"Here we are."
I parked my dad's car in the drive. I figured taking his vehicle would be easier and more comfortable for him to ride home in than my cramped Beetle.
"Home sweet home." My dad proclaimed joyfully. "Oh how I've missed my own bed and my own tv, Bells."
"Okay, Dad, sit still and I'll come around and help you out." I was laughing quietly at my father's simple joy.
Opening the passenger door, I held a hand out to help him, only it turned into a Three Stooges move. I reached out for his hand at the same time he stuck his head out causing me to slap my own dad in face, he jerked back and I moved forward smacking my forehead off the car.
"Dear lord, Isabella." My dad gasped through laughter and pain. "Are we going to make it?"
I held my hand over my forehead, my eyes watery with the misery of embarrassment and pain.
"Dad, if we can't get you out of the car without killing each other, we're in big trouble." I laughed.
It took about ten minutes to help my dad out of the car, hobble to the house, and get him settled in his man chair in the living room.
"Alright, Dad, here's the remote, here's a glass of water, I'm gonna go make some grilled cheese, how's that sound?"
"Perfect, Sweetheart. I'm so glad you're here, though I am sorry you're missing so much back home for the summer."
Lux came mewing into the living room just as I was set to walk out.
"Kitty kitty." My dad called out.
I watched Lux trot his fat little body across the room and gracefully land himself on my dad's lap. Spoiled brat. I shook my head and made my way to the kitchen to start some sandwiches.
Dad and I hung out all day in the living room watching movies, eating tons of really bad for you food and taking turns petting Prince Lux.
"You don't have to stay, Bells." My dad insisted when we arrived for his initial physical therapy appointment two days later. They wanted to check his bandages and work his leg a little bit. "You're going to be bored out there in the waiting room for an hour or so. Go do what you need to do and I'll text you when I'm ready to leave."
"Are you sure, Dad? I can stay, really, I don't mind. I brought a book and stuff to outline my curriculum for the next year."
"Go. Get out of here." Charlie winked. "I can't put the moves on the hot nurse in front of you."
"Oh my god, Dad." Shaking my head, I stood up as the 'hot nurse' in question came out from a hall and walked toward Charlie. "Good luck. Text me when you're done, or I'll just be here waiting in about an hour or so if I don't hear from you."
It wasn't raining today, but the clouds were heavy and the breeze was chilled. I decided to wander over to a small park to wait out my dad. There were two other hospital employees having lunch at a small wooden table so I took a swing, whipped my kindle out of my bag and rocked back and forth on the toes of my shoes as I read High Fidelity for the billionth time.
I looked up just in time to catch Piper in a lunging hug. She was giggling and snuggling me, her small arms wrapped around my waist. For one sweet moment, I enjoyed the free spirit of the child who held me tight. That swiftly passed as panic bloomed in the back of my mind at the idea of an irritated Edward watching his daughter happily hugging on the one person he didn't approve of.
I breathed a sigh of relief when Esme trotted up to us smiling.
"Bella! How good to see you here. We were just on our way to bring Carlisle some lunch." She held a canvas bag in her hand and wore a bright smile.
"It's good to be seen." I looked back down at Piper. Today she wore a black hoodie sweatshirt with a White Stripes candy logo splashed across the front, a pair of jeans, black shoes, her hair was up in a red ribbon. "How are you today, Piper?"
"I'm good." She beamed up at me. "Are you going to come to my house and play with me some day?"
Youch. The honesty of kids really tugged at my heart sometimes.
"Oh, I'm not sure, sweetie. I've been so busy taking care of my dad and trying to get some work done for my job."
Piper's small pout almost had me laughing, but I knew she was very serious.
"Maybe Bella can come have lunch with us again one afternoon when her Daddy is feeling better." Esme suggested and crouched down to look Piper in the eyes.
"Oh!" Piper's entire face lit up. "You should bring your Daddy too! I will make him cookies." She leaned into me, standing on her toes and whispered, "My Gramma will make them for real, but I will help."
At this, I did laugh. The kid was too much and hard to resist.
"That would be awesome, Piper. I'll keep your Gramma posted on when will be a good time for a visit."
Piper nodded solemnly. "Tell your Daddy I say feel better."
"Will do, Piper. You tell your Grampa I said hi, okay?"
"Will do, Bella." She repeated back at me and saluted.
"Please tell Charlie we said hello. And the lunch date is out there, Bella, you are more than welcome any time." Esme smiled and took Piper's hand. We said quick goodbye's and I watched them walk off in the direction of the main hospital entrance, Piper bouncing on her feet and talking a mile a minute.
Charlie and I went out for a late lunch a few days later after another doctor visit. We decided to stop at the small diner right off the main drag.
"What are you getting?" My eyes scanned the menu unable to make up my mind.
"Burger and fries."
"Of course." I laughed quietly. "How about something different?"
"Huh, maybe I'll add pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar."
Shaking my head and grinning I tossed my menu on the table. "You're really shaking things up there, Dad."
"Yeh, well, you know. Gotta keep people on their toes." He winked.
After deciding on the special, which happened to be grilled salmon, we sat in silence for a while. It was never uncomfortable to be quiet with Charlie, we were a lot alike in that way.
"So, I asked Sue out on a date."
My eyebrows nearly left my forehead. Sue was the hot nurse he'd been talking about in the hospital.
Charlie nodded. "Obviously it will have to wait until after I am well enough to drive myself, can't be having my daughter take me to the movies and Make-out Mountain."
"Oh god, Dad, really?" The image of my dad and Sue parked at the old make-out spot gave me shivers.
"I'm older but I'm not dead, Isabella." He rolled his eyes at me.
Oh boy, full name, time to tread lightly. "I know, it's just- interesting."
I never really considered my dad as a sexual being before. I don't know of a lot of people who take into consideration that their parents had sex more than what it took to have a baby.
I looked him over carefully. Charlie wasn't a bad looking guy. His hair was thick and dark, a few greys peeked out here and there, he still wore the same mustache that he'd grown out when I was five years old. His eyes matched mine, brown, only his seemed to have a little sparkle of mischief around the edges. His shoulders were broad and even though his eating habits were rather poor, he didn't have any extra weight on his belly. At the moment he had a shadow of a beard due to being off duty, it looked good on him.
"I like your beard, Dad. It looks good. You should keep that."
It wasn't like Edward's. His was more than a five o'clock shadow, it was grown out enough that you could see all the different shades of each whisker and it looked like it had gotten to that almost soft stage.
My dad pulled me from my Edward daydream.
"Beard?" Charlie rubbed at his chin. "This is hardly a beard, Bella."
Shrugging I smiled. "Whatever you want to call it, it looks good. You should keep it. I bet Sue digs it."
Charlie just humphed at me and thanked the waitress when she brought us our food.
We were halfway through our lunch when the devil himself walked into the diner wearing black jeans and a grey henley. The cotton fabric of the henley hugged Edward's chest, the sleeves were pushed up to his elbows and the ink on his arms was colored in bright pinks, purples and greens; definitely a Piper original. A grey slouchy beanie covered most of his hair and as I dragged my eyes over his profile, he turned; his forest green eyes met mine. My breath caught at the intensity they held, I couldn't stop staring. Song lyrics immediately popped into my head, "What if I were Romeo in black jeans, what if I was Heathcliff, it's no myth, maybe she's just looking for someone to dance with."
Without a smile or a nod of hello, he turned away and I could feel the heat of embarrassment burn at my neck.
"What's up his ass?" My dad grumbled.
"Don't give me that shit, Isabella Marie. I saw the way he stared at you. That kid is trouble. Just keep away from him. Good parents, but he's trouble."
Damn, full name twice today, I was on a roll.
"I'm not getting involved, Dad. And he's not a bad kid, why would you say that?"
Charlie stared at me, reading me like an open book.
"I don't want you to get hurt. He's not good for you. Period. I'll send you back to Arizona if I have to."
"Are you being serious here, Dad? You can't send me anywhere, I'm an adult."
Who peed in Charlie's Cheerios?
"Just don't get involved with him, please."
"No worries. He doesn't seem to like me much anyway."
I slid a sideways glance toward the front of the diner and watched Edward while he waited for an order to go. He leaned a hip against the long formica countertop and folded his arms across his chest. He certainly was pretty to look at I couldn't deny that fact. He still had that beard coming in, it was rather poofy now and I sort of wondered what it would feel like if he leaned into the crook between my shoulder and neck and pressed his mouth against my skin.
He looked back over at me again, I didn't turn away from him, knowing I'd been caught again; may as well own up to my curiosity. It didn't escape me though that he looked back. It also didn't escape the attention of my heart, which beat erratically under my shirt.
I was setting myself up to be hurt, but I could only hurt myself so much and thankfully Edward was keeping his distance. At least the hurt would only be a surface inflicted wound brought on by my own stupidity.
"Bella, please." My dad's voice was quiet, but brought me back down to Earth. "I don't know if you remember or not, but there was a time, many years ago, when that boy broke your heart. Don't let him do that again."
My dad had noticed my broken hearted crush?
Nodding, I took another bite of my salmon and didn't look back at Edward again. It was amazing how my dad could make me feel like I was sixteen again with just a few simple words. I reminded myself once again that I was leaving in a few weeks that this wasn't home anymore and Edward wasn't my friend.
He'll come around. Just got to give it time.
Thank you again for all the love. Right back atcha! xOx
Song: Michael Penn - No Myth