Time is very slow for those who wait
Very fast for those who
Very long for those who lament
Very short for those who celebrate
But for those who love
Time is eternal.
~ William Shakespeare
I didn't keep the proposal a secret, but I was keeping the news of the baby between the two of us until after Jasper and Alice's wedding. I didn't want to completely steal my friend's thunder after all, and she was trying to beat the clock between saying 'I do' and popping out her bouncing bundle of joy. They were having a girl at any moment, but for right now she and Rose and I were gathered at her house for the tamest bachelorette party that I'd ever attended. None of us were drinking out of 'solidarity' with Alice, or so I'd suggested. So that left me making lemonade and cookies and Alice providing pizza covered in jalapeños, which she was currently craving.
"E and I have started trying for a baby," Rose announced, earning a grin from Alice.
"It would be so much fun if our kids were best friends. Can you imagine?" Alice gushed.
I held in my matching excitement over the fact that mine and Alice's children would be close in age. "That's really great, Rose. I'm glad you two worked that out."
She looked at me pensively. "It was really you," she mumbled.
My eyebrows rose up. "Me? What did I do?"
Ro laughed lightly. "Well, it was the reminder that life is short, and nothing is ever guaranteed. There's never a perfect time for anything, you just have to live your life and love fiercely."
I was crying before she'd finished her sentence. "You got that from me? I'm not that smart, Ro."
"Of course you are, Iz. And strong, too. I have to agree with Rose." Alice had tears in her eyes, too, and suddenly I couldn't hold back any more.
"Okay, then I have something to tell you."
"The ring on your left hand isn't enough?"
I looked over at Rose. "No, I, um. I told Edward something at the same time he proposed. Both things were a surprise."
Alice squealed and clapped her hands. "You're pregnant!"
Rose gasped. "I guess I better get on the ball, huh?"
"You're not mad that I'm hogging your spotlight?" I asked Alice.
She shook her head. "I couldn't be happier for you, honey."
We spent our evening comparing parenting styles and talking about Alice's ceremony planned for the next morning. It was a far cry from other nights we'd shared, but it meant the world to me that we were changing and growing together.
The next morning it was raining, which Alice insisted was good luck. It wasn't lucky for our hair, but there was nothing to be done. We were meeting our gentlemen at the courthouse, and I was surprised to find how much I'd missed Edward the night before. I'd grown accustomed to sleeping without him during the week and wrapped around him on the weekends, so it was not the same to share the guest bed with Rosalie.
Despite dashing a hugely pregnant Alice into the courthouse to avoid getting her drenched, we were constantly giggling. For someone stone cold sober, I felt drunk as I laughed at something the girls said, until Edward opened the door for Jasper and took my breath away. He was in his dress uniform, holding the door open with one hand, flowers in the other. He was laughing and not even looking at me, but I couldn't take my eyes off his happy face. He followed Jasper and Emmett inside, and when he looked up at me and his shining green eyes met mine, I could only stare at him.
Edward approached me, cupped my face in his long fingers, and kissed me. His lips were warm and soft against mine, as my whole body responded to his touch. My skin tingled where his fingers caressed my jaw, my core heated and started to throb in answer to his unspoken question. I fisted his hair involuntarily, clasping him tightly to me and kissing him deeply. Our hearts were beating furiously against each other by the time we pulled away, just enough to breathe. My body was still flush to his, and I forgot what we were there for.
"The flowers are for you," he said in a husky voice.
I looked down at the white daisies with sunny yellow centers, paired with bright green leaves and gathered into a corsage. He slipped it over my wrist and pressed his lips to my pulse before taking my hand and leading me to the others.
Alice's parents were waiting with the judge, and Jasper and Alice had taken their place in the middle, holding hands and talking quietly. We quickly joined them so the ceremony could begin. I noticed that Emmett had given Rose a corsage of black-eyed susans, the flowers bright and cheerful on her wrist. We turned our attention to the judge as he recited the marriage vows, and our friends answered in kind.
When all was said and done, we made our way to the diner for lunch. The rain had let up, and we sat by the front windows and soaked up the sun. Everyone was in a great mood, and we had almost finished when Alice grabbed my arm and squeezed it hard enough I was worried she would fracture my radius.
"Mary Alice?" I yelped. She tightened her grip, and Jasper and Mrs. Brandon stood simultaneously.
"It's time, let's get her standing, Jasper," Cynthia took control, directing us to help Alice up and out the door.
The afternoon blurred by; the ride to the hospital, helping my friend through her pain, fetching ice in my pretty bridesmaid dress. When the impatient daughter of one of my best friends was finally born into this crazy world, I was proud to be standing there watching. Of course, I had to sit heavily in a chair as I realized I'd be going through the same thing in less than a year. I cried in awe and wonder at the perfect little dark haired beauty that lay at her mother's breast.
"Iz," Mary Alice called softly. "Come meet your niece, Harper Leia Hale."
I got up slowly and tiptoed to her bed. It seemed a reverent moment as I gazed down at the tiny bundle of breathtaking perfection. "Al, that's just a beautiful name. It fits her."
"Thank you for being here," she breathed, staring at the baby.
"Of course. That's what sisters are for."
"You know, she is totally our princess, but she'll never be the kind of princess who continually needs to be rescued. She'll do her own rescuing."
Tears tracked down my face, and I swiped my hand over my chin to catch them. "That's really special, and just perfect."
Her eyes drifted closed, and Jasper took their daughter, cradling her close and smelling her head. "I don't even have the words, Bella. I'll start with thanking you for pushing Alice into proposing to me. Thank you for being the best woman for Edward, and choosing to spend the rest of your life with him. I've got everything, Bella. It's overwhelming."
I hugged him carefully, mindful of baby Harper. I didn't know what to say with everyone thanking me, when I just lived my life the best way I knew how.
After a few moments I went out to the waiting room to find Edward. I held him to me, inhaling his familiar scent and just being in his presence. "I love you," I declared, as though it wasn't etched on his heart by now.
"I love you, and I'm so happy for our friends."
"Let's get married before my due date, yeah?"
He laughed. "As soon as you're ready, love."