A/N: This is it! I’ll see you at the bottom with news about what I’m working on next. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “You’re My Home,” Billy Joel
“Home could be the Pennsylvania turnpike
Indiana’s early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you”
(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.
After a half a dozen throws, Max, the latest addition to our family, returns, dropping his ball near my feet and choosing a soft spot in the grass near Ember. She’s sound asleep in her stroller, which is parked next to the bench where I’m sitting. His exhausted pants bring a smile to my face, and I can’t resist scratching behind his ears. I’ve been taking Max on daily walks with Ember, giving Bella a chance to sleep in or just get some time alone for a few hours each day when I’m home.
We’ve had a busy summer, not only at the station or with Bella returning to work at the Post Office, but also with my first responder family too. Lauren and Ty made it official and married in late June, but despite having no plans for starting a family, my mother says to give them a year then dissolves into a fit of giggles. Mike became a father for the second time in July, as he and Jess had another girl, Julia Rae. Rose gave birth last week to a little boy, Emmett’s namesake, but they’re going to call him EJ. I think their wedding plans have been pushed to next summer.
After Bella and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in August, we made our latest move. We toured the home we found the morning of the dedication for my grandmother’s park later that day. It was difficult to contain my excitement while going through the place, as it checked nearly every box on our wish list. I couldn’t wait until we were alone to discuss what we should do, because everything about the home felt like the perfect fit for our growing family, including the large fenced backyard. Once we were back in the car, Bella’s excitement rivaled my own and we agreed that we should make an offer.
Within twenty-four hours, our offer was accepted, and we began making plans for our move, which meant making a few changes to the home, but primarily only paint color. With a closing date in early August, we leaned on our family and friends to help us paint the stark white walls of all the rooms a warm cream color. Bella decorated Ember’s room with a Winnie the Pooh theme, and the walls are full of an incredible mural Angela painted for us with plenty of playful Hundred Acre Wood touches, including many of Bella’s favorite quotes from the story.
I wasn’t sure what we should do with the third bedroom, since it will eventually be used for another child, but Bella clearly has a plan for the empty room considering she’s been discussing new mural possibilities with Angela recently. I suggested purchasing a bed for the room then we could use it as a guest room for my parents when they visit, but Bella shot down that idea. No matter what we do, our new house is transforming into a cozy home that I can’t wait to return to after every shift, knowing Bella, Ember, and Max are just beyond the front door.
One of my favorite parts of moving into my grandmother’s neighborhood is the time I’m able to spend enjoying her park, especially in the mornings before everyone is awake. It’s peaceful here and feels like my grandmother could be sitting next to me on this bench sharing a cup of coffee, nodding her approval at the changes and improvements we’ve made. While Grandma’s been gone for years, this is the closest I’ve felt to her in a long time, and I never forget that it’s my wife giving me back the best pieces of my past.
Max lets out a whine, getting my attention, as he rolls onto his side, and I switch to rubbing his belly. He’s an English bulldog, and the vet thinks he’s probably four or five years old—though, we don’t know much about his life before coming to live with us. Max has taken on the role of Ember’s protector, never far from her side. The first few nights after we brought him home, he went missing from his dog bed in the living room, but I didn’t have to look far, because my search always ended with finding him on the floor next to Ember’s crib.
While Bella was hesitant about adopting Max at first and worried about him being around Ember, he’s only ever been gentle and loving. I think he’s growing on her, because she recently purchased another dog bed, which now resides in Ember’s room next to her crib. Bella also claims that he’s better than any baby monitor, as the first peep from Ember and he’s scratching on our bedroom door to let us know they’re both awake. I haven’t said a word about his growing collection of new dog toys from Bella, but he’s always the first to show me his latest treat when I get home after my shift.
I check my phone, finding no calls or messages, then realize we’ve been gone longer than I planned. I grab his ball and stash it in my pocket then hook Max’s leash to his collar. He reluctantly stands, ready to follow, as I steer Ember away from the park and toward home.
The smell of breakfast cooking wafts through the air as we pass each house with one of our neighbors waving hello before hurrying off to work. There are only a few young families like us in this neighborhood, but I picture them hustling to get ready for school when our stone-covered cottage home comes into view, bringing a smile to my lips instantly. Bella and I both have the day off as we are enjoying a long weekend together, and I’m determined to make this Monday a special one.
After lifting the stroller into the entryway, I close the wooden front door lightly once we’re all inside, but as I listen for any noises indicating she’s awake, I can hear the water in the shower running. I unleash Max, and he darts toward the kitchen—probably for a drink of water or to check his empty food bowl—while Ember wakes when I unbuckle, then lift her from the stroller.
“Hey, sweetie. Ready to play? Let me get you set up, then I’ll tell Mommy we’re back.”
“Da-da…” she mumbles and stretches.
While most would think she’s saying a version of “Dad” or even “dog,” I know this is her response to almost every question or comment. I kiss her cheek, turn on the television in the living room to one of her shows, and after a diaper change, slide Ember into her new stationary bouncer. It was a gift from my parents on their last visit during our move, and Ember loves it. At a little over six months, she’s able to hold herself upright and rotate in the seat while playing with all the toys surrounding her on the circular toy bar, keeping her busy and content.
With Ember distracted and Max returning to settle into his dog bed next to Ember, I’m off to fix breakfast for all of us, but want to check in with Bella first. I knock then open the bathroom door, poking my head in the room to find Bella still in the shower. I can’t resist leaving her a love note when I see the steamy mirror.
“Hey, I wanted to let you know we’re back,” I say while using a finger writing the words “Happy birthday, Beautiful” quickly and dot each of the I’s with two presses of my thumb to form hearts as a finishing touch.
“Oh, good. I’ll be out soon,” she says from behind the curtain. “Ember is probably ready for breakfast. I already pumped this morning, and you can mix it with her cereal then give her the rest of the bottle.”
When Ember started staying with Jessica’s mom at the end of Bella’s maternity leave, we transitioned her from breast to bottle-feeding, which has also allowed me to be more involved with feeding Ember. Cereal is one of our latest additions to supplement Bella pumping regularly as Ember learns to eat from a spoon. Her breakfast usually ends with more cereal on her bib or me than anywhere else.
“Okay, I’ll be in the kitch—” I’m about to slip from the room, but the last word fades from my lips when something on the counter sticking out from under a hand towel catches my attention.
I blink rapidly as I remove the towel and reveal two pregnancy tests. My eyes shift from the tests to my note on the mirror, then focus on the reflected shower curtain before returning to the counter where they both taunt me with their positive results. The pounding of my heart increases at the realization.
I pick up one of the tests, release a deep breath, and clear my throat. “Bella?” I turn toward the shower curtain and lean against the counter.
“Yeah?” she questions as her voice carries over the sound of the water.
When I don’t respond, she pulls back the curtain slightly, peeking her head around the edge.
“What is…? Oh.”
Her eyes narrow on the test in my hand, and there’s a slight grin spreading across her perfect lips before she shuts off the water and grabs her towel from the hook.
“It’s positive, isn’t it?” she asks as she returns to behind the curtain, but continues without waiting for my answer. “I mean, I had my suspicions, but I figured I would look after I finished my shower.”
I bite the inside of my cheek, trying to contain my overwhelming happiness that I’m going to be a father again.
She pushes the shower curtain all the way to the side, but has the towel wrapped around her body as she steps onto the rug. “Edward?”
“Yeah.” I reach for the other test and show her the results. “They’re… they’re both positive.”
“Is… Are you okay?” she asks, reaching out and rubbing her hand along my forearm soothingly; concern building in her voice. “I know it’s probably sooner than we were expecting, but I’m excited, and I hope you are too.”
“Bella…” I shake my head, setting the tests back on the counter and trying to wrap my brain around this news. “I’m beyond okay.”
I close the distance between us, pulling her into my arms as she tucks her head under my chin and rests her cheek against my chest while I leave a kiss on the top of her head.
“What about you?” I wonder. “What made you check today?”
“I was talking to Angela yesterday when we were at the diner for breakfast, and don’t say anything to anyone yet, but she’s pregnant.”
“Really?” I ask, surprised, as she and Ben have been trying unsuccessfully for over a year.
“Yeah, well, her news got me thinking. I missed my period in July, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but then August went by without one either.” She leans away from my chest and her eyes meet mine while a small smirk tugs at the corner of her lips. “I’ve been thinking back to possible whens, but I keep coming back to your first Father’s Day and birthday, which coincided this year. It was quite the outdoor celebration, if you remember the day like I do.”
I can’t keep the grin off my face as the memories flood my thoughts in a rush.
Fuck, that was an incredible day.
I had no idea of her plans, but we had breakfast with the Chief and Sue, then left Ember with them for the day while we hiked the Barnes Creek-Marymere Falls Trail. It reminded me of our honeymoon to Vancouver Island, especially when we took advantage of several private off-trail areas.
I knew the possibility of Bella getting pregnant again after Ember’s birth was there since we haven’t used birth control since before I proposed, but… wow.
“You think then?”
“Yes, and why not find out today? I can’t think of a better birthday present.”
“Well, that isn’t what you said earlier,” I tease, recalling waking her up this morning with gentle caresses and worshipful kisses until she was moaning my name.
Her pleas changed into a request of me taking her from behind while on her hands and knees. It’s one of her favorite positions, but I’m always concerned about being too rough with her, even though she’s always demanding more. Well, not exactly more, but harder and faster. When those demands start, I attempt to comply, only to have what little control I’m able to maintain evaporate almost immediately. It’s probably why she prefers it.
“We should celebrate,” she says as her lips glide along my stubbled jaw, pulling me from my recollections of those early morning hours.
“Are you feeling okay?” I ask, stepping back and holding her at arm’s length while my eyes travel over her from head to toe then return to her face. “Any sickness?”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry. No sickness, but I’ll call my doctor tomorrow. They are in the office today, but I think I can wait a day. I’m at least two months, but I would guess three along.”
I do the math quickly.
Six months left.
My head’s spinning a little at the timeline.
Shit that’s fast.
And it feels like we just had Ember.
They’ll be a year apart.
I’m overwhelmed with so many thoughts and emotions bombarding my brain, but gratitude prevails as we’ve been blessed with another child. I sink to my knees, push back Bella’s towel, exposing her slightly protruding belly, and place a couple of gentle kisses where our child is growing inside of her.
“Hello, little one,” I say, as Bella’s fingers comb through my hair lovingly. “I’m your dad.”
“Edward…” she interrupts, getting my attention, but when our eyes meet, she wiggles her eyebrows. “Maybe a little lower with those kisses.”
I’m well aware she’s naked under the towel, and lick my lips at the reminder, but refocus on our little one and leave another kiss.
“I know you probably can’t hear me yet, thank goodness, but your mother is being naughty and distracting me while I’m trying to speak with you for the first time.”
I release my hold on her towel and brush my fingertips along the backs of her silky legs, causing her to shiver and shift in place as she steadies herself by holding onto my shoulders.
“Higher,” she urges, parting her legs slightly and watching me until something behind me grabs her attention and she screams as her eyes widen. “Edward! It’s that mouse again. It went out the door.”
She pushes past me, throwing open the bathroom door and storming into our bedroom with me following closely behind.
She searches around and under the bed. “I saw one on the kitchen counter near your cookie jar yesterday.”
“He probably just wanted a cookie,” I snicker, reminding her of one of Ember’s favorite stories we read to her before bedtime every night.
“Don’t start that shit with me.” Bella waves her finger in my direction then chuckles, but gives up her search for the mouse while still clutching her towel that’s barely tucked against her chest. “We’re not giving that damn mouse a cookie. I bake those for you.”
“But he’s probably hungry or thirsty…” I smirk, pulling her close and my hands find their way back under her towel.
“No milk either.”
I peck her lips lightly. “He may prefer—”
“Or coffee,” she adds with a twinkle in her eye and tugs open her towel, dropping it on the floor and shrugs. “Maybe we should worry about the mouse… later.”
I’m nodding my head excitedly, because with my perfect view of her chest and my hands squeezing her ass, I can’t think of a better plan. Ever. “I agree.”
Her giggles subside when I guide her backward toward our bed, where the baby monitor on the nightstand softly broadcasts Ember’s cartoons with her occasional “da” or excited squeal intermixed with Max’s snores. It isn’t long before Bella’s gasps and moans at my attention are no longer a part of the chorus of our daily life but take center stage. We celebrate her birthday and our becoming parents again in all her favorite ways, which are, of course, naughty.
Later, when we’re all gathered in the kitchen—Max crunching on his kibble, Ember babbling between bites of cereal, and me sipping on my coffee while nibbling on cookies—my eyes meet Bella’s. Her bare legs dangle against the cabinets as she sits on the countertop wearing only one of my T-shirts. She watches us and grins around every spoonful of birthday cake ice cream that she eats straight from the pint-sized container.
While I can never predict what she’s thinking, I hope she’s always as happy as I am.
Our life together is incredibly great—near perfect, in my opinion.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw her at the Post Office years ago or every love note I’ve written for her since. We’re building a happy life together, one day at a time, and when I think it can’t get any better than this, I know it’s about to.
I’m excited for our future, because she’ll be by my side every step of the way. There isn’t anything better than that, but a close second could be the way she always keeps my cookie jar full of my favorite cookies.
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.
Celebrating holidays will hold new meaning, as she experiences a new level of love and devotion through the eyes of her generous husband when he honors his grandmother’s memory in a special way.
Supported by family and friends, life together will bring out the best in each other as their extended family grows, and not surprisingly, through all the changes, their loving bond will strengthen daily with a steady supply of cookies and love notes.
I have an inspiration playlist for this story which can be found on my YouTube channel. If you would like to listen, then search for “ghostreader24.” I’m also including the complete list here, in case any of the videos go missing.
“Can’t Help Falling In Love,” Elvis Presley
“Word Crimes,” “Weird” Al Yankovic
“Chasing Cars,” Snow Patrol
“Make You Feel My Love,” Adele
“Burnin’ for You,” Blue Oyster Cult
“Waiting for a Girl Like You,” Foreigner
“Here Comes the Rain Again,” Eurythmics
“All In,” Lifehouse
“Are You Gonna Go My Way,” Lenny Kravitz
“Simply Irresistible,” Robert Palmer
“I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” Kiss
“All I Wanna Do,” Sheryl Crow
“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran
“I Touch Myself,” Divinyls
“You Shook Me All Night Long,” AC/DC
“I’ll Make Love to You,” Boyz II Men
“Let’s Stay Together,” Al Green
“All of Me,” John Legend
“You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet,” Bachman Turner Overdrive
“Time In a Bottle,” Jim Croce
“Love Shack,” The B-52’s
“Paperback Writer,” The Beatles
“Sirius,” The Alan Parsons Project
“Great Balls of Fire,” Jerry Lee Lewis
“Lean On Me,” Bill Withers
“Marry Me,” Train
“Right By You,” John Legend
“Sexual Healing,” Marvin Gaye
“Some Kind of Wonderful,” Grand Funk Railroad
“I Knew I Loved You,” Savage Garden
“You’re My Home,” Billy Joel
A/N: And that’s a wrap! First, an enormous thank you to all first responders out there. They are the quiet heroes living and working in our communities who are so often overlooked for the risks they take and the sacrifices they and their families make.
This Edward and his experiences were inspired by the abundant loving memories of my own grandparents. All of my stories are filled with pieces of me, but a special memory I nestled in this one is my youngest son, before he was of school age, telling a family member that his favorite holiday wasn’t his birthday or Christmas, but Mother’s Day. It’s a special connection we’ve always shared and during those trying teenage years, I always kept it close to my heart.
All my love and thanks to Midnight Cougar for her help with Firefighterward every chapter. She’s the best, and it’s an honor to work with her on any project. xx
I need to give a shout out to my daughter who patiently listened as I talked through various parts of this story, offering ideas and suggestions which made it better than I ever imagined.
Thanks to all of my readers for favoriting, following, and reviewing. I’ve loved reading your thoughts and comments each chapter. I hope most of these fluffy chapters brought a smile to your face during a time when joy wasn’t always the prevailing feeling. xx
If you’re wondering what’s next? I’ll be sharing the expansion of my recent contest entry, Along Came a Spider, for the 2020 TwiTricksandTreats6 Halloween contest. Weekly updates will begin next week. I’m dividing the one shot into five chapters, and new material will begin with chapter six, which will be from Edward’s POV then alternating POVs after that. I’ve dubbed him Spiderward, but he’s really Hockeyward with a side of Tattward. I hope you’ll join me for their continued story.
Here’s the summary: While Dr. Bella Swan isn’t a fan of the spooky side of Halloween, she finds herself drawn into a charming spider’s web at a friend’s pumpkin carving party, leaving her to wonder if getting caught could be the sweetest treat of all. AH – Twilight – Rated: M – English – Romance – Bella, Edward
You’re welcome to join my Facebook group, Kay Richard’s Bonfire for updates, photos, and teasers. You can also subscribe to my website. The details are in my bio. I share everything there and more. Especially during those times when Facebook deems my content inappropriate or when FFN has an unexplained issue with posting updates. You can always find them on my website.
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