A/N: This was supposed to be the epilogue, but since Edward has no intention of wrapping up this story, I have abandoned that idea and along for the ride like you. Today is also my birthday which is an interesting coincidence considering the content of today’s chapter. I didn’t plan this when I was writing, but I always find it fascinating when it happens. Note the time jump this week and of course all my thanks to Midnight Cougar for her help each week. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “Right By You,” John Legend
(Playlist for this story can be found on my YouTube channel, if you search for “ghostreader24”)
Disclaimer: Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond own the adorable little mouse whose needs inspired this very adult version of their story. Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
Almost nine months later…
I had no idea how long it would take to plan our wedding, but two months after my proposal, Bella became my wife in a small ceremony with all of our family and friends present. Everyone always talks about what you remember from the ceremony or reception, but some of my buddies say it’s all a blur, except for the bills that follow. I know Bella fretted over the details and staying within our limited budget, but for me, it’s the important things I’ll always remember. I’ll never forget how beautiful Bella looked walking down the aisle of the church, hearing her soft loving words of “I do,” or when I slid her wedding band in place.
At Garrett and Kate’s recommendation, I made arrangements for a romantic Canadian honeymoon on the western side of Vancouver Island, staying at The Cabins at Terrace Beach in Ucluelet, British Columbia. When we weren’t enjoying our time together in the king-sized bed, on the couch, or in our private hot tub, we spent our week doing couple activities, like hiking the Wild Pacific Trail and watching whales from along the shore.
Unexpectedly, during our time away, we confirmed Bella’s pregnancy with no less than three tests. It seems that with all the excitement and planning of our wedding, Bella didn’t realize she had missed two of her periods. I wasn’t surprised, because the afternoon I proposed, we decided no longer to prevent the possibility and stopped using condoms.
It was an experience I had been saving for my wife, as I’ve never gone without one. Having proposed only hours earlier, Bella brushed off my concerns of how soon it could happen and declared she was ready, determined to go with the flow. I don’t think either of us thought she would get pregnant so quickly, but it was meant to be, and I’ve loved everything about Bella’s pregnancy.
The changes in her body, especially her fuller chest and insatiable needs, top my list. There’s also something special about feeling our child responding to my words or gentle caresses when we linger for hours in bed discussing the arrival and future of our little one.
The cravings have been unusual—strawberry ice cream on toast for breakfast—being the latest, but I’m glad we’re past the everything-dipped-in-ranch salad dressing phase, because the number of bottles of “good ranch” I’ve purchased from Thriftway is staggering. With the passing of one odd craving, it seems two take its place, like one of the diner’s cheeseburgers dipped in chocolate syrup. Sam never thinks twice when I stop by for Bella’s order, because if it isn’t me, then it’s Mike, Garrett, or even Jasper, arriving to pick up the latest crazy combination request from one of our wives.
Jess and Mike are expecting baby number two, but she is in the middle of her second trimester. Alice is cherishing every part of her pregnancy and only has about two months left until they meet their “miracle” baby, as she and Jasper have been trying for years unsuccessfully. Kate’s due date is a week after Bella’s, but Garrett thinks between the two of us, there’s a chance he could be the one to become a father first. He’s always so competitive and our wives pregnancies have been no different. Emmett and Rose are engaged, and he’s asked me to be his best man. But they’ve put their plans to marry on hold since Emmett announced that Rose is three months along, which surprised everyone but my mother. When I mentioned it to her recently in her weekly video call to check on Bella, she couldn’t stop laughing and said there must be something in the water at Station-2.
With the next two days off from work, I’m thrilled to have the time to spend alone with Bella, especially with us getting closer to her due date. She wants to travel to Port Angeles this evening and have dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, Bella Italia. I’m happy to get out of the apartment for a while and able to enjoy one of her more normal requests.
It’s been an interesting meal with Bella ordering all of her favorites—a cup of minestrone, which tastes “off” after only a spoonful. She declares her beloved mushroom ravioli is too much like dirt when she tries a couple of bites. I trade her my smoked salmon fettuccine, which she nibbles on, before deciding what she really needs is dessert, selecting a slice of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Once our server delivers it to our table, Bella makes a face in horror after a single forkful.
“Blech, I forgot I can’t stand raspberries right now. I can’t eat this,” she says, pushing the plate away from her, but readjusts in her chair trying to get comfortable. “I think I need to visit the bathroom.”
I move swiftly to help her stand. “Do you want—?”
“No, I’ve got it.” She holds up her hand, stopping my assistance.
I look over our table full of essentially untouched food, knowing I’ll probably be the one to eat it over the next couple of days, and when our server stops to see how we’re doing, I request packing it all to go.
When Bella hasn’t returned by the time our server has everything packed away, I’m prepared to leave our table and check on her, but when I’m paying our bill, she reappears, shuffling toward our table then taking her seat across from me with a groan.
“Do you know what I miss?” She licks her lips, staring longingly at the other tables around us. “Wine. I miss wine. Wine night with the girls just isn’t the same when I can’t drink it.”
I nod toward our bag of food, waiting on the table. “Are you ready to go?”
Her shoulders slouch slightly with an apology on her lips. “I’m sorry. I didn’t eat anything, and I begged you to come here. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
I wave off her concern. “We’ll save it for later.”
“Would it be too much to ask—?”
“We can pick up whatever you want,” I answer, knowing it’s the only right answer.
“Okay, maybe some chocolate chip pancakes from the diner?” she asks, looking hopeful.
“I’ll call in your order when we’re close.”
Bella moans when she stands, rubbing her lower back, and I hold her hand, guiding her out to the car at a slow pace. After she’s tucked into the passenger side with the seat tilted back a little farther than normal, I walk to the other side and stash our food behind my seat.
“Are you okay?” I ask once I’m behind the wheel and notice her breathing is strained.
“I’m fine, just aches and pains. My back is angrier than normal today. Maybe I’ve been sitting too much. It felt good to walk around a bit at the restaurant.”
I nod, putting on some soothing music, then lace our hands together and resting them on the center console while driving toward home. During the trip, Bella isn’t much for conversation and little groans of pain leave me feeling uneasy, as she attempts to find a comfortable position, shifting in the seat constantly. It’s difficult to ignore the squeezes of my hand when they increase in strength until we’re probably fifteen minutes from Forks and Bella looks at me with wide, concerned eyes as she tries to sit up.
“Edward. Uh… something’s happening. I—” She shakes her head.
“Like what?” I wonder, looking her over from head to toe.
“It feels like… like…” She adjusts her position, widening her legs. “Like the baby is…”
“What?” I shriek, flip on my blinker, and pull over onto the shoulder at the side of the road immediately, waiting for clarification that never comes. “Bella?”
“Oh, God.” She grits her teeth, breathing through the pain as her chest heaves, and squeezing my hand with a force I didn’t know she had.
“Bella, breathe. Tell me what’s happening.”
“I can’t… I can’t stop it,” she cries between gasps. “Edward… our baby can’t… and-and it’s too soon. I-I feel like I need to—”
I’m stunned, piecing together everything she isn’t saying, but try to reason through how much time we have to get to the hospital and focus on making sure Bella’s comfortable.
I squeeze her hand lightly. “Hey, you’re okay. It’s not too soon. You’re five days from your due date. Would you be more comfortable if I helped you move to the back?”
Her face fills with panic. “No! If I move, I think the baby’s going to fall out. Oh, God. I can’t believe this is happening. There’s no way I’m having this baby where it was con—”
“Sweetheart, we don’t know that for sure,” I reassure calmly, even though the possibility is there; this baby could have been conceived in a lot of places, not only the backseat of my car.
“Edward, I need my doctor and-and the hospital,” she pleads between pants.
“How long have you been having contractions?” I ask, because I suspect she’s much farther along than I first thought.
“I didn’t know that’s what they were. I’ve been uncomfortable all afternoon and evening, but the pain is getting worse.” She sucks in a breath and closes her eyes tightly, raising her voice as she continues. “It’s not like I’ve ever been through this before! I don’t even know when my water broke. Oh, God… maybe it was before you got home from work—during one of the times I was in the bathroom… there-there was a… and-and everyone keeps telling me first babies take forever, but I don’t think we have… Edward…” Bella says through gritted teeth.
I have my phone to my ear calling for emergency services instantly. I’m concerned we aren’t going to have time for either her doctor or the hospital, but know I’m going to need help, regardless. This wouldn’t be my first emergency birth, but this is Bella, and I need to keep it together for her, especially if there are unexpected complications, aside from my hunch that she’s going to have this baby, here and now. Despite Bella’s concerns that I could miss our child’s birth while on duty, it’s quickly becoming clear that’s no longer going to be an issue.
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”
“This is Edward Cullen, C-C-F-D Station-2. I believe my wife, Bella Cullen, is in labor, and we’re pulled onto the side of the road.”
“Sir, do you know your approximate location?”
I look around recognizing my surroundings and knowing we’re close to Beaver where we can probably get help from their fire station and a ride to Forks. “We’re on 101 near Sol Duc State Park, probably fifteen minutes north of Forks. We’re not quite to Lake Pleasant. We need an ambulance.”
“Stay on the line, please.”
“Bella, I’m coming around to your side.” I get out of the car and rush to her side, opening the door as she appears in pain and bearing down again. “Remember to breathe, sweetheart.”
“I. Am,” she says harshly between frustrated gasps. “I’m fucking breathing, and it’s not helping.”
I set my phone on the dash, switching it to speaker, and ease her leggings and underwear over her hips then down her thighs to find she’s right.
“The baby’s head is crowning.” I blink rapidly at the sight and expel a deep breath, knowing it will be better for Bella if we keep this gentle and controlled. “Nice and easy. A steady push on your next contraction.”
I finish tugging her leggings and underwear the rest of the way off, then hold my hand between her legs, cupping the head.
“God, it hurts. I can’t…” Her chest heaves with exertion. “Edward…”
“You can,” I say soothingly, pushing her hair from her face. “Brace your feet on the dash if that feels better.”
Bella nods as I help guide them into position.
“Sir, can you tell me what’s happening?”
The voice from dispatch asks, wanting an update on Bella’s condition, but I’m distracted when another contraction takes over my focus. Her next push does as I expect, and I’m cradling our baby’s head in my hand. I’m relieved there’s no sight of the cord yet, as sometimes it can be wrapped around the neck.
“Head’s out. You’re doing great, sweetheart. That was the hardest part; the shoulders will be on the next push. Rest for a bit.”
She looks at me, a brief smile of relief passing over her beautiful face, as a few tears trail down her cheeks. “We’re having a baby.”
I brush away the tears and her sweat-soaked hair from her face, then kiss her forehead. “We are. I love you. You are so beautiful.”
“Really, Edward? Because I don’t think this is one of my finer moments.” She chuckles in disbelief and sighs in frustration, then her head falls backward against the headrest and the tears start flowing again.
“Are you ready to find out whether it’s a boy or girl?” I ask.
“Yes!” She sniffs and smiles slightly as I redirect her focus, because this is a moment we’ve been waiting for with great anticipation.
While everyone around us has been excitedly doing gender reveals and celebrating with parties, we’ve waited to find out the gender of our baby until our child’s birth, which I never imagined happening quite like this.
“With the next contraction, give me a nice, easy push.”
“There’s nothing easy about this,” she states. “Okay. I think… it’s—”
As she bears down through the pain, the anterior shoulder appears first.
“That’s it,” I encourage, then guide our baby, adding slight pressure upward as the posterior shoulder delivers followed by the rest of the body immediately.
“Oh, God! Edward—” She gasps loudly.
I use my fingers to ease away the excess mucus and amniotic fluid near the nose, and it’s music to my ears when a small cry comes from not Bella, but our baby. I visually count ten fingers and ten toes, thinking I’ve never seen a more perfect baby, then my eyes meet my wife’s.
“It’s a girl.” I grin, cradling our daughter in my hands but being careful not to drop her, as she’s slippery. “We need to keep her warm. Let’s put her on your chest. Skin-to-skin contact will be best.”
Bella unbuttons her shirt partially and exposes her chest. Almost instantly, our daughter nuzzles against her mother. I use her leggings to wipe away the blood and other fluids as our daughter’s color continues to improve with the stimulation.
“Hello, my sweet girl.” Bella coos between sniffles. “This is not how I thought we would meet, but I guess you couldn’t wait.”
I don’t have anything to use for tying off or cutting the cord, and I’m considering my options when the wail of a siren fills my ears, and an ambulance comes around the bend in the road, doing a U-turn and pulling in front of my car. I stand from where I’m crouched at Bella’s side and recognize the guys on duty immediately as they exit the front of the ambulance.
“Edward, I’m guessing you couldn’t wait for us. Are congratulations in order?” Marcus asks, grinning from ear-to-ear as he opens the back door.
“It’s a girl,” I tell him proudly.
“Congratulations, Dad,” Alec says, patting me on the back.
“Thanks.” I look back at Bella and lower my voice, giving him an update. “I still need to tie off the cord and deliver the placenta.”
Alec nods, holding onto his jump bag. “Edward, we’ve got this. Let us take over, then we’ll get you and your girls to the hospital.”
I crouch next to Bella, reluctant to take my eyes off her or our daughter. “Marcus and Alec from Station-3 in Beaver are here. They’re going to take over for a bit, finish your delivery, then we’ll all go to the hospital together.”
She smiles and answers softly. “Okay.”
“I love you.” I kiss her lips, then the top of our daughter’s head. “I love you too, little one.”
“I love you,” Bella says through watery eyes, then goes back to caressing our daughter.
Alec takes my spot after I stand, backing away and sagging in relief against the side of my car. The fact that Bella and I are parents washes over me. I close my eyes, tilting my head backward, while listening to their conversation and say my own thanks, as both appear to be in good health.
“Good evening, Mrs. Cullen. Congratulations, I’m Alec. It seems you’ve done all the hard work, but my partner Marcus and I will take good care of you now and have you on the way to the hospital shortly.”
“Please, call me Bella.”
“Does your beautiful daughter have a name yet?” he asks while opening his bag, then prepares to tie off and cut the umbilical cord.
“She does. This is Ember Elizabeth.”
My heart soars when I hear Bella introduce our daughter, who now bears my grandmother’s name as her middle name—which was Bella’s idea. While I’m more into traditional names, Bella wanted something unusual for our daughter’s first name. She came up with Ember, after searching for a name that would somehow be a nod toward my career as a firefighter, which is a huge part of our lives. While I wasn’t sure at first, it’s grown on me over the past months, and now seems like the only choice.
“That’s a lovely name. Hello, Ember. I’m going to take care of you and your mom, then we’ll get you officially checked out at the hospital,” Alec tells her, then holds out a pair of surgical scissors toward me. “Edward, would you like to cut the cord?”
I nod, taking them and making the snip. “Thanks, man.” We’re under less than ideal conditions, but I’m grateful not to miss out on something I would have done if we were at the hospital.
Alec does an APGAR assessment of Ember and once she’s bundled in a blanket, I hold her while he finishes with Bella, preparing her for transport.
“Hey, sweetheart.” I whisper, my throat tightens with the overwhelming emotions that she’s here and my daughter’s eyes open slightly, bringing a smile to my face instantly. “I’m your dad.”
My heart overflows with so much joy that I think it could burst. I can hear the promises forming in my head about doing everything possible to protect and provide for her now and in the future.
“I’ll always be there for you, Ember,” I whisper, pressing a soft kiss against her forehead and watching as Alec secures Bella to the stretcher.
Marcus nods toward my car. “Do you need your wife’s bag or anything from the car or trunk?”
I chuckle while I sway my daughter back and forth gently. “No, it’s stowed safely at our apartment. I’ll have someone pick it up in a little while or get it myself.”
He grins. “Give me your keys and I’ll see to it your car is waiting at the hospital. That way you won’t miss a moment with your new family.”
“Thanks, I’d appreciate that.” I use one arm to hold Ember against my chest while pulling my keys from my pocket, then drop them into his waiting hand.
“Edward,” Bella says, getting my attention, and holds out her arms, wanting our daughter.
“Your mom’s ready for you, little one,” I say as I press one more gentle kiss against her forehead.
After making the transfer, Alec loads my girls into the back of the ambulance with me climbing in behind them. While he sits on one side connecting them to monitors, I sit on the other unable to take my eyes off either one, and hear Marcus closing the back door, then taking his seat behind the wheel.
And I know in this moment, as I gaze at my beautiful wife and newborn daughter, I fall in love all over again.
If you give a postal worker a love note, she’ll wonder about the identity of the author when it’s delivered by an unintended mail carrier.
After a visit from a sexy firefighter, the mystery surrounding the note will add to her curiosity, but it won’t be solved any time soon, when she has no choice and accepts another job far from home.
Her secret admirer will hold on to hope for their paths to cross again, and when they do, he will find that being near her again is better than he ever anticipated.
Visiting her during his breaks and getting to know each other will be the best parts of their days, until one day she unknowingly makes his favorite childhood cookies, giving him the sign he needs to move forward.
She’ll hold back nothing as she tempts and teases him when they’re alone, testing his resolve, until a few adorable photos of him with a friend’s new baby causes an unexpected shift in her world.
As they grow closer, they’ll understand that the intimacy between lovers isn’t only about a physical connection, but the everyday interactions through the simplest moments and sharing of new experiences.
Through private conversations, their relationship deepens with the reveal of a variety of secrets, and with a new confidence, the truth of their adoration for one another is undeniable.
After another wonderful evening together filled with fun and flirting, she’ll realize that she’s never been loved like this before, and for as much as he wants to be everything she needs, she wants to be that for him too.
With constant reminders that every day together is precious, she’ll consider their future options, and after the first step of moving in together, everything will start falling into place.
When he opens his heart and shares treasured memories of a time long past, a trip to visit his parents will further satisfy her growing curiosity about other areas of his life.
In a moment abundant with shock and awe, she finds a kindred spirit in all things naughty, and the natural affinity between the two most important women in his life surpasses all expectations.
Brimming with courage, her normally reserved firefighter confirms a wish for their future, overwhelming her in a rush of love, but later, respect and admiration, when she experiences first hand insight into the perils of his job.
He’ll arrive at her work unexpectedly one day, proposing they spend the rest of their lives together, which will lead them to one of the happiest birthdays either has ever celebrated.