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Warnings: This is fiction, so not all things do or can happen exactly as they do in this story.
Disclaimer: All things Twilight based belong to Stephenie Meyer. The story line of this story, using her characters, belongs to WeeKittyAndTAT. No copyright infringement is intended.
Beta and PreReaders: Jess2002 and LaPumuckl
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Summary: Edward Cullen moves home after the mother of his son leaves them. Meeting Dr. Swan is a bit of a shock, because she's not who he was expecting. Edward learns from the new doctor and she enlists his help in starting an informational blog. Charlie's Voice and little Charlie himself bring these two closer than either of them bargained for.
"Tanya, are you ready to go yet?" I ask walking into our bed room.
I find her sitting at her vanity, looking in the mirror.
"T," I say kneeling down beside her, worried by her demeanor.
"I'm not feeling too good. Can't we just go next weekend?"
"T, you've been saying this for months. We're going this weekend, it's already arranged. Don't you want to see Alice?"
"I do. Why don't we leave Charlie with Ms. Devan?"
"Tanya, my parents haven't seen their grandson in four months. Alice thinks I'm keeping you away because you haven't talked to her in all that time too."
"Alice needs to keep her nose out of my business," Tanya mutters out.
"She's your sister, and she's worried about you, just like I am. Please, tell me what's going on?" I beg.
"This is not what I want," she says turning away from me.
"What?" I ask.
"I don't want this," she waves her hand around above her head. "I never wanted Charlie, I told you what my family breeds and you made me have him anyway."
I swallow trying to not get angry and yell back.
"He's fine," I hiss out.
"He's not – fine, and you know it! He's just like Chloe, and Aunt Jane ... and I don't want him or you."
Tanya stands up and I look at her in shock as she grabs a suitcase.
"Tanya?" comes out of my mouth in a whisper.
"Come on, Edward, it hasn't been working between us in such a long time – you know this. I need to leave so I can find myself."
"You're thirty-four, Tanya, you should know yourself by now!" I yell out.
"Bye, Edward," she says.
"What about Charlie?"
"He's not mine. I never wanted him, and never will. He's all yours," she says taking an envelope out of her purse. She places it down and walks out of our room.
With shaking hands I pick it up and I feel my heart crash to the ground as I read the documents. Right here in black and white it states that Tanya Denali has petitioned the court to fully terminate her parental rights to our son.
I drop the pages, walking into the nursery to pick up Charlie, our sixteen month old son.
"It's gonna be okay," I whisper to him.
I sigh as he doesn't seem to take notice of me. I have no idea what the hell I'm going to do, but I do know that I will do whatever I need to for my son.
I sit straight up in my bed panting. It's been four months since Tanya walked out on Charlie and me, without looking back. No matter how long it's been, I still seem to be trapped in those last moments before she left. It's as if my mind's trying to see if there was a way I could've made her stay.
Deep down I know she had made up her mind already and would have left us sooner or later. About an hour after she left, I called my mom, to explain that we wouldn't be down. I ended up sobbing through the phone to her. She managed to calm me and kept talking to me. She gave me support for over three hours that night.
After I found that I was looking at the door so often, in hopes Tanya would come back. I was also working and taking care of Charlie. As the months passed, Charlie began showing more signs that Tanya's thoughts about him could be correct. I slowly found myself hating Tanya, not for leaving me—it was clear she and I were never meant to be forever—but I hated her for leaving Charlie. She abandoned him when he needed her the most.
Tanya and I met three years ago, when her little sister Alice married one of my best friends from back home, Jasper. We talked all the way through the wedding reception, and we seemed to click. Our romance was hot and heavy. She seemed to need me, my guidance, love and support. She had me hook, line and sinker, I mean what man doesn't crave and want that?
When she told me about her pregnancy I was over the moon. I wanted to be a dad, but clearly she was worried. Her Aunt Jane has autism, and when Alice and Jasper's oldest child Chloe, was diagnosed with autism, just two years ago, the full family became aware that it was hereditary.
Tanya said she was scared and worried. It was during this time I declared my love for her – it seemed like the right time. After many talks she agreed to continue with the pregnancy. We were in a committed relationship and living together, but were unmarried.
It was just after Charlie was born, I began to see signs that Tanya and I were not right for each other. I realized that I wasn't in love with her, but the idea of us being a family. I wanted to be in love with her, for the sake of her feelings, Charlie and our family.
It may have been the guilt that did it or just wanting an easier life, but I started giving Tanya everything she asked for. When she wanted a getaway with her friends, I paid for them to go. When she wanted a bigger house, I got us one. We had many fights and so often I would just give in, thinking I was to blame.
The more Charlie showed signs that he was developing different from his peers the more Tanya demanded and withdrew from everyone around her. The more she did this, the more I would spend on her and it became a never ending cycle of regret for me.
Since Tanya walked out, I haven't heard anything from her, neither has her family. They all have taken my side on this, not that taking sides is important. Alice, Tanya's younger sister and my parents, spent the early days calling me, telling me that I should move back home. They all wanted Charlie and me closer to them so we weren't on our own.
It took less than a month for them to convince me this was the best idea. Being a freelance graphic designer, I worked for myself and from home. It's very easy for me to work from anywhere, as long as I have my equipment and internet, I'm set.
I put my house up for sale and started looking for a new place back home. I found one that was near both my mom and Alice, and her parents' home.
The hardest thing about the move was the drive from New York to my home town of Rockmount, Nebraska. Here I am four months later, starting to get my and Charlie's lives in order.
I move to the nursery and look in on Charlie, who's still asleep. I head off to the shower, to get ready to face my day.
Today Charlie and I are meeting with his new doctor. When I was settled into our new condo, dad gave me the names of what he said were great pediatricians. He had taken some time to check them out. When I saw the list of Doctors, one caught my eye right away, Doctor Swan. She just happened to have been my childhood Doctor and I trust her in every respect. I couldn't believe she was still practicing, but I know firsthand how good she is. I called her office that day and scheduled an appointment with her.
I'm done with my morning shower and dressed before I get Charlie up. This is our normal routine, and I find our day goes better when I stick to doing the same thing.
"So buddy, what do you want for breakfast?" I ask.
He doesn't seem to look my way so I move closer to him. I lean down until I know I'm in his sight. "Do you want hoops," I say holding the Cheerios. "Or Charms," I say holding up the second box.
I learned early on to keep the choices he has to make between two items. Anything more than two, he becomes highly agitated. However, there are days like today, where he seems to be in his own world.
"Hoops," he says after a few seconds and I smile.
I'm glad I didn't need to harp at him to answer, or worse make the choice for him.
"No problem, buddy."
I make up his bowl and my own sitting down next to his booster seat chair.
I talk to him about colors and animals as I feed him. I smile at him showing him that he finished the whole bowl.
"Well done, buddy," I say in a normal tone. I know that using anything but a normal tone of voice bothers him, he especially dislikes the high pitched voices most people use talking to younger toddlers.
"Can you smile for daddy?" I ask showing him another smile. I stop smiling and then give him another smile a few times, but he fails to return a smile for me.
"Dad," he says.
"Come on, let's get you dressed, we're going to see the doctor."
The trip to the doctor is short which is good because it took me over an hour to get him in his shoes. When I arrive, I tell the lady at the desk we are here before sitting by him near the toys. Charlie sits down with his back to the other kids, and promptly takes his shoes off before he plays alone.
"Charlie Cullen," the nurse calls.
I pick Charlie and his shoes up carrying him over to the nurse.
"The doctor will see you first in her office today. If you can just follow me, please."
We follow her down a short hallway and she lightly knocks on the door before opening it.
"Hi," says a sweet young voice.
I frown, when I don't recognize the much too young of a woman behind the desk.
"I'm sorry there must be a mistake, we're supposed to be seeing Doctor Swan?" I say confused.
"Yes, that's me," she says just smiling.
I look her up and down, this girl must be still in high school.
"No, Doctor Swan's older, I mean I'm thirty-five and she was my doctor as a child."
The girl looks at me and chuckles as she walks around the desk.
"That would have been Renee Swan, my mother. I am Bella Swan," she sticks out her hand for me to shake.
I shake as I eye her up, because she looks really young.
"Are you old enough to be a doctor?" I ask and pale at how rude I just sounded. "I'm sorry, it's just—"
Bella cuts me off by chuckling softly again. "I'm twenty-seven, just turned as a matter of fact. This is my last year as an attending. I'm qualified and specialize in Pediatric Neurology. I work very closely with Doctor Garrett Pains. However, if you would like another doctor to see Charlie I can arrange that." Bella explains before turning to look at Charlie.
"Hi, Charlie, I'm Bella," she says sweetly smiling at him.
I feel my heart take off as Charlie smiles—really smiles—back at her.
"Hi, Be," he says as he continues to smile.
"He smiled and said hi to you," I say making Bella turn back to me, with a frown.
"He never – this is the first time," I say feeling a mix of happiness and panic inside of me.
"Come and sit down, Mr. Cullen," Bella urges as she guides me to the seat and I look at Charlie.
"Can you smile again?" I ask giving him the same smile I give him daily. I give him a big smile, he looks at me for few seconds and then looks away. I feel my heart sink a little.
"Hey, did you know," Bella says kneeling on one knee in front of my son, "Charlie is my favorite name," she carries on keeping her voice light. She smiles and my eyes go right to Charlie who smiles back at her. I'm happy that he has done so, but there's also a sadness that he won't smile for me. Charlie slips off my knee moving to her giving her a smile as he sits on her raised knee.
"He smiled again," I say pointing at him. "I can't believe he smiled, twice." I can hear the shakiness in my voice.
"Mr. Cullen, do you want another doctor or do you want to tell me what's been happening, to bring you here?"
I look at Bella because she looks so young, and inexperienced, yet Charlie seems so taken by her already.
"I swear I'm good at what I do here, working with children is my specialty. Charlie will get the best care from me, I can assure you of that."
I sigh a little. "I'm sorry it's just, you're young and he's the most important person to me, and ..." I pull at my hair not wanting to say this out loud. If I do, it will become real.
"And you think he may have a form of Autism." I look at Bella and nod.
"I love him either way, he's my son – my life," I say suddenly feeling the need to voice my love for him.
"I know that you do," Bella says covering my hand with her free hand. I feel a spark as I stare at her.
"I'll look Charlie over, and do some tests to see how he's coming along. I would never do anything without your full input, and I will be nothing but open and honest with you. "
"Charlie," Bella says keeping the same soft tone. It takes her a few minutes to get his attention. "Can I look you over?" I chuckle as he again smiles at her.
We move across the hall to another room and I sit on the chair. I watch as this girl—doctor—wins my son over, as she talks softly to him before doing each thing.
"These next tests will see how he's developing for his age. For example this will test his fine motor skills."
Some of the tests are more challenging for him and I at times find myself struggling not to just do it for him.
"Does anyone in his family have Autism?" Bella asks still sitting with Charlie who seems content in just being near her.
"Yes, on his mother's side, her aunt, and niece both have it."
"So mom's a pro at this then?" Bella says smiling and I feel my heart drop. Bella seems to catch on right away, but mistakes my hurt to mean something else.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know she had passed away," Bella says. I can see she's internally berating herself.
"No, she's alive. She walked out on us four months ago, she signed her rights away."
Bella swallows but nods, yet I still saw the moment of unspeakable rage flash in her eyes.
"I'm sorry," she reiterated and I shake off her apology, she shouldn't be sorry it wasn't her fault.
"Okay there are clear signs that Charlie may have Autism, however, I am leaning more towards Asperger's Syndrome."
I tilt my head a little as I pull my eyebrows in. "What is that?"
"It's similar to autism, but there are subtle differences. I would like to bring Charlie back for more tests. These tests will include blood, and x-rays, if you agree."
I nod at her knowing this needs to be done, it's what's best for him.
"I would also like to set him up with a physical therapist, who specialize in pediatric cases. Some of Charlie's muscles seem weak, but this is common with Asperger's Syndrome. The physical therapist will teach you some exercises to do to help Charlie. These are some information on Asperger's syndrome. Read it over and note down any questions and I'll be happy to answer them any time," Bella says as she hands me what looks like all her contact information, including her cell number.
I let out a large breath taking the papers and card from her. "Thank you," I manage to get out and she smiles winking at me.
"And you, my handsome man, will you come back and see me?"
"Yay, Bee," Charlie says with a big smile.
I pick him up walking out the door, feeling a lot more relaxed than I was when I first arrived.
After we leave the doctors office, I head to my parents' home to give them the rundown of what happened.
"I'm so glad that went well," my mom admits sounding as relieved as I was.
"Me too" I answer looking at Charlie who's asleep in the pack and play my mom set up.
"You know, Edward, you've been working nonstop. Why don't you take Friday off? Your father and I can watch Charlie, and you can nap, go out, do ... something."
I sigh leaning my head back thinking it over. "On the outside it sounds great, and it's something I admit I need, but I don't want Charlie thinking I've abandoned him too."
"Edward, it's just one night, it will not do any harm."
I groan as I look at my mom.
"Having a night off doesn't make you a bad parent."
"I know, but what if he needs me?" This has been on my mind ever since Tanya walked out. Charlie may need me at a time when I may not be there for him.
"He'll always need you, Edward, but I am sure he'll cope having to rely on his papa and grams for one night. Have a night off, recharge your batteries, so that you can give him all that he needs."
I nod and smile at my mother, and she kisses my cheek.
The next few days go by with me reading up on Asperger's Syndrome. The more I read, the more I agree this sounds closer to what Charlie has. I have also made Charlie's appointment for physical therapy. Where I have had several questions, I haven't plucked up the courage to call Bella.
It's Friday night and I have left Charlie with my parents. I'm out with Jasper and my longtime friend Emmett.
We are on to our fifth drink and I am starting to relax. Well I'm no longer feeling as guilty as I was for leaving Charlie to go out tonight.
"Why do men have two heads, when women have four lips?" Emmett asks with a grin.
Jasper and I shrug waiting for the punchline.
"Because men do all the thinking and women do all the talking," Emmett snickers.
"Oh, yeah, well what have women and condoms got in common?" Jasper questions with a raised eyebrow and Emmett and I shake our heads, as we take a drink of beer. "If they're not on your dick, they're in your wallet."
I chuckle softly and lean toward them a little. "How is a woman like an airplane?" I joke with a grin, truly enjoying myself.
When both Jasper and Emmett say they don't know, I chortle out, "both have cockpits."
The jokes start to flow as we drink our beers. I take a few deep breaths trying to calm myself from the laughter.
"What's six inches long, two inches wide and drives women wild?" I ask as Jasper and Emmett stop laughing as they look behind me.
"Well it can't be a cock, that's too big." I choke on my beer as I turn to see Bella standing there.
"Hi," I say in surprise and she tilts her head.
"So what's the punch line of the joke?"
I frown at her and it dawns on me I was in the middle of telling a joke. "A hundred dollar bill …"
Bella presses her lips together and nods a little. "Well it takes more than that to get me excited." She wiggles her eyebrows at me and looks to Jasper and Emmett.
"What's the difference between a man and a condom?"
Jasper, who is still sitting opened mouthed shakes his head to say he doesn't know.
"Condoms have changed. They're no longer thick and insensitive!"
"You got it right sister," a random woman says high-fiving Bella as she passes.
I watch the woman walk to the bar and I chuckle turning back to Bella.
"Hi," I repeat.
"Hi," she chirps smiling at me.
Emmett and Jasper clear their throats and I jump up realizing I'm behaving like a teen who's never seen a woman before.
"Emmett, Jasper, this is Charlie's doctor, Bella Swan. Bella, these are my friends, Jasper and Emmett."
Bella leans over the table shaking their hands and my eyes seem to spring to her ass. Goodness is it worth looking at, she has a nice ass.
"Would you like to join, me?" I ask when she looks back at me.
Jasper and Emmett clear their throats.
"Us?" I correct myself, giving her the full Cullen charm.
Bella smirks at me, and my eyes roam her over. She has on black knee high boots, black skinny jeans that make her ass look biteable and a tight ass top that shows off two of her other assets.
"Do I meet your standards?"
My eyes go to Bella's and I chuckle a little over being caught checking her out.
"Oh yeah, and then some," I smirk taking my seat again. "Can I get you a drink?" I offer.
"A Bourbon, please," Bella replies huskily.
I pass Jasper some money.
"So, I am getting the drinks then?"
I nod without looking at him. He must be crazy if he thinks I'll leave Bella with him and Emmett, God knows what they'll tell her.
"How is Charlie?"
"He's good, and at my parents' house tonight." I instantly start to feel guilty again.
"I just bet they're spoiling him rotten," Bella assures, placing her hand in mine.
I flip my hand so I can clasp hers.
"They do, but I hate being away from him. This is the first time I've been away, since he turned a year old," I mumble out trying to explain myself to her.
"It's okay Mr. Cullen—"
"Mr. Cullen is my father, it's Edward."
"Edward," she says smiling at me, and I feel my inside calm down, as I stare at her. I never noticed in the doctor's office just how good looking she is.
"A Bourbon, for the lady," Jasper announces placing the glass down. "I got some aftershock shots too," he says as he places the beers and shots down.
"You game?" I say holding out one to her.
I keep my eyes on her and we down it in one. She surprises me by chasing it with some of my beer.
"Would you like to dance?" Bella asks me with a sweet looking smile on her face.
"Sure, but it's been a few years," I tell her as I walk with her to the dance floor.
Looking at the other, much younger guys that are dancing with their girls. As I try to copy their movements, a chuckle makes my eyes go to Bella.
Before I can back slowly away from the dance floor, Bella moves in closer to me. "Place your hands here," she orders as she puts my hands on her hips. "You need to be a little looser."
My eyes drift to the others on the dance floor, thankfully none are looking our way. I feel Bella pinch my ass and I turn back and grin at her.
"Never mind anyone else, or what they are doing. Your focus should be on the girl you're dancing with."
Bella steps closer to me. She runs her hands up my arms and around my neck. I keep my eyes on her as I slide my hands around her back. I move them down a little so the tips of my fingers are resting lightly on her ass. Like this I find I am able to move my body in time with her.
"You're really very sexy."
I drop my head a little as I hear the words that seemed to have jumped out of my mouth.
"Thank you, you are too," Bella teases and I peak a look at her though my eye lashes.
"I'm sorry, I'm not good at chatting women up," I tell her. I've never gotten the flirting charm down to a perfect art.
Bella just smiles at me shaking her head a little. "I wouldn't worry, you're doing just fine."
Bella and I keep dancing for a few more songs, just enjoying the music together.
"Do you like being a children's doctor?" I ask Bella softly as we move together.
"Yes, I love working with children. I find it very rewarding. What do you do, Edward?"
"I'm a graphic designer."
Bella looks at me and I shrug a little, knowing that it's not the best of jobs.
"I'm self-employed and can work from home," I carry on feeling the need to explain myself. "It means I'm there for Charlie when he needs me."
"Edward, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Besides I think I've seen some of your work. You did the website for the hospital, didn't you?"
I nod in agreement, to say I did in fact do the website.
"You're very talented. If I had the money and the means, I would hire you for my own website," she admits. She lets out a chuckle and I feel myself relax.
"Tell me what you need and I'll see what I can do."
Bella looks at me. "I was joking, Edward," she tells me as her face turns red. Showing her embarrassment, makes me feel calm thinking that she just may be as inexperienced at this flirting thing as I am.
"I'm not, after all I've got to look after my son's, doctor," I say with a smile and she ducks her head making her look like her mom.
"You look just like your mom," I say right away, but her eyes flash with pain.
"Thank you," she says with a shaky voice.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. She was my doctor when I was younger," I stutter out unsure of why Bella seems so hurt.
"It's fine," Bella says smiling at me. "She passed away five years ago today, that's why I am out tonight. I'm celebrating the woman she was."
I feel my heart sink a little, I always knew doctor Swan to be a good kind woman. "I'm sorry," I whisper in Bella's ear holding her closer to me.
"It's really okay, I just miss her."
"I bet you do, sweetheart. Come on, let's sit and have a drink to her."
Bella nods and we leave the dance floor heading to the bar for some drinks. I get the same round as Jasper did and Bella gets another round of shots, and asks for salt and lemons.
We arrive back at the table and Jasper and Emmett both have grins on their faces. "Hey bro, Bella," they greet as we sit down.
"Edward, have you ever had a body shoot?"
I move my eyes to Bella and shake my head at her.
"Can I show you?"
I nod at her, curious as to what this is about.
"I'll need your arm," she says as she rolls up my sleeve.
She leans down and licks my wrist and forearm. She sprinkles salt on the wet trail the tip of her tongue left on my flesh.
"Open your mouth," she says and when I do, she places the lemon, rind side in my mouth. "Bite down lightly and hold it right there. You need to be steady," she insists as she places her shot on my arm. She kisses my wrist and looks at me through her eyelashes. I close my eyes feeling aroused as she sucks and kisses her way up my arm licking up the salt. She picks up her shot downing it and then places her lips over mine as she takes the lemon from my mouth with hers. As she pulls back my mouth follows her touching her lips lightly. I open my eyes to see she's grinning at me.
"Your turn," she says pushing my shot glass to me. I take a look at her and my eyes fall on her neck.
"I can place the salt anywhere or only on your arm?"
"Anywhere," she says and I pull her and her seat closer to me. I flick her hair out of the way and my fingers touch her neck softly.
"I choose here," I say, wanting her to agree.
Bella tilts her head to the side and I lick her neck slowly. I shake the salt along the damp streak I left on her neck. I move her other hand out so she can hold my shot and like she did I place the lemon in her mouth.
I move my lips over her neck and start to suck and kiss everywhere. When I reach her pulse point, I suck a little harder, even with my brain telling me that I will mark her, I don't stop. I pull back when I hear Bella letting out a soft moan and move to her ear. "You are fucking unbelievably, the most sexy, beautiful woman I've ever met."
I down my shot, and move to her lips. I bite the lemon and take it from her mouth. I pull it from mine before my lips land on hers, kissing her softly.
Swallowing as I pull back, I quickly grin when I see the happy look on her face as she moves to me and kisses my lips in return.
"Goodnight, Edward," she says softly and I shake my head at her.
"Stay," I whisper out and she gives me a sad look.
"I can't, I'm spending the night with my dad, but I'll see you soon, Edward."
"You can count on it," I say standing up with her.
"Are you getting a cab?" I ask reaching for my jacket.
"No, my step brother's taking me home," she says pointing at a young man who seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
"Call me when you get in please?" I ask as I send her a text.
Bella's cell buzzes and she smiles looking at my text.
"I will," she says kissing my cheek softly.
I watch her walk out, feeling sad that our night has come to an end.
"Yo ... hey ... Edward?" Emmett calls as he snaps his fingers in my face.
"What?" I ask and Emmett and Jasper just look at me.
"What was that?" they say pointing at the dance floor.
I shrug my shoulders. "She's Charlie's doctor."
"I don't dance with Chloe and Maria's doctor like that," Jasper retorts with a raised brow.
"But their doctor is old doc Stanley and she smells weird," Emmett adds as if Jasper was talking to him.
"Emmett, is it you that got Chloe to say that?"
Emmett grins, nodding as he takes a drink of his beer.
"She said that out loud to doctor Stanley's face at her last appointment. Alice was mortified," Jasper informs sounding like he's still embarrassed.
"But, Jasper, she does smell," Emmett argues.
"That's not the point," Jasper demands harshly and I chuckle as they start to bicker like a married couple.
"What's funny?" Jasper growls as he looks at me.
"I am trying to work out which of you two is the woman in your relationship."
Jasper and Emmett give me a look to say neither are amused with my humor.
"Okay both of you are the woman? Nice—"
"Edward, shut it and back to you the DILF," Emmett interrupts and I roll my eyes at him.
"She's my son's doctor," I say as my cell buzzes.
I open and see it's a text from Bella to let me know she's home. I smile as I rub my thumb over the screen.
"Yeah, she's just your son's doctor," Jasper declares sarcastically.
I wake with a huge hangover. I rub my face and groan, hating the morning light that seems to be beaming in my eyes. I slowly get up trying to stop the room from spinning. I shuffle all the way to my bathroom. I twist on the shower dials, and the water rushes out the jets. The shower suddenly seems to have amplified in noise level.
I grab some pain killers taking them before slowly stepping into the steamy spray of water.
I let the water cascade over me. After washing my body and hair I step out and shave. Once I'm dressed I head to my parents needing to see Charlie.
I walk straight into their house when I arrive and I head for the kitchen.
"Hi, buddy," I say kneeling down in front of Charlie.
"Daddy," he says only glancing at me.
"I missed you, did you miss me?"
"Yeah," he answers.
I grin at him, everything in me wants to kiss him, but Charlie can be funny about affection at times.
"Can your old daddy get a kiss?"
"Yeah," he says tapping his head. I know this is his way of telling me where I'm allowed to kiss him. I smile as I kiss his forehead.
"I love you, Charlie," I say as I pull back from him.
I sit at the table and my mom puts down a plate in front of me with bacon, eggs and toast.
"Thank you," I tell her before I start to eat.
"Would you like to go swimming, or go to the park?" I ask Charlie and his eyes go to me.
"Bee ..." he states.
"What?" I ask unsure of what he saying.
I look to my parents and they shrug.
"Can we see Bee another—"
I stop myself as it dawns on me what he's saying.
"Charlie, you want to see doctor Bella?" I ask and Charlie smiles and I hear my mom gasp.
I feel myself smile at him. "I'm sorry, Charlie, it's Saturday and she doesn't work on Saturdays."
Charlie frowns and drops his head and my hand goes to my pocket. "I'll take you to see her on Monday," I say knowing that it would be wrong to call her.
Charlie makes no movement to say that he heard me.
"We can go to the park to play and then feed the ducks."
Again Charlie shows no sign that he hears me. My mom clasps my shoulder to show her support, and all I want to do is take him to see Bella now.
We finish breakfast and I get him washed and dressed.
"You need to wear your shoes, Charlie," I explain as he groans kicking them off for the fourth time. "Charlie, come on," I say putting them back on him. I freeze when he starts to rock putting his hands over his ears.
"Charlie, daddy is sorry, you don't have to wear shoes," I say feeling dreadful knowing I've upset him.
Charlie keeps rocking with his hands over his ears so I start to hum. I'm hoping like other times this will calm him.
As Charlie slowly calms, I keep humming closing my eyes trying to keep my sobs at bay.
"Daddy," Charlie says and I look at him seeing he has calmed down.
"I'm sorry," I tell him, as my eyes go to my dad who's hugging my mom, both looking as lost as I feel.
"Do want to go to the park now?"
"Yeah," he says pushing his shoes away.
When we arrive at the park I take out his stroller placing him in it.
"Ready to see the ducks?" I ask. When he doesn't respond, I start talking again. I just tell him random information that I know about ducks.
"I should have brought some bread with us," I say chuckling a little. I can't believe I brought him to feed the ducks with no bread.
"Hi, Edward, Charlie."
I turn, seeing Bella standing there with an older guy.
"Hi—" I get out but Charlie cuts me off.
"BEE!" He calls out with a giggle and a smile.
"Hi," Bella says kneeling down at him. "Are you here to feed the ducks too?"
Charlie starts to wiggle in his seat like he wants out.
"Can I?" Bella asks as her hands hover over him.
I swallow and nod at her.
Bella unbuckles Charlie and he jumps into her arms.
"Charlie, I want you to meet my dad, his name is Charlie too," she says with a light giggle pointing to her dad.
"Hi," my son says, but his eyes seem to stay near where Bella is.
"Hello, and hello," Bella's father greets us, looking at me.
"Edward, Charlie's father," I say holding out my hand.
"Charlie, Bella's father. You gave your son a great name."
"Funny that it's the same name as yours," Bella says.
"What can I say, Edward here has great taste."
"It's a great name," I say smiling at her father and nod.
"Can I join you both in feeding the ducks?" Bella asks.
I turn looking at Bella to see that Charlie seems to have calmed her.
"Yes, you both can join us, but I don't have any bread," I say pulling at my hair.
"Bella has some, but I need to get to work. I was just dropping this one off, she drank too much last night and I don't want her driving until later today." Bella's father lectures, giving her a stern look.
"Yes, Chief Swan," Bella replies sounding sweet.
Charlie gives me a smile along with a nod as he walks away, and I move closer to Bella and Charlie.
I smile at her as I sit down on the bench beside her.
"What?" Bella says and I shake my head a little.
"I asked Charlie what he wanted to do, and he asked to see you."
I bite my lip and nod. "He seems to be taken by you," I say looking down at my son who seems so content in her arms.
"So your father is a police man?" I ask after few minutes of silence.
"He's the Chief." Bella raises her brows at me and then looks to Charlie.
"Do you want to feed the ducks with me?"
Charlie doesn't say anything in return. Bella opens her bag and gets the bread out. She takes a little out and throws it to the ducks swimming around waiting for their pending treats. I watch as the ducks all rush to get the offered treat.
"Daddy's turn," Bella tells Charlie, moving the bag to me.
Like her, I take a little bread and throw them to the ducks.
"Charlie's turn now," she says.
I hold my breath as Charlie takes a little bit of bread.
He throws it into the water, and smiles as he drops his head.
We keep up the taking turns. When the bread's all gone we show Charlie the empty sack.
"We're going to the park for a bit, would you like to join us?" I ask feeling a little shy.
"I would," Bella says as she helps Charlie back into his stroller.
I push the stroller and Bella walks next to me.
"How are you settling in?"
"It's going better than I thought. I missed this place, I would've moved back sooner, but Tanya didn't want to live in a small town," I say weakly.
"Sorry," Bella says misinterpreting my sadness.
"Don't be," I say sighing. "We were together for three years in all. You would think I would miss her." I frown a little. "I miss having the support that a parent's meant to give. I miss having someone to talk to, but I don't miss her. I can't even tell you the last time we kissed, never mind being intimate. It's really no wonder she walked out on us."
My eyes go to Charlie feeling the hurt and anger inside me, for Tanya. I cannot fathom why or how she could desert the best thing that ever happened to me.
"She could have left me – she didn't need to leave him too."
"Have you talked to someone?"
I shake my head at her. "No, my focus has been on dealing with Charlie."
"There's a support group at the clinic. They meet once a month, for a chat over coffee. It's for parents who have children that have special needs. You should think about coming along."
I make a face to say I'm not sure about this, and Bella starts to talk again.
"Sometimes it helps to hear others tell a story that you can say, 'oh, I've done that, or Charlie does that'. They can help with the guilt if you said something and caused your child to have an episode. Just think about it, I wouldn't steer you wrong."
"I will," I say walking the stroller to the play area.
Playing at the park doesn't last too long, as Charlie becomes agitated when more kids arrive.
"Would you like to join me for lunch?"
I look at Bella feeling unsure. The other times I've taken Charlie to a café it hasn't worked out well.
"We can go to my place, it's not too far from here?" Bella says as if she could pick up on my worry.
I look down at Charlie. "Do you want to have lunch with Bella?"
"Yeah, with Bee," Charlie says without looking at me.
"My car's this way," I motion to her.
I strap Charlie in and get in, looking at Bella as she buckles up. "Where am I going?"
Bella gives me her address and I just look at her.
"What?" she asks.
"I'm in the same condo as you, I'm in number five."
"So you're the hot new resident that Jessica's been eyeing up. I've got to say her taste has improved drastically."
I feel myself blush a little as I drive.
"Is it strange that I haven't seen you?" Bella asks and I shake my head at her.
"I spend most of my time indoors. I have yet to take Charlie to the community shared places. Jessica has only seen me because she knocked on my door until I gave up and answered it."
Bella chuckles as she turns looking at Charlie, who's looking out the window.
"There's no hiding from the girl, she always seems to know when someone is in. She's relentless until she gets what she wants."
I pull in and park in my parking space. I get Charlie out of the car, carrying him as I follow Bella to her apartment.
She opens the door and I smile at how disorganized the place looks.
"Shoot, I'm sorry I haven't cleaned up yet," Bella says as she quickly picks up the papers and books that are scattered on the sofa and table.
"It's fine, Bella," I tell her and she makes a mad dash to clean up. The place isn't dirty, it just looks like a student lives here, who's studying hard.
Bella sighs and just looks at me. "Come on the kitchen is less messy."
I walk into her kitchen seeing it's twice the size of mine.
"Nice," I nod at her.
"I knocked down the dining room wall to make the kitchen larger. I love cooking, it's my favorite thing in the world besides children."
"Well, it is very nice," I say as Bella pulls out a high chair.
"This is Lauren's, but I'm sure she'll be fine with Charlie using it."
"Lauren?" I ask as I place Charlie in the chair.
I feel my insides sink a little. I've never asked her if she was single.
"Seth?" escapes my mouth.
"Yes, my brother, the guy from the bar last night."
I smile silently thanking God.
"You don't think I am the kind of woman to be dating and then do a body shot with another guy?"
I shake my head feeling a rush inside as I remember the body shots. My eyes go to her neck and I see her collar is covering the place I sucked hard on her neck. Bella looks at me rolling her eyes and moves the collar out of the way. I smile broadly when I see the large love bite I left her with.
"I marked you," I whisper rubbing the area with my thumb.
"You did, and you're lucky I had a shirt at my dad's, that hid it or he would shoot your ass."
I chuckle. "Don't pretend you didn't enjoy it."
"Oh, I did," Bella says huskily.
I sit at the breakfast bar she has, watching her ass as she moves around the kitchen. Every now and then she looks at me over her shoulder and smiles.
"I take it you have a thing for a woman's bottom?"
"I have a thing for yours," I answer without my filter.
She chuckles as she carries on making lunch. "Here we go," she say putting down a club sandwich and a bowl of soup. She gives Charlie some little jelly sandwiches and fruit and he happily starts to eat.
"This is good," I tell her as she smiles.
Bella and I chat all the way through lunch and I help her clean up.
"I think I should take him home for his nap," I say as Charlie yawns again.
"Charlie, it's time to go home, buddy," I say.
Right away he starts to shake his head. "No, no, no," he repeats over and over again.
"Charlie," I say trying to bring him into my arms so he doesn't hurt himself.
"No, no, no," he continues again.
I feel my heart sink knowing he's so close to having another meltdown.
I start to hum softly to him, closing my eyes. Slowly and softly Charlie's "no," and moaning becomes less. Finally he falls asleep in my arms.
"I'm sorry," I say opening my eyes looking at Bella who's holding Charlie's hand.
"Why don't I come over with you, and we can talk if you like, after he's down?"
I slowly stand up with Bella's help and we walk out of her apartment. We go down the stairs and across to my place. Bella seems to stay close to Charlie and I even look down on him once he's in bed.
"I had a sister," Bella say as she walks into the living room. "She was older than me, by almost ten years. I loved her so much. As I got older, I knew she wasn't like the other kids. She had Asperger's Syndrome."
Bella stops talking and takes a deep breath.
"My mom fought for years to get her diagnosis. Leah, my sister, was twelve before mom finally got the answer she already knew. Leah was an amazing person, she loved life and everyone around her."
I clasp Bella's hand when I hear her clearly talking in past tense.
"Asperger's Syndrome was first diagnosed in 1944, but until about twenty or so years ago it wasn't highly diagnosed. To some, it's still new and so many people don't understand it. Leah wanted to try to go to college, to be like the others her age. Mom always told her she could do and be anything she wanted."
Bella smiles a little, but frowns as her eyes fill with hurt.
"We never knew she was getting bullied, she never told anyone. What they said to her ... did to her, how can anyone be so cruel? They tormented her so much that she left college. She came home feeling like she had failed inside."
Before I can speak Bella shakes her head and starts to talk again.
"My mom was in a car accident, she died a few hours later in hospital. Telling Leah was the hardest thing my dad and I have ever done. Leah and my mom were close—they shared a bond above mother and daughter. I didn't understand the bond they had, but I was never jealous of it.
"Leah got so depressed in the months that followed mom's death. She seemed to have gone off into her own world. I knew she was missing mom, and I tried to do the stuff mom did with her, but it was never right. She's always told me it was nice, but it felt different. I came home early one day, and I ... found her."
Bella takes deep breaths closing her eyes.
"She killed herself. It was almost one year to the day after mom died."
I move closer to Bella, feeling her pain.
"I have to live with the guilt that I didn't see the signs telling me she was that close to the edge."
"It wasn't your fault," I whisper to Bella and I feel her body shake with her silent sobs.
"I know that she wasn't my daughter, and it's different being the parent, but I caused Leah to have so many meltdowns. Most of them were done accidently, so I know the guilt that you feel."
I let out a long breath.
"I hate hurting him, seeing him like that, it cuts me so deeply. This morning, it was because I was putting on his shoes. I know he hates them, but I—" I stop talking and close my eyes.
"But you feel when he's outside he should have shoes on. Because that's what is classified as normal. Than add the stares that other's pass your way. The judgment you see in their eyes. It tells you that you're not doing your job as a parent the right way, right?"
"Yes," I say hearing that she knows what I have to face. All these things seem to grow more and more with each passing day.
"It's hard, Edward, trying to do what's best for your child, what's safe for him. Especially when what's best and what he wants are the opposite of each other. That's why I suggested the support group. I started it just after Leah passed away. I want not only the parents, but the children and adults who have other needs, to have a place where what they do, feel, see, hear, is – normal."
I nod at her in understanding. "I'll go," I say knowing that the more she says about it the more it feels as if it'll be something that will help me.
Bella and I stay hugging on my couch. I gently start to play with her hair and she moves closer to me. I put my arm around her and pull her back with me, laying us down more.
"You still need to tell me what you need me to do for your web page?"
"It's for the support group. One of the biggest things parents tell me is there are no clear information out there. So I wanted to have an informative place for parents to do reading and research. Instead of being nervous and worried all the way through, they could know what to expect. That way when the testing is going on, they don't feel so lost and out of the loop. I also want to list information, showing them, common traits and non-common traits. Another portion to touch on the schools and which ones get our gold star, what ones to avoid. Exercises to help muscles that are weaker. A section on new tools, ideas and treatments, as they become available. A portion that allows parents to give feedback and how to better things, if they have ideas. Maybe even a blog where people can go in and give and ask advice. I also wanted it to be manned all the time, so that if someone is in need of help right away they can contact someone. I know that's not something that is possible right away, but it's something I want."
I nod my head. "Leave it with me and I'll see what I can come up with."
"You smell good," Bella whispers and I grin.
"Not as good as you."
Bella chuckles a little and runs her hand along my side.
"I can put on the TV for us?" I say not really wanting to.
"Na, I like this. You are so comfy I could just sleep right here on top of you."
"That sounds like a plan," I say grabbing the throw from the chair closest to me. I put it over us and close my eyes.
"We're really going to sleep?"
"Yep," I hum hugging Bella closer to me. "I'm old and need an afternoon nap."
"They are the best."
"They would be if you would hush," I chortle.
"Enjoy your sleep, Edward."
I kiss Bella's head before drifting off in light sleep.
I wake a few hours later with Bella draped over me. I smile kissing her head again.
"Hi," I say softly as her eyes flutter. She moves off of me yawning as she stretches.
"That was the best nap."
I chuckle but nod. "It was," I agree.
"Come on, we'll look in on Charlie and then we can find something for us to do this evening."
"First, I need the bathroom," Bella says getting up.
I walk down the hall with her, but head into Charlie's room, as she walks into the bathroom.
I smile as I see Charlie sitting up in his bed.
"Hi," I say walking to him. I pick him up and change his diaper.
"Bella is going to stay for a little bit, okay?"
I pick Charlie up walking back to the living room.
Bella and I sit on the floor with Charlie, playing next to him. There were a few times he looks to Bella to make sure she's still here. I make sure to say common words to try and expand his vocabulary. The only words he seems to repeat over and over again were, "Bee stay" though.
After the games we all sit on the couch watching some child cartoons. My eyes go to Bella who seems to be enjoying watching it as much as I am. I lay my arm along the top of the couch. Bella smiles and puts her arm up, linking her fingers with mine. I turn my head back to the TV trying hard to calm the energy that seems to be flowing between Bella and me.
"Charlie, want to help me make Bella dinner?" I ask and Charlie nods, tilting a little toward Bella almost to check that she's still there.
Bella accompanies Charlie and I to the kitchen and she sits with him as I manage to put together some food for dinner.
"Would you like a beer?" When I say beer my inner brain reminds me that Bella's a girl and a doctor and more than likely would prefer wine. "Or some wine?" I ask pulling at my hair a little as I wonder if I have any wine.
I let out a long silent breath as I grab two beers. I twist off the lid of Bella's bottle and then hand it to her.
"Do you want a glass?" I ask as an afterthought.
"Nope, the bottle is good."
We begin to eat and Bella smiles at me. "This is good," Bella says pointing with her fork at her plate.
"Bee, ed me?" Charlie says pushing his plate toward Bella.
"You want me to feed you?"
Charlie smiles and bobs his head.
"Can I?" Bella asks, looking at me.
"Sure," I say waving my hand toward Charlie.
I chuckle as Bella does a light airplane noise as she waves the fork around. Charlie laughs making my heart swell, never before has he let out that type of laugh.
"He's really taken by you."
My eyes flick to Bella seeing she's smiling at me.
"Me Bee," Charlie yells making her look back at him.
"I'm taken by him and his father too." Bella glances at me and winks as she makes more plane noises.
Bella helps me clean up, and then we play some educational games with Charlie.
"Bath time is in five minutes, Charlie."
"Bee, bat me?" Charlie replies as he wiggles closer to Bella.
"Can I?" Bella eyes sparkle.
"Sure," I grin out.
"Bat time," Charlie says jumping up, as he tries to remove his clothes.
"Someone likes baths?" Bella says holding out her arms for him.
"He's not normally this eager, trust me," I chuckle a little.
I fill the tub as Bella strips Charlie down, while talking to him.
"The water is ready, I'll go and get his bedtime clothes," I say as I leave the bathroom.
I pick out Charlie's dinosaur pajamas, knowing they seem to be his favorite ones. I walk back to the bathroom, but stop at the door.
"The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout," Bella sings as she tickles Charlie who giggles. "Down came the rain and washed the spider out." Bella splashes the water a little, as Charlie squiggles as she moves her hands like a spider forward. "Out came the sun and dried up all the rain and the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again."
I feel my heart swell as I watch both of them. The jealously that Bella is able to reach my son is a higher level than what I can, seems to be dulling as, my heart grows making room for Bella.
"Yay," Bella claps and Charlie copies her. "Well done, Charlie," she praises.
I bite my lip as I scan Bella's body. She's on her knees with water and bubbles all over her, she's a sight to behold. I know this is what has been missing from Charlie and my lives. Tanya never did this, not even when Charlie was a baby. Tanya always made excuses, and got me to do all this stuff.
"Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear. One step, two step, and tickle under there," Bella says as she tickles Charlie's chin.
He lets out a big giggle and I can't help but laugh myself. "Aren't you supposed to be washing him, Miss Swan?" I say moving into the bathroom.
Bella eyes flicker to mine. "Don't even try and tell me you don't enjoy playing around in the tub?"
I swallow at her words, unsure if she was meaning the innuendo, or if it's my dirty mind.
"I can just see you playing with your submarine." The twinkle in her eyes and the small blush tells me I'm right, she meant that in the dirty way to.
"I do, but it's been a little while since I last played. Tell me, Miss Swan, do you like to play?" Raising my brow at her, she looks away from me to Charlie.
"I do," she says and her voice sounds almost deeper.
"What do you like to play?" I coax, trying to see how far the flirting will go.
"Hide the sub," she chuckles out as she shakes her head.
"Hmm, hide the sub, huh? Maybe she'll let me play that game with her," my inner thoughts yell, as I just stare at her. Jesus, she's really fucking beautiful.
"Sorry," she voices, sounding ashamed and I'm sure her tone was because I was still standing here staring at her. Shaking my head, I wink at her. "No worries, I asked."
She gives me a slight nod and turns her attention back to my son.
"Five more minutes, Charlie, then it's time for your bedtime story."
Charlie just looks at me shaking his head and I know he's going to flip out.
"Yes, story time," Bella cheers. "I love story time. Can I lay with you, Charlie?" Bella asks sweetly and Charlie stops shaking his head and starts to bob it.
Once Charlie's dried and dressed, I get him in his bed. Bella slides in next to him and he puts his head on her. It's almost as if he's trying to make sure she'll be staying put.
Slowly I read one of his books, but my eyes keep going to Bella who's running her fingers through Charlie's hair.
"He's asleep," I say softly and Bella kisses his head. Helping her, she slide backs out from under as I hold him. Once she's up and he's settled, I slide his gate up, to stop him from falling out of bed.
"I'm sorry," Bella says looking at me with pain in her eyes.
Pulling her out of the room, we head back into the living room. Sitting on the sofa, I pull her down beside me and I stroke her face with my thumb.
"What is it, sweetheart?"
"He may be upset tomorrow morning, if he is it's my fault for not warning him I wasn't going to be here when he wakes up."
Letting out a deep breath, I know she's right. Charlie's instant attachment to Bella has grown so much.
"It'll be okay, I'll deal with it if he is, and it's not your fault. You know this," I say trying to reassure her.
Her eyes go to mine and I feel myself being drawn to her. Before I can kiss her, she jumps up.
"I should go."
Nodding at her, even if inside I'm screaming at her, begging her to stay and be with me. Instead of saying anything, I walk her to the door. "Thank you, for spending time with Charlie and me," I say smiling and she nods her head.
"I enjoyed it, maybe we can do it again?"
"I would like that," I tell her biting my lip.
Standing outside my door, I watch her walk over to her apartment. She opens her door and turns waving at me. As soon as she's in and closes her door I pull my hair.
"Don't fall for your son's doctor, that's sort of fucked up," I say to myself.
Bella was right, when Charlie wakes up he cries for three hours because Bella wasn't here. It didn't help I felt sad about it, too.
There is this part of me screaming inside that seeing or dating someone now would be too soon. A part saying it's not only too soon, but it's unfair of me to put Charlie in the position of getting involved with anyone. Bella is still young and a doctor, what if we become too much for her, and she walks away from us. There's no way I can let Charlie go through that again. During the day I finally decide it's safer if I just keep her as my son's doctor and our relationship on a non-personal level.
"Sorry," I say as I walk in, arriving a little later than planned.
"It's fine, Edward, we're just setting dinner out," Jasper says and I follow him into the dining room.
"Hi, Edward, hi, Charlie," Alice says sweetly as I walk in.
"Hi, Alice, hi, princess Chloe."
Chloe looks up at me and gives me a small smile but promptly drops her head again.
Sitting Charlie in the high chair next to Maria, I give her a smile.
"How's my number three girl?" I ask Maria and she smiles broadly at me.
"Ed," she giggles putting her arms out for me. Hugging her, I kiss her head and wink as I release her.
"Chloe, how is school going?" I ask her as I take my seat.
"It's okay," she replies, "But I'm not allowed to keep all the pony cards." She stops talking and moves her eyes to the corner. "Want eggs, eggs, eggs," Chloe repeats as she rocks a little.
"I know, Chloe, they are just about done. Less than five minutes," Alice tells her keeping her voice level.
Alice serves the kids first and then us adults.
"There is space at Chloe's school if you want to put Charlie in a few days each week?"
Pulling at my hair, I look at Charlie who's eating away.
"I'm not sure, Alice," I say and she gives me a smile. Knowing she understands what I'm going through, means a lot.
"Think about it, it could help him. The staff there are all well trained, and they even talked to us about a new support group that just started. From my understanding it is run by a children's neurologist."
Bobbing my head, I know she's talking about Bella's group. "Yeah, Bella," I say.
Alice opens her mouth, but Charlie cuts her off.
"Bee?" Charlie says happily and looks around as if he's expecting her to be here.
"This is the same Bella as the dancing Bella?" Jasper asks as he wiggles his brows at me.
"Yes," I say as Charlie again calls for her.
"He likes her," Alice says with a nod to Charlie.
"He does," I say looking at my son.
Swallowing, I look back at Alice. "Yeah, she's nice," I say trying to keep my turmoil at bay.
The rest of the meal goes by with some chit chat. Jasper takes the kids to play as I help Alice clean up.
"Tanya called," she says without looking my way.
Letting out a hum, I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to say.
Alice lets out a sarcastic laugh, shaking her head. "She was gushing over how happy she is." Alice's eyes flicker to mine.
Where I'm pissed, I'm not upset that she moved on, it just hurts to know she's not worried about Charlie.
"Did she ask about him?" I ask in a small voice, knowing the answer already just wanting to hear her say it.
"No, I'm sorry, Edward," Alice says softly and I shake my head at her.
"It's fine, she's the one missing out."
"She is, I just wanted to let you know that she called. Mom and Dad gave her an ear full, not that it did any good."
Letting out a little sigh, Alice's parents are both great, and spoil Charlie rotten.
Charlie and I stay for a little while longer before heading home. Pulling up, I park in my spot and get Charlie out.
"Hi," I turn to see a sleepy looking Bella standing there.
"Bee!" Charlie yells holding his hands out for her to take him.
Passing him over to her, I grab his bag and close the car door.
"How have you been?" I ask, since it has been a few days since I last seen her.
"I'm good, just doing a shift at the clinic followed by another at the hospital. It takes its toll, but in the end it'll be worthwhile. Once I've completed my time that is."
"It will be," I reassure her.
"I was wondering ... I'm off on Saturday and wanted to know if you and Charlie would like to go to the Zoo with me?"
Opening my door, I look at Bella and the part that said we should keep things professional, is screaming at me that this would be crossing the line. However, the man and father in me is louder saying yes. "I would like that," I reply.
Bella bites her lip and smiles at me. "Okay then, I'll see you at ten on Saturday." She passes Charlie back to me after giving him a small kiss on his head.
"Bye," she says.
"Bee, stay," Charlie demands.
"She'll see you on Saturday," I tell him showing him on the house calendar.
Saturday morning Charlie wakes up earlier than normal and seems to be really excited. It's almost as if he knows today is the day we're going to the zoo with Bella.
He starts to bounce up and down when the doorbell rings. Picking him up I take him with me to answer it.
"Hi, we're almost ready, Charlie just needs his jacket and shoes on," I tell her.
"No shoes!" Charlie says shaking his head.
"How about sandals?" Bella asks holding up a small pair that have straps.
Charlie bobs his at her.
Placing him down, he sits beside Bella right away. He lets her put the sandals on his feet, without complaint. After I get his stroller, bag and our jackets, we head out. Walking down the stairs, I tilt my head seeing a picnic basket sitting there.
"I thought we could eat in the park?"
Smiling at her, I move the jackets and stroller to one side so I can carry the basket too.
Taking everything to my car, I set it down to open the door so Bella can put Charlie in. Putting the stuff in the car, as Bella buckles Charlie into his seat goes smoothly.
"Is everyone ready?" I ask, and they both say yes right away.
When we get to the zoo, Charlie frowns when he sees me putting up his stroller.
"Walk," he says.
"Yes, you can walk, but the stroller is coming in case you get sleepy."
We all move to the payment booth and I get my wallet out at the same time as Bella does.
"I'm paying," I tell her with a chuckle.
"I invited you guys, so that means this is on me."
"Bella, please don't make me feel less of a man, than I already do."
Bella gives me her what look. "Paying must mean a lot to you for you to come with that shit," she says while waving her hand for me to pay.
At the window she told the ticket operator that we have booked tickets. She passes them to me after I pay along with a key. Frowning, I give the key to Bella.
As we enter the zoo, Bella holds Charlie's hand and pushes the stroller with her other as I study the map.
We walk slowly to the monkeys first. We have fun pointing out different things to Charlie. After a while we move on to the next animal. About an hour after we started our journey through the zoo, Charlie starts to become agitated.
"Time for lunch?" Bella asks me and I nod as Charlie becomes more distressed.
A tutting noise makes me turn my head and I watch as an older woman shakes her head at her friend, and then tilts her head at us.
"Edward, let it be, he's fine and she knows F – all. Now lets go eat." Looking down at Bella, I see she has placed ear plugs in Charlie ears and is shielding his head as she hugs him to her chest. Following Bella, I'm surprised when she takes us to a private part of the zoo. It's a small park and it seems very private and quiet.
"I didn't know this was here?" I tell her.
"Aro, the owner, keeps this part of the park for families, with children with special needs. All you have to do is call him before hand to let him know that you are coming and who all will be with you."
"Looks like I have so much to learn," I sigh out.
"Alice didn't even say anything about this," I say waving my hand around. When Alice brought Chloe and Maria they had to leave early because the amount of people was too much for Chloe.
"That's why I want to get this web help page up and running. So people will know what is available for them. Knowledge is power."
Giving Bella a nod, I look at Charlie who seems more settled now.
"It is, we'll talk more about it, and I'll start working on it tonight when he's in bed."
Bella just looks at me and I wink at her.
"Come on, you, lets get this food out," she says with a grin.
Once we've all eaten, the remaining food is packed away. I take my cell out and snap some photos of Bella and Charlie.
"Come on, you need to be in them too," Bella says hitting the ground next to her.
Moving next to them, I snap some more. Looking at the one picture, I swallow at how much we look like a family.
"You'll have to send me a copy of that," Bella says looking over my shoulder.
"I will," I say as I send it to her phone and also save it as my wallpaper.
"We better get this all cleaned up," she says.
Nodding, I help her by making sure we haven't left any trash laying around.
"Charlie, do you want to see more animals?"
Charlie shakes his head at me and I look to Bella.
"Why don't we take him to feed the ducks or to the park to swing?"
"Ducks!" Charlie says and starts to make quacking noises.
"Ducks it is then," I say. Putting Charlie in his stroller, I buckle him in. "If you push, I'll carry the other stuff."
Bella nods in agreement and we make our way out of the zoo.
Charlie has another melt down not long after we reach the park. This time, it takes me well over half hour to calm him and I get lot more stares from people passing.
"I am sorry about today," I tell Bella when we reach my apartment.
"It was fine, Edward, I was only upset because you and Charlie were."
Nodding at her, though I don't feel any better. Due to Charlie's outburst, he seems to be more restless the rest of the night. At bedtime, when I put him down, he does fall asleep right away. Worried about him, I end up lying next to him in his bed to make sure he stays asleep. Waking up during the night with a pain in my neck, I see it's two am.
Moving back to the living room, I see that Bella left me a note to say she went home and she'd see us later. Sighing, I hate that I missed saying goodnight to her. I send her a text with an apology before stripping and heading for my own bed.
The next morning I wake up and take Charlie to Chloe's school so we can have a look around.
"Hi, Edward," Alice says walking up to me.
"Hey," I reply back, but I'm busy checking out the school.
"He'll be fine here, Edward," Alice says trying to reassure me.
Walking in, I meet Kate who runs the place. She shows me around and like Alice says this place has a good vibe to it. Deciding it's best, I sign Charlie up to come three mornings a week starting tomorrow, which is Tuesday.
Moving to my door when there is a light knock on it.
"Hi," I say with a smile at Bella after opening the door.
"Just thought I'd pop over and see how you two were doing?"
Moving back, I let her in. "We're good, Charlie starts school tomorrow," I tell her trying to hide my worry.
"Which one?" Bella asks.
"Bear's Learning Center," I answer.
Nodding, Bella smiles at me.
"That's a great place, Kate is Garrett's wife."
Now I feel a little more relieved knowing the woman in charge is married to a doctor who specializes in children with disabilities.
"Kate also puts all her staff through training on dealing with disabilities, and things like sign language. They all have to have their first aid certificates as well, of course."
"That is good to know."
Putting Charlie to bed is easier tonight even if he was upset about not spending more time with Bella.
"So tell me about how you see this web blog page?" I ask pulling my note pad to me so I can jot down ideas.
"I want it to be easy to follow, maybe have a part that is solely on information. Another with questions that can be asked and answered. Helpful information, like what we think about certain books, toys, that kind of stuff. I want to have a review and rating next to them, so parents and providers can weigh in their opinions. I want to do the same with schools in the area and what they specialize in. Have an informational place that caters for families, and children that have special needs. I also want it to have a chat page so people can chat, but also have it maintained so if anyone has an issue they can get help."
Nodding at her, I'm impressed with her ideas. "Do you have a name?"
Bella shakes her head. "Not yet, I've been thinking about it."
"What about a logo?"
Bella shakes her head. "I know I want something different, but not sure of what yet."
"Okay, while you think of those things, I will start working on the actual site. I'll get this done pretty fast, it shouldn't take me more than a few weeks. If you can get me the information, you know you want on the homepage ready, I can load that too."
She nods at me and we seem to lock in each other's eyes. Clearing my throat I pull back from her but it causes a pain to fill my chest.
"I should get home and let you get some sleep," Bella says softly to me.
Walking her out, I watch her leave, walking over to her apartment. Going back to my living room I sit on my couch. Pulling out my cell, I look at the photo. My thumb strokes the screen where Bella's image is, and I smile.
"Fuck," I say pulling my hair. "I'm falling in love with her."
Feeling my chest getting tighter as my panic seems to take over. I try to shake it off as I head to my bed. Falling asleep almost right away, but instead of calming dreams, I relive Tanya leaving us. This is something I haven't dreamt of since I met Bella. Only this time it's not Tanya leaving us, it's Bella. The heartbreak I feel is so much more than what I felt when Tanya walked out. My dream changes to Charlie and I being alone, but Charlie's not the boy he is now. In my nightmare, Bella leaving him damages him. Waking, I sit up on my bed panting with sweat covering my body.
Looking to my clock, I see it's almost seven, so I get up take a shower. Once I'm dressed, I get Charlie up. After feeding him breakfast, I wash and dress him for school and we head off. When he's settled, I head back home.
Alone in my thoughts, I think back to my dream. Knowing if things keep moving the way they are between Bella and me, I will fall in love with her. My feelings are already deeper for her than anyone else ever. Knowing I couldn't cope with Bella walking out on me, I have to step back. Above all, Charlie is already close to her, and I can't allow it to become more.
Closing my eyes, I rub my chest hating the fact I need to pull myself and Charlie away from Bella. But I know I have to keep him safe.
It has been a week since I had the dream, and decided to keep Bella solely as Charlie's doctor. It's been a lot harder than I thought it would be. She came by on the Tuesday, but I didn't answer the door. On Friday, I saw her walking toward us at the store. Not knowing what to do, I just ran away. Even avoiding her wasn't working, my dreams have still been the same, and I've been feeling more and more depressed. To make matters worse, I've noticed that Charlie has been sadder too.
Today we spent some time at my parents' home. They both asked me if everything was okay. Knowing they didn't believe me when I gave them a weak "yeah," but I said no more about it.
We're halfway home when we come across a car sitting at the side of the road. As I drive past, Bella catches my eye. Immediately I pull over and park in front of her car. There is a difference between keeping things professional, and me being an asshole and leaving her stranded on the side of the road.
"Charlie, Daddy will be right back," I say as I get out of the car.
"Car trouble?" I ask as I walk to her car.
She jumps and turns to look at me. Feeling bad, I watch a flash of sadness in her eyes. Knowing right here and now I can't stay away from her no matter what. Somehow in these short few weeks she has not only worked her way into my son's heart, but mine as well.
"Flat tire," she states, as she gets her visible emotions under control.
"Okay, I can change it, if you sit with Charlie," I say taking off my jacket.
"It's all right, my dad made sure I could do this before he got me my first car."
Swallowing, I stammer a little. "I'll still help, Bella," I say kneeling down by her.
She waves her hand, moving away from me, but doesn't say anything as I get to it.
"Charlie's been missing you," I say as I start to loosen the last lug nut. Wanting so much to tell her I'm missing her too, but it gets stuck in my throat.
"I've missed him too. I stopped by on Tuesday, but you must have been busy."
Closing my eyes, I can clearly hear the pain in her voice.
"And when I saw you at the store on Friday you couldn't run away fast enough. So I thought that was your way of saying you didn't want to see me."
Bella rolls the spare tire to me and I look up at her.
"I do, want to see you, but, I'm afraid that you'll leave. Charlie's already attached to you more than he was ever toward Tanya and I don't want to see him in pain."
Knowing even with me trying to prevent it, Charlie's already in pain by my choice to keep her away.
Dropping my head, I remove the flat tire. Only I look back at her as she touches my arm.
"I'm not her, Edward. I love Charlie and I don't want to see him hurt either."
Gulping a little, I know she just declared how strong her feelings are. We seem to be locked in each other's eyes. Moving forward, I place my forehead to hers as I look into her eyes. Lightly I press my lips to her soft pink ones. Edging carefully closer, I deepen the kiss, which is quickly followed by another. Dropping the tire iron, I move my hand up cupping the side of her face. My fingers move into her hair on the back of her head as her hands trail up my arms.
These small soft kisses, fill my body with a new kind of buzz. Never has one kiss left me begging for more.
Pulling back I can't help but give her a big smile. "I'm so glad you accept my apology"
"That was a good apology," Bella says and I kiss her lips again.
"Can you come over after eight so we can talk?"
Bella nods and I get on with putting the spare tire on. Once I'm done and we both stand, I kiss her again, not wanting to leave.
"You have got to have the most kissable lips I've ever had the opportunity to kiss."
"Hey, I'm no Charles Dickens," I shrug.
"You've got that right," she laughs.
"I'll see you at eight," I say kissing her again.
"Yes, eight," she giggles as I kiss her once more. "Go and get your boy to bed."
Nodding, I place one last kiss on her lips before running back to my car. The whole time I'm driving, I make sure she's still right behind me.
Parking in my space, I wave at Bella as I carry a sleepy Charlie inside. Getting him washed up quickly and changed into pajamas, he nods off to sleep when I read to him. Once he's settled in his bed, with a kiss to the top of his head and the safety rail in place, I head to the living room.
There's a soft knock on my door, and I look at the clock seeing it's almost eight. Taking a deep breath I move to the door and open it with a smile.
"Hi, Edward," Jessica whispers in what I'm sure she thinks is a seductive voice, which makes me drop my smile. "I was thinking you could use some adult time." As she talks she places her hand on my door frame, leaning forward to give me a view of her breasts.
My eyes leave Jessica and I watch as Bella smirks at me as she walks over.
"I'm sorry, Jessica, but I have a date tonight," I say.
Jessica's face falls a little. "A date?"
"Yes, a date. Hi, sweetheart," I say looking back at Bella.
"Your two are dating?" Jessica asks, her voice now a little high pitched.
"Yeah?" I say putting my hand out for Bella to take.
"Just great! First Mike, then James, Jacob, and now him, when will you stop taking the men I like?" Jessica huffs before running down the stairs and into her apartment slamming the door.
Before I can speak, Jessica's door opens again and she glares at us and then slams it closed again.
"Come on in," I say frowning at Jessica's closed door.
We walk through the door and my eyes go to her lips. Pushing my front door closed, I lean in and kiss her. This kiss seems to light the hunger in both of us and we are soon into a more heated exchange. Before long, I have her fully pressed to the door and my body is molded to hers.
"We're supposed to be talking, Edward," Bella moans as I start to kiss her neck.
"We are talking," I growl out making Bella laugh.
"I thought you meant talking as in using the spoken words, not through trying to suck the air from each other's bodies."
"I like this way better, don't you?"
Bella hums, but I cut her off by kissing her again. Moving my hand down her body, I need to touch her more.
"Fuck, sweetheart," I moan out as I remove her shirt. Moving my legs further apart so that I can kiss her breasts as I cup them.
Bella's hand begins undoing my buttons and I pull her bra down letting her breasts spill free. She moans again as I tweak one nipple, and suck the other.
As Bella starts to undo my belt, I cup her ass picking her up. She wraps her sexy legs around me, as I carry her to my bedroom.
Placing her softly on my bed, I kiss her again. She uses her feet to push my pants down. When they hit the floor, I lean over her more. Kissing and licking down her toned body as she unbuttons her pants. Looking up at her grinning like a fool, I peel them from her body.
Dropping her pants on top of mine, I move back over her. Trailing one hand down her body, between her legs, I dip my fingers inside her panties. She's very wet and as I graze her clit she bites her lip while moaning.
"You're so wet, sweetheart, just the way I like." Before she says a word I claim her lips with my own. Her hands push my boxers down until she hooks them with her feet. As soon as my cock is free, she has her hand wrapped around it as far as she can.
"Fuck, babe, just like that," I moan out thrusting my hips against her hand.
"Please," Bella pants as I too feel the need for more.
Reaching down, I pull down her panties and grab a condom from my bedside drawer. Bella moves to her knees and takes it from me. My eyes go to hers as she opens the silver packet and rolls the condom down my hard cock.
She lies back and I return to my place between her legs. As I push myself inside her, my eyes flick to hers and I can see only want and desire there. Our movements start off slow. We move together, my hand running up her arm, until I reach her hand and interlock our fingers.
Our slow movements begin to speed up as our pants and moans become the only sound that we can hear.
As I feel my toes curl and I move one of my hands between us and start to rub her clit. Knowing that a woman sometimes needs more to come and I want her to climax with me inside her. Feeling her muscles start to contract, I speed up my movements. As she squeezes my cock, I thrust harder and together we both find our release.
Dropping on top of her, trying to regain my breath, I softly kiss her. Going to move off of her, she locks her legs around me.
"Just stay here for a few more minutes," she whispers.
Kissing her lips again, I move her hair from her face. "I just need to get cleaned up, I'll be right back," I tell her following it with one last kiss.
Moving to the bathroom, I put the condom in the trash.
"The bathroom's all yours," I say to Bella as I walk back in. She gets up and my eyes trail over her body and I pick up my shirt.
"Put this on," I say as she passes me.
She giggles as she takes it.
Moving to the bed I sort it out, before lying back down. Watching as she walks back through the door, I tap my bed and she walks over to me. Her sweet ass shakes just perfectly, making me hard all over again.
"Hmm, someone's back to play?"
"Yeah, he is," I smile as I pull her to me and kiss her. "I don't think I'll ever get enough of this," I say stroking her flesh with my hand.
Bella and I fall asleep in each other arms, and my dreams for the first time in months are not bad. Waking I feel more rested than I have felt in the last two years.
"Morning," Bella hums while kissing my lips.
Grinning into the kiss, "Morning," I say before kissing her again. "Now this is the way to wake in the morning."
"I agree," Bella says.
"Okay, go get washed, or showered while I check on Charlie and make breakfast."
Moving out of the room, with a spring in my step, I head for my son's room.
"Daddy," Charlie says as I walk in.
"Hi, buddy," I say moving to him.
Picking him up, I smile at him. He tilts his head at me and then smiles back. I feel my heart take off.
"Is that smile for me?" I ask him and he smiles at me again.
"I love you, son," I tell him. "Can dad get a kiss?"
Charlie taps his head and I kiss him there.
"Come on, let's go and make breakfast."
Putting Charlie in his chair, I start to work on a warm breakfast.
"There's my favorite two men," Bella says as she walks in.
"Bee!" Charlie sings out loudly, as he watches her walk over to him.
"Kiss," he says tapping his head.
Bella shakes her head and kisses his head. "Morning, Charlie."
Putting Bella's plate down, I hold Charlie's blowing on it to cool the food.
"This is good," Bella says as she eats.
"Mine!" Charlie yells at me.
Using my pinky to make sure it's cooled down enough, I place it down in front of him.
Charlie, right away, starts to eat his food, and pushes a lot in his mouth.
"Careful now, Charlie, not too much at once," I tell him.
"I'm sorry, but I need to go, get showered and get to work, can I come over tonight?" Bella asks as she puts her plate in the sink.
"You can," I tell her standing up hugging her to me. "I'm gonna miss you," I say placing a quick kiss on her cheek.
"NO, MY BEE!" Charlie yells giving me a sad stare.
"I love you too, Charlie," Bella says opening her arms to him. When he opens his own arms, she hugs him.
"Be good for Daddy," she whispers kissing the side of his head.
Once she is out of my door I set back down next to Charlie. "I really like her, Charlie, I think she'll be good for us?"
"Mine and Daddy, Bee?"
"Yes," I nod at him.
"Come on, eat up and we'll get you dressed and ready for school."
Charlie doesn't respond, but carries on eating.
We arrive at the school and I wait in the parent's room, until I'm sure Charlie is settled. When I get back at my apartment, it feels strange. Charlie's first three days I stayed with him in his class, so this is really the first afternoon I haven't had him with me.
Sitting down at my computer, I place my house phone and cell next to it. Getting my computer up and running, I start to work some more on Bella's blog page. The ringing of my cell causes me to jump a little and I chuckle.
"Hello," I say as I click the accept call button.
"Hi," Bella's voice responds in a shy manner.
Stopping what I'm doing, and smile. "Hey, I've been working on your blog page," I tell her.
"Cool, so are you enjoying your alone time?"
Shaking my head. "It's been alright, but it's really quiet," I answer.
"You'll miss him, Edward, but this is giving you both space. He'll be having a grand time playing with the other boys and girls."
"I know. So what have you been up to?"
"Nothing just working, treating some kids."
Humming a little, I look at the time. "Have you had your lunch break yet?"
"No, I won't get that for another hour."
"Can I come over and take you out?" I ask and close my eyes hoping she doesn't turn me down.
"Yes, that would be good. I need to talk to you anyway."
Swallowing back the worry, the first thing I think is she's walking away from us.
"It's nothing to worry about, I just need to do some more tests on, Charlie."
Closing my eyes, I blow out a long breath.
"Trust me, I'm not going to walk away from you or Charlie, Edward."
Nodding even though she can't see it. "I'm trying, I'll see you soon."
After ending the call I set the alarm on my cell to give me forty more minutes to work and still get there in time to take her to lunch.
Walking into Bella's office I ask the woman behind the desk to tell Bella I'm here. It only takes Bella a few minutes to walk out.
"Hi," I say as she walks to me.
"Hi," she responds and I kiss her cheek.
Bella smiles as we walk out hand in hand.
We get foot long subs from Subway and walk to the park.
"Now, Edward, I need you to hear me out, fully before you comment."
Looking at her, I swallow and nod in agreement that I'll do what she asked.
"I'm really attached to Charlie, a lot more than someone's doctor should be." Bella stops and she looks at me.
"That's because you're with us more we're ... close," I say.
Taking her hand in mine, she nods in agreement with me.
"Yes, I like you, Edward, a lot. I want to see where this goes," she says as she waves her hand between us. "I think if we do, we could be something special."
Leaning forward, I kiss her then nod. "Me too," I tell her feeling myself smile.
"I can't do that and be Charlie's doctor too, it's unethical."
Feeling the smile drop from my face.
"I want to stay being his doctor, really I do, but I can't and also see where this goes with you. There is a reason why doctors aren't allowed to have their kids, spouses or family as their patients."
Watching the tears drop from Bella eyes, I know she means it.
"You and Charlie mean more to me. So if had to choose, I would rather have you in my personal life than professional life."
"So I need to get Charlie a new doctor?" I ask pulling my hair.
"No, Garrett said he'd take him on. He's really great and I've learned everything I know from that man."
Nodding at her, I still feel uneasy about this.
"I'll be at every appointment as long as you allow me to be there. I don't want to pass up something great, and I think we could be." Bella touches my hand and I close my eyes for a few seconds before pulling her in to hug her.
"I thought of a name for the blog page," she says against my neck.
Pulling back, I smile at her. "Oh really, what's that?"
"If it's okay with you, I'd like to call it Charlie's Voice?"
"Really?" Bella bobs her head looking at me with hope.
Leaning closer, I kiss her soft lips. "He would love that – I love that. I really love that," I say kissing her lips softly.
She kisses me back and my hand seems to move to her hair, as the other one goes to her back pulling her to me, to my body.
Standing outside the door of the room, I know the meeting starts soon and I need to go in. Feeling as if there is something holding me back, I pull at my hair and pace in front of the door. "Come on, Edward, get your ass in there," I mutter out loud.
My head snaps to the door when I hear Bella giggle, and I step closer looking in the window.
"The first time is always the hardest."
Turning I see a man standing next to me and I frown at him. "Huh?" I ask feeling stupid.
"The first time you walk in there is the hardest, because it's like you're admitting openly that your child is different."
Swallowing, I nod my head. "It's a bit like attending an AA meeting I imagine," I chuckle a little.
"Come on, no one bites, beside me in here," he laughs.
Opening the door, I take a deep breath and walk in after him.
"I'm Royce," he says as we walk over to the table the cups are sitting on.
"Edward," I say back and he smiles giving me a nod.
"Glad you finally came in," Bella says as she wraps her arm around me.
Laughing lightly as I feel myself getting embarrassed knowing she knew I was being a coward.
Once I have my coffee I walk with Bella to where most of the people are sitting.
"Hi," I smile at the young girl who looks sad.
"Hi," she says back.
"Everyone, we have a new parent, this is Edward. Lets make him feel welcome, as he's somewhat new to this." Bella introduces me, but immediately turns to the sad looking girl.
"Sasha, are you okay, honey?" Bella asks looking at the girl next to me.
When I hear a sniff I turn her way.
"No, I got fired again."
The are a lot of gasps around the room, which makes me frown even more.
"He found out that I have Asperger's syndrome, and said I was duty bound to tell him. He said he couldn't take the risk in employing me."
Feeling my heart sink for her, I look around the room to see most everyone here looks angry.
"How did he find out?" someone asks.
Sasha shrugs. "He said he overheard some boys calling me names, but I'm not sure, I didn't hear them."
Feeling myself get confused, I don't understand how her ex-boss could hear them, but she couldn't.
"I'm sorry, Sasha, I wish I could say something that would make this okay and feel right. Mr. Newton had no right in what he did. You have been working there for a month without any problems. He is just being ignorant and we will help you in contacting the EEOC about this."
"But I want to work," Sasha says seemingly not listening to what Bella is saying.
"Can you work on a computer?" I ask and Sasha tilts her head to me.
"Yes, I like computers and I can type 15,000 keystrokes without errors the last time I tested."
"Well, I need some help. I run my own company, making blogs and stuff. I do all of that, but I need someone to answer calls, take bookings and answer my Facebook questions. Does that sound like something you could do? It would only be twenty hours per week, at, say, ten dollars an hour?"
Sasha smiles a little. "I'd like to try," she says and I bob my head at her.
"Okay, I'll give you my details before you leave, and you can start on Monday?"
Sasha smiles and nods again. She now looks happier than she was.
"How was the plane ride, Mary?" Bella asks with a smile to a woman sitting across from her.
"It was good," she says smiling and getting a bit teary eyed. "I requested the aisle seat like you said, and it all went well until we were in the air. There was this man, who was typing on his laptop." Mary stops taking a deep breath. "Alisha took a strong liking to him, and before I could stop her she was trying to get his attention. I was just waiting for the blow out, but he put up the arm, and started to play a game with her on his laptop. When she got bored he read her a story. I couldn't believe it, he was so gentle and loving to her, and she just lapped it up. That was the best plane ride we've ever had."
The next hour seems to pass with each person telling us how their month went. Some had bad times and other's, like Mary, had been touched by someone's kindness and non-judgmental view toward them or their child. After being here, I know this is something I will come back to each month. Knowing it is good to have this release and support is more helpful than I thought possible.
"Bella, can you explain something to me? With Sasha saying her boss heard the boy calling her names, but she didn't. I mean how does that work?" I ask as we clean up the now empty room.
"Some children with Autism and Asperger's syndrome have what I would classify an off switch. They can block out things around them, like other people calling them names, or talking about them when they are standing right there."
"Like their minds protect them?" I ask
"In a sense, yes. All too often, when the bullies find this out they work out a way into the person's mind. That's what they did to my sister and that can be so hurtful to anyone, especially a child."
Sighing, I rub my face. "Do you think Sasha will be okay working for me?" I ask sort of course changing the subject.
"Yes, she's a very bright young girl, she just needs to feel safe. Make sure you show her she's safe and she'll be fine."
Smiling a little, I tilt my chin down. "Any chance on you being there on her first day?" I ask slyly knowing she's got Monday's off so she can come with Charlie and I in the afternoon for his appointments.
"Sure," she says kissing me.
"Would you come with me to my parents to pick up Charlie?"
Bella bites her lip as she looks at me. "Isn't it a little late in the day to meet them?" Bella gets out and I shake my head at her.
"No, this way we will only be there for a half hour at best. So it will be a quick meeting, and it also means that you could come to dinner on Monday with me too?"
Bella giggles as she shakes her head at me, looking so cute that I pull her to me and kiss her again.
"Please, I want them to meet the woman that captured not only their grandson's heart, but mine too."
The drive to my parents is quick and as I pull up, I realize Bella and I have yet to talk about what we are.
"Bella," I say as I stop the car. "Can I introduce you as my girl ... my girlfriend?"
"Is that what you want me to be?"
Smiling, I nod at her. "It will do for now," I say with a hint of cockiness.
"Well I guess that's what you should call me, and now that means you will need to meet my father—the chief of police—as my boyfriend."
My smile drops. She wants me to meet her dad and tell him I'm her boyfriend. YES! My smile returns right away and I clasp her face kissing her. "Just name the day and Charlie and I will be there."
Getting out of the car, I help Bella out and lead her into my parent's home.
"Hi," I say walking in the living room.
"Daddy, Bee," Charile says with a large smile.
"Mom, Dad, this is my girlfriend, Bella. Bella, sweetie, this is my mother, Esme and my father, Carlisle."
"Nice to see you again, Bella," my dad says with a chuckle.
Looking, between my dad and Bella, she grins at me. "Your dad is the doctor I work under on my on-call time at the hospital," Bella informs me making me smile.
"You kept that quiet?" I ask and she just shrugs a little.
"It's very nice to meet you, Bella. All three of them have talked about you," my mom says looking happy.
"I hope only good things," Bella chuckles a little and my mom nods at her.
"Bee," Charlie says as he pulls on her top. Bella picks him up hugging him to her.
"Hi, Charlie," she says to him and he puts his head on her shoulder.
"Lo you," he says and I feel my heart take off.
"I love you, too, Charlie," Bella tells him and he pulls her head down kissing her forehead.
Looking at my parents, who both look as emotional as I feel, I give them a smile. "Come on, lets get this one home," I say kissing Bella's temple. "Thank for watching him, and if it's okay, Bella's going to be joining us on Monday for dinner?"
"That sound just perfect, son," my mom gets out as she smiles at us.
Jumping, as does Bella, when my mom hugs her. "You are a very special woman," my mom says after letting her go.
"She is and one of the best doctors I have ever trained," my dad carries on as Bella blushes.
"Thank you," she gets out giving me the 'get me out of here' look.
"I know, she is. We'll see you on Monday," I tell them walking out with Bella and Charlie quickly.
"Sorry about that," I tell her, but she shakes her head.
"It's okay, I just get embarrassed about compliments," she says with a little laugh.
Pulling into my parking space, I turn off the car and get out opening Bella's door, before getting Charlie out.
"Do you want to come up? I could show you what I have done on your blog?"
"Bee stay," Charlie says sleepily and Bella lets out a soft breath.
Bella rolls her eyes. "Let me go and get some clothes and I'll join you."
Grinning, I bob my head at her.
"Make sure it's a few days' worth."
Bella just looks at me and I shrug giving her my crooked smile I know she loves.
"You're too cute," she says walking away from me.
Making my way to my apartment, I get Charlie ready for bed.
"Bee, bed," he says in a sleepy voice and I nod at him.
"She's coming to stay," as I say the words I find myself hoping that she ... that we, can get her to stay forever.
"Bee," Charlie says again sounding tired.
As I open my mouth, Bella talks and stops me from saying anything.
Turning I see her standing behind me smiling at Charlie and me.
"Hope you don't mind me just walking right in. I wanted to help put my favorite little guy to bed."
Picking Charlie up, I walk over to her. "No, I don't mind." Stopping, I grin at her. "In fact, I think I'll get you a key for this place. I want you to feel like you're home when you are here."
Bella shakes her head a little. "I do, you have no idea just how much I feel at home here." Bella's voice is quiet and it sounds as if she's a little embarrassed by this fact.
"Good, my plan is working then," I tell her in a joking but not joking manner.
Feeling my heart thump, I pull up outside Bella's dad—the Chief's—house.
"Does he keep his gun in the house? No, wait, does he keep it on him?" I ask looking at Bella feeling a little more panicked than I was when she first asked me.
"Yes, he keeps his service revolver and other hunting guns here in the house. No he does not carry them around the house on his person, they are always put away, under lock and key."
Letting out a small breath, I shake my head. "Come, we best get in before I drive us away, like a criminal."
Bella barks out a laugh getting out of the car. By the time I have got my brain working, she has a hold of Charlie.
"Maybe I should hold him, I'm sure the Chief will not shoot me if I'm holding him."
Bella chuckles like I'm making some joke and before I can say anything else that will make me sound like a coward, the door opens and an old woman just smiles at us.
"Hi, Sue. Sue this is my little man, Charlie, and his dopey dad, Edward."
Glaring at the side of Bella's head, I open my mouth, but she just carries on talking. "Edward, Sue is my step-mom – my dad's new wife."
Clearing my throat I reach out my hand. "Hi," I'm able to get out, but just barely.
"Mom, let them in."
Turning I see a young boy that must be still in his teens standing here holding a little girl who looks to be around the same age as Charlie.
"Oh, I'm sorry, come on in," Sue laughs as she looks embarrassed.
"Edward, Charlie, this is my brother Seth and the munchkin in his arms is Lauren."
"Hi," Seth says holding out his hand and I shake it.
"Lauren, this is Charlie and Edward," Bella says clearly as she looks right at Lauren.
"Lauren is deaf, she's due to get a hearing aid, but until then you need to look at her when speaking," Bella tells me and I nod at her.
"Hello again," a rough voice says and I turn seeing the Chief standing there in a pair of jeans and t-shirt.
"Hi, Charlie," he says in a level voice as he looks at my son. "I've got some toys, would you like to come and see them?"
Closing my eyes, I feel proud that my son, my little boy remembered someone's name that he only met once.
Bella passes Charlie off to her dad, and looks at me. "Why don't you go with them, and I can help Sue?"
Nodding at her, I lean down a little kissing her temple. Walking in behind the Chief, my mouth opens a little when I see that he has a small room with loads of toys in it. The room, looks like it could have been an office previously. As I glance around the room, my eyes fall on the Chief who again looks so content sitting in between Charlie and Lauren.
"There's some light up ones and pictures that Bella said he may like," the Chief says bringing me out of my inner thoughts. "I can play with these two if you dads want to play on the X-box or just chill out."
"Cheers, Dad," Seth says pulling me to the sofa across from where we were.
"So you're dating my big sister?" he says as he sets up a game for us.
"Yeah?" I say as I look at him
"Cool, you seem nice and lot better than the last a-hole she dated."
Unsure, I just look at him and he shrugs.
"He was, the guy ... he couldn't believe I took Lauren on, when her mom didn't want to keep her."
Swallowing, I look over at Lauren seeing she looks so sweet.
"Sorry," I say knowing how he feels.
"It's okay, I mean Claire was still sixteen when Lauren came along. She was scared and didn't want to be a mom, but didn't want to have an abortion either. The pregnancy was bad, Claire was so ill, and then almost died giving birth. She signed Lauren over, but when it came to me I couldn't. Lauren owned my heart the second I saw her."
Smiling, he shrugs a little.
"Claire moved away with her family. She writes once every other month or so to ask how I am, and I make sure to tell her about Lauren and send her photos. Bella's last boyfriend, Mike, just kept saying that I was off my rocker for keeping her. He said I was only seventeen I wouldn't have a life, get girls or go out ever again. When I found out she was deaf ..." Seth stops talking but I can hear the pain there. "I hated it. I kept thinking I did something wrong, that it must be karma getting me back. Bella – she was there every step of the way. She told me Lauren was fine the way she was, and how I did nothing wrong. But Mike, he said that I should just give her up, that she would clearly cost me too much and no guy would take her off my hands ever." Seth stops and chuckles a little.
"Bella had overheard him and hit him so hard she broke his nose. He actually went to the police station and filed a complaint."
Raising my brow, Seth just nods.
"Yeah, he's a real twat, huh? Dad never told us, but I know he did something to Mike that not only made him drop it, but move."
Seth takes another deep breath.
"But here I am, eighteen, with a soon to be two year old. I may live with my mom and stepdad, but I have my own car, I work part time and do courses online. The fact that Lauren is with me—despite her disability—makes my life pretty good."
Unable to stop from grinning, I pat his back. "I agree, Seth, and you are a very smart young man," I tell him feeling a little blown away over how level headed he is.
Seth and I play the game in silence for a few minutes before he starts talking again.
"What happened to Charlie's mom?"
Taking some deep breaths, I decide to just lay it out there like he did. "She didn't want kids, more so one like Charlie. She walked out on us ... on him."
Seth stops what he's doing and just looks at me.
"That sucks ass. Claire was young and she said from the get go, that she was not sure about it. She felt too young to raise a baby the way they should be. But for this woman, who I'll assume is your age?"
Nodding at him he carries on.
"To play house then to drop him, because as some little tick and behavior that's not deemed normal is low. I hope you don't let her back into his life easily."
Quietly laughing a little, I shake my head. "I doubt she would ever want back in his life. She has a niece and an adult Aunt who also have Autism. She knew what it's like—what he would go through—but she still chose to leave him."
"Well then you're thankfully rid of the rabid female dog."
Giving him a look, I then look to see that the Chief and kids are far enough away from us.
Seth chuckles a little. "I'm trying not to swear anymore so when she can hear, she won't hear me drop the F-bombs and all that." He laughs and I nod at him again.
"Dinner boys and munchkins," Bella says and I turn to see her smiling as she stands at the door.
Jumping up, before I can head over to Charlie, I see the Chief is holding both him and Lauren, one on each side.
"I've got this, Edward, I'm an old pro."
Smiling, I chuckle as I see Charlie seems so content in the Chief's arms.
Walking out behind them, I watch as Bella takes Charlie and Sue takes Lauren. They place them both into a highchair of their own.
Bella motions to a chair and I sit down, grinning as Bella sits next to me.
"So Edward, Bella tells me you do designs on the computer?"
"Yeah," I say bobbing my head a little.
"Dad it's more than that, he design's web pages and even designed a computer game."
The pride in Bella's voice makes me smile and kiss her shoulder.
"Yeah, but it's mainly playing with designs on the computer, Chief," I say and he gives me a strange grin.
"Are you any good at fixing computers?" I frown but before I can speak, Sue starts to complain.
"Charles Anthony Swan you are not getting him into the station to fix the virus Matt downloaded while looking at Busty Blonds. You get someone in there to work on it, you cheapskate."
"Come on, if Edward can fix it, it'd be cheap I'm sure he'll give me the family rate, and I've talked to Matt."
"I can take a look," I say before Sue can give him more hassle.
"See, and while he's there I could have him look at our filing system needs."
Chuckling, I nod at him.
"You don't have to do that, Edward, just because he's my father doesn't mean you have too ..." Bella trails off and glares at her dad. "I get it, this is so you can check him out? Do a police check on him and stuff, isn't it?"
The Chief looks shocked. "What, no."
Bella just hums and I cover her hand with my own.
"He's your father and he should check me out, its fine and I'll still look at the computers."
The Chief looks pleased as Bella keeps glaring at him.
"It's fine, sweetheart," I say in her ear and she sighs a little.
"You like fishing?" The Chief asks all of a sudden.
"Yes, but I haven't been out in a few years. My dad, Jasper, Emmett and I used to go out all the time. My parents have a pretty big boat that we use."
The Chief's eyes start to twinkle.
"Maybe once everything's done with Charlie's testing we can have a man trip, and go fishing." Making sure to look at Seth, I see he looks pleased to be included.
"I like the way you think, boy," the Chief says all smiles.
"And if you two need a night out, Sue, Seth, Lauren and I will be happy to take Charlie off your hands for a night," he says winking at Charlie. "You'd like that right, Charlie, to spend time with me?"
Charlie slowly looks to him and nods "Yes, stay Char, and Lal."
"Mo carts ple," Lauren yells.
Feeling Bella grip my hand, I turn and look as Lauren smiles back at Charlie, and he hands her one of his carrot sticks.
The rest of the night is spent with us chatting. When Charlie starts to yawn I know that's our que to leave.
After Bella hugs her family and Sue shocks me by hugging me, we leave heading home as a family.
Hearing the light knock at my door, I leave Charlie with Bella as I walk to it. Smiling as I open it, I see Sasha standing there with Royce.
"Hi," I say with a little surprise.
"I'm Dad," he says and I bob my head at him.
"Well then come on in," I say opening my door more.
"I work from home, so I have a small office," I say as I walk them into my home.
"Hello, Bella," Sasha says with a smile.
"Hello, Sasha, Royce," Bella says as Sasha moves to Charlie.
"Hi," she says and I watch them with some intrigue as they both sort of interact in their own way with each other.
"Sasha, baby, you are here about your job?" Royce says in a soothing voice after ten minutes have passed.
"Sorry," Sasha says softly standing back beside me.
"This is my office, and this will be your desk, and phone," I say showing it to her.
"We'll set you up with your own password, to get in, and we have this Dropbox, that I will put work in for you and you can access to my calendar."
She nods but doesn't say anything.
"This is your paperwork that needs to be filled out," I say handing them to her and she nods again.
"How about you take these home and fill them out. You will come back tomorrow at ten, for your first day of work?"
"Okay, Mr. Edward."
Grinning I shake my head at her. "It's just Edward, honey."
She smiles back at me and goes over to stand with her dad.
"These are all my numbers in case you need to call me, and feel free to stop by any time."
Royce smiles at me. "Thanks for doing this."
"It's no problem," I tell him as Sasha talks to Bella and Charlie.
"It gets easier, the older they get the less the explosions seem to come. Just keep your chin up and know that you're doing the right thing for him and other people don't live in your home. They may judge but they have no idea what they're talking about."
Letting out a breath, I nod. "Thanks."
"She's great," he says and I frown as I look at him. "I mean Bella, she's great. She's one of the best doctors Sasha has ever had. I think it really helped that she's walked our road, and been in our shoes. It doesn't hurt of course that she is truly a child advocate and will always do what's best for her patients.
"I'll let you get off, and i'll make sure she's here tomorrow at ten. It normally takes a week or two before she feels safe in a new place, but I've got a feeling it'll be sooner here."
As soon as Royce and Sasha leave, Bella and I get Charlie into the car minus his shoes.
We arrive in with a few minutes to spare, and I take some deep breaths as Bella goes to let Garrett know we are here.
"Edward, Charlie," Bella says and I pick him up walking to her.
We walk in the office hand in hand and I'm stunned a little to see Royce sitting there too.
"Hi, I'm the educational therapist. Normally I will not be in Charlie's life until he's school age, but I like to have some meetings before that time. By the time I am working with him, he'll feel more at ease because he'll already know me."
"Good idea," I say impressed by his work standard.
Garrett, Bella and Royce talk me through what the next few weeks will entail. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed by it all, but I know Bella and Royce both know what I'm going through. That knowledge helps ease some of the worry and anxiety.
Bella and I sit off to the side a little as Garrett takes Charlie through the first round of tests. When Charlie becomes restless, Bella sits with him on the floor. Her presence only helped him go through a little more, before Garrett had to call it a day. He'll have to come back again, there are three tests yet to do.
"It happens often, Edward, there may be days he rattles through more, or days where we get nothing done. It all goes to tell us how he's doing and coping."
Only nodding once at Royce to acknowledge I heard him, I'm still watching Bella help Charlie clean up.
"You are doing the right thing, Edward. He's coming along, it just takes time. My best advice is keep to his routine, and try not surprise him."
Rubbing my face already knowing this, I can't help but wonder and worry. "What about Tanya—his biological mother—do you think her up and leaving him has scared him?"
Royce seems to take a few moments before turning my way. "Edward, I know her leaving hurt you, that much is clear. But we may never know how much damage it caused Charlie. Just reassure him, make sure you don't just leave without telling him. Tell him where you're going and that you'll be back." Royce stops and chuckles. "In saying that, I feel you should say that to all children no matter what."
Nodding in agreement with him, I let out a sigh.
"I will say this, Edward, Charlie looks and acts like a well-adjusted young boy. So don't be so hard on yourself, you're doing the right thing for him. I'll see you tomorrow when I drop Sasha off."
Shaking his hand, I say goodbye before heading over to Charlie and Bella.
"That wasn't too bad was it, daddy?" Bella asks and I grin kissing her quickly.
"No, it wasn't. Ready to go to gran and pap's?"
"Gra, Pap pie?"
Nodding, I smile as we start to walk out.
"I'm sure Gran made some of her yummy apple pie."
"Lov pie. Lov dadee. Lov Bee."
"I love you too, Charlie."
The drive to my parents is quick and I feel so much lighter as we walk in to the house.
"Hi," my mom says, as she hugs me.
"Bella, it's so nice to see you again, and come to me my handsome boy."
She takes Charlie from Bella smiling happily at him. "How did it go today?" she asks once she sits down on the floor next to Charlie and his toys.
"Let them sit, dear, before you start to question them," my dad chuckles at her making her playfully glare at him.
"It went very well, even if he didn't do all the tests they wanted to do today."
"What? Why didn't they do all the tests?" My mom asks.
"Normally we split the tests up evenly, but we added on some extra today just in case. Charlie did really well, but was becoming frustrated and bored. There's no point in pushing him, because we wouldn't have gotten the right information. He did very well, Esme." Bella used what I know is her doctor voice when speaking to my mom. It seemed to have worked as she looks calmer than what she was.
"I'm sorry, I just ..." my mom trails off as she looks at Charlie.
"I know you want all the answers right now, believe me, I understand. But when it comes time to do an IEP for him we need the right information, or we could hinder his progress."
"What's an IEP?" My mom asks as she echoes my own thoughts.
"IEP, is Individualized Educational Plan, this is something he will have as soon as his diagnosis and list of needed accommodations is complete," Bella says still sounding like a doctor. I'm ashamed to say that I'm turned on by the husk in her voice.
"There's so much to learn and know," my mom says as she looks back at Charlie. "The internet's not good, you just get so much conflicting information."
Grinning, I chuckle a little. "Believe us, we know and that's why my beautiful, smart, sexy, girlfriend is making her own blog. This way it has up-to-date correct information for people to utilize," I say.
Turning to Bella, I smile at her in question as to if I can tell them the name. When Bella blushes and nods at me I kiss her lips.
"The blog is going to be called Charlie's Voice."
My mom covers her heart as she holds back her tears.
"Do you have enough funding?" My father asks.
"Yes. Sir, I have been saving for some time now, and this handsome man gave me a great deal."
Looking at Bella, I kiss her again.
"Pie, me so pie," Charlie says sounding a little impatient for his dinner.
"Oh, yes, dinner is ready if you all are?"
Bobbing my head, I help Bella to stand, and we make our way to the dining room.
This time Charlie is seated in between Bella and me. As we eat, my dad and Bella talk about the hospital and work. During their talk I find myself getting turned on my Bella being so professional. All too soon my mind drifts to her and I playing doctor and patient.
It's late when we pack up to leave.
"She's lovely and as much as I was fond of Tanya, Bella seems so much more suited to you and Charlie," My mom says in my ear as she hugs me. "Has Carmen, Eleazar or Alice met her yet?"
"No, not yet. Emmett and Jasper meet her briefly, but I'm hoping to get us all together soon."
My mom smiles at me.
"When you need some adult time, just let me know and I'll free up my night to have my Charlie here."
"I'll let you know once I've talked to everyone. I best get off now," I say softly when I see Bella putting Charlie into his car seat.
The week flies by with Sasha getting quickly settled and doing a great job. Bella's blog is almost completed, all we need is a logo.
"What about the puzzle piece?" I ask and Bella pulls a face.
"Some of the older people with Autism say they dislike it as it makes them feel as if they are broken having a missing piece, like they're incomplete."
Sighing I pull my hair.
"What about a swan?" Sasha says making Bella and I look at her.
"What?" I ask softly.
"A swan, you know the ugly duckling turns into a swan. We turn into swan's with the correct help."
"Sasha, girl, you have never been an ugly duckling," Bella says moving to her but Sasha shrugs.
"Not to people like you, but to most people, but now I'm turning into a swan."
Bella turns and looks at me.
"I like it," I say, "and not just because it's your name."
Bella takes a deep breath and nods her head. "Okay a swan it is. Sasha, you like to draw so why don't you make it for us?"
"Really?" she says sounding happy and Bella nods.
"Okay, I'll start now," she gets up and walks away.
"I can't believe it's all coming together." Bella looks at me as she talks walking into my arms.
"I know," I say kissing her.
My kisses are cut short as my doorbell sounds at the same time Charlie start to call us having woken from his nap.
"I'll get the door you get our boy," I say tapping her ass as I move to my front door.
"How did today go?" Royce asks me as he walks in.
"Good, she did great." I report to him, before I can say more, Sasha has joined us.
"I picked the logo for the Charlie's Voice blog. I'm making the logo now," she tells him in one breath and clearly excited.
"You are?" Royce looks at me confused and I bob my head.
"That's right, she is. I'm making a blog for Bella, it's for parent, people with disabilities like Charlie and Sasha to go to, where they can get the right information. She wants to call it Charlie's Voice and Sasha came up with an idea for the logo. Now she has to draw it for me so that I can put it up, and the blog can go live."
Royce looks to Sasha with such pride that I feel myself smile and glow from it. "Well done, baby girl. Edward, you tell Bella if she needs any help or information looked over to let me know. And if you give me the web address I'll make sure I hand it out to all the parents I deal with."
"Thank you, Royce, that would be great," I tell him as he hugs Sasha to him.
"See you Monday, Sasha," I say as she walks out.
"Yes, see you Monday. I'll have the swan ready for you then," she tells me still sounding giddy before closing the door behind them.
"Daddy," Charlie calls and I turn seeing my girl with our boy in her arms.
"His bag's all packed for his stay over with gran and papa," Bella comments holding up his overnight bag.
"But first is dinner, you wanna help me Charlie or spend time with daddy?" Bella asks him and he looks from her to me and then back.
"Daddy," he says and it's the first time he's asked for me over Bella. Bella told me that it would happen the more he saw her. She said he'll get used to her being and staying around. Once the honeymoon period was over he'd revert back to wanting to spend time with me too. However, hearing him say it, really set my heart off.
"Come on, buddy, your daddy has missed you," I tell him as I take him from Bella's arm.
"Thank you, love," I say kissing her temple.
Once dinner is eaten and cleaned up, we drop Charlie off with my parents. We head to the bar where we are meeting Alice, Jasper, Emmett, and his wife Rose.
When we walk in I keep my hand on the base of Bella's back. Scanning the room, I catch sight of Emmett. He's kind of hard to miss, as he towers over most people.
Taking a deep breath I lead us over to them.
"Hi, everyone. Bella, this is Alice, Jasper's wife," I say pointing at Alice. "And this is Rose, Emmett's wife," this time I point to Rose. "You remember Jasper and Emmett, right?"
"Yes, your two friends that were telling the women jokes the last time," she says with a smirk as she looks at them. They both pale and look to their significant others.
"It was harmless," they both stutter out together.
"Oh, you claimed Alice talks too much, and you said Rose was on your dick and in your wallet all the time." Bella says with such intensity, she almost had me believing her.
"What? We ... come on," Jasper says as Emmett shakes his head at Bella and then nods at Jasper.
"Big gift!" Rose says while Alice nods.
"Now go get a round of drinks," Alice adds.
Jasper and Emmett jump up and run to the bar and Alice and Rose snigger.
"Oh, I do like you," Rose says tapping the seat between her and Alice.
"Edward, you go help the boys so we can talk to our girl."
Bobbing my head, I feel a little confused to what just a happened.
"Traitor," Emmett mutters as I reach him and Jasper.
"Hey, I didn't say a word," I reply holding up my hands.
"I can't believe she told on us," Jasper whines sounding like a five year old and I laugh.
When they both glare at me, I change it into a cough and cover my mouth with my hand.
"I think she was just playing with you both," I tell them once I am able to speak without chuckling.
We get a couple pitchers of beer, several shots and a soft drink before walking back to the table. When we get there, the girls are talking like old school friends.
Us guys seem to slide into the conversation easily, and it feels so right to have her here with my friends.
"We should meet up and go shopping, and do some spa treatments," Rose says as she looks between Alice and Bella.
"That does sound good, but not Wednesday. In fact the day after Wednesday would be best for me?" Alice asks making me frown a little.
"What's happening on Wednesday?" I ask and Alice just gives me a heartbreaking look.
"Chloe has to get some shots. Dr. Stanly already told her that she will not allow her to behave like she did the last time, and if she did than we would need to find another doctor," Jasper informs us sadly.
Letting out a low breath, I feel happy that so far my doctors have been great. "She. Said. What!" Bella grits out not looking happy.
Jasper looks at me and then back to Bella who has what I know is her 'I'm pissed off' look on her face.
"You know what, that's just fine. You bring her to me on Wednesday. I'll make sure to have her records faxed over to me before then. I'll do her injections, no problem."
Alice and Jasper seem to look at each other and then to Bella unsure of what to say or do.
"I swear I may still be in training, but I am very good at my job and I have dealt with children who don't like injections. Trust me and let me do this for you and for her, please. The biggest rule I tell my kid's parents is that you should feel like you're able to talk to your kids' doctor. You shouldn't be worried about taking your child to see them. This is clearly stressing you out, which will have a knock off effect on Chloe. Please, just come and see me." Bella stops talking and looks at me.
"I agree she's great, Alice. As much as I like Garrett, she's still my favorite doctor. If you want I will be there too as Charlie has to get some injections, we can always go together?"
Alice and Jasper share a look before nodding and they seem to look somewhat calmer already.
"I want a baby, Rose, we're missing out," Emmett says sulking.
"We may have one in nine months ..." Rose tells him making us all gasp.
"Really?" Rose bites her lip and shrugs.
"I'm only a few days late, and I haven't taken the test yet, so all I can say is maybe."
Emmett looks a little shocked, before jumping up and taking Rose's glass away from her.
"It just orange juice, Em, I'm not drinking until I'm sure."
"You are," Bella says with a smile. "You have a glow to your face. You have adjusted your breasts a few times now and you also said the smell of beer was making you feel sick. I assume that is a new thing. I'd say I'm about ninety-five percent certain you are. I have some tests at my place that were extra from the clinic. I'm taking to donate to the local Birthright office. If you want to have proof, we can go use one of them."
Emmett leaps up as soon as Bella's done talking and we all look at him. "What? I wanna know if I am going to be a daddy, so come on!"
Rolling my eyes, I get up as does everyone else. We get a cab and head to Bella's place. Once there, Bella takes Rose away to do the test as the rest of us sit out in her living room and wait.
"I'm going to be a mommy," Rose sobs.
We all cheer as Emmett hugs her, and Bella walks into my arms. Kissing her head, I smile for my friends.
"This is gonna be us soon," I whisper making her look at me.
"I've always wanted to have a few kids. Not like a football team, but two or three. Mostly I want one with you. I'm not saying right now, but after everything settles down with Charlie, and I get you packed and living with us fully. I want us to get married and then have a baby." The whole time I talk Bella's smile gets bigger.
"That sounds good," she says and I kiss her head.
We move off to hug Rose, now that Emmett has let her go.
"God I need an OB doctor," Rose says as she starts to worry.
"Irina is in our group practice and she is excellent. I did my training for that part under her, and she was always sweet. She's willing to learn about anything the parents need her to know, so they get the pregnancy and birth experience they want."
"Bella do you get a commission for all the people you add to your practice books?" Jasper jokes making Bella stick her tongue out at him.
"No, my practice just happens to be the best and as I care for Alice, her girls, Emmett and Rose I want them cared for by the best. However, I'm not so sure about you, so you're not welcome."
"Ha! She likes me and not you," Emmett singsongs and hits Jasper's arm.
The rest of the night seems to be filed with less drinking and more chatting. It didn't feel like this was the first time we did this. In fact this night went better than any of the other times we did this when Tanya joined us. Swallowing, I know this is the first time, I've thought about Tanya, but not felt angry, sad or hurt. In fact I feel nothing, not a single thing.
My head turns and I watch Bella chuckling as Emmett acts like a big kid, and Rose slaps his head. She looks so beautiful and alive. You can see and feel the love she has for people coming out of her. She's one of those people that just cares about others and is always trying to heal them. I know that she has helped me. As I keep watching her my heart flutters and I know I am head over heels in love with her. She turns to me giving me her smile. As our eyes lock I know she is in love with me too. Barely stopping myself from mouthing those words to her, I wink at her and she nods as if to say I love you too.
The gang all decided just to sleep at Bella's. Alice and Jasper take the pull out sofa in the living room, Emmett and Rose use the spare room and Bella and I in her room.
"I love you," I say pulling her into my arms.
"I know, and I love you too," she says kissing my lips.
We both move to the bed getting under the sheets before making out and falling asleep in each other's arms.
The week seems to have flown by and Charlie has done more testing. We are now standing with Alice, Jasper and Chloe waiting for Chloe's name to be called. When it is I show them to Bella's office.
"Hi," Bella says as she opens the door.
She talks to Chloe and Charlie before asking us the standard questions. Once that's done she jumps up but before I can ask what's going on she's talking. "This way," she says and I frown but follow her.
We arrive outside a room and Bella opens it and my mouth drops open seeing that it looks like a little doctor's office but it's more childlike.
"Chole, would you like to help me? You see some of these dolls are sick, and need to be looked after?"
Chloe bobs her head and takes Bella's hand.
"What about you, Charlie, will you help too?"
"Yes," he says wriggling down from me. Alice, Jasper and I stay off to the side watching everything.
"Chloe, Charlie, I have some magic cream, that we all need to put on, are you ready?"
They both nod and Bella applies it even to herself.
"Doctor," I jump a little when Garrett comes in sounding out of breath. "We have a sick pony," he says and Chloe looks worried, but Garrett just carries the toy pony over to the table.
"Can you three doctors help me?"
They all nod.
"I just want you to look at this," a nurse says showing me the correct injection that Charlie will get, as another does the same to Alice. Neither nurse talks loudly – not that it matters since both Charlie and Chloe are engrossed with their game.
"We need to take special medicine, you first, Dr. Bella," he says looking at Bella who gives him her arm she put the special cream on.
"Dr. Chloe will you help me?"
"Okay gloves," he says putting some gloves on Chloe, before putting some on himself. "Dr. Charlie will you hold Dr. Bella's hand?"
Charlie does what he asked, and quickly Garrett injects Bella. Dr. Chloe, please put on Dr. Bella's Band-Aid."
Covering my mouth, to hold in my chuckle as Chloe quickly puts the Band-Aid on Bella's arm.
"Good job, doctors. Who's next?" he says.
"Me," Chloe says as Alice gasps.
"Okay, I need clean gloves," he says changing them. "Dr. Charlie can you hold the Band-Aid this time?" Charlie bobs his head as Chloe sits on Bella's knee. The injection goes smoothly with Chloe only gasping a little but she stops when Charlie puts the Band-Aid on her
"All better?" Garrett asks and she nods.
"Dr. Charlie's turn," he says.
Watching them work quickly, they do the same routine with Charlie. The nurses hand us the shot record copies and explain that since they have to be here for a minimum of fifteen minutes, that they will now tend to the sick pony.
"Well done, doctors," Garrett says handing Chloe and Charlie each a plastic case.
"That is just their own kid safe doctor stuff," the nurse says when I look questioningly at the case.
"Okay, I need to talk to your mommy and daddies, but nurse Bree will help you finish feeding the sick toys. We'll be right over there," Bella says standing up.
"This is just the standard information, for you about what they were given, and any side effects to look out for. You've both done this stuff before so don't worry about bothering us call me or Garrett if you are worried about anything." Bella says looking at Alice who leaps up hugging her.
"This first time she hasn't cried. Usually she cries for ages and then kicks up a fuss."
Alice cries as Bella rubs her back and I look to Jasper who's holding back his own tears. "This may not always work, but if we can have her see the injections aren't that bad she may calm down when getting them."
Alice nods her head.
"Bella your next patient has arrived," the other nurse peeks in and says.
Bella bobs her head at the nurse.
"I'm sorry but I need to wrap this up. Please tell them I'll be there in a few moments."
Bella moves back to Chloe and Charlie and hugs them and tells them good bye.
"I'll see you at lunch?" I ask and Bella nods her head.
"Feel free to stay, we don't need this room for another hour."
As Chloe and Charlie seem happy we decide to let them play a little.
"She's really good, Edward. She's the best possible mom Charlie could have. Hell she's the best Aunt my kids are going to have."
"So you okay if she adopts him then?" I ask Alice, looking her way.
"Hell yeah, so will my mom and dad. They see that he loves her that you love her. I know that you cared for Tanya, but even you know she wasn't like this. This is how you feel when you're with someone that you want to spend your life with. We all know that if Charlie hadn't come along you would have split up well before you did. I prayed that she'd stick it out and wouldn't leave him ..." Alice stops talking and faces me. "I didn't think you two would get married. I didn't want to see you hurt, but I knew you weren't in love with my sister and I know she wasn't in love with you. I wasn't okay with her leaving you ... I was okay with her not loving you, as long as she loved Charlie, but she didn't. She's my sister and I love her, but right now I hate her more. Not only for walking out on that precious little boy but for making me feel like my daughter was not good enough. If I could choose—no I am choosing and —I want Bella to be an aunt to my girls, she's great."
Letting out a long breath, I decide to ask Alice what I've wanted to ask her. "Will you come with us when I take her to your parents' home?"
Alice bobs her head at me. "Just try and stop me."
"Edward, are you sure about this?" Bella asks as we stand outside Tanya's parents' home.
"Yes," I look at her and start pulling my hair. "They are still his family," I say weakly.
"I know but shouldn't they be on her side and see me as the other woman?" she asks.
"No," a voice says making Bella pale as she slowly turns to see Carmen.
"That ... Tanya is my daughter and she is welcome home anytime, but what she did was selfish and wrong. Besides I'm Tanya's step-mom, and I know how you feel, but you are welcome here anytime. And when he marries you and you adopt my grandson I will still be his grandma but you will be his mommy. Now come on in"
It takes less than five minutes for Bella and my ex-in-laws to act like old friends. Shaking my head at how Bella seems to be able to adapt to the people around her. Besides Jessica our shared neighbor no one has ever had anything negative or bad to say about Bella.
"Hi, Edward," Jane signs as she sits next to me.
"Hi, Jane," I say and sign the words to.
Jane can hear, but has limited speech, and finds sign language easier to use.
"Jane, this is my girlfriend Bella," I say and sign.
She turns looking at Bella.
"Hi," Bella surprises me by signing to Jane. Not sure why it surprises me, but it did momentarily.
"I'm moving soon," Jane signs to us.
"Oh, you are?" I ask.
"Mom and dad can't look after her anymore and were we willing to let her come here, but her social worker thinks a halfway home would be better. We're looking at Todd's Place tomorrow," Eleazar tells us.
"No," Bella says shaking her head. "No, not there, please don't take her there. Those people there are horrible and if I could shut them down then I would," Bella bursts out looking upset.
"We were told that most people there don't have episodes?" Eleazar argues and looks at Bella confused.
"That's true but only because they are drugged up, and they don't know what day it is. Believe me, my sister went there for two months before my mom found out they were drugging her without her consent. That may have been seven years ago and they claim they have new rules, but I've seen many of the people that live there. There are clean signs of abuse and I have reported them, and I'm hopeful this time they will be closed. Please don't send her there."
Bella rubs her head. "Four months ago I went to visit someone, it was around ten at night when I arrived. I buzzed but no one answered. I waited for an hour when the staff arrived back after going out for dinner. They had locked the patients in with no way of getting help or out if they needed it. That's when I reported them again. You have to believe me when I say it's not safe. If you're really willing to take her in, then do so. You can give her independence here just the same. She could stay in your pool home, that way she's not in your home, yet your close if she needs you." Bella stops talking and looks at Jane who's looking back her. "But you know what let her choose and be a part of the choice. After all it's her that will be living there."
"Pool house," Jane signs, "I like the pool house."
No one says anything for a little bit mainly because we are shocked that something like this could happen in a place that's meant to safeguard our vulnerable people.
After dinner Carmen asks Jane to help her clean up and she nods at Eleazar who comes over to us.
"What about the kitchen? Or if she goes for a walk?" he asks clearly worried.
"Without looking at her case files, I'm not sure what her capabilities are. But there are many pieces of equipment that you can get now. Like a tracker—something she always has on—so you know where she is. There are mats you can put at the door, so if she leaves, it will alert you like an alarm. The kitchen, you could have it limited to what she would need, but don't sell her short. Let her try things out and know just because something goes wrong does mean that is it. We all need to screw up a few times before we make the perfect cake." Eleazar chuckles and nods.
"Could you help us out with the equipment means?"
Bella nods at him. "I would be glad too."
The weeks seem to fly by one after the other. Jane is settled in the pool house and is doing well. Alice has Maria and Chloe now under Bella's care and both kids are thriving.
Bella has all but moved in with me and her blog is doing well with Royce, Sasha, Bella, Garrett, Alice and many more all helping monitor it. Many places are making sure to spread the word about it. Sasha made an excellent swan that's swimming in what looks like water, until you make it a little bigger and see it's all information icons.
Everything seems to be going smoothly and despite what I first felt when I walked into Bella's office that first day with Charlie, five months ago, I feel calmer today, even knowing today we be getting the results.
"Edward, Bella and Charlie come on in," Garrett says smiling at us.
"The results are what we expected. Charlie has Asperger's syndrome, he seems to be in the mild to moderate line," he says showing us a graph.
Taking a deep breath I look at Bella knowing that I can face this with her beside me. We will face this together. Kissing her hand, Charlie smiles at me before turning to Bella.
"Mommy," he says and I gasp feeling my heart take off as he holds up his hands to Bella.
She looks at me as Garrett stops talking and I nod. Bella picks him up and hugs him close to her.
"Sorry, Garrett, you were saying?" she says.
Garrett carries on talking and I feel relieved knowing I have a good support group, with my family and friends. No matter where on the graph Charlie is, he's my son and I love him just the way he is.
A/N: We have has several people who read this in the compilation have asked us to continue it and or write a epilogue for it or something. After discussing it with Nikky, we will add to it, but it will not be until after the first of the year at this point becasue we are currently beyond loaded down with many other items we have going on. Thank you to those of you who donated money to the cause. Thank you for reading and if there is something in particular you would want to see us do with this story in the epilogue, please let us know, becasue we are always willing to try.