One month later
That's how long it had been. Six weeks since Renesmee was born, six weeks of her growing and learning, six weeks of the three of us becoming a family.
Also six weeks ago was the last time Edward and I were intimate with each other. After our honeymoon and my raging pregnancy hormones, that was quite the dry spell. Unfortunately, it was a necessary step to make sure I was fully healed and recovered, which had quickly silenced Edward’s grumbles. He was surprisingly grumpy, considering he was always the one putting restrictions on our love making before.
“It was easy to deny myself,” he explained when I asked. “Before I knew what intimacy with you felt like. Now I’ve experienced it, and experienced it frequently, it is harder to simply stop dead and give it up.”
His eyes had smouldered at me so intensely as he said this that I had to restrain myself from trying to jump him. That would be the opposite of helpful.
Thankfully, the end of our separation was in sight. Edward had taken Renesmee hunting while Carlisle gave me my check-up; she had started walking two weeks previously, calmly standing and crossing the living room as if she had been doing it for years. I was partially glad that he was gone, not sure that I could handle his nerves on top of my own, but also a little apprehensive about not having him there. I loved and trusted Carlisle, of course, more than any other doctor I had ever had, but at the end of the day, he was my father-in-law, and his examination was incredibly intimate. But I knew it had to be done, so I sucked it up, closed my eyes, and tried to zone out of what he was doing to me.
After a while, Carlisle stopped his poking and prodding and stood back.
“Alright Bella, looks like you're all set,” he said with a smile. “The incisions have all healed nicely, and your uterus has fully relaxed.”
I smiled happily, already visualising the fun I was going to have tonight, and went to get down from the table.
“Hold on,” Carlisle said, stopping me with a hand on my shoulder.
“One more thing before you go.”
“What is it?” I asked, fidgeting impatiently.
“I just wanted to ask if you and Edward had discussed contraception at all. You don't have to tell me if you think it's none of my business, but I can help you get hold of anything you need if you want me to.”
I blushed furiously. Edward and I had indeed had that conversation, one evening just after Nessie started walking. (Jacob's nickname had been openly accepted, and had spread rapidly, to the point where even I was using it. It did suit her, and she liked it, which was the only reason why I allowed it.)
“Um... yes, we did talk about... that.” I cringed; this was incredibly awkward. I took a deep breath and averted my eyes. “We, um... we decided to do what feels right, and let what happens happen.” I shrugged. “Renesmee is such a gift to us, one we never thought we would have. We think that if we're meant to have more children, we will. If not, then so be it.”
Carlisle nodded sagely. “Have you thought any more about your transformation?”
I nodded. “We talked about that too, and kind of came to the same conclusion. If it becomes necessary for any reason, we'll go ahead and do it, but I’d like to stay human for a little while longer yet. Still, it will be within a year, two at the most.”
Carlisle smiled. “Alright then. Thank you for letting me know.”
He helped me down from the table and kissed me on the cheek before I left his office and bounced back up to our bedroom.
I started looking for things to pass the time while I waited for Nessie and Edward, something that would keep me busy. I was far too keyed up to sit and read or listen to music, so I tidied up the few bits of clothing scattered across the floor, throwing them in the hamper in the bathroom, then made the bed and straightened the CD shelves. Esme stuck her head round the door with a stack of clean washing, and I took my time organising it and putting it all back where it belonged, revelling in the task that was the closest I got to being a housewife. Then I went and sifted through Nessie's clothes, checking that she had enough to last a little while longer; her clothes went out of the wash and into a bag for Goodwill, since she grew too fast to wear anything twice. She had left a few toys out as well, so I put them away and straightened the blankets in the crib, which she was also rapidly outgrowing.
Alice came up the stairs as I was going back to mine and Edward’s room, several shopping bags in her hands. She grinned and held them out to me.
“Voilà! I got exactly what you wanted, plus a few extra things I thought would look good on you.”
I rolled my eyes, but didn't complain. “Thanks Alice. Does Edward –?”
She shook her head, cutting me off. “I didn't think of it when he was around, I promise.”
I smiled as I glanced into the bags, then gave her a hug. “You're the best Alice. Thank you so much.”
“You're more than welcome.” she chirped, then turned to head back downstairs, throwing a quick “Have fun!” over her shoulder, with a very Emmett-esque waggle of her eyebrows that made me giggle.
I spent the next half an hour sifting through her purchases – which were of the Victoria’s Secret and La Perla variety – finding the things I had asked her to get and the things she had chosen herself. There were several things that made me shake my head in disbelief, but nothing cringe worthy, and I had to admit that she had made good choices. There was also a small bag of make-up, which I hadn't even thought of.
Once I had looked everything over, I took my time putting it away, taking one set of lingerie and the make-up into the bathroom to hide until later. I had just barely finished when a loud cry of “Momma!” from outside had me rushing to the window.
Nessie and Edward stood in the middle of the lawn, both smiling widely and looking up at me. I waved to them and turned to hurry downstairs. They met me in the living room; Nessie leapt into my arms and hugged me tightly.
“Hey baby,” I cooed. “Did you guys have fun?”
She nodded, pressing her hand to my neck to show me how Edward let her track and catch a mid-sized doe all on her own; it was her biggest kill yet, and the first one she had attempted entirely on her own.
“Well done sweetheart!” I smiled. “You're getting so good.”
“Yes,” Edward chimed in. “Pretty soon you won't even need me to go with you.”
Nessie shook her head. “I'll always need you Daddy.”
He smiled softly and kissed her on the forehead. She turned to me.
“Momma, when can you come hunting with us?”
The question was innocent enough, but it made both Edward and I stiffen as we contemplated how to answer her.
“We don't really know when yet Nessie,” Edward hedged. “It depends on when Momma is ready to become like us.”
Renesmee nodded, looking a little despondent. I chewed on my lip, thinking hard for a second or two. It was almost physically painful to see my little girl even the slightest bit upset; it was even worse to know that I was the cause, however indirectly, of her sadness.
“I tell you what Ness,” I said to her after a moment, brushing my hand over her cheek and holding her gaze with my own. “I'll make you a promise. I promise that on your birthday next year, we'll go hunting together. Just you, me and Daddy, no one else. How does that sound?”
Her eyes lit up. “Really?”
I looked at Edward; after all, he would be the one actually putting whatever plan we eventually made into action. It was his decision as much as it was mine.
He, to my surprise, simply nodded and said, “I think we can manage that. Perhaps we'll actually keep to this deadline.”
I laughed. “A first.”
Edward chuckled, wrapping his arms around the two of us and giving me a kiss.
“I can't wait.” he whispered, and the love shining in his eyes made me dizzy.
That night, I waited until after Renesmee had fallen asleep to take my shower, slipping into the bathroom while Edward was putting her to bed. I took my time showering, washing my hair with my favourite strawberry shampoo twice and letting my conditioner sit while I shaved my legs meticulously. I tried to avoid anything else heavily scented, knowing that Edward preferred my natural smell 'untainted' by chemicals.
I could hear music playing when I shut off the water and smiled; he had unintentionally set just the right atmosphere for what I had planned.
I carefully blow dried my hair, brushing it as I went so that it fell in soft waves around my shoulders. Then I started on my make-up; blue eye shadow with some black on the outer corner, smudged for a smoky look just like Alice had taught me, with thin black eye-liner, a little mascara, a dab of blush and a quick slick of clear lip balm to make my lips soft and shiny. No colour there; if all went well, it would get rubbed off pretty quickly.
I was just sliding off my towel and starting to get dressed into the royal blue lace trimmed silk boy shorts and matching bra I had stashed in the bathroom earlier, when I heard Edward call my name.
“Yes?” I asked, not bothering to raise my voice since he could hear me anyway.
“Will you be much longer love? I was hoping we could talk about your appointment before you go to sleep.”
I smiled at my reflection, trying to keep my voice nonchalant as I spoke – I had no intention of sleeping any time soon.
“Didn't Carlisle already tell you about it?”
“No,” he said, sounding a little bit sulky. “In fact, he deliberately hasn't thought about it all afternoon. He said it was your news to tell.” He paused for a moment before speaking again. “Are you alright Bella? Does he not want to tell me because it's bad news?”
I grinned even wider. Typical Edward, always assuming the worst. Time to put him out of his misery.
“Edward, stop worrying. Nothing is wrong. Now, go sit on the bed and close your eyes.”
I didn't hear him move, but he didn't question my request either, so, after one final check in the mirror, I went to the bathroom door and opened it a tiny bit. I peeked through the crack, and saw that he was sitting where I wanted him, stone still, with his eyes closed. I grinned, unexpected confidence rushing through me. Rose was right; a sexy underwear set did wonders for a girl's self esteem. A gorgeous husband who couldn't get enough of you helped too.
I crossed the carpet slowly, trying to make as little noise as possible, glad that I’d opted to skip the heels Alice had suggested. My new found bravado didn't make me that graceful, and tripping over would have really ruined the moment.
Edward heard me of course, and began to turn his head towards me.
“Don't open your eyes yet!” I scolded, and his lips curled up in a smile.
“Sorry love. I just really want to know if Carlisle gave you the all clear.”
I just smiled and went to stand directly in front of him. His head followed me, though his eyes stayed obediently shut. He had turned out the lights, leaving only the small lamp on the bed side table switched on, and the low light reflecting back off the window wall, combined with the music floating around us, created exactly the mood I was hoping for.
“Please Bella,” Edward begged. “The suspense is killing me.”
I giggled; it felt kind of exhilarating, having all the power for once. I decided not to abuse it any longer.
“Alright,” I murmured, trying to sound sultry and sexy. “You can open you eyes now.”
His eyes popped open eagerly, then widened as he took in my appearance. I giggled again when he started to open and close his mouth like a fish. It wasn't often that Edward was left speechless, and I couldn't help but feel a thrill whenever I accomplished it.
“You like?” I asked, twirling around so he could see every angle.
He nodded dumbly. “Very much. Come here.”
His arms opened for me and I went to him willingly. His hands stroked across my skin, pulling me down to straddle his lap.
“I take it this means everything's okay?” he murmured softly, his eyes smouldering as they burned into mine.
I nodded. “All set.”
Edward smiled widely, his smile matching mine. Then he abruptly grew serious, cradling my face in his hands.
“Are you sure you want to do this? You know this will probably turn out the same way as last time. We can wait until after your change. It's all up to you.”
I put my hands over his and closed my eyes, leaning into his touch with a sigh. When I opened my eyes again, his expression was anxious and apprehensive, as if I were about to push him away.
“Yes, I’m sure.” I told him softly. “I know the risks, and I don't care. I’m not saying I want to have as many kids as possible between now and next year, but...” I bit my lip and looked at him through my eyelashes, my voice hopeful. “Maybe just one more?”
Edward smiled widely, pulling me close.
“We can have as many as you like, my love.” he whispered, his lips brushing mine with each word. It was tantalizing, teasing, and I couldn't take it any more. I planted my lips full on his, pushing on his shoulders until he tipped backwards onto the bed, our lips staying connected the whole time.
They didn't part for a very long time after that either.
Life settled into a comfortable pattern of days and nights, rest and play, peace and activity.
Jacob took to bringing the members of the pack round in twos and threes when he came to visit, which was everyday now. Carlisle used the opportunity to renegotiate a few terms of the treaty with Sam, as there were issues, mostly surrounding Renesmee and me, that conflicted with the original agreement. In the end, a mutual decision decision was made to dissolve the whole thing completely, with the stipulation that the Cullens still could not come onto Quileute lands unless absolutely necessary, and both parties would do their best to keep the other's secret. This was more of a general agreement than the treaty had been; they wouldn't be going to war if someone slipped.
“Why on Earth would we need a peace treaty,” Sam had reasoned, “when we have peace and trust between us?”
Renesmee charmed each and every one of them just as quickly as she had with the rest of us. Jacob's imprinting not only protected her from any action against her by the pack, but also made her practically part of their family; accepted, rather than just tolerated. So, by extension, they put up with the rest of us too.
She had managed to pick up the moniker 'princess' when Jared had commented that we treated her like royalty, and Edward had latched onto it immediately. Not that it wasn't appropriate. As I had predicted, she was an appalling Daddy's girl, going straight to him whenever there was anything she wanted, and of course he always gave it to her. Perhaps it was because I never accepted gifts and he was enjoying having someone who let him spoil them that he was so indulgent of her wishes. Of course, I wasn't much better; she was my whole world, and we both knew it.
Almost immediately after Edward and I's first night together, I began to feel the fatigue and increased appetite that had affected me on the island. I was cautiously optimistic, but it wasn't until the second day of being sick first thing in the morning that Edward took me to see Carlisle. He smiled knowingly when we told him our suspicions.
“Tell you what,” he suggested. “I have to go into the hospital today. I can take a small blood sample with me and test it when I get a spare minute, just so we're absolutely sure.”
We both agreed this was a good idea, and Edward held my hand while Carlisle took the blood from my arm.
Our day continued as normal, though we were both in a state of perpetual anticipation all day. I was fairly sure Renesmee noticed, but she didn't say anything; I had a feeling Edward was distracting her every time she thought about asking.
It was later that evening that Carlisle finally came home, having been held up at the hospital by a car crash on the I10, and we had already gone upstairs by the time he got in. Nessie and I were in our pyjamas, and I was trying to teach her an old clapping game that I vaguely remembered playing in elementary school. Edward slipped quietly out of the room, an expectant look on his face. I tried to ignore his departure, but I couldn't help the way my eyes followed his movements.
Where did Daddy go? Nessie asked curiously, her hand pressed to mine as we paused in our game.
I smiled at her, trying to to let my nervous excitement show. “He's just going to talk to Grandpa, sweetie. He'll be right back.”
She eyed me suspiciously, but shrugged it off and insisted, “Again.”
We continued with our game until Edward came back and slid onto the bed behind me.
“Positive,” he whispered in my ear, and I couldn't help the smile that spread across my face.
“Really?” I asked, turning around to look at him. He was smiling too, a shining, exultant smile.
“With 99.9 percent certainty.” he confirmed, then leaned down to kiss me.
“Momma?” Nessie's little voice piped up, drawing our focus away from each other. “What is it?”
“Do you want to tell her?” Edward asked me.
I shook my head; I was too happy to speak.
“Daddy,” Nessie turned to him, indignant now. “Tell me what's wrong.”
“Nothing's wrong,” Edward assured her. “Nothing at all.”
She gave him a look that clearly said, 'Explain. Now.'
I chuckled. “Just tell her Edward.”
He smiled and wrapped his arms around me. I leaned back into him comfortably, and felt him take a deep breath before he leaned his head on my shoulder and just said it, simply and matter-of-factly.
“Momma's going to have another baby.”
Nessie's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. We laughed softly together, and Edward kissed my hair. She put her hand on mine, thinking rather than speaking.
Another baby? Her mental voice was soft and wondering.
I nodded. “That's right. You're going to be a big sister.”
A wide smile spread across her face before she stood up and began bouncing around on the bed excitedly. I couldn't help laughing at her, so hard that I didn't realise she was about to jump off the edge until Edward disappeared from behind me and caught her.
“Careful little monkey,” he chuckled, sitting her up by the pillows next to me. “Don't want you to hurt yourself. Grandpa's taken everybody hunting, so he's not here to patch you up if you get a scrape.”
She ignored him, grinning up at me and giving me a hug. Her little arms barely reached halfway around me. Her hand came to rest on my stomach, and she looked down curiously. Sure enough, I already had a bump between my hips.
“That's the baby.” Edward said, answering her unspoken question.
“It's very small right now,” I chimed in. “But it'll get bigger and bigger until it's big enough to come out. Then you'll have a new little brother or sister to play with.” I smiled and brushed her hair back.
Her face lit up again. “I want a little brother!”
Edward chuckled. “Well, you'll just have to wait and see what you get, won't you?”
Things progressed rapidly after that, even faster than they had with Renesmee. Back to eggs and blood, I didn't get morning sickness again, although I did manage to pick up a cold and a fever that left me all but incapacitated for a day or two. The medicine Carlisle gave me left me feeling drowsy and a little crabby, and I ended up napping for large chunks of the day and sleeping all night as well. Once I even fell asleep on the couch with Nessie while Edward was out hunting with Jasper and Emmett.
I was woken by Emmett’s big booming laugh. I didn't open my eyes, trying futilely to stay asleep, and felt Nessie shift beside me. She sat up, still cradled protectively in my arms.
“Uncle Em, you woke me up!” she complained sleepily, and I could imagine her rubbing her eyes with her little fists and blinking against the light, as she did most mornings when she first woke up.
“Sorry little princess,” Emmett chuckled, still loud and obnoxious as usual.
“Shh!” Renesmee said crossly, and I felt her put her hands on her hips. “You'll wake Momma!”
“Too late,” I mumbled, shifting my head to bury my face in her hair. The ringlets hung almost half way down her back now, and I often found myself absent-mindedly stroking them or wrapping them around my fingers when she was sat on my lap.
I heard Edward and Jasper laugh as Nessie sighed theatrically.
“See what you did?” she scolded, and I smiled; she had certainly inherited her father's flair for dramatics. Combined with Alice’s influence, she definitely had the makings of a serious little diva.
“Don't you worry little darlin',” Jasper drawled. “I'll take him away for you.”
I stayed where I was until I felt Edward’s hand on my hair. Then I sat up slowly, stretching out my stiff muscles as I let out a huge yawn and blinked my eyes open. Someone, probably Esme, had covered the two of us with a blanket while I was asleep, and Nessie was squirming her way out from under it. Edward grabbed her before she could topple.
“Why do I always seem to be catching you these days?” he asked her with faux exasperation. She giggled and he rolled his eyes. “Just like your mother; no sense of self preservation. God help me the day you start driving.”
I shoved his shoulder playfully and he leaned in to kiss me. As usual, butterflies erupted in my stomach at our reunion; no matter how short the separation, the sense of emptiness when we were apart was palpable.
“Feeling better?” he murmured, placing his hand on my forehead as he tried to hold on to the still squirming Renesmee.
“Much.” I replied, smiling. “Especially now that you're back.”
“And how are you feeling, my little one?” he said, and I laughed as he leaned down to nuzzle his face against my bulging stomach.
“Can you hear it yet Daddy?” Renesmee asked, wiggling her way into his lap as he sat down next to me on the couch.
He tilted his head to the side, looking thoughtful. “I haven't tried yet. Would you like me to?”
She nodded vigorously, bouncing with excitement.
I laughed at her enthusiasm, and nodded when Edward raised a questioning eyebrow at me, letting him know that I wanted him to try as well.
Edward’s face filled with concentration and his eyes glazed over as he listened. Nessie and I sat very still, making as little noise as possible to help him hear clearly. I watched his face, and saw the moment when his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open in shock.
“What is it?” I asked in a whisper, slightly worried. His answer had me half awed and half terrified, frozen to my seat in the same utter astonishment that gripped him.
“There's two of them.”