"Sorry hon, I guess it was just a miscommunication…." I cut off the end of my dad's message with a sad push of a button. We now officially had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving. I suppose I could look into tickets to fly to Miami, but the thought of a six hour flight with my sweet baby boy, assuming we actually scored a direct flight, only to turn around and repeat the trip two days later…. Nope and nope.
I sighed and felt slightly sorry for myself. Thanksgiving was in two weeks, and instead of cooking turkey and stuffing with us, my dad was headed down to Long Beach for some sun and some deep sea fishing. His buddies had mistakenly booked the non-refundable trip over the holiday weekend. Seriously!? Men!
I supposed I could contact my old roommates from UW, but I was pretty sure most of them would be going to their parent's houses for the Holiday and I didn't want to be an awkward third-and-a-half wheel. I didn't know any of my neighbors besides polite "hi" and "see you later"s in the hallways. I was pretty sure my co-workers all had plans for the holiday, and I liked keeping work and home a little separate anyway. So what did that leave? Me and Owen. Which, really, was ok I guess.
But it sure would have helped to have plans when Edward bombarded me with a surprise invitation to Thanksgiving Dinner. Ok, I guess bombarding was a little dramatic. He'd called and asked if there was any way we'd be willing to stop by to see Esme. And not for the whole dinner, just for pie. I wasn't ready for a slippery slope of familial commitments. I wasn't ready to be included in anything their family did. And not having a good excuse, I just had to tell the truth, in all its unfiltered glory.
"Sorry Edward. I was already feeling sorry for myself cause my Dad's going to be out of town for Thanksgiving instead of spending it with us. If I have to go to your parent's house for awkward pie, I might have a breakdown."
He laughed, which made me smile. See, honesty is its own reward.
"I'm sorry you're dad is gone. I'd assumed you'd be with him, and already told Esme that you wouldn't be interested, but Esme asked me to ask you anyway. She wants you to know that you're always welcome."
"I appreciate that," I said. "I appreciate how thoughtful she is. And the answer is still 'no'."
And I thought that was the end of it. But then, a few days later, I got a mysterious text from Edward.
"CALL ME ASAP RE: THANKSGIVING"
I called him during my lunch break.
"Edward, hasn't anyone told you that sending texts in all caps is the equivalent of yelling?"
He chuckled in response. "Maybe I was yelling. Maybe I had a really great idea that could only be conveyed through a high volume text message."
"Oh yeah?" I asked. "Let's hear it."
"So, did you realize that Canadian Thanksgiving is not actually the same dates as American Thanksgiving?"
"Actually," I replied, "I didn't know Canada even HAD a Thanksgiving."
"It's pretty interesting, it can be traced back to the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher's search for the Northwest Passage…." (this is where I cut him off)
"Edward, can I read the Wikipedia article later? I really want to hear what you had to yell at me in all caps about…"
He laughed again. At least someone was in a good mood. "Yes, well," he nervously cleared his throat. "I have a proposal for you. But I'd like to preempt it with some disclaimers."
"Go on," I encouraged.
"I understand how you feel about our, um, relationship," he fumbled. I almost felt sorry for him. Almost. "Anyway. Um, so I don't want you to think that I'm trying to set up anything, or put you in an awkward position."
"Now you're making me a little nervous," I said, trying to be lighthearted.
"Yes, well. Um, sorry. So, I don't want you to worry about any of that. But my idea is that how about, since you don't have to, I mean, since Charlie is going to be gone anyway, and you don't have any plans, how about if we both take Owen to Victoria for the holiday. I know it's off season, but it's still very scenic, and there are a lot of things we could do with him."
"Victoria, like in Canada?" I asked.
"Yes. We could take the Victoria Clipper, does Owen like boats? I think he'd like this one since it's large and so much faster than a ferry. And since it's not a holiday in Canada, it's really the perfect Fall weekend to spend there. It's not crowded at all. Though most the leaves have fallen, but there's still some. And there's a nice beach house we usually rent up there. Though it's probably not the best for young children, maybe we'd be better off in town. It'd probably be more fun to be in walking distance of the waterfront and downtown. Perhaps we could get a bed and breakfast. And we could get a suite with two separate bedrooms and a joined living room. Or, if that's too much, we could get two separate rooms. Or even stay at different hotels, that'd be fine too."
Though it was amusing to hear the brilliant, intelligent Edward Cullen rambling through the most disjointed paragraph I'd ever heard from him, I had to cut him off, "So we'd be taking him on vacation together? That's what you're suggesting?"
"Well, um, yes?" he answered, his voice trailing up with uncertainty.
"And how long would we be gone? Thursday through Sunday?"
"That's what I was going to propose, but we can make it any time."
"And you think we can find a hotel downtown that has rooms available this short of notice?"
"Yes, I believe so. It's the off-season. Though there will still be plenty of activities for us to enjoy."
"Well, traveling with a kid is kind of all about them. So really, we probably wouldn't be able to do all that much…"
"Of course," he said, backtracking a little, "Of course we wouldn't need to do that much…"
"You'd be willing to respect when I say 'no' to something and respecting his bedtime and keep him in his routine? And you'd let me pay for my half?"
He sighed and I could imagine him pinching the bridge of his nose. "Of course. I'd be happy to split the cost with you," he said quietly. Wow. I was a little impressed he gave in so quickly.
"Well, this is an interesting proposal. Can you wait until tomorrow for an answer?"
I heard him catch his breath. "Of course," he said softly.
"Ok. But let me think about it. I don't know what…. I'm not sure I can…." Now it was my turn to fumble.
"I know, Bella. And that's not what this is."
I smiled in gratitude. Though he couldn't see it. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. My life was getting stranger and stranger.
I had no right to want the things that I wanted. But wanting Bella and wanting Owen sometimes literally stole my breath. I knew I had to respect the boundaries she'd drawn. I knew it. But I also ached to show her what a life together would be. We could be whole. We could be complete. I didn't sleep much that night. I mentally prepared myself for a rejection. And that's ok, I could ask her again. I would ask her again. And again, and again, and again. I would never stop asking Bella. Because one day, if I were incredibly lucky, she would say yes.
The phone in my pocket vibrated.
One short sentence, and my heart leapt with joy. I knew it didn't mean what I desperately wanted it to mean, but it was still a "Yes".
"Let's look at hotels."