The Cutting Edge

Chapter 5 – Taking the Bait

I was thankful that things had gone back to normal after the Jake incident…well, almost. Jasper must have passed on that I didn't like people teasing Edward, because they all seemed to stop. Now they were all giving him nice greetings, and he even got a few appreciative looks from Laurant, which was just teasing and all in good fun.

I only caught Jasper checking out my butt once. The second time I thought he was doing it; he walked past me and discreetly told me to look at Edward. I was shocked to find his eyes firmly fixed to my backside. Jasper smirked at me and then called Edward's name. He realized I'd seen him looking, and he turned a deep shade of red and quickly hurried out of the back of the shop.

I was about to go out after him, when he came hurrying back in, talking on his phone worriedly. "It's alright, Mom. I'm on my way. Don't worry about trying to move him. We'll check out his hip when we get him settled. There's no reason to panic." The whole of the shop stopped and listened to the short one-sided conversation. Edward didn't seem to take notice of them, when he turned to me. "I have to go. Do you think you can handle things on your own?"

"I'm hardly on my own. I'm sure we can manage without you for the afternoon. Go take care of your family, Edward. Everything will be fine here," I reassured him.

"Thanks, Bella. I'll see you later," he said and rushed out of the shop.

When the shop settled down a little, Angela spoke up. "So, Edward is helping his mom take care of someone. That seems very fitting for his personality, you know, caring and all." We all nodded in agreement, and that was that.

The next day, he came in looking stressed. I wanted to ask him if everything was alright, but it was obvious that it wasn't. He got a call just after lunch that seemed to make things worse. "They're seriously both out of town? Can anyone from the church drive him?" He let out a sigh and leaned back in his chair, covering his face with his hand.

"Can I help with something?" I asked. There was just something about him that made me want to fix all his little problems. The boy needed to smile, and I wanted to give it to him.

"It's Bella, Mom. I'll call you back in a minute." He looked at me with a furrowed brow, probably trying to gage if I was really willing to help. I sat down next to him and took his hand in mine. It always felt so nice to touch him.

"What do you need, Edward? Tell me, and I'll help if I can."

"I need a driver. I have to take my Grandpa Platt to the doctor to get his hip x-rayed, but Grandpa Cullen is due for his dialysis at the same time. Emmett and Alice are both out of town, and my mom already missed work yesterday and can't get out today."

"Okay, so who am I driving and where?"

He looked at me so hopeful. "Really, you'll drive my grandpa?"

I shrugged. "Yeah, I'm sure he'll have some fun stories to tell me about you." He blushed a deep red. It looked like he was second-guessing taking my help. I squeezed his hand. "I'm just teasing you."

"I know, but you're right about Grandpa Cullen. He's full of stories. Hopefully, he sticks to talking about his wife and the shop. He's the one who used to run this place."

"Well, then I'm definitely taking him. When do we need to leave?"

Grandpa Cullen's house was just across the alley of the shop. I had no idea I'd been looking at Edward's grandpa's house every time I'd stormed out of the back door. I wondered if he ever looked out the back windows and thought I was crazy, since I seemed to frequently break down on the back steps of the shop.

For that reason, I hung back a little, when Edward walked into the house.

"Edward, is that you?"

"Yeah, Gramps, and I've found someone to give you a ride to your appointment."

"I'd swear that Jerry staged breaking his hip. You'll see, it'll be fine. The fool is selfish. He's been an attention hog ever since you got this house. Heaven forbid you get a life of your own. It's bad enough that you're stuck with me living with you."

"You know I don't mind, Gramps. I like the company."

"You're a bachelor, Edward. You've given up too much for your family already, and that selfish bastard is busy throwing a tantrum, acting like he's gonna die unless you come save him."

"That's not what happened."

"If anyone is dying, it's me, and you don't see me making a fuss over it. Jerry knows when my dialysis appointments are, but he scheduled his appointment at the same time anyway."

"That was the soonest he could get in, and we didn't know Emmett would be out of town. Grandpa Platt is fine with me not taking him. I could send my friend with him instead, but she actually asked to take you."

"She?" Grandpa Cullen asked a little excited.

Edward turned, looking for me. I finally stepped forward into his grandfather's line of sight.

"Well now, I definitely want to go with your friend. What's your name, beautiful? I see you're not wearing a wedding ring. Does that mean you're available?" he asked with a little eyebrow wiggle.

"Grandpa," Edward pouted.

"Did you know my grandson is a businessman? He's well hung like a Cullen, too."

"Oh, my god! Grandpa, stop!"

"I'm trying to help you out, Son. You're a great catch. He owns this house and the little shop across the way," he pointed with his cane.

"She knows, Grandpa. This is Bella, my business partner."

"Really, wow, another young entrepreneur. I thought your partner was some cougar in her forties. I was getting worried, when you said she had a nice backside. That's why I told you good birthing hips don't count as being hot after menopause."

His grandpa was hilarious, and poor Edward was beet red. He covered his face, embarrassed. There was no way Edward could deny saying it, because he knew I had caught him checking out my "backside."

"Well, Mr. Cullen, shall we go?" I asked.

"Mr. Cullen was my father, call me Eddie," he said with a wink.

"Eddie, is Edward named after you?"

"Yup, and it drives his other grandpa, Jerry, nuts. Thank God, though, right? The boy wouldn't have a chance with the ladies with a name like Jerry, but Edward, that's regal."

"I'm rather fond of it myself. So far I've really liked the two Edward's I've met."

"See, Edward, you might have a shot with her yet," his grandpa teased him.

"Yeah, Edward, you just might," I said with a grin, because his grandpa was right. The more I learned about Edward, the more I liked. I think he was definitely someone I wouldn't mind giving a shot.

I led Grandpa Cullen, or Eddie, out to my car and helped him in. "I should be getting your door," he complained. "You know, my grandson has impeccable manners. I know he'd get your door, your chair and your coat, too. Esme taught him right. His mom is a gem, raised him right, after his daddy died.

"The other two are alright. Emmett was already out of the house when Carlisle passed away. Little Alice was home, but had big plans for some technical school. Esme worked her tail off to help pay for it, and Edward stayed home to take care of the geriatric crew in the family.

"Jerry and I only lost our wives two years past. My Elizabeth adored Edward. She wanted me to make sure he got the life insurance money. She wanted him to have the life he wanted, since he'd sacrificed so much for his family already. She wanted to give him every advantage. That money was what he used to remodel the shop and buy my old house.

"When he was just knee high, he used to run around that place like it was his playground. Back then, you didn't have to go to no fancy school or get a license or certificate to cut hair. You just did it. I cut my teeth in the military. That was all easy buzz cuts. I just had to make 'em bald, but I learned my way around a pair of clippers doing it. Of course, you all made the shop up classy. Your clientele is a lot different than what I used to have come through. I dealt with mostly men. As I understand it, you deal with mostly women now?"

"Yes, that's right."I answered as we pulled up to the doctor's office. "We offer a wide range of services. Hair can only grow so fast, but fingernails need more attention, and everyone loves a good massage."

"Edward did say you were into massaging. I thought he was being facetious, but he said you have a legitimate license and everything."

"Yes, I do have a license in massage therapy, and master's degree in physical therapy, but it's difficult to get a job with a doctor's office when you're as young as I am."

He checked in and took a seat, telling me to come and sit with him.

"How old are you?" he asked once we were settled.

"I'm twenty, almost twenty-one."

"Really? You two are just babies. Edward is going on twenty-two. I think he's hung around us old folks for too long, though. He has the mind of an old man. He'd rather play cards with me than go dancing and meet some girls. He has no desire to go out. He's shy like his momma. It didn't help that he was homeschooled and didn't have regular interactions with kids his own age. He was stuck home with us. Mabel, Jerry's wife, was a school teacher before she retired, so he got a good education. Unfortunately, he's been sheltered all his life because of it. There were programs for home-taught kids, but he didn't go to any of them, because he was so busy looking after us. It's his time to shine, Ms. Bella. He needs to get out and have a life."

"He's a sweet guy."

"Yes, he's a good boy. So, when you said you'd give him a shot, did you mean it?"

I blushed a deep red. I did mean it, but I didn't want to admit to his grandfather that I liked him.

He chuckled at me, "I'm sure you're aware of his interest in you, even if he doesn't voice it. The boy is about as transparent as a hooker's underwear."

The nurse who was checking on him gasped, causing me to giggle. I decided to tease him, because it seemed like Grandpa Eddie could handle it. "Now how would you know about a hooker's underwear?"

"I don't…" he gave me a salacious grin, "Because they don't wear any."

I guffawed at him. He was a riot.

"Okay, beautiful Bella, that's enough about our Edward. Why don't you tell me about yourself? I'll bet your parents are very proud of you."

I felt that familiar pain in my chest.

He reached out and took my hand, "I'm sorry, sweetheart. This is obviously a bad subject for you."

"I'm sorry, it's just…they've been gone for years, but they were my parents, so I don't think I'll ever stop missing them. I'd like to think they'd be proud of me, though."

"I'm sure they are."

"Edward's lucky to have so much family around."

"Yes, but family can be a burden, too. He's no stranger to loss. You may not think it, but he'd be a great person to talk to. He lost his daddy and then his grandmothers. He was really close to my Elizabeth and Jerry's Mabel. We were all a mess. I don't know how he held it together. He was too busy taking care of his mom and me to deal with the loss himself. Lord, that boy's a saint. He really needs someone to look after him. He's always so busy looking after someone else that he never stops to look after himself. If I could just get him a wife…"

Thank heavens he wasn't looking at me when he said that. He was just looking at his lap thoughtfully with a frown.

A different young nurse came in with a flirty grin. "Hello, Mr. Cullen, how is your grandson doing? I see you brought your granddaughter in today instead."

"This is actually a friend of his. My granddaughter couldn't make it."

"Friend?" The nurse didn't sound happy about my status. I suddenly didn't feel too happy about it, either. I didn't like this girl asking about Edward.

"Yeah, they work together. She's giving him a hand today."

"That's nice of her. You know, I haven't heard from him yet. You have put in a good word for me, haven't you?" she asked Grandpa Cullen.

"Don't worry, honey, I will. You know he's on the timid side. I'll give you the signal when I do, and then you can make your move. He'd be too shy to do anything himself. You'll have to grab hold of that boy and make your intentions clear."

I was livid, but hiding it well. Wasn't I supposed to be Edward's… Well, I didn't know what I was, but I was something, and I didn't like the idea that his grandpa was selling me out so fast. I knew Edward was timid, but I was sure if he really liked a girl, he'd make a move on her.

It was only when I was dropping off his grandfather that I realized the truth. I helped Grandpa Cullen inside and heard Edward call to us from the other end of the house. "Hey, guys, how'd it go? Did grandpa behave himself?"

"Of course I did," his gramps said falsely offended.

"We had a good time," I covered for his grandfather.

"Thank you for taking him, Bella. That was very nice of you to help us out," Edward said shyly.

"Anytime, Edward, that's what friends are for."

I saw a twinge of a grimace, before he smiled. "You're a really good friend."

I bent over to pick up my purse and saw him checking out my butt again. I knew he liked me, but his grandfather's words rang in my ears. He'd never make a move on me. I hadn't been sure before, but I was positive now. I wanted something with Edward. His grandpa had inadvertently shown me that I could miss out on him. If someone was going to "grab hold" of Edward, it was going to be me.

I turned around, took the three big steps toward him, closing the distance between us, and grabbed hold of his shirt. He looked startled, but I wasn't stopping for anything. I dug my fingers into his soft hair and forced his lips against mine.

It only took him a second to realize what was going on. I was so relieved, when he wrapped his arms around me and kissed me back. When we finally ended the kiss, he wore a big smile and whispered, "Wow."

"Yeah," I agreed. That kiss definitely was a "wow" one.

"Thank God that worked. Nurse Tanya is vapid. Who knows what she would've done the next time Edward showed up. Just be sure to talk about your girl loudly, so she knows you're off the market when we go in again."

"Off the market?" he sounded a little hopeful.

"Yeah," I couldn't hide my goofy grin. I'd been played by his wily old coot of a grandpa, but I didn't care.

Edward smiled so big and blushed a deep red, and then he shyly hid his face in my shoulder, which was adorable. I used his position to my advantage and kissed his cheek. Yes, we were both definitely off the market. No one was grabbing hold of Edward but me!