There Goes My Life
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. The plot, along with a few of the characters I add here and there belong to my ruthless muse.
Summary: Thirty-year-old Edward Cullen seems to have it all. Loving parents, a hot young secretary, he's one of San Francisco's most eligible bachelors and also Vice President of Cullen, Inc. His life is perfect until he receives an unexpected phone call that changes everything. AH, OlderWard
"Mr. Cullen, you have a call on line one; it seems important, Sir."
His secretary poked her head into his office. She gave him a beautiful smile before shutting his door with a gentle click. Goodness, he really needed to have her moved before he broke down and gave into the horrible cliche of sleeping with his young, cute as a button, secretary.
Damn his dad for hiring her.
"Mr. Cullen speaking," Edward answered, after picking up the phone and cradling it to his ear as he opened his laptop.
"Is this, Edward Anthony Mason, born on June twentieth of nineteen-eighty-seven?"
"It is, I go by Edward Cullen now, who may I ask is calling?" He frowned into the phone, having not heard his biological name spoken in over twenty years.
"This is Mark Goldberg from the New York Department of Family Services." Edward's eyebrow rose, but he didn't speak. "We found your contact information in some of your mother's documents. Elizabeth Mason."
His frown darkened. "I see. Has she passed?" He asked a bit coldly, opening his take-out bag.
The man was quiet for a moment before clearing his throat, "she has, and it is in that regard I am calling you, Mr. Cullen. To request that you come to my office to speak to me in person."
"In New York?" He snorted, "can't I just pay for the cremation over the phone? I live in California." His eyes snapped to the clock and his daily itinerary, this call was cutting into his fifteen-minute lunch break.
"I'm calling to speak to you about the arrangements that need to be made for your siblings, Mr. Cullen." The man's tone had shifted from warm to a bit cool and frustrated.
"My what?" He asked sinking back into his chair as a cold ball fell into the pit of his stomach.
"Your siblings, Mr. Cullen. You are their only living kin." The man informed him.
Edward rubbed his temples, his eyes shifted to the smiling photo of his adopted parents, his mother's sweet grin. Guilt ate at him until he spoke up grimly, "what's your address?" He asked. "I'll be on a flight as soon as I can schedule one."
He jolted down the man's information before he hung up the phone, he would give anything to turn back the clock five minutes.
He sat quietly for a moment staring down at the burrito that sat untouched on his desk. He had really wanted that damn burrito, had sent across town for it. But as his stomach twisted, he dumped it into the trash bin, and sipped on a bottle of water, "Mr. Cullen you're one o'clock meeting with your dad." His secretary's sweet voice drifted over the intercom, "should I arrange your car to be out front?"
"Cancel the appointment, tell him I'm taking off early," he replied. He couldn't picture himself being able to meet his father's gaze, not over a warm cup of tea and scones.
He stood and stretched, glanced out at his secretary and smirked. She was really quite bad at her job, but her honesty, and commitment in striving to do well made up for her small and mostly easy to correct errors or tiny bouts of nervous klutziness.
He made his way over to his personal Keurig and popped in a chamomile tea. It wouldn't be anywhere near as good as his dad's, but it'll do to relax his stomach. He added a touch of honey and settled back at his laptop, he scrolled up to the new tab button on his internet screen and opened it.
What the hell was he going to do? He frowned, eyeing the colorful Google logo as if it had personally offended him. He couldn't call his mom; he could already feel her loving green eyes staring at him, giving him those looks, coupled with little sighs. He grimaced and his stomach twisted, he placed the photo face down on his desk.
He couldn't call his sister because she'd just tell his parents. His brother wouldn't be much help, but he'd pour him a glass and sit with him quietly in support while simultaneously texting his wife everything. Then, she'd, in turn, call his parents.
He rubbed his temples. He needed to keep this mess to himself until he cleared up the final clusterfuck his birth mother had left him or at least worked out more of the details. He wasn't ready for his family's input.
"Bella," he bellowed for his secretary, startling her out of her chair. She rushed into his office, nearly tripping over her heels as she shut the door. The frown that creased his face softened as a quirk of a smile fluttered across his face.
"Is everything…" she paused, chewing on her lower lip, "is everything okay, Mr. Cullen?" She asked.
"I need you to clear my schedule for the rest of the week." He informed her as he watched her process his demand. An idea suddenly began spinning in his head, and faster than he could rationalize and think it through completely, he blurted out, without his customary smoothness, "Actually, do you have any experience with children?"
Her eyebrows rose slightly, "uh...some, I babysat throughout high school." He shrugged, that was a hell of a lot more experience than he had. He again rubbed his temples, he wasn't even sure what he was going to do, but he knew he'd at least needed to meet his siblings ... if they really were. And he needed to bury his mother. He really should have asked more questions.
He shook his head, "have my car brought out front around two, once you have everything arranged, you may go home." He dismissed her, "Enjoy your early evening, Isabella." He added as she headed for the door.
"You too Mr. Cullen."
He gazed at the booking website and added the destination, his eyes settled on the number of passengers, and his finger hovered over one adult, before clicking two.
He pressed down the intercom button gently, "Isabella, I need to see you my office before you leave." He spoke politely, looking up to catch her brown eyes through the window.
"Shut the door," he requested when she stepped back in. "I'm going on a trip," he announced.
"A trip?" She asked, her face clearly stating she thought he had maybe hit his head or lost his mind at some point during the day. "Business or personal?" She managed to ask.
"Personal," he clarified, "to New York," he continued smoothly, "and I'd like you to accompany me."
Her head jerked up, her eyes widened, "I don't think that's a real good idea, Mr. Cullen."
"I'll pay you, double," when she just raised her eyebrow, he barked out, "Triple your daily salary for every day we're gone." He offered.
"Eww," she wrinkled her nose. "Listen, I don't know what kind of secretary you think I am but I'm not that kind."
Edward's frowned softly as he rubbed the back of his neck before his eyes widened, "Oh, no," he laughed, "I didn't intend, no," he covered his mouth to hide his smile. "I'm going to need some help, business wise, for you to take my calls; it'd be easier if you were with me." He explained, he held out a folder to her, "your ticket, information about the hotel where we'll be staying, in two separate rooms," he added with a smirk.
"This says we leave at seven o'clock tonight." She said scanning the documents.
"Can you make the necessary arrangements, it's important I get there as soon as possible." He asked, his wild hair even more manic looking, and his eyes that we're always so serious and focused seemed wild.
"Sure," she agreed, her brown eyes watching him, "I'll just drop Lucy off at Angela's for a few days."
"Lucy?" He asked his voice rose in surprise, "You have a child?"
Bella laughed, "goodness no, I have a cat. He's gorgeous and old."
Edward's eyes twinkled with mischief, but he filed the information away for later, when they had more time, "I'll send a taxi to your place at five."
"I'll be ready, and your car is out front, Mr. Cullen."
"Good evening, Mr. Cullen," she greeted him with a smile, as he placed her luggage in the cab.
He groaned internally, 'what the hell had I been thinking?' Gone was her professional attire of baggy, awkward outfits that didn't suit her, replaced with comfortable, tight jeans and a loose black and white striped blouse paired with a soft pink scarf and on her feet, Converse. "Good evening, Isabella."
The ride to the airport was quiet, both politely ignoring each other and engaging with their cell phones. Edward led her through the crowds, keeping a gentle hand on her back as they walked. When they finally reached the Delta Airline counter, the agent weighed and tagged their luggage before she handed Edward his boarding pass.
"Have a delightful flight, Mr. Cullen; I've checked you all the way to Ithaca, New York. Travel safely." He smiled charmingly as he watched her scribble her e-mail on the back of his ticket.
He slipped the pass into his carry-on bag.
Bella smirked at him and let out a little snort of amusement as she placed her pass in her purse.
"What?" He asked lifting an eyebrow and his green eyes seemed brighter than normal.
"Nothing." She laughed softly.
"Eggs, ham, and toast, with a pot of coffee," Edward put in his order in at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport terminal 24/7 Diner as they waited for their connecting flight.
"So… Ithaca?" She asked, breaking the silence that had fallen over them through their first flight from San Francisco.
He nodded, taking a long sip of his water.
"Can I ask why?" She continued squeezing the lemon slice into her water as Edward's nose curled.
Before she could raise the glass to her lips, he blurted out, "Do you know how many germs are now in that glass?"
She groaned and placed the water back on the table and pushed it away from her, "So why are we flying across the United States in the middle of the night?" She restated her question as she poured herself a cup of coffee, adding an insane amount of sugar and creamer. "And don't start about cavities and tooth decay, just answer the question."
He let out a long sigh and declared quietly, "my mother passed away."
"Oh, my gosh!" Her mouth fell open, and the color drained from her face, "your poor father must be so heartbroken… wait why are we flying to New York, you should be home with your family?" She frowned at him crossing her arms over her chest.
"Not Esme. My birth mother. I'm adopted." He explained, adding salt and pepper to his food.
"Oh." She nodded and chewed on her lower lip unsure what to say.
"I haven't told my family yet. Not that they wouldn't be supportive, they would be, maybe a little too much. This felt like something I needed to do on my own." He carried on his explanation as he cut his ham into pieces.
She raised an eyebrow at him and waited for him to continue as she buttered her pancakes.
"And I need you to keep everyone at bay while I process and take care of everything." He added before taking a bite.
"Well, okay, and you're still paying me, right?" She asked, letting the conversation fizz out once he answered her question with a soft, "Yeah."
They were quiet as they finished their meal.
He followed Bella down to their gate and waited calmly to board as Bella opened her book and got lost in words on the pages before her.
"I've never flown first class before," Bella stated as she put her bags away and took her assigned seat.
Edward buckled his seatbelt, "and there's something else you should know. In a few hours, I have a meeting with Mr. Goldberg; he's a social worker for my brother or sister. I need to meet him or her, and basically, I have to decide what I'm going to do."
"You mean whether you take guardianship or let them go into foster care?"
"Yeah. Listen, he could be a sixteen, seventeen-year-old punk, who's into drugs and porn. I don't know anything, yet. I've had no contact with Elizabeth since her rights were terminated and the Cullen's adopted me. I haven't thought of her in years, and I have never had the urge to look her up. I should have asked more questions, but I don't handle shock well and my mind sort of blanked."
"I'm not judging you," she held up her hands in surrender, giving him a half smile.
He took a deep breath and ran a hand over his bearded face, "I'm sorry, I'm a mess."
"I'll go with you, be your sounding board, confidant, friend. I'll help you. You don't have to do this alone, Edward."
He chewed on the corner of his thumb, eyeing her sincere smile, "Okay, thank you."
"Call me Bella," she said, she held out her hand to him, "If we're going to be friends."
He found himself shaking her hand, "Okay, Bella, friends it is."
Thank you, Sunflower Fran, for Beta'ing and for inspiring the idea with one of your writing prompts.
Secondly, I need to say, I'm sorry to all my followers, so sorry for my long, long, hiatus. All I can say is Real Life. My computer was destroyed awhile back and I couldn't afford a new one until just recently, my children always come first, so does the medication and food. The unexpected death of my computer and flash drive was a real kick to the muse, I lost a lot of my work and notes. Without a keyboard, I simply let real life carry me away. My stories haven't been abandoned, I hope to have new material soon. Lots of love.