Disclaimer: I still don't own anything Twilight related from Chapter One until the very end.
"Bart's Garage," Bart answers for the umpteenth time today.
The garage has been busy all week, and Edward is looking forward to the weekend, having planned a long ride up the coast. When Bart lowers his voice, Edward peers at him out the corner of his eye. Bart does the same, keeping his voice low.
"Yeah, he's here," he says, turning his back to Edward, piquing his curiosity.
"Oh, no, you don't! You aren't putting this on me. You tell him," he whispers into the phone.
Pulling the greasy rag from his back pocket, Edward wipes his hands on the scrap of material that he keeps stashed in his back pocket. He listens while he assesses his handiwork.
Edward's a small engine mechanic, but his passion is for anything motorcycle. He's rebuilt enough engines and is good enough to open his own shop, pocketing the money for himself but he likes working for Bart.
Bart puts the phone down on the counter before turning around to face Edward.
"Um, Edward, son, the phone's for you," he says ducking his head before he slips his hands in his pockets. "Take your time, I'll finish up here for you."
Sensing something bad has happened, he reaches the phone in three long strides.
"Hello," he says low into the phone.
"Mr. Cullen, this is Scott Andrews, your father's attorney here in Mendocino. Mr. Cullen, I regret to inform you that your parents were involved in an accident, and your father was killed instantly. Although your mother made it to the hospital, she passed away a few hours ago. I'm sorry to have to be the bearer of this tragic news, but Mr. Cullen, you need to come home, sir. You're the only family they had, and there are matters that needs to be addressed."
It takes a while for Edward's brain to absorb what Andrews has just said, but all he can says is, "Okay."
Pain rushes through his body when he thinks about his mother, laying there with no breath in her. His father, who was always bigger than life, no longer available to help him when he has questions or needs help.
Bart is by Edward's side in an instant, picking up the dropped phone from the dirty floor, and that's when Edward feels it. He lunges for the garbage can just before he loses his lunch.
Sitting back on his heels, he gratefully drinks from a bottle of cold water that Bart hands him.
"What did he say, Eddie?" Bart asks, his hand resting on his friend's shoulder.
"He said … he said that my parents are dead, and that I need to go home to take care of things," he answers, not wanting to say the words out loud.
"You go and do what you have to do, son. Take your time. We'll hold down the fort here. Just make sure you call and let us know how you're getting on, all right?" Bart says, wrapping his arm across Edward's shoulder. "You'll always have a place here, Eddie."
"Yeah. Yeah, sure," not certain when he'd be back — if at all.
Filled with dread, he mounts his bike, turning it onto the road. Before he knows it, he's pulling into the drive, barely recalling the ride home.
As soon as he enters his apartment, Edward shuts the door behind him, finally allowing the pain to consume him. He can't remember the last time he cried. Maybe it was when he was about eight or so, when his puppy died.
Later that afternoon, Edward returns Andrews' call to let him know that he'll be leaving L.A. in the morning, and that he'll arrive sometime the following evening. He lets the attorney know that he has a key to his parent's house and can let himself in, so he won't have to bother with that.
After hanging up the phone, he has a dismal thought; my parents are dead, and I have to bury them.
The ride up Hwy 1 adds a little extra time to the schedule, but it's worth it. Pulling his motorcycle into his parents drive around eight o'clock the following evening, he's glad it's still light out. He really doesn't want to enter the house while it's dark.
Swinging his long leg over the seat, he squats down, stretching out the kinks in his muscles. He lets himself into the house through the garage door, shuts it behind him and just stands there listening to the quiet.
Tears burn his eyes when he knows that, at any other time, his mother would be in the kitchen, wrapping him in a huge hug.
After turning on the kitchen light, Edward stares at the plate sitting on the granite countertop. His mother was defrosting a roast for dinner.
"I love her pot roast," he murmurs to himself. Taking a garbage bag out of the drawer, he dumps the package of spoiled meat into the trash.
Not wanting to deal with this tonight, he carries his duffle bag to his room, forcing himself not to stop at his parents' bedroom. So, after he drops his bag inside the door of his room, he heads to the garage … and a cold beer.
As soon as he pulls in front of The Shack, he smiles at the fond memories he has of this joint. It's where all the locals hang out, and if you aren't a local, you don't get in.
The corner of his mouth turns up at the familiar sound of the loud hinge as he opens the door, and Rogan, the bartender, greets him with open arms.
"Eddie, me boy. How the hell are ye?" he says in his Irish brogue.
"I'm good," Edward lies through a forced smile.
"Like hell you are," a familiar voice shouts from across the room. "Rogan, he just lost his parents, you ass," Jasper says angrily.
"Oh, shite. I'm sorry, lad. I just learned of it today," Rogan confesses.
"I'll take a cold Fat Boy, Rogan. In a glass."
"Sure, sure, comin' right up, laddie."
Edward's eyes remain on the frosted mug as Rogan pours the beer.
"Here ye go. Tis on the house, boy."
"Thanks, Rogan." He drinks it down and slides the empty glass across the bar for a refill.
Not in the mood for socializing, Edward takes his filled glass and scans the room, looking for an empty booth. Just his luck, Jasper follows him, wanting to discuss what the plans are, and what Edward wants to do with the business no doubt.
"Jasper, if you don't mind, I'd like to bury my parents first, then we'll discuss what's going to happen with the boats. I may sell the business; I don't know yet. Just give me a few days, would ya?"
"Sure, Edward, but just so you know, Carlisle had two of the boats booked for the next five days. Do you want me to call and cancel, or do you want me to take them out?"
"Fuck," Edward snaps, his hands going through his hair. He does not want to deal with this shit right now.
"Can you handle it on your own?" Jasper nods in response. "You can do it then."
"All right. Let me know when the funeral is," Jasper says, rising from the table. "I'll not miss the funeral."
Three beers later, the bar fills to near capacity, the music is blaring, and the yelling is getting on his nerves. That's when Edward decides it's time to leave. Taking one last long draw on his beer, he spies a group of women sitting at a round table, laughing, enjoying their evening. One of them in particular looks as if she wishes she were somewhere else, only smiling to appease the others.
Draining the last of his brew, he sets it down, slips out from his booth, and grabs his leather jacket. Standing, he pulls a couple bills from his pocket and tosses them onto the table for the waitress. While he slips an arm into the sleeve, he makes eye contact with the brunette.
She sees the long, muscular form slide himself from behind the table and stand. Her eyes locking with his, she sits up straight when he starts to walk toward her. She thinks about fixing her hair, but stops herself instantly.
While working the zipper of his jacket, he continues to look directly into her eyes as he walks in her direction.
Her mouth goes dry the closer he get, but when he walks past her, she slumps in disappointment. She notices the bad boy look about him; the tattoos, the leather, his day-old beard. Although he's not the type of man she would typically go for, this man certainly has her insides reacting, especially when she hears the motorcycle fire up outside. She knows it's his and visualizes herself riding behind him, holding on to him, and when she hears the loud roar of the motor, she feels the vibration rumble through her body as he speeds down the street.
She's never seen him around before, but he must be a local, otherwise the guys at the bar would be pestering him just to get him to leave. She shrugs and returns her focus to her friends.
Bella still hasn't gotten over the patient she lost a few days ago. A woman was in a horrific traffic accident with her husband. He didn't make it and was killed instantly, but Bella tried her best to save the woman. In the end, Mrs. Cullen couldn't be saved.
Not new to death in the emergency room, she doesn't know why this one has hit her the hardest. Bella recalls seeing Mrs. Cullen around town, at the grocery store and at church, but she never knew her. She just always thought that the woman had a kind face.
After meeting with the funeral director and picking out the caskets, Edward selects the headstone that will be placed over his parents' gravesites. He really has no idea how much all of this will cost, but the director said that his parents made arrangements years ago, so Edward wouldn't have to suffer the expense. It's already been paid for.
Looking at his watch, he walks the three blocks to Mr. Andrews' office to go over the will. As he enters the building, he runs into Jasper for a second time.
"What are you doing here, Jasper?" Edward asks as they enter the elevator.
"Dunno. Andrews called me and told me to be here," he replies. When they step off the elevator, the receptionist greets them, her eyes immediately land on Edward.
"You must be Edward Cullen?" she asks. He simply nods and waits.
"And I'm Jasper Whitlock," he says, rolling his eyes at her, noting how he was ignored with Edward standing next to him. Edward's unusual good looks was inherited from his father, because Carlisle got the attention from the ladies as well.
"Oh, yes, right," she mutters, looking at the appointment book. "Please, have a seat and I'll tell Mr. Andrews you're here. Would you like something to drink? Coffee, tea, water?"
"No, thanks," Edward replies quickly. Jasper just shakes his head, feeling the question was directed at Edward any way.
It doesn't take long for Andrews to come out of his office to greet the two and escorts them to the conference room.
"Thanks for coming, gentlemen," he begins. He sits at the head of the table, and Edward and Jasper sit to the right and left of him.
"First off, Edward, I'm terribly sorry for your loss. Your parents were some of the kindest people I knew. They were also very active in preparing for this day. Along with the funeral planning, they wanted it so you wouldn't have to worry about anything in the event of their untimely death." Andrews sorts through the papers and folds his hands over the small pile and sighs.
"Let's begin. Edward, your father's fishing charter fleet is very successful. I think when you left Mendocino, he had two boats. There are now five. It's his wish that you continue on with the family business. In the event that you don't have an interest in the company, Jasper Whitlock has first right of refusal."
Jasper gasps and sits back in his seat. "He knew I wouldn't let the business go into anyone else's hands," he says quietly.
"Next, Edward, the house is mortgage-free and is now yours. There's a life insurance policy in each of your parents' names. Both policies are valued at two million dollars apiece. I have already ordered copies of the death certificates, and I'm waiting to send them to the insurance company. I will call you when the checks arrive and I can help you set up accounts when you are ready. I can also direct you to your father's investment broker."
When Edward hears this bit of news, the blood rushes to his brain. His face becomes flush with shock.
"F … four million dollars!?" he stammers.
"Yes. Plus all of the assets. Your father was quite the investor. I have a file here with all the properties you hold title to. You are a very wealthy man, Mr. Cullen."
Edward is stunned to the point of stupidity at how yesterday he was counting change in his pocket to buy a hamburger, and today he needs to hire a financial consultant.
"Jasper, you were like a son to Carlisle. He was very fond of you. It was his hope that you would stay on and help Edward run the business, knowing that he doesn't have an interest in it. He's also left you one hundred thousand dollars to help you get on your feet in the event you wish to move on and start your own company."
Jasper's eyes tear up, and he looks up at Edward.
"We'll talk, Jasper," Edward says. He needs to digest all of this and decide what he wants to do.
"Here's your file," Andrews says, handing a blue folder to Edward. "It has a list of all the properties your parents have left to you. If you have any questions, give me a call. I'm prepared to stay on retainer for if you need me, or I can refer you to another firm if you wish."
"No. I'm good. I'll go over this and call you. I'm sure I'll have questions." Mr. Andrews nods and the three stand, shake hands, and just like that, the meeting is over.
As Edward and Jasper ride down the elevator, the two make plans to meet after the funeral, which will be held in two days.
Just as soon as the doors open, Edward's phone vibrates in his pocket. His first response is to ignore it, but with everything that's going on, he answers it.
"Edward," she says in the all too familiar tone. It's the voice she uses when she wants something.
"What do you want, Angela?" he asks, impatiently, surprised at her call because he hasn't heard from her in over three months.
"Oh, stop it," she retorts playfully. "Bart told me about your parents."
"And?" Edward continues with his cool tone.
"And I wanted to see how you're doing? Is there anything wrong with that?" she demands, anger riling her now.
"No, not if that's all you want," he replies. He's waiting for the ball to drop.
"I heard your father had a business up there. Are you going to stay there and run it?"
And there it is.
"Yes, he did. I know what you're after, Angela, so let's just cut this short. I don't know if I'm going to keep it or sell it. Yes, there was an inheritance and, no, I'm not going to tell you how much. And no, I'm not sharing it with you, or spending it on you, so don't think about coming up here. You ended our relationship because I was too poor for you, remember? Goodbye, Angela." With that, Edward hangs up his phone, gets behind the wheel and pulls away from the curb.
He looks at the blue folder sitting on the seat beside him and inwardly admits he's curious about what's inside it. He doesn't consider himself a businessman and had only toyed with the idea of opening his own garage, but if there's strip malls, hotels and shit in there, he might have to sell those.
As soon as he pulls his mother's car into the garage, he grabs the folder and enters the house. Taking a cold beer from the refrigerator, he heads for the living room, spreading the papers on the coffee table.
He lifts the bottle to his lips but stops midway when he sees that there are two office buildings in San Francisco, three rental properties in Mendocino, stock options and the deed to the house. According the documents, there's a property management firm that handles the properties and an investment firm for the financial end.
"Whoa, dad. You didn't fuck around, did you?" Edward says after he lets go of a low whistle.
Sitting back, he takes his beer with him and mentally reviews everything Andrews said today, along with everything in the file. He no longer has to live from paycheck to paycheck. Although this new-found financial freedom feels really good, it came at too high a price. He'd rather have his parents here with him more than anything.
Edward wakes before the sun comes up. He didn't sleep well knowing this is going to be the roughest day of his life. He's burying his mother and father today. He's grateful that he has the help of Mrs. Cope, his mother's best friend. She's been a godsend in that she has pretty much taken care of everything.
After the funeral, everyone is invited to his house for the wake and it seems most of the town stops by to give their condolences. That, and to bring food for him to put in the freezer, so he won't have to cook for the next five years. Although he's grateful for their consideration, he really just wants to be alone.
While speaking to a couple of his father's clients, Edward looks up and spies a head of long brown hair. He keeps his eyes glued on her until she turns around, and when she does, their eyes lock again, just like the night at the pub. Not wanting to be rude, he looks back at the two gentlemen telling a memorable story about his father and smiles at them. He then looks back to the brunette, but she's gone. He scans the room for her to no avail. Unfortunately, he has to return his attention to his father's friends.
"Mr. Cullen," a sweet voice says behind him. He turns to the sound of it. "I just wanted to give my condolences. I didn't really know your parents, other than seeing them around town, but I'm sorry for your loss," the brunette says.
"Edward, come over here and meet your mother's classmates," a woman says, taking him away by the arm … and away from the brunette. When he turns to speak to her, she's gone.
Mrs. Cope is the only person remaining now, helping clean up the dishes.
"Mrs. Cope, is it wrong of me to say that I'm glad that it's over?" he asks, taking the garbage can around the room, collecting paper cups and tossing them in.
"Oh, no, Edward. Everyone feels that way. I'm sure you just want to be alone, so you can start the grieving process. It's been a whirlwind for you these past few days. Now you can start living again."
"I guess," he says absentmindedly.
"Do you know what you're going to do? Are you going to stay here or go back to Los Angeles?" she asks, curiously. "I really do hope you stay. I know your father would want you to keep the business going and take care of this house. Your mother loved this house, you know?"
"Yeah, I know," he says, looking around the rooms. "Dad had it built for her. He gave her anything she wanted."
"I know. He loved her so much. I'm glad they're together," she says to herself. "I know that doesn't make you feel any better, but I am."
"I don't know if one would ever be the same without the other," Edward says, continuing to toss trash in the can.
"I'm going to meet with Jasper this week to talk to him about the business. I don't know what I'm going to do yet. There's not a huge market here for motorcycle repair."
Edward has always liked it here, but he enjoys what he does, and he needs to be realistic.
"Well, you could always do boat engine repair. I know there's a need for that here. All I hear are complaints from boat owners that there's not a good mechanic in town, and they have to haul their boats out of town to get decent help," Mrs. Cope volunteers.
Edward stops and looks at her, thinking that's not a half-bad idea. He could do that as well as bike repair.
"I'll think about it," he says. He has some serious thinking to do about a lot of things.
Finally alone, he sits in the quiet and mulls over Mrs. Cope's idea … and the brunette with the sweet voice.