|The Demons in My Dreams
Author: littlecat358 PM
27 y.o. social worker Bella Swan has seen her fair share of troubled souls, but nothing like Edward Cullen, part owner & manager of The Cullen House Group Home. Will he allow her into his life? And can she survive the demons that haunt him? OOC.Rated: Fiction M - English - Hurt/Comfort/Drama - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 33 - Words: 323,739 - Reviews: 7,551 - Favs: 3,524 - Follows: 3,336 - Updated: 12-05-12 - Published: 04-26-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6942309
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: Okay. I've been sitting on this one for a while, but since UP is coming to an end soon, I'm ready. I will be having three seperate fanfics going at one time so I don't want to make any promises on an update schedule right now. If you already know/follow me already, you know that I'm pretty dedicated to my writing, so I will do my best to get them out regularly. The chapters will also be shorter than you're used to from me.
So you have a little background on where this story is coming from. I worked for many years as an inner city social worker. The things that happen, the guidelines and the inner workings of the system in this story are based on MY experiences. I do not know how things work in different agencies or countries. Nothing is meant disrespectfully and it may hit a nerve here and there; so please, if you have an issue or a concern, PM me. I think I'm pretty easy to talk to. :oD
The chapter titles come from the songs that I use as inspiration for writing each chapter. On my profile I have (or will be as soon as I post this chapter) put a link to the song Demons, by Brian McFadden which is my inspiration for the story as a whole. Also there will be the banner for DiMD made by the wonderful, beautiful Melee03.
And I almost forgot to thank the people who make everything I do better. LOL. Mollie, my fabulous beta. Mel and Lexie my wonderful pre-readers. And Lexie has started a thread on Twi'd too. Thank you so much. All three of you.
Disclaimer for the entire freaking story: I do not own anything Twilight related. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 1: It Comes And It Goes
Song by: Dido
"Come on, Bella. This is total bullshit. I didn't do anything!"
"Emmett, shut your mouth and get your stuff."
I glare at him and hold up my hand. He knows it's my indication that I'm on my final thread and if he pushes me any further, I will snap.
I hear the hulk of a boy grumbling and swearing under his breath as he violently shoves clothes into his make-shift suitcase. They give these kids glorified trash bags and think that by dressing them up with a nice plaid pattern that it will make them forget what it really is; a way to cart their crap from temporary home to temporary home. Usually the stupid things don't survive more than two moves. Emmett and Tyler McCarty are each on their eighth set in six years. Yes, I have moved these boys sixteen times, soon to be seventeen as soon as we walk out the door.
They entered the system when Emmett was eleven and Tyler was just short of eight. Their mother was a meth head, excuse me, addict, who tried to sell Tyler to support her habit. When the guy came to pick up his "purchase" Emmett stabbed him with a steak knife, grabbed Tyler and ran. It was the middle of winter and neither one of them had a coat. For almost a week, the boys hid out in all-night Laundromats and at the bus station. When they finally went home, they found their mother passed out and naked with some guy on top of her. Emmett thought she was dead, so he called the cops.
He says that if he had known that they were going to have to go into foster care, he never would have done it. He would have just taken Tyler and lived on the streets. Of course, this is coming from a hot-headed teenager who doesn't know what living on the streets is like for children. He likes the sound of it, because he doesn't think there's anyone to tell him what to do. He tends to forget that food and clothing don't grow on trees.
They haven't had it so bad. Their case was my first when I joined Washington State's Division of Child and Family Services. They had been in intake for two months before I got them.
I have always tried to be extremely diligent at my job. When I got out of college, I just wanted to do a good job. But over the years, I've witnessed too many bad things happen because of incompetent or disinterested caseworkers who didn't bother to do their jobs at all. That is something I never want any of my kids to experience.
I screen all of my foster parents and if I'm not comfortable, I either refuse the placement or I move my kids. I've actually gotten in trouble several times, but I don't care. Sometimes it makes for really long nights though.
Seventeen year old Emmett isn't a bad kid, just a little misguided. No, scratch that, he is a bad kid. He enjoys causing trouble and getting into fights. He picks and picks and picks until whoever his target is, caves and fights back. He is huge too. At six foot three and two-hundred and ten pounds, he towers over me. He probably could crush me with his thumb, but for some unknown reason, he either respects me, or fears me. His size makes him hard to place. People don't trust him. He has a good heart though. I can see it in those rare moments when he lets his wall down to take care of his brother.
Tyler is fourteen and almost the exact opposite of Emmett. He's pretty tall for his age, probably six inches taller than me, but he's stick thin. He is also extremely shy and withdrawn. I am the only one he ever really talks to other than Emmett and it took me over a year to gain his trust to begin with. Not once have I ever had a complaint about his behavior. He is a good kid, but I worry about him all the time. There is a fine line between being okay and completely losing it. I think Tyler's walking that line.
After the first few moves I considered separating the boys so that Tyler could have a stable placement, but when I talked to him about it, he went into complete hysterics. He refused to even look at me until I promised him that I would never tear them apart.
So here I am. . . again, getting ready to call my list of possible placements. But, winter is hard on the foster care system. I don't know exactly why it is that the winters are so bad. Maybe it's that the kids are indoors more, irritating already frazzled parents. Or maybe it's that the schools are required to file a report when it appears that children are habitually under-dressed or under-fed. I'd like to say that most of the calls we get are just misunderstandings or one time occurrences, but they're not. Sixty-five percent are repeat cases. The system is flooded with kids in the winter.
In any case, I expect to be sitting in my office with the McCarty boys for a long time.
Tyler is waiting with his own bag at the bottom of the stairs as Emmett and I descend.
"You know you can stay, Tyler," their foster mother Sandy smiles, placing her hand on the back of his head. "We just can't have Emmett fighting with Steve anymore."
Tyler pulls away from her. Without a word, he picks up his bag and walks out the front door as Emmett follows.
"I'm really sorry, Sandy," I smile sadly.
Sandy and Steve Barker are some of my best foster parents. They always come through for me in a tight situation. Emmett and Tyler have lived with them for five months, but they just couldn't take Em's behavior anymore.
"It's okay, Bella. It's not your fault. We're still here for you. I'm just sad that Tyler feels like he needs to leave too."
"Those two are thick as thieves," I smile. "Neither of them would go anywhere without the other."
Leaving Sandy, I unlock my car for the boys. Emmett climbs into the front passenger seat, while Tyler ducks into the back.
"Can I drive?" Emmett asks as I slide in behind the wheel.
I arch my eyebrow at him. "Absolutely not."
"Come on, Bella, pleeeeeeaaase." Emmett flashes his darling little dimples at me and bats his long dark eyelashes.
"First of all, you don't have your driver's license. Second of all, why on Earth would I give you the privilege of driving my car when I was just called, while I was on my way home, to come pick you up for punching your foster father."
Emmett looks sheepish for a split second before frowning. "He pissed me off."
"Yeah, and that's a good excuse," I snap. "Besides, I thought you said you didn't do anything."
I watch in the rear view mirror as Tyler pulls his iPod out of his hoodie pocket and puts his headphones on.
"Have you ever thought that maybe your constant fighting and trouble making might be hurting your brother?" I ask as I drive away from the Barker's house and towards my office.
He looks behind him and then turns to face forward again. "He's fine."
"Really, Emmett? You really think that he's okay with being uprooted every four to six months?"
Emmett scowls. "It's not like I do it on purpose."
"You have got to control your anger, Em," I sigh. "You're going to be eighteen in six months. If you do this shit after that, you're going to land yourself in jail. Where will Tyler be then?"
"Can't I...I don't know, adopt him or something?"
I glance at him skeptically. "Emmett, you can't even take care of yourself, how are you going to take care of a fourteen year old boy?"
He looks at me and frowns. "Shit, Bella, I don't know. I just assumed they'd let me do it. He's my brother."
Shaking my head, I cannot help but feel for Emmett. He loves his brother, but his impulse control is shit. He's not thinking about his future. . . or Tyler's. "They're not going to let you take care of him if they think that he's not safe with you."
"He is safe with me," Emmett barks.
I see Tyler look up from his iPod, briefly meeting my gaze in the mirror before looking back down.
"Em, I know you love him, but you have got to grow up. Stop fighting, stop lying, stop smoking weed, stop tagging neighborhood garages, and stop stealing everything you can get your hands on."
Again I lift my hand. "Don't even try it. I know exactly what you've been up to. I'm not going to scold you, I'm just trying to let you know where it's going to land you...and Tyler."
Emmett doesn't say anything else for the rest of the thirty minute drive. He sits with his arms across his chest and his eyes closed. I wonder if he's thinking about what I've said or if he's already moved on.
When we get to the DCFS building, I get out of the car and the boys follow.
"Leave your bags," I instruct. "Hopefully we won't be spending the night, but if you need them, you can always come back out."
I slide my ID card into the front door. "Hey, Xavier," I greet the night shift security guard.
"Hey, Bella. Late night tonight?"
I look at Emmett and Tyler and then back at Xavier. He gives me a look of understanding and then lets me through. We've been here before. Xavier knows all too well what I do for these kids. The boys have to empty their pockets and go through the metal detector before they are allowed back.
"I don't understand that shit," Emmett scoffs. "Do they really think I'm going to come in here and shoot the place up?"
"Maybe not you, Em, but there are some desperate people out there who will do just about anything when it comes to their kids."
I nod. "Seriously."
"Well that's fucked up."
I got used to the mouth on Emmett a long time ago. When he was eleven, I used to tolerate it because I figured it was how he was expressing his mixed up emotions. When he was thirteen, I started scolding him. When he was fifteen, I gave up and just accepted that he is just a foul-mouthed pain in my ass.
"Sit!" I say firmly as I set my purse and keys down on my desk.
The boys flop down in the hard plastic chairs next to my desk. Emmett is particularly dramatic about it while Tyler just sort of collapses.
I rub my eyes and look at the clock on the wall. Seven-fifteen.
Who the hell is going to even consider taking two teenage boys at this time of night?
I've found that people don't seem to like accepting placements after dinner. They typically have other children and are busy working on homework or getting them ready for bed. They don't like the disruption.
"Did you guys eat dinner? Do you want anything?"
Tyler shakes his head.
"I'm still hungry," Emmett whines.
"Of course you are," I snort. Emmett is always hungry.
"Hey, I'm a growing boy," he smirks.
I order a pizza from the Italian eatery down the block and hand Emmett a twenty.
"I want that pizza back here whole. And I want my change," I call as he walks out with a wave and a cheeky ass grin.
I blow out a heavy breath and look at Tyler. Our eyes meet and I see him chewing on his lip. I wonder if he's always done that or if it is a habit he picked up from me. It seems like we spend enough time together for that to happen.
"Are you okay?"
"Is this a no talking day?"
"No," he mumbles
"Then talk to me."
"Do you want to go back to the Barker's?"
"Seriously, Tyler, you need to give me more than these one syllable answers. Otherwise, I'm going to just assume that you want to go with Emmett regardless of how it affects you."
He shrugs again and I let out a frustrated growl before picking up my phone.
Twenty minutes later, Emmett returns with a supreme pizza. Only two slices have been taken, so I don't complain. He hands me five bucks in change and sits the box down on my desk. Despite saying that he isn't hungry, Tyler eats two pieces. I eat one and Emmett eats the rest.
At eleven o'clock, I am just about to give up and have the boys crash in the break room when I come across one last number.
The Cullen House
It is a group home for boys ages eleven to eighteen. I have heard about it before, mostly from the women who chatter non-stop about the "gorgeous" men who run it. I don't like group homes. They don't feel very home-like to me and I want all my kids to feel like they are part of a family.
Tyler and Emmett are both fed up. Tyler closes his eyes and I swear he has fallen asleep sitting up with his chin tucked into his chest. Emmett is completely restless, fiddling with papers and pens and paperclips; rocking his chair back on its hind legs and trying to balance.
"One more, guys and then I'm done for the night," I say, running my hand through my hair.
I dial the number.
"Cullen House," a way too perky female voice chirps on the other line.
Seriously? Does this chick know what time it is?
"Uh, hi, this is Isabella Swan with DCFS. I was hoping that you might have availability for the night, maybe longer."
"Give me a second and I'll look," the chirpy person says.
I have to smile when she puts me on hold. The song playing is Highway to Hell.
Less than a minute later the line clicks and she's back.
"Oh, hey, Ms. Swan, are you still there?"
"Yes, I'm here," I say, trying to repress a yawn.
Where the hell else am I gonna go? I have two teenage boys in my office and it's nearly midnight.
"Um, I'm going to transfer you to Edward. He should be able to help you, okay?"
"That's fine," I sigh not knowing who the hell Edward is, but figuring it really doesn't matter.
I listen to two beeps and take a sip of my Pepsi.
"Hello?" A velvety voice purrs on the other line.
I choke and cough. This guy's voice has some serious sex appeal and is making me tingle a little. And he's only said one word.
"Holy shit, Bella, are you okay?" Emmett asks, landing his chair down on all fours and looking at me with wide eyes.
I nod and cough again. "Sorry, wrong hole," I gasp.
Emmett snickers. "I'm pretty sure I've said that before."
I wrinkle my nose as my mouth falls open, but I can't help the twitching of my lips. Then I remember the person on the other end of the line.
"Oh, gosh, sorry. Hi, I'm Isabella Swan, uh, Bella. I was hoping that maybe you'd have room for an emergency placement."
There is a significant amount of hope in my voice, but at the same time, my mind isn't expecting anything.
He chuckles and my heart skips a little.
Jesus, what the hell is wrong with me?
"Yes, actually, we do. I had a resident turn eighteen last week and he left us just this morning."
"Really?" I practically squeal.
That sexy chuckle once again grabs my attention.
"Yes, really. How old is he?"
"Oh, uh, there's actually two of them. I probably should have said that before, but it's late and I've been doing this for four hours and..."
"It's okay, Ms. Swan. Uh, why don't you go ahead and bring them over. I think we can work something out. What are their ages?"
"I've got Emmett McCarty, seventeen and Tyler McCarty, fourteen."
"The reason for needing placement?"
Crap, I hate this part. This is the part where they change their mind and tell me no.
"They're brothers. Emmett was reprimanded for fighting with his foster father and it was requested that he be removed from the home. They come as a package deal."
"Um, no sexual violence."
"Both physical and sexual?"
I look over at Emmett who is giving me a questioning look.
I hear the panic in my voice. I have to assume that this Edward can hear it too.
"Is the sexual deviancy with males or females."
The line is quiet for a moment and I prepare myself for rejection.
"Okay, can you bring me their paperwork?"
Holy shit, really?
"Yes, I'll have everything ready. Thank you so much Mr..."
"Cullen, Edward Cullen, just call me Edward though. Mr. Cullen is my father."
"Thanks Edward. I should be there in..." I check my wrist for my non-existent watch, which is a habit of mine, and then look up at the clock on the wall. "Probably twenty-five minutes."
"That's fine Ms. Swan."
"Bella," I say, smiling shyly even though I know he can't see me.
"Bella then. I'll see you in a few."
When I hang up, I bite my lip. I raise my eyes to see both boys staring at me.
"What the hell was that?" Emmett burst out.
"That. The whole..." he swirls his hand around his face and bites his lip, mocking me.
"That was me finding you guys a place to stay. Now zip it and come on."
I stand up, grabbing the paperwork for placement and their files.
"Let's go, guys."
Emmett and Tyler stand up and follow behind me.
"So where are we going?" Emmett asks once we are on the road.
"Cullen House," I say flatly. I'm waiting for it; his response. I know what it will be and I'm not surprised.
"WHAT?" he yells.
I do not even glance at him as I repeat myself.
"The Cullen House, Emmett."
I glance back at Tyler, but once again, he has his headphones on and is pretending not to hear a word.
"I'm not going to no fucking group home. Pull the fucking car over and we'll get out right here."
I roll my eyes and shake my head. "I'm not pulling over, calm down."
"Bella, seriously, I'm not going."
"You've never been there before, how can you possibly be worked up about this?"
"It's. A. Group. Home."
"Have I ever put you someplace bad?"
"They're all bad."
"So where do you suggest I take you guys, huh?" I ask, trying not to get pissed off. It's just that I'm tired and cranky and ready to go the hell home and climb into my nice, warm bed.
"Why can't you just take us home with you?" he pleads.
"Ha. You can't be serious."
"Why not, Bella? You like us, don't you?"
I can't look at him for two reasons. One, it's dark and I'm heading into an area I don't know as well, and two, I can't stand to see the look in Emmett's eyes.
"It's not about liking you, Em. It's against the rules."
"You've broken the rules before."
"I have not," I squeal. "Do not go around saying that or you'll get me into trouble."
"Bellllla," Emmett whines. You'd think he was five with that tone of voice.
"Give it a chance, Emmett, please."
Out of the corner of my eye I see Emmett look back at Tyler again. "Fine," he huffs almost silently.
I don't hear any more complaining and pretty soon we are pulling up in front of a huge manor house. I am almost in shock. The place certainly doesn't look like a group home. It looks like someone's private house, or mansion.
Well crap, can I live here too?
Emmett's eyes bug out of his head. "Is this it?"
Tyler gets out of the car and stares, his mouth completely agape.
"Uh, yeah, I think it is."
I double check the address just in case. Yup, it's the right place.
It is nearly midnight, but the lights are still on in the house. Before I can even raise my fist to knock, the door flies open.
In front of me stands a woman about my age, maybe a little younger. She is a bit shorter than me, with almost a waif like figure. She has shoulder length hair in choppy layers.
"You must be Bella," she says cheerily.
"Oh, sorry. I'm Alice. I work here. Edward asked me to keep an eye out for you." She thrusts her hand at me and I shake it awkwardly.
"Oh, great. Hi."
She grins and peers around me to look at the boys. "Well hello, fellas."
I turn to look at Emmett and laugh when he gives me a scared expression. The guy is easily twice her size. What the hell is he afraid of?
"This is Emmett and this is Tyler," I say pointing to each of the boys.
"Well come on in, it's cold out there."
We follow her through the heavy double front doors and into a foyer.
"I'll give you guys a tour in the morning, but tonight, I'll just show you up to your rooms."
"They'll have separate rooms?" I ask, looking at Tyler to gauge his reaction. They have only had their own rooms once during the time that they have been in foster care and, well, it didn't go well. Of course, that was five years ago so I have no idea how Tyler will react this time."
"Yes, I hope that's okay," Alice says in a worried tone.
"That's alright, now he won't have to pretend he doesn't know when I'm gettin' my groove on," Emmett cheers.
"No girls in the room, Emmett, sorry," Alice shakes her head.
It was an echo of the panicked voice he'd had in the car.
"House rules. All girls are to be kept in public areas."
"No, no, no, Bella, I'm not doing this."
Emmett turns around and makes to leave, but I stand in front of him like I could actually physically stop him.
I stare into his eyes and shake my head.
"Aw, come on, Bella. How the hell am I supposed to not take a girl to my room. What if I want to..."
"You'll find a way, Em," I interrupt, patting his chest. "You always do."
He hangs his head in defeat.
"I'll go ahead and take you up to put your things down and then you can head to bed. Bella, would you like to see where they are staying?"
"Yes, I would, thank you," I say politely.
This is standard on my part. I always want to see where my kids will sleep. How do I know that the common areas aren't just a front and they are actually keeping the kids in cages? I'd like to say that I am just being dramatic, but I watch the news. It happens more often than people think.
"Great, but we have to be quiet. The rest of the boys are asleep or at least they should be," she says, pursing her lips.
"How many are there?"
"We have seven total, including these guys," she says pointing at Emmett and Tyler.
She starts climbing up the stairs and we follow her. She walks down a long, dimly lit hallway and stops outside of one of the doors.
The room isn't huge, but it isn't tiny either. It has wooden floors with a huge rug. The bed is a double with a sturdy wooden frame. There is a desk and heavy navy blue curtains. The walls are a nice rich cream. It isn't extravagant, but it is nice.
"This one and the one next to it are almost identical," Alice explains. "The curtains in the other room are a mossy green. There's a bathroom connecting you."
Emmett throws his bags down on the bed in the blue room, leaving the green one for Tyler.
"Are you guys all set?" I ask. "Do you need me for anything?"
"No," Emmett grumbles.
"Tyler?" I ask, putting my hand on his back.
His head is bowed, but I can see his eyes scanning his surroundings.
"Breakfast is served between six and seven, gentlemen. The bus leaves for school at seven twenty-five. "
"I'll be picking them up tomorrow morning to get them all set up in school," I explain, making eye contact with both of them to make sure they understand.
"Oh, okay. If you guys need anything during the night, Edward's number is on the paper above the desks." Alice says pointing towards the desk in Emmett's new room. "There's a house phone in the hallway. He'll go over the rules and regs with you before dinner tomorrow night."
They both nod in understanding.
"Goodnight, guys," I smile, hoping this will be the last placement I make for these two.
"Goodnight, Bella," Tyler says quietly.
"Night, Bella," Emmett winks.
I shake my head and snort. If I were ten years younger and not his social worker, I would totally fall for that boy's charms.
I turn and follow Alice back down the stairs. The house is so quiet. The only noise is the sound of our footsteps as we descend.
"So, Edward is probably in his office. I'll take you back there."
"You guys are night owls then, huh?" I smile.
She giggles. "Yes, well Edward is. He doesn't sleep well. I'm only on night shift twice a week. I've got kids."
This news surprises me. I don't know why, it just does. She looks so young and she's so small. It's hard to imagine her being a mother.
As we walk down another dark hallway towards the back of the house, we pass by a huge formal dining room with a table that has to sit at least twelve, and then a massive kitchen. I so want to look at that kitchen, but Alice is walking at some record pace.
"Sorry I'm in such a hurry," she says, as if reading my thoughts. "I am supposed to head out at midnight and Jasper won't go to sleep until I get home."
Yeah, I understand that.
"My husband," she says stopping in front of a thick wooden door. "Do you know much about The Cullen House, Bella?"
"Um, not really. I've heard a few things, but none of them would have helped me to know much about the program."
She laughs. "Yes, the Cullen brothers make quite an impression on people."
I narrow my eyes.
"Okay," she lowers her voice. "I'll give you a heads up before you go in there. It's better if I do it anyway. Edward doesn't always have a lot of patience and likes to get straight to the point."
Great. I'm going to be placing the boys again by the end of the week.
"The Cullen House was founded as a home for orphaned boys back in 1938 by brothers William and Henry Cullen. In 1964 it was taken over by Henry's oldest son, Edward, and William's second son, Anthony. In 1986, Edward's only son, Carlisle, took it over. Four years ago, Carlisle and his wife Esme's oldest son Jasper, my husband, took over the business and Edward joined him a year later."
I am grinning widely by the time she's done. "Give that speech much, Alice?" I laugh.
"Ugh, just about every day," she groans "I'm their PR agent as well."
She rolls her eyes and then winks at me. I kind of like this girl.
"So, I'm meeting Edward then?" I ask.
Alice tugs at a strand of her hair and shifts her weight. "Yeah. But don't let him scare you, Bella."
I raise my eyebrows. "Why would he scare me?"
"Uh. . . It's just, sometimes he can be a little intimidating," she says biting her thumb nail. She flashes me a quick smile and then frowns again. "I haven't actually seen him today. He's been locked in his office since I got here. Jasper said he was kinda cranky earlier. I don't know what he's wearing either, but just. . . please don't. . . he really is a good guy."
What the hell have I gotten my boys into?
"Um, well he was nice enough on the phone," I shrug. "Why would it matter what he's wearing?" I asked, completely confused.
"Hmmm. I think I'm just gonna shut-up now," Alice sighs.
The door opens. "I think that's a great idea, Alice," the smooth velvet voice that had spoken to me over the phone croons. "Jasper just called looking for you."
"Oh, okay," she says softly.
There is an awkward silence for a couple of seconds where she's simply staring at me. I don't seem to be able to look away from her. Her blue eyes flicker away from me briefly before she starts talking again. "Um, Edward this is Bella, Emmett and Tyler McCarty's social worker. Bella, this is Edward Cullen. I'll just. . . be going now."
I watch as Alice walks quickly back down the hallway. I have yet to look at the man standing in the doorway in front of me, but I can feel his eyes on me. I turn my head slowly and come face to face with a broad chest covered in a black cotton long sleeved shirt.
I swallow hard and tilt my head upwards.
Oh. My. God.
My heart jumps up into my throat. Strong jaw, messy dark auburn hair, deep green eyes, lashes that could probably sweep the floor, and plump juicy lips that are curved into an amused and yet kind of annoyed smirk.
Did I just call his lips plump and juicy?
"Hello?" he says his tone matching his expression.
"Hhhh..hi," I stutter stupidly. "Sorry, I...I, Alice."
"I heard what she said. Remind me to fire her tomorrow."
I stare at him with my mouth open. "No, she. . .she didn't do anything. . ."
"I'm kidding," he sort of chuckles. "She's my sister-in-law. She owns twenty percent of this place. Unfortunately, I can't fire her."
He shakes his head. "Never mind. Come on in."
He turns around and I follow him into the office. There are two large wooden desks on opposite sides of the room; oak? Mahogany? Something a hell of a lot more expensive than the pine and particle board piece of shit I work at. The back wall is floor to ceiling bookshelves and one whole wall is covered in windows. I can't see outside though because it's pitch black. On the opposite wall, there is artwork and a few photos of various groups of people.
I don't pause to look more closely because it is already so late and I don't want to annoy this Edward any more than he already seems. I glance back at him and see that he is standing at a filing cabinet with his back to me. I take the opportunity to appreciate his...assets.
He is wearing a loose fitting pair of jeans hung low on his hips and a pair of dark blue leather Doc Martins. His shirt is plain, loose enough to not look like a total creep, but tight enough to tell me that he is obviously well built. His hair looks like someone had been running their hands through it for several hours, but not in a bad way.
The filing cabinet slams shut and he walks to his desk without looking at me. "Have a seat. Let's see how quickly we can get you out of here."
He seemed so nice on the phone, but now he is being extremely abrupt.
I sit down in the chair in front of his desk and reach into my shoulder bag for the McCarty files. I hand them to him and he snatches them quickly, flipping through the papers.
His fingers follow the words and I notice his knuckles. They are covered in crude black ink. Not the type you get in a tattoo shop, the kind you get in...
"Okay, so, look," Edward interrupts my thoughts. "I'm at capacity with your boys. I'm approved for seven, but I usually prefer to keep it to five or six depending on the issues. I'll go over the rules verbally with Emmett and Tyler tomorrow. I'm sure that you can handle just reading them."
He glances up at me. "Can't you?"
What the hell?
"Yeah. I'm sure I'll be fine," I say, more than just a little insulted.
"Good," he responds looking back down. "I'm assuming you'll be registering them in school tomorrow?"
"Yes, I'll pick them up in the morning and take them over. I have copies of their records and..."
He waves me off. "That's fine. As long as you're going to do it and I don't need to worry about it. I've got a 90/10 rule. If they follow the rules ninety percent of the time, I can deal with the ten percent where they slip up. What's your visitation schedule like?"
I am so stunned by the way that he is talking to me that I almost forget to answer. Luckily, I still have a few brain cells working.
"For the first month I'll be visiting twice a week, the second month, once a week, then twice a month and then once a month."
"That's a lot of visits. Is that how you handle all your cases?"
"It's case by case," I say, agitated. "Emmett's about to age out, and the independent living program is completely maxed. I offered to prepare him myself."
"Do you do that for all your kids or is he special?"
"You seem awfully invested. Since the boys will be living here, I like to know exactly what's going on in their lives that may affect how well they acclimate."
I can feel my face flushing with anger. If I were a cartoon character, steam would be pouring from my ears. As it is, I am trying my damnedest not to rip into this arrogant asshole.
"I have known those boys almost half their lives. They were the very first kids in my caseload. Believe it or not, I care about them."
Edward rests his elbows on his desk and clasps his hands together, holding them against his mouth. He doesn't say anything, he just watches me; studies me.
"Okay, I think I have everything," he finally says after a few minutes of silence.
I reach into my shoulder bag and grab my purse. Finding my card holder in one of the pockets I flick it open and pull out one of my cards. I set it down in front of him with a little more force than is necessary before standing up.
"Thank you, Mr. Cullen. I'm sorry I put you out this evening, but I appreciate you taking my boys. I'll show myself out," I say coldly.
I don't wait for him to respond; I am too tired and angry. I storm out of his office, down the hallway and out the front door as quickly as I can. I am absolutely petrified that if he catches up with me he will tell me that he has changed his mind. By the time I get home it will be nearly two and I have to be up at six in order to get back in time to take them to school.
I get into my car and slam the door shut.
What the fuck just happened?
I am half-way home when I realize that I didn't ask for a list of who lives in the house and who I will be communicating with for my reports.
"Shit!" I grumble to myself. "Now I'm going to have to talk to that asshole again."
My heartbeat does a little extra beat and I scowl. So what if he's sex on legs. I don't care if he could probably make a girl cum so hard she sees the father, son, and the Holy Spirit. He was acting like a total jerk. I mean, they are getting paid to house the boys, he's not really doing me that big of a favor. Besides, it's not like I'm looking.
I pull into my driveway noticing that the lights are still on in the living room.
"Waiting up for me again?" I ask after getting inside and setting my keys and purse down on the table in the foyer.
"Sorry, I don't like it when you're out this late."
I sit down on the sofa and let out a huge breath.
"The McCarty boys again?"
"Seth, I don't know what I'm going to do with them," I sigh laying my head down on his lap. He runs his hands through my hair, pulling it away from my face.
"There's nothing you can do, Bells. Emmett's about to age out and then Tyler can be left in one spot."
"You know it's not that easy," I whisper sadly. I wish it were that easy. Christ do I wish it were that easy.
"Yeah, I do, but I'm their lawyer, I'm supposed to have faith that everything will work out."
I nod, feeling my cheek rub along the fabric of his pajamas.
Seth is a children's attorney for the state. It's his duty to represent the best interest of the children involved in the foster care system.
"I placed them at the Cullen House," I sigh.
I can feel Seth take a silent deep breath.
"There was nowhere else?" he asks, continuing to brush my hair with his fingers soothingly.
"No. Not tonight there wasn't." My eyes are heavy and I just don't have the energy to keep them open anymore, so I don't even try.
"Well, I suppose if anyone can handle Emmett it will be the Cullen's."
"You think?" I yawn.
I know Seth has had a few kids at Cullen House over the last couple of years. We try not to discuss work when we're at home, because it's supposed to be a stress free zone, but sometimes it's inevitable. It is such a big part of both of our lives and since there are confidentiality issues, we can't just vent to outside sources.
"Yeah. I do."
I don't ask what he knows of The Cullen House or its proprietors. I don't know if I'm just too tired or simply don't care. No, I do care; I just don't want to admit to myself that I do. So I don't.
"Come on, Buttercup, time for bed," Seth says, pushing me into a sitting position and standing up.
I allow him to pull me up and drag me down the hallway.
After changing into my pajamas and brushing my teeth, I lie down and try not to think of Edward Cullen or the trouble he's going to cause me. And I find that doing that is much easier said than done.
Reviews are very much appreciated. Starting a new fic is always nerve wracking so I'd love to know what you think.