|Sins of My Past
Author: content1 PM
Bella was left by Edward to clean up the ruins of her life after his betrayal. What happens when Edward finds out that not all was as it seems. What are the consequences of his sins and what will he do to get her back? AH TwiFanFicRecs: Top Ten October 2012; Best Rec'd on Fan Fic Fridays 2012Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 88 - Words: 455,499 - Reviews: 10,393 - Favs: 2,415 - Follows: 2,056 - Updated: 01-14-13 - Published: 09-29-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7423404
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyer created it all.
As always, my thanks to Sherryola, Twiloversue, and LemonMartinis who pre-read and beta this story for me. I mention these ladies every week, but there is no way that words alone can describe what their help means to me. I bow down to their greatness.
Thanks to AllyVera for nominating Sins of My Past over on the Twilight Eclipse Awards for best Original Character – Carlie. Voting has started, and if you are enjoying the story, I would appreciate a vote.
I sent the Esme/Carlisle (Mother's Day) outtake to all reviews. If you didn't get the outtake, or want it, please let me know in a review. In addition, if you have your PM messaging blocked, send me a direct PM with your email address, and I'll send!
Also, to my readers outside the States, the football game described here is American football. I know the difference! Having lived in Spain for awhile, I am fully aware of what "real football" is! Just FYI, University of Washington is one of a group of colleges that the NFL has dubbed as a Quarterback University...they actively send recruiters to search out talented arms!
Lastly, Happy Mother's Day to each and every one of you (current or future Mother's). I've just consumed my breakfast composed of a HoneyBun, Toast, Coke, Juice, Yogurt, Cupcake, cereal, and granola bar (each child contributed). I'm just hoping I don't get sick – ha!
Thankfully, Jacob had brought Leah's car instead of his Jeep. I'd been mentally preparing to pull myself up into it, my chest still sore from my jerky flight from Bella of the past night. So I sighed in thanks upon seeing the sedan. My endurance was actually pretty good as long as whatever I was doing didn't put strain on the muscles around my injury. Moving to the back door, I pulled it open for Bella to slide in and watched as Jacob did the same for Leah up front. I grinned seeing that he took the opportunity to steal a quick kiss from her…and her playful shove and resulting giggle. The obvious love and affection between them made me glad and envious at the same time. Give it time, I told myself.
"So, Jake, where're we going?" Bella asked almost as soon as he closed the door.
He turned and smiled brilliantly at us. "Edward, do you think you could handle a football game? We can park close because I have priority clearance, the weather is supposed to be in the low 50's, and best of all…I have a box, so there'll be space to spread out."
I realized he was really saying "so that you can lay down if you need to," but he was attempting to protect my ego. The realization was stunning, considering just how I'd treated him in the past. Jacob was not the boy or man I'd thought. You already knew that, the good angel harped.
A football game? The flash of excitement raced through me. "UDub?"
His grin was fierce, like that of a wolf about to tear its prey apart. "Yup! One of my kids is their star quarterback, and he came through with the last minute tickets and arrangements."
"Bryce Jones is yours!" I spit out.
His grin turned up even brighter. "Yup!"
"Oh yeah!" I breathed out reverently, visions of purple and white already racing through my head.
Bella laughed out loud at our reactions, and I thought I heard her muttere "Boys," but it was so low I wasn't sure.
"But I didn't come prepared…"
Leah stopped me with her words. "Edward, my husband has a literal Football Preparedness Kit in the back of this car. Where others plan for Swine Flu and Doomsday, Jacob prepares for Saturday football."
Her words were said with just the right amount of long suffering, but the teasing look said she was right behind him in it.
"Blankets, extra jackets…all in UDub colors, drinks, water, snacks…they're all necessities." Jacob said the words with determination. "The game's at 3 p.m., so we've got time to go by Johnny's and get pizza."
Bella snorted, gaining my attention. "Jake's addicted to Johnny's. He and Seth fight over it."
"Speaking of…" I murmured "…where's Seth and Samantha? I thought they might come over to spend time with Carlie."
Leah grinned with maternal pride. "Sam demands one Carlie free Saturday each month. It's her 'Big Brother Day,' where he has to do whatever she wants. Today's the day, but I'm certain they'll be piled up on the couch with takeout pizza by three."
"Ordering delivery for them," Jake spoke at the same time, while Leah continued.
"And your mom had already called to ask us over for tomorrow, so they'll see each other then..." she left off with a shrug.
"Big Brother Day?" I looked to Bella for explanation.
"They've been doing it since about the time that Sam was able to talk. Bib' Butta' she called him."
Jacob snorted in glee as Leah grinned. "He hated the nickname, but now all she's gotta do is call him that and she gets anything she wants. She's got him whipped," My Love informed me. "Like mother, like daughter," Bella mock whispered, earning a growl from Jacob. Totally unconcerned, she spoke louder. "Leah trained her well."
Their banter reminded me of my siblings , so I sat back to watch the fireworks. Bella and Jake ripped into one another the entire way to the pizzeria.
"Are they always like this?" I quietly asked Leah as we walked into the restaurant, Jacob and Bella mock scuffling ahead of us.
"Always. He's been jonesing since she hasn't been around to tear a piece of his hide off. Been insufferable really. Needs his BS time."
Bella Swan or Bull Shit time? I wasn't quite sure which one was being indicated.
Having turned and seeing the look on my face, Jacob answered my question. "Both, since they equate to the same."
Bella screeched, having deduced what he was implying and then soundly smacked him in the bicep. He grinned like a village idiot in response before grabbing her up into a bone crushing hug. "Bells…I missed you. My arms have been needing the fly swats."
From where she stood beside me, Leah glanced over and rolled her eyes. It was clear that this was typical behavior. But any further questioning or teasing was cut off when we were led to a large booth at the side of the restaurant. Bella all but slid under my arm on the smooth wood bench, and I saw the assessing look on Jacob's face. He covered it quickly, but I knew he was still watching to see if I was serious about Bella and the situation. Too bad he wasn't a mind reader; my level of sincerity would have calmed his fears.
"Usual for drinks?" The waitress, who stepped up, asked of the table and upon seeing the other nods, turned to me as the stranger. "Sir?"
"Coke," I answered, knowing that I'd be good and have water later at the game.
As soon as she moved away, Jacob asked, "What kind of pizza do you like, Edward? The girls generally wimp out and have pepperoni."
"The meat lovers from here was amazing," I said of the few pieces I'd been allowed in the hospital.
"Excellent!" he growled out in happiness, throwing his arm around his wife's shoulder.
His fingers tickled her skin where her shirt sleeve exposed the smooth tan of her arms. Almost instinctually, she moved closed into him. Turning to Bella, I watched her grin at their behavior. It must be heart-warming to see them together after so long of being in their presence and denied the pleasure.
"Okay, I've got your drinks," the waitress said, setting everything down quickly and efficiently. "Eats?"
It was then that I learned the true depths of Jacob's stomach. Only Emmett could rival him. I was still chuckling at the sheer volume of food he could inhale as we pulled up to the football stadium. True to his word, Jacob had gotten clearance for priority parking, putting us close to the 'reserved' entrance. The crisp air as we stepped out of the car spoke of good football weather.
"Okay, time to load up," he quickly said, eager to get into the stadium now that we were here.
As efficiently as I'd ever seen anyone, he popped the trunk, and I got the first look at the 'Black Survival Kit.' Some of our planes were less equipped.
"Snacks for you, Bells," he handed me a backpack, and I realized that he meant for me to get her into it. She in turn handed me her folding cane to put inside the bag.
"I always get the 'goods'," she informed me. "Jake figured out that I'm less likely to be bothered at security." She snickered. "He's also been known to place embarrassing feminine products on top to discourage any of the really eager beavers."
"I can't help it if young college boys get all 'a flutter' when they see you and Leah. But my dad raised me to be smart and use what's given to me," Jake answered, loading Leah with another bag as I finished with Bella.
He brought a rolling cooler and the blankets out. "I can manage those," I told him, and then at his doubtful look, I stacked the blankets neatly against the handle and used a bungee cord I saw in the back of Leah's car to strap them. Seeing his widened eyes, I smirked and explained. "We have a box at Century Link, but Em likes to be down at field level. Jasper and I are his usual companions because the girls like to stay in the air." Seeing his interest, I offered up. "Any of the games you'd like to go to…you have an open invite."
"Cool!" he barked out, handing us each jackets and Bella a pair of sunglasses before taking another heavier bag to throw across his back. Then, looking at his watch and seeing the mass crowds through the gating, he urged us on.
Knowing now that Jacob had been Bryce's high school coach, I wasn't surprised when after security; we eased through all the rest of the gates to an elevator that would lead up to the private areas.
"You okay?" Bella asked, squeezing the hand she'd taken almost immediately after exiting the car.
"Yeah…I'm fine." Even with security, we hadn't had to walk very far from where Jacob had been able to park. Her assessing look told me that she was going to worry. I huffed at her, causing her to shake her head. "I promise I'll tell you if I'm getting too tired." As if on instinct, I raised our combined hands to her face, my fingertip smoothing down her jaw to comfort her. The contact sent shivers down my spine, and I saw her pupil dilate as well.
Jacob's throat clearing was the only thing that brought us back to attention. His smirk promised that we'd receive appropriate harassment for our distraction. Thankfully, the elevator door opened, providing another focus. It was but a short walk to the door, which opened into a medium sized room complete with a solid wall of glass looking out over the 50 yard line, several couches and various movable chairs, a small bar and kitchenette, and a widescreen TV for up close coverage.
"Wow! Nice," Leah muttered, following Jacob in.
I agreed. It was well done particularly for a college stadium. "Fifty yard line? Good connections," I admitted to Jacob.
Moving quickly, we all helped to throw the food in the frig and get set up for the start, but when I went to unpack the backpack that Jacob had carried, a thrill raced through me. He'd included several pairs of high power binoculars. "Bella, do you want to try these to see if they will work to let you see the game?" I asked.
Jacob looked to me in confusion, but then growing hope.
"I think that with the glasses, you might be able to use the magnification," I told her as she walk slowly over, a look on her face that was a mixture of hope and disbelief. "C'mon, over here," I said, walking to the plate glass. I grinned in anticipation, moving her in front of me so that I could stand at her back before gathering her hair gently. Looping the leather straps around her neck, I directed her. "Hold them up and tell me what you see."
Placing my hands on her shoulders, I felt the slight tension that took over her when she moved the binoculars down to look at the field.
"I see blurs and silhouettes."
I reached up and adjusted the lenses slightly. "Better or worse?"
Moving the focus again, I heard her hiss. "Better?"
"Yes, the blurs are becoming clearer."
Leah appeared at my side, and I glanced over to see her watching us closely. She was biting her lip to keep from becoming upset. Smiling at her, I went back to adjusting the binoculars and felt Bella trembling against me.
"Stop! Perfect!" she said in a startled tone. "I can see them!"
Leah put her fist to her mouth, trying to control a sob.
"JAKE! I can see them! Hey, what number is Bryce again?" Her voice gurgled in excitement.
"What gate do they come out of?" she asked almost as quickly as he answered.
He'd moved beside her and answered, "To your left."
Had she looked, Bella would have found her two best friends fighting hard to keep tears from flowing, but she was engulfed in the amazing new world the binoculars provided. It was without a doubt that I would be purchasing the best pair my money could buy. I couldn't figure out why I hadn't already thought about this. When Bella leaned back into me in a relaxed manner, I took the opportunity to wrap my arms around her waist, resting my chin on the top of her head.
"I'm going to turn on the TV so that we can hear the announcers," Jacob announced, capturing my attention. He took the moment to mouth "thank you" silently. What he was thanking me for, I couldn't understand.
Within a minute, the sounds outside the windows before us filled the room, the chanting fans, the voice of the announcers, the comparisons of stats. The game was going to be highly competitive, the Huskies going against the cross-state rival WSU. It made me think to tell Jake something.
"Hey, good job on Bryce. Rumor is he's already being scouted by several NFL teams."
He came back to stand with us, Bella not having moved from my arms or from in front of the glass where she stood still surveying the scene below us. "Yeah, unfortunately." Answering the quizzical look on my face he went further, "He's young, and he has a good head on his shoulders, but his dad and I continue to reinforce the benefit of staying all four years. It helps and hurts that he's here."
"Quarterback U," I mumbled.
"Exactly," he grinned. "We were ecstatic when he was recruited, but immediately began hammering into him not to be seduced by the glitz of it all."
"He'll be fine; his mom will keep him straight," Leah added to the conversation. "That woman even scares me, but in a good way. She's determined to see her son graduate college, and so he will," she snickered.
"His dad and I sat him down and gave him the 'scared straight' talk. Brought up Nick Greene."
Bella felt my reaction and finally lowered the binoculars to turn and look up at me. "Edward?"
"I knew Nick, from undergrad. It wasn't like I was personal friends with him, but we ran in the same circles."
Nick, a senior at UDub, was the brightest of the bright, had an arm of gold, and was on his way to Dallas as the Cowboys draft choice. Nick was also a party boy, and the night he'd gotten high and decided to drive, he and I'd attended the same gathering. Only through the grace of a power higher than me, I'd left the scene an hour before Nick did, crashing his car into another car just outside the party. A family of four had been killed, Nick paralyzed.
Jacob had grown still, a stoic look on his face.
Removing my arms from around Bella, I turned to face him, to put one of my many mistakes on display. "I have a history, Jacob. I don't know what Bella has shared with you and Leah, but you should know that I chose to bury a lot with drugs for a good many years. My parents fought against my addiction long enough to help me win against it, but it wasn't until my later years in college."
"What did you use?" he asked in a soft tone, while the crowd outside the window went crazy preparing for the start of the game.
"Coke and pot mostly, mixed with alcohol. I did Heroin occasionally." It was hard to maintain eye contact with him; his dark eyes had gone hard.
"How long have you been clean?"
"Well, before my surgery, since my Junior year in college."
"You actually count being on the pain meds from surgery as not being clean?" Leah asked, having moved to Jacob's side and leaning into him.
"Well, I'm not literally clean." I shrugged, but heard Bella's huff of disgust beside me.
"When was the last time you used a drug for pleasure?" Jacob countered.
"Junior year, here."
"I would say then that you've been clean since then…coming off the meds from surgery is something most anyone would have to do, Edward. I admit you may have a harder time than some, but you know it is what it is. By the way, Aro had already told us all that, but I appreciate your honesty. I always knew you had to be fucked up to give up on Bells, I just didn't know in what way."
"Jake!" both Leah and Bella shrieked, Leah punching his arm at the statement.
I actually thought it was a good shot. He was letting me know what he thought about what I'd done, but in a way that said he was ready to move along. I nodded in acknowledgment. It was out, I knew what he thought, and we would go forward…but he would be watching. It was fair.
He smirked at me before circling a hissing Leah in his arms and kissing her. "Babe, don't worry, it's a male thing. I flexed my muscles, he accepted how I feel, and I do believe he plans to convince me he's changed. Male posturing, you know… He's fine, I'm fine, and we'll go from here. Right Edward?" Now the amiable smile was back in place.
"Right!" I agreed, grinning back at him. I would bet he was a pro in male posturing considering the teenage jocks he managed on a daily basis.
Bella glared at me though. "So just like that, you're okay with it?"
"Well, it's the truth. I was 'fucked up' to give you up." I couldn't help but brush a stray lock of hair away from her face gently. The honesty must have placated her, because she "humphed" at me and then turned back toward the field, putting the binoculars back to her face.
Just as Leah was about to say something else, Bella squealed with glee as the team poured onto the field. "Shh! Here they come!"
And the moment was smoothed over by the excitement of the game. Distracted by the ability to see the field, Bella remained standing for the time that Leah and I went to the small kitchen area to retrieve the water, chips, and trail mix.
"Thanks for being honest with us, Edward," Leah said softly, her eyes glancing over to see Jacob pointing players out to Bella.
"I know I have a long way to go to win back your trust, Leah…maybe you more than Jacob, considering what you witnessed of my past mistakes. I love her. I know that love doesn't always conquer all, but I want it to in this case. She and Carlie are the most important things in my life. Even if she doesn't chose to stay with me, that fact won't change. I still have a lot to learn though. She isn't the girl that I left behind," I admitted.
"No, no she isn't. She a competent woman who knows her place in life."
Seeing Bella turn at something Jacob said, I smiled in total infatuation. "She was a competent girl then, Leah. She's just Bella. And being Bella, she's protecting me from her feelings and emotions. We're working on it, and she's opening up, which I'm grateful for."
"Why are you telling me this?" she asked, but the tone wasn't confrontational.
"I'm sorry if I stepped over a line. You're her sister, and I wanted to let you know my intentions."
"Which are?" She was staring at me, assessing me as clearly as her husband had.
I felt the stain of the blush that lit up my face. "I want it all, I want what you and Jacob have…what I think Bella and I would have had if I'd been the person she needed then."
"I want to be half the father to her that my father has been to me, that Jacob has been to her." The sentence had come out without thought. Leah was a smart woman; she saw that it had come from the heart.
"Very well, prove to me that you mean that, and you'll have my support."
"Hey you two, what are you talking about over there?" Bella called out over the screaming crowd on the TV and outside the windows. "Kick off is about to happen, hurry up."
The Huskies had won the toss, so within minutes we were being wowed by Bryce Jones' arm.
Three minutes before the half, third down and four yards to go on the forty yard line had Jacob and I standing at each other's side, shouting out recommendations. We were up by seven already, but going into the half with a two touchdown lead would be icing.
"Gotta run it," Jacob yelled against the glass, pounding his fist slightly at the divider.
"NO! Pass, go for it, they'll be expecting a run," I argued.
"Are you crazy!" he roared. "NO!"
"Do the unexpected!" I countered.
We both gasped at the snap, waiting in expectation to see who'd guessed right. Bryce step back into protection, his favorite receiver darting out from an opening and flying down the field like a bullet.
"Pass!" I gasped in exultation and Jacob in disbelief.
As beautiful as a choreographed ballet, the ball sprouted wings out of Bryce's hands bound for the boy tearing down the field. Like a magnet, it zoomed into the receiver's grasp, and the crowds' roar was no louder in the room that mine and Jacob's. A good five yards lead on the nearest defensive back; it was a walk in the park. Overwhelmed with the feel of victory, Jacob raised his hand up to give me five and then reconsidered, realizing if he hit me as hard as he was going to, I'd be on the floor in the state I was. Instead, he held back keeping the "high five" to a bare stinging slap.
Bella squeezed my other hand, thank goodness on the side of my injury, in happiness at our male bonding, the binoculars still glued to her eyes. The coach was wise in using up a good chunk of the remaining time setting up for the field goal. I wanted to believe that WSU slunk into the locker rooms to lick their wounds.
Having been riding high on the thrill of the game, I suddenly felt the fatigue pulling at me, and when I saw Bella finally lower the binoculars, the tension around her eyes was evident as well. Half time – a few minutes of respite. Just as I was about to admit to the need to lay down for a short rest, Jacob spoke.
"Leah and I are going down to the locker room. She likes looking at the sweaty guys; I need to give Bryce a pep talk," he said, pulling his scowling wife after him. "Bells, close your eyes for a little and talk the Redhead into joining you." With those orders he lowered the noise from the TV and then exited the room.
"Redhead?" I attempted not to be insulted.
"It's better than his previous nickname for you. Several steps up actually." She smirked at me, and it was hard to be insulted when there was little I could do about what genetics had given me…the behavior that had earned the other 'nicknames'…yeah, I had had something to do with those I was certain.
"Headache?" I asked, seeing her take off the glasses and rub at her eyes.
"No, but I will have one soon, I'm afraid."
"Then, come rest with me for a few moments," I begged, pulling her toward the largest couch. It would be tight, but who was I to complain about being pressed up against her.
Rolling up one of the blankets to make a pillow of sorts, I sat and then patted the space beside me. "Just a quick rest, but first…would you like me to rub your temples?" I offered.
The interest flared immediately in her eyes. Bella's one weakness had always been my back rubs. I hadn't offered and she hadn't asked, because for me, putting my hands on her wasn't the best idea at this time. I didn't know why she hadn't mentioned them as of yet.
Her answer to the current offer was to come and sit down beside me, spinning around to lay back, her head in my lap upon the makeshift pillow. Beautiful... "Close your eyes," I chuckled, and then watched her arch a delicate eyebrow at me before doing as I said.
She'd left her glasses on the table, so I used my fingertips to smooth over her eyebrows and toward her hairline as if I was brushing away her cares and concerns. Her skin was like silk, and I kept the caresses soft, working over the strain I felt in her temples. Smoothing across her cheeks and down her neck to her shoulders, I turned slightly to give myself a better angle and worked against the tight muscles of her neck and upper shoulders. The repetitive nature of my movements soothed me as much as her, and her groans of pleasure made me smile.
"You held the binoculars up too long," I reprimanded softly.
"But I could see!" she exclaimed in explanation and then grinned.
I couldn't control the need to tap my fingers against her lips softly, moving quickly back up and over her cheeks to tug at her hair softly. While my hands worshiped her, I gave myself leave to gaze upon her…the fine eyelids feathered with the delicate blue veins, the cheek bones highlighted with a slight blush, the plump rose of her lips. After a few minutes, I felt her relax almost bonelessly against me.
"Lay down with me," she mumbled sleepily. Wish…command.
Lifting slightly to get out from under her, I scooted to the edge, and she moved to pull the pillow to one of the couch ends, putting her back against the cushions. Within a second, I was on my back, her head resting on my shoulder; her hand lay over my heart and healing wound. The feel of her gently touching me there was oddly endearing, as if she was attempting to protect me from further harm. She'd always attempted to protect me, when I was a boy and lost, and even when she called the drunken me…begging me to please contact her, trying to protect me from making the worst decision of my life. Knowing she was already sleeping, I turned to place a kiss on her forehead before the nap overtook me as well.
"Don't wake them…"
"They'll miss kickoff…"
"…not the most important thing…"
"…Kinda cute…can I mess with them…"
The sound of a slap.
The banter was almost intriguing enough to surface for, but then I felt Bella's arm tighten around me and her murmur disgruntledly in her sleep. Muffled cheers seem to surround us, but I discounted the disturbance and pulled the warm body beside me closer, floating away again.
A roar woke me up sometime later, and this time I forced my eyes open…momentarily disoriented. A movement to my side quickly reminded me of where I was, and I moved slowly in an effort not to wake the woman cuddled to me. Her fingers gripped my shirt tightly, so I began to lay back down, but I saw her eyes open slowly. Another roar happened, and she growled.
"Jake! You let us sleep through some of the game!" she grumped.
"Uh… Uh… Don't blame me, I wanted to wake you, but Leah insisted." A scream outside the window distracted him.
"Feel better?" I asked, running my fingertip over her eyebrows again.
"Did you get enough rest?" she countered.
Her question brought the pain into focus; I'd forgotten to take my meds, and I was afraid that it would become obvious soon. Accurately judging the situation, Bella narrowed her eyes and quickly crawled from behind me, headed for the kitchenette. She was quickly back with a bottle of water.
"Pill!" She held out her hand, and I moved to pull the pack out of my jeans.
My hands shook a little as I swallowed down the damned thing. It would probably take at least a half hour before it helped, but I refused to allow the delay to ruin the rest of the day. I struggled up and took a moment to get my balance. Jacob watched me like an eagle, assessing my abilities as a coach would one of his protégées after a good hard hit. It would seem he determined me capable seconds before I did, turning back to the window and giving me my dignity.
"What quarter are we in?" I asked.
"Top of the fourth," Leah supplied. "I wasn't going to allow you to sleep much longer; no nap is worth missing us kicking their ass."
"Score?" Bella squealed, grabbing her glasses and the binoculars again. She pointed to one of the chairs Jacob had pulled in front of the windows, telling me exactly where she wanted me. Smirking, I sat and she scooted into my lap, immediately engrossed in the action below us.
"We're ahead by twenty one."
The shame on WSU was great, and the crowd went wild. The madness covered up the countdown, and crazed college kids stormed the field with ten seconds left. Somewhere in the chaos, Bryce was being carried out on his teammates' shoulders.
"Damn, do you think we can get down there?" Jacob asked, surveying the sea of purple and white. It was pandemonium. "I told Bryce about your little surprise, and he wanted to see you, Bells. 'Kinda hinted that we'd find him after the game, but I'm thinking I'll have to renege on that proposal."
One of the goal posts shook, and the doctor in me was predicting lots of stitches and possibly several concussions. As an UDub grad, I was guessing that those that would receive them could care less, carrying them around as badges of honor.
Bella was laughing in joy at what she saw. I wished in that moment that she'd been able to experience college, the full effect, the fun, the craziness, the thrill of not only scholastic pursuits but also the foolish and instantaneous behavior of tearing down a goal post.
She fussed about the possibility that I'd get jostled by the crowds the entire time we made our way toward the car, drunk and ecstatic college kids screaming and partying around us. The feel in the air was electric; the vibe impossible to ignore. The only incident that threatened to spoil it for us was when a kid decided to snatch Bella from me and kiss her in drunken hype. She handled it better than I expected, patting his cheeks in big sister like behavior before he twirled her and set her down to run after his howling friends.
"You know, Edward. I could become a cougar," she teased, glancing in the direction that the young man had disappeared.
"You could," I acknowledged. "He'd probably have the energy to keep up with you."
She didn't know whether or not to scream at me or laugh, but Jacob bellowed out in great guffaws. Stalking back to me she grabbed me by the shirt, pulling me down to raise up on her tiptoes and giving me a kiss that scorched me all the way to my toes. Then to put me in my place, she smacked her lips and declared, "I'm not sure which one of you was better."
"I'll take him, if you don't want him," a girl squealed from an equally as drunk group of sorority sisters passing us.
Before we reached the car, the four of us were acting as silly as the crowd around us. Bella was leading me by my shirt; Jacob had thrown Leah on his back effortlessly. The trip out of the area was slow going but entertaining.
"Jacob, thank you for the day," I said quickly. "This was…amazing."
"No prob. Next date is on you," he challenged, making me wonder how I could top it.
I'd have to ask Carlie just what would be special for Jacob and Leah. Glancing over, I saw Bella looking at me, and I reached over to brush my thumb across her bottom lip. She winked at me, almost at about the same time a girl pounded on Jacob's window, making various propositions to him. Leah growled out, but Bella's tinkling laughter filled the car. Even I could see the blush on Jacob's face as the girl informed him of what she'd like to do to him. I could imagine that the man had been propositioned many times, with his dark, good looks and physique.
I was tired, going to crash immediately upon arrival at home, but it'd been worth it. Jacob stopped and grabbed burgers for dinner and then muttered under his breath about the "crazy girl" almost the entire way back to my parents'.
Before we walked into the house, I held my hand out to Jacob and said with sincerity, "It's been a pleasure. Next time is on me, it may have to still be your mad driving skills though." The firm grip was man to man.
"I can handle that." He looked to where Leah and Bella were saying goodbye. "Look Cullen, I can see that you make her happy, and what makes Bella happy makes me happy. Simple as that."
I nodded, accepting his offer of a new beginning.
"And when you get healthy again…I want a redo of our first fight. My ego took a beating on that one."
Pulling Bella into a hug, we watched them pull away. "Damn, I'm tired," she whispered. "I've been to many games with them, but today was just crazy."
The wind stirred her hair around her face, and I took the chance to touch her, pushing strands back behind her ears. "Tomorrow, if my parents have anything to do with it, will be as chaotic."
"Did Jake give you too hard of a time when he thought Leah and I were distracted?"
I chuckled…she was entirely too observant. "Just warned me to keep you happy."
"Okay," she said softly. "You do, you know. I know you have these great plans to wow me, but simple things like today, just being able to enjoy it with you…it feels right."
"Can I still try to wow you, though? Just a little." My hands cupped her face, my heart on my sleeve. She turned suddenly shy, moving to place her face against my chest. "What's this about?" I asked, holding her against me.
"Nothing really, I have to admit that it is a little scary. I keep expecting to wake up from this to find it has all been a dream."
I nodded my head, knowing that she could sense my understanding. Only time and consistency would take that fear away from her.
"Let's go inside. We need to get to bed. Mom isn't going to give us a break just because we spent the day out. Be prepared for lots of prep work," I warned.
Moving together, we entered the house. Noises from the living room drew us, and I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing when we found my father having tea with Samantha, Carlie, Emmy, and Jasmine. Across the room, makeup had been left out, and I was certain that if I looked close enough, my father would be wearing fingernail polish. It wasn't the first time he'd been decked out in that way.
He looked up to find us in the doorway, my arm around Bella's shoulder and smiled in pleasure seeing us there. "We're going to spend the night in the living room," he announced, nodding his head to the pile of sleeping bags.
Carlie separated from the group and moved to hug first her mother and then me. "Seth called me to tell me about the game. Was it as fun as it sounded?" she asked.
"Yes!" Bella announced and then proceeded to tell her all about it.
It took another hour sitting around the kitchen table to really do our date justice. Carlie laughed at the antics of the students and about Jacob reaction to the girl flirting with him. I learned that my observation wasn't off when my daughter rolled her eyes and said, "He gets it all the time; he should be used to it by now."
"Edward, go take your shower," Bella said when she caught me dozing off. "I'll be there soon."
I wondered if she just wanted to have some alone time with Carlie, so I didn't argue, kissing both of their foreheads before I moved toward my room.
My fatigue fled as soon as I walked in the door and saw the bed. EMMETT!
Red silk sheets covered the bed and black nylon ropes came in from the posts at angles toward two strategically laid out scraps of silk. They hardly qualified as a bra and sleep shorts.
Damnit! The vision of Bella in that silk immediately filled my senses, but the thought of her walking in to see what Emmett had laid out was beyond horrifying. Growling furiously, I hurried forward, in an attempt to get the ropes undone before Bella saw it. Fate had never been the kindest of taskmistresses for me. Just as I was jerking at the last one, she walked in, eyes going large at seeing me kneeling on red silk, tugging at the black binding. The rope suddenly felt like a viper in my hands…something that was going to turn around and bite me.
"I…" my voice croaked, and I felt the rush of heat in my face. I tried to clear my throat, but nothing would come out through my embarrassment.
"Exactly what are you doing?" she asked, her tone suspiciously neutral.
"Dying of mortification."
Her face lit up in amusement, and then she pegged the criminal. "Emmett?"
"YES!" The word came out as a curse.
But she didn't give me a break either, walking over to run her fingers across the material directly beside me. "Nice…" Her voice was a purr, as soft and alluring as the material below me.
There was only so much a man could take. "Oh, God!" I groaned.
My reaction pleased her, but thankfully she found mercy for me buried somewhere deep inside her heart and relented. "C'mon, I'll help you take the sheets off," she offered, going to the edge and pulling. "Where would he have hidden the ones that were on here?"
"I have no f'ing clue," I admitted, tucking the cords in my back jeans pocket. I was imagining wrapping them around Emmett's throat at the moment…which was far better for me physically than the visual of them around Bella's narrow wrists. I had to shake myself as the enticing picture materialized.
"Hey, what's this?" she inquired, seeing a piece of folded paper in the middle of the bare mattress.
Unfolding it, she narrowed her eyes. "If you're finding this…you've either turned chicken or torn the sheets off in passion. Either way, another treat waits where you may either find feet to your courage or a clean place to land." She read.
She giggled. "He's sending us on a treasure hunt."
Imagining just what would be along the various stages of the way, I swore, "I'm going to kill him, Bella. I swear it." My hands clenched on the red silk in the manner I would've liked to have throttled my brother's throat.
"Don't rip that, I have plans for it one day," she challenged me, and the silk fell from my fingers to the bed like it had scalded me. "Now…" she tapped her lip with the folded paper "…a place to land? Hm…." With that, she began walking toward the other room, and I realized exactly what she was thinking…the other bed.
Damn it! What could he have put there? I started to rush around her, but Bella laughed and stepped in my way, blocking me.
"Ooops!" she squeaked out in a totally unconvincing manner and then dashed away to get through the door before I could. "Damn…" Her voice was reverent.
I put my head down into my hands. There was always the age-old and time-honored art of retreat.
"Edward, come see this," she called me, and like an idiot I moved into the room.
Lust…it was a tricky thing. To see her holding the black, thigh-high leather boots stole the breath from me. My brother was a dead man. Dead, dead man. Bra, shorts, boots…
"Hm…" I jerked back from my fantasies.
"The pain medication is wearing off," I refuted, attempting to explain my dazed look. My ploy didn't work, and she broke out laughing at my joke.
"Okay, so where's the note?" she inquired, already digging through the pillows. "I have to admit…Em did well with these…they'll make my butt look good," she said of the boots, jiggling them at me while she bent over the bed.
She was temptation incarnate. I turned to put my back to her, and it was then I saw the note stuck to the full length mirror attached to the back of the opened closet door.
"Bro, by now your either being very dirty, or knowing you, you're attempting to keep your thoughts clean in order to keep from attacking BB. I can help with that."
Bella squeaked and ran, once again beating me out of the room. Emmett wasn't the most creative person in the world. His pattern was all too clear and all too suggestive. I sat on the bare mattress of my bed, dread making me almost sick.
"Edward…what's your favorite flavor? Strawberry? Or Passion Fruit?"
My suspicion was confirmed when her arm stuck out the doorway, shaking a bottle of flavored oil. When she disappeared, a hum of electricity made me jolt. I refused to go into the bathroom. Refused!
"I'm fine right here."
"Bok! Bok!" she clucked like a chicken.
"You can say that again," I mumbled too low for her to hear.
"I'm sure you know what to do with most of this," she murmured, her voice low and sultry. A snap of leather and I was on my feet and across the room to stand just in front of the bathroom door…in front of the exit leading out to the porch.
Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now? If I stay there will be trouble… If I go there will be double… The Clash members suddenly seemed like Rhodes scholars to me. How true, how true…
The devil angel actually had me taking a step toward her and the things she was investigating.
STOP! I yelled internally. Do not step a foot in that bathroom!
"If none of this has tickled your fancy, maybe with my last surprise you'll finally find your wings."
Odd wording, but I spun through the outside door before Bella could beat me this time. Seeing the small box leaning up against the glass of the feeder, I grabbed it and held it high; knowing that Bella would do whatever it took to get it from me. Sure enough, her hands ran across my chest and ribs torturing me before traveling up my arm as far as she could, attempting to reach it.
"C'mon Edward…how much worse can it get. If you saw what he left in the bathroom, you'd be prepared for anything. I don't even think some of those things are physically possible," she gurgled in laughter. Her brown eyes glowed with mirth, her cheeks rosy from the laughter and effort. She was absolutely adorable…and determined.
Her teasing me took me back to our carefree days, when it had felt comfortable to just be. I took the opportunity to goose her side attempting to distract her. She shrieked, the sound echoing out over my mother's meticulously pruned and beloved bird sanctuary, the joyous sound being caught by the wind and flung to the heavens above us. I wasn't going to open the box…it was going with me over to Emmett's, and I was going to give it my best effort to shove it where the sun didn't shine…contents and all.
Bella reciprocated my playful actions with a pinch to my butt causing me to yelp out. In the resulting mock scuffle, I made the mistake of lowering my arm in response and she leapt, grabbing at my elbow. Thinking I'd be slick, I tossed the box attempting to catch it with my other hand, but missed entirely, hearing it fall to the tiled patio floor behind me. In defense, I scooped the writhing woman in my arms and did what I'd wanted to do all day and pulled her lips to mine. Secluded in the romantic setting, it seemed as if I didn't kiss her, that something inside of me would explode.
It was just a quick one…full of joy, the fun of the day, and the happiness I felt at our carefree antics. I broke away, unable to trust myself to much more after the visual stimulation my brother had supplied. Damn Emmett…
"I sincerely had the best day," she whispered against my lips. Standing on her tip toes to steal yet another one, she bit my lower lip quickly before lowering back down. "Grab whatever he decided to leave us as the last harassment, and let's go to bed."
"Without Emmett's gifts!" I begged.
"But several of them seemed quite interesting…"
"Bella!" I snarled.
Her tinkling laughter floated back after her; the grin on my face was a mile wide.
Poor Emmett. Edward was going to tear into his brother as soon as he could. I couldn't help but chuckle at his suggestive gifts, but what had Edward really expected? Emmett wouldn't be Emmett without teasing us…it was just who he was. The Christmas I'd spent with them, Emmett had sent me on a wild goose chase that had ended right back under the tree.
Moving into the bathroom, I packed all the toys into the box that Emmett had left behind, turning several over in my hands to examine them before putting them up. I was intrigued by a few, but the yawn that split my face ruined any salacious thoughts or plans. I almost wished that we could sleep late in the morning, but we wouldn't be able to. It made me think…
"Edward, what time should I expect to get up?"
"Edward, what time will your mom come get us to help?" I asked a little louder.
Curious as to what he was doing, I walked back into the room to see. It was empty. Confused, I turned to look out the glass to see if he was still there, and that was when I began screaming Carlisle's name as I ran.
On his knees on the patio, he slumped over, one arm wrapped around his chest as if he was in pain.
"Edward!" I gasped out, falling to my knees beside him.
Grabbing his hand, I didn't breathe until I felt his fingers flex against mine.
"Bell…" Edward choked out, a lone tear traveled down his face, and I almost screamed Carlisle's name again, but saw him tearing through the door, Carlie after him.
"Call 911!" I yelled, but heard Edward's gasp and then he managed a soft "no."
"Son," Carlisle, having fallen to his knees as well, took Edward's hand from me and immediately began monitoring his blood pressure.
"Dad, ok!" He panted; his face a study in physical distress. "Just…overcome. Carlie…get Emmett please," he begged.
"Baby, I'm fine, just need Em."
"'kay," she agreed, her eyes wild, but she leapt up and ran from the room, trusting that Edward would tell her if more was needed.
"Edward, where do you hurt?" Carlisle asked, his clinical eyes roaming over the strained face before him.
"My heart, Dad, my heart." It was then I saw that the arm that I'd assumed had wrapped around him had really just been placing his hand above his heart. Then he confused us both by saying, "But in all the right ways."
I didn't think I'd ever heard Carlisle sound inelegant. My shock was increased when Edward finally released his chest, took the hand he'd held above his wound and grabbed mine, cupping it between his two. I almost jerked away at the feel of something cold between them, but when Edward opened his hands, mine cupped between them, I saw the reason for his distress.
Cradled in my hand was our bracelet…
As always, I would love to know what you think.
My review outtake for this week is probably one of the most difficult I've written because of the person's voice. Samantha's thoughts about her new situation, home, and family.