A/N: First, thank you to kpeery1, who gave me the idea for this piece. Without her whisper in my ear, these three wouldn't exist. Thank you to my beta, TwilightMundi, and to Christag_banner for the gorgeous banner. Thank you also to the organizers of Fandom4Storms, WardenAmyBee & Lady Tazz, which this was written for.
It had been three years since we'd gotten married.
Well, that wasn't entirely true; we weren't married in the traditional sense. Knowing we'd probably never be able to get married, James, Bella, and I had a commitment ceremony on the sands of a beach in Hawaii. The beauty of the scene almost matched that of the two other people as we held our hands together and whispered our words to each other.
When the ceremony was over and we turned to face a few relatives and what had become our extended family of friends, Callie ran up to throw her arms around us. It seemed like just yesterday she'd been a baby, and there she was, almost six.
Time had indeed been flying by for all of us.
"Callie, where's your sister and brother?" I asked.
"Nana took them to go potty," she said. "Mama, you look so beautiful."
Bella bent down to talk to her at eye-level, something that never failed to make me smile. "Thank you, sweetheart. I couldn't have done it without your help."
James and I shared a look while the girls spoke, and I squeezed his hand. I knew that watching Callie interact with Bella was even more for him.
The first time we'd seen James with Callie, she was just a few months old. Bella and I were wandering around after a late Sunday brunch and saw them together – James holding her hands and talking to her. I'd never seen a father, aside from mine, so involved before. And no ring.
"What are you smiling about?" James asked quietly, having moved closer.
"Aside from this day? I was remembering when Bella and I met you."
"Oh good lord," James groaned. "I'm sure I looked a hot mess, full of baby and breadcrumbs."
"I don't remember that. I remember a stunningly handsome man desperately in love with his child."
James tucked his face into my neck and I could feel his smile against my skin as he mumbled.
My mom and dad returned with the other kids and we stood, chatting and dealing with the last of the wrap-up details from the ceremony. We'd said hello to our guests and given them each hugs. Though there weren't hundreds of people attending a lavish ceremony, there were people meaningful to our lives, each one a treasure.
The three of us mingled independently with our guests a little more, until I made eye contact with James. Together, we spotted Bella talking to the group of kids again. James and I walked to her, more than ready to be back in our room, if I was gauging the look on his face correctly.
"Shall we get changed and hit the beach?" Bella asked, standing to her full height once we were next to her.
It hit me again how fucking lucky I was.
"Why don't we let Grandma and Grandpa take them for the afternoon?" I asked, hoping she sensed the undertones of my question.
"Because I want to swim, silly," she said, smiling. She leaned in closer, hands gently grabbing the collar of my shirt. "Besides, I'd much rather they take them tonight for the sleepover they already agreed to."
When she was done talking, she kissed my lips quickly, then James, and turned to walk back to our room, laughing as she went. Callie was holding one of Bella's hands and she had Annika on her hip, securely holding her with the other arm. Christopher held Callie's hand, and they looked like a perfect picture of a mother and her children. James threaded his fingers with mine as we followed them along the path.
Inside our suite, the six of us applied sunscreen, changed, and got ready for the sand and sun. I spent even more time observing than usual, which was saying something, and I shook my head slightly as Bella pulled her swimsuit on. Even after two kids, she had a great body, but refused to believe it. At least she wasn't wearing something with ruffles, I reasoned, even if I loved the idea of seeing her in a bikini. I'd have to settle for the lingerie she often indulged in.
That thought required me to visit the bathroom for a quick splash of cold water on my face. I could only hope the afternoon would go quickly; once the sun set and the kids were over in my parents' suite, I knew we'd have plenty of adult time. Maybe we'd just forgo sleep – we'd done it before, surely we could do it again.
Of course, I reminded myself, the last time we'd done that, we were all still in our twenties. There was that time flying by me again.
The beach was warm and beautiful, though a little more crowded than I'd have preferred. If I could have, I'd have whisked everyone away to a secluded island for our honeymoon, but Bella and James were right and it was better to have this event where our friends and family could join us.
I watched James take Christopher as Bella held onto Annika in the water as Callie built a sandcastle near the water's edge. They'd gone barely out, just until their knees were covered, then bent to let the kids get wet. I could see them talking to the kids as they splashed and laughed.
Long ago, we'd all accepted our strengths and weaknesses when it came to parenting. James and Callie showed us each what we were good at and where we failed miserably. I loved all of the kids, but the baby and toddler stages were, I could admit, not my favorite.
"Callie, that is a very elaborate castle you have."
"Thanks, Pops," she said, flashing her semi-toothless grin at me.
She began telling me about each part of the property, as she called it. She'd laid out an entire castle and several guest houses, explaining how someday she'd live somewhere similar and we could live there, too. Closing my book, I got up from my chair and joined her in the scratchy pile of wet sand, building and deconstructing, all to her specifications.
"Rinse off," James said, dripping salty water onto my bare back. "Time for a snack."
We sat in a circle, our family, and shared our pre-packed lunch from the hotel. While the kids inhaled their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the adults noshed on pesto pasta salad and grapes. After the cookies were gone, I took Annika and joined James in the water so Bella could sit and relax for a bit.
I tried not to openly gawk at his body ever, but here where he was half-naked already, it was almost impossible. Navy board shorts accentuated his ripped torso and muscular legs. Somehow, he was almost always tanned, whereas I seemed to never leave behind my pasty white skin. Just one of the many differences between his firefighter job and mine in the lab.
"You want me to take Christopher, too?" I asked when we'd gotten waist-deep. "You can go relax with Bella."
"Naw. I like being in the water, you know that. Besides, I want to spend time with you," he said, smiling at me. "It feels like I've barely gotten to talk to you today, aside from the whole promising to spend the rest of my life with you thing..."
Our bodies moved closer and we shared a kiss. It wasn't as long as I needed, but it would hold me over. I wanted to run my thumb along his jaw and wrap my body in his, but alas, real life.
Several hours and re-applications of sunscreen later, we packed up and returned to the hotel. Everyone needed a shower, so we took turns with the children and then got them ready to go for the night. I was grateful that my parents had been so close to all of us and were always so good with the kids. Bella and James' parents had been at the ceremony, but they'd remained distant from our family, even after all this time.
Dinner was a family affair, sort of a mini reception to the ceremony, and lively. There was champagne, tropical drinks, and more food than anyone should ever eat. The conversation never stopped and the kids kept us busy between bites, but there were still subtle glances and soft smiles between the three of us.
Alice and Jasper reminded us about the snorkeling expedition we'd planned the following day, and we all confirmed the time and location before dispersing. My mom grabbed the overnight bag, reassuring Bella one last time they'd all be fine, and promising with a giggle to return the kids in the same condition she got them.
I'd talked to my parents enough to know that, while it wasn't the path they envisioned for me, they were accepting of my life with James and Bella. My mom had loved Bella from the moment they met, so they were confused when James came along, but then, so were Bella and I.
Finally back behind closed doors, we began to undress each other, fingers and hands and mouths everywhere. It felt different, but the same – our commitment to each other had always been strong, but somehow, speaking and affirming our words and hearts in front of everyone had changed our connection.
By the time we made it to the bedroom, we were undressed and had all managed to slow down slightly.
James was behind me, Bella in front of me, and if you'd been looking at us, I was certain you wouldn't have been able to tell who was who, our bodies so closely tied together.
Bella's lips were soft against mine, James' stubble scratching against the base of my neck. We crawled onto the bed and climbed under the covers together, taking our time. Unlike the nights in our recent past, we didn't have to rush and hurry to be asleep for work the next day, or monitor how loud we were being for fear we'd wake up the kids.
My fingers moved across Bella's body and lower, to between her thighs. My other hand moved behind me, James's body pressed against mine. His fingers began to move and trace circles over my entrance. I had no idea how or when he'd grabbed it, but he seemed to have lube on them, and began pushing them into me carefully.
I captured Bella's lips between mine and pressed forward, giving James more room. Both of his hands were on me, each one in a different spot, and Bella had wrapped her arms around me, one of hers on James, and one on my body. I was selfish; I could admit that I liked being in the middle.
Pulling Bella closer, I teased and stroked her, both of my hands focused on bringing her pleasure. When James had begun fucking me in a semi-steady rhythm, I pushed up and inside of Bella. Her mouth was at my neck, and I could tell she was reaching to kiss James periodically, each of them pressing harder against me as a result. It was bliss.
We moved together, soft pants and grunts peppering the air periodically, but mostly just the quiet sounds of our love. Bella was always the clear winner on rare nights like this – the ability to have orgasms back-to-back such a great one.
As I brought her to orgasm with my hand, she stilled and held her breath. Feeling her around me, feeling either of them around me as they came, was exquisite. I was grateful she'd stopped moving, allowing me a moment to compose myself. When she opened her eyes and we all resumed, she tugged at my hips and softly pled for me to move harder and faster.
James did the same, and soon we were making much more noise. Bella's hand circled my cock, still pushing into her as hard and deep as I could, and I lost it; I came quickly and forcefully. Behind me, James continued to fuck me, his teeth grazing the top of my shoulder as he came.
Each of us moved off the bed after a few moments, Bella the first to leave. I turned to face James and we kissed for a quick minute before he left as well. When I arrived in the bathroom, I could hear the shower running and see them inside. James had pulled Bella into his body, her back against his chest, and he had one hand between her legs, the other cupping and teasing her breast.
Although there was no way I'd be able to stroke myself to the visual right then, I watched and tried to pay close attention to what they were doing for and to each other. James had his mouth at the nape of her neck, biting and kissing her, and his lips moved slowly. God, I wanted to hear what he was saying to her so badly, but I didn't want to interrupt them. Since I was off to the side, I could see only the tips of his fingers curved around her right breast, his left hand beginning to pick up the pace as it slid over her clit.
Bella's legs flexed, pushing her up on her toes, as her hands wove up behind James's neck. I could tell she was close, knew her body as well as James did, and watched as she came. Her whole body seemed to chase the feeling, moving and shifting ever so slightly as he loved her.
Under the spray of the water, she turned in his arms and buried her head against his body. He looked so large compared to her, and I loved how he appeared very much the protector when they stood like that. When James moved his head to her shoulder, his eyes met mine and we shared a quick smile before he raised an eyebrow and wordlessly invited me in with them.
I loved watching them together, watching him worship her, and her love him just as much right back, so I was hesitant to enter their bubble, but I did. I was part of the bubble, too, and the only thing better than watching the two of them was the three of us together. The warm, humid air surrounded me, and we shifted our bodies close together. Curiosity got the best of me.
I leaned in toward James and whispered, "What were you saying to her?"
His laugh was soft against my neck, and he tilted his head to look at both of us while he spoke. "I was telling her how fucking gorgeous she is when she's with our kids. How much I appreciate the way she treats Callie like her own flesh and blood."
He stopped and pulled us closer, one of his arms around each of us, and we kissed slowly. Sure, noses bumped and sometimes it took a minute for us to each find our place in the group, but we did.
"I may have also mentioned how sexy she is when she thinks no one's looking, how much I love both of you, how much I love it when the three of us are together," he said, then let out a quick and quiet hum, turning his attention to me. "How I love it when she's between us, and I can feel you, feel her, feel everything. Or when you're between us."
For several minutes, until I felt wrinkled hands against mine, we touched and caressed and just loved. As the water began to get cool, we cleaned ourselves and each other, bringing the playfulness back into the space around us. Laughter bounced off the walls in the bathroom, and we were just genuinely happy together.
When we were dry, we slid under the sheets and blankets again, turned on a pay-per-view movie, and snuggled. What had been small, soft touches during the movie turned into more aggressive, rough, sexual teasing.
As the credits rolled, James and I moved the blankets off the bed and our bodies between Bella's legs. One of his hands was with mine, fingers teasing her soft flesh and dipping inside. Each of us had a hand on the other's body as well, though, and when our tongues met in the middle, circling and flicking her clit, our kisses were hard and frantic. Like predators that had finally captured its prey, we feasted on her body together. A brief break after an orgasm would be followed by more tongues, more fingers, more, more, more.
Spent, Bella fisted our hair, pulling us away, and James turned, angling our bodies together in a sixty-nine position next to her. Her hands touched and lips plucked at our skin as we sucked each other passionately. I lost track of James and Bella's hands, content that someone was touching me in fantastic places, and worked my mouth over James's cock, my hands stroking his perineum. I lifted my mouth off of him just enough to slick my finger, then dove back on, dipping just the tip of my wet finger inside him. It was enough, and he came hard and hot, spilling down my throat as I swallowed. Moments later, my body released in the same way.
We fell asleep just like that – James's head down at our feet. I couldn't help but laugh when I woke up and saw. I snuck out of the room to order room service, and put on a robe. When the food arrived, we laughed and ate, then got ready for the day with our family.
The day on the boat with Alice, Jasper, and my parents, had been perfect. The kids mostly listened, and we got to see such a variety of fish and even a few turtles. When we got back, we shared dinner at the restaurant and then everyone crowded into our suite with a few bottles of red. Alice and Jasper told us about the house they were buying, and before long, it was time to tuck the kids in. Annika and Christopher were sharing a bed, and seemed to settle in quickly.
Callie, however, wanted her usual bedtime story.
"Not the books, Pops. Nana told me a story about when you were little. Tell me one of those," she said, bouncing on the bed.
"You want to hear a story from when I was little?" I asked. Callie nodded, and I thought a little. "How about if I tell you one from when you were little?"
"Even better," she whispered.
"Well, when you were about nine months old-"
"Six months," Bella interrupted, somehow already knowing the story I was going to tell.
"Nine months old," I said, squeezing her hand. "Mama and I walked right by your daddy. He was sitting in this little outdoor cafe and I could see his colorful arms. That was the first thing I noticed, but do you know what the second thing was?"
Of course, I'd left out the part about how fucking hot James was, or the fact that it was more than his ink that caught my eye. He seemed so secure in himself, this muscled man with ink and a baby, babbling away and not caring what anyone around him thought.
Callie shook her head no.
"You. I couldn't believe this big scruffy guy with a leather jacket and ink all over his arms was so soft and sweet with his baby. I mean, of course I know now, but I just had all these ideas, I guess," I rambled. "Anyway, he was talking to you and playing with you, even while he ate, and it was just the sweetest thing. We sat and watched you guys, and at some point, your daddy noticed us watching. He smiled at us, and the rest is history. We fell in love."
Callie's eyebrows furrowed and her mouth pursed slightly.
"But, if I didn't come from Mama's belly like Chris and Anni, whose belly did I come outta?"
It had taken six years, but in about five seconds, Callie had managed to hit us with the question we most dreaded. I was glad James had been there, too, to field it.
"A very kind lady's, Princess."
I bit my lip to hold in the snort of laughter at James's description of her. She'd been anything but kind.
"She brought you into this world, then gave you to me. Best gift I ever got." James leaned down and kissed her nose. "Bedtime now, baby. Love you."
We knew and had agreed that we'd never tell Callie the truth – that James had begged her mother not to have an abortion. As soon as she'd given birth, she signed away all parental rights to her, only to come back when she'd found out James was involved with us (her words) and tried her best to regain custody just out of spite. She told him late one night she didn't even want Callie, she just thought what we had was wrong and she wanted to stir up trouble for us.
I still don't know what James did or said, but she stopped pursuing custody and harassing us after he'd met with her close to our court date.
After he'd closed the bedroom door, he took each of our hands and we stood, embracing awkwardly in the cramped hallway.
"I love you guys," he said softly before kissing each of us. "Thank you for saving me."
He didn't need to explain; we'd been through enough over the years to know how deep James's depression had gotten after Callie's mom left. He'd told us countless times how much we meant to him, and somehow, he'd been the missing piece for Bella and me.
We rejoined the family in the sitting area, and I knew it was just the first of many difficult questions from the kids, but somehow, I knew we'd make it together. We had each other, and we had an amazing foundation of love and support.
We were so damn lucky. I could only hope we'd have many more years of the same happiness, as I sat and planned the perfect anniversary night for us.