The flicker of candles could be seen throughout the cliffside. Though the lighting was dim, I could clearly see the circle that had been created. It was in the center, but near the dome that protected where Edward's ashes were mixed with Victoria's and her first newborn's.
My breathing hitched as tears immediately filled my eyes, but I took a shaky breath, looking up to Coop as he whispered, “I'm here, My Love. I'll be with you the whole time.”
I nodded while clutching myself to him for a moment, then looked around at our family, who was making a protective circle around the small cliffside clearing. Each set of eyes that I met held love, concern, and hope, so I nodded to Coop to indicate I was ready.
Coop and I stepped up to Lydia in the circle, dressed in our white clothing. She began chanting softly as she made a cut on both mine and Coop's left palms. She held them above a chalice, letting them bleed into it as she continued to chant. When Coop's palm stopped bleeding on its own, miraculously, mine did too.
Lydia picked up the urn from the center of the circle, drew a symbol on it with the blood from the chalice, then recut our palms before placing the urn between us. We immediately both placed our left hands on the urn as we faced each other, our free hands intertwined to cup the bottom. Lydia stepped out of the circle as she began chanting again.
She walked toward the dome with a purpose, holding the blood-filled chalice out like an offering as she chanted, then suddenly the dome lifted from the ground without disturbing any of the ashes beneath it. The candle flames flared as Lydia's voice chanted louder. I knew my cue was coming up, to start reliving the horrible event that took Edward away.
Once the last of Edward's ashes floated into the urn, Lydia began to pour the blood around our circle while chanting to the sky. My eyes slipped closed, then I felt the tingle of Edward's presence fill my entire being.
I relived every bit of the fight from my point of view, from the first time I felt Edward tense and tell me she had found us, to the moment I blacked out from the pain. I heard my own agonizing screams, felt the hole ripping wide open in my chest, tasted my own tears as they passed my lips, but all I could see was the horror that took Edward from me. I could feel Coop reliving the whole thing with me, hear his anguished cries for Edward right along with my own.
After what felt like an eternity of reliving Edward's death more vividly than ever before, three things happened at once. Coop and I both collapsed, a blinding light flashed behind my eyes, and I could hear Lydia say in a tired tone, “It is done.”
Instantly Carlisle and Jasper were rushing forward to us. Carlisle quickly lifted me into his arms as Jasper handed Coop a thermos of warmed donated blood. I was extremely weak but was able to take steady sips at the thick shake Carlisle held for me.
Once Coop and I were both a bit stronger, I looked up to Lydia. Esme and the other girls were taking care of her, but she caught my eyes as she nodded, saying, “You will find him in a special place you shared. It is the transition spot. The two of you must go alone to find your mate, then take him to a safe location for you all to recuperate. He can not leave the transition spot until you are with him.”
I nodded before looking to Carlisle. “Our meadow. I know you know where it is, so I need you to tell Coop how to get there.”
He nodded, then led the short distance to where Jasper was helping Coop.
Coop was up and cutting the distance between us as soon as he saw me coming to him. He wrapped me tightly in his arms as soon as our bodies came flush together. His eyes were filled with tears, but he choked out, “It was so much worse than you described. You're so strong, My Love. I wouldn't be able to live with watching you die like that night after night.”
I shook my head, saying softly, “I want to go thank Lydia quickly, then we need to go to him. Carlisle will give you directions on how to get to the meadow.”
When we reached the meadow ten minutes later, I could immediately feel that Edward wasn't here, so I dropped to my knees. Coop knelt down, holding me as I cried and begged for answers. I couldn't help but think that the spell went wrong somehow because of me. I must have done something wrong for him not to be here.
Coop tried unsuccessfully to soothe me, but the last thing I remembered was how utterly exhausted I was.
I woke to whispers, as well as the feeling of Coop curled around me protectively while stroking my spine. Lydia whispered softly, “The spell was a success. I felt it deep inside me, and the flames confirmed it, Coop. Was there any other place? Anywhere that held special meaning?”
It was probably my exhausted state that made me say what came next. “The only other places were the falls and the library on the island... but he was never there with me while he was alive. It was all during the dreams. The meadow was the only place.”
Suddenly there was a flurry of movement around me, and I heard Coop on his phone. “Ready the jet. I want the most direct route planned back to the island. Yes, I want to take off as soon as possible. I don't care what you have to do to make it happen. Yes, thank you.”
I shook my head, not willing to risk hoping, just to have those hopes dashed when Edward wasn't on the island. I couldn't take much more, and I knew that one more false hope would end up being the breaking point for me.
No. No, I know it worked. It had to, I felt it. I should be in the meadow in Forks, not here. Why am I here?
I was too weak to move, all of my muscles protesting violently, but was able to shift and look around. It took a while for me to be able to walk around, but when I got to the edge of my surroundings, I found I couldn't go any further. My heart ached for my mates, causing me to plead, “Bella? Coop? Come to me, please. I need to see you both.”
I couldn't hear either of them, and my mind was a bit foggy. I was starting to panic that something went wrong with the spell, causing me to be stuck in the dream state I always met them in. I started going over everything in my head, wondering how it could have gone wrong, but constantly came up with the same answer. It didn't.
There was a reason I emerged here.
When the boats were docked, Coop picked me up, only to dash us off toward the house. I curled myself tightly against him, not willing to let myself hope. Still, a pained cry left me when we found the library empty. Coop immediately rushed us out the door toward the forest as he cooed to me.
I started fighting Coop's hold on me, begging him not to put me through it again, only to find out he wasn't there. Tears and screams were pouring out of me as we neared the edge of the treeline to the falls, “I can't. Please, Coop. Don't you see? I can't take the risk that he won't be through those trees. I won't... I won't make it. It hurt too much at the last two places we looked, and this is the only place left.”
That's when I felt the tingle down my spine as I heard a faint gasp. Coop's head whipped around, then he tightened his hold on me while rushing us through the trees.
I slammed my eyes closed, not willing to look. Tears poured down my face in an endless stream. Then I felt it.
The tingle went from a dull feeling to bursting full of life as a warm hand touched my cheek. A tired voice whispered against my temple, “It's alright, Love. I'm here. You can let the pain go now.”
I gasped, and instantly my senses were shocked with the all too familiar scent of, “My Edward.”
Coop and Edward both chuckled as my eyes snapped open. When they connected with the most brilliant and vibrant green, I choked out a sob as I launched myself at him. He stumbled and 'ummphed', but I could feel Coop settle behind him as we dropped to the ground.
I couldn't help but take in the sight of a clearly different Edward, placing my hand on his chest as our eyes locked. I felt his rapid heartbeat under my right palm as I choked out, “I missed you... so fucking much.”
He tenderly wiped my cheeks with his thumbs, brushed my lips with his, then whispered against them, “You never have to miss me again, Love. I'm here, with both of you, where I will always be.”
A sudden growl came from Edward's mid-section, making him look at it in alarm, so I chuckled, “Let's get to the house. I'll fix a feast for the three of us.”
Coop pulled out his phone, then said quickly, “We have him. Follow my scent to the falls, because he'll need someone to carry him. He's as weak as Isabella and I are.”
He closed his phone, then said with a smile as he let his chin rest on Edward's shoulder, “Carlisle is on his way. As soon as he arrives, we'll head back to the house. Until then, I just want to hold both of you.”
He did just that, too. When Carlisle came through the trees, both Coop and I were wrapped tightly around Edward. I heard him let out a relieved laugh, then he rushed to us, kissing us each on the temple. “I'm so glad you're safe, Son. God, it's good to see you. Let's get you home and fed, then I'll need to check the three of you over. They refused to be checked over until they found you.”
Edward nodded against my shoulder, then tightened his arms around me briefly as he trailed kisses along my jaw. “I don't want to let you go, but I know that I need to for a few minutes.”
I smiled, then pulled his lips to mine briefly before saying, “We'll be home in no time, and the three of us can curl up together.”
I buried my nose into his neck to inhale his scent, feeling Coop kiss the top of my head as Edward kissed my shoulder.
Carlisle made sure to run as close to Coop as possible without tripping him up, so we both could have eyes on Edward at all times. I was extremely grateful for it.
Soon we were entering the house. It already smelled wonderful as we entered the kitchen. Esme came over to kiss the top of Edward's head, saying, “You are truly a sight for sore eyes, Darling. Carlisle, set them up in the family room, so they can cuddle on the pallet Alice and Rose made up. I'm almost done with their dinner, so I'll bring it in when it's on the tray.”
She never took her eyes off Edward as she spoke to Carlisle. When she smiled, she said as she cupped Edward's cheek, “You need time to recoup and be with your mates but know that my heart ached every second you were away from us. I love you, My Son.”
I could tell that everyone was staying close, wanting to see Edward alive and well for themselves, but I was thankful they gave us the time to settle in and eat alone. The three of us ended up feeding each other the meal Esme prepared, while we curled around each other on the comfortable mound of pillows and blankets the girls had laid out for us. Carlisle gave Edward and I two shakes a piece, while he handed Coop a tall thermos of heated blood. We ended up eating and drinking everything given to us.
Once we were pleasantly full, Edward rolled to hover over me, making Coop laugh and scoot closer to us. Edward dipped down, placing kisses all over my face, then I heard a chuckle and throat clear as Edward captured my lips. Coop snickered as Edward blushed slightly, causing me to giggle, “Looks like I'm not the only one who blushes. Care to help me find out what else makes him blush, Coop?”
Carlisle chuckled, “Not yet, you three. You still need to be checked out before I clear you for any extracurricular activities.”
Edward ducked his head into my chest with a groan, then rolled to my side, stating, “Alright, Carlisle. Let's get this show on the road; I plan on taking my mates to bed for a bit before we get caught up in the chaos of whatever Ali is planning.”
Alice whined from the other room, “Hey! We just want to see you're well, Edward. I wasn't planning anything for at least two and a half days, as that's how long it'll take you three to leave your room dressed in more than robes.”
I blushed at that, but Edward chuckled, “Alright. Sorry, Ali. We'll spend a few minutes with everyone once the check-up is over.”
Carlisle deemed us all healthy as he did our complete checkups in the master bedroom, then took blood from both Edward and I. Once we were dressed in fresh clothes and curled up together on the bed, Carlisle sat at the end, “The family went out so we would have privacy during your exams. I'd like to talk to you about your plans for giving me a grandbaby. Edward, I'm going to need a control sample from you, so that I can test the viability.”
Edward nodded, then Carlisle asked, “If everything goes well, when would you like to start trying, Bella?”
I looked at both Coop and Edward, then said, “As soon as possible. I haven't been on birth control since the first time at the cliff. Going back to having erratic periods was the least of my worries then, so I just didn't continue them.”
Carlisle nodded, then said, “Good. That means that the hormones are long gone from your system. Where are you in your cycle now, and how long has it been regulated?”
I smiled, then said, “It hasn't been erratic since I was put on the pills. My body seems to have kept the schedule, even with not taking them, so I'm in the mid-point for the next...”
I realized then why Alice wasn't forcing us to leave the bedroom anytime soon. “Oh... that's... I'm ovulating. Alice, you sneaky little Pixie.”
Both Coop and Edward smiled widely as I realized what that meant, but Carlisle chuckled, “Hold your horses, boys. That explains the reason you won't be leaving the bedroom for the next two days, but don't get your hopes up just yet. I need that initial sample from you, Edward, plus Bella will need an ultrasound now if you intend to try right away. I need to test her fertility. If she's on the low side, we'll need to start boosting it to try within the next few months.”
They both had Cheshire cat worthy grins when Carlisle told me that I was extremely fertile, and that now would be a perfect time for us to make him a Papa if we wanted to start trying right away. I giggled, shook my head at my two very excited mates, then said, “Heads out of the gutter, you two... at least for a bit. We need to spend a few minutes with the family before any baby-making happens.”
Carlisle chuckled, then said, “Ah, I hear them now. Shall we return to the family room? Alice is assuring me that the pallet is still there for the three of you.”
I nodded just as Carlisle pulled Edward from the bed to give him a big hug. They both chuckled and whispered something to each other, then Edward's brilliant green eyes met mine. He held his hand out to me. Coop took my other as I got off the bed. We made it to our pallet just as the laughter and playfulness of our family reached my ears.