"The nightmare is almost over, beautiful." I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer to me. It had been twelve years since we had last seen Victoria. She had finally lost her last appeal, and we were sitting in the viewing area waiting to witness her execution. I noticed the DA and a few reporters were amongst the other witnesses in attendance.
Victoria stayed in the media spotlight throughout her imprisonment. She was the first woman on death row in the state of Washington. There was a huge debate over the option of hanging or lethal injection. Victoria wouldn't commit to one or the other. Human rights activists argued that capital punishment was wrong and that hanging was an inhumane form of execution. Victim's rights groups vehemently defended the practice of capital punishment. Victoria's case was their favorite one to argue. Of course she played to the attention and granted any interview that was requested.
Tommy and Bayleigh sat in the seats behind us. Tommy gave Bella a reassuring pat on her shoulder before he settled next to Bayleigh, rubbing her pregnant belly. Their first child was due in October.
Tommy and Bayleigh's connection was unbreakable after Victoria was arrested. Bayleigh worked her way through college waiting tables. She and Tommy attended the University of Washington together. Tommy received a full academic scholarship. She graduated with a teaching degree. Tommy received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history. They were married after graduation and started teaching at Forks High School afterwards.
"Is Drew coming?" Tommy asked.
"Yeah. She should've been here like ten minutes ago." Bella glanced at her watch, then at the door with a worried look on her face.
"Don't worry, love. She'll show up. She needs this as much as you." Bella hesitantly nodded her head and sighed.
Drew and Bella grew closer after Victoria's trial. They bonded over the loss each had suffered at the hands of James and Victoria. Drew had no family left and fit seamlessly into our combined family. She was able to live off the investments her parents had made and the life insurance they had purchased, which enabled her to spend her time healing. She attended extensive therapy over the past twelve years. It took her three years to feel safe enough to leave the mental hospital.
Drew moved into an apartment that was ten minutes from our home. It took about five years for her to finally be comfortable living in the real world. For the last four years, she had been spending her time volunteering with victim advocates groups and being a "sponsor" for victims of violent crimes. She had been dating one of her fellow volunteers named David for the past two years. We were expecting him to propose to her any day now.
"I'm so sorry I'm late," Drew said breathlessly as she sat next to Bella.
"You're not that late. We still have about ten minutes before they start." Bella grabbed Drew's hand and squeezed it.
"Who has the kids?"
"Carlisle and Esme took the kids for the week. They took them to Disneyland." Bella rolled her eyes. My parents loved to spoil their only grandchildren. Rosalie and Emmett had been married for five years and had no luck conceiving yet. Alice and Jasper were set to be married at Christmas. Esme was looking forward to the arrival of Tommy and Bayleigh's baby.
Bella and I truly had a blessed life. I sailed through college and medical school and received a great residency position at Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center, the same hospital where Carlisle worked. I specialized in obstetrics/gynecology and was offered a position in a prestigious private practice that was housed in the hospital. After two years I had a respectable amount of patients that was growing every month.
We lived in Portland with our children. We were blessed with a baby girl, Elizabeth Grace, five years ago. She stole my heart immediately and became Daddy's little girl. I couldn’t deny the precious child with her mother's eyes and my bronze-colored hair. Elizabeth was excited to become a big sister. Charles Thomas graced us with his presence two years ago. He looked exactly like his Grandpa Charlie and the entire family called him CJ, short for Charlie Jr. We adored our children and couldn't wait to have more.
"Bells, Dad said he would call you next week. He and Anne took a trip down to Phoenix. He felt it was appropriate for someone to visit Mom's grave this weekend." Tommy had a sad look on his face as he talked about his mother.
"I'm glad he went. I want to take a trip soon too."
Charlie started dating Anne, the receptionist at the station, about three years ago. They fell in love after their first date and ran off to Vegas to elope. They were a great match. She loved to watch sports, play poker, and fish. It was a match made in heaven.
The curtain blocking the view of the execution room slowly pulled back revealing Victoria strapped to a gurney. She was surrounded by a few medical professionals, two prison guards, and the warden. The guards stood stiffly at the door while the medical staff scurried around the room preparing Victoria for the lethal injection she was about to receive. Victoria never chose which method of execution she preferred. In that situation, the state decides on lethal injection for the condemned prisoner.
The warden stepped in front of the window and cleared his throat. "We will begin in a few minutes. Once the injection is administered it will take no more than ten minutes for the fatal dose of drugs to take effect. The prisoner will first be injected with sodium thiopental, which will render her unconscious. The next drug she will receive is pancuronium which will paralyze her. The final drug administered will be potassium chloride which will cause death by cardiac arrest. The first two drugs will ensure that she feels no pain and passes peacefully."
Bella took in a weary breath. "What's wrong, beautiful?"
"It just amazes me that someone who treated all of her victims so cruelly gets to die such a peaceful death."
"I know. It doesn't seem fair," I responded.
"No, it doesn't seem fair, but at the same time I don't think I could bear being responsible for a cruel death for anyone. Yes, the things she did were horrible, but I think we should still be compassionate human beings when it comes to ending another human life."
My wife continued to amaze me. I was in awe that she could show such compassion for a woman who took so much away from her. I squeezed her hand and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. "You never cease to amaze me. I love you so much."
Bella blushed and laid her head on my shoulder. "I love you too."
The warden stepped next to Victoria and began the proceedings. "Victoria Anderson, in accordance with the laws set forth by the state of Washington, you have been sentenced to death for your participation in the kidnapping, torturing, and killing of the Sinclair family. Do you have any final words before we proceed?"
Victoria got a wild gleam in her eyes. "James, I love you, baby. See you in a few minutes."
Bella lowered her head and shook it in disgust.
The warden gave a quick nod to the doctor in charge of the administration of the drugs and the execution began. The first drug was administered, and her eyes slowly fluttered closed within thirty seconds. The second drug was then administered, and her breaths slowly stopped due to the paralysis of her diaphragm. The final drug was administered, and her heart monitor slowly flat lined. Seven minutes after the first drug was injected, the doctor pronounced Victoria Anderson dead. I looked to my left and saw both Bella and Drew let out sighs of relief and embrace each other in a comforting hug.
The nightmare officially ended with the final beat of Victoria's heart. Our lives had already been on the path to a great future, but now we were able to move forward with no ghosts to haunt us.
I pulled Bella into my arms and reveled in the realization that I could face anything life threw my way knowing that this amazing woman loved me.