but a quick check on the Internet had confirmed it. It was amazing the information you could find about yourself when you knew your real last name. I just typed Edward Cullen into the search box, and there I was in all my glory. With my wife. I had stared at my wedding announcement long after Alice had fallen asleep on the couch. The woman I married had short blonde hair and piercing gray eyes. I didn't recognize her at all, and I certainly wasn't smiling in the picture, which led me to believe that I wasn't in love with her. I justcouldn't be. Looking at her picture had left me feeling cold and unloved and fucking miserable. Alice confirmed that our relationship had always been a strange one and the family had never understood why I proposed. The fact that I'd put an engagement ring on her finger had caused my mother countless sleepless nights. Why the hell would I marry someone like that? My memory hadn't returned, but I just couldn't imagine loving that woman in the picture. Wouldn't I feel something? A spark of recognition? Something?

I felt nothing. I knew what love felt like, and I did not love my wife. Something told me that the fact that I didn't love my wife would mean very little to Bella. She would hear the word wife, and I would lose everything. "Hey," Bella whispered in the darkness. "Why are you standing in the doorway?"

Because I can't feel my legs.

The silence was deafening. "You're so beautiful," I finally murmured, trying to control the tremor in my voice. "Do you have any idea how much you mean to me?" She slowly sat up in bed. The room was dark, and I was so glad she couldn't see my face. I could only imagine how I looked. "What's wrong?" Bella asked nervously. We had always been honest with each other. Always. I said nothing. "Come to bed," Bella said. I needed to touch her so badly. I needed to hold her and feel her warmth and smell the scent of her skin. I needed her so much. It was that need that led me to slip off my shoes and climb into her bed. She embraced me instantly, as if she knew how much I needed to feel her skin against mine. I buried my hands in her hair and pulled her close. "Edward, you're shaking. What's wrong?" I just held her tighter, burying my face against her neck and groaning as her sweet scent assaulted my senses. "I love you so much," I choked back a sob that desperately wanted to break free.

Her hands cupped each side of my face, forcing me to look at her. The room was bathed in blue moonlight, but we were close to the window now, and I knew that she could see the absolute fear in my eyes. "I love you," she said tenderly. I could see it in her warm, brown eyes. This woman loved me. This woman should be my wife. "I love you," I whispered again, cupping the back of her neck and pulling her lips to mine. She sighed softly as my mouth caressed hers, hesitant at first and then gradually becoming deeper as our bodies became tangled on the bed. Her hands quickly found the hem of my shirt, lifting it above my head and throwing it aside. Eagerly, she ran her hands across my body, and I shuddered with need as her fingers found the button of my jeans. I needed her. I loved her. We could make love tonight, and I wouldn't regret it. But she might. As gently as I could, I pulled her hand away from my zipper. "Sweetheart, we can't," I said, the agony clear in my voice. I brought her hand to my lips and kissed her palm. "We can't." Her eyes found mine in the darkness. "Why can't we?" There was a tremor in her voice, too, and I felt like a knife was twisting in my stomach. "Edward, what did Alice say?" I was going to hurt her. Whether I told the truth or whether I lied, it was inevitable. "It's late, sweetheart." "I want to know what she said."

No you don't, baby.

"You said there was nothing to be afraid of," Bella reminded me. Her fingers gently traced along the lines of my face. "You said that there was nothing that Alice could say that would change the fact that you love me." "Nothing could change the fact that I love you," I promised her. "I'm afraid that you'll stop loving me." I felt her body tense against mine. "Is my daughter in danger?" "No!" I whispered fiercely. "It'snot like that." "I don't mean just physically," Bella said. She was trying to sound so strong and brave, but I could hear the dread in her voice. "She loves you. I love you. If you're going to stop loving us, I need to know." "I am not going to stop loving you. I will love both of you until the day I die," I promised sincerely. "This is the life I want. In this little town, with these wonderful people, in this beautiful house with my girlsthat's all I want, Bella." She closed her eyes as a single tear fell down her cheek. "You're leaving." "No," I said firmly, wiping the tear away. "I am not leaving you. Not unless you tell me to go." She searched my face, and I could see it in her eyes. She was confused and scared and desperate to believe that no matter what, everything would be okay. "You've never lied to me," Bella said softly. "You've never had a reason to. Please don't start now. I've always been prepared for the worst. I can handle it" her voice trailed off hesitantly as she closed her eyes, "I think I can handle it. Just don't lie to me." I pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. "I won't lie to you, but you need to know that I don't have all of the details," I cautioned her. "There's so much I still don't know, Bella." "But you know something," she whispered sadly, "something that is so terrible that you won't make love to me when I know deep in my heart that you want to." I brushed the back of my hand across her cheek. Her face was wet, and I ached to kiss away every single teardrop. "I do want to. More than anything," I promised. "I love you so much, Bella. But we can't tonight. Not until you know everything that I know." She nodded, and I sighed, pulling myself away from her body and sitting against the headboard. Bella did the same, and then pulled my hand into her lap. I watched as our fingers laced, and I marveled once

again at how she could soothe me with just her touch. "I'm stronger than I look," Bella murmured. "I can take it." I closed my eyes. "I don't know if I can," I admitted. "And I don't want you to have to." "We can handle it," Bella promised me. "Together." "Do you really believe that?" "I have to believe that," she said quietly. "Can I at least start at the beginning?" Yes, I was stalling, but I really didn't want to start this conversation with the words I have a wife. "Yes," Bella said. I leaned my head against the headboard and took a deep breath. "I am the adopted son of Carlisle and Esme Cullen," I began. "My parents met each other when they both worked at Chicago General. My father was a surgeon there while my mom was get this a nurse." I felt Bella giggle next to me. "They struggled for years to have children of their own but they were unable to conceive. I was four when the Cullens found me at a Chicago orphanage. Alice was a year younger and, apparently, we'd been joined at the hip from the moment we'd met. Carlisle and Esme had no plans to adopt two children that day, but they learned very quickly that adopting only one of us wasn't an option." "My father had been eager to relocate to the northwest and my mother had been raised in Seattle, so we moved as soon as the adoptions were final. They opened a private practice in the city and adopted another child. I have a brother named Emmett. He's an architect and lives in California." "According to Alice, we were rich. After years of praying for children, suddenly our parents had three, and we were spoiled beyond belief. I, however, was the only one with a trust fund thanks to my biological father. I acquired it the age of twenty-one and was named CEO of Masen Industries on my twenty-fifth birthday." "Holy crap!" Bella gasped. "So you are" "Yeah," I shrugged. "Wow."

I was a millionaire, and I couldn't care less. "Anyway, I moved back to Chicago to take over my father's company. I'm apparently very good at my job, but according to Alice, I let work take priority over everything else. Family, friendseverything. I rarely spend time with my family, but my business is such a well-oiled machine that I get bored playing boss. It's not unusual for me to disappear for weeks without telling a soul, which is why no one was really concerned that I was gone." "Where do you go?" "Alice says that I like the country, and I have cabins in different parts of the United States. I have one at Lake Crescent, wherever that is." "It's just west of Port Angeles," Bella replied. "About an hour away." I nodded. That still didn't explain how I ended up in Forks, but it at least explained why I might have been in the state. Silence filled the air as I gave her the chance to process all of that. "But you don't really remember any of that, do you?" "No," I sighed. "That's all from Alice." "Well, none of that sounds too terrible," Bella said, tightening her hold around my fingers, "so I assume there's more." "There's more." Bella squeezed my hand, and I took a steadying breath. "According to Alice, I was eager for our company to branch out into avionics." "What's avionics?" Bella asked. "Electronics for aircrafts and spacecraft," I explained. "Alec Miller, now my company's interim CEO, is the founder of Miller Avionics. His company specializes in electronics built specifically for military aircraft. Alice says that we are very much alike and that we built both our personal and professional relationship on our mutual love of money. Recently, he and I made the decision to merge the two companies." "That doesn't sound like you at all," Bella whispered. "I mean, the mutual love of money part. It doesn't seem so important to you." "I know." I closed my eyes and tried to control my breathing.

"You're shaking again," Bella said softly. "Just be honest with me, and we'll deal with whatever we need to deal with." I turned my head to the side and gazed at her beautiful face. "You're so much stronger than I am," I said tenderly. "I'm not stronger," Bella disagreed with a sigh. She lifted her hand and softly stroked my cheek. "I'm a realist. You are a handsome millionaire. There is no way that there isn't at least one woman in your life." "There's only you," I whispered. In my heart, it was the truth. "Maybe in this life," Bella smiled sadly. "But what about back in Chicago?" I took a deep breath. "Alec has a sister. Her name is Jane." I felt Bella's hand tremble, and I held it tighter. "And who is Jane?" Tormented, I closed my eyes. "Jane is my wife." Bella turned her face away from me, and my heart shattered when I heard her quiet sobs.

Remember our mantra? You trust me! I am so bad at self-pimpage, but "Pros and Cons" is up for Fic of the Month at the Lemonade Stand. There are amazing stories on that list, so please check out the nominees and vote for your favorite: tehlemonadestand(dot)blogspot(dot)com/p/tls-fics-of-month(dot)html As for this story, it's probably time for me to promise HEA since I keep getting asked, so yes. Happy ever after is coming your way. Eventually. :) See you tomorrow!

20. Morning
AN: Readers have asked me to start putting tissue warnings on emotional chapters. This chapter may warrant it. Sorry about that, but we have to wade through the crap to get to the HEA, right?

Chapter 20 Morning

It was just after dawn and the room was filled with morning sunlight. My eyes hadn't closed all night. Neither had hers. She was lying on her pillow, and I was lying next to her. Our heads were turned toward each other and our hands were entwined between us. We'd laid like that for hours, just staring and thinking and occasionally talking. Together, we'd gone through the stages of grief. It had all been fairly textbook anger, depression, etcthat is, until we hit denial . Denial was a bitch, because it was at that point that Bella had asked for the laptop. She wanted proof. She wanted to see her. I had begged, because I knew that I sure as hell wouldn't want to see Bella in a wedding picture with some other bastard. "Show me," she'd whispered firmly. I'd showed her, and she had let me hold her while she cried. I didn't have to have my memories to know that this had been the worst night of my life. I had probably hurt many people through the years. After all, I imagined you couldn't become the CEO of a company without making a few enemies along the way. But tonight, I had hurt the only person that mattered. I didn't mean to, and I think she understood that, but that didn't make it any easier for either of us. The alarm went off, and Bella slapped it angrily, knocking it onto the floor. Just then, her door opened, and a sleepy Lily walked in, rubbing her eyes and stopping at the bottom of the bed when she saw us lying together. "Did you have a s'umber party?"

Somehow, we both managed to smile as she climbed onto the bed between us. "Yeah, we had a slumber party," I said gently. "Next time get me," Lily mumbled sleepily before climbing into her mom's lap. "Grandpa's here. He said to wake you up because he wants to go get pancakes." Bella smoothed the hair out of Lily's face before kissing each of her cheeks. The moment was so overwhelmingly tender that I had to look away. "Let's go get you dressed," Bella said quietly before turning to me. "I need to go deal with my dad. I'll be back." It should have been awkward, knowing that Bella's dad was in the very next room and I was in her bed, but I was too numb to care. What could he do? Shoot me and put me out of my misery? I threw my arm over my face, trying to block the light from my tired eyes. Of all days for the sun to shine "I thought I told you to sleep above the garage." I sighed heavily. "Trust me, nobody slept," I mumbled. Charlie cleared his throat. "Care to rephrase?" Realizing how that probably sounded, I lifted my arm to see Charlie standing in the doorway. It was the first time I hadn't seen him in his uniform. "We just talked," I clarified. I pulled myself up to lean against the headboard. "We had a lot to talk about." Charlie nodded and took a seat on the opposite side of the mattress. "You look like shit." "Well, that's exactly how I feel." "My daughter doesn't look much better," Charlie remarked quietly. "It was a long night." "It was," Charlie agreed. "I was up most of the night, as well. It's amazing the information you can find on a person when you have a real name."

"So you know?" I muttered miserably as I rubbed my hands over my face. "I know a little," Charlie replied as he stared out the window. "I know you're a millionaire. I know you're the adopted son of Carlisle Cullen. I know you're a newlywed." Mortified, I buried my face in my hands. "Charlie, I had no idea" "I know you didn't." "I love your daughter." I stared into his eyes and prayed he believed me. "I love them both so much." "What about your wife? Do you love her?" "I do not love that woman," I replied bitterly. "Son, how can you possibly know that?" Charlie asked softly. "Because I stared at our wedding picture for hours last night and I felt absolutely nothing. Don't you think if I was looking into the face of the woman I loved that I would feel something? I knew my sister's name, Charlie! I knew it instantly. Don't you think I'd recognize my own wife if I had any feelings for her whatsoever?" He didn't answer, and I knew he was trying to walk the line between being a cop and a father. "Seeing her picture didn't trigger anything?" He finally asked. I shook my head. "I saw the picture of the woman I married, and I felt nothing. I stared at her, trying to find something even remotely beautiful about her." "Edward, she's a pretty girl," Charlie smirked. "No, she isn't. She may be physically attractive, but she isn't beautiful. Not to me. Her eyes are gray and cold and there's nothing sweet about her smile." Charlie chuckled softly. "Maybe that knock on the head has changed your perception of beauty," he replied. "Maybe it needed to be changed," I murmured. "All I know is that I don't love that woman. I feel nothing. How could I possibly love her when I feel absolutely nothing for her and yet" I swallowed convulsively and closed my eyes. "And yet?" Charlie prompted.

"And yetI look at your daughter, and I feel absolutely everything." I leaned back against the headboard and squeezed my eyes shut. I would not let this man see me cry. A heavy silence filled the air until, finally, he sighed. "My job is to find out who beat you and left you in my jurisdiction," Charlie said quietly. "As a cop, I have to say that there's something very suspicious about the timing of all of this. Did you happen to notice your wedding date?" "Not really," I shrugged. "Alice said it was about a month ago." "It was three days before I found you by the side of the river." "Three days?" I asked in amazement. Charlie nodded. "Now tell me, what is a newly married man doing in Forks, Washington when he should be on his honeymoon?" I had no answer. "And another thing," Charlie continued. "According to your sister, your wife hadn't even notified your family that you were gone. The only reason Alice was suspicious was because you didn't text her back, and apparently, you always text her back. You may not tell her everything, but you do keep in contact with her." He took a deep breath. "Now, it's been a long time since I was married, but I know very few brides who would let their new husbands go off alone right after their wedding. Why wasn't she with you?" "Maybe we were kidnapped?" I offered. "She wasn't kidnapped," Charlie grunted softly. "I made a few calls to some contacts in Chicago. She was seen just yesterday, walking into the offices of Masen Industries." My head was spinning. "Your wife isn't looking for you," Charlie said. "Now, why wouldn't a new wife be moving heaven and earth to find her missing, millionaire husband? My eyes jumped to his. "Because she doesn't want him to be found," I whispered. "I don't know for sure," Charlie shook his head. "I'm not saying she's involved with your disappearance, but I think that's very suspicious behavior for a new bride."

I sighed heavily as I tried to make sense of it all. "Alright," he said, seeming to make a decision. "Here's what we're going to do. I am going to take your sister and my granddaughter out for breakfast. There's no school and it's a beautiful day, so I'm taking them fishing." Alice with a fishing rod. Something told me that'd be a first. "Good luck getting Alice into a boat," I grinned. "She's already agreed to go," Charlie chuckled. "I've called the Newton's and told them you wouldn't be in today. You and my daughter have the day to yourselves. She's going to need lots of reassurance, and you're the only one that can give it to her. Talk to each other and decide how you want to proceed with all of this." I glanced toward the living room. "She's so upset." "Of course she's upset," Charlie sighed as he rose to his feet. "But she's not upset with you. Try to remember that." I thanked him quietly as he walked out the door. I stared up at the ceiling for a long time after that. It seemed that with every answer came a hundred more questions, and I felt like I was drifting in a raging river with no chance of staying afloat. For a second, I considered the possibility of ignoring it all. I could forget everything I'd learned about my old life the business, the money, and yes, even the wife and just concentrate on my new life with my girls. Would that really be so terrible? How wonderful could it have been if I couldn't remember a thing about it? How great could it have been if my own wife wasn't looking for me? "Dad's gone," Bella's voice sounded from the doorway. "He took Alice and Lily for the day." "I know." My eyes raked over her weary face. She looked so exhausted, and I ached to hold her. "We should eat," she whispered softly. "I'll make us something." She needed something to dosomething else to occupy her mind besides my bullshit. And that's when I realized that I couldn't ignore my past. I had to deal with it, so that I could move on to my future. If she'd have me. I followed her into the kitchen where she was already standing over the stove. Without a word, I stood behind her, brushing her hair to one side of her shoulder. I heard her sigh as my hands encircled her waist. Leaning in, I brushed my lips across the side of her neck, and she melted against me. There was so much I wanted to say, and I had no idea how to say any of it. I decided to keep it simple and, most importantly, honest.

We were always honest. "I love you so much it hurts," I murmured against her skin. She dropped the spatula and leaned her head back against my shoulder. My arms tightened around her as I held her close, trailing my lips along her skin. "Why does it have to hurt?" Bella whispered softly. "I don't know, baby," I sighed as I nuzzled her hair. "I think this is a good kind of hurt, though. That's how I know it's real." "You have a very real wife," Bella sighed as she pushed the frying pan off the burner and turned off the knob. She slowly turned around in my arms. "How do you know that you don't love her, too?" She needed reassurance, just like Charlie said. "I don't love her." Her eyes were glistening with tears. "How do you know?" "I could never love her," I whispered gently, running my hand across her cheek. "I could never love her because she isn't you."

Look! No cliffie! :) Tomorrow's chapter is much more hopeful! See you then!

21. Ray of Hope

AN: Some Bella POV today. Thanks to Shaina who is a new mommy to the prettiest girl and still manages to beta for me each day. Also, thanks to Katmom and Krista who continue to be so supportive.

Chapter 21 Ray of Hope

BPOV I hadn't had a drink since the night my father brought me home from Seattle all those years ago. I didn't keep anything in the house, not even a bottle of wine. It was just too much temptation for someone who had a previous affection for drowning her sorrows. A bottle of wine sounded pretty good right now. I was trying so hard to stay calm about all of this. I thought I was doing okay. I was going through the motions, anyway. I had dressed my daughter. I'd cooked us breakfast. I had taken a shower and dressed myself. I hadn't burned his toast, and I hadn't cried in hours. That's a lie. I had cried in the shower. I think he knew. I had prepared myself for the worst. I knew that somewhere in the world there was a woman looking for him. When Alice had arrived, I'd cried tears of relief, because I was just so happy that she wasn't his wife. I'd expected a wife, you know? Wouldn't a wife be looking for her husband? So when Alice revealed that she was his sister, it was as if a weight had been lifted from my heart. For a few wonderful hours, I had allowed myself to hope and dream. Happily, I'd left them to talk and I'd fallen into a peaceful asleep, content in the knowledge that he was getting some answers. I knew it wouldn't be smooth sailing for any of us, but it was family. I could deal with family. I was all about family. But then he came to me in the middle of the night, and I had wanted him so much. He'd wanted me, too. I could feel it in his kiss and in the way he touched me, but last night had been so different. His touches were desperate and frantic, and at the time I'd confused them for passion And then he'd said no.

It was at that moment that I knew that every dream I'd dared to dream was about to be shattered into pieces. He had a wife. It was a fight to see the wedding picture, but I wanted to know. I wanted to see her. I wanted to see the face of the woman who wore his ring but couldn't be bothered to pick up the damn phone and report that he was missing. I wanted to see the woman who'd stood before a minister and promised to love him for the rest of his life but hadn't even attempted to find him. I'd wanted to see her, because I had wanted to see the face of the woman who might wear his ring but could never love him as much as I do. As I stared at her picture, I couldn't really imagine her as competition for his heart. The Edward I knew smiled all the time, and he seemed content with the simple life that we led. He liked his job and he loved my daughter. He was happy here. In his wedding picture, he looked like a man who'd just been sentenced to the gallows. Maybe Edward was right. Maybe he didn't love her. He certainly didn't look like he loved her, and she wasn't exactly gazing up at him with starry eyes. But I also wasn't a nave girl. They'd definitely married each other for a reason. But why? "You got quiet on me," Edward said softly. We'd spent the day alternating between the living room and the bed. We were back in the bedroom now, me on my stomach and him on his back. Our hands were joined. Always joined. "I was just thinking that neither of you look very happy in that wedding photo." "That's the only bright spot in all of this. It'll be ridiculously easy to get a divorce." Something told me it wouldn't be easy at all. Edward sighed heavily and moved closer to me. He had always been affectionate, but today was on a whole other level. His hands were always on me, and I let them be, because I needed them. "I love you, Bella."

His fingers drifted along my spine. Slowly. Rhythmically. I sighed softly and closed my eyes. "Do you still love me?" Edward murmured. He was trying so hard to keep the emotion out of his voice, but I heard it. It wasn't the first time he'd asked. "Of course I love you," I whispered, just as I had all the times before. "I'm sorry, sweetheart." It wasn't the first time I'd heard that, either. "You didn't do anything wrong," I reminded him. My eyes remained closed as he played with my hair, twirling the strands between his fingers. It was so soothing. I needed soothing, because I was about to say something that was going to kill me. "You need to talk to her." He stilled. "No, I don't." "Edward, she has the answers." "I'll find the answers somewhere else," Edward replied. "It's very possible that she had something to do with my disappearance. If that's the case, the last thing I want is for her to know that I'm alive. I will not put you or Lily in danger. I'll find another way." I opened my eyes and found him gazing intently at me. He looked exhausted. The dark circles under his eyes had grown more prominent as the morning had drifted into afternoon. "Surely I have one friend in this world," Edward smiled at me. "I'll find another way, Bella." "You are the CEO of a powerful company," I murmured sleepily. "There has to be someone on your payroll who knows what's going on. Someone you can trust. Maybe a lawyer or something" Edward's eyes widened. "Jasper!" Suddenly, I was wide awake. "Who's Jasper?"

"Jasper ismy lawyer, I think?" Excited, we both jumped off the bed and ran toward the living room. Once again, the Internet became our lifeline. "We need a last name, Edward," I told him, pulling him and my laptop over to the couch. "Jasper" Edward struggled to remember. "He likes to collect Civil War memorabilia. We play basketball a couple times a week." "That's so good, baby," I smiled excitedly at him my first honest smile in hours. "What else?" "He's my best friend," Edward whispered. "He grew up in Dallas, I think. Or Houston. Fuck, I don't know, but somewhere in Texas." In the meantime, I typed crazy phrases like Edward Cullen's attorney into the search box and prayed for a miracle. To my extreme amusement, an array of articles appeared. "People like to sue you," I smirked as I scrolled down the page. "I'm not surprised," Edward chuckled. "Anything about Jasper?" I clicked on the most recent article and skimmed the page. "There!" Edward shouted, pointing at the bottom paragraph. "We are pleased that justice has prevailed," Jasper Hale, Cullen's attorney, announced at the press conference held yesterday on the front steps of the courthouse. "The lawsuit was frivolous and a clear attempt to extort millions from my client." "Jasper Hale," I whispered. "Google him!" Edward demanded fervently, and I shot him an amused grin. "Wow, we trigger a memory and you go all bossy CEO on me," I laughed. Gently, Edward tilted my face toward his. There was renewed hope in his eyes, and it was so wonderful to see. It gave me hope, too. "I'm sorry, baby," he whispered tenderly. "Google him, please?" I grinned as I typed Jasper's name into the search box. Immediately, his firm's website appeared, offering contact information. Jackpot.

"Do you want his email address or his phone number?" He didn't answer. I glanced his way and found that he wasn't looking at the screen at all. He was looking at me, and the look on his face was indescribable. "Don't leave me," Edward murmured, his voice soft and pleading. He gently brushed his thumb across my bottom lip. "I can survive losing everything else, but I can't" Overcome with emotion, he bowed his head. I'd never seen him so vulnerable, not even when he was in the hospital. We were exhausted and scared and our emotions were all over the place, but I knew one thing for certain. "I am not leaving you," I whispered softly, placing my hands on each side of his face. "I am not leaving you. Not unless you tell me to go." Those were his exact words to me from last night, and I remembered thinking that he couldn't possibly make me that promise when there was so much uncertainty surrounding us. But today was a new day, and we now had a ray of hope.

Many are asking how long this story will be. I honestly don't have a clue. Writing smaller chapters each day is limiting as far as how much of the story I can tell, so...I wish I could give you an estimate, but I just don't know. I also want to prepare you because I go back to work in one week, so my update schedule may change. I'll let you know. Your reviews, especially for the last two chapters, have made me smile so much. The trust warms my heart, honestly. And the theories...without giving anything away, I'll just say my readers are so smart. :) See you tomorrow!

22. Wishes and Dreams

AN: The song that Bella sings at the end of this chapter isn't important to the story at all. I just needed a lullaby, and I picked this song because I know how much my beta loves it. :) Important question at the bottom. Please answer it. :)

Chapter 22 Wishes and Dreams

Tiny hands patted my face. "Lily, don't wake them," I heard Charlie whisper. I kept my eyes closed as her little fingers played with my nose. It would have been adorable if her hands hadn't smelled like fish. "What is that awful smell?" Bella mumbled, burying her nose a little deeper against my shirt. Lily laughed, prompting me to open my eyes. "Hi, sleepy head," she grinned at me. "Hi, baby girl." "You and Mommy taking a nap?" Bella and I had finally allowed ourselves to sleep. We hadn't even made it to the bedroom; we'd just cuddled up on the couch and threw a blanket over us. Having her tucked against me while we slept had been heaven. "We were, yeah," I smiled at her. "Did you have a good time?" "Alice caught two!" Lily shouted excitedly. My eyes glanced over at my sister who was sitting in the opposite chair watching us with a soft smile on her face. She didn't look too traumatized from her afternoon. "Alice is a natural," Charlie acknowledged as he grabbed Lily by the waist and lifted her into the air. "What do you say we get you into a bath?" "I want Alice to come with me," Lily said stubbornly. "Oh, I'd love to do that!" Alice replied excitedly as she hopped out of her chair. "If it's okay with your

Mom, that is." "It's fine with me," Bella groaned softly, stretching her body against mine. She was so warm and felt so good, and my body began to respond despite the fact that we had an audience. She shifted again, and I stifled a moan. Thank God for blankets. "Guess I'll take off then," Charlie said, kissing Lily's cheek before lowering her to the ground. Lily took my sister's hand as they skipped out of the room. Charlie waited until they were in the bathroom before looking down at the two of us with a smile on his face. "I take it that the day went well." "The day was amazing," I whispered, running my fingers through her hair as she snored softly against my chest. "We talked all day, and one of those talks triggered a memory." "What kind of memory?" "My best friend is Jasper Hale," I replied quietly. "He's also my lawyer. We found his contact information on his law firm's website." "Well, that's something," Charlie nodded approvingly. "Is Jasper trustworthy?" "From what I can recall, yeah." "Did you call him?" I shook my head. "No, I wanted to talk to you first." Charlie nodded as his eyes ghosted over his sleeping daughter. She was sleeping so peacefully, and I couldn't resist kissing the top of her head and hugging her close to my chest. "Somebody tried to kill you, son." "I know," I replied softly. "If they find out that they weren't successful" He didn't have to finish his sentence. Bella and I had already discussed the possibility that they'd come looking for me, which would do nothing but put my girls in danger. I couldn't let that happen. "I think you should call him," I suggested. "Give him as few details as possible and get him on the first flight to Washington."

"I'll do that," Charlie agreed. "I think you should give your therapist a call in the morning. You've made a lot of discoveries the past few days. Let Tyler help you with that." I didn't need my therapist. Everything I needed was right here in this house. "I know what you're thinking," Charlie said. "Reading my mind has become a Swan family trait," I muttered. "You need your therapist. Call him." "Okay," I surrendered. Maybe he was right. I had so many possibilities and scenarios running through my head. Perhaps I did need help making sense of them. Charlie promised to call Jasper first thing in the morning, and I thanked him as he closed the door behind him. I snuggled deeper into the couch, adjusting the blanket and holding her close to me. She moaned softly, sliding herself right against me, and I froze. "Baby, be still," I whispered against her ear. Her hand reached up, toying with my hair as it lay against my collar. I was going to need a haircut, and soon. I sighed contently as her nails gently trailed across my neck, scratching lightly. The sensation sent tremors through my body, and I held her tighter, praying to all that was holy that she would be still. But no. She just had to shift her body so that she was pressing right against the one area she really shouldn't be pressing against, and she just had to whimper softly when she felt the evidence of how very much I wanted her. Bella raised her head, looking up at me with those soft eyes that ignited my blood. Her eyes flickered to my mouth as her fingertip traced an outline of my lips. A painful thought entered my mind. Was kissing forbidden now? What if she said it was? Then suddenly, her hand tugged the back of my hair, pulling my face closer to hers, and my fears were put to rest. It was a gentle kiss far too gentle considering the lower half of my body was pressed against hers and she was still moving. Her pelvis shifted against mine, and I moaned against her lips as we sunk deeper into the couch.

Still hidden by the blanket, my hand crept beneath her shirt as our kisses deepened. Her tongue slid against mine while my fingers slid up, stopping only when they found the underside of her breast. I cupped her gently, and we both moaned when my fingertip ghosted across her nipple. "Again," she murmured breathlessly, and I let the pad of my thumb rub against her a little more forcefully. Instinctively, I shifted my hips against hers, and she whimpered as our bodies aligned. Bella's deep brown eyes looked into mine, silently asking if this was wrong.

Not to me.
Bella closed her eyes in defeat. She stilled, burying her face against my neck, and I knew the moment was gone. We lay there a few more minutes before Bella untangled herself from my hands and climbed off the couch. I sat up, folded the blanket, and tried to get a handle on my emotions while she went to check on Lily. My sister emerged a few moments later, collapsing against me on the couch and looking at me with concern. "Are you okay?" "Depends on your definition of okay," I muttered tiredly before telling her all about our day, including my recollection of Jasper. "So Bella is being understanding and supportive about this whole Jane fiasco and you've remembered your best friend who just happens to be your lawyer," Alice said with a smile. "All of that sounds pretty positive to me." "It does, yeah." "Bella looked a little upset when she came into the bathroom," Alice noted with a sigh, "but she covered it well. She's a really good mom. And Lily" I watched as my sister's eyes glazed over with happiness. "She's the cutest thing ever. It's no wonder you've fallen in love with both of them." "Is it wrong?" I asked quietly. "What do you mean?" "Alice, I remember so little about my life. What if I'm this terrible person that's totally unworthy of them?" Alice smiled softly. "You're not a terrible person. You're wildly successful and driven to be the best at everything you do. In becoming that person, you've kept your family at arm's length and you've missed more than one holiday, but it's not as if you're this horrible, power-hungry villain. You care passionately about your company and the people who work for you. You're the first to donate to any charitable organization that asks. And, once the state shut it down, you took that wretched orphanage in Chicago, bulldozed it to the ground, and turned it into a playground. You said you wanted it to be a place where happy memories could be made. You even named it " "Happy Trails," I whispered, and she beamed.

"You're a good man," my sister assured me. "You just don't always have your priorities in the right order when it comes to making time for family." "Have you talked to them?" I asked. "Mom and Dad, I mean." "Charlie told me it was okay to call them, so I did. They weren't too worried. Like I said, we're used to you taking off for weeks at a time. When they heard about your situation, Mom wanted to come right away, but I convinced them to wait a bit. I think you're overwhelmed enough." "Did you tell them to keep it quiet?" "Yes, Charlie actually spoke to dad and explained why it was important to keep your whereabouts a secret for now." Alice laughed then. "I told them all about Bella and Lily, and of course, they're eager to meet them both, but only when you're ready. They're just so excited that you've finally found someone who has a good heart and makes you happy." I sighed heavily and asked my sister the one thing I really didn't want to ask. "Alice, I need you to tell me what you know about Jane." She frowned. "Why the hell would I want to talk about Jane?" "Because I need to figure out why the hell I married her." Alice laughed bitterly. "I'm afraid I can't help you answer that. You would never tell me why you were so intent on marrying that self-serving, egotistical, gold digging " "Okay, okay," I raised my hands in surrender. "She's a bitch, I get it." "Edward, you don't understand," my sister shuddered. "That woman is vile. Once you were engaged, you brought her home to meet the family and it was justpainful. Making conversation was painful. Watching you pretend to give a shit about her was painful. Watching her eyes light up like a freaking Christmas tree when our mother took her on a tour of the house was particularly painful." "I just don't understand why I was even with her," I sighed. "What would possess me to marry a woman like that, Allie?" My sister's eyes instantly glistened with tears. "You remember my nickname," she smiled softly. I leaned over and pulled her to me, hugging her tightly. "I'm so glad you're here, Allie."

"Sure you are," she groaned as she wiped her eyes. "You guys were so happy until I showed up. Now everything is a mess." "It all would have caught up with me eventually," I said gently. "At least this way, I'm sort of prepared." Alice sighed softly and looked around the living room. "It's a really a lovely little house. So homey and comfortable. There's a lot of love here." I nodded, which was all I could manage with the lump that was in my throat. "Edward, what is it?" I had to talk to someone about this, and something told me that Charlie wasn't best choice. "I want to be with her, Alice." "I know you do," she smiled, patting my hand affectionately. "We'll get you divorced from that gold digging tramp, don't you worry. And then the three of you can live happily ever after and make lots of pretty babies." "That sounds incredible," I grinned. It really did. There was nothing I wanted more. "But in the meantime" I buried my face in my hands. How embarrassing was this? "Oh!" Alice whispered, finally understanding. "You mean sex?" I nodded. "Is it cheating, Allie?" "On Jane?" Alice sneered when she said her name. "Who the hell cares if you're cheating on her?" "Bella might care," I murmured gently. "I have a feeling Bella might care a lot." Alice gazed at me intently. "I have to be honest. I'm surprised the two of you haven't already. You just seem so close." "We are close," I whispered. "I just want to becloser. Is that wrong?" Alice smiled softly. "Love is never wrong," she promised me. "Talk to her. You guys are so good at that. Talk it out and see where she stands." I hugged her one last time before she headed to my room above the garage. Bella had never returned,

and I was perfectly willing to sleep on the couch, but my curiosity got the best of me. Quietly, I walked toward her bedroom only to find her door wide open and the bed just as we'd left it this afternoon. I then turned toward Lily's room and gently pushed open the door. Bella was singing softly while Lily dozed in her arms. "Have faith in your dreams, and someday

Your rainbow will come smiling through No matter how your heart is grieving, If you keep on believing The dream that you wish will come true."
I snuck back down the hallway and sat down on the edge of Bella's bed, trying to figure out what to say to her. I was still clueless when Bella made her way into the bedroom a few minutes later. I watched as she silently walked over to her dresser and pulled something out to wear to bed. With her back to me, Bella pulled her shirt over her head and dropped it onto the floor. I should have looked away, but I didn't. Not even when her jeans fell into a pool at her feet. She slipped the oversized t-shirt over her head before finally turning toward me. It hung to just above her knees and it was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. Bella stepped closer to me, and despite my fears, my hands found their way to her hips. Pulling her close to me, I buried my face against her stomach while she ran her fingers through my hair. "I love you," I whispered. I felt like I couldn't say it enough. "I love you, too." She placed her hands along my face and gently lifted my head. Our eyes locked, and she smiled softly down at me. "We have to talk," Bella whispered.

The lullaby was from Cinderella. :) Alright, I'm opening up the debate. I lost one reader because she believed that Edward was cheating (which is fine. I appreciated the honesty). So I'm asking you to tell me what you think. It won't affect the story because I already know what they're going to do, but I'd still like to know what you think. Even though they haven't had sex, has he cheated already? And if they give in, are they wrong?

Discuss. :)

23. Promises
AN: So many answers to the cheating question, and as I expected, they were all different. :) Thank you for answering. Like I said, the story is decided so my plot won't change. I was just curious as to what you guys thought, so thank you for telling me. :) I don't think I've ever gotten such lengthy replies! I read them all, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer!

Chapter 23 Promises

Lying in her bed, with her in my arms, it was so easy to forget all of my worries. The house was still, and the only sounds were our breathing and the hourly chime of the Grandfather clock from the living room. I was still dressed. I just didn't think we could have an open and honest discussion about whether or not to have sex if her bare skin was touching mine. So I'd stayed dressed, except for my shoes. Of course, her bare feet were touching mine. Our bodies were magnets, after all. "I've never been in love," Bella whispered in the darkness. I wanted to say neither had I, but I couldn't say that honestly. I was one hundred percent sure I wasn't in love with Jane, but I couldn't be sure that I'd never had feelings for someone in the past. If I had been in love before, I couldn't imagine that my feelings had been as strong as they were for Bella. But we'd always been honest, and I didn't want to say something that she might doubt. "Not even with James?" I asked softly. I felt her shake her head no. "I thought so, when we were kids in school, you know? Young love and all that. But no, I wasn't in love with him. I know that now." I kissed her forehead and pulled her closer. Her hand slid across my chest, pausing over my heart. I was sure she could feel it racing. It always beat out of my chest whenever she was this close to me, but it wasn't just her proximity that was making it pound. I was nervous because I had no idea what she was going to say. "I have a confession to make," she murmured. I inhaled sharply as her fingers drifted into my hair. "I want you so much," Bella breathed. "It's honestly all I think about. Sharing a bed with you is dangerous." "It is dangerous," I chuckled lightly. "I want you, too. So much. But you know that. I haven't exactly been able to keep it a secret." Bella giggled, and I knew she was remembering our make-out session on the couch.

We grew silent, until finally "I think we should wait," we both blurted in unison. I literally felt the tension release in both of our bodies. "You do?" She sounded so relieved. "I do," I nodded. "Don't get me wrong. It's going to be absolute hell." "It's hell now," Bella mumbled, and I laughed. "I know it is," I agreed, kissing her temple. "I just think, when it finally happens, that there should be no doubts. No uncertainty. As much as it makes me to sick to say it aloud, I am a married man. Obviously not happily, but still. You deservewell, you deserve everything, but you definitely deserve to be with a man who has no strings attached." Bella raised herself up and gazed down at me. "You really are perfect, you know that?" "I'm not at all," I whispered, smoothing the hair out of her eyes. "There's still so much we don't know, Bella." "I know," she agreed. Her fingers laced through mine. "I know you say that you don't love her, but she may love you. You did marry each other, after all. I justI can't do that to someone, Edward. No matter how jealous I am of her." I pulled her hand to my lips and kissed her knuckles. "Please don't be jealous, baby." "How can I not be?" Bella sighed softly, burying her face against my neck. "I love you, and she's your wife." "Only on paper," I whispered into her hair, pulling her close against me as she gently wept. Hearing her cry, even just a little, absolutely killed me. "Not in my heart, Bella." "There shouldn't be a difference," she sniffled. "You're right, there shouldn't be a difference." Finding her eyes in the darkness, I couldn't help but smile and say exactly what I was thinking. "Someday there won't be, I hope." Her eyes widened and a lone tear escaped. "You want that?"

"I want you," I said quietly, gently stroking her cheek. "There's so much I don't know, but I do know that I can't imagine my life without you in it." "But your life is in Chicago," she whispered. "I'll deal with Chicago," I promised her. "My life is here. You are my life. Lily is my life. I know everything is a mess right now, but that's what I wantif you'll have me." Tenderly, she cupped my cheek and smiled through her tears. "I want you, too," Bella replied sweetly. "It's very important that you know that. And Lily...she thinks you hung the moon. Every single night when I tuck her in, she tells me that she wishes you were her daddy." It was so easy to imagine, and that's why it was imperative that I not make a mess of everything we'd built so far. Physically, we wanted to be together, but there was so much more to consider besides the sexual side of things. It wasn't an issue of uncertainty not in this case. Our emotions were all over the place and we had a little girl to consider, and I would not risk jeopardizing any of it. Besides, if Bella wanted me, she deserved all of me, and until I could give her that, it wouldn't be fair. But I had to ask one thing. "Is kissing still allowed?" I asked hopefully. "I'm pretty sure I would die without your kisses." To prove her point, she leaned close, brushing her lips tenderly against mine.

Thank God.
That's how we spent the next hour kissing, whispering, and promising. She finally fell asleep in my arms, and I wrapped the blanket around her and kissed her softly before heading to the couch. OOO "Where the hell are they?" I muttered as I nervously paced the living room. Charlie had offered to pick up Jasper from the airport. Apparently, Jasper had been thrilled to get a call this morning, and after swearing him to secrecy, Charlie told him my location. He'd taken the first flight out of Chicago. "Depending on traffic, it can take three or four hours from Seattle," Bella reminded me again. I knew I was driving her crazy. Even Alice and Lily had deserted me in my hour of need. There was a Disney Princess marathon going on in Lily's bedroom, complete with movies, sparkly pink nail polish, and ice cream. I was glad they were happy because I was absolutely sick. I knew, deep in my soul, that Jasper would have the answers I needed. The thought thrilled me. The thought terrified me.

"Hey," Bella whispered, pulling me to the couch and climbing into my lap. I wrapped my arms around her and buried my face against her neck. "Whatever he says, we'll deal with it." Suddenly the door opened, and Charlie walked in. Right behind him was my best friend, staring at me as if he was looking at a ghost. His eyes flickered between me and Bella before his face morphed into a smile. "I took the liberty of drawing up divorce papers," Jasper smirked happily. "I'm glad to see those won't be going to waste."

Why a divorce and not an annulment? I've been doing some research, and let me just say that if you get married in the state of Illinois, you better be damn sure you want to be married because getting an annulment is nearly impossible and a divorce has a two year waiting period before it becomes final! There are special waivers involved in that situation, and you better believe Jasper has those forms. :) I'm all about being accurate, but in this case, I may have to tweak the law. lol See you tomorrow!

24. Jasper
AN: I've had readers from Illinois tell me that there are ways around that two year waiting period, so at least I know if I have to tweak the law, I'll be somewhat accurate. Yes, this is fiction, but I try very hard to keep things as factual as possible. Just play along, because we all want him divorced, right? :)

Chapter 24 Jasper

"You and I have got to work on your communication skills," Jasper muttered as he made himself comfortable at the kitchen table and unsnapped his briefcase. Charlie took a seat at his side while I pulled Bella into my lap. Sure there was another seat, but I needed her in my arms. She kept me calm, and I needed calming because I suddenly remembered that Jasper liked to talka lot. "You cannot disappear on me for months at a time. I understand why you leave the rest of your shit behind, but not me. You can't do that to me. I have to know where you are and what you're doing at all times. You can't just" His rant became white noise in my ear as Bella played with the back of my hair. She soothingly rubbed the back of my neck, and my eyes closed as pleasure flowed through me. "Edward, are you even listening to me?" "I'm listening." I really wasn't. Bella's fingers were now massaging my scalp. I heard Charlie chuckle. "Sorry, Jasper," Bella said softly. "I don't blame you," Jasper replied with a grin. "Hell, I don't even blame him. I'm so fucking relieved that you're out of that bitch's clutches that I don't care if you do it right here on the kitchen table." That was something else I remembered about Jasper. He was blunt to the point of obscene. Charlie coughed. "I uhwould rather you didn't. I'm an old man and I'm not sure my heart could take it." The men at the table chuckled as Bella buried her face against my neck.

Someday, I hoped to be as cool a father as Charlie Swan. "Alright, stop embarrassing my girl," I told them, and Bella kissed my neck in thanks. "How much did you tell him, Charlie?" "Only enough to get him on the plane," Charlie replied. "I don't trust much of anything right now, and that includes cell phones. You never know what can be intercepted." For the next two hours, the three of us told Jasper everything we knew. Charlie began, describing how he found me bloody and bruised on the riverbank as Jasper wrote everything down. Bella trembled as he went into detail about my appearance and injuries, and I held her a little tighter. "You took care of me," I whispered in her ear, trying to relax her. "You made it all better, baby." Jasper's pen stilled. "What was that date, again?" Charlie told him, and Jasper's eyes widened in understanding. "Three days after your wedding," Jasper confirmed with a nod. "You had to have known something was suspicious." "Why's that?" I asked. Jasper reached into his briefcase and pulled out an envelope, depositing its contents on the table. Driver's license. Social security card. Various credit cards. Passport. Birth certificate. Cell phone. Additional papers that weren't immediately familiar to me but had my name all over them. "I handed you that envelope right after I signed the marriage license," I whispered, the memory crashing over me. Jasper nodded. "You told me to put it in a safe deposit box to which only you and I would have access." "Did he tell you why?" Charlie asked. "No, but Edward wasn't exactly being forthcoming with information those last few weeks. Suddenly, he was getting married to that gold digging bitch and asking his accountant to open offshore bank accounts." Alice and Jasper seemed to share the same sentiment about Jane. I found it oddly comforting. "Am I legally married?" I asked in a whisper. He winced.

"I tried to talk you out of it, man." "So that's a yes." "Unfortunately," he nodded gravely. "And unless we can prove fraud, an annulment will be next to impossible." "But we didn't consummate the marriage!" I said angrily. "You didn't?" Bella gasped in surprise. Did I remember, or was I merely hopeful? "It doesn't necessarily matter, not legally anyway. Consummation of a marriage isn't the deal breaker that people think it is. Maybe in the church, but not in the courts," Jasper explained carefully. "We'd have to prove that you were physically unable to consummate. Merely choosing to not consummate isn't grounds for an annulment in the state of Illinois." "It's very important that I'm a free man, as soon as possible," I said, nuzzling my nose in Bella's hair. "So what are our options?" Jasper shot me a glare. "Your best option would have been to listen to your lawyer when he advised you against it from the very beginning." "Sweetheart," I murmured in Bella's ear, but still loud enough for him to hear. "I didn't mention it, but sometimes Jasper can be an asshole." "I don't care if he's an asshole as long as he finds a way to get you out of this," Bella smiled sweetly at him, prompting Charlie to laugh. Jasper grinned lazily. "I really like you, Bella. You wouldn't happen to have a sister, would you? Edward does, but he's always refused to introduce me to her. He fears that I'll corrupt her." "I know you'll corrupt her," I muttered. "You probably shouldn't mention that she's here," Bella whispered against my ear. "What was that?" Jasper's ears were perked up like a dog's. "Options, Jasper. Tell me my options," I demanded. Jasper sighed before going into this huge speech as to why an annulment probably wasn't in the cards. "You weren't under the influence of drugs or alcohol, so we can't claim mental incapacity. I might be able to argue coercion because the bitch was clearly blackmailing you, but you signed the papers anyway, so I'm not sure a judge would buy it."

"She was blackmailing me?" Jasper nodded. "You don't remember that?" "I remember nothing about Jane." "Well, then, you're a lucky bastard because the woman is vile. Yes, she was blackmailing you, as was her brother who is sitting in your office, by the way." "I know, we saw it on the website," I replied softly. "So, you know why I married her?" He glanced over at Bella, hesitant on how much he should say. "Yes, I do." Charlie cleared his throat and shot me a pointed look before addressing his daughter. "Bella, I'm not sure this is a conversation you should hear." Bella looked up in surprise. "Why not?" I knew why. We had no way of knowing if we were dealing with something illegal, and he didn't want her involved in any way. "Remember my fear that I may be the bad guy?" I asked her softly. "Edward, you're not." "Maybe," I shrugged. "But if I am, I don't want you involved." "We don't have secrets," Bella reminded me. "I know we don't, and I promise to share whatever I can, but I have to protect you and Lily." Tenderly, I kissed her nose. "I love my girls. Please let me try to take care of them." Bella glanced over at her father who was nodding in agreement. Sighing in defeat, she climbed out of my lap and began to walk out of the room. "Bella?" Jasper murmured softly, and she stopped and turned his way. "I want you to know that you're right. He's not the bad guy. I also want you to know that I've known Edward for a long time, and I've never seen him look at a woman the way he looks at you." Bella smiled in thanks before heading toward Lily's bedroom. "That bump on the head might be the best thing that's ever happened to you," Jasper smiled at me.

"She's an amazing girl." "I know she is." "And that amazing girl is my daughter, so you understand why I'm staying," Charlie said. Jasper looked hesitant. "You're also the sheriff, so you understand that I have to protect my client's privacy." "He stays," I replied firmly. It wasn't up for discussion. "Fine," Jasper nodded. "You know, they say you block out unpleasant memories as a way for your brain to protect itself. I'm not at all surprised that you don't remember Jane." "So divorcing her should be a breeze, right?" Jasper looked pained. "Damn it, Jasper!" "Look Cullen," Jasper replied coldly. "You are my best friend, and I am relieved that you're alive and well, but I think being your best friend entitles me to remind you that I fucking tried to tell you that this was a bad idea. Give her whatever she wants, you said. So, no, it won't be a breeze. That's not to say it can't be done, but if you think I can snap my fingers and make this all go away, you'd better think again. It would help tremendously if we could prove that she was the one who tried to murder your sorry ass, and I think with the way she's prancing around your building in her Louboutins without a care in the world that we can certainly build a case for that. But no, I do not have a magic wand that will make this bitch go away!" "Alright, both of you calm down," Charlie's voice boomed. "We have plenty of shit to sort through, so lets just take one thing at a time, shall we?" I sighed heavily and leaned back in my chair. "Now," Charlie said in a gentler tone. "Let's hear about this blackmail."

I know, I'm a cliffie whore. I'm sorry! But the next chapter has a lot of details and it needs to stand on its own. See you tomorrow!

25. Blackmail
AN: Important chapter! Lots of answers.

Chapter 25 Blackmail

"Are you okay?" Jasper asked quietly. Charlie had gone home an hour ago, and Jazz and I were now sitting out on the front porch. Rain was falling softly, and the sound of it combined with the creaking of the porch swing was comforting. "I need to clean the gutters, I think," I muttered as I watched the rain fall in sheets along the porch railing. Jasper chuckled. "You haven't cleaned a gutter a day in your life." "It's time I learned how," I said. "I have a family to take care of. I need to learn how to do this stuff, right?" Jasper exhaled a noisy sigh. "Wow, you are really in love with this girl." I saw no reason to respond. Wasn't it obvious? "What are you going to tell her?" "I'm going to tell her the truth," I replied frankly. "We've always told each other truth at least, as much of the truth as I could remember." "What about Alice?" Jasper asked quietly. "What are you going to tell her?" The Princess marathon had lasted long after midnight, and I wasn't surprised to find my three favorite girls draped in pink and purple sleeping bags and nestled together on Lily's bedroom floor. It looked uncomfortable as hell, but I hadn't had the heart to wake them, especially after my talk with Jasper. Alice was all about family, and she loved mine already. "For now, I'm not going to tell Alice anything. "Can I at least meet her?" Jasper drawled. "I mean, I already know more about her than she knows about herself. Shouldn't that grant me at least an introduction?" "God, you're relentless," I groaned tiredly. "Yes, I'll introduce you tomorrow. It's unavoidable at this point, I think."

"I have had a raging crush on that girl since the first day I saw her picture on your desk," Jasper grinned. "I know." "You remember that?" "It's slowly coming back to me," I smirked. Just then, the front door opened quietly, and Bella peeked around the corner. She smiled when she found us on the swing. "Hi, baby." "Hi," she said softly as she crept out onto the porch. "Is it safe?" Jasper and I laughed. "It's safe," Jasper said as he rose to his feet. "So, I guess I should call a cab and find the nearest motel." "There are no cabs and there's one motel," Bella smirked. "Alice is sleeping in Lily's room. You're welcome to stay here." I pointed him toward the room above the garage. I didn't trust his ass to sleep on the couch. The temptation to spy on my sister would be too great. "Thank you, Darlin'," Jasper grinned, stepping close and kissing her cheek. Jasper's Texas accent was always more pronounced whenever he was trying to charm a lady. "Good night, you two." I smiled softly as Bella walked toward the swing. She began to sit down next to me, but I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her into my lap. She relaxed against me, and I hummed happily as I trailed my nose against her cheek. The rest of my life might be complete chaos, but every moment with Bella was perfect. It was easy and natural, and I prayed that my shit would get resolved soon. "I don't like being out of the loop," Bella grumbled. "I know, baby," I whispered, kissing her cheek softly. "I'm going to tell you everything, I promise." She laid her head against my chest as I snuggled her close. My hand drifted through her hair, and she sighed contently. "Is Alice asleep?" "Yes, she snores like a lumberjack," Bella giggled. Laughing, I kissed the top of her head.

"Sweetheart, what I'm about to tell you must stay between us. You're going to feel compelled to tell Alice, but you can't. I have to speak with my parents before we can even consider telling her about this." "I understand," Bella said softly. I held her close, letting her warmth and sweet scent calm me. "Alice told me that our parents had found us at the orphanage in Chicago," I began with a whisper. "I was four, so I probably wouldn't remember it even if I didn't have amnesia." "Did Alice lie?" "Not intentionally," I said. "That's the story she was told by my parents, but it's not completely accurate. They did find me at the orphanage, and I was legally adopted. Jasper found all of that information. Adoption records are sealed, but we could at least confirm the location and date of the adoption. What we can't confirm is Alice's adoption, which according to the story my parents told her took place on the same day. We now know that was a lie. Alice was never in that orphanage with me. She believes she was, because that's the story my parents have told us all of our lives, but there is no record of her." "I don't understand," Bella murmured. "If she wasn't in the orphanage, how did your parents find her?" "I told you that my mother was a nurse?" I asked, and she nodded. "Not long after my adoption was final, my mother was working in the ER when a sixteen year old girl came in, complaining of severe back pain. It didn't take long for them to realize that the girl was actually in labor, and thirty minutes later, Alice arrived. The girl was living on the streets and a cocaine addict, and she begged my mother to take her baby." Bella gasped as her head snapped up. Her eyes were filled with tears. "My mother had suffered three miscarriages. It'd taken them nearly a year to find me. And here was a girl, justoffering my mother a child. When the girl was discharged, my parents took her to their home. They gave her a warm place to sleep, clothes to wear, and food to eat while they tried to decide what to do. Two days later, the young girl was long gone, and Alice was left behind in the crib. "Oh, Edward," Bella whispered sadly. "It was probably the kindest thing the girl could have ever done for her baby, but it put my parents in an impossible situation. Of course they'd grown attached to Alice, and they knew the grueling process that they were facing. They would have to involve the police, child servicesthe child would most likely had been placed in a foster home, and there was no guarantee that my parents would have been chosen as the foster parents. "They kept her," Bella concluded with a sigh. "Yes." "Without legally adopting her." I nodded.

"That's why they moved to Seattle," Bella reasoned quietly. "Yes," I replied. "A new life with their new family." Bella sighed softly and rested her head against my shoulder. "Apparently, my good friend Alec wanted some leverage in terms of our merger to make sure that the deal went as smoothly as he hoped it would go. So he did some digging into my family, and it didn't take him long to discover that there was no paper trail to Alice's adoption. He dug deeper, until he found a retired nurse in Chicago who just happened to be my mother's best friend during that time. He paid her off, and she spilled my mother's secrets. It was all the leverage he needed to make sure that I agreed to anything in order to protect my family's reputation and my sister's heart." "Could your parents go to jail?" "We don't know," I admitted. "Jasper doesn't think so since it was so long ago, but we can't be sure. At the very least, it would destroy my parents' reputation. My father could even lose his medical license. We just don't know, and that's why it's imperative that this stay quiet." "How does Jasper know all of this?" Bella wondered. "Because Jasper was there during the negotiation with Alec," I explained. "Not only did Alec want to merge our companies, but he also wanted to secure a future for his twin sister. He would have access to my company, and she would have access toeverything else. They wanted to destroy me. He knew all he'd have to do was threaten to expose my family and I'd do anything he asked." "And that's why you married Jane." I nodded. "According to Jasper, my intention was to finalize the merger and then convince the board to oust Alec. My grand plan was to ruin him and divorce her, but as you know, my plan took a sharp detour. Jasper said the ink had barely dried on the marriage license before I was handing him that envelope with my personal information. The next thing he knew, I was gone. Jane disappeared too, so he assumed we were away on some fake honeymoon in order to keep up appearances, but then he spotted her in my office and not soon after that, Alec was named CEO. When he asked about my whereabouts, Jane said that I was off on one of my extended vacations. Jasper had no reason to doubt it because I was always disappearing. He was actually excited that I'd somehow escaped her. But time passed, and Jasper wasn't able to reach me. It was at that time that the board named Alec as interim CEO." "They figured it out," Bella said softly. "Jane and Alec realized what you were going to do." "I think I knew that, too. Why else would I give Jasper all of my identifying information? Charlie thinks I realized that they were onto me, and I was planning ahead. I didn't want them to have access to any of my personal information in case they succeeded. The envelope was my nest egg. If they won, at least they wouldn't get everything. Or, if they killed me, at least there would be something left behind for my family." With a shuddering sigh, Bella buried her face against my chest.

"Well, that's the first part of the puzzle," Bella said quietly. "Now we have to figure out how to connect Jane and Alec with your attempted murder." "And I have to do that very carefully in order to protect the two of you," I said. "As my wife, Jane has access to whatever money I didn't bury in those offshore accounts and to my insurance policy. If she suspects that I am indeed alive, she has the resources to hire whoever botched the job the first time" "Or to hire someone new to finish the job," Bella whispered shakily. The rain was beginning to diminish and the wind was getting chilly, but we sat there in the swing and clung to each other, desperate to be as close as possible. There was so much I still didn't know, but one thing was for certain. I had to protect my family. All of them. The ones that were sleeping in this house tonight and the ones who were four hours away in Seattle. I had to protect them all.

So there you go. The first part of the mystery is solved. See you tomorrow!

26. Infatuation
AN: The last chapter was so heavy that I thought we needed some fluff. It's oozing in this chapter for everyone involved. Important AN at the bottom regarding my update schedule. Please read. :)

Chapter 26 Infatuation

I awoke to the smell of bacon, and my stomach rumbled. Had I eaten anything at all last night? Bella and I had talked until the wee hours of the morning, which wasn't good at all because I knew she had a twelve-hour shift today. But she'd needed comforting, and to be honest, so did I. I'd had a shitload of information dumped into my lap, and my head had ached from trying to make sense of it all. After folding my blanket and throwing it across the back of the couch, I made my way to the kitchen. Bella was there, standing over the stove and flipping pancakes. She was wearing her scrubs and her ponytail bounced as she hummed softly. I could do nothing but stand in the entryway and gaze at her. She was so strong; far stronger than I could ever hope to be. And she was willing to put up with all of my bullshit because she loved me. Love was an astounding emotion, and one that I was sure I'd never felt before. Sure, I loved my family. That was obvious by the fact that I'd been willing to put everything on the line to protect them. But this love the love I felt for Bella and her daughter was something so infinite and staggering that it overwhelmed me at times. What would I do if she woke up one morning and decided that I wasn't worth the trouble? I'd never survive it. "Are you going to stand over there all day or are you going to come kiss me good morning?" Bella asked. She was smiling down at the frying pan. Laughing softly, I made my way over to her and tugged lightly on her ponytail before kissing the back of her neck. "Good morning, baby." "Good morning," she smiled as she looked over her shoulder. Wrapping my arms around her waist, I held her close to my chest as she finished cooking. "Dad woke me up bright and early. He'd like to take you to the river today. Dr. Crowley thinks that perhaps going back to the scene might trigger something."

I had been expecting that, so I wasn't too surprised. I just hated to desert the Newtons again. It was probably time to let them find someone to replace me. According to Jasper, I didn't necessarily need the money, but I would miss the people. "Everything's changing so fast," I murmured against her neck. "I know," she whispered gently as she turned around in my arms, giving the bacon some time to sizzle. "How are you feeling this morning?" Pressing my forehead against hers, I sighed contently. "I feel very much in love with you," I whispered, nuzzling her nose with mine. "And I feel very hopeful." "Hopeful is good," Bella said softly. "I love you, too, no matter what you decide." She pulled away, and I was left standing confused and slightly panicked. Bewildered, I watched as she finished preparing breakfast and carried everything over to the table. "What do you mean whatever I decide?" I heard her take a deep breath before she turned to face me. "Edward, you're a millionaire." "So?" "So you have your father's company to run, and I'm sure you have this beautiful, sprawling estate back in Chicago, andI can't move to Chicago." She sounded so timid and unsure, and I hated it. Why the hell was she suddenly worrying about this? "Bella, I'd never ask you to move to Chicago." "I know you wouldn't." Her eyes were soft and kind and her voice was so insecure. Why was she feeling this way? "Come here," I murmured, pulling her by the hand and leading her to a kitchen chair. She nestled into my lap, and I enveloped her in my arms, hugging her tightly. "Bella, what is it?" She sighed softly as her fingers toyed nervously with the back of my hair.

"I had a dream." "What kind of dream?" "You went to Chicago and you never came back," Bella said quietly. "Why would you come back, Edward? Your company is there. Your home is there. Your memory is starting to return. You might remember that you really love it in the city. I would understand, honestly. This is Forks. It rains all the time and there's nothing to do and " "Stop this," I whispered, cupping her face gently in my hand. Her eyes were swimming with tears. "Bella Swan, you seriously underestimate my feelings for you." "I know you love me," she assured me. "It's not a question of loving me." "It's a question of whether I love you enough to leave behind everything I've ever known," I said gently, and she nodded. The girl obviously had no idea the hold she had over me. I thought I made it abundantly clear on a daily basis, but I was obviously mistaken. Softly, I kissed the hollow below her ear. "First of all, you're assuming I still have a company. By the time this shit is sorted, there may not even be a paperweight left on my desk." I let my lips make a trail from her ear down along her neck, and she trembled in my arms. "I'm sure I have a beautiful house in Chicago," I said, dipping my head and trailing my mouth along her collarbone. She moaned softly as my tongue tasted her skin. "Jasper tells me that it's filled with priceless works of art that I don't even like and the backyard has a tennis court that I never use." Her fingers tangled in my hair as my mouth finally made its way to hers. "I will give it all up in a heartbeat if it means I can spend the rest of my life with you," I whispered against her lips. She sighed softly as my mouth molded to hers, kissing her deeply. Pulling her tight to my chest, I groaned as our tongues met and her fingers tugged gently on my hair. When she finally pulled away, we were both panting. "I'm sorry," Bella murmured breathlessly. "You should know that there are moments when I become such an insecure girl that it's ridiculous." I chuckled softly as I gazed into her beautiful brown eyes. "I'll just have to spend every day reminding you that there's nowhere I'd rather be than in this little town where it rains all the time. That place in Chicago is just a house. This is my home. Do you see the difference?"

"I do," Bella said softly. "I just worry that you'll get bored. There's nothing here" "You are here," I whispered, stroking her cheek with my fingertips. "Lily is here. What else could I possibly need? Bella, my love for you is the only thing in this world that I'm absolutely sure of. Please don't question it." I kissed her softly just as Lily's drowsy voice echoed from the entryway. "You guys kiss all the time." Bella and I laughed as she pulled herself out of my lap and grabbed plates from the cabinet. Lily crawled into my lap, wrapping her arms around my neck and hugging me tightly. "Good morning, Princess Lily," I smiled at her. "Did you have fun with Alice last night?" "See my fingernails?" She wiggled them in front of my face, all sparkly and pink. "We painted Mommy's, too." "Crap!" Bella groaned as she grabbed a slice of bacon. "That reminds me. I have to take this polish off before I get to the hospital." She smiled down at Lily and kissed her cheek. "I'll go do that real quickly while you guys eat. Oh, and you might want to tell her about Jasper." Before I had the chance, Jasper walked through the back door. "That's Jasper," I grinned at her. I finished slicing her pancake and pouring syrup over the pieces. "He's my best friend." "My kingdom for a cup of coffee," he moaned tiredly. His eyes settled on the little girl at my side, and he grinned. "Princess Lily, I presume?" Lily giggled as she waved her fork in hello. Syrup was already dribbling down her chin, and I grabbed a napkin. "We don't drink coffee," I smirked at him. "You used to," Jasper muttered as he dropped into a seat. "Starbucks? This place has to have a Starbucks." I laughed and pointed toward the juice. "Fuck me," Jasper groaned. Lily gasped softly and dropped her fork. "Jeez, Jazz" I mumbled. Swiftly, Lily climbed out of her chair and walked quietly toward her bedroom.

"You're a dumbass." "Sorry, I'm not used to being around kids," Jasper grumbled as he stabbed at a pancake. Just then, Lily came back in, carrying a jar of money. She promptly set it on the table in front of him. "Five dollars," she announced. Jasper's eyes widened. "Excuse me?" I'd never seen the jar before, but it was full of dollar bills and various coins. "It's the Swear Jar," Lily explained patiently. "Mommy and Grandpa give me five dollars each time they say a bad word." Jasper snorted and fished his wallet out of his back pocket. Pulling out a fifty, he immediately handed it over to the little entrepreneur. "I might be in town for a while," Jasper said with a wink. "That should cover me for a few days." Lily happily slipped the money into her jar, and the three of us finished our breakfast. "It smells so good in here!" Alice moaned as she walked into the kitchen. Jasper's fork stopped in mid-air as he watched my sister grab a plate out of the cabinet. "Holy shit," Jasper whispered. Lily glanced uncertainly at the jar. I was pretty sure they didn't do division in the first grade. "He's still good," I grinned at her. She giggled happily as I once again wiped the syrup off her chin. "Oh!" Alice gasped when she turned to see her stalker staring a hole through her. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you had company." I had been trying to avoid this introduction for years. Jasper was my best friend, but from what I could recall, he didn't have a great track record with the women he dated. This was my sister, and I'd hate to have to kill him. "Alice, this is my best friend and attorney " "Jasper Hale," he grinned, his breakfast long forgotten as he rose from his chair. My sweet sister's crystal blue eyes sparkled as he approached her. He held out his hand, she accepted it, and I rolled my eyes as he kissed the back of it. They just stood there staring at each other with their mouths wide open and I sighed in defeat. Instant infatuation.

Just then, Bella returned, and she grinned when she saw my sister and my best friend gazing at each other like they were each other's lost souls. "Love at first sight," she whispered with a soft giggle as she climbed into my lap once again. I buried my nose in her hair and hugged her close. "I know the feeling," I murmured against her ear.

We'll go to the river tomorrow. It's another important chapter! Alright, guys, I feel the need to prepare you. I go back to work Monday, so...the daily update experiment may come to an end. I just can't promise that I can keep up with writing, get it beta'd daily, and work a full-time job. So, let's just say that I'll try to update daily, but if I don't, I promise to update at least weekly. The plus side to that is that you'll get longer chapters. I hate it, but I have a mortgage and a job, and real life has to come first. Thanks for understanding. :) Come say hi on Twitter! I'm Sydney_Alice over there. See you tomorrow. :)

27. The River

AN: This chapter begins with EPOV and ends with a brief look at Bella's day. I've tried not to switch POVs within a chapter, but it's necessary today. You'll see why.

Chapter 27 The River

EPOV The forest was lush and green with the sound of the river rumbling in my ears. It was such a peaceful place in the daylight, but I could see where it could be a terrifying place in the dark of the night. "Anything about this trail seem familiar?" Dr. Crowley asked as we made our way along the path. "I remember the smell of pine," I shrugged. I knew it wasn't very helpful. The whole damn forest was filled with pine trees. Since he'd grown up in these woods, Charlie was leading the way with the doctor following behind him. The two city boys were lagging behind, but I was proud to say that I wasn't nearly as out of breath as Jasper seemed to be. With every step he took, a curse escaped his lips. "It's a damn good thing the princess and her Swear Jar didn't come with us," Jasper groaned as he stepped over a fallen rock. "I'd have to hit an ATM." I chuckled just as Charlie pointed over an overgrown cliff. "There it is," he announced. My eyes raked over the river bank, and then I felt everyone's heads turn in my direction. What did they expect? One brief glimpse of a raging river and my memories would just come flooding back? "Closer?" Charlie asked. I nodded and the four of us made our way down the rocky cliff until our feet finally found the sandy earth of the shore. "Maybe we should have done this at night," Jasper suggested. I'd considered that possibility, as well. "The forest isn't the safest place at night," Charlie commented as he pointed across the water. Standing there was a giant bear and her young cub as they made their way along the shore. She looked our way, and I was so glad there was this enormous body of water standing between us. "Do bears swim?" Jasper muttered nervously. "Yep," Charlie nodded.

Thankfully, the mama bear seemed to know that we weren't a threat, and she led her cub back into the forest. Jasper breathed a loud sigh of relief. "Alright, Edward," Dr. Crowley turned toward me. "Why don't we sit down and see if we can jog that memory of yours?" The four of us found a spot on the sand and I pulled my knees close to my chest. For the thousandth time since we'd left the house, I wished Bella was here. Everything always seemed harder when she wasn't around. My chest was tight, and when the doctor caught me rubbing it, he reminded me that we were safe, and that the SUV was just two miles up the road. It helped a little. "Close your eyes," the doctor prompted me. I obeyed and tried to concentrate on the sounds around me. All I could hear was rushing water. "Try to keep them closed," Dr. Crowley's voice resonated in my ear. "What do you remember?" "It was dark and everything smelledwet. I guess it was raining, or had rained earlier. I remember my feet slipping on the ground, and I remember being dragged." "Who dragged you?" "Three men," I recalled quietly. "Two were dragging me by my arms and one had a gun pressed into my back." "Can you see them?" Dr. Crowley asked. I felt my eyes tighten as I tried to recall their faces. "Just the one on my right. He was taller than me. Really broad-shouldered, muscular. He kicked the hardest." "Did they call each other by name?" I had flashes of images being dragged into a van, waking up on the highway and being knocked out again. But it was jumbled and I couldn't be sure that any of it was legit. Suddenly, I heard the deep, hooting call of a bird overhead, and my body tensed. "Shut him up, Felix!" I gasped loudly as terror filled me. All of a sudden, it was too dark, and everything hurt. My ribs. My back. My head ached and my body began to tremble uncontrollably. I was alone and they were going to kill me. "Edward, you're safe," Dr. Crowley's voice drifted amongst the disjointed images and sounds.

I'm safe.
"What do you remember?" "That bird," I whispered anxiously. "That was a sooty grouse," the therapist explained softly. "Did you hear that sound that night?" I nodded. "That's very good." His voice was soft and coaxing. "What else can you remember?" "Felix" I murmured vaguely. "I think one of the names was Felix." "That son of a bitch!" Jasper shouted angrily. "Felix Castro?" "Who is Felix Castro?" Charlie asked, and their voices became white noise as my eyes flew open. It was as if a switch had been flipped, and suddenly, I couldn't keep up with the deluge of memories flooding my head. I was Edward Cullen. I was the CEO of Masen Industries. I lived at 413 Ravenwood Avenue. I served on the board of directors of more charitable organizations than I could count on both hands. I fucking hated my life in the city, and because of that intense hatred, I had vacation homes in various places. One in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One in upstate New York. One in Aspen. And one in Lake Crescent, Washington. The one in Lake Crescent was my favorite, because it made me feel close to my family a family I desperately missed, and it was my fault that I missed them because I didn't make time for them. I had a sweet sister who owned her own art gallery and a brother in California who had always liked to build shit with Legos. Now he designed buildings for a living and he was a millionaire. He had a wife named Rosalie who was hell on heels, and I loved her because she kept Em in line and didn't take my crap whenever I made time to visit. "Edward?" Dr. Crowley's voice was gentle. "What are you remembering?" I remembered everything. "The last time we played basketball, you beat me by two points," I said to Jasper. His eyes widened.

"That's right," he confirmed. "You fouled me as I went up for that last layup." "I always foul you," Jasper grinned. "Holy shit, you remember that?" I nodded. I remembered everything. My lonely life in Chicago. My merger with Alec. Marrying Jane Hell no, we didn't consummate our marriage. I could barely stand to look at her. I'd even refused to kiss the bride, which confused the minister, but we were paying him so much he didn't dare ask questions. And I remembered Lake Crescent, and being pulled from my cabin in the middle of the night. I remembered it all. "Felix Castro is a security guard at Masen Industries," I murmured. "I only know his name and not his face because I let Human Resources do most of the hiring unless they're going to be working directly with me. He works the nightshift and has only been there about six months." "And you only know his name because you sign his paycheck," Jasper explained. "You've never trusted to have checks electronically signed and deposited. You're quite meticulous about payroll because " "Once there was a fuck-up in accounting and my entry-level employees weren't paid for over a month," I whispered. I'd been sick over the fact that my lowest paid employees had suffered yet the vice presidents had all managed to cash their checks. From that day forward, my office had handled payroll. Angela, my secretary, absolutely hated me for it, but I doubled her salary, and she forgave me. I wondered if she still had a job. "You remember everything?" Charlie asked. "Yes," I whispered. "The wedding? Your abduction?" I nodded. "We should have brought you out to this river a month ago," Charlie grunted as we all struggled to stand. "Let's get back to the station and call the Chicago PD. See what we can find on Mr. Castro."

Satisfied that our expedition had been a success, Charlie led the four of us out of the forest and back to the SUV. "Do you have cell service out here?" I asked Charlie excitedly. "No. We'll have to drive up the road a bit, and even then service is spotty." Charlie smirked. "Can't wait to tell her, huh?" I remembered absolutely everything, and I couldn't wait to tell her.

BPOV I anxiously drummed my fingers along my clipboard. Thank God rounds were over and I could go back to the nurse's station and check my cell. I was an absolute nervous wreck. The river outing could be huge. It could also be the biggest letdown, and that was the last thing we needed. We needed some good news, and I prayed that today would bring us some kind of breakthrough. I had just sat down and pulled my cell phone out of my pocket when a towering, dark-haired man appeared, casting a shadow over my head. He was smiling, but his demeanor was anything but friendly. I was instantly on alert and looking around for a security guard. "May I help you?" "I hope so," the man nodded. He pulled a picture out of his inside jacket pocket. "I am looking for my brother. He's been missing for quite some time, and, as you can imagine, our family is concerned. I was wondering if perhaps you'd seen him?" He offered me the picture. I stopped breathing when I saw Edward's wedding photo.

Edward's family hates Jane

"I'm sorry," I whispered, trying desperately to sound braver than I felt. "What did you say your name was?" "I didn't," the menacing man smiled at me, and my heart began to pound. "But my name is Emmett. Emmett Cullen."

See you tomorrow!

28. Crash
AN: It's after midnight, and I don't plan to be around the computer Friday morning (my classroom is calling), so instead of making you wait until the afternoon, here is Friday's update. Remember the mantra? You trust me, remember? Double POV again.

Chapter 28 Crash

BPOV Charlie always said I could never play cards professionally because I had a terrible poker face. I really hoped that wasn't true. This wasn't Edward's brother. I wasn't sure how I knew that. Maybe because he was trying so hard to seem friendly when it was obvious he was anything but. Maybe it was because he was holding that wretched wedding photo when I knew that none of Edward's family attended that farce of a wedding. This was not Emmett Cullen. "I'm sorry." I attempted a kind smile as I slowly placed my hand the hand holding my cell phone in my scrub pocket. "I don't recognize the man in that picture. Perhaps I could call the sheriff? He might be able to help you." I reached for the desk phone. "Miss Swan, I wouldn't make that call if I were you. Not if you want to see your daughter again." Bone-crushing, suffocating terror flooded my senses, and my eyes shot to his. "Do I have your attention, Miss Swan?" Nod. "Are you going to cooperate?" Nod.

"We don't want to make a scene, and I'm well aware of the security cameras, so here is what we're going to do," his voice was low and firm. "You are going to take a lunch break, and you are going to step outside for some fresh air. You are going to walk to your car, where you will find my associate in the back seat. He will give you directions, and you will drive to a cabin where you will be reunited with your daughter and her babysitter." They have Alice. And Lily. Lily "Nod if you understand." Nod. "You will cooperate. Otherwise, I will have to call my boss, and he will not be happy. We want to keep him happy, yes?" Nod. "Very good," the man said softly. "Now, make arrangements to take your break. I will be watching and listening, so don't try anything foolish." My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I reached for the desk phone. "Bree, I'm taking my lunch break now." My voice sounded robotic even to my own ears. The man stepped toward the elevator, never taking his eyes off me. Bree arrived, and I wordlessly stepped away from the nurses' station. "Bella, won't you need your purse?" My purse was in my locker, which would have given me the perfect opportunity to use my cell. A quick glance toward the man assured me that leaving his sight would be a very bad idea. "No, I'm just going to step out for some air." Bree didn't even look up, so of course she didn't see the man who'd already punched a button and stepped inside the elevator. It was understood that I was to follow him, so I did. To the casual observer, we were just two people getting onto the same elevator together. There was no reason for anyone to be suspicious. I needed someone to be suspicious.

Once outside, the man kept a safe distance behind me as I made my way to my car. The engine was already running. Lying in the back seat was a man with spiky blonde hair. In his hand was a gun. I climbed into the front seat and slammed the door. "Miss Swan," the blonde man greeted me. "My associate has made it clear that you are to cooperate?" Nod. "I would like to hear your voice, Miss Swan." "Yes," I whispered. "Very clear." "I trust you can find your way to Highway 101?" "Yes." "Good," the man replied. "I will join you in the front seat once we are on the highway. I do not wish to harm you or your daughter, so please do not give me a reason to do so." I nodded numbly. With my right hand, I shifted my car into drive. With my left, I slipped my hand into my pocket and flipped open my cell phone. I said a silent prayer and pressed what I hoped was my father's number on my speed dial.

EPOV "Your phone is the biggest piece of shit I've ever seen," I muttered to Charlie as he parked the SUV in the driveway of Bella's house. He wasn't kidding that cell service was spotty at best. With his archaic phone, it had been nonexistent until we hit Bella's driveway. "You need a Droid. Or an iPhone. Something with a decent signal." I then glared at my best friend. "And you, with your fancy, high-tech voice activated piece of shit with a dead battery." "There's the foul-mouthed Edward I know and love," Jasper smirked as we made our way up the steps. "Between the two of us, I have a feeling the princess might have her first car by the time she's seven." I grinned sheepishly. Yeah, I was going to have to watch my mouth. I reached for the front door when Charlie suddenly grabbed my arm. "Don't touch it," Charlie mumbled. I looked down at the knob, and that's when I noticed it was broken and the wood along the frame was splintered. "What the hell?"

Charlie pulled his gun out of his holster and told us to stay on the porch. Fuck that. The three of us stormed inside. "Alice?" Charlie yelled as we searched the rooms. "Don't fucking touch anything! Alice? Lily?" Silence. I couldn't breathe. Rushing toward the phone, I dialed Bella's cell. Voice mail. Fuck me.

No. No. No.

I called the hospital and asked for the nurses' station. My legs buckled beneath me when the nurse said that Bella had gone outside to take a break and hadn't returned. "How long ago?" "Not long," Bree said. "Maybe half an hour." "Bree, will you check the parking lot? Find her car? I'll hold." My heart thundered in my chest as I sat in the middle of the floor. Charlie and Jasper returned to the living room and announced that the house was empty. Charlie was on the phone with the station, and I heard him barking orders. Every available man. APB. A missing woman and child. Descriptions. Names. I couldn't fucking breathe.

"Edward?" The voice on the other end was shaking. "Her car is gone. What's going on? Is something wrong with Lily?" I dropped the phone. "Threemissing females," I stuttered numbly. Charlie's eyes closed in anguish. When they opened again, they were cold and hard. Those brown Swan eyes were capable of showing so much emotion. I should know. I gazed into hers all the time. "Two women, one child," the sheriff muttered softly into his phone. He said some other things, too. I had no idea. All I could hear was my heartbeat and how it sounded like it might explode. "I have several missed calls from Bella's cell," Charlie told us. "Now it just goes to voice mail." In that moment, my world came crashing down on me. It was my greatest fear that whoever had tried to kill me would find me. Killing me was the least of my worries. If they found me, they would find my girls. Correction. They found my girls.

Remember the mantra? You trust me! So many of you guessed that it wasn't Emmett. Such smart readers I have. We're getting close to the end. Not sure how close, but we're close! I have a rec: "Pocket Change" by aWhiteBlankPage. Pretty angsty, but so good! See you tomorrow (Saturday)!

29. Jane
AN: Bella POV again!

Chapter 29 Jane

BPOV My kidnapper, who had introduced himself as Demetri, wasn't happy when we had to stop for gas in Sappho. I wanted to say that I didn't plan on being kidnapped and therefore didn't think to fill up my tank, but I decided to keep my mouth shut, especially when he actually climbed out of the car and pumped the gas himself. "What a fucking idiot," I muttered. I could drive right off. I even contemplated simply shifting the car into gear and running him down, but then I remembered that if I killed him, I wouldn't be able to find my daughter. I could, however, check my phone. After glancing behind my shoulder to check his position, I slowly pulled the cell phone out of my pocket. I had no idea if Charlie had picked up when I called earlier. I didn't even know if I'd pressed the right button. But I did see that I had several missed calls. They knew we were missing. They were looking for us. I had a signal and my battery was full. Without putting the phone up to my ear, I quickly dialed my father's cell phone number. "Bella?" Hearing my father's frantic voice gave me the confidence I needed. I couldn't take the chance of answering him, and I certainly couldn't risk having Demetri catch me sending a text, but maybe if I could keep him on the line

Please stay on the line.

Just then, Demetri opened the passenger side door and I quickly slipped the phone back into my left pocket without hanging up.

"I haven't been to Sappho in years." My voice was unnaturally loud. Demetri didn't seem to notice.

Please be listening.
"How far are we going on the 101?" I asked. "You talk too much," Demetri grumbled as I turned back onto the highway. "I'll let you know where we're going when we get there. Just shut up and keep driving the speed limit, preferably. I wouldn't want us to attract unwanted attention."

No we wouldn't want that.

I had a sudden desire to put the pedal to the floor. I even considered hitting something. A landmark. An enbankment. Anything that might slow us down. But this was the Olympic Highway, and there was nothing to hit except trees. I wondered if he realized that he'd kidnapped the daughter and granddaughter of a sheriff. Did he understand that he'd just signed his own death certificate? Mentally, I recalled my Washington state geography. From what I could remember, Sappho was the last bit of civilization we'd see until we hit the area surrounding the lake and the lodge. The lake Lake Crescent. Alice and Lily were being held in Edward's cabin. "Tell me they're okay," I pleaded softly. It was the first time I'd shown any weakness. I was Charlie Swan's daughter, and I was strong. But I had to know that they were okay. Demetri sighed loudly. "Miss Cullen and your daughter are safe for now. It is not our wish to hurt any of you." "Then why " I began to ask, but I knew why. Edward was their target. We were just bait. My hands began to shake, and I flexed them around the steering wheel as I continued to drive. Miles passed, and the silence became deafening.

"It's a good thing we bought gas when we did," I said. "Back in Sappho, I mean. It will be our last chance until we hit Lake Crescent." Demetri glanced briefly in my direction before turning his attention back toward the highway.

Daddy, please be listening.

We drove and drove until, finally, I saw the edge of the lake. Demetri was busy checking his phone. "Walnut Bridge Road," he said far too softly. "Walnut Bridge Road?" I asked a little louder. The sign was on the left, and I turned onto the dirt road. "Which cabin?" "There's only one." Indeed. Edward's cabin wasn't some little rustic shack deep in the woods. It was a beautiful, majestic home nestled in the heart of the forest. I suddenly felt very overwhelmed and not at all worthy of him, but I immediately dismissed that thought and concentrated on the fact that my child was somewhere in that house. "You have been most cooperative so far, and I do not wish to tie you or cuff you," Demetri explained. "Can I trust you, Miss Swan?" "Is my daughter inside that house?" Demetri nodded. "Are you taking me straight to her?" He nodded again. "Then yes, you can trust me." "Stay here," Demetri said before climbing out of the car. He walked around the front of the vehicle and opened my door. "Behave yourself," Demetri cautioned me. He lightly touched my arm and led me inside.


It was the sweetest word ever. I dropped to my knees as Lily crashed into me. Wrapping her in my arms, I lifted her off the ground and hugged her tight. "Are you okay?" "I'm fine, Mommy." "Yes, she's fine, Mommy," a cold voice chuckled from the corner of the room. Her hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail and she was dressed entirely in black. She was tiny, and I took comfort in the fact that it would be so easy to kick her bony ass. "Hello, Jane." Her smile was sinister, and I held my daughter a little tighter. "Where is Alice?" "Alice is taking a nap," Lily said quietly, pointing toward the back of the large living room. Alice's body was lying against the leather sofa. "Yes, Alice couldn't keep her mouth shut," Jane murmured. "So she's having a little nap now. She will be so happy to see when she awakens." "Mommy, this is Edward's house. Isn't it pretty?" "It's beautiful, baby." Demetri led us to a chair where I finally let my eyes and hands roam her body. Physically, she appeared to be fine, and I reminded myself that we aren't the targets. We're merely the bait. "Is Edward coming to get us?" I kissed her forehead and tried to keep my voice from trembling. "I hope not," I whispered against her skin. "Our hopes differ then," Jane replied icily.

An hour later, Lily had finally fallen asleep on my lap. Jane's cell phone was vibrating constantly, and my courage was beginning to fade. With a growl, she snapped her phone shut.

"What is it?" Demetri asked nervously. "I just cannot believe it has come to this," Jane muttered. She shot me a stony glare before beginning to anxiously pace. "I hired three men to do a thankless job, and you couldn't even kill him. Kill him and dump in the river, I said. Those were your directions. Instead, you beat the shit out of him and left him lying on the river bank!"

Daddy, please be listening.

I'd never felt such hatred for another human being not even for James. I glanced toward Demetri and noticed the gun attached to his side. Shooting him would be so easy. But could I shoot them both? I held Lily a little closer. Suddenly, Jane twisted her head toward me. "He was going to annul our wedding," she spat bitterly. "He was going to double-cross my brother and leave us penniless! He had it all planned out. He'd already advised his dumbass attorney to draw up the papers!" Jane suddenly laughed aloud. "Thank God for Jasper Hale. We'd been watching him, you know. When he booked a flight to Washington, we knew that either Edward was alive or, at the very least, his body had been recovered. I was hoping for the latter, of course, but no. Edward Cullen is alive and well.and, interestingly enough, playing house with you." I said nothing. "He doesn't love you, Bella," she whispered softly, kneeling before me and gazing at me as if we were the very best of friends and she was concerned for my well-being. I somehow resisted the urge to spit in her face. "I wanted him to love me. Deep down, I believed that he did. But this has opened my eyes. Edward Cullen doesn't love anything but power and money." "Edward loves us," Lily whispered drowsily. "He tells us all the time." I couldn't help it. I smiled. Jane's piercing eyes turned cold once again, and without another word, she slowly rose to her feet and resumed her frantic pacing.

Between RL and trying to update daily, I am horribly behind on reviews. I will try to rectify that situation this weekend. I go back to work Monday, so - as I said before - the daily updates may come to an end. I'll try to keep you updated on Twitter. I'm Sydney_Alice over there.

Thank you so much for your trust. :) See you tomorrow!

30. My World
Back to Edward's POV! :)

Chapter 30 My World

"Your girl is fuck awesome, do you know that?" Jasper announced as we sped along the 101 toward the lake. "I know she is," I whispered proudly. We'd been listening ever since they'd left the gas station in Sappho. Charlie was quiet, and I knew exactly what he was thinking. How could he toe the line between being a father and being a cop and still kill them all? I hoped he had an answer because I wanted them dead. There was a caravan of blue lights in our rearview mirror. Local police, state troopers, unmarked black SUVs that Jasper assumed was FBI. "We're about ten minutes from the lake," Charlie announced softly. He then radioed the convoy to extinguish all sirens and lights. "Alright, what's the plan?" I asked. "Jane is clearly delusional," Charlie said. "I think we can use that to our advantage and get everyone out safe and sound." "Use it to our advantage how?" Jasper asked curiously. Charlie told us his plan. "Charlie, I'm not that good of an actor," I replied dryly as I gazed out the window. He couldn't possibly be serious. "I can't do it." He turned his head in my direction. His brown eyes were piercing. "I think you can do anything for my girls," he said firmly, "or am I wrong about that?" I closed my eyes in defeat.

"No, you're not wrong." "We can't ambush the place," Charlie reasoned. "It doesn't sound as if Lily is too shaken up, and I'd like it to stay that way. We have enough man power to take care of the kidnappers. You need to take care of Jane. Convince her. Just long enough to record her confession and get our girls out of there. You can do this, son." "Keep your eye on the prize," Jasper added encouragingly. "Just think. We'll put this bitch in prison, get you divorced, get your company back, and then you can move on with your life." I didn't give a shit about my company. I just wanted my girls.

I don't know what I'd been expecting, but I certainly wasn't expecting to be able to just walk right up to the front door. "They aren't trying to keep you out," Charlie reminded me. "You're doing exactly what they want you to do." I was walking right into their trap. I was wired and the cabin was surrounded. With a confident slap to my shoulder, Charlie gave me my instructions one more time before sending me inside. Relief flowed through me when I instantly heard Lily and Bella's voices, and I followed the sound to the dimly lit living room. "Edward!" Lily rushed toward me, and I scooped her into my arms. "I knew you'd come," the little girl smiled at me before hugging me tight. Quickly, my eyes scanned the room. Bella was sitting on the couch next to a groggy Alice, and there, standing over them with a gun in her hand, was my future ex-wife. "Put the gun down, Jane." "Don't worry. Mommy says it's just a toy," Lily assured me. I glanced at Jane who was smirking. It wasn't a toy. "Why don't you join them on the sofa," Jane said, her voice chilling. "Isn't that where you want to be? With Bella?"


I took a deep breath. "No," I whispered, lowering Lily to the ground. I couldn't lie convincingly with her in my arms. She rushed back over to the couch and climbed into her mother's lap. "I don't want to be with Bella. I want to be with you." Jane's eyes widened, and I heard Alice gasp. "Edward Cullen, have you lost your fucking mind?" I ignored my sister and took a step toward Jane. "I have amnesia," I explained softly. "All I remember about my past life is you." "Me?" She asked hopefully. She was such a delusional bitch it was almost comical. Almost. She was still holding the gun, so I couldn't laugh just yet. "You," I murmured gently, taking another step closer. "I don't want you to hurt yourself. Please give me the gun." She placed the gun in my hand. I tried to mentally calculate how much time had passed. Praying it was safe, I smiled at Jane. "Alice," I said to my sister without taking my eyes off Jane. "Please take Bella and Lily and go home. My car is waiting out front." There were actually several cars out front, but they'd understand once they were outside. Jasper and Charlie were waiting. By now, the kidnappers should have been in custody. "No!" Lily wailed, running toward me once again. "I'm staying with you." My resolve weakened as she wrapped her body around my legs. "Sweetheart, go with your mom and Alice." "But you love us," she whispered sadly, and I felt my insides churn. I could not lie to this child. "Lily," Bella murmured. She walked toward us and lifted the little girl into her arms. Our eyes locked for just a moment, and I prayed that she understood what I was trying to do. With her back turned to Jane, she nodded slightly before carrying her daughter out of the room. Alice glared in my direction before following them. I could finally breathe. All three of them were safe. "Now," I whispered to Jane who looked stunned and a little smug, "I think we need to talk. Come sit with me."

She followed me over to the couch. "You're choosing me," Jane murmured. I nodded. "Despite everything I've done?" "What have you done, exactly? The last thing I remember is saying I do," I said quietly. "Everything else is kind of a blur." "You were going to divorce me," Jane sighed softly. "It was Alec's plan to merge the companies and then push you out. But he began monitoring your emails, and he saw that you were planning the same thing" I was losing my patience. "What did you do, Jane?" "You left me on our wedding night," she continued as if she didn't hear me. "You wouldn't even touch me. You ditched me after we signed the license, and Alec had you followed." I needed names. "Who followed me?" "Demetri, Felix, and Caius," she sighed softly. "They're all on your payroll, by the way. Alec thought that was ironic. They followed you here." Her eyes grew soft. "I was so hurt that you left me, but then Alec found the emails, and I knew you were planning to leave us with nothing. But if I killed you first" her voice suddenly turned cold, ".at least I'd be entitled to something. I was Mrs. Edward Cullen. I am Mrs. Edward Cullen."

Not for long.

"I told them to kill you," Jane whispered. Her voice was detached and cold. "They waited until you were asleep, and they dragged you out of this cabin. I had no idea that Alec had hired the three biggest idiots on the planet" She didn't get to finish her story because six armed officers suddenly stormed the room. Her eyes widened as one of the officers began to read her rights while another pulled her to her feet and cuffed her hands behind her back. "Edward?" Her lips were trembling. "You disgust me," I spat angrily, rising to my feet and looming over her. Rage unlike anything I'd ever felt before was suddenly suffocating me. "How dare you touch them?" Charlie was suddenly at my side. "Son, give me the gun."

I didn't even realize that I was pointing it at her. "I probably could have forgiven what you tried to do to me, because it led me here. It led me to those two beautiful girls who I love more than anything. But you touched them. You scared them. How am I supposed to forgive that?" The gun began to shake in my hand. "Edward," Charlie's voice was soft. "You can't be a father to Lily and you can't marry my daughter if you're in jail. Your girls love you. Your girls need you. They're outside waiting for you. Don't do this. Give me the gun, son." My girls. My life. Slowly, I placed the gun in Charlie's hand, and without another word, I walked out of the room and through my cabin for the very last time. I would sell it. I would burn it. I didn't care. I was leaving my old life behind. I was walking into a new world a world full of big brown eyes and tangerines and more love than I'd ever known. And all of that love was waiting for me just outside the walls of this cabin.

I know that probably feels like the end, but it's not. I have some loose ends to tie up, and I've yet to write a love scene. All of that will have to be rectified before I mark this as complete! I can't promise I'll see you tomorrow. We'll see. At least I didn't leave you with a cliffhanger! lol

31. Make It Happen

Chapter 31 Make It Happen

Thankfully, the drive back to Forks wasn't nearly as eventful as the trip to the lake. The caravan of police was gone and Charlie's SUV was peaceful. Jasper was in the front seat, holding a sleeping Alice in his lap. Charlie was driving and listening to his police radio. He would look back from time to time with a serene smile on his face. I was sure it mirrored my own. Bella was tucked against my left shoulder while Lily nestled herself in my other arm. As soon as I'd stepped out onto the porch, the little girl had catapulted herself into my embrace. I had yet to let her go. She was full of questions, and I was trying to answer them all as honestly as I could. "Why wouldn't you let me stay with you?" "Because Jane is not a very nice person, and I wanted you to go with your mom so that you would be safe," I replied. She looked puzzled. "Why did you stay with her?" "Because he had to catch the bad guy," Bella explained softly as she leaned her head against my shoulder. "Or in this case, the bad girl." "Like Grandpa?" Lily asked. "He catches bad guys and girls." "Just like Grandpa," Bella nodded. Charlie turned and grinned at me before turning his attention back to the road. I owed that man my life in more ways than one. I could have ruined everything today with my bullshit temper. He had stopped me from making the biggest mistake of my life. Finally content with my answers, Lily snuggled against my chest and closed her eyes. After a few minutes, she giggled. "What's so funny?" I grinned down at her. "I can hear your heart." I laughed. "What is it saying?" She listened carefully before smiling up at me.

"It says you love Mommy." "I do love Mommy," I whispered, tilting my head so that I could kiss Bella's forehead. She was smiling softly as she rested her head. "I love Mommy so much." "You should marry her," Lily announced. Jasper and Charlie chuckled, and I felt Bella's quiet laughter. Her eyes remained closed, though, offering me no help whatsoever. Guess I'm on my own. "You're absolutely right. I should marry her," I smiled into the little girl's bright, brown eyes. "Do you think she'd say yes if I asked her to marry me?" Lily considered that. "Do you have a ring?" "Not yet." "You have to have a ring to get married," Lily replied seriously. "It's a rule." "I see," I sighed dejectedly. "I'm not very good at picking out rings. Would you help me?" Lily grinned excitedly and nodded. "Then you can ask her," Lily informed me. "How do I do that?" "You have to get down on your knees," she explained. This time, Bella laughed out loud, and I shot her a dirty look despite the fact that I was grinning like an idiot. "I'm pretty sure it's just one knee," I said as I rolled my eyes. Lily giggled and continued to school me on the proper way to propose marriage. "And then you promise to love her forever and ever and then you put the ring on her finger when she says yes." "Just like a fairytale," Bella whispered. "We'll have our happy ending, baby," I murmured softly. It was a promise I was determined to keep.

The next month was crazy. Jasper and Alice remained in Forks while he worked on fixing the absolute

shit I'd made of my former life. Alec and Jane, along with their henchmen, had been arrested and charged with attempted murder. The company was mine for a total of five minutes before I told Jasper to sell it. "Edward" "Sell it," I repeated firmly. "I don't want it." I had enough money in the offshore accounts to guarantee that I'd never have to work another day if I chose to do so. Once I sold the company, my family would be set for life. I had a feeling my father would understand. These days, family came first. Always. "What will you do?" Jasper asked. "The Newtons are ready to retire, and their son wants nothing to do with the family business," I explained. "It's one of the few thriving businesses in town, and I'd hate to see it disappear. I thought I'd buy it." "You're going to buy a sporting goods store?" I nodded. "The unemployment rate in this county is outrageous. I can hire a local crew to expand it and then hire local folks to run it on a daily basis." He looked completely confused. "But you know nothing about fishing or hiking" "But I know about business," I said. "My employees can take care of the rest. It's a chance for me to thank the Newtons and to help this community that welcomed me with open arms. It's a good thing, Jasper. Make it happen." "Fine," he sighed, clearly exasperated. "When are your parents due to arrive?" "Tomorrow morning," I grinned. "Nervous?" "Hell yes. Aren't you?" "A little bit," I admitted. "You have nothing to worry about," Jasper groaned. "They will love Bella. What's not to love? But me? I'm just the guy who wants nothing more than to take their daughter and do very naughty" "I'm not listening to this!" I bellowed, rising quickly from the table and dumping my juice in the sink.

"Speaking of naughty things," Jasper chuckled. "How have you not fucking exploded by now?" "Cold showers," I muttered. I glanced out the kitchen window and watched as the girls played in the yard. The three of them were taking turns pushing each other on the swing. "Am I divorced yet?" "I'm working on it," Jasper said as he happily typed away on his laptop. "I still don't understand why you're waiting." There were moments when I didn't understand it, either. Especially those moments when our kisses became frantic and our hands began to roam. It was happening a lot lately. The fact that we were sleeping in the same bed probably didn't help the situation, but I couldn't stay away from her. Like right now, with her ponytail whipping in the air and her laughter echoing in my ears, it was all I could do not to run outside and kiss her senseless. Sighing loudly, I turned away from the window. "Make it happen, Jasper." He shot me a glare. "You know, I wish that particular phrase was the one thing you'd truly forgotten from your past life," he muttered. "Make it happen, Jasperlike I'm some freaking miracle worker or something." "You're the best," I said as I sat down at the table and fumbled through the mail. It was mostly junk and some bills that Bella absolutely refused to let me take care of. "I am," he admitted smugly, "and I'll get you divorced. Have you picked out a ring yet?" "Lily and I are going this afternoon," I smiled widely. "There's a little jewelry store in town, and I want to buy locally if I can." Jasper was shaking his head. "Your desire to support the local economy is commendable but it will ultimately put you in the poor house. Local jewelers are typically more expensive than other dealers." "It will be fine." Just then, Lily raced through the door with Bella and Alice trailing right behind her. With a happy squeal, Lily jumped into my lap. "Is it time?" She whispered in my ear. We'd been very mysterious about our afternoon, and I knew Bella was suspicious. "I'm ready if you are," I whispered back. "Go get changed." Lily kissed me on the cheek before jumping out of my arms and running toward her bedroom.

"I'm not sure I like all of these secrets," Bella complained as she climbed into my lap. I buried my nose in her hair and inhaled deeply. "This is a good secret," I promised her. "She's so excited to spend the afternoon with you," Bella smiled at me, ruffling her fingers through my hair. "She loves you so much." "I love her just as much," I murmured, gliding my nose along her cheek. "And I love you." "I love you, too." "Yes, yes, we all love each other," Jasper grimaced. He still wasn't used to seeing this level of PDA, even though my sister was perched in his lap and he wasn't complaining a bit. I didn't want to contemplate how close they'd become during the last month. All I knew was that both were now staying at the Forks Motel. I didn't ask. I didn't want to know. "I'm ready!" Lily announced as she ran back into the room. She handed Bella a hairbrush and a ponytail holder, and I watched in fascination. "You have to teach me how to do that." "You want to learn how to fix her hair?" Bella laughed. "I want to learn how to do everything," I replied softly. "I'll teach you," she promised before kissing my cheek. "I'll miss you guys. Are you sure I can't tag along?" "Nope!" Lily giggled as she tugged me by the hand. "Let's go!" Everyone laughed and Bella pretended to sulk. I kissed her pouty lips one last time before Lily took my hand and led me out the door.

Have I mentioned lately how awesome my readers are? Because you are. Thank you for reading, reviewing, and recommending.

32. Celebration
AN: So far, I've been able to keep up with the daily updates. I don't promise it'll continue, but I'll keep trying! I'm really taking liberties with the legalities in this chapter. Just go with it. :) I have an important question at the bottom. Please answer it? :) It doesn't have to be in a review. PM, Twitter, Facebook. Wherever you like. Chapter 32 Celebration After swearing Maggie, the jeweler, to secrecy, Lily was now peering at the diamond rings as they stood proudly atop the glass case. We'd looked at many rings, and Lily had narrowed it down to these four. My favorite was what Maggie called a round halo a circular diamond in the center surrounded by another row of shimmering stones. I'd never seen Bella wear jewelry, so I wasn't sure what she'd like. Lily was taking her job very seriously, scrutinizing the bands and the diamond settings. Maggie was explaining the clarity of the diamond and the carat weight, and Lily was taking it all in as if it was the most fascinating thing she'd ever heard. "Mommy needs a special ring," Lily said quietly. "Yes, she does," I agreed. Lily's shining eyes smiled up at me. "Which one do you like?" "They're all very pretty," I replied. Maggie was smiling brightly, sensing that she was close to making a sale. "Which do you think your Mom would like?" Lily glanced over the rings one more time before pointing toward the round halo. "That one," Lily sighed dreamily. "See how it sparkles?" I did a mental fist pump. "I think it's perfect." Suddenly, I had a thought. "Maggie, I have no idea if it'll fit" "No problem," Maggie said happily. "This is a seven. If it doesn't fit, feel free to bring it in for resizing. It'll be free of charge." I thanked her and handed her my credit card. Lily skipped over to another case to look at the kids' bracelets, giving me a chance to run my idea by the jeweler. "Maggie," I whispered. "Bella's ring. Can you get it in a smaller size?" "Smaller?" Maggie asked, completely confused. "Well, it would have to be special ordered, but sure we can do that. How small would you need?" I pointed toward Lily, and the jeweler's eyes filled up with tears. "Those are very lucky girls." "I'm the lucky one," I smiled softly. I left Maggie at the register and made my way over to Lily. "Thank you for helping me today," I whispered, kneeling down and kissing her cheek softly. "I think you deserve a reward." Her eyes grew wide with excitement. "What kind of reward?" I nodded toward the bracelet case, and she giggled happily. Two diamond rings and one shiny bracelet later, our mission was complete. OOO I was surprised to only find Jasper waiting when we walked into the kitchen. He was gazing intently at a stack of documents lying on the table. "Where are the girls?" I asked. Lily showed Jasper her bracelet, and he oohed and ahhed appropriately before she raced off to her room.

"They went to get manis and pedis," he said, rolling his eyes. "Don't they know that guys don't give a shit about the color of their toenails?" I laughed as I collapsed against the chair. "I don't think they do it for us, Jazz." "Clearly," he smirked. "So, was the trip successful?" "Very much so." "Super," Jasper grinned. "When are you going to pop the question?" "As soon as I'm a free man." He had a shit-eating grin on his face. "Why are you smiling like that?" "I've had a productive afternoon," Jasper explained casually, shuffling through the documents. "I had a couple of lucrative offers for Masen Industries and I received an overnight packet from Chicago." He tossed the papers in front of me, and my heart began to pound as I read the bold-faced words at the very top of the page. Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage "The judge agreed it was fraud," Jasper explained as my eyes scanned the document. "Of course, you're both guilty of fraud, but the fact that her gold-digging ass has been charged with your kidnapping and attempted murder convinced the judge that you were the victim in this situation, so he granted the annulment." At the bottom of the page was Jane's signature. "I'm single," I whispered. "Like it never happened," Jasper confirmed as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen. He clicked it excitedly and waved it in front of my face. "All you have to do is sign." I happily snatched the pen out of his hand. "That's it?" I asked hopefully as I handed him the forms. "That's it," Jasper nodded. That was it. One signature on a dotted line. I was officially singlewith a diamond ring waiting in my pocket so that I wouldn't have to be single for long. "I've never seen you smile so much," Jasper observed quietly. "It's really nice to see you so happy, man." "It's nice to be this happy," I sighed contently. "Speaking of happy, do I even want to know what you're doing with my sister?" "You probably don't want the details, no," he smirked. Then his face softened. "She's really amazing. I just don't know if we can do the long-distance thing." "I know I couldn't," I said sympathetically. "Why do you think I'm so willing to move? I'd never ask her to leave her father. Besides, living here will put me that much closer to my parents and to Emmett. This is the best decision for everyone, and I'm happy to make it." "No doubts?" Jasper asked. "Not a one." Just then, the girls walked in, laughing loudly and carrying shopping bags. Jasper grinned at me before shutting down his laptop and rising from the table. "We're going out," he announced to a surprised Alice. "We are?" Alice exclaimed excitedly. "Where are we going?" "Something kid friendly," Jasper said, and with those words, I was reminded why Jasper Hale was my best friend. "Go get the princess. The three of us willdo something. I don't know. We'll figure it out." Alice rushed off to Lily's bedroom. Bella looked questioningly at Jasper before climbing into my lap. I kissed her cheek as she snuggled into my arms. "Jasper wants to babysit?" Bella grinned at me. "Jasper is being a fucking awesome friend," I whispered as I trailed my nose against her throat. "We have a lot to celebrate tonight, my love."

"What are we celeb " Bella began to ask just as we heard a little voice clear her throat. I looked down to see Lily's outstretched hand. "That'll be five dollars," Lily said seriously. Everyone laughed as I gladly reached into my pocket and pulled out the cash. "Worth every penny," I grinned. OOO I have a question. My stories usually hit the happy ever after part and I tend to wrap them up pretty quickly then. Some readers have asked if I plan to end this story once we get to that point, and that was my original plan. However, is their life after marriage something you'd be interested in? I wouldn't mind writing that. I just wasn't sure if you would find their day-to-day life all that exciting. I can make it exciting (I hope). Give me your honest opinion. Even if I mark this one complete, I'm sure I'll move on to another story, so it isn't like I'll disappear. But I'm happy to explore these characters a bit more if you like. Or, if you think they've run their course, tell me that, as well. Let me know what you think.

33. Say You Will

AN: I missed you yesterday! Real life beckoned, as I warned you that it probably would, so thank you for understanding. Lots of response to my question about continuing this story. More on that at the bottom.

Chapter 33 Say You Will

"So what are we celebrating?" It was only the hundredth time she'd asked since Jasper had loaded the girls into the car. We were snuggled under a blanket on the couch. "You are determined to ruin the surprise aren't you?" "I hate surprises," Bella grumbled despite the smile on her face. "You take my daughter on some mysterious outing, and then Jasper and Alice willingly take her for the entire night. You know how much I hate being out of the loop." I was pretty sure the overnight trip had been Alice's idea. While Bella had helped Lily get ready to go, I'd shown my sister the ring. After that, plans were made and bags were packed, and the trio was headed to Port Angeles for the night. I smiled and laced her fingers with mine. "Are you saying that you aren't happy that we have the whole night to ourselves?" "It's not that," Bella whispered. A soft blush crept across her cheeks. "It's justwe're actually alone. For the whole night. And we're trying so hard to be good until your divorce is final." Gently, I brushed my fingertip across her crimson cheek. "And you think that an empty house and a night to ourselves is going to be too much temptation?" "Don't you?" Bella asked heatedly. "Don't even answer that because I know how many showers you take each day." She was so adorable when she was poutingand possibly, just a little sexually frustrated. I hadn't considered the very real possibility that she was suffering as much as I was. The shower had become my best friend. What was the female equivalent of the cold shower? "Bella?" I asked hesitantly, because I was dying to know but wasn't sure how to ask. "Have you been doing anything toumm" I had no idea how to say it, and a slow grin spread across her face.

"I have a goody drawer, Edward." This was news to me. Intriguing news. "What kind of goody drawer?" "You know," Bella shrugged. "Helpfultoys." Holy shit, my girl had a drawer full of sex toys. And I wanted to see them. "You realize I'm going to need visual evidence of this alleged goody drawer." "I'll be happy to provide that evidence as soon as you're a free man," Bella grinned mischievously. It was the strangest segue ever, but I'd take it. I pushed the blanket aside and rose to my feet. Bella looked at me curiously as I offered her my hand. "Show me the goody drawer, baby." Her beautiful brown eyes widened. "Edward, I really don't think that's a good idea." I reached down, wrapping one arm beneath her legs and the other around her back, and she giggled as I swiftly lifted her into my arms and carried her toward her bedroom. Gently, I lowered her onto the bed before crawling over her body. "I'm free, Bella." I said softly, nuzzling her nose with mine. "While we were out this afternoon, Jasper received an overnight package from Jane's attorney in Chicago. The judge agreed that it was fraud, and he granted the annulment." Bella gasped excitedly as I began to unbutton her blouse. "You're really free?" "I'm really free, baby." Her hands pulled at the hem of my shirt, and I quickly tossed it over my head. Her fingers softly traced the muscles of my chest as I fumbled with the last button. Hurriedly, I pushed her blouse aside, and she moaned as my fingers traced the lace of her bra. "You're really mine," Bella murmured tenderly, her eyes burning with love and happiness.

"I've always been yours," I promised her. "From the very first day." And that's when I remembered that there was a ring in my pocket, and as much as I wanted to bury myself inside of her, I felt a deep and desperate need to see it on her finger. "Marry me," I whispered. She gasped. "It can be a long engagement if you want," I said softly. "I know it's fast and we're still learning about each other, but I know there isn't another woman on this planet who can make me feel the way I feel when I'm with you." I fished the velvet box out of my pocket. Her sweet eyes were swimming with tears as I lifted the top and placed it on her bare stomach. "Oh my." She was speechless. Speechless was good, right? "Do you like it?" I asked hopefully. "Lily helped me pick it out this afternoon." "It's so pretty," Bella whispered breathlessly as her finger trailed around the circular stone. Unable to wait a second longer, I lifted the ring out of the box and reached for her left hand. She let me slide it onto her finger, and I marveled at how perfect it looked on her hand. "Say you will," I begged breathlessly as I touched her forehead with mine. "Say you'll spend the rest of your life with me." She slowly lifted her left hand and placed it gently against my cheek. "I will," Bella murmured sweetly. "Of course I will." I kissed her slowly and tenderly, and by the time we pulled away, she was smiling sexily and reaching for the button of my jeans. "Maybe it is time to check out that goody drawer," Bella giggled. Her lips attacked mine, and I had a sneaking suspicion that whatever was in that drawer was going to be totally unnecessary tonight.

Lemon next chapter, I promise! Okay, this part is long, so if you don't care about my plan for the rest of the story then feel free to skip it. You won't hurt my feelings. I had many different answers to my question about continuing this story beyond the HEA, but

the overriding reply seemed to be, "Write whatever you want and we'll read it." I have the best readers, have I mentioned that? Many asked for more chapters but no angst. That might be a little unrealistic. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows, soI have decided to write my ending as I originally planned and add futuretakes to this existing story. Some will be fluffy; some will be sad. I have them mapped out, but if there's something you definitely want to see, tell me. I'll see what I can do. We aren't finished with this part of the story, so I'm going to go out on a huge limb and say this story will be about fifty chapters total, including the futuretakes. If I don't update daily, I'll try to give you some longer chapters to make up for it. Whew, I'm shutting up now! But you guys were so good to answer, so I wanted to explain my thought process and my plan. See you soon! Love you all. :)

34. Spoiled
AN: Bella's POV for the lemons. Yes, that's plural! :) Chapter 34 Spoiled BPOV His eyes hungrily roamed every inch of me. My hands greedily traced every inch of him. We had undressed each other quickly, desperate to finally be as close as we could possibly be. But once we began to touch, our frantic pace gave way to gentle caresses and soft kisses as we let each other explore and discover. We were still exploring and discovering. Each tender touch of his hand against my skin sent chills down my spine, and while I was trembling, I'd assured him more than once that I wasn't cold. He had just smiled wickedly and continued his journey. Right now, he was fixated on my stomach. "Do they hurt?" Edward asked softly as he ran his finger along my stretch marks. Lily might've been a preemie, but that hadn't seemed to make a bit of difference to the skin along my stomach. "No," I smiled, running my fingers through his hair. My eyes settled once again on my ring finger. It was so unbelievably pretty. "They look painful." I giggled. "They aren't at all. They're justunsightly." "They're beautiful," Edward whispered, brushing his lips across the silvery marks. Of course he'd find every blemish a thing of beauty. "Do you want more?" "More stretch marks?" "Yeah," he murmured against my skin. "I don't think any woman wants more stretch marks," I laughed. "But for your baby, I would endure it." He gazed up at me, his eyes glowing and reverent, and that was perfect, because I had never felt more adored. "You would have my baby?" Edward said softly, crawling over my body once again until his mouth was

just inches away from mine. "In a heartbeat," I whispered. He smiled crookedly against my mouth before kissing me tenderly. "Lots of babies," I said in between kisses. "We might need a bigger house." "I'll build you a bigger house, baby." I sighed happily, sliding my hands along his bare back and making him groan as my nails softly trailed over his spine. I arched against him, and I watched in fascination as his eyes darkened with desire. Despite his excitement, I could see the internal battle there. He wanted to take his time and savor every moment of this, but we were both live wires and desperate with need. "We have all night," I reminded him with a whisper. "Please" "I want you so much," Edward murmured, burying his face against my neck. I whimpered as his lips began to suck gently on the skin there before his body began to slide down mine. Leaning back, he allowed his jade eyes to roam over me. He could see every imperfection. Every flaw. And for the first time in my life, I felt beautiful. His gentle hand caressed one breast before his mouth found the other, and I whimpered as his tongue teased me there, making me writhe beneath him. By the time his mouth made its way to the other, I was panting wildly and wrapping my hands in his hair, pulling him closer. "Tell me what you want," Edward demanded softly when he pulled away. His eyes found mine once again but his hand trailed down "Oh my god," I moaned as his hand cupped me. "That. I want that." "This?" He smiled mischievously as he pressed his hand against me, applying just enough pressure to make me buck against his hand. His eyes never left my face as his finger slipped inside, slowly and teasingly until I was begging him to fuck me. "You have a dirty mouth when you're lying naked beneath me," Edward whispered against my ear. My hand trailed along his stomach, and when I wrapped my fingers around him, he groaned a breathless, "fuck, that feels good." "You have a dirty mouth, too," I giggled just as his lips crashed against mine. Fingers quickened as our tongues glided against each other. He sucked greedily on mine as my movements quickened, pumping him faster. With a quivering moan, he pressed his forehead against mine. An unspoken plea resonated from his eyes, and all at once, our hands stilled. Eyes locked. Hips shifted. Bodies aligned.

Ever so slowly, he filled me, and my fingers dug into his shoulders as he began to move. It had been so long for both of us, so I wasn't surprised or disappointed when his thrusts became frantic. I lifted my legs and wrapped them around his waist, clinging desperately to him as he whispered my name over and over again, his breath warm against my lips. His breathing turned to wild gasps when my hands began to roam, tracing around his shoulders and down along the curve of his spine until they came to rest on his ass. I pulled him tighter against me, and he groaned loudly, burying his face against my neck. His thrusts became forceful, and I welcomed each and every one until my body surrendered, screaming his name as pure pleasure shot through me. "Bella" he murmured breathlessly against my ear as his body stilled, and with a shuddering moan, he collapsed against me. I wrapped my arms around his neck and held him close to my chest as we struggled to catch our breath. "It's a good thing we have all night," Edward grinned, nuzzling my breast with his nose. "That was way too fast and I am nowhere near finished with you." I laughed softly as I gently smoothed his hair away from his forehead. "With all that pent-up sexual frustration, the first time was bound to be quick, baby." He crawled up my body and gazed sweetly down at me. "Do you have any idea how much I love you?" I smiled softly, cupping his face in the palm of my hand. "I love you just as much," I whispered. He took my left hand and placed a kiss along the diamond. "Do you really love your ring?" "I really do," I sighed contently as I admired it. "Lily did too," Edward chuckled. "So I bought her one just like it. She doesn't know it yet, though." My heart swelled with happiness. He loved my daughter so much. "Edward, that's so sweet. But hers is like cubic zirconia or something, right?" He frowned. "Cubic zirconia?" "You know, it shimmers but it's not a real diamond." "Of course it's a real diamond," Edward laughed. "Why would I buy her a fake diamond?" "Ummbecause she's six?"

"So?" He couldn't possibly be serious. "Edward, the sentiment is the sweetest thing I've ever heard in my entire life, but sweetheart, she's six years old. She's a kid. She loses everything. Do I even want to know how much money you spent?" "Probably not," he muttered sheepishly. "She grows so fast," I said softly. "Even if she didn't lose it, she'd only wear it for a short time." He considered this. "So maybe a necklace or something instead?" "That might be better, yeah, but not an expensive one. She absolutely adores the bracelet you bought her today, and it was just made out of rhinestones. She's a little girl. She likes pink things that sparkle. You don't have to spend a lot of money on her or on me." "I just wanted to give her something at the wedding. Something to include her, you know?" He sighed softly. "I can't help it, Bella. I want to spoil you both." "Spoil us with love," I murmured gently. "That's all we need, baby." A slow smile crept across his face as his finger blazed a trail from the column of my throat down to my breast. He teased my nipple, and I squirmed as it hardened beneath his touch. "I'm all for spoiling you with love," Edward said softly. He was just about to crawl on top of me once again when I gently pushed him back against the mattress. His eyes darkened as I settled myself on top of him. "I'm spoiling you this time," I whispered. His hands found my hips as I shifted, lowering myself onto him. He closed his eyes and groaned loudly as I slid my body against his, back and forth, until he lifted me slightly and lowered me once again. My body stretched as he filled me, and his hands found mine. We laced our fingers together as I began to rock my body against his. I swiveled my hips, and I threw my head back as he hit a place so deep inside that I nearly came undone. He let go of my hands and I reached behind me, grabbing onto his thighs for support as I rode him faster. Suddenly, he lifted himself off the bed, wrapping his arms around me and holding me close as I bounced in his lap. He kissed me hungrily, swallowing my breathless moans as I increased my movements. I opened my eyes to see him gazing at me with so much love and passion, and that was all I needed. I whimpered how much I loved him as I came apart, burying my face against his neck. With a strangled groan, his arms tightened around me and I held him to me as he found his own release. That was how we spent the rest of our night. We'd talk for a while, make love, talk some moreit was an endless cycle that didn't end until the break of dawn when we finally allowed ourselves to sleep.

It was an important day. Today I would meet Edward's family, and despite his assurances that they would love me, I couldn't help but feel a little nervous. Alice had accepted me so easily. Would the rest of his family be as eager to welcome us into their family? I could only hope.

Two lemons! See how much I love you? :) See you soon!

35. Worth the Wait

AN: I didn't mean to write another lemon, but I haven't seen my hubs in three days, soyeah. God help him when he gets home. This chapter is in Edward's POV, so the tone will be a little different. He's a boy, after all.

Chapter 35 Worth the Wait

EPOV I watched in amusement as Bella flew around the house in anticipation of my family's arrival. She was nervous, clearly, and it killed me because she had absolutely no reason to be. They would love her. Hell, they already loved her, and they hadn't even met her. They were so happy that I was living close to home that Bella could have had webbed feet and four heads and it wouldn't have made one bit of difference to them. They loved her because I loved her. Mom had already said so. Bella didn't trust the concept, so she was anxious. How could you really love someone you'd never met? She actually considered it to be a shortfall. If they already loved her, wasn't it possible that she'd do something to shatter their positive impression of her? Who could possibly live up to such skewed expectations? My fiance, that's who. I'd called her that a lot throughout the morning, and it always seemed to calm her down as if she needed the reminder that she was wearing my ring and, in the grand scheme of things, I didn't give a shit what anyone thought of her or of us. I knew it was hard for her to understand because she trusted Charlie's judgment so completely. I shuddered to think where we'd be if Charlie hadn't been on my side from the very beginning because she put so much faith in his opinion. As a CEO, I'd listened to others' opinions but the final decision was mine and mine alone. It was something that had spilled over into my personal life, which was easy when the only other opinions that might have mattered were thousands of miles away. While I was surrounded by people for most of the day, I actually lived a very isolated existence and I trusted no one except Jasper. He was paid to share my opinion, but that rarely stopped him from giving me his own. Again, I would listen, and then make my own decision. I'd been making my own decisions for a long time, so while I would appreciate my family's support of my relationship with Bella, it wasn't a necessity because I knew it wouldn't matter. She was mine.

I was hers. Period. But it mattered to her, so I was trying to be supportive. I helped prepare lunch, and I helped remove a stain that Lily had accidentally left on the couch with her juice box. I did whatever she needed. I didn't bother saying that my mother wouldn't give two shits about a juice stain because she raised three kids who were absolute holy terrors on furniture. I didn't tell her that my father was the least judgmental man on the face of the planet and would be mortified that she was so nervous about their arrival. I just did whatever she askedanything to make her happy. But it was when she asked if we had time to put a fresh coat of paint on the living room walls that I finally decided enough was enough. "Come here," I said, pulling her toward the couch. Tiredly, she dropped into my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck. "I want you to stop for one minute and look at something. Would you do that for me?" "Look at what?" Bella asked suspiciously, and that's when I loosened her arms around my neck and pulled her left hand between us. The ring was just as gorgeous as it had been yesterday. Seeing it in the daylight was actually a little overwhelming for both of us. "Look at this," I murmured gently. She sighed softly as we both gazed down at her ring. "I love you, Bella Swan. I love you, and my family will love you. You are very much like my mother, you know." "I am?" "You are," I said softly, placing a kiss along the back of her hand. "First of all, you're a nurse, so you have that in common. You both love to cook. You're both incredible mothers. You have so many similarities. How could she not love you?" "What about your father?" Bella asked quietly. "My father is the most compassionate man you could ever meet. He will adore you. The fact that you've brought me closer to them will be more than enough to convince them that you are the perfect woman for me. You've made me more like my dad, to be honest. Carlisle is all about family and bonding and doing good deeds for others. You make me want to be that kind of man." "You already are," she whispered gently. "It was there all along, Edward." "So what you're saying is that I was just waiting for you?" I asked with a grin, and she giggled. "You're right, baby. I've been waiting for you my whole life." Her face softened. "I've been waiting for you, too." I kissed her softly, hoping that I could convince her through my words and through my touch that she was everything to me and that she had no reason to be worried. The kiss deepened, and I groaned when her fingers wove into my hair, tugging gently on the ends. I broke the kiss and let my lips glide across her neck, causing her to moan softly.

"I'll never get enough of you," I whispered against her skin. My hand made its way beneath her blouse, and she softly breathed my name as I teased her nipple through the fabric of her bra. "We don't have time to paint," I murmured against her ear. "But we do have time for me to make you scream my name." Bella whimpered and wrapped her legs around me as I lifted us from the couch and carried her toward the bedroom. I'd learned so much about her body last night. Where to touch. Where to tease. Where to tickle. But I also learned that my girl loved dirty talk, especially when I whispered it in her ear. I'd also learned something about me. When it came to sex with Bella, I was pretty insatiable. I had always enjoyed sex. I'd never been very promiscuous, and I'd never been romantic. But I had dated some and, more often not, those dates had led to sex. But with Bella, it was different. It was the best of both worlds, really, because I could love her with all my heart and worship her with my body in very naughty ways. I could whisper sweet words into her ear, making her sighor I could murmur my dirty thoughts and make her beg. No man should be this lucky. Clothes quickly discarded, I lowered her onto the bed and lifted her leg to rest on my shoulder, opening her to me. With a deafening groan, I pushed myself deep inside her. I watched her face contort with pleasure with each measured thrust, marveling at her absolute beauty as she writhed beneath me. "Touch yourself, baby," I whispered breathlessly, and I groaned as her hands roughly fondled her breasts as I pumped faster. Lowering her leg, I leaned over, taking her nipple into my mouth and dragging my tongue across it. The growl that escaped her throat sent a jolt straight to my cock, making me thrust frantically. "I want to try something, baby." Anything. She could try anything she wanted. "Roll onto your back," she commanded. "Hell yes." I rolled over, excited to see her hovering above me as I made her come. But my girl is always full of surprises, and she pulled away from me just long enough to turn around. With her back turned to me, she placed her knees on each side of my hips and lowered herself onto my cock. Reverse cowgirl. I was in fucking heaven. I groaned hoarsely as she rode me, my hand stroking the creamy skin along her back. Reaching back, she placed her hands on my thighs for support, and I grabbed onto her hips as she moved up and down. Whimpering softly, she arched her back, and I felt her muscles clench around me as I hit that place deep

inside her sweet spot that we'd found time and time again over the course of the night. She was perfection. My perfection. Bella screamed as her orgasm washed over her, and I followed right behind, grabbing onto her hips and thrusting one last time. It was mind-numbing pleasure, each and every time. I could live a hundred years and I'd never get enough.

After a frantic shower and putting the finishing touches on lunch, Bella and I were sitting in the porch swing when three cars arrived. Lily rushed from the first car with a smiling Jasper and Alice following right behind her. In the back was Charlie's cruiser. And in the middle was the familiar black Mercedes that belonged to my parents. Lily bounded into my lap and I hugged her close. "I see how it is," Bella pretended to pout. "Did you give it to her?" Lily whispered against my ear. "Look and see," I whispered back. Her eyes were shining as she looked down at Bella's left hand. The little girl squealed excitedly as she climbed into her mom's lap and hugged her tight. "Did he get down on his knees?" Lily asked, desperate for details. "Did you say yes?" "Just one knee," I grinned at her. "And I said yes," Bella smiled softly. Lily clapped her hands excitedly and wiggled her way back into my arms. Just then, the adults made their way onto the porch. Of course, they'd heard all of that, and I was glad to see that everyone was smiling approvingly. Alice was making the introductions, but my mother was unable to take her eyes off of me and my girls. I smiled at her, and her answering smile was the most serene I'd ever seen on her lovely face. I made the introductions and Bella rose to her feet, and she was immediately wrapped in my mother's welcoming arms. It was love at first sight. Welcome to my world, Mom. We made our way into the house where Bella, my mother, and Alice made themselves busy in the kitchen. The men stayed behind in the living room, which seemed a little sexist to me but I really did want to talk to my dad. Lily was never far away from me, and she quickly climbed into my lap once my father and I were settled on the couch.

"It's good to see you, son," Carlisle smiled at me before turning his attention to Lily. "And who is this?" "I'm Lily." "You're very pretty, Lily." "Thank you," she smiled. "I look like my mommy." "You certainly do," Carlisle chuckled. His eyes were shining bright, instantly captivated. Again, I could relate. Unable to sit still for long, Lily kissed my cheek before rushing toward the kitchen. "She's adorable," my father said softly. "Yes, she is." Jasper and Charlie excused themselves and went back out onto the porch. It was their subtle way of giving me and my father the chance to talk. Just then, my mother entered the room. "May I join you?" "Of course, sweetheart," my father smiled up at her, and she made her way over to the couch. "How are you, son?" Carlisle asked. "I'm happier than I've ever been," I replied honestly. "I can see that," he nodded thoughtfully. "What about physically? How is the memory loss?" "There are still some things I struggle to remember," I admitted. It was little things from my past that weren't really important, but it still bothered me that there were a few moments of my life that I was unable to recall. "I can't imagine what you've been through," Esme whispered softly, her eyes glistening with tears. I took her hand in mine and squeezed it softly. "Imagining it has actually kept me awake at night." "I'd do it all again," I murmured. "I can't regret a moment of it because it brought me here." "Edward, she's simply sensational," my mother sighed contently. "I know she is," I grinned. "Bella was so nervous to meet you. She was afraid you wouldn't approve." "How could we not approve?" Mom said with wide eyes. "She's a mother's dream come true. It's obvious that you adore each other, and she's brought you back to us."

Lily announced that lunch was ready, and the entire group gathered around the table. There was laughter. There were some tears, too. But mostly, it was laughter and smiles. All that was missing was my brother, and we'd have to rectify that soon. For the first time in years, I wanted my family close to me. Bella squeezed my hand under the table, and she was smiling peacefully at the scene surrounding us. "I told you they'd love you," I whispered against her ear. She blushed a little, and then leaned closer. "You know that big house you're going to build me?" Bella asked quietly against my ear, and I nodded. "We're going to need a bigger kitchen table, too." I could see it then. Holidays just like this, but with more babies, and more laughter and more happiness than I ever thought possible. I wanted it all. And I could tell by the radiant smile on Bella's face that she wanted it, too.

A little reverse cowgirl never hurt anybody ;) See you soon!

36. Dancing in the Rain

AN: Hello, my loves. Thanks to Shaina for being my super beta and for Kathie and Krista for pre-reading. Kathie says this needs a tissue warning, but it will be a good cry.

Chapter 36 Dancing in the Rain

EPOV The past week had been filled with nothing but family. There had been a lot of tears and so much laughter, and although I wasn't surprised, it was amazing to watch just how easily my parents had accepted Bella, Lily, and even Charlie as the newest members of the family. Oh, and Jasper. We couldn't forget Jasper. On their second night in Forks, my parents had barricaded themselves in Lily's room and told Alice the details surrounding her adoption. Jasper had been right by her side, and I could tell that my parents were impressed by his complete devotion. There were a lot of tears, and my sister had been especially emotional when she realized that my desire to keep the secret was what compelled me to marry Jane. I promised her I'd do it all again even the kidnapping and amnesia because those chain of events had brought me here, and I'd never been happier or more content with my life. My contentment grew each day, especially when I watched my mother with Bella and Lily. She adored them instantly, just as I knew she would. They baked cookies and mom showed Lily her technique for decorating the cookies with frosting. It was probably the biggest mess that Bella had ever allowed in her kitchen, but the smile on their faces was undeniably worth it. There would be more smiles today. Emmett and Rosalie were coming to visit. For the first time in years, my entire family would be together, a fact that made my mother ecstatically happy. For now, the house was actually quiet for the first time in days. Alice and Jasper had gone shopping, my parents were doing some sightseeing with Charlie as their guide, and Bella was working a short shift at the hospital. It was just me and my girl, snuggled up on the couch and watching iCarly. I had learned very quickly that between Miranda Cosgrove and Hannah Montana, iCarly was truly the lesser of two evils. Luckily, Lily agreed with me. "I love Freddie," Lily sighed dreamily just as the show went to commercial. I frowned. Wasn't six years old too young to love a boy? What happened to boys being gross and having cooties? I didn't like this at all.

But then she did the most amazing thing. She simply climbed into my lap and placed her tiny hands against my face. "Don't worry," Lily smiled at me. "I love you most of all." "I love you, too, baby girl," I whispered emotionally. It never failed to amaze me how this little girl and her mother had completely stolen my heart. "Can I ask you a question?" Lily asked softly. "Of course." "Mommy said that her name will be different," she said quietly. "What will my name be?" Bella and I had talked about my adopting Lily. We'd even gone so far as to ask Jasper to begin the paperwork, but we'd yet to discuss this with Lily. I never dreamed she'd be curious about this, but I should have known better. She was so smart and naturally she'd be wondering. "Your mom and I need to talk to you about that," I explained gently. "We'll do that soon, okay?" "Okay," Lily smiled happily before snuggling back into my arms, her attention diverted because Freddie was back on the screen. I frowned and glared at the boy on the television. I still didn't like it.

I had warned Lily that Emmett was big and loud, but that didn't stop her eyes from widening and her arms wrapping around my neck like a vice when he burst through the door. "The party can now officially begin!" Emmett shouted happily as he dropped his suitcase onto the floor. Behind him was a very exhausted and very pregnant Rosalie. Pregnant? Some of my memories were still spotty but I was sure I'd remember that. "Hey guys," I grinned at them as I rose to my feet. Lily refused to let go of me and buried her face against my neck. "It's alright, baby girl. Remember what I said? Emmett's just a big, loud teddy bear." "This must be Lily," Rosalie softly said to the little girl in my arms. "You're pretty," Lily whispered. "Thank you. So are you," Rosalie smiled warmly. "It's good to see you, Rosalie," I leaned closer to kiss her cheek. "Did I forget that I was going to be an uncle?" Emmett chuckled and I gave him a one-armed hug. "Nah, we just kept it quiet the first few months. It's

good to see you, man." I offered them a seat on the couch, and Rosalie sighed gratefully as she collapsed against the cushions. "We wanted to wait until the second trimester before we told anyone." "You look like you're ready to pop any day now," I blurted out. I instantly winced when I realized that probably wasn't the nicest thing to say to a pregnant woman. "Thanks a lot, jerk," Rosalie smirked. "We're having twins!" Emmett cackled as Rose groaned. "We have four more months and trust me when I say that my house will continue to be hell until they arrive." I glanced at Lily, expecting her to go on a search for the Swear Jar. Apparently five dollars wasn't enough motivation for her to let go of me. "Em, you've got to calm down a little. You're scaring the child," Rosalie said quietly. My brother looked surprised. "Am I?" "We just have a pretty chill house," I grinned at him. "She's not used to your loud mouth." For the remainder of the afternoon, Emmett tried his best to control his enthusiasm, and it wasn't long before Em and Lily were rolling around on the living room floor and the very best of friends. "This is good practice for him," Rosalie smirked as we watched them wrestle. "He'll be a good dad, Rose." "Hmm." She turned toward me and smiled. "So are you, Edward. It's obvious how much you adore her." "I do." "So tell me about Bella," Rosalie encouraged me. "I got Emmett's version, which consisted of she's a hot nurse who can cook." I laughed. "Well, she is a hot nurse who can cook, but she'sshe's so much more than that, Rose. She's gentle and kind and the most incredible mother. She was my friend when I had no one else." Rosalie smiled softly. "Do you remember our wedding day?" "Vaguely" I frowned. "You told Emmett that you hoped that one day you'd find a girl who could make you as happy as I made

him." I did remember that. I also remembered thinking that it would never happen for me. I just didn't believe it was possible. I'd only seen a love like that twice in my lifetime. First with my parents, and then with Em and Rose. At that moment, Bella walked through the front door. She stopped abruptly when she saw the scene on the living room floor. She looked from them, and then to me, and her smile was beautiful. "I can't believe I found her," I whispered.

"What are you thinking?" Bella asked softly. The house was finally quiet. After a long evening of talking and eating and laughing, everyone had finally scattered for the night. We were now lying in bed and her head was nuzzling my chest. "Just thinking how nice it is to have everyone here," I said as I ran my fingers through her hair. "I didn't realize how much I'd missed my family." "I was thinking about family, too," Bella murmured gently. "We literally have everyone that we love right here. Who knows when that might happen again." "That's true, especially with Em and Rose having the babies." "Yeah," she nodded. "So I was thinkingI mean, since we have everyone here already" She was actually nervous? I'd never seen her nervous. "Hey," I whispered, tilting her face toward mine. "What is it, baby?" She took a deep breath and looked up at me with those big brown eyes. "Will you marry me?" I laughed lightly and leaned down, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "I'm pretty sure I've already proposed, baby." "No, I mean right now," Bella said softly as she climbed up my body and gently stroked my cheek. "With all of our family surrounding us, will you marry me right now?" My eyes widened in surprise. "Really?" She nodded. "But don't you want a big wedding? I mean, most girls want the enormous, poofy dress and lots of bridesmaids and hundreds of gueststhe kind of thing that takes months to plan."

Bella crunched her nose in disgust. "Do you seriously think that's what I want?" "Not at all," I chuckled. "Just making sure. I want you to have the kind of wedding you've always dreamed of." "I didn't really dream of one," Bella admitted with a sigh. "Not about the details, anyway. I just wanted to walk down the aisle and pledge my life to the man I loved and who loved me." "But that's so simple." "I like simple," Bella whispered. "Life is complicated enough. Why should the happiest day of your life be one of the most stressful? I've never understood that. Why worry and stress and make a spectacle out of something that should be intimate and special? Having a big expensive wedding certainly doesn't mean your marriage will last any longer. My parents got married in front of a Justice of the Peace and they were together until the day she died. That's all I've ever wanted, and I never thought I'd find it, but now that I have, I just want" "You want our life together to begin?" I asked softly, and she nodded as a single tear flowed down her cheek. I gently wiped it away. "Me too, baby, and as soon as possible. Tomorrow if you want." Her face brightened. "But what about you?" She asked quietly. "Do you want a big wedding?" "I want you to be my wife," I replied simply. "If you wanted to elope, we'd elope. If you wanted a big church wedding with a thousand guests, then that's what we'd have. All that matters to me is that you'll be Mrs. Edward Cullen at the end of the day." She squealed excitedly and wrapped her arms around my neck. "I don't want to elope. I want us surrounded by our family and a few friends and just make it official so you can adopt Lily and so that I can look like Rose." "Ah, the truth comes out!" I laughed as I rolled us over. I nuzzled her nose with mine as I hovered above her. "You just want my babies." "I want it all," Bella said softly. "I want every last bit of happiness, and I want it as soon as humanly possible." "Then that's exactly what you'll get," I murmured.

"THREE DAYS?" We were sitting around the kitchen table as Charlie explained the finer points of Washington wedding laws to his daughter. News of a three day waiting period wasn't going over so well. My girl was impatient, and if it was possible, I fell just a little more in love with her because of that fact. "Bella, it's just three days," Alice tried to console her. "It'll take you that long to find a dress."

"And you'll need to find a minister," Charlie reminded us. "Not to mention a place to have it," Mom chimed in. "What about you guys?" Bella looked at Rosalie. "Your flight leaves tomorrow." "Bella, we are more than happy to change our flight. We wouldn't miss this for anything," Rosalie assured her. With that settled, Alice insisted that the girls drive to Port Angeles to shop for dresses, leaving us guys behind for the rest of the afternoon. So we did what any group of guys would do. We ordered pizza and kicked each other's asses on the Wii. "I feel kind of guilty," I admitted. "Shouldn't I be doing something productive?" "You're doing what every groom does," Emmett promised me. "You're just waiting for instructions, man. Get used to it. You'll be waiting for instructions for the rest of your life." My father and Jasper laughed, but I noticed that Charlie was quieter than usual. Before long, he excused himself to take a call and I watched as he settled himself outside on the porch swing. I waited until Jasper effectively kicked my ass at Mario Kart before following him outside. "Are you alright?" He nodded as I sat down next to him. "Charlie, I hope you're not pissed. I know that I should have asked for your blessing." He chuckled softly. "Son, you didn't need to ask my permission. You love my girls, and they love you. That's all I need." "You just seem quiet," I said. "I was afraid that you were upset. I know it's all moving fast, but it's what she wants." He sighed and stared off into space. "Son, you shouldn't waste a minute of time. You can't predict the future. You never know when something might happen and rip it all away. People get sick. People die." And that's when I understood. All this wedding talk was making him miss his wife. "Would she have liked me?" I wondered aloud.

Charlie smiled softly. "Yeah, she would have. She would have liked you a lot," Charlie replied. "Bella is so much like her mother. She's strong and beautiful and passionate about everything. Sometimes it hurts to look at her, which sounds terrible, I know. But sometimes, I'll watch her with Lily, and I'll rememberand it's hard." He swallowed convulsively, and I had to look away. I couldn't imagine it. It hurt just to think it. If anything ever happened to Bella, I knew I'd never survive it. The fact that this man had continued to function after the death of his wife astounded me. "Don't waste a minute of your life together," Charlie said. "If she wants a honeymoon in Hawaii, then you book that flight. If she wants six kids, then you have them. If she wants to get married in three days, then you put on a suit and you say I do." He looked toward the cloudy sky and whispered wistfully, "If she wants to dance in the rain, then you dance in the rain." Hours later, I was still sitting on the porch and thinking about what he said when the girls made it back home. Lily jumped into my lap and covered my eyes as the girls tried to avoid the rain and rushed the dress into the house. Bella returned moments later, smiling from ear to ear. "I take it the trip was a success," I grinned as she climbed into my lap. She kissed me softly before smiling at me. "It's simple, just like I wanted," Bella sighed happily. "It's so pretty." "I can't wait to see you in it." The rain began to fall a little harder. "Can we go out into the yard?" I asked. She looked confused. "The yard?" "I want to try something." Puzzled but willing, we climbed out of the swing and I took her by the hand, leading her down the steps and out into the grass. Without a word, I pulled her into my arms and wrapped my arms around her waist. "Dance with me." A slow smile crept across her face. She placed her arms around my neck as we began to sway. The rain was glistening in her hair, and we'd probably both catch colds, but she was looking up at me with so much love that I knew any amount of coughing and sneezing would be worth it. "My mom loved to dance in the rain," Bella said softly.

I pressed my forehead against hers and held her a little tighter. "I know she did," I whispered.

I tried to write some this week, but it just didn't happen. So, I think it's better to give you an update schedule instead of you wondering if I've dropped off the face of the planet. So here you go. Weekly updates from now on. The bright side is you'll get longer updates. :) See you next week!

37. I Now Pronounce You

AN: Bella's wedding dress was chosen by bgwillis. Lily's dress was chosen by 84gemma. You can see both on my blog - sydneyalice5. blogspot. com

Chapter 37 I Now Pronounce You

I was just finishing getting dressed in the choir room when my father stepped inside. "Nervous?" "Not at all," I answered honestly as I finished adjusting my tie. Grooms had it so easy. It really wasn't fair. My dad smiled and joined me at the mirror, glancing at his own reflection and straightening his tie. My father was a brilliant doctor but he'd never learned how to fix his tie. Long ago, he'd told my mother that leaving the job to her ensured that he'd get the chance to stare into her lovely eyes at least once a day for the rest of their lives. Yes, Carlisle Cullen was a charmer. "How's my girl?" I asked. The parents had decided that some traditions needed to be upheld, so Bella and I had spent the night apart. That hadn't kept us from texting until nearly three in the morning. I knew she was in the church somewhere, but other than that, I didn't have a clue. "Your mother assures me that Bella is on cloud nine," my father chuckled lightly. "Lily keeps telling everyone that her mommy looks like a princess." "Everyone?" Dad laughed loudly. "Almost every pew in this tiny church is filled with people." Finding the church had been a happy accident. At first, Bella had wanted an outdoor wedding, but the weather was just too unpredictable. Pastor Weber was a frequent customer at Newton's and a friend of Charlie's, and he'd suggested that we use his little country church. He had even offered to officiate the ceremony. I wasn't surprised that the church was nearly filled. Forks was Bella's home, and everyone in this town loved Charlie Swan. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and Emmett peeked inside. "There's a little princess out here who would like to see her daddy," my brother grinned at me. "Her words, not mine."

It was a title I'd never expected to crave so desperately. Last night, Bella and I had sat down with Lily and talked about all of the changes that would occur after the wedding, the most important one being that Bella's last name would change to had pouted that she wanted her name to change, too, which had opened the door for a discussion about the adoption. Bella actually did all of the talking. I was rendered speechless by the fact that this amazing little girl wanted me to be her daddy and that her beautiful mother was going to be my wife. The door opened, and Lily literally danced inside the room with Jasper holding her hand. Her dress was white with a big red sash around her waist and little red butterflies along the fabric. She was adorable, and my eyes welled with tears. I cleared my throat and smiled at my little girl. "Hi," Lily grinned at me shyly. "You look so pretty," I murmured as I sat down on a nearby chair. She immediately raced toward me and I had to caution her not to jump into my lap. "We might mess up your pretty dress," I reminded her as I leaned down to hug her. She wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed tightly. "Mommy told me to give you a kiss from her," Lily said just before kissing my cheek. "And Alice says it's time!" My heart began to race, and I felt my father's reassuring hand on my shoulder as my little girl took me by the hand and led me out of the choir room.

The church was indeed full of people, many of which I recognized. The Newtons were sitting up close, as was Bree, the nurse from the hospital and Bella's friend. My parents were on the front row, along with the rest of my family. Everyone looked so happy, and it filled my heart with happiness. This was my hometown, and we were so loved. I was standing at the altar with the pastor. We'd decided not to have attendants. It would just be the three of us, standing in front of our family and friends, pledging our lives to one another. The pianist began to play Canon in D, and I took a deep breath as I watched my little girl my daughter walk down the aisle toward me. She was dropping little red rose petals along the way, and the crowd hummed with joy. Lily made her way to my side and took my hand. She smiled up at me, and I winked down at her just as the song changed and everyone rose to their feet. At the end of the aisle was a beaming Charlie, and on his arm was my very own princess in the flesh. By the time Charlie placed her hand in mine, I was weeping. Smiling through her own tears, Bella lifted her hand and gently brushed her fingers across my wet cheek. She handed Lily her bouquet of red roses and placed both of her hands in mine as Pastor Weber welcomed the guests to the ceremony. I missed most of his speech. I was too mesmerized by the

happiness shining in Bella's eyes to really concentrate on anything he was saying. "Edward and Bella have chosen to recite their own vows," the pastor announced. He nodded toward me and I took a deep breath. I'd probably written my vows over a thousand times, trying to say exactly what I wanted to say and to say it right. It was the most important speech I'd ever make, and it had to be absolutely perfect. "My Bella," I whispered. She smiled and squeezed my hand in encouragement. "When I think of everything we've been throughwhen I think of the events that brought us both to this momentI can't help but be thankful for every single moment because I know it was all meant to be. I was meant to find you. You were meant to find me. I was meant to be Lily's father. People can call it karma, or the stars aligning, or divine intervention, or whatever they want to name it. All I know is that every bad thing that has ever happened to us has led us to this moment, in this little church, in front of all of our family and friends." I watched in fascination as a lone tear trickled down her cheek, and I gently brushed it away. "You were my friend when I had no one else. You welcomed me into your homeinto your life. Into your heart. I love you so much, Bella, and today, you're giving me the greatest gift that I could ever receive. You're becoming my wife, and you are trusting me to be a father to your daughter." Letting go of her hands, I reached into my pocket and pulled out Lily's gift. I kneeled to the ground in front of the little girl and placed the necklace over her head. Dangling from the chain was the replica of Bella's ring that I'd bought in the jewelry store. Lily's eyes widened as she noticed the halo ring as it settled against her dress. "It's just like Mommy's ring," Lily murmured in amazement. "It is," I nodded as the emotion of the moment threatened to overwhelm me. "I wanted to give you something today, too. Every time you look at your necklace, I want you to remember how much I love you. I love you so much, Lily, and I can't wait to be your daddy." "I love youDaddy," Lily whispered, and tears welled in my eyes as I kissed her forehead. I rose to my feet and turned back toward Bella who was crying uncontrollably, and without thinking, I pulled her into my arms and pressed my forehead against hers. Pastor Weber wiped at his own eyes before asking Bella if she was ready to recite her vows. "Seriously?" Bella asked him tearfully. "You actually expect me to speak after that?" The congregation laughed through their own tears, and suddenly, Alice was there, offering us both tissues. Bella wiped my face as I wiped hers. "You don't have to say anything, baby," I assured her with a smile. "He can pronounce us husband and wife and then I can kiss you and it will all be official." Bella was shaking her head. "No, noI want to recite my vows to you," she said. She sniffled quietly and took a long, steadying

breath before placing her hands in mine once again. "Just before she passed away, my mother gave me some instructions for life," Bella began. "She knew she wouldn't be here to teach me, so the days leading up to her passing, she gave me these little life lessons and told me to follow them. Of course, I was a teenage girl, and as I lived my life without her, there were times when I didn't follow her advice. But there was one thing she said that always stuck with me, and it was that when it came to love, I should never settle for less than the kind of love that she had with my father." Bella bowed her head and tried to collect herself before continuing. "If you asked my dad, he would try to convince you that he wasn't the perfect husband, but to my mother, he was a prince. He worshipped her. He adored her. I grew up knowing that my parents were head over heels in love with each other. They were always hugging and kissing, and when I was little I thought it was so gross" The congregation laughed. "but as I grew older, and especially once she was diagnosed with cancer, I saw the evidence of that love. Just before she passed away, she made me promise that when I said my wedding vows, that I would say them to a man who loved me just as much as she was loved by my father." Bella smiled brightly through her tears. "I'll be honest. I didn't think it was possible. But I didn't know that you were out there, and from the moment we met, I felt so connected to you. It was as if I could see into your soul, and you could see into mine. The fact that my daughter is completely in love with you just proves that this is meant to be. I love you with all my heart." We exchanged rings, and when Pastor Weber announced that I could kiss the bride, I didn't hesitate for one second because that kiss signified that she was officially and legally my wife. The pastor introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cullen, and with our daughter in the middle and holding each of our hands, the three of us walked down the aisle as a family.

This is the last official chapter. The rest of the chapters will be futuretakes little snippets of their life. Mostly fluff, but some drama too because life is full of both. I'm not marking this as complete. I'll just keep adding chapters until I'm done with the outtakes. Again, if there's something you really want to see (I've had suggestions of more babies and an adventure involving Bella's goody drawer), don't hesitate to let me know, and I'll see what I can do. See you next week!

38. Futuretake: Up in the Air

AN: The futuretakes are going to be various lengths. Some will be longer than others. Remember, these are just going to be little snippets of their life along the way. I'm going to post one now and possibly another tonight or tomorrow. :) In case you don't recognize it, the song Edward sings is "Such Great Heights." My longtime readers know it's a favorite of mine. I prefer the Iron and Wine version.

Chapter 38 Futuretake Up in the Air

"Are you trying to distract me?" Bella was pinned beneath me as I hovered above her, nibbling on every inch of skin that I could reach with my lips. Unfortunately, it wasn't much, and I was tempted to rip off her pretty dress. Who needs clothes for a honeymoon in Hawaii, anyway? "You did say you were nervous about the flight," I grinned down at her just before my teeth latched onto her ear. She moaned breathlessly as I pushed her dress further up her leg, stroking my fingers against her thigh. Roughly, she pulled my hair, and I groaned as her mouth attacked mine. Someone cleared his throat, and we suddenly remembered we weren't alone.

"Excuse me, sir, but we uhneed you and Mrs. Cullen to ummbuckle your seatbelts before we takeoff." We glanced up at my embarrassed co-pilot, but his back was turned to us, obviously trying to give us some privacy. Bella hastily pushed her dress back down her legs and shot me a glare. I chuckled and pressed an apologetic kiss against her forehead. "We're sorry, Max," Bella said sheepishly as she pushed me away. "Sorry, Max," I grinned as I leaned back against the chair and snapped my seatbelt. Max turned around and smiled kindly. "No need to apologize. I was a newlywed once upon a time myself," he said with a grin. "Do you need anything from the flight attendant before we take-off?"

I looked over to Bella, but she was biting her lip and looking pensively out the window once again. "I think we're okay, but this is Bella's first flight," I explained as I took her hand in mine. "She's a little nervous. Let's make it a good one." "Of course. We'll take very good care of you, Mrs. Cullen," Max promised her before turning on his heel and leaving the cabin. You wouldn't know it by her death grip on my hand, but the take-off was steady and smooth, just as Max promised. I glanced out the window at the city below us and squeezed Bella's hand. "Look out the window, baby." "No." "Bella" Sighing, she twisted around on the couch and peeked out the window. Her brown eyes were wide and bright as she looked down at the city. It had been her first time back to Seattle since her father had rescued her all those years ago. "The city is so pretty from way up here," Bella whispered in awe. "Everything looks perfect from far away," I sang softly. "I love that song," Bella smiled. "Me too." The city began to disappear as we drifted higher into the clouds, and after a while, Max announced over the intercom that we were free to move about the cabin. I grinned mischievously at my wife and within seconds, we were unbuckled and she was writhing beneath me once again. "Do all private planes have these comfy couches?" Bella asked in between kisses. "Most do," I answered as I buried my face against her neck. "How long is this flight?" Bella asked breathlessly as I ran my tongue along her heated skin. "About six hours." "And we aren't having sex?" We'd already had this discussion on the drive to the airport. The first time we made love as husband and wife was not going to be on this plane. We had been adamant about that decision.

"No sex," I assured her. "Then why are you pushing my dress up my legs and running your fingers across my panties?" "Am I doing that?" "You are." "My apologies, Mrs. Cullen," I smirked down at her. But I didn't remove my hand. Instead, I slipped my fingers beneath the fabric and gently stroked her, causing her to buck against my hand. Her tongue moistened her bottom lip as I continued stroking. I increased the pressure, and she whimpered my name. "The pilots" Bella whispered with a groan. "The pilots are flying the plane, baby. It's just you and me." "You and me," she repeated softly. "Always." "For as long as we both shall live," I murmured as I watched her face contort with pleasure. There was nothing more beautiful than my girl my wife as I brought her closer to release. And I was the lucky man who would get to see it for the rest of his life.

39. Futuretake: Mahina meli

AN: Mahina meli is "honeymoon" in Hawaiian. :)

Chapter 39 Futuretake Mahina meli

After landing in Lana'i City, we said goodbye to our pilots and headed to the resort. Bella had specifically asked to stay on the island of Lana'i. I didn't have to ask why. Charlie had told me that Renee had always wanted to visit Pineapple Island. In planning the trip, we'd learned that the island no longer produced pineapples, but that didn't stop Bella from wanting to spend our honeymoon there. I didn't argue. I only had two requirements for my honeymoon my wife and a bed. Hell, the bed was even optional. However, we did have several heated discussions about my wanting the deluxe room overlooking the ocean while she was content with the smaller suite with a view of the golf course. It was a five-star resort so nothing was really "average," but we ended up compromising and choosing something we both could live with. It was the first real sign that we were both going to have to come to terms with the fact that I was a wealthy man. I didn't necessarily need the very best, but I was accustomed to having it. Bella was a single mom who made a decent salary but still struggled to make ends meet. Having money wasn't something with which she was going to be comfortable. I would have to tread lightly and find some middle ground because I really wanted to spoil her. I just prayed that she'd let me. Once inside the room, I tipped the concierge and headed toward the balcony where she was standing against the railing, staring at the colorful garden just below us. "It's so pretty here," Bella said softly as I wrapped my arms around her waist and pulled her against my chest. "It is," I agreed, placing a tender kiss against her neck. She melted against me as we stood there, just gazing at the beautiful island. "Hawaii was the perfect idea for our honeymoon, baby." She wrapped her arms around mine and I held her a little tighter. "You know why," Bella whispered sadly. "You know why I chose Hawaii, don't you?" "I do," I replied gently. "I really miss her," she admitted with a sigh. "I've missed my mother since the day she died, but lately, it's just really hit me that she isn't here to share these things with me, and it's so much harder than I expected it to be. Being on this island even though she never made it here somehow makes me feel closer to her. Isn't that crazy?" "It's not crazy at all," I promised her. "If being here makes you feel closer to your mom, then here is exactly where we should be."

Bella turned around in my arms and gazed at me with tears in her eyes. "She would have adored you," Bella smiled up at me. "She would have loved seeing how much you love me." "I do love you," I murmured, pressing my forehead against hers. "I love you, too." After unpacking, we ordered room service and made our promised call home. After showing Lily a map of Hawaii, she made us vow to call everyday because she just wasn't happy with the fact that an entire body of water was separating us. She'd actually cried, and I'd been tempted to bring her along, but Bella reminded me that we'd have many vacations as a family, but this week needed to be just ours. Alice had stayed in Forks to help Charlie babysit, so we knew she was in good hands. I talked to her first, promising lots of souvenirs and maybe even a Skype session later in the week. Room service arrived, so I dealt with that while Bella had her turn on the phone. By the time she was finished, dinner was waiting out on the balcony, and we enjoyed our first dinner as husband and wife as we watched the sun set over the Pacific. She disappeared while I called the front desk to make arrangements for tomorrow. Bella really wanted to visit Shipwreck Beach, and we'd need a four wheel drive to get there. I had just hung up the phone when she reappeared - wearing some tiny scrap of fabric that covered very little of her beautiful body. It was white and silky and my fingers itched to rip it off. "Wow," I breathed. "It's veryslutty," Bella winced. "I blame your sister. It was a gift from her." "I love my sister," I whispered as I reached for her, pulling her close. "I have the very best sister in the whole world." My fingers traced over the fabric. "And it's not slutty at all. You're so sexy, Bella. So unbelievably beautiful." I leaned down, softly brushing my lips against hers before lifting her into my arms and carrying her to bed. Once upon a time, Emmett had told me that having sex with your wife was a thousand times better than having sex with your girlfriend. The woman you loved had agreed to share the rest of her life with you. She was wearing your ring and taking your name and promising to love you through good times and bad. She was your best friend, and all of those things just made the physical side of your relationship more intense and satisfying. Emmett was rarely philosophical, but I couldn't help but remember his words as I gripped Bella's hips while she hovered above me. Her eyes gazed into mine as she slowly lowered herself, and I groaned loudly as I slipped inside. She threw her head back as her muscles clenched around me, and I shifted my hips as we began to move. Leaning over me, her hair created a curtain around us as we kissed tenderly. Our movements weren't rushed, but our kisses grew hungrier as her breasts brushed against my chest, sending shivers through me and causing me to let go of her hips so that I could touch every inch of flesh I could reach.

"Will it always be like this?" I wondered aloud. Her answer was a low moan and a frantic shift of her hips that caused me to whimper against her mouth.

Please let it always be like this.

40. Futuretake: Happier

Chapter 40 Futuretake: Happier

Six months later "No words of wisdom for your best friend?" Jasper asked as we looked out the window at the spectacle below us. Alice had wanted billowing white tents and ice sculptures, and that was all that was visible from the upstairs window. "Hurt my sister and I'll kill you." "You'd never kill me," Jasper smirked. "You need me too much and I know all of your secrets." "I don't need you so much anymore," I reminded him with a grin. Jasper had already worked his magic on my personal life. Lily's adoption had been seamless and Jane and Alec were now rotting in prison, as were my kidnappers. As for my professional life, Jasper and my accountant had dealt with the selling of Masen Industries. It now had a new name and a new CEO. The best part was that my employees still had jobs, and a few had even been promoted. Jazz had also handled my realtor. Chicago's housing market was still shit and I'd taken a loss, but the house was finally sold. The purchase price was still an insane amount of money, and every dime from the sale of the house went into a trust for Lily. We were still in negotiations with the Newtons, but they were just overwhelmed with the numbers. According to Karen and David, I was offering them too much money for their business and they just weren't comfortable with that. Their lawyer told them they were crazy not to accept it, and Jasper was amazed that such people existed in the world. "I'm serious," Jasper murmured anxiously. "I never thought I'd get married, and I certainly never expected to be nervous on my wedding day. Tell me how to have what you have." "You find an amazing woman," I smiled. "That's how." "Well, I certainly did that," Jasper said softly before glaring at me. "I'll never forgive you for keeping us apart for so long." I chuckled. "Will you miss Chicago?" "Nah," Jasper shook his head. "It wasn't Chicago that I loved. It was practicing law in a big city, and I can still do that in Seattle." Alice and Jasper had found a townhouse in the city and had been living together for the past four months. They'd gotten engaged not long after Bella and I had returned from our honeymoon in Hawaii. Sure, it was quick, but I would have been the biggest hypocrite on the planet if I'd pointed it out. They were happy, and that was all that mattered.

The wedding planner announced that it was time, and the two of us made our way down to the backyard. Two hundred people had been invited, and it looked as if all of them were in attendance. I knew very few of them, but none of that mattered. Nothing mattered except that I was surrounded by family. Rosalie was sitting in the front row with the twins, two boys named Derek and Dylan. Emmett was escorting our weepy mother to her seat in the front. Moments later, my beautiful daughter was walking down the aisle, tossing rose petals into the air. She smiled up at me and I winked as she took her place at the altar. Behind her, dressed in a deep blue dress that hugged her curves, was the matron-of-honor and my gorgeous wife. Bella flashed a smile as she stood across from me. Then the music changed, and my beautiful baby sister was being led down the aisle by our beaming father. There were many tears, and twenty minutes later, my sister was officially Mrs. Jasper Hale. The reception was full of laughter and tears, and after our speeches and the traditional dances, Bella was finally in my arms. "Do you wish we'd had a big wedding like this?" I asked as she swayed in my arms. "No, this is insane," Bella giggled as she played with my tie. "I don't even know two hundred people." I smiled down at her. "Have I told you how beautiful you look?" "Not in the last ten minutes," she smirked. "Well, that's unacceptable," I replied seriously as I leaned close to her ear. I felt her tremble in my arms as my breath crept across her skin. "You are the sexiest woman here and I would love to peel you out of that dress." Bella bit her bottom lip as my hands roamed her backside. "I think weddings turn you on, Mr. Cullen." "You turn me on, Mrs. Cullen." "Hmm," Bella sighed as her hands glided across my chest. "I bet I know something else that will turn you on." "What's that?" With a wicked gleam in her eye, she gently pulled on my tie, forcing my head closer to her mouth. She subtly licked my earlobe before whispering into my ear, and the words nearly caused my knees to buckle. "Nothing at all?" I gulped. "Nothing at all," Bella whispered. "Not even a thong." I groaned quietly as we continued to move to the music. Emmett asked to cut in, and we swapped

partners for one song before Lily tugged on my leg and reminded me that I owed her a dance. I lifted her slightly and she placed her feet on top of mine as we danced. "I'm going to have a wedding just like this someday," Lily announced. The words sent a chill down my spine, but I just smiled indulgently down at her as she told me all about her future wedding. Time would fly. I knew this because six months had already passed and it seemed like just yesterday that I'd laid eyes on her for the first time. Now Bella and I were married, Lily was my daughter, and we were dancing at my sister's wedding. Time flies, especially when you're happy. It really wasn't fair at all. "You look thoughtful," Bella said when we found each other once again. Our arms wrapped around each other as we began to sway to the music once again. "I was just thinking about the future," I told her. "It won't be long until I'll be the one walking Lily down the aisle." "I think it'll be a few years," Bella grinned up at me. "I know, but still" "I know," she nodded. "We're just so happy," I murmured softly as I pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "I want to always be this happy." Bella looked up at me with her beautiful brown eyes. "I think we can be a little happier," she said softly. I gave her a quizzical look as she tugged on my tie once again. She whispered the sweetest words against my ear, and this time, my legs really did buckle. With a giggle, Bella pulled me toward a nearby table and pushed me into a chair before climbing onto my lap. "A baby?" I whispered in disbelief. "A baby," Bella nodded with the biggest smile on her face. "I've been waiting to tell you all day. I took the test this morning. I'll need to call the doctor to make an appointment, butyeah." With a shuddering sigh, I pulled her close to my chest and hugged her tightly.

We're having a baby.

She was right.

I was unbelievably happier.

I will be contributing a new one-shot for Fandom for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. A $5 donation will get you a compilation of stories. The one-shot is called "You and Tequila," and if you know the song, it's loosely based on it. Heather Dawn made a beautiful banner for it, and the banner and a teaser can be found on my blog. There's also a link there to show you where to donate. All donations are due September 30, and the compilation should be sent out in early October. See you soon!

41. Futuretake: Home Sweet Home

AN: I didn't mean to give the impression that the last chapter was the end. My plan is fifty chapters! This is unbeta'd because my beta has been working overtime for me on other projects. More about that at the bottom!

Chapter 41 Home Sweet Home "It's too big." "It's not that big." "Edward, it's huge!" Emmett, our architect, tried very hard to disguise his laughter with a cough. "Bella, it's only 2500 square feet." "Including the basement?" I sighed heavily as I smoothed out the blueprints on the kitchen table. My brother had warned me about the mood swings. I was seriously re-thinking our previous plan for a houseful of kids because I honestly wasn't sure I would survive this first baby. I didn't say this aloud, of course. I didn't have a death wish. Instead, I took a deep breath and smiled softly at my beautiful yet infuriating wife. "Baby, you wanted four bedrooms, right?" "Yes" "You wanted all of them to be upstairs." Bella nodded. "You wanted a basement." She was now biting her lip which, despite my aggravation, was still as arousing as ever. "You wanted a covered wrap-around porch." "Yes," she whispered.

The plan included everything she wanted, including a little breakfast nook. I glanced at my brother, and he took his cue. "Sweetheart, to have everything you want, you're going to need that much space," Emmett said gently. The man was a saint. Of course, he'd dealt with Rose while she carried twins. "Is there something about the layout that you don't like?" Without warning, Bella promptly covered her face and burst into tears. "Your turn," Emmett smirked at me as he rolled up the plans. I tossed my pencil onto the table and dropped to my knees in front of her. "Baby, look at me," I murmured gently, pulling her hands away from her face. "I'm sorry," Bella whimpered sadly and it broke my heart. She was so overwhelmed with everything and, according to her doctor, the mommy hormones were wreaking havoc on her emotions. And she's only three months along I prayed for strength. "Come here," I said softly, tugging her by her hands and pulling her toward the bedroom. I laid my head against the pillow and pulled her close to my chest, letting my nose drift into her hair. Her tears had quieted to hiccups and it would be the cutest thing in the world if she wasn't so emotional. I tenderly stroked my fingers along the curve of her spine and I felt her relax against me. "You must hate me." "I love you more than you can possibly imagine," I assured her, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "The house is so beautiful," Bella said quietly. "It's everything I've ever wanted." "I'm glad," I smiled down at her. "I just never dreamed I'd have it," she continued softly. Her fingers were toying with the buttons of my shirt. "How is it possible that you make all of my dreams come true?" "I'm your husband, sweetheart. It's my goal in life to spoil you rotten." She smiled up at me. "It's just a little hard to wrap my head around. I mean, I've never had money. I've never had the ability to just write a check and have anything I've ever wanted or needed. It takes a little getting used to, and I know I'm terrible at it, and I apologize. But it's not just the money, necessarily. I worry" "What do you worry about?" Bella sighed. "With the exception of a few, everyone in Forks is working class. I'm afraid this big beautiful house is going to seem so pretentious in our little town."

"I thought about that, too," I admitted. The last thing I wanted was the people in this town to think I was turning Bella into a snob. "So, Emmett and I did some investigating. There are actually several houses in town that are comparable to the size of this one." Her eyes brightened. "Really?" "Yes," I said. "Dr. Gerandy's house out on Maple Lane is actually double the size of this one." "But he's a doctor, Edward. People expect doctors to live in mansions." I considered that. "Do you think less of Dr. Gerandy because he's a successful doctor?" "Of course not." "Do you think he's conceited for building a beautiful house for his wife?" "No," she whispered softly. "Dr. Gerandy is a wonderful man who is an asset to our hospital, and his wife always volunteers up in pediatrics. They're fantastic people." "They're fantastic people despite their money and their fancy house?" I asked with a grin. "They use their wealth and status in positive ways, and because of that, they're respected in the community?" Bella scrunched her nose and sighed in defeat. "I want that to be us, Bella. Do you think I want to own a sporting goods store? I just want to help the Newtons. I want the business to stay open, and I want it to expand so that we can employ local people. I want customers to come from miles around because we have the best selection of sporting goods in the Pacific Northwest. Forks will never be a thriving metropolis, but our unemployment rate is staggering and the town's economy needs a boost. I want us to help make that happen." "You'll get what you want," Bella smiled. "We break ground on the renovations next week." "That's right," I grinned, nuzzling her nose with mine. "But what I want most is to build my wife her dream house, if she'll let me." Gently, she trailed her fingertip along my eyebrow. "She'll let you." "That makes me very happy," I said with a smile. "I don't know what's wrong with me," Bella moaned quietly as she buried her head against my chest. "I honestly don't know how you can stand to be around me. I'm so irrational, and I'm only three months along. Rosalie promises it gets better, especially after the morning sickness comes to an end. I don't

recall being this sick with Lily." "Maybe that means we're having a boy," I said excitedly and Bella laughed. "A boy would be amazing," she agreed with a tired sigh. Her body melted against me, and after a few minutes, her gentle snores filled the air. "Edward Cullen, Jr.," I murmured happily. "Over my dead body," Bella mumbled in her sleep. "No child of mine is going to be called Junior." I chuckled quietly and held her a little tighter as she drifted back off to sleep.

Want to see the house? It's on my blog! sydneyalice5(dot)blogspot(dot)com My beta has been busy because. I have an entry in the 80s Power Ballad Contest. It's anonymous! Can you guess which one is mine? Voting is open and you can vote for your three favorites. The poll to vote is at the very top of the page: www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/u/2984208/power_ballad_contest. The link will also be in my profile. I'm also contributing to Fandom 4 LLS. That info is on my profile, as well. AndI have a new story! I will begin posting it today. :)

42. Futuretake: The Goody Drawer

AN: Super short update. This certainly fits the definition of a drabble. Hope you like it anyway.

Chapter 42 The Goody Drawer

"Does that feel good?" I murmured against her heated skin. I controlled the speed of the toy something she called a silver bullet and dragged it slowly across her stomach. "So good," Bella whimpered as my hand drifted lower, finally resting right where she wanted it to be. She bucked against my hand as I slowly increased the speed, letting the cold metallic toy work its magic. There were definite perks to pregnancy. Emmett had warned me that there would come a point in Bella's pregnancy once the morning sickness ceased and the mood swings became bearable that my wife would became insatiable. I didn't tell my brother that she'd been pretty insatiable before the pregnancy. I'd merely smiled and bided my time, waiting patiently (or maybe impatiently) for the day. That day had arrived. Yesterday. We'd yet to sleep. Not that I was complaining. We'd certainly made good use of the goody drawer. Thank God for sleepovers at Charlie's. "Edward," she whispered breathlessly, writhing beneath me as the vibration against her clit brought her closer to the edge. "Fasterplease" I increased the speed one last time and caught her lips in a scorching kiss. Her body stiffened, and her cries of pleasure were music to my ears. I pulled her close, and she rested her head against my chest, breathless and limp in my arms. "We need food," Bella giggled against my skin. "We need sleep, baby." She looked up at me, her eyes gleaming with mischief.

"Have I exhausted you, Mr. Cullen? "Hardly," I chuckled. "That's good to hear," Bella grinned up at me. She then crawled over my body and softly brushed her lips against mine. "Because I'm not finished with you." My hands wove into her hair as she peppered kisses along my face, down my chest, and lower "Bella" I sounded a little desperate, even to my own ears. "You've been so sweet, letting me have all the fun with the toys," she said softly before placing a soft kiss along my inner thigh. "Let me?" I surrendered with a groan, and my eyes rolled back in my head as her warm mouth surrounded me. Toys were fun, but absolutely nothing could take the place of this.

I have an entry in the 80s Power Ballad Contest. It's anonymous! Can you guess which one is mine? Voting is open and you can vote for your three favorites. The poll to vote is at the very top of the page: www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/u/2984208/power_ballad_contest. The link will also be in my profile. I also have a new story called "More Than Words." Hope you check it out, as well. :) Thanks!

43. Futuretake: Little Man

AN: I have good news and bad news. The bad is that I'm going to be unable to reach my goal of fifty chapters. It was just a personal goal I'd set for myself, but I can see now that it was a little ambitious, especially in a futuretake format. Also, I had a computer crash, and while I have a new computer, we've been unable to get my files off the old hard drive, which means all of my futuretake ideas are unavailable to me for now. So, instead of making you wait, and stressing myself out, I'm going to write three more chapters and then put this baby to rest. The good news? We still have three chapters left! :) Three happy moments.

Chapter 43 Little Man

"He has your eyes," I marveled once again at the sleeping bundle nestled in my arms. Nine pounds. Nine ounces. Our beautiful son. Bella giggled sleepily. "We don't know that just yet. You know the doctor said that babies' eyes usually change in color." "His won't." I was adamant. He had a head full of my crazy hair. It was only fair that his eyes were his mother's. Bella hummed drowsily and closed her eyes. She was exhausted, and rightfully so. Due to the baby's size, plans had been made to induce next week, but our little man decided to make an even earlier entrance, and her water had broken just after dinner last night. It wasn't like the movies. There was no mad dash to the hospital. Everything was cool and calm, even when the doctor informed us that she wasn't dilating enough and a cesarean was necessary. Little man was ready to make his entrance, and Bella's body just wasn't designed to give birth to a linebacker. Nine pounds. Nine ounces. Strong and sturdy. And so unbelievably beautiful. The family had descended quickly. Everyone was in love, especially Lily. She kissed and hugged and

climbed right up into Bella's bed so that she could hold him. She was so careful and spoke to him with a soft voice, full of wonder and awe and unconditional love. Before she'd left with Charlie for the night, she'd even read a bedtime story to her new baby brother. Yes, I had it on video. Bella's soft breathing filled the air as I rocked my son in my arms. The hospital staff had gone above and beyond the norm, bringing in rocking chairs and cots so that we'd be comfortable. Bella was loved and adored by the hospital staff, and even Nurse Ratched the evil nurse from my days in a hospital bed made an appearance and brought the baby a teddy bear from the hospital's gift shop. "Would you like me to take him?" Bree asked softly from the doorway. Apparently, babies spent the night in the nursery. I wasn't happy with the idea of that at all. I wanted him with me always. Was that normal? I had no idea. "Not just yet," I whispered. "You know, he'll be here tomorrow," Bree reminded me with a smile. "I know," I grinned sheepishly. "Just a few more minutes, okay?" With a smile, she nodded and closed the door behind her. Sighing, I leaned back and closed my eyes, the gentle creaking of the rocking chair and Bella's soft snores echoing in my ears as I held him in my arms. "Do you have any idea how much you're loved?" I asked, gazing down at him. His lips were puckered and his eyes were closed. "Do you know how many stars had to align to bring us to this moment?" He made a gurgling sound in response. It was probably just gas, but it still made me smile. Everything about him made me smile. His sounds. His smell. His brown eyes and his copper hair. "You'll never want for anything," I promised him with a whisper. "And I don't mean material things. I mean the things that really matter. You'll never go hungry. You'll never be abandoned. You are surrounded by a family that would move heaven and earth for you. You have two parents who love you more than you can possibly imagine, and a big sister who thinks you're the most incredible thing she's ever seen. You have grandparents and aunts and uncles who adore you, already. You're loved by so many people." As I continued rocking my son, a peace washed over me. We'd been blessed with a trouble-free pregnancy, and even though I'd had to patiently navigate through Bella's hormonal mood swings, every single one was worth it because I knew that nothing compared to what my wife had endured. She was, by far, the strongest and most courageous woman I'd ever known. And she'd given me a daughter and a son. I had no idea what the future might hold. Throughout the pregnancy, we'd discussed having more kids,

but there had been other times when I'd been informed that I'd never touch her again (some of those mood swings had been brutal). Either way, I was a happy man. Bree quietly walked back into the room and offered me a soft smile. "Is Masen ready for bed now?" Sighing, I rose from the rocking chair. "He's ready," I whispered as I placed my sleeping son in her arms. "It's Daddy who isn't ready." "I understand," she replied sympathetically. "He's just in the nursery if you get lonely." "Thanks, Bree." Sighing heavily, I collapsed into the chair once again. My eyes settled on my beautiful wife as she slept peacefully in her hospital bed. I wanted to climb into bed with her, but it was just too tiny, and I didn't want to disturb her. Very quietly, I pulled my chair closer to the bed and gently wrapped my hand around hers. She sighed softly and murmured my name. I couldn't resist lifting her hand to my lips and kissing it softly. "Thank you," I whispered.

44. Futuretake: Sweet Sixteen

Chapter 44 Futuretake: Sweet Sixteen

I had been dreading this day for years. All fathers probably struggle with this milestone. My situation was probably a little different because my strong and independent daughter was negotiating her first major purchase. Her first car. I was there, of course, as was Uncle Jasper. He'd driven down from Seattle and met us at one of the dealerships in town. He felt it was only fair. After all, it was his filthy mouth that had contributed to the Swear Jar and was allowing Lily to purchase her first car without any financial support from her parents. "Lily needs to be a lawyer," Jasper said proudly as the salesman showed Lily the interior features of the car. "She asks great questions." "This is all your fault," I muttered. "What's my fault?" "The gray in my hair, for starters," I replied. "But mostly, because it's your money making this little deal possible. Because it's her money, she feels that she should be in control of the negotiating. She wants to do this all on her own." "And this is bad?" Jasper asked. Yes, it was bad. By the time Lily had turned ten, the Swear Jar had turned into a savings account at Forks National Bank. Birthday money and continued contributions to the Swear Jar somehow accumulated into enough money to actually pay cash for her first car. Bella and I hadn't cursed in years (not in front of her anyway) because we could see where this was headed, and neither of us liked it. Not one bit. It meant that Lily was growing up. It meant that she didn't need us. She didn't need me. It was a lot for a father to handle. I mean, I already had to deal with The Boy. 'He has a name, Daddy,' is what she always said, but to me, he was The Boy. He was The Boy who was taking my daughter to her school dance next Friday night. He was The Boy who was sitting with her on

the porch swing each night until curfew (something that hadn't been established until The Boy's arrival) "Your daughter is smart and strong-willed. Do you really think she's going to let his salesman screw her over?" I was just about to answer when Lily's voice raised an octave. "You must be joking," Lily said with a laugh. "I'm not paying retail price, so you might as well get out your calculator and start punching some numbers. No one pays the manufacturer's list price, and if you think I'm going to just because I'm a sixteen year old girl, I will gladly walk right off your car lot and visit another. You are no longer the only dealership in town, and if you aren't willing to negotiate, I bet someone else will." Jasper and I smiled proudly as the sales man shot me a desperate look. Bella and I had instilled in our two children the importance of shopping at home when we could, but this man wasn't about to make a big fat commission off my daughter. "Mr. Cullen, with all due respect " Lily wasn't having it. "You obviously don't want to do business with me," my head-strong daughter said with venom in her voice. Jasper couldn't contain his chuckle when Lily thanked the man for his time and headed straight for my car. I couldn't have been prouder. Or more heartbroken. She really didn't need me anymore. Bella and I had raised an intelligent young woman. She would be successful and strong a carbon copy of her beautiful mother. I was still thinking about that when we pulled into the next dealership. The sales person who greeted us at the door was a woman by the name of Leah who'd actually attended high school with Bella. I made the initial introductions and then let Lily run the show. Leah was impressed with her determination and even laughed when Lily explained how she'd walked off the last dealership's lot. Leah showed us some vehicles and was careful to address Lily as she made her sales pitch. It took an hour, but Lily found the car she wanted for the price she wanted, and the deal was solid. "What do you think, Daddy?" Surprised, I glanced up from the paperwork. "I think it's a good deal," she said thoughtfully, "but I want to know what you think, too. I am just sixteen. I still need my daddy from time to time."

I couldn't help but smile, and the knot in my stomach loosened a bit. "It's a good deal, baby girl," I confirmed with a grin. As she signed the contract, I couldn't help but marvel at her. She was so grown up, and the resemblance between her and Bella was obvious now more than ever. In both appearance and spirit, Lily Cullen was a perfect replica of her mother. How could I possibly be sad about that?

Two chapters to go!

45. Futuretake: Someday My Prince Will Come

AN: I want to thank all of you for your continued support of this story. Only one chapter remains! Thanks to everyone who read/voted in the 80s Power Ballad Contest. My story "Leather and Lace" won 1st place in the Judge's Vote and 2nd Place in the Public Vote. Thanks so much!

Chapter 45 Futuretake: Someday My Prince Will Come

I couldn't help but smile at the scene just outside our kitchen window. Masen, Lily, and Jared were playing touch football in the backyard. It'd taken some time, but Masen had finally welcomed Jared into the family. It had required a lot of male bonding over Sunday afternoon football games and spicy chicken wings, but the guys were now the best of friends. Masen really admired Jared, and I was thankful that Lily's boyfriend seemed to be a good influence on our sixteen year old son. For Masen, the fact that he was a linebacker for the WSU Cougars was just a bonus. For Edward, welcoming Jared into the family had taken a bit more than sports talk. It'd taken six years of dating and bringing Lily home by curfew to convince Edward that Jared was a good kid. It helped tremendously that Jared was an honors student and majoring in Finance. None of those things really mattered to me. What mattered most was that he was good to my daughter. Jared was her first real boyfriend, and anyone with eyes could see how serious they were about one another. I'd prepared Edward for the inevitable, but he wouldn't even discuss it. But a mother knows Jared was going to ask for our blessing, and soon. Both were graduating in May. Lily would move on to law school and Jared already had offers from several companies in Seattle. They would be living in the same city and sharing an apartment. The next step was a no-brainer, and I was prepared. "What are you looking at?" Edward whispered from behind me, wrapping his hands around my waist and pulling me close to his chest. "Just our kids," I said with a smile. He placed his chin against my shoulder and we watched the scene for a few minutes before he gently turned me around. "That boy is not our kid," Edward muttered, and I couldn't help but giggle. "You might as well get used to it," I grinned up at him as I wrapped my arms around his neck. "She looks at him just like I look at you." "I really hope that isn't true."

"And he looks at her just like you look at me." "That really better not be true." I laughed as he pressed his forehead against mine. "They're growing up, baby." "I know, but don't worry. I don't think Masen will ever leave the house." A moment of sadness washed over me, and I buried my head in the crook of his neck. "Hey," he whispered soothingly, "we're so blessed, sweetheart." "I know." Eager to fill the house with kids, I'd gotten pregnant again about two years after Masen came into our lives. But a fall down the hospital stairs had put an end to that dream. I'd been too spooked to try again. I'd thought my years in Seattle were the worst days of my life, but I'd been wrong. Suffering a miscarriage had really shaken my faith in almost everything, but Edward had taken the shattered pieces of my heart and put me back together again. After that, I was a changed woman in so many ways. I had quit my job at the hospital. I didn't want to miss a second with Masen, and Edward had supported my decision. Edward's influence had brought new industries to our little town, and I'd taken over the responsibility of keeping his schedule. While travel was an unfortunate part of recruiting new businesses, he wasn't comfortable leaving us for more than three days at a time. We'd made it work. We were still making it work, and now Forks was a thriving little community with a strong economy and enough natural beauty to welcome tourists throughout the year. It still had its hometown appeal, which the community appreciated, and people were actually begging Edward to run for mayor in the next election. I'd never envisioned myself being a politician's wife, but I'd learned long ago that making plans was useless. Life will bring you winding roads, and you have to determine which paths to avoid and which are worth navigating. "Is Charlie coming for dinner?" Edward asked as he pulled me toward the kitchen table. "He is," I replied as I climbed into his lap. It was still my favorite place to sit. "He's bringing Karen." David Newton had died of a heart attack nearly four years ago. Since then, my dad and Karen had become friends. I had a sneaking suspicion they were a little more than that, and I knew that David would approve. So would my mother.

"How do you feel about that?" Edward asked softly. "My dad smiles so much now," I replied. "How could I be anything but happy for him?" I snuggled in his arms for a few minutes before the sound of our children's laughter interrupted the solitude of the kitchen. Edward's smile turned into a frown when he saw Jared carrying Lily through the doorway. "I'm telling you," I whispered against his ear. "Be prepared." Naturally, Masen headed straight to the pantry. "I'm starving, Mom." He was always starving. "Umm, Mr. Cullen?" I heard Jared say as I pulled some chips from the cupboard. "Could weuh maybe talk? Just thejust the two of us. Maybe out on the porch?" I didn't dare turn around, but I did bite my lip to keep from laughing. I heard my husband's heavy sigh and then the sound of chairs scraping the kitchen floor. "Wow, Dad's face was really red," Lily whispered nervously. Masen cackled happily. "Shh," I warned him. "Oh come on, you know he's going to ask for Dad's blessing." I glanced toward the kitchen table where my daughter was anxiously ripping a napkin into little pieces. "And how would you know that?" I whispered. "Because he asked for mine," Masen shrugged. This didn't surprise me in the least. He might have been her little brother, but there was nothing little about my son, and he was quite protective of his sister. "What did you say?" "I said that as long as he's good to my sister he'll have no problems out of me," Masen explained. "But if he ever made her cry, I'd kick his ass all the way back to Seattle."

I imagined that was probably the essence of the conversation out on the front porch, as well. "Let me talk to your sister," I said. Masen kissed my cheek before grabbing the bag of chips and heading to his room. "How are you doing?" I asked softly as I sat down at the table. Lily's eyes flashed to me. "You know?" "I suspect," I smiled. "I'd warned your father to be prepared for this day." "His face was so.red," Lily sighed. "What if he has a stroke or something?" "He won't have a stroke."

I hope.
Lily tossed the tattered napkin aside and grabbed my hand. "Mom, I love him." I squeezed her hand. "I know you do." "And he loves me." "I know." "I see the way Daddy looks at youthe way he's always looked at you. I saw it when I was six years old, and I still see it today. He worships you, Mom. He's still so crazy about you after all these years. I thought that kind of stuff was for princesses in fairytales, and that somehow, you'd found your prince." I had to blink back my tears to keep them from spilling down my cheeks. "I've found my prince, too," Lily whispered. An hour later, the two men walked back into the kitchen. Edward's eyes looked a little crazed and his hair was standing on end, but his smile was peaceful as he took my hand and pulled me into his lap once again. And then, without a bit of fanfare or a moment of hesitation, Lily's prince dropped to one knee and asked

her to be his wife.

The final chapter is next. :)

46. Futuretake: Happy Ever After

AN: We're finally here the final chapter!

Chapter 46 Happy Ever After

"You know, if you're having second thoughts" Lily giggled and adjusted my tie. She was laughing a lot today a sure sign that she was happy and not having second thoughts at all. Most brides are nervous on their wedding day, but not my baby girl. Of course she wasn't. She was beautiful and strong and, as she continued to remind me, happier than ever. "You're so handsome, Daddy. Have I told you that?" "Don't try to change the subject." Lily grinned before turning around to face the mirror once again. "I love this veil," she sighed as she fingered the delicate lace. It was her something borrowed a gift from her grandmother. It was the same veil my mother had worn on her wedding day. "Oh, I almost forgot!" Lily reached into her bag and pulled out a jewelry box. "I took it off when they were doing my hair." I smiled when she pulled the necklace out of the box with the replica of Bella's wedding ring dangling from the silver chain. "My something old," Lily smiled softly before slipping it over her neck. Emotion bubbled within me as I tried to blink back the tears. She was the spitting image of her mother, and I was giving her away today. Jared was a good man, but he wasn't nearly good enough for my daughter. Of course, no boy could ever be. For just a second, panic gripped me. How could I possibly place her hand in his? "Daddy?"

"Hmm?" "Did you have second thoughts when you got married?" "Not a one," I replied without hesitation. Lily sighed dreamily as she gazed at herself in the mirror once more. "I want what you have," she whispered. "For better or worse no matter what. He's a good man, and he loves me, but there are no guarantees. I know this. I just...hope, you know? I hope we have what you and mom have had all these years." "I hope you do, too," I said sincerely. Just then, Bella appeared in the doorway holding a bouquet of daisies. "Alice says it's time," she said. Our daughter was just like her mother in that she hated being the center of attention. She didn't want a big wedding just a simple ceremony in our front yard with family and a few close friends. And she wanted both of us to walk her down the aisle. "Ready, baby girl?" I asked, offering her my arm. She smiled brightly and linked her arm through mine. Bella took her place on the other side, and the two of us led our daughter down the staircase and out onto the front porch. Beyond the sea of smiling faces was the altar where a beaming Jared was waiting, with our son and his best man standing proudly at his side. "Don't let me fall," Lily whispered as the violins began to play. "We'll catch you if you do," I promised her softly. "We'll always catch you if you do."

"What are you thinking?" I whispered against Bella's ear. The wedding was short and sweet, just as Lily requested. The reception was now in full swing out on the front lawn. "Hoping the rain holds off," Bella said, glancing up at the sky. Sure enough a black cloud was overhead. This was nothing out of the ordinary, of course. It was Forks. "I don't think a little rain could possibly spoil this day," I replied, wrapping my arms around her waist and pulling her back against my chest as we gazed at our family. Everyone was dancing. Charlie with Karen. Jasper with Esme. Carlisle with Alice. Masen with his girlfriend. Even Rosalie had somehow convinced Emmett to dance with her. "Would you like to dance with the mayor?" I whispered against her ear. Bella giggled and twisted around in my arms.

"I'm never going to get used to that," she grinned as she pulled me toward the grass. "You have four more years to get comfortable with it," I smirked as I wrapped my arms around her. "Today has been amazing," Bella whispered emotionally, and I held her a little tighter. Just then, the first raindrop fell, but instead of sprinting for the porch, we merely held each other closer and swayed with the music. "Did you give Jared any fatherly advice?" I glanced across the yard to see our daughter and her new husband dancing in the rain and smiling up at the sky. "Yes," I said with a satisfied smile. "I told him that if his wife ever wants to dance in the rain, then he'd better dance." Bella's face softened as she leaned up on her tip toes and kissed me gently. "My mother loved to dance in the rain." "I know she did," I whispered.

~The End~ This started out as my very first daily drabble, and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it. Thank you so much for your comments, reviews, recs, and the overwhelming support. Special thanks to Shaina (we're marking another one complete!) for being the best beta a girl could ever have. Thanks to Kathie and Krista for pre-reading. Your input is invaluable. Thank you for reading. :)