|A Little Too Late
Author: capitalab PM
**note: this story is currently on hiatus. i'm sorry for any frustration this might cause.** Ten years ago, Edward fought to get his family back. With a rebellious sixteen year old and problems of his own, will he lose them again?Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 7 - Words: 22,118 - Reviews: 384 - Favs: 409 - Follows: 653 - Updated: 02-28-12 - Published: 12-09-11 - id: 7623521
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter Seven: New Beginnings
"Do you think I'm a bad kid?"
I looked up from my computer at Tori as she sat in my office, having been picked up from school earlier in the day. They caught her messing around in the parking lot with one of the seniors—her boyfriend, she insisted. Both were given four day suspensions, which didn't make a whole lot of sense considering the amount of free time they were sure to have in the next few days to finish the job. For that reason Alice didn't want her at home alone. Jasper was busy on patrol today, so having nothing better to do, I volunteered to share my office for the afternoon.
"No, I don't," I answered honestly. Her question caught me off-guard, but not so much because I was afraid of my answer. Truly, I didn't think Tori was a bad kid. Actually, I kind of liked the girl... but I would never tell Alice or Edward that. I understood my best friend's reasons for concern, but I also knew how easily it was to misconstrue a situation. Positive guidance was sure to go a long way.
I turned off my computer monitor, knowing Tori probably deserved my undivided attention. The station's paperwork could wait. "Do you know how old I was when I got pregnant with my son?"
She shook her head.
"Only two years older than you are now. I made a stupid decision, got drunk, and slept with a guy. It was totally out of character, but do you think anyone who saw me on the street would know that? I was a single mom until Seth was five, living in low income housing and barely keeping my head above the water."
"Wow," she gasped. "You seem pretty put together now though."
I shrugged. "Tori, I know you come from a crappy situation—way worse than I or anyone else could ever imagine. But we can't control where we come from. The only thing we can control is what we do with what we're given. And for you, it looks like you've been given the opportunity of a lifetime: a fresh start."
"I don't want to be like my mom."
"Then don't let yourself be like your mom," I countered.
"But I don't really want to be like Alice either," she added. "She hates me... not that I blame her."
"Give Alice some time. She hated Edward too, but look at them now. They're like office besties or something like that."
Tori laughed. I hated to admit it, but I'd never seen her show so much emotion before. She typically kept her guard up around everyone except Jasper, and I knew he'd be thanking me later. Her next words came from nowhere. They were very serious. "The only time I've ever had sex willingly, it was because some guy at the bowling alley offered to pay."
It was hard to stomach Tori's confession. My morning sickness had already gotten the best of me once, and hearing Tori talk so casually about non-consensual sex and sex-for-hire was almost enough to bring on a second wave of vomit. I fought the urge to lay my head down on her desk, not wanting to give her the wrong idea. My pregnancy was only in its sixth week, and Edward and I were waiting to reveal the big news.
"And what about the parking lot today? What was that about?"
"I guess I just wanted James to like me."
I sighed, almost positive that James or whatever his name was probably did like her now. What teenage boy wouldn't love a blow job before third period? If word got out, she would probably be the most pursued girl in school. My advice was generic, but I had to wonder if her worthless mother had ever cared enough to say it. "If a guy only likes you for sex, then he's not worth it. Trust me." I added, "Tori, you have to learn to say no. I'm sorry if for whatever reason that wasn't an option in the past, but this is a fresh start. Remember?"
I continued, "I know this is probably going to sound crazy now, but the more you put yourself out there, the duller you'll feel when you actually find someone worthy enough to share something like that with. Sex isn't supposed to be cheap... literally and metaphorically... and especially not at sixteen."
"So you think I should wait for true love or whatever?"
"Not necessarily. But I do think you should wait. I mean, what if you were to get pregnant? It only takes one time. Trust me, I'm kind of an expert on the subject."
"You said you were a single mom. Did Seth's dad not want anything to do with you?"
I hesitated, unsure of how to answer. My eyes drifted to a framed picture on my desk of the three of us, taken ten years ago on the night we told Carlisle and Esme of our relationship. Edward, Seth, and I sat at the piano as he played a couple of songs he'd written for us. I couldn't help but remember how different things had been back then and smiled at how far we'd come. "Edward just had to figure out some things first, that's all."
"Edward is Seth's dad? You forgave him?"
"Sure did. I guess we eventually accepted the fact that we were meant to be together, and we've been happy ever since."
"Do you think I have someone out there too?"
"Sure. Why not?"
"Well, what if it was your son? I mean, do you think you'd ever approve of him dating a girl like me?"
I wasn't prepared to answer that question. Would I approve of Seth dating a stray, emotionally troubled girl? Probably not. I knew Edward definitely wouldn't, and especially not so young. As much as I hated to accept it, Seth was like every other hormone-fueled teenage boy, and Tori was apparently willing to give up the prize far too easily.
I turned the picture around so she could see. "To be honest, I'm not so sure I approve of my baby boy dating anyone."
Jasper picked the perfect moment to enter my office, distracting Tori and providing me with an opportunity to get away without actually answering her question. He asked if she was ready to go, and she hesitated. Jasper could be rather terrifying when he was angry, and that was made clear by the way the atmosphere in the room changed with his presence. I knew she was in for some rather harsh discipline, and even though it was well deserved, I still felt sympathy for her. Tori offered me a tight smile before grabbing her things.
Stopping at the doorway, she offered up a sincere thank you. I smiled in return, extending an invitation for her to come back anytime if she needed to talk. Jasper's face morphed from anger to relief.
"I'm really sorry, Jasper," I heard her say. I doubted Jasper provided her with a response.
I set the picture back onto my desk and straightened it along with the few others of Seth, EJ, Keaton, and Kristen—my babies. I'd do anything for them, and the little bean growing inside me was no different. Nothing could compare to the love I felt for each and every one of my children, and their father too. I only wanted the best for them, which translated into making wiser decisions than Edward and I had. Our story was rare. We were lucky, and I could almost guarantee that if Seth found himself in a similar situation with a pregnant girl, he wouldn't be.
Three little monkeys jumping on the bed.
That's what Edward and I woke up to the morning after our reconciliation.
Okay, so they weren't actually monkeys. And they weren't very little either. I had anticipated an early morning ambush, but these kids were so hyped up you'd think their older brother gave them Kool-Aid and Count Chocula for breakfast. They were understandably excited to see their parents together after a month of Daddy being out of the house, but bombarding us at 8:45 in the morning was a little extreme.
I blamed Edward for unlocking the bedroom door in the first place, but at least we were smart enough to get dressed before doing so.
"Bellllla," he groaned, keeping his eyes tightly closed. I knew he was exhausted. He said so as we drifted to back to sleep this morning, having stayed awake most of the night. "Why did we have all of these kids?"
He was only teasing, but I couldn't help but ask myself the same thing. Nothing beat sleeping in on a Saturday morning, and this was especially true after an overindulgent night with my husband. Ten weeks without sex took its toll, especially on Edward, and I knew I had a lot to compensate for. Unfortunately I couldn't exactly tell my kids to go away, or why their mom and dad were so tired. "Why are you asking me? They were your idea, genius!"
Out of nowhere, Edward grabbed Keaton and began to tickle him relentlessly. "Not this one! I don't know where he came from!"
He had a point; Keaton wasn't really in the plan. We had every intention of stopping after three. Twins didn't run in either of our families, and seeing two babies on the ultrasound screen had been a total shock to both of us. I cried for weeks thinking my body would never recover and spent the rest of my pregnancy marinading in cocoa butter only to get stretch marks anyway. But Keaton was my baby... or at least he had been until Ava came along.
I didn't even want to think about it. My morning was perfect—even with the exhaustion. Ava was the only thing that could bring me down, and as guilty as it made me feel, I just couldn't deal with it. I wanted to be happy.
"Mommy!" Keaton wailed. "Help me!"
"Leave my baby alone!" I began to attack Edward, focusing all of my energy on his sensitive spots. The other two kids didn't hesitate to follow my lead. Edward could have easily overpowered us, but he chose to play along. Within a matter of seconds he was wide awake, frantic with laughter, and pretending to beg for mercy. I heard subtle laughing coming from the doorway and finally noticed that Seth had been standing there the entire time.
I teased, "Do you want to jump on the bed too?"
He rolled his eyes. "I'm think I'm good, Mom."
I nodded, suddenly very serious. Edward didn't give me the specifics on what had happened between the two of them yesterday, but he did mention Seth's concern for the both of us. Whatever he said, Edward took it very seriously. I wanted my son to know that I was okay... or that I was going to be, at least. "I'm good too, Seth."
Before either of us could say anything else, Kristen snuggled into my side. "Are you and Daddy married again?"
Edward interjected, "Married again?"
"We were never not married, baby."
"And we're never going to be not married," he added. "Mom couldn't run away from me if she tried."
"And trust me, she's tried." Seth laughed before taking note of my unamused face. "Still too soon? Wow... uh, so anyway, I have to go to work now."
"What time will you be home?"
"I don't know. Later tonight. Why?"
I pointed to the little leeches wedged between my husband and me. "Because these three are going to Charlie's."
Edward raised his eyebrow. "Are they?"
I winked, and Seth read between the lines. "Oh my God, seriously? Guess I won't be home later tonight after all. I'll see if I can spend the night with Henry or something... please, just never do that in front of me again."
It was on that note he rushed out of the room. We reminded him to call and warned him to behave himself or suffer the consequences. Seth was technically grounded, but Henry was our nephew, and I knew I could count on Rosalie and Emmett to keep my son in line. When necessary my sister-in-law could be quite the hard-ass.
For the rest of the morning, I stayed in bed and watched cartoons with the rest of my babies. Edward slept. I wished I could be so lucky, but someone had to be the babysitter. By the time afternoon rolled around, I was exhausted. Edward allowed me to take a short nap, and when I awoke I was more than ready for a night alone with my husband.
At five o'clock, we couldn't get them out the door and over to Charlie's fast enough.
"Do you want to stop by and see Ava?" Edward asked as we returned home from my father's. Charlie was happy to see the two of us together, especially considering he'd been against our time apart since day one. It was strange; I never thought I'd see the day when my father actually took Edward's side over mine. I always told Charlie that he didn't understand the situation, and he always argued that Edward would be the only one who did. I hated to admit it, but my dad was right.
I squeezed my husband's hand from across the center console and nodded. "Yeah. I think I'd like that."
We made our way to the northeast end of town, stopping by Forks' only cemetery where someday, hopefully in the very distant future, Edward and I would join our youngest daughter. I felt my knees go weak at the site of her petite headstone, and if not for Edward's support, I surely would have crumbled to the ground. He held me tight as the hysterics began.
"Shhh, Bella," he whispered. "It's okay."
I looked into his tear-filled eyes knowing they only mirrored my own. "It's not okay, Edward! It's not fair! I never even heard her cry, or saw her alive without the tubes and machines..."
He rubbed my back. "You're right. I know. I'm so sorry, baby. She was beautiful."
"I just can't do it again, Edward. I know you want to try, but I can't. Losing her was hard enough. If it happened again..."
"You don't have to say it. It's okay."
I knew better than to believe him. "It's not."
"No, it is. Bella, this whole fucking separation has been a huge wake up call for me. I'm sorry it took being thrown out to realize this isn't worth losing my entire family over. If you don't want to try again, we won't try again. Not now, not ever. I'll do whatever you need me to do."
I looked at him, shocked by what he was implying. He knew what I wanted. We'd only argued about it a million times in the ten weeks since our daughter died. Edward refusing to get a vasectomy was one of the main reasons I pushed him away in the first place, and until now it seemed neither of us would back down from our stance.
I felt selfish asking him to do it, but what other choice did I have? Replacing Ava felt so... wrong. And even the thought of burying another child was too much for me to handle. Based on past experience, getting pregnant was easy for us... as long as we weren't thinking about it. I couldn't risk it. I needed one hundred percent certainty that we could never have another baby—no matter how much he hated the idea. I just couldn't do it. I'd already been through so much.
Then again, so had he.
AN: I feel like I need to explain why the chapters have been few and far between lately (and also why I haven't gotten around to review replies) See, about 11 weeks ago my husband left the country for his job. And about 5 weeks after that, bam. I find out I'm pregnant. My first trimester is ending soon, but I'm still exhausted 24/7. I hope you'll forgive (and stick with) me.