A/N: Soon, you’ll understand why Edward thought this chapter was important to share with you. I consider the remaining chapters of this story to be extras or futuretakes, and I hope you’ll enjoy their inclusion. A smaller time jump for this one and my thanks to Midnight Cougar for buffing and polishing my words each week. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “Sexual Healing,” Marvin Gaye
(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.
Two months later…
I close the door of our apartment quietly and listen for any sounds, but I’m only met with silence at this early hour. I toe off my shoes and drop my keys into a dish that sits on Bella’s desk near the front door. Even in the low light of the lamp Bella always leaves on for me after an overnight shift, evidence of our new addition is everywhere as I navigate the small space while walking through our living room and toward the kitchen.
A bouncy chair with a play bar sits near the television on the floor while a playpen is tucked in a corner for naps. Ember’s floor mobile is over a small quilt Sue made for her and stays next to Bella’s rocking chair that we’ve moved from the bedroom. Little did we know how much use her rocking chair would get after moving it from her old house, but now it’s one of the most used pieces of furniture we have.
Space is becoming a premium in our cozy home, and I know another move is inevitable, because I want Ember to have her own room. The apartment has been bulging at the seams since before her birth with new items we knew we would need, but we haven’t found our next home yet. I’m hoping for something in my grandmother’s neighborhood, but unfortunately, most of the homes we’ve looked at need major updating.
Something simple like new flooring or paint color would be easy fixes for us to do on our own to minimize expenses, but many need complete kitchen and bath upgrades. I’m not sure how much time we will have to invest in that type of project, but it could change soon. We’re weeks away from the ribbon cutting for my grandmother’s park, which is almost complete thanks to my parents, countless volunteers, and my first responder family.
It hasn’t been easy juggling the demands of being a new parent for either of us. Bella has a month left for her maternity leave, then Jessica’s mother will be keeping Ember for us when Bella returns to work at the Post Office. Bella tears up whenever it’s mentioned. I understand the desire to want to spend as much time with Ember as possible, because I feel like I’m already missing out too.
After setting the vase holding Bella’s first Mother’s Day flowers in the center of the dining table, I leave my small bag of groceries on the kitchen counter, tucking the perishable items in the refrigerator until she’s ready for breakfast. From my other bag, I leave Bella’s new mug on the table along with a special gift from Ember, I’m hoping she’ll love.
I walk down the short hallway, slipping inside our bedroom and past the empty crib to Bella’s side of the bed, sitting on the edge. I’ll never take the sight in front of me for granted as the beat of my heart surges with excitement at seeing them together. Bella’s on her side wearing one of my CCFD T-shirts, while our daughter in her footed pajamas is in the middle of the bed with my pillow on her other side and wide-awake. I grin, reaching over Bella to tickle her tummy as Ember lights up with a gummy smile, kicking her feet with enthusiasm at seeing me.
“Hey, I’m home,” I whisper next to Bella’s ear and kiss her temple, waking her slightly.
Her eyes crack open, heavy with sleep as she blinks a few times, rolling onto her back. “Hey. What time is it?” she rasps.
My eyes shift to the illuminated clock on my nightstand. “A little after five.”
She clears her throat. “Oh, I just finished feeding her. I guess I dozed off for a bit.”
“I’ll take her in the other room for a little while. Get some sleep, sweetheart.”
“Thanks. She probably needs a diaper change.”
“No problem. I’ve got her.”
I leave Bella with a kiss on her lips and scoop Ember up in my arms. After placing a quick peck on her cheek, I bypass the diaper supplies in our bedroom, knowing we have another stash with everything I’ll need in the living room. I’ve gotten a lot of advice over the last few months since becoming a new father, but the best was from Mike who said to take every diaper change without hesitation. It wasn’t easy at first, but it’s the least I can do when Bella does so much for Ember. I’m proud of my diapering skills. If we were to have a competition at the station among new dads, I like to think I would win with little effort, despite what Garrett may say.
He and Kate had a little boy, Edward—my namesake, but they’re calling him Teddy―two weeks after Ember’s birth. While Garrett claims I have it easy with having a girl, Kate already has some embarrassing stories about him being showered unexpectedly during diaper changes. Jasper is the latest new dad, as Alice was ordered to bed rest for the last month of her pregnancy and gave birth to their daughter Faith earlier this week.
Once Ember is freshly diapered, I place her on her floor quilt and lay down next to her, adjusting the mobile into position above us. I lightly touch the attached toys, prompting her little coos and squeals. I’m addicted to her every sound and smile, but I’m hoping as she starts to string along various sounds that “da-da” won’t be far behind in the coming months. I roll onto my side, watching with fascination as her eyes follow the movements of the toys dancing above her, while alternating between pulling on her foot and sucking on her little fist.
Bella thinks she looks like me with her auburn-colored hair and eyes that seem to get lighter every day. The hair color I’ll give her, but I think it’s too soon to tell what color her eyes will be. I can feel my own eyes starting to droop as my overnight shift and lack of sleep catches up with me.
I glance at the clock and consider napping with Ember, but change my mind when I see she’s still alert. My new plan formulates quickly, hoping to keep her awake for as long as possible, then banking on a long morning nap once Bella is up, giving us some time alone.
Two weeks ago, we got the green light from Bella’s doctor. After that day of a frenzied reconnection, we’ve resorted to hurried stolen moments, but unfortunately, it’s been a constant abandoning of plans at the sound of our daughter’s cries. Today, I’m determined not to rush anything, hoping for a couple of solid hours with Bella once Ember’s asleep for her morning nap.
It’s a little too early to start preparing Bella’s breakfast, but I know someone else who I need to call in celebration of this day. I lift Ember from the floor and settle her in my arms, then sit in the rocking chair after removing my phone from my pocket. I check the time and hope she’s awake.
“Good morning, darling.” A growing smile spreads across her face.
I tilt my phone, making sure she can see us. “Happy Mother’s Day. Did we wake you?”
“Thank you and no. I’m up early working. I’ve got a deadline this week,” she says, removing her glasses. “Is that my little angel with you?”
“Yeah, say hello to Grandma, Ember.”
“Hello, sweetheart. Your grandpa and I can’t wait to see you in two weeks. How’s Bella?”
“That’s one of the best Mother’s Day presents you could give her—sleep. Didn’t you have an overnight shift?” Mom asks.
“I did, but we’re awake and wanted to call you before we prepare breakfast.”
“Oh? What will you two be fixing for our beloved new mom this morning—anything special?”
“Chocolate chip pancakes.”
My mother’s smile widens. “Bella will love them, especially made by her two favorite people.”
“Where’s Dad this morning?” I wonder.
“He’s at the gym. Now that he’s a grandfather…” She lowers her voice. “You didn’t hear it from me… but he’s started a whole new workout routine… with a trainer.”
“Why? Dad’s always been in good shape.”
“True, but I think he wants to do better than good, so he can keep up with his grandkids.” She wiggles her eyebrows.
“But we only have Ember.”
“Edward, didn’t you tell your father you wanted more than only one child when you were here visiting on that first trip with Bella?”
I think back on our conversation over a year ago. “Maybe.”
“Well, no pressure.” She chuckles. “We’re both holding onto that little nugget he shared with me after your visit. I’m probably biased, but I think the two of you make the most beautiful babies as evidenced by the angel in your arms. You may not be ready yet, but give it a little time.”
I release a deep breath, considering the road ahead of us and knowing other changes need to happen before giving Ember a brother or sister. “I think we need to move out of here first. The apartment is growing smaller every day, and I want Ember to have her own room. Our lease ends at the end of next month, and I don’t think we should renew for another year, but maybe switch to month-to-month. It’s more expensive, but makes us flexible for a move.”
“I better warn you I’m bringing Ember a high chair on our next visit. She’s going to need a spot at your kitchen table before you know it.”
“Mom, you don’t have to do that.”
“You’re right. I don’t, but I want to and that’s not all I’m bringing. So, start getting used to the idea that your father and I plan to spoil Ember, plus any siblings who may come along. And—” Her voice is hesitant. “—before you say no, hear me out—if you and Bella need help getting into your first home, let us know.”
I shake my head because they have both already done so much by matching our fundraising efforts over the past year in order to have the park ready in two weeks, which is ahead of our initial timeline. I donated the land and worked with the city coordinating the plans, while seeing them through; my parents have gone above and beyond financially supporting this effort.
“Bella and I have some savings, so I don’t think that will be necessary.”
Mom nods. “That’s great, but please consider we can help in other ways too. If it’s assistance in moving or babysitting Ember—whatever you need—just say the word and we’ll be on our way to Forks.”
“Okay, thanks, Mom. I’ll keep that in mind, but we better let you get back to work. Ember and I need to get started on Bella’s breakfast.”
“All right, darling. Thank you for calling. We’ll see you soon. Give my granddaughter an extra hug and kiss for me.”
“I will. Happy Mother’s Day.”
“I love you all. I’ll call Bella a little later today.”
“Okay, I’ll let her know. We love you too.”
“Goodbye, Edward and my sweet girl.”
“Say bye to Grandma.” I move Ember’s arm in a little wave while juggling the phone. “Bye, Mom.”
After ending the call, I set my phone on the table and readjust Ember in my arms.
“Come on, little one. Let’s make breakfast for Mommy.”
I carry Ember and her bouncy chair into the kitchen, setting it on the floor by the table where she can see me. Bella probably won’t be awake for another hour because Ember will need to eat, but it doesn’t hurt to have the food ready to reheat whenever she is.
“You can supervise while I cook.” I slide Ember’s legs through the openings of the bouncy chair, then set the toy bar off to the side, knowing it will buy me another ten to fifteen minutes, if she gets fussy.
I barely have the bacon in the frying pan when Ember’s protests start. I try shushing her softly and add the toy bar across her bouncy chair, but that doesn’t buy me the time I had hoped. While keeping an eye on the bacon and lowering the heat, I change her diaper, then find the baby wrap, tucking Ember inside it and securing her against my chest.
With my hands free, I return to fixing Bella’s breakfast, using one of those shake and pour style of pancake mixes which only needs water. I’m flipping the first few pancakes when Bella appears in the doorway. She’s still wearing my shirt, and her hair is a wild mess.
“Hey. It smells good in here,” she says with a slight smile, walking toward us.
“Good morning, beautiful.” I wrap an arm around her, kissing her lips. “Happy first Mother’s Day.”
“Thank you.” She caresses Ember’s back after I lean lower for her to place a kiss on her head. “She looks snuggly. I don’t blame her, that’s one of my favorite spots.”
“Did we wake you?” I ask.
Bella shakes her head and shrugs. “My mother called, and I figured Ember would need to eat again soon. So, here I am.”
“She’s getting there, but we’re making you breakfast.”
“That sounds so good. I’m starving.” She grabs the bag of chocolate chips, dumps out a handful, and tosses all of them into her mouth, walking toward our kitchen table. “Look at these beautiful flowers and a MILF mug. I’m officially a MILF, huh?”
“Absolutely. The flowers are from both of us, and the mug is from me.” I wink, nodding toward the small box on the table. “Ember got you something else.”
“Did she?” Bella grins and sits in a chair, unwrapping her present while my eyes have trouble straying from her bare legs as my shirt rides up higher.
The sizzling of the bacon returns my attention to the stove, as it’s ready. I’m grabbing a plate and lining it with paper towels for the bacon when I hear a gasp once she has the box open. I notice Bella wiping away a few tears, then hear her trembling voice as she reads the quote.
“Sometimes the littlest things take up the most room in your heart. That’s one of my favorite Winnie the Pooh quotes. Oh, Edward. It’s beautiful.” She touches the heart-shaped pendant necklace inscribed with the words “I love you Mom” and Ember’s aquamarine birthstone for March in the center.
“You like it?”
Bella stands, returning to my side and wrapping an arm around my waist.
“I love it. And you. And Ember. Thank you.” She lifts onto her tiptoes and plants a kiss on my waiting lips.
“We love you too.” I nod toward the box in her hand. “Do you need help with the clasp?”
“I think I can get it.” She dries her eyes then removes the necklace from the box, bending until she can see her reflection in the toaster. “There. How does it look?”
I know she’s asking about the necklace, but as my eyes roam her body from head to toe, there’s nothing more attractive than Bella’s rumpled sexy appearance and Ember’s naptime can’t arrive too soon for me.
Ember’s fussy protests get my attention as they are increasing in volume against my chest until her frustration boils over into a full wail.
“Sorry. I’ve tried to hold her off for as long as possible.”
“I can’t believe she hasn’t slept since you got home.” Bella grabs her nursing pillow from next to the couch and settles it around her as she sits at the table.
“Me either, but I think it’s only a matter of time until I get you to myself.”
She wiggles her eyebrows suggestively, then motions for me to handover Ember. “Sounds like she will need a long morning nap after I feed her.”
Thank goodness we’re on the same page.
“I agree, but you need to eat. If you want, I can feed you while you’re nursing?” I offer while removing Ember from the wrap.
“Are you telling me that the sexiest firefighter I know is offering to feed me breakfast? Where do I sign up for that life?” She snorts, waving her left hand with her wedding rings at me. “Oh, wait, I think I already did.”
God, I love her.
I do my best to focus not on my all too enticing wife while she’s almost topless and nursing our daughter, but on overloading a plate with her favorite pancakes and bacon then open the refrigerator as a distraction. The cool air feels good too. “Would you like milk or orange juice?”
“I’ll go with milk,” Bella says, gazing lovingly at our daughter and stroking her cheek. “Isn’t it amazing how she can go from being so upset to perfectly content only moments later?”
“I don’t blame her. I feel the same way. She’s lucky I’m willing to share you.”
After filling her new mug with milk and a glass for me, I set the syrup on the table then return for our overflowing plate from the counter and settle into the chair next to Bella.
“I’m surprised you’re still awake. Aren’t you tired?”
I hold a strip of bacon to her mouth and shrug, pouring syrup over the pancakes, then cutting a bite for her from the stack.
“I was able to take a nap during my shift, and I can sleep later. So…”
My voice trails off and my eyes shift to hers, as a smirk tugs at one of the corners of her mouth, which wraps around the fork, and I pull it away.
“Mmmm.” When she finishes her mouthful, Bella’s eyebrow arches. “So… since it’s my first Mother’s Day, is it a day where we can do whatever I want to do?”
I know that look. It’s the one she gives me when she wants to spend the day naked and in bed. You won’t hear me complaining, but it’s not an easy task with a two-month-old.
“What did you have in mind?” I ask, taking a large bite then preparing another for her.
“Well… after we all finish breakfast and Ember’s asleep in here…” She nods toward the nearby playpen. “I’m thinking you won’t need a shirt… or pants or anything else.”
That’s what I thought.
“And you?” I grin, but suspect I already know her answer.
Her smile is nearly blinding while her eyes twinkle with playfulness. “I plan on wearing only my new necklace.”
I nearly choke on my pancakes, but she’s not content with torturing me only with the visual as her words finish the job.
Bella lowers her voice. “I wonder how many times I can slide down your fire pole to celebrate my day during Ember’s nap times? Two? Maybe three?”
There’s only one right answer, and it’s as many as she wants. I’m nearly lightheaded with the thought, and a surge of heat racing through my body that’s accompanied by the tightening of my pants. Thank goodness I’m sitting down, because she always has this effect on me, and I’ll take her mischievous side any day.
“After all, I have a MILF title to defend now.” She quirks a smile, lifting her mug in my direction before taking a sip.
“I’m positive that will require little effort on your part.” I wink, happy to take care of my wife in every way possible, but her naughty ways are just another reason why I love her and always will.
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…