A/N: Let’s wrap this one up and I’ll see you at the bottom.
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m just here having fun.
“A party without cake is just a meeting.” – Julia Child
Chapter Twenty-four (3 years later)
“Da, Da!” I look over at my two-year-old little girl swinging on the swings of the playground in Edward and Bella’s backyard. “Luh mee!”
“I see you, Lily,” I shout at her, grinning as she leans back letting her blonde hair swing in the breeze.
“She’s adorable, Em, and growing so quickly.” Bella comes to stand beside me holding one of her newborn twin girls while the other kids are busy playing.
She and Edward traded homes with Mom and Dad several years ago after I moved out of the basement apartment and into a smaller home in the neighborhood.
To say Bella and Edward have been busy for the past five years would be an understatement. I think Edward intends to keep her knocked up indefinitely.
First, there was Charlie, whose fifth birthday we are celebrating today. They named him after Bella’s dad. Then Peter, who is almost four, came along a year later, followed by two-year-old Wil.
They had hoped for a girl with Bella’s latest pregnancy, but ended up with twin girls instead.
All their children, except for Charlie, are named after someone from their trip to Paris together over six years ago.
Bella has explained it several times. Wil is named after a bookstore, then Peter after a favorite painter of hers. The newborn girls are a little harder for me to understand. Victoria, or Tori, after a dead guy who Bella claims made everything possible, which is odd, then Madeline or Madi after a book character.
I read very little, so I have no idea what she’s talking about half the time.
I don’t see how they do it.
Bella stays home with them, while Edward is still busy with the family business, Cullen Brothers Designs.
We had a renaming party, I’m proud to say. They have forgiven me, and the two of us are now in business together. Dad says it’s the way it always should have been—with me handling the business and finance side, while Edward works his magic through art and design.
Dad is retired from the business and always on the go with Mom, traveling the world when time and money allow.
We are booked with jobs through the next year. Edward is teaching at the Pratt Fine Arts Center where he got his start learning about glass. We have two guys in our apprenticeship program, then he is mentoring a few interns at the shop too.
Stained glass is a dying art, and it’s important for Edward to pass his skills along to others interested in the field. Fortunately, we can capitalize on his other talents and expand into additional areas of glass arts. We’re hoping to buy the property next to the old shop in the next year. I’m still trying to work out that deal. Things are good.
Jasper and Alice celebrated their wedding anniversary with a trip to Italy and have three kids. Their oldest Sophia, is five and a half, while their son Marco is three. Their youngest Isabella, or Izzy as we call her, is one.
Jasper is a plumber and always has plenty of work. He stays busy year-round and has considered taking on a partner. Alice is a seamstress and content creating from her sewing machine. Her alterations business is humming right along and sometimes she is asked to do the occasional prom dress or bridesmaid dresses. She made the capes the kids are wearing for Charlie’s superhero birthday, which have been a huge hit.
That brings me to my little girl, Lily. I’m a single dad. A fact that most of my friends find funny, but nothing could have surprised me more than the day her mother dropped her off at my door.
Honey thrust an envelope full of papers at me, giving me full custody of our daughter, then left with tears in her eyes when she saw a naked Lauren over my shoulder.
That was it.
I haven’t seen her or Lauren since.
My name is on Lily’s birth certificate, but that didn’t stop me from having tests to assure she’s mine. I wasn’t the only one with Honey on that trip to Vegas. Apparently, not everything stays there.
With 99.8% certainty, I learned I’m Lily’s father, which is still a complete shock. I left Vegas with zero regrets after Honey told me everything would be fine. She was wrong.
“Who’s ready for cake?” Mom walks out the back door carrying Charlie’s birthday cake and sets it on the table.
A chorus of “me” comes from the playground, as I walk over to help Lily from the swing.
“I got her, Uncle Em.” Sophia swoops in to help Lily, holding her hand as they make their way to the table for cake.
“You know, it’s okay to lean on your family, Uncle Em.” Bella winks.
I nod my head. “I know, but I’m not used to it. I’ve always gone my own path and only relied on me.”
“Then no one could disappoint you? Or you them?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
How did she get so smart?
“Emmett, we will make mistakes and mess up in life. You can’t let your fear to love keep you from something greater.”
“I love Lily, and I’ve worked hard on my relationships with the family.”
Bella nods. “True, but what about you?”
“I have Lily now. I can’t let just anyone in her life. Her mother walked out on her. She’s not coming back.”
“Unfortunately, I may know a thing or two about that.” Bella looks up at me sadly.
“I’m sorry. I’m such an idiot sometimes. I forgot.”
Bella shakes her head. “You need to learn to move on. My dad never did, and had I been smarter and not so young, I would have encouraged him to find love again. Living with a broken heart is tough.”
“I didn’t love Honey.” I stare at Lily. “She was a good time on a trip to Vegas.”
“But you loved Rosalie.”
“And look how that worked out.”
We gather around the table and sing Happy Birthday to Charlie, then he makes a wish and blows out his five candles.
“Let’s cut the cake!” Dad grins, getting his grandsons riled up.
“Yeah!” Peter and Marco agree, already with plastic forks in each hand.
“Hey!” Mom looks around at all her grandchildren. “Who took a bite out of this cake? I see teeth marks.”
Charlie giggles and raises his hand. “I couldn’t help it, Grandma. It looks so good, and I couldn’t wait.”
Mom chuckles. “Well, since it was the birthday boy, I’ll let it slide.” She winks at him then cuts slices for everyone. Dad’s holding Wil and giving him small bites, while Peter and Marco dig in to their pieces getting icing everywhere.
I give Lily bites from my plate as she sits on my lap, and Edward watches while holding one of the twins. They aren’t identical, but I can never tell them apart.
“No cake for you?” I ask.
“It’s never been my thing. Bella is our cake eater. All sweets.” He chuckles and sips on his bottle of water. “She has a never-ending sweet tooth.”
I glance over and see Bella holding the other twin as she sits next to Charlie, and she doesn’t miss a beat eating her own slice while chatting with Alice. She juggles motherhood and marriage like a pro.
So does my sister. Alice has Izzy on her lap while Sophia makes faces causing Izzy to full belly laugh. It’s sweet.
I look back at my brother. “I saw you eat wedding cake about five years ago. If I remember correctly, there are pictures.” I grin, reminding him.
“There are a few exceptions. I may have been force-fed a macaron or two. Some people can be persistent.” He smiles when his eyes find Bella, his mind wandering to places involving the two of them.
I shake my head. “You’re so damn lucky, Edward. You got everything I never realized I wanted.”
“Hey, it will happen. I’m sure Mom can set you up with a few daughters of the women in her book club.”
I let out an uncomfortable chuckle. “I’m ready to give up. There’s no one out there for me. Maybe for a few nights, but not long-term. I think that ship has sailed. And before you start, Rosalie never wanted me, just what I could give her. I was the fool who fell for her.”
“What about Bella’s friend, Angela? At our wedding—”
I shake my head again and stop him. “I already tapped that.”
Edward seems confused. “You did?”
“Yeah, after your wedding reception. She married a guy named, Ben. Bella said they have kids.”
“Oh, I didn’t know.” Edward’s quiet for a moment.
“Look, I appreciate everything you, Bella, Mom, Dad—” I try to find the words. “How everyone continues to reach out to me and Lily. I’m Uncle Emmett, for Christ sakes, at my nephew’s fifth birthday party. I’ve been at all the birthday parties, not just Charlie’s, which is huge for me.
“Not to mention, I’m a single dad of a little girl, and I never thought I would be a dad at all. Most days, I have no idea what I’m doing, but Lily doesn’t care. I’m just her ‘Da.’ I’m her guy, and I’m doing everything I can not to let her down. I’ve had her for two years. Since she was a newborn. Two years, I’ve been trying to get my bearings and find a balance.
“My life looks nothing like I thought it would, and you know what? That’s okay. Not everyone’s happily ever after has to look the same, and I’m taking baby steps to figure out what’s next. Maybe I find someone. Maybe I don’t. I’m happy in ways I didn’t even know were possible.
“We both know I’ve made too many mistakes in this area of my life, and I’ve been working my ass off to mend fences and do things differently. I’m not perfect, far from it. No one is. But, I’m doing everything I can to take things one day at a time.”
I look up to see Edward with a huge grin on his face.
“Holy sh—” He catches himself and looks down at the little angel sleeping in his arms.
A smile grows on my face as I shift Lily to my other side. “What?”
“My big brother is finally growing up,” Edward states proudly.
I grin. “Finally, right?”
Lily grabs my face and smiles. “Da.”
“What is it, sweet girl? You ready to go home? Time for a nap?” I hold her against my chest as her little head nuzzles under my chin and against my neck, and I’m content—happy.
I sigh and think to myself that nothing in the world can feel more perfect than this.
A/N: The End.
I am overflowing with gratitude to purpleC305 and Midnight Cougar for sticking with me during my first multi-chapter journey and all of the contest one-shots we juggled while editing and posting this expansion of Mr. Perfect. Real life can make pre-reading and beta-ing a huge challenge at times, but these wonderful women are both rockstars for seeing me through to the end. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough for all of the hours you’ve committed to me and these extra twenty-four chapters, but thank you from the bottom of my heart. xx
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