Friday, July 28, 2017

Jack & Crush Chapter 25

I told her I was lost
in this world,
and she smiled,
because she was too.

We were all
lost somehow,
but we didn't care.

We had,
in the chaos,
found each other.

~ Atticus


"Are you almost ready, Bella? We'll be late if we don't leave soon."

I circled the living room with my son in my arms, waiting for my wife to finish getting ready for Harper's first birthday party. My boy was three months old, and he smiled back at me when I gave him a big grin.

"You have to tell Mommy to hurry up. We'll be late." He gurgled at me, grabbing for my face. I kissed his tiny fist as Bella came down the hallway and into the room with us.


"You're beautiful, sweetie. Let's get Jack in his car seat and get going."


I stopped in the middle of buckling the baby, holding on to the seat and turning to face Bella fully. Her tone of voice had me worried. "What is it?" I frowned. She looked fine to me.

"We agreed we wanted siblings for Jackson, didn't we?" she croaked.

The air left my lungs. I knew instantly what she meant, without her holding up the plastic stick with two pink lines. I nodded nervously as she came closer. "Are you okay? Is it too soon?" I fretted.

"I feel okay. It's the fact that our babies are going to be a year apart that scares the shit out of me," she admitted.

I held out my arm, and she snuggled into my side while I rocked the seat a little with my other hand. Jack was a good baby, always happy and rarely crying. He wasn't the best at sleeping, but we were adjusting to the lack of sleep. Everything had been an adjustment, from me turning in my papers and finding a new job, to becoming man and wife, to navigating a newborn when my wife had two jobs.

It had been the best year of my life.

"We'll figure it out, we always do. We're resourceful, after all." I kissed her temple, feeling her pulse throb under my lips.

"You're right," she sighed. "We need to go."

"Can we have a girl this time?"

"I'll see what I can do," she quipped.

Jasper's house was chaos. They'd gotten Harper a puppy, and it was chasing its tail and barking throughout the house. Adults were carrying food above their heads while looking at their feet, just to avoid running into a chubby toddler that thought she could run or a puppy that encouraged you to trip. Annoyingly chipper kids' music trilled through the open patio doors, and Emmett boomed his larger-than-life laugh.

"I swear to God, Emmett, you laugh at me one more time I'll turn you into a eunuch!"

He only laughed harder. "But they're worse than mine! I can't breathe, oh shit!"

I came into the room just as Rose threw a pillow at Emmett. "Yes! Gimme that little boy, he's due for snuggles from Aunt Rosie."

I gladly handed Jack to the scary blonde lady, knowing she'd take good care of him. "What are you two going on about?"

"Emmett," she warned, and even I shriveled up at her tone.

"My wife makes more noise than the tuba section the closer she gets to delivering." Another pillow bounced harmlessly off the side of his head.

Rose got up, muttering about withholding sex. I could see Alice and Bella in the kitchen from where we sat, and Rose headed for them. I snickered at their antics, knowing she was going to look for sympathy from my wife about her boorish husband.

Harper and Jasper came into the room from the patio, the little one holding her father's hands as he helped her walk as fast as her legs would carry her. "Pu-pee!" she squealed as it raced through to the kitchen.

"I think that thing will be the death of me," Jasper remarked. He let Harper sit in front of a toy that made music as she banged on it.

"Really, it'll be the dog and not the toys with batteries?" Emmett raised his voice to be heard over the toy.

"It's a toss-up," Jasper laughed.

"I got her a drum set," I offered sarcastically.

"I hate you," Jasper chuckled.

There were a few moments of silence between us as Harper moved on to crawling across the rug. Watching her little form move around reminded me of what I had to look forward to.

"Bella's expecting again," I blurted.

They both looked my way, Emmett raising one eyebrow. "Damn, I thought I was bad," he muttered.

Jasper showed more concern. "How are you dealing with that news?"

I sighed heavily. "Clearly, the best idea I ever had was to get a job telecommuting. And Renée has been a great help with Jack in the evenings when Bella's at the bar. I don't have to worry about what time of the day I'm getting work done, as long as everything is turned in by the end of the week."

"Okay, so you have child care figured out. Bella just might make more money than you with her gallery earnings. So what are you worried about?" Jasper asked.

I gave it some thought. "Do you believe that people are only allowed so much happiness? Like there's a limit?"

Emmett spoke up. "You've paid your dues, man. You two deserve all the happiness in the world."

I thanked him quietly, still pondering my worry that things couldn't work out this perfectly without consequences.

"Where is my Jackson Charles?" I heard Renée call out as she came in the house. "For that matter, where is Harper?"

Renée was as much grandmother to Harper as she was to Jack, and they both clearly loved her. The party officially started then, since she and Phil were the last to arrive. She'd been a godsend to our little family.

"I heard that Jacob Black married a girl from the res," Seth mentioned as he came to stand next to me.

Seth had been another unexpected circumstance, becoming as close to me as a younger brother. He'd been a true friend to Bella when I was deployed last year, and I could only repay him by being his friend, too.

"I hadn't heard. It was only a matter of time, since he stopped sniffing around Bella and started acting like a responsible citizen again." He agreed with me, and then he asked if I thought Bella would hire him next month when he turned twenty one.

"I mean, she sees me as a kid, but I'll be legal to work at Charlie's in less than thirty days." The hopeful look on his face did make him look like a child.

"You know what, I think it's an excellent idea. I'll talk to her about it."

He practically beamed at me. "Thanks a lot, Edward."

"No problem, Seth."

I left him to make my way to Bella, who was cutting the pink and purple cake. I leaned in to whisper in her ear. "If I were a novelist, I'd title our biography 'Unexpected Circumstances'."

She giggled, waving a frosting coated knife at me. "I'd name it something else, like how to run off your future husband and baby daddy."

"Nah. I stopped running, Crush."

Her eyes lit up. "That's it! I'd title it 'Jack and Crush'."

I kissed her soundly. "Definitely the brains in the family."

"How are you feeling with all of this," she asked, waving near her stomach.

I cleared my throat dramatically. "Hey, everybody! My wife is knocked up again, and I couldn't be more excited!"

She smiled indulgently, accepting the congratulations from our extended family. She mouthed 'I love you' as she was surrounded by people. My parents, Renée and Phil, the Brandons, and our friends all came over to congratulate us.

"I love you more," I responded, wondering if it was true. It turned out that the rough edges of our souls fit perfectly together.

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