A/N: Welcome to my new story. There will be drama, some angst and quite a bit of tension further into this story. These earlier chapters are setting the scene and I don't want to add drama for the sake of it. This is a warm-hearted fic with family at the core so I only write angst/drama when it's needed. I hope you'll hang around for it and still be reading then.
The Tension and the Spark has been voted 3rd in TwiFanfictionRecs' Top 10 fics completed in November 2021.
I don't own Twilight or its characters; they belong to Stephanie Meyer. I do not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.
The soft, big band rendition of Auld Lang Syne was telling me that old acquaintances shouldn't be forgotten as I pushed open the large wooden door and stepped inside Cope and Son's Bakery.
The old-fashioned store smelled so strongly of fruity batter and cinnamon frosting I could almost taste the delightful confectionery. The big brass bell chimed loudly as I walked further inside, making Mrs. Cope look up from behind the counter and smile at me.
"Bella, dear. How are you?" She asked in her familiar soft tone, as she wiped her hands on a blue and white striped apron that hung around her neck and covered the majority of her floral dress.
"Fine, thanks. I've come to collect my famous, Cope and Son's cake."
"Of course, it's ready and waiting for you." Mrs. Cope turned around and walked to the fridge. She pulled out a large cardboard box, checking the name on the label before turning back to me. "How's Vanessa doing? I bet it's been lovely to have her home for Christmas?"
"Oh, yes," I answered emphatically as Mrs. Cope nodded. Her children made her a grandmother long ago. She was always surrounded by a toddler or two, pulling on the bottom of her apron or getting under her feet.
"She looked so grown up when I saw her last."
"Tell me about it!" I explained, trying to keep the annoyance out of my voice. "She's got this fiancé, Jake…"
"Oh my! She's engaged? How grown-up!"
"Yeah, and so stubborn. I tried to tactfully suggest waiting until she was older to have the actual wedding, you know, just stay engaged for a while, but they seem set on a ceremony next year." I shrugged, feeling rather helpless in the whole situation.
"Ah, young love." Mrs. Cope sighed, taking a trip down memory lane, probably remembering her own youth. "There is no telling them at that age, dear. They have to make their own mistakes and successes." She patted my hand softly as it rested on the counter between us.
"Yeah, there's no guidebook for that part of parenting," I mused as Mrs. Cope laughed. She removed her hand and looked at me with a warm expression.
"Your Ness is a sensible girl, I'm sure she's picked a nice boy. Jake, did you say?"
I smiled. I only came in to collect a cake, but Mrs. Cope loved local gossip and always had a way of getting anyone to talk.
"Yeah, Jake." I sighed. I liked the kid, I really did, but he was just that ... still a kid. Okay, so he was twenty- two and soon to become my son-in-law, but surely not many boys his age want to get married and tied to one woman for the rest of their lives. "He seems a nice boy. His family runs a restaurant about twenty minutes away, Masen's. Have you heard of it?"
"Can't say I have, dear, but I don't eat out much these days, not in fancy places."
"Well, the restaurant is close to her and Jake's apartment, and they often help out there for extra cash. I keep meaning to visit it and go spy on his family, but I think Nessie would kill me!" I joked.
Ever since they got engaged, in October, we'd been talking about me meeting his family, after all, they'll be my family soon, and I should meet them before the wedding.
I shook my head, still wondering when I had become old enough to have a daughter who was engaged?
"Is she still going to be with her momma to ring in the New Year?" Mrs. Cope slid the large cake box over the counter to me as I shrugged.
"I really hope so," I told her, trying to ignore her sympathy-filled look as I thanked her and paid for my cake before heading straight home.
Since I was a child, my family always had a celebration cake for New Year's Day. I carried on that tradition with Nessie, even if that meant ordering from Mrs. Cope as I was a lousy baker.
Every year since Nessie was a wobbly toddler, we'd chosen a day between Christmas and New Year to collect the cake together. Except for this year. It felt so wrong to collect the cake without her, and I couldn't imagine how wrong it would feel if I had to eat it alone.
I'd seen Nessie for Christmas, but she wasn't sure about her New Year's Eve plans yet. I wanted to tell her to be young and free; to spend New Year's Eve out with Jake and their friends, drinking legally for the first time. But the selfish part of me also wanted to spend this one with her, just like every other one. Her, me, and our celebration cake.
As I settled the cake in the fridge, my cell rang.
"Nessie, darling. Hi, baby."
"Sweetheart, I've just picked up the cake from Mrs. Cope, it's a big one."
"Mom, you order the same size every year," she reminded me with a laugh in her voice.
"That's because you're here to eat it with me every year."
"Mom…" She whined, and I could almost see the eye roll.
I understood her desire to see in the new year with Jake, but I had hoped to carry on our family tradition. It was always just her and me against the world, and it meant a lot to me to continue that tradition.
"I've spoken to Jake, and we've got an idea about New Year's Eve…" she started as I grabbed a glass and added cold water from the jug I'd pulled out of the fridge. I leaned on the countertop, waiting with bated breath.
"Oh, yeah?" I tried to sound calm. I'm breezy, right?
"Yeah. I want to spend it with you, Mom, of course, I do, but I don't want to leave Jake…"
"I told you, Sweetheart, he's welcome here."
"I know," Vanessa interrupted, "but Jake's dad has invited us to his house."
"Us?" I wondered briefly, not entirely sure who 'us' was.
"As in you and Jake?"
"Us, as in you and me. And Jake, obviously."
"That's really nice, Nessie, but I can't impose like that…" I interrupted.
"Mom, it's fine, he offered. You and Jake's dad are both so important to us, and you haven't met yet. We've been trying to arrange it for a while, so we thought this would be a good time."
She had a point. I'd met Jake plenty of times, but none of his family. Nessie always talked about how cool Jake's dad was, so it would be nice to meet him, especially since the kids were officially engaged.
"Please, Mom." I realized I'd been quiet while I was thinking things over. "Jake's dad always has to work New Year's Eve at Masen's. It's the first time he's been off in five years. He wants to spend it with Jake, Jake wants me there, I want you there..." She trailed off.
I had to admit Nessie's logic was starting to win me over.
"Mom, he has enough rooms so we can all stay there, that way we can see in the new year properly."
"Stay at his house?" I hoped I didn't sound as horrified as I felt.
"Yeah, we'll all be up past midnight, and you might want a drink…"
I scoffed. If I was going to meet my daughter's future father-in-law for the first time, I'd definitely need a drink.
"Jeez, you have it all worked out." I heard the fridge beep at me for leaving the door open too long, but I didn't move. "So, it would be us, Jake and his dad?" I asked.
"Yeah." She'd really perfected that pleading tone.
"What about his mom?" I asked something I'd been wondering about for a while.
"Umm, no. She's not really in his life; it's kind of a sore subject. It's just been Jake and his dad since Jake was two."
"Wow. Um, okay. That's rough." I sighed.
I was all out of excuses. The truth was I'd do anything to spend time with Nessie. If this is what it took to make her happy and see in the new year together, then there was only one answer I could give.
"Tell them I'm bringing cake."
A/N: Thank you to everyone who helped me with this story, Frannie Walsh, Christy Wicklund, Gail Gaber, RebAdams, Brier Lynn Rose, and Julie Gotcha Dodge for giving up their time to beta and pre-read.
Thank you for each and every review, I love it when readers engage with my stories and encourage me. This story has taken over two years to complete (and what a crazy two years they have been!). It is a real labor of love, done in my spare time, for free. If you've enjoyed reading, all I ask is for you to leave a review and recommend this story to others.