Third Time's the Charm @sukiethree
Chapter 27

AN: Final part of my little tale with a little bit of drama and lots of love. It's a long one.

I hope you've enjoyed the journey with me as we leave these two, plus children to their happy ever after.

My absolutely ecstatic thanks to MeteorOnAMoonlessNight, forever efficient, annaharding for her knowledge of the difference between English and American when my mind is an absolute blank, and most of all to my wonderful friend Midnight Cougar, always ready with a suggestion or ten to make my words prettier. Without you ladies my work wouldn't be the same, and I'm so glad you've been on this journey with me.

I hope there will be many more.

For all those who favorited and followed, I hope you'll review when you've read the full story and to everyone who faithfully reviewed each chapter, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and with every fibre of my being.

What's next - hmmm?

Maybe The Price of Betrayal for which you can donate to receive the prologue and chapter 1 with many great writers in a bid to help Jenny Rarden, or it could be Secrets, Lies, and Dead Ends, or maybe even something completely different.

Follow me to find out more and of course, I'll be posting on my Facebook page, Sukiethree: Twilight FanFiction.

Disclaimer: SM owns it all

Third Time's the Charm Epilogue

Left pregnant and alone, Bella delivers a surprise to the paramedic who knocks on her door.


Here we were, I mused, almost at the end of Edward's final year at medical school. We'd been through a lot in the last four years, but we'd survived. He'd even continued to work part-time as a paramedic through his schooling, and today was his last day before he took up his residency post.

Emily and Jamie, our sweet baby boy, were at Esme's, having gone to Chelsea's birthday party yesterday, leaving the house strangely quiet. They'd begged to stay overnight, Esme, too, and both Edward and I had agreed, taking advantage of a childless night to go out on a date. I leaned back against the kitchen island, gazing out the window overlooking the deck and rear garden, drinking my morning coffee.

A quiet footstep behind me and the familiar hum that always connected us told me Edward was close. I turned to face him, drinking in the sight of my ridiculously handsome husband.

One would think seeing him in his paramedic uniform would remind me of the frightening experience of giving birth unexpectedly at home, but that wasn't the case. It only made me feel safe, loved, and cherished.

He placed his empty coffee cup in the sink and took mine from my hand, placing it on the island beside me. He smirked, catching me as my eyes perused him from head to toe. He stepped toward me, lowering his head, his eyes never leaving mine until his eyelids closed, hiding their darkening green, and his lips met mine.

He tasted like the coffee he'd just finished, with an underlying taste of mint from his toothpaste. That, and the light scent of his cologne on his shower-warm skin touching mine, sent my body into overdrive.

My tongue licked at his lips, asking for and receiving permission to enter, then tangled with his. Our kiss deepened even though he was likely to be late for work on his last day as a paramedic. I heard his bag hit the floor before every part of me was surrounded by every part of him.

His hands slid from my shoulders to the back of my neck, cupping my head in his palms, his fingers tangling and pulling at the long strands of hair. His body, hard and demanding, closed on mine until there wasn't an inch between us.

Of their own volition, my hands slid around his waist, tugging at the back of his shirt until the waistband of his pants gave it up and set it free. My hands caressed the warm, smooth skin of his back, reaching up as far as I could, feeling his muscles twitching under my touch.

It was the same for me. His hands tilted my head to gain better access to my mouth, taking my top lip then my bottom one in turn, sucking each into his mouth while his tongue slid over the sensitive skin on the inside before diving back inside my mouth to meet with mine again.

The urgency to feel us skin-to-skin transmitted itself to him. His hands moved from the back of my head to my neck, to my shoulders, and then his arms were around me, drawing me ever closer.

His mouth left mine, leaving me gasping for air, and traveled over my jaw and down my neck, his teeth nipping at the skin until he sank them lightly into the juncture between that and my shoulder.

Goosebumps chased across my skin and down to my breasts, hardening my nipples before racing to that point between my legs, my inner muscles clenching involuntarily. The whimper from my throat echoed in the quiet kitchen.

Edward took a step toward me, pushing me back step by step until I was leaning against the kitchen counter. His hands smoothed over my skin, pushing the straps of my nightgown from my shoulders, the thin material catching on the slope of my breasts. The heat from his breath wafted across my collarbones as his lips followed a path only he could see.

Heated palms pushed down my nightgown, leaving it to drop to the floor, then brushed over hardening nipples, fingers rubbing and pinching until my back arched toward him, asking for more. My head fell back and my eyes closed as the cloth covering me whispered over my skin on its way to the floor, leaving me bare.

I cried out as the warmth of his mouth surrounded my nipple, taking my flesh into its wet heat. Tongue swirling, teeth nipping, and mouth sucking formed a taut line to the throb between my legs.

"Edward," I whispered. "You'll be late."

"Shh," he answered, lifting me up onto the counter. "Leave me to worry about that."

He placed a hand between my breasts and pushed lightly. Surrendering to his touch, I leaned back on my hands and opened my legs to give him space. His hands parted them, then pulled me to the edge of the counter until his hardened cock came into contact with my wet center.

He jerked his hips, and I closed my eyes, moaning in appreciation. Opening them again, I watched as he dropped his gaze to the clear wet spot, rubbing the backs of his fingers over my covered clit. I inhaled sharply and held my breath for a second until he pushed my panties aside, sinking two fingers inside me. His thumb continued to brush over my clit until I was panting.

"Please, Edward."

"Patience, Bella."

I widened my legs and let my head drop back, giving into the feeling of his fingers moving in and out, speeding up until the telltale tingle of my approaching orgasm had me tilting my hips up into his movements. Then his fingers were gone, and I couldn't suppress the whine in the back of my throat. I opened my eyes to his smirk; he knew what he was doing to me.

"No, don't stop now."

Edward hooked those traitorous fingers in the elastic on either side of my panties and drew them down my legs, dropping them on top of my nightgown. Spread naked across the counter in the early morning light, Edward fully dressed and watching me, felt erotic and slightly wicked. Leaning on my elbows, I covered my breasts, pinching and pulling at my nipples until they were hard and erect. I deliberately let my hand wander from my breast, down over my stomach and reached between my legs to circle my clit.

When my eyes met his, they were dark with lust. I watched as he unbuckled his belt and slid it out of the loops, dropping it behind him. He tugged his shirt out of his pants, dragging it over his head before he set to work unbuttoning his fly. Pushing his pants and boxers to the floor, he toed off his shoes and yanked off his socks, standing naked and fully erect.

My fingers dipped inside me, collecting my arousal, then I leaned forward and reached out to grip his cock, pushing my hand down his shaft. I tugged at his balls, pulling a groan from his throat.

"Stop, I want to be inside you when I come, Bella," he breathed, his hips already pushing his cock into my hand.

Lifting first one leg then the other, I rested my heels on the counter, opening myself up to him. His eyes turned dark green and roved over my body from my eyes to my breasts and down between my legs. He pushed my hand away, his own pumping his cock, spreading the pre-cum over the head with his thumb.

He reached for me, running a hand down my torso and between my legs, then bent over, licking me from bottom to top, flattening his tongue over my clit. My body jolted, and I could feel my arousal seep out of me.

An errant thought about disinfectant flitted through my mind before the exquisite torture from the tip of his tongue pushed every thought out of my head.

My eyes closed as I gave myself over to the sensations. My hands drifted over my taught nipples, tweaking at each one before sliding lower and settling on my inner thighs, holding myself open. His talented tongue teased, licking and flicking until there was nothing else except the point of contact between his tongue and my clit. White-hot heat and pleasure rushed out from my center, along my extremities, and my back arched. I came so hard I could see colored lights behind my eyelids.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," I cursed, closing my legs around his ears. "Stop," I giggled breathlessly. "No more, please."

When I opened my eyes, it was to his wide grin. He leaned over me, the underside of his cock brushing between my legs, making my body twitch. His kiss tasted of me, but I didn't care as long as his lips were on mine.

He pulled away far too soon, his palms smoothing over my still hard nipples before settling on his cock, lining himself up with my entrance. Expecting him to push his way in, I held my breath, but instead he rubbed the head along my slit and over my still sensitive clit a few times. My breath caught in the back of my throat, and now it was my turn to push my hips toward his cock, inviting him wordlessly to fuck me now.

A deep groan from Edward accompanied my gasp as he thrust once and buried the full length of his cock inside me in one smooth motion. His eyes closed for a few seconds, his chest rising and falling as he stilled and whispered, "Fuck."

Half-lidded deep green eyes caught me in their gaze as he opened them again and his hips flexed, pressing his cock deeper inside me. Leaning over me, he placed his hands on the counter on either side of my body, his face close to mine. His heated breath washed over me.

"Do you have any idea what you do to me, Bella? What you look like spread all over the counter with my cock deep inside you?"

His words sent a jolt of pleasure through me and his eyes caught mine in a searing gaze. At that moment, he pulled out a little then impaled me again.

"Do you want me to fuck you, Bella?" His voice was low and gravelly, thick with desire. He leaned down my body and sucked a nipple into his mouth, letting it go with a pop before narrowing his eyes. "Answer me, Bella," he murmured.

His words against my flesh created a vibration that ran through me, sucking my nipple back into his mouth, his teeth worrying at the nub, creating a spark of pain. Pleasure rushed straight to my clit.

I dropped my head back. "Yes, yes."

I'd barely exhaled the words in a breath before Edward's hands gripped my hips with a bruising force and he pulled almost all the way out, then drove his cock back in, gyrating his hips in a circle and grinding against my G-spot.

There was something about being splayed out over the kitchen counter where I prepared meals for the family, in full sunlight, that made what we were doing somehow illicit and immoral, and it didn't take long for me to be on the edge of a second orgasm.

Withdrawing again, he shortened his thrusts, only filling me halfway. It was frustrating, not quite enough to push me into an orgasm, and involuntarily, my hips lifted to meet each one, pushing my body up and onto his cock.

I could always tell when Edward was close to coming. His eyes watched intently where we were joined and his tongue licked along his bottom lip. He abandoned any pretense of teasing, rocking my body against him, plunging in deeply and filling me over and over until my muscles clenched around him and my body shuddered to another thundering climax.

Edward groaned, chasing his own orgasm, single-mindedly driving into me through my orgasm, sending after-shocks of pleasure along my nerves. I gripped my hair, my senses overwhelmed by the feel of him inside me. I felt his cock swell as he came, arching away from my body, his head thrown back and my name falling from his lips.

I could see his heart beating under its protective ribcage, his abs clenching and unclenching in time with the pulses I could feel from his cock. His eyes remained closed as his breathing evened out and he relaxed.

Slowly, he leaned over until his head touched my abdomen and I could run my hands through his hair, dampened with sweat.

"Damn, Bella, that gets better and better, sweetheart."

I continued to stroke my fingers through the strands of damp hair, scratching at his scalp until he calmed. Taking a deep breath, he stood upright and pulled out, leaving me feeling empty for a minute.

"It does, and I never want it to stop," I said, struggling to sit up.

"You need a little help there, Bella?"

Edward held out his hand, helping me as I tried to slide down off the counter. My legs felt like jelly and I staggered as they hit the floor. He smirked, stooping slightly, and swept me up into his arms.

"You wanna shower with me?"

"Won't that make you even later for work?" I grinned.

"Not if you keep your hands to yourself." His smirk said he wasn't bothered. "I already called in and changed my hours. It's my last day; what are they going to do?"

An hour later, fully sated for the second time that morning, Edward had re-dressed in his uniform and led the way to the door.

"What time will you be home?"

"Around four. What's on your mind?"

"How about we get the kids early from Esme's and go out for pizza? Sort of a celebration for the end of med school, last day with the service, new job. You know the sort."

"Sounds like a perfect idea."

Edward gathered me into his arms, his lips landing on mine in a searing kiss before breaking away for a breath. His lips touched mine three times saying, "I love you," before he kissed my forehead and hugged me.

"I love you so much, Bella. I'll see you later."

I closed the door behind him and headed toward the bedroom to get dressed.

While I'd been at home with Emily, before Edward and I had declared our love, I'd devoted some of the hours when she was asleep to jotting down ideas for a novel. It was something I'd wanted to do for a long time, but Tyler always laughed at my ideas and my self-confidence had taken a knock.

When Edward found out, he encouraged me to take time for myself to do what made me happy. Of course, looking after Emily and spending time with both of them was at the top of my list, but during that first year, once Edward had started medical school and was busy studying, I began to formulate an outline and work my way through writing my first book.

At work, Vicky and Maggie encouraged me too, so when Edward suggested working part-time, I used the extra time, and re-doubled my efforts to put words on paper. I found I really enjoyed it, and before long, searched for and found, a publisher who was willing to give me a chance.

Our life to date had been dramatic and romantic and formed the basis of my first book. Now, today, I was tackling the outline for my second book, and this morning, had given me the best of ideas for a steamy connection between my two protagonists.

~ oOo ~

Thinking back to when I found out I was pregnant with Emily, there was no way, when Tyler and I went our separate ways, I could have predicted what happened over the following year and beyond. I lucked out when Edward was on duty the day Emily decided she was going to arrive early, and even more so that it had been him and not his partner who'd been there for me through every second, keeping me calm and helping me give birth.

Edward wasn't a perfect man. He left dirty clothes beside the hamper instead of in it, forgot to leave the toilet seat down on occasion, and hated doing laundry with a passion. Esme had trained him well, but living on his own, he'd still managed to develop bad habits.

I could forgive him all of that because he loved me and my daughter with more passion than Tyler had ever shown in his life for anything other than football.

When Edward arranged for a picnic one sunny September day, which just happened to be my birthday, I thought nothing of it. He'd always been spontaneously romantic, and I loved that he'd thought to do the same thing he'd done before I was open to the idea of dating him—before I even knew that was what he was doing. That day, instead of non-alcoholic sparkling wine, he'd produced champagne—the real stuff.

I remembered how he'd insisted I dress for the occasion, and I'd acquiesced by wearing a new white sundress with a red poppy pattern around the lower edge and a neat pair of espadrilles, though I'd been barefoot at the time.

He'd asked me to stand holding Emily, ostensibly for him to take a photo of the two of us. I'd protested, wanting him in it with us, but he was adamant, so I indulged him. He took a few pictures then kneeled in front of me, holding out a little black velvet box. I was lost for words.

"Bella, you, and Emily, are beyond what I ever dreamed of for myself. With you and her, I'm exactly where I want to be. Please, would you do me the honor of accepting my hand in marriage? I want to be your husband and Emily's daddy in every meaning of the word."

I got down on my knees in front of him with Emily in my arms, finally able to find a few words among the tears welling in my eyes. A small crowd of people gathered on the pathway through the park. I could see Esme and Carlisle arm in arm, along with Heidi and Demetri, holding hands with Liam and carrying Chelsea, Carmen and Eleazar, and even Dad and Sue.

"Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes to everything." I hugged him, squishing Emily between us until she protested. "You wonderful, wonderful man."

He grinned as we stood and took Emily from my arms, pulling me into his side as our family and friends surged forward with congratulations. Heidi grabbed the camera from Edward and insisted on taking a few pictures of the three of us together then with the other members of our families. She even managed to get a passerby to take one with her and the children converged around us.

~ oOo ~

"We should set a date," Edward said out of the blue one Sunday morning close to our second Christmas. It was a rare weekend when he didn't have too much homework, and Esme and Carlisle had Emily overnight so we could go out on a date. We'd decided on staying in bed until lunchtime, almost unheard of with Emily's presence.

"A date for what?" I said absentmindedly, not looking up from the book I was reading.

"A date for the wedding, Bella."

He leaned over and swiped the book from my hands. Dropping it on the floor beside the bed, he pulled my body down flat on the bed and rolled on top of me.

"Hmm," I murmured as his lips met mine.

Wandering hands smoothed over soft skin and delved between my legs. I pushed him over on his back, straddled him, and grabbed his wrists to hold his arms down beside his head. I rubbed my erect nipples over his chest, eliciting a grumble from his throat. Leaning down, I caught his lips with mine, nipping at them until he opened his mouth.

Edward pushed against my hands, but I refused to allow him to move.

"Uh-uh," I said against his lips. I pushed his hands toward the bars on the headboard. When he grasped them, I added, "Keep them there—no touching." I grinned against his protest and slid down his torso, nipping at his neck and sucking on his Adam's apple. "It's my turn," I whispered as I sucked on his nipples. Behind me, I could feel his cock twitch.

I moved my body farther down, sticking my tongue in his belly button and making him squirm. My teeth scraped over each hip in turn. A deep groan resounded through his chest as he jerked his hips up. In retaliation, I licked and sucked at his cock, drawing him into my mouth and sucking hard until I let him go with a swirl of my tongue.

"Bella, please," he moaned.

Lifting up onto my knees, I lined his cock up with my center and flexed my muscles, taking him inside and then withdrawing. I did it again and watched as his eyes darkened with lust.

"Fuck, don't tease me." Frustration colored his tone of voice as his hips jerked up, trying to push himself into me.

"It's only teasing if I don't follow through," I whispered, grinning back at him. "And, I have every intention of taking exactly what I want."

I did it again, listening to his breathing catch. Then, without warning, I let my body drop, taking his cock fully inside me. As always, pleasure coursed through my veins at the intrusion.

"Please let me touch you, Bella," Edward begged. "Please."

I nodded and leaned back as he raised his knees behind me. He gripped my hips as he pumped in and out of me, his eyes glued to where we were joined. I leaned forward, my hands on his chest. Edward pulled his body up, his chest brushing against my breasts with every breath we took. My arms went around his neck and my legs linked around his waist. Our mouths were close, breathing in each other's air, occasionally meeting, our passion rising quickly.

In this position, he reached deep inside me, his cock battering in an almost bruising fashion. I loved the feel of him making love to me, but when he was a little more rough than usual, I came harder. His hands spread out over my ass, pushing and pulling as he rubbed my clit on his public bone, and his cock against my G-spot.

My breath stuttered in my throat as his hands slid over the skin at my waist and traversed the length of my spine before gripping my hair at the base of my neck. Pulling my head back until my throat was bared to him, he nipped and sucked at the skin as I rolled my head to one side, giving him more access.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck, Edward, I'm coming," I gasped as my orgasm hit, and heat and pleasure rolled through me and over my skin.

I could feel his muscles tense under my hands as he climaxed, pulsing deep inside me. We stilled, eyes closed, breath coming in pants against lips.

"What did you ask?" I said once I could speak again.

"Give me a minute and I'll remember." He laughed, his cock slipping out of me.

Forty minutes later, after a shower, we dressed and retired to the kitchen where Edward made a fresh pot of coffee. Since it was almost lunchtime, I pulled out a loaf of bread and made a sandwich for each of us.

"Yes," I said. "We should set a date. Sorry for the distraction." I grinned over at Edward.

"I love those sorts of distractions, and I'll never complain about them." He took a sip of his coffee. "So, what are you thinking?"

"Well, they say good things come in threes; so I say June. Personally, I think June twentieth is a no-brainer. Emily's birthday, your birthday, and our wedding day all on the same day. That's got to be a good omen for the future, right?"

"Hmm, I like the way you think. And med school has a long break between first and second year. I think it's around two months, so we'd have plenty of time for a honeymoon, too."

Edward had already applied to medical school and would hear if he was successful after Christmas. After speaking to Carlisle, Edward was more confident he would be accepted. He'd already completed a four-year degree in biological studies, physics and human genetics before changing his mind about becoming a doctor. Instead, he'd completed the EMT course, then paramedic training. It meant he wouldn't have to spend up to eight years at school before he could even start on a residency. Edward was a clever man, and I had no doubt he'd achieve his goal of becoming an obstetrician.

Once we'd agreed on a date, and Esme, Sue and, I had started to look at the arrangements, I realized how much work was involved in planning a wedding. Even with their help, it was too much, especially since Edward would likely be starting school in August.

"Why don't we have a destination wedding, then," he said one evening after we'd pored over magazines for ideas. "That way, we only have to decide the where and the colors and leave the rest up to the resort and the wedding planner."

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. "What about the cost, though? Isn't it hugely expensive?"

"No more than a wedding here in Chicago. I'm sure most of our friends and family would be on board with the idea. We could say we'd prefer them to come and see us get married instead of giving us a load of wedding presents we don't need."

I looked around at the apartment. "Hmmm, we do have everything we need, so that sounds like a great compromise. Do you think anyone would mind?"

"What? Mind a holiday in the Caribbean? I don't think so. We could go early so we could have some time with Emily, and then I could get you all to myself for two weeks. I like the sound of that." His lips met my neck in a soft kiss. "How about it, Bella?"

"Yes," I breathed. "Yes."

So, after lots of discussion we decided on St. Lucia because it was family friendly and would be the perfect way to relax and unwind before the big day.

~ oOo ~

We arrived in St. Lucia the week before the wedding, with Esme and Sue who shared a room at the same hotel we were staying in. Heidi and Demetri arrived with Liam and Chelsea two days before the ceremony, giving us plenty of time for last-minute dress and suit fittings. With Demetri as Edward's best man and Heidi as my matron of honor, I didn't feel bad about not having any bridesmaids. There was no way I could have chosen between Angela, Alice, and Rose, so we decided on just having Emily and Chelsea as flower girls, and they were a picture of light and dark.

The hotel was a haven of peace. The day of the wedding, like every day in St. Lucia, dawned clear and warm, and the weather cooperated by not giving us the usual daily rainfall for that time of the year. Edward and I had refused to be parted on our last night, and the bachelor and bachelorette parties took place at the same time, and together, too.

We deliberately kept the beach ceremony fairly short, and as predicted, Emily was easily distracted. Both Heidi and Esme had their work cut out and had to chase Emily and Chelsea back to the designated aisle more than once, giving all the guests a laugh. After we'd said our vows, everyone retired to the hotel's air-conditioned event room for the reception.

The reception flew by in a blur of speeches, cake-cutting, and dancing. Before we knew it, Edward and I were saying our goodbyes.

"Come on, Mrs. Cullen. I can't wait to get you out of that dress."

Edward's husky whisper in my ear made me shiver with anticipation, and we quickly found our parents, thanking them for their help in making this day perfect. Emily was asleep in Demetri's arms, and although leaving her without saying goodbye wasn't what we wanted, we felt it would be kinder if she didn't see us go, especially Edward, her dada.

The limo arrived at the doors to the reception hall, and we were showered with tiny rose petals, the ecological version of confetti. The trip to a nearby couples-only resort passed almost unnoticed. Edward's lips were on the tanned skin showing above the lace Bardot neckline of my dress, his fingers sliding along the inside edge. His other hand skimmed up my thigh, slipping under the edge of my panties, where I was already wet for him.

"Edward." I meant it to come out as a deterrent, but it came out as a moan.

Arriving at our private beachside villa, Edward helped me from the limo and swept me into his arms, carrying me over the threshold and straight into the bedroom. The four-poster bed, surrounded by gauzy curtains, dominated the room. The double doors led to a deck and a small plunge pool then through a wooden gate directly onto the beach.

Edward stood behind me, the heat of his body radiating through mine, though we weren't touching. His hands brushed over my shoulders, his fingers sliding under the edge of the lacy top before slowly undoing the tiny satin-covered buttons.

Every touch and every word conveyed his love for me over and over again as he gradually divested me of my clothes and made sweet love to me all night.

We spent the whole ten days swimming in the crystal-clear water and making love both in and out of bed, shamelessly using room service on all but one evening.

It was a glorious ten days and the calm before the storm. Reality bit when we returned to Chicago. With only a couple weeks to spare, Edward was into his second year of med school before we knew it, and for the next few months, he was so busy studying, we were like ships passing in the night.

It hadn't been an easy time for either of us. Edward was a diligent student and spent hours locked away in his study while he got used to studying again. Emily and I missed him, but I'd promised him my support, so we did the best we could.

Unexpectedly, at the beginning of that first semester, we found out I was pregnant. It definitely wasn't the ideal time with Edward just embarking on his studies, but it was certainly preferable to it happening during his residency.

Edward would be a fantastic obstetrician when he finished school and his training. He was a very observant man, and it was he who put two and two together and suggested I might be pregnant.

He was in the study and had been there since seven, this being his first week of classes. Although he didn't have a lot of homework yet, he wanted to make sure he got ahead right away. Having made the coffee, it smelled a little odd to me.

"Does this smell off to you, Edward?" I asked as I handed him his cup.

He took a sniff at it, then took a large sip. "No, not to me it doesn't. Are you feeling okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine. It just smells off to me."

I didn't think anything more of it, but the following day, the result was the same. Edward had gone to lectures so I hadn't had a chance to ask him, and I'd forgotten about it by the end of the day. That weekend, Edward and I had been at the breakfast bar with Emily between us. He'd made pancakes, but when he added eggs to his plate, my stomach rebelled and I ran for the bathroom.

"Hey, you okay?" Edward followed me, pulling my hair back from my face and handing me a cool washcloth. I sat back and leaned against the side of the bath.

"Do you think those eggs were off, too?" I asked.

"They were fresh yesterday, Bella. With the coffee before and the eggs now, do you think you might be pregnant?"

Until that moment, the thought hadn't crossed my mind, but I remembered the same had happened when I was pregnant with Emily. I panicked then, convinced it was far too soon to be having another child. There was so much going on in our lives. How would we manage? What about Edward's schooling?

"I can't be, Edward. You have school and I have work, and we've only just gotten married. And then there's work; I've been back there for less than a year. I don't even know if I'll get maternity leave this time."

"Hey, it's okay, Bella." Edward sat beside me as my mind went wild thinking of all the problems it would cause. "You've been tired and cranky these last couple of weeks too, so I think it's worth a test to find out for sure. And if you are pregnant, we'll be fine; I know it."

"What will we do if I am, Edward? It's definitely not the right time."

He brushed the hair back off my face, wiping away the tears that had fallen. He went to kiss me and laughed when I turned my head away at the last moment.

"Ew, sorry, I haven't brushed my teeth," I said.

"It doesn't matter, Bella. I love you, vomit and all. Why don't you go back to bed, and Emily and I will go to the store and get a couple tests? That way we'll know for sure and we'll take it from there."

We sat there on the bathroom floor until I'd calmed down, and then Edward helped me up and into bed.

"I'll be back soon, and try not to worry, please."

~ oOo ~

Our baby was due in March, close to Easter, so Edward had a couple weeks to spend at home with us. I knew right from the start that parenting would mostly be left up to me.

I would have loved to have stayed under the care of Carlisle, but it didn't seem appropriate; he recommended me to Dr. Banner, a colleague of his.

Despite his hectic schedule, Edward was there for every major step, for every scan and visit to the doctor. He even joked that he was fully qualified to deliver our son until I jabbed him in the ribs, not wanting to jinx us and repeat the events of Emily's birth.

There was no way to quantify my happiness the day our little boy was born. This time everything went perfectly; Jamie was even a few days late.

Edward insisted I only return to work part-time after Jamie was born; although to be honest, I wanted to do my bit and work full-time. In the end, with Edward about to take his first boards and going into his third year at school, I knew there was no way I'd be able to do the lion's share of parenting while he studied and I continued working as I'd done over the last year.

There'd been no discussion or refuting from Tyler when I'd terminated his parental rights before Emily was a year old; not that I'd expected any. Not long after Jamie was born, Edward approached me about adopting her. She was already calling him "Daddy," even to the extent of it having been her first word, much to my dismay. The court accepted our paperwork, and it was complete within ninety days. In time for Edward and Emily's birthday, she became Emily Cullen.

Esme had always treated her as her grandchild, right from the beginning, but was over the moon now it was official. She and Heidi conspired to throw a joint adoption and birthday party for both her and Edward, inviting friends, family, Vicky, and Maggie from the paper, and a few of Edward's friends from school. Emily strutted her stuff, indulged by all four grandparents and her new daddy, and we settled down to family life.

~ oOo ~

During Edward's final year, it became obvious we needed more space than the two-bedroom condo would give us. Emily was approaching four and really needed a room of her own, and Jamie was over a year old, on his feet, and into everything. Poor Emily was always rescuing her dolls and other toys from his clutches.

Our first big fight was over the purchase of a five-bedroom house close to his parents. I loved it from the second I stepped over the threshold.

The problem was the almost two-million-dollar price tag.

"Edward," I argued, "it's too expensive and, anyway, we don't need five bedrooms. There's no way I can afford half of two million dollars."

"You wouldn't have to, Bella. The apartment is worth a lot more than I paid for it and will cover three-quarters of the cost. My trust fund will cover the rest; I can afford it."

Even when he was angry, Edward didn't raise his voice, and that annoyed me even more. I was furious that he dismissed my concerns so easily.

"But I can't, Edward. We're already too uneven since you won't let me pay any rent and you insist on paying the utilities. Your argument that they were already coming out of your bank account is stupid."

Edward stepped forward and pulled me into his arms. "I want to provide for my family, Bella, and that includes Emily and you. I know you'd do it if the situation were reversed, wouldn't you?"

I pulled away from him. "You're completely dismissing my feelings."

He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "You're being ridiculous, Bella."

I tossed and turned for hours, unable to sleep until Edward slid into bed behind me in the early hours.

"I'm sorry, Bella. I am listening to you; I promise. I know you think you don't bring anything of value to our relationship, but you've given me so much more than money. You gave me a chance at a family with you and Emily and then Jamie. You take care of our children, you work part-time—which, by the way, does pay for the groceries—and you support me mentally so I can do better for us in the future."

I didn't answer, but rolled over to face him. He brushed his hand from my temple to my chin before kissing me.

"How about we wait until I've finished with med school and moved onto my residency? If your book deal goes through, you can add what you want to a down payment, and we can take out a joint mortgage for the rest. Of course, it means we'll lose this particular house, but I'm sure there'll be something else when the time comes."

In the end, I agreed, and we shelved the argument and the idea of moving and muddled along, separating fighting kids, sharing a study space as I delved further into my writing, and generally getting under each other's feet. The truth was we were bursting out of the place.

~ oOo ~

Residency was harder than either of us expected, and although his clinical experience as a paramedic prepared him for the practical application of his knowledge, the punishing nights and days on call were hard to get used to. It was so different from working as a paramedic, where he mostly had set shifts. Going from that to working seventy-two hour shifts and sleeping in the hospital was brutal.

As Jamie grew older, he and Emily clashed more and more, until I knew it was time for Edward and me to revisit the conversation that had caused our only big fight. This time, I knew I would be in a better position as I'd already received payment for my first book. I also received a substantial down payment for my second and third, even though I hadn't even started that one yet.

However, I'd also have to agree to him using his trust fund, something I was still a little uncomfortable accepting.

The discussion we had surrounding the purchase of a larger home went so much better this time than the first. Edward's pay was reasonable, and we knew that in a few years, his studies and the brutal regime as a resident would pay off.

The realtor we'd contacted last time found a house a little farther away from Esme and Carlisle. It actually had six bedrooms, but it did need a little work, so it was cheaper than the previous one. Like that first one, I loved it from the moment I walked in and could see the potential it had to be a fantastic home. It even had a pool; though, it needed some serious repair work.

We offered less than the asking price, and since it had come on the market not long after we'd passed up on the previous one, we lucked out. The owner had died after a long illness and a stay in hospice, so it had been empty even longer than that. None of the relatives wanted it, so they snatched at our offer without further negotiations.

We closed on the house within six weeks, though the apartment took a little longer to sell than we expected. In the meantime, Carlisle insisted on lending us the balance.

On the second visit, I loved it even more; although, it was pretty obvious it would take time and money to turn it into the perfect home. A double-width hall led directly to a huge family room and kitchen across the rear of the house overlooking a large patio that housed the in-ground pool. Beyond the pool was an unkempt, overgrown space perfect for a large lawn when we got around to it. Edward wanted to build a treehouse in one of the large trees surrounding the garden, and later we would add a pool house. The three-car garage was at the end of a long drive, which opened out into a graveled circle.

There were two other living rooms, six bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a basement. We turned one of the six bedrooms into a music room and library and added a study in the basement. We had plans to kit the remaining space out with a home gym and a den, which would double as a kids' playroom, and then a place for them and their friends to meet up when they were a little older.

Behind my back, Edward contacted all our friends, and before moving day, Alice and Jasper, Rose and Emmett, and Angela and Ben arrived dressed in their oldest clothes for a painting party. We spent the weekend painting the rooms we planned on using—the kids' bedrooms, our bedroom, the family room, and the kitchen. There was a lot more that needed to be done, such as updating the kitchen and all bathrooms and the two living rooms, but for now, we had a livable space.

Our friends were happy to bed down in the unpainted rooms, especially after margaritas, beers, and a game of Never Have I Ever. The following day, the fencing company we had found came to fit one across the patio between the house and the pool to prevent any accidents with the children.

We moved in not long after that and threw a house-warming party and Thanksgiving at the same time, inviting Carmen and Eleazar, and Heidi and Demetri and their two children. Heidi was pregnant with baby number three while Kate and Garrett were adamant that their two girls were quite enough. Laurent and Irina were still traveling and showed no signs of settling down and producing any children.

Rose, Emmett, Angela, Ben, and baby Sarah returned for the party along with Dad, Sue, Leah, and Seth. When Edward invited his former co-worker, Seth, things were a little confusing for a while, but the two Seths got on like a house on fire, becoming firm friends within the first ten minutes.

Maggie had met Alistair, one of Edward's med school friends, at Emily's birthday adoption party, and the two of them announced their engagement. Vicky and our old boss, James Hunter, turned up, surprising us with the news they had gotten married the week before in Vegas, and were expecting a baby in five months.

Esme and I prepared dinner while Heidi supervised from the seat where she'd been told to sit, put up her feet, and rest. The two tables we had set up in the family room were filled to the brim with delectable food, and before digging in to eat, I stood and tapped my glass for quiet.

"Hey, everyone, I want to say a few words, if that's okay?"

"Be quick, B-girl, I'm starving."

The sound of a slap followed Emmett's outburst, and I grinned before continuing.

"Five years ago, I went to my dad's for Christmas and had to tell him that Tyler and I had separated and I was expecting our Emily." I raised my glass to her.

"Not too long after that, this gorgeous, wonderful man was literally dragged into my life." I smiled at Edward, grinning as his ears pinked up.

"He and his partner, Seth over there, delivered my precious little girl, and that was only the beginning. He wooed me—not that I knew that's what he was doing at the time." I grinned at the whistles and sounds of "awe, so sweet" as my words were interrupted. Waiting for everyone to quiet down, I continued, my eyes catching Edward's. "Before I knew it, I was in love with him, and miraculously, he returned my feelings."

I looked around at everyone. "That day, June twentieth, brought me more family and new friends, and it also brought me and the high school crew," I raised my glass to Alice and the others, "back together again after five years."

"Good things come in threes. Edward, Emily, and me meeting on the same day, our wedding, their birthdays—again, all on the same day. So thank you, Tyler, for being an ass."

Everyone laughed, and I raised my glass for the third time. "Well, I'm a believer now, and as the old saying goes—Third Time's definitely the Charm."

~ oOo ~

The End

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