Yep, here's another new one…
All I own is the plot and any characters you haven't heard of before.
"The parole board of Washington State grants inmate 70963, Edward Cullen, parole effective from April 9th 2014."
My head dropped into my hands, the largest weight fell from my shoulders. I had been dying to hear those words for the last four and a half years, and finally my wish had been granted. One stupid mistake five years ago costed me everything - my freedom, my family, and... Corin. Oh, Corin. I'm so sorry. I worked my ass off everyday in this shit hole for her, and all I could do was pray - pray that things could change now I was out.
Out. I'm free to go.
Well maybe not completely free, I still had rules and guidelines to stick to, but no longer would I be locked behind a set of steal bars like a fucking caged animal in a zoo.
"Mr. Cullen?" The deep voice brought me back to the real world. I turned to see a broad man in a black suit, with a kind smile on his face. "If you'd like to follow me." We passed various people all chatting happily to one another. I didn't recognize any of them. "Congratulations, Mr. Cullen." The man spoke again as we headed down a long corridor.
"Do you know what you're going to do when you leave?"
Did I know? I had been planning this day for months.
"There are some people I'd like to... get in contact with. But first I need some food. Actual decent food."
My one-man-audience let out a hearty laugh, "quite right! Sully's Diner is two blocks down the road - they'll give you what you need." We turned down another corridor and I instantly knew where I was. "My name is Emmett, by the way," he shook my hand with a strong grasp.
"Oh! You are Rosalie's husband." Rosalie was my Parole Officer - heart of gold, but scary as hell when she needs to be. She'd mentioned Emmett once or twice, but I'd never met him before now.
"The one and only. She's expecting you in her office." We stopped just short of the brown, oak doors of said office. "If I don't see you again before you leave, congratulations. You deserve this."
I shook Emmett's hand as a final gesture. "Thanks, Emmett. I appreciate it." He left me alone once Rosalie had allowed me to enter.
She stood from her desk and enveloped me in the biggest hug. "Oh, Edward, I'm so happy for you! I knew you could do it."
"I couldn't have done it without you, Rose."
She waved off my compliment and offered out a spare seat. "Now, you know it is not as simple as walking through those doors and never looking back. We have plenty to discuss and make you understand."
For the next hour Rosalie spoke about everything and went into great detail. "I will arrive at your apartment without warning, and I will inspect every damn cupboard. If I find anything that goes against these rules - there will be some heavy consequences."
"Okay, I understand."
"Finally, you need to obtain a job and keep it. No messing around, Edward. Even if you hate the job, you need to stick to it. Or contact me and I'll sort something out, but don't do anything stupid and make the board regret their decision." I nodded my head to show I understood. "Now, I have managed to bag you an interview for a job - it is at a local riding stables." That was the last thing I imagined her saying, and the idea sounded fucking horrendous, but I kept quiet. "The owner is a close friend of mine, so I will know if you try any silly business. Got it?"
"Got it. What will I be expected to do?"
"I don't know - that is up to her. The interview is scheduled for the day after tomorrow; here's the directions." She slid a piece of paper over to me. It held a vague road map and worded instructions on how to get there. According to the paper, the ranch was called Swan's Stables - I'd never heard of it. But I wasn't your type of guy who hung around ranches and rode horses all day. I mean, fucking really?
Rosalie finished explaining all she had to explain and asked me if I had any questions. I just had the one. "Do you, er... have you spoken to Corin?" I need to know.
"She has been informed of your parole and understands that she needs to wait a little longer until anything can change."
"A little longer? How much longer are we talking?"
Rosalie sighed and crossed her arms loosely over the desk. "Once we are happy that you have settled into your parole and have kept up the good behavior we can get the ball rolling. But until then you need to be patient."
Patient?! I've been patient for the past fucking five years!
But I knew my temper wouldn't get me anywhere, so as pissed as it made me, I had to reel it in.
Rosalie ended our meeting with one final pep talk. "I know this might seem very exciting; freedom and all, but watch what you are doing. I have dealt with so many cases where someone slips up and before they know it they are back behind bars. Stick to what I told you and you'll be fine. Think about Corin, Edward. Do this for her."
Two days later and I was following the road map on search of Swan's Stables. The past forty-eight hours had been a roller-coaster of emotions. I was ecstatic to be free, I was nervous of what was to come. When Rosalie dropped by to check out my apartment and reminded me about getting a vehicle of some sort, I was left to become accustom to the living space myself. My brother (for all intents and purposes) had found it for me the week before. I couldn't get used to the space; I didn't have a guard watching my every step, I ate without the fear of another inmate attempting to steal my food, or threaten me with something sharp just so he could get my chocolate pudding. Fat fucker. And the bed? Holy shit, it felt like I slept on a cloud - I could not remember being that comfortable and relaxed in a bed.
Now if only I had someone to share it with...
What? I'm a warm blooded male.
So, anyway, back to the story. With the money I had saved over the years I had the ability to buy a semi-decent truck - it had four wheels and it got me from A to B; I didn't need anything else. With a cold can of coke in my hand, I continued to head up the dirt road. The shirt I wore felt strange against my body - I pulled against the stiff collar and wiggled my torso, but no avail. Maybe it was the heat, I couldn't tell.
I'd never had a proper job interview before and had no idea what I had to wear, say, or do, but I used a bit of commonsense. You need to be smart and you need to impress your future employer, so I bought a cheap-ass comb from the pharmacy and attempted to tame back my hair (didn't work), then shoved on a smart grey button down shirt and a pair of dark jeans. That'll do.
Finally I arrived after forty-five minutes of driving. I was half an hour early, but I didn't know how long it would have taken me to get here. For miles and miles all I could see were fields and grand, blooming trees. Some of the fields were open planned, others had been sectioned by wooden fencing. A few of the fields held the horses. Every horse looked the same - brown.
I parked my truck where it seemed suitable, and checked out my new surroundings. Straight a head of me was a large... house? Stable? I couldn't quite tell. It had a grey slanted roof and wooden paneled edging. There were various windows above the paneling, but I had no-way of knowing whether that was one story or two. It was as I searched for a way in that I heard the shuffle of cobble stones. Turning, I saw a tiny boy - couldn't have been much older than 5 years old - dressed in blue jeans, a plaid shirt and the largest cowboy hat on his head. Must be his dads. On his feet were some brown cowboy boots, but they looked the right size. The little boy held a grey kitten in his arms.
"Hey Mister," he smiled and speeded up to me. His hat miraculously stayed on his head. "'Watcha doin'?"
"I'm here to see Bella? Bella Swan?"
"That's ma Momma! She's a real good Momma."
"That's, um... I'm glad to hear that. Do you know where she is?"
The boy shrugged, "prob'ly with d'horses somewhere."
"Oh, so could we go and find her?"
"Nope, I got'sa stay right. here." He pointed firmly to the dusty ground, "'cause Momma can see me from where she works if I stay here." I twisted my head around. Does that mean she can see me now? Would she know I'm here? "What'sya name?"
"Edward." I replied with a light grin - the boy was pretty fucking cute. "What's your name?"
"I'm Noah. I got'sa wiener and I wipe my own ass." He seemed so proud of himself for his accomplishments.
"I, er... I wipe my own ass too, lil' man." Noah nodded with a satisfied smile - my answer surely pleased him.
"And this is Duck." He tickled the kitten between the ears.
"Duck?" I repeated.
"Duck the cat?"
"He's not a cat, he's a kitten. His momma is a cat, her name is Zula. We got's lots'a animals here." All I could do was nod in response. "Are you a bad man?"
That was the last thing I imagined him saying. "Why'd you think I'm a bad man?"
"'Cause my Daddy'sa bad man and he got dem inky things too." He pointed to the artwork that permanently graced my hands. It amazed me how intuitive someone as young as Noah could be.
"Well I'm not a bad man, I promise."
"Noah!" The stern voice from up ahead made us both jump. It belonged to a young lady about my age, who wore roughly the same outfit as little Noah - sans hat. "What have I told you?"
"He's no a bad man, Momma!" Aah, so this is Bella.
"Come here please." Noah sprinted to Bella. "I want you to go inside and feed Duck - he must be hungry."
"Okay... bye Inky Man!" He waved and left me to deal with Hurricane Momma by myself.
Once Noah was safely inside, Bella stormed the short distance between us. "You'll stay away from my boy if you know what's good for you." If looks could kill...
I sat one hand on my chest, "I didn't mean him any harm, Ma'am. My name is -."
"I know exactly who you are, Mr. Cullen. I told Rose I'd do this for her, but Noah is not part of the equation, got it?"
"Yes, absolutely. I'm so sorry if -."
"Whatever. Come on." She lead me across the yard without another word. Bella's anger and cold shoulder had me wanting Rosalie to find an alternate job. My foreseeable future did not look bright, but I had to remember that this was for Corin. I wasn't doing this for me.
"What do you know about Swan's Stables?" Bella asked as we walked down another dusty road.
"Unfortunately not as much as I should, but I understand you offer horse riding."
She nodded, her brown pony tail bobbed with the motion. "This place has been in my family for decades - my great-grandparents started the business and it has been passed on a generation since then. My hope is that I can pass it to my son and continue to trend."
We stopped at a fence. From where we stood you could see all the horses on offer. "Every weekday afternoon and Saturday morning we hold riding lessons for all ages. We have our Selle Francais," She waved to a selection of four horses all were brown, except for one white one. "Rocky Mountains," another field held another two. Those horses stood out with their deep black coats and blonde main and tails. "American Quarters," three horses that all looked identical in size, shape and color. "And finally the Friesian, but he's my own personal horse; it's seldom he's used for a class."
"What about the one that we passed near the house?"
"That's Noah's horse, Tiny. He's a fully grown Shetland Pony and Noah's pride and joy."
"I see. So, what would I be doing around here?"
Bella led me back the way the came. "You'd be doing general yard work - I'll teach you how to clean them out, how to brush them down and what to do before a lesson. I'll have you pick up the bits 'n' bobs that I cannot do or have no time for. Your work will differ day by day."
Bella was very straight and to the point. I hoped she might loosen up a bit in time. Or maybe she was always like this? Part of me thought that maybe, just maybe, she had built a wall around herself and her son. A shield of some sort. Noah had mentioned that his dad is a 'bad man', what had he done? Is that why she acts the way she does? I wanted to find out.
I didn't stay long after that - Bella gave me a very brief run down and said she'd see me the next morning at seven o'clock sharp. She walked away before I could mutter another word. I was straight on the phone to Rosalie when I arrived back at my apartment.
"Edward! How did it go?"
I took a Coke from the fridge. I'd have done anything to swap it for a beer. But no can do, unfortunately.
"Um... well I've been asked to go back tomorrow. But, Rose, is she usually that stand-offish?"
"Give her time, Edward. Bella is honestly one of the nicest people I've ever met, she's only looking out for her son."
"Noah - yeah, I met him."
Rose laughed down the phone, "you don't get much better than him. Don't give up; hang on in there."
"I'll see what I can do."
"Now, I actually have something for you. I've been able to get my hands on something which I think you'll like to have." She recited a series of numbers and then added, "don't say I'm not good to ya."
My heart pounded and my hands shook as I entered the digits into my cell phone. The ringing on the other line became very repetitious very quickly.
I thought hearing my name being granted for this freedom would have been the greatest thing, but nothing compared to hearing that voice. That sweet, young voice.
"Corin..." I breathed out.
A/N: Noah is my baby. I love him. A picture of him can be found on my Facebook group - RosieRathbone FanFiction
Let me know what you thought and if you'd want more :)