"Paging Dr. Edward Cullen…Paging Dr. Edward Cullen…Please report to the Nurses' Station."
Edward slowed as he walked down the corridor to check on his next patient to make a stop at the Nurses' Station. Stopping in front of Shelley, one of the senior nurses, he asked, "Hey Shelley. I got a page?"
Shelley looked up and gave Edward a warm, motherly smile. "You've got visitors in your office. They said that it was urgent and wouldn't take no for an answer. Sorry."
Sighing deeply, Edward nodded his thanks and made the u-turn to head back to his office. He was already running slightly behind schedule, and he was trying to avoid working through lunch for the fourth day in a row. When he opened the door to his office, he wasn't surprised to see two beautiful women perched on his desk. One was a petite brunette, and the other was a statuesque blonde. Both were impeccably dressed with model-perfect make-up and hair.
Edward closed the door and leaned on it. Crossing his feet at his ankles and his arms over his chest, Edward quirked an eyebrow. "So, which one of you is the urgent dead body?"
The blonde picked up the stuffed dinosaur on the corner of Edward's desk and threw it at his head with pro-pitcher like precision, nailing him in the forehead. "You're the dead body, dear brother. You've been in the city for almost a month. A MONTH, Edward! And none of us have seen or heard from you once."
"Save it!" Getting up from her perch on the desk, the brunette got toe to toe with Edward and pointed a perfectly manicured nail into his chest. "You don't return our calls. You ignore our texts. You skip out on family dinner. What the fuck, Edward?! We thought we were finally getting our brother back when you said you were moving home. You can't possibly be that busy. Dad's the Chief Physician at this hospital, and he manages to be a present and active participant in this FAMILY."
Edward took a deep breath and ran his hand through his hair. Looking up into the eyes of his twin sister, he said "Alice, I'm not like Dad. I have to earn my spot and right to be here. I don't want people to think that I got this job just because my dad is the head of the hospital. I want people to respect me for me and for what I can do. I have to build my own credibility, and I can't do that if I'm not here."
Letting out a sigh of her own, Rosalie walked over to stand next to Alice. Laying a soft hand on one of his crossed arms, she squeezed gently. "I get that you want to prove yourself. I do. You know I worked myself bruised and bloody to get the respect I deserve in my business, but you can't just give up everything else in your life for this one thing. Being a doctor is important to you, and it does define a big part of you. But you're not just a doctor. You're a son, a brother, and a friend. We miss you."
"And you miss us, Assward!" Pushing forward, Alice wrapped her short arms around Edward's waist and squeezed tightly. "You need us. Don't even try to lie. Your life has been miserable, boring, and excruciatingly vanilla since you left us."
Alice paused and nuzzled her forehead into her brother's chest when he wrapped his arms around her and Rosalie. In a softer, gentler voice, she added, "You're lonely, brother. I know you are. I feel it. I can always feel it."
Edward closed his eyes and rest his cheek on Rosalie's hair since she was taller. In that moment, he admitted defeat. He knew it was pointless to fight with Alice and try to convince her that she was wrong. She always knew what he was feeling. They'd always had that freaky twin thing where they were in tune with the other's emotions. He could lie to himself, but he couldn't lie to her.
There, in the group hug with his sisters, Edward finally allowed himself to be honest and true to his heart. He was tired of being solitary, workaholic Dr. Cullen. He missed his family. Hell, he hadn't transferred out of his respected career at New York Presbyterian Hospital and moved across the country for no reason. He wanted to go back to being Edward again, and Edward was just a simple guy who loved his family.
Squeezing his sisters, Edward opened his eyes and leaned back, so he could see their faces. "I'm sorry. I've been a shit the last several weeks. I know I've been absent. Old habits are hard to break, I guess. I've worked nonstop since I left 10 years ago, and I don't know how to be or do anything else anymore."
"And that's what we're here for," Rose reached up and pinched her little brother's cheeks. "Friday night, you are having dinner with your sisters and your best friends. I will text you the time and location, and you will not make excuses or back out. I already asked Dad for your schedule, so I know you're not working. I also had him spread the word that you are not allowed to trade shifts or cover for anyone for the next month. Big sister has blocked all of your escape routes."
Edward gave his sisters his signature crooked grin. "I knew I missed your meddling asses. I'll be there. I promise."
"Wake up call for Dr. Assward! Rmbr! You promised! Tonight, 8 p.m. DwnTwn!" – Ali
"IT IS TOO FUCKING EARLY FOR THAT MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS." – E
"Got you to pay attention didn't it? J Now are you going to be there or not?! And don't get all shouty all caps with me Assward!" – Ali
"Yes! I will be there! I'm going back to sleep, so shut up!" –E
"Now who's all about the exclamation points?" – Ali
"ALICE!" – E
"Ooohhh, shouty caps and exclamation points…" Ali
"Grrrrrrr" – E
"An annoying little bird mentioned you had an aversion to exclamation points. Is this true?" – Rose
"True. I'm online right now researching how severely I can be punished for writing a fake prescription for tranquilizers and administering them without patient consent." – E
"As your older sister, I have to tell you that plotting the demise of a family member is frowned upon." – Rose
"But, as your mentor for all things deviant, I have to tell you that it's only illegal if someone catches you. SO DON'T GET CAUGHT. ;)" – Rose
"I'm doing my evil villain laugh. Imagine it." – E
"You're such a dork. See you tonight at 8?" – Rose
" 8 DwnTwn" – E
"E Money! Are we actually gonna see your bitch ass at dinner tonight?!" – Em
"Em Dawg! Wouldn't miss it. Interested to see how much of a pussy you've become since marrying my sister." – E
"Bro, now you know I haven't turned into a pussy. However, I have eaten more than my fair share of pussy since marrying your sister." – Em
"GOD DAMMIT, EM! That's my sister for fuck's sake! Leave me alone. I need to find brain bleach before I look at you and my sister tonight." - E
"Hahahahahahaha!" – Em
"Edward, I hear you may be in need of my counseling services this afternoon." - J
"Jasper, I was just starting to forget that God awful mental image, and you had to go and bring it back. Thanks, man." – E
"Now, this sounds more like an aversion to sexual activities or even some repressed desires. I have an opening at 3 p.m. if you want to come down to my office." – J
"Fuck off you Quack! Jesus, doesn't anyone work in this city?" – E
"I would not be doing my civic duty if I were to ignore the obvious needs of someone in my care." – J
"I am not in your care, nor will I ever be. You should take care of the hyperactive pixie with insomniac tendencies living in your house." – E
"Oh, I take care of her all right. In fact, this morning we had us some Dr. Whitlock and Naughty Housemaid Alice role play fun." – J
"MOTHER OF FUCK! I'm really starting to regret my decision to move home." – E
"Now do you see what happens when you barely pay any attention to us for 10 years and downright ignore us for 3 weeks?! Payback is a bitch motherfucker!" – J
The rest of Edward's afternoon passed peacefully and quietly. After catching up on his laundry and cleaning his condo, he jumped in his silver Volvo C70 and made his way to DwnTwn. Since moving back to Seattle from New York, Edward hadn't been out much at all. All of his free time away from the hospital had been spent in his Condo asleep, so he didn't know much about where people went for a night out. However, he knew his sisters, and they wouldn't go anywhere that didn't serve good food with great alcohol.
After valeting his car at the front, Edward walked in and stopped at the hostess stand. Now, Edward was a fairly tall guy himself at 6'2", but the man standing in front of him was at least 6'4" and had a good 75 pounds on him.
"Dr. Cullen, it's a pleasure to have you with us this evening. Welcome to DwnTwn. I'm Jacob Black, Vice President of Operations here at IMS Restaurant Group. Please allow me to show you to your table."
Edward shook The Hulk's hand and followed him to the table. When they rounded the corner to a private dining room, Edward paused as The Hulk held the door open. "I'm sorry. I don't believe I told you my name. Do I know you?"
The Hulk chuckled lightly. "It is important to us that each of our guests feel at home in our restuarants, and we especially make it a point to recognize those that are family to our team here at IMS."
"Family to your team? Who is on your team? I've never heard of IMS before…" Edward trailed off as Alice came and stood in front of him with her arms crossed with one Jimmy Choo tapping on the granite floor.
"Edward, of course you don't remember that I am a silent partner in a restaurant group with my best friend from college. Every conversation we had with you for the last decade has been a series of 'uh huh' and 'mmm yeah' responses."
Running his hand through his hair sheepishly, Edward looked back at Jacob with an embarrassed smile. "Thank you, and sorry about that."
"Of course, Dr. Cullen. Alice, just let Emily know if you need anything at all. She'll be in to check on you shortly."
As Jacob turned to leave, Alice stopped him. "Jakey, boss lady didn't make it back early from her trip, huh?"
"No, sorry, hun. The opening is turning out to be as tedious as she thought it was going to be, so she wasn't able to escape early. She's still in Chicago until Wednesday."
"All right. Another time then. Thanks, Jakey!" Turning to her brother, Alice appraised him and gave him a once over. "Really, Assward? A Henley and Levis? Are you trying to look like a frat boy? It's a good thing I went shopping today. I got you some new clothes. I'll bring it by tomorrow. Don't argue. This is a closed issue."
"You bossy little midget." Edward rolled his eyes but didn't fight any further. He knew it didn't matter what he said or did. His twin would be in his apartment violating his closet at the ass crack of dawn even if she had to commit a felony by breaking and entering. "Now, where can a guy get something to eat and drink around here? I've been living off of hospital food for too long. I need something decent."
Rosalie walked over and placed a kiss on Edward's cheek. "You'll get more than decent here. Bella and Jake only know how to run the best. Emily knows what we want. She should be bringing you a bottle of that Duckhorn Cab that you like so much to enjoy with the best 45-day Dry Aged Rib Eye you've ever tasted."
Emmett walked up right behind his wife and grabbed Edward in a big bear hug. "Nothing but a real hug for my brother. It's good to see you, man."
Pounding Emmett on the back a couple times, Edward stepped back and said, "Good to see you too, Em. Thanks for taking care of my sister and my family while I've been gone."
Stepping up for his turn, Jasper reached up and put Edward in a headlock. "Now, the way I see it, you've been MIA for a decade while the rest of us have been responsible and held down the fort. It's only right that we take our turn to be selfish little bitches. Step up, son!"
Digging his knuckles in the tender spot between Jasper's ribs, Edward managed to twist out of the headlock. "The only kind of irresponsible you'll ever know is the kind where Alice goes buck wild with your credit card."
"Silly, Edward," Alice said as she went to sit at the long dining table in the center of the room. "That's an everyday occurrence. I prefer to call it being financially carefree and optimistic, not irresponsible."
With that, Emily walked in with several food runners who put platters upon platters of food down on the table with various bottles of wine. As he looked at the spread before him, Edward felt his stomach rumble. It wasn't until that moment that he realized how long it had been since he had a good meal.
"I can't remember the last time I had a meal like this," he mumbled to himself.
"I know you can't cook for shit, but what about when you last took a girl on a date?" Emmett asked as he started spooning creamed spinach onto his plate.
"I don't remember the last date I was on either."
That statement caused both Alice and Rose to stop what they were doing to stare at their brother.
"Edward, what have you been doing for the last decade? I thought you told mom that you had met a couple of nice girls here and there?" Rose said as she placed down the potato soufflé.
"The only women I met were either classmates or coworkers at the hospital. There were a couple that scratched an itch a time or two, but nothing serious. I barely had time to talk to you guys. When was I going to find time to start a relationship with a woman?" Cutting into his Ribeye, Edward took a bite and moaned. His eyes closed and he just savored the flavor of a perfectly grilled steak. "This is the best fucking steak I've ever had."
Alice looked across the table at Rose with a twinkle in her eye. When Rose answered with a smile and that same glint in her eye, Alice turned her attention to her brother. "I hereby proclaim the end of Edward's monk-itude."
"Yeah! Strip club, baby!" Emmett threw his hands up in the air, fists full of his fork and knife, causing food to fly, and earning an elbow to the gut from his wife.
"We want to help Edward find a girlfriend, not a venereal disease," Rose said as she rolled her eyes at her husband's antics. "And I think we might have the perfect girl."
"Whoa there Tweedle Dee and Tweedle-"
"Edward, if you call me Tweedle Dum, I will make sure Mom knows that your 'nice girls' were just bed warmers, and tell her just how lonely you've been," Rose said, pointing her steak knife at her brother.
Edward's mind flashed forward to a future filled with blind dates with the daughters of his mother's friends from her garden club. He had no interest in sharing a boring meal with a high society princess that had no intention of working a day in her life. He hadn't dated much in his past, but he knew himself well enough to know that he needed a woman that had more in her life than teacup terriers and appointments at the spa.
Lifting his wine glass, Edward took a deep sip of his wine and looked his sisters in the eye over the rim. Tipping his glass at them, he said, "All right. You girls think you know what kind of girl I need? Then bring it on. Let's see what you've got."
Choking on his wine, Jasper looked with wide eyes at Edward. "Edward, I really think you need to spend some time on the couch in my office for a consultation."
"No, this might be good for me. It's a new chapter in my life. Rose and Alice think they know everything, then let's see it. Game on, sisters. Game. On."