Hello, you lovely people! I'm incredibly excited about this new story! I know I talked about continuing What She Needs after I wrapped DoMH, but this one creeped up behind me and hit me like a sledgehammer. It would NOT sit in the corner and wait its turn. WSN is still on my radar, and I'm hoping to be able to work on both this and that at the same time ... just as soon as I get all my ducks in the same room. I've long since given up getting them in a row.
If you plan to hang in there and read both stories, I suggest starting with Shift. That being said, if you're a die hard ExB reader, it may be hard to get through Shift first. But if you can stomach the extra ups and downs, it's the best place to start. It's where it all began. That being said, Shift doesn't work well as a stand-alone ExB, HEA story. If you're looking for a HEA, you won't find it at the end of Shift. It was written as a companion piece that took on a life of its own, but it flows seamlessly into Clutch.
If you want to start in more familiar territory and start with Clutch, this can be read simultaneously with it starting around chapter ... five or six. They were posted simultaneously and work really well being read that way.
***PLEASE*** take the time to read the ending A/N. This one will not be for everyone. It's heavily inspired by Sons of Anarchy, so if that wasn't your cup of tea, this probably won't be, either. Please know this will be heavy on the drama, heavy on the angst, and it will definitely be a slow burn.
I'm excited to say I've started a YouTube playlist for this fic. I'll add to it as I post each chapter, but feel free to peruse if you're interested. You can search for me, Sunshine1220 and my Clutch playlist, but as of now, my name isn't showing up in YouTube's search. But you can find it at ...
youtube. com (forward slash) playlist?list= PL- lT886J9KPpLFc5zfKRgGqHgc2plO9RN ... Don't forget to remove the spaces and extras.
First, I've had a ton of help from several lovely ladies. BitterHarpy's input has been invaluable with some of the lesser known parts of the MC world. I can say with confidence that this story would not be what I hope it is without her help. I'm also lucky enough to have help from 2brown-eyes, bbmassey88, and ceceprincess1217 with prereading. And a huge thank you to my beta, jayhawkbb. Please remember, all mistakes are mine.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. I do not own Sons of Anarchy, even though I wouldn't mind having my own Jax Teller. ;) I do, however, own this story. No copyright infringement intended.
Never Wrong, Disturbed
I wrap the plastic stick in about seven layers of toilet paper, hoping the weird shape in the wastebasket doesn't get my husband's attention. I'm not quite ready to share this particular news with him just yet.
It's the very last thing we need right now.
I stuff the wad into the bottom of the bin, along with the torn remnants of the box, and shove the whole thing back under the sink. The hallway is quiet when I nudge the door open, telling me Sam is outside playing, Masen is outside tinkering with one of the bikes—hopefully, watching his son—and Carmen has yet to emerge from her bedroom at the other end of the trailer.
My upset stomach won't tolerate more than dry toast, and as I wait for the slices to brown, I wash the cereal bowls Masen and Sam left in the sink. As I nibble on my meager breakfast, I boil some water and rummage through the cabinets, looking for the boxes of strawberry Jell-O I bought for Poppa C's birthday cookout. Mixed with a bag of marshmallows, a handful of nuts, and some frozen berries, the Jell-O is a passable covered dish to take along to the in-law's tonight.
As I wash the few dishes I dirtied, the snap of the screen door echoes through the front room and is followed by quick, light footsteps.
"Samuel Masen Cullen, if you don't get your ass back here, you're gonna get it double, son!" Masen's own heavy footsteps stomp down the hallway toward Sam's room, followed by the slam of a bedroom door. I sigh and hang my head, leaning against the edge of the sink.
"What's that boy of yours done now?" Carmen's raspy voice grows louder as she rounds the corner into the tiny kitchen.
I grab the dishtowel off the oven handle to dry my hands. "I have no idea. You'd have to ask Masen." I turn around, tossing the towel down and crossing my arms over my chest before leaning against the counter. I watch as my husband's grandmother lowers herself into a chair at the table, reaching for an ever-present pack of Marlboro Lights. She flicks her trusty Bic lighter and inhales.
"Carmen, I've asked you time and time again not to smoke in the house."
She exhales, narrowing her eyes at me. "And I've told you time and time again, this is my goddamn house. I'll smoke in here if I damn well feel like it."
"And when your great-grandson has an asthma attack?" I grit my teeth and try to keep it civil, but with Carmen, I usually can't hold my tongue.
She shrugs her shoulders as she flicks the ash from her cigarette into an empty soda can. "That's what his inhaler is for, right?"
I take a deep breath, attempting to keep my temper from rearing its ugly head. "Sure, Carmen. And we might as well put that expensive nebulizer to good use, too, right?" I push off the counter and make my way through the kitchen and living room, toward the two smaller bedrooms at the other end of the trailer.
I hear him before I see him. Sam's hiccupping cries and stuttered breaths hurry my feet along. As I open the door to his room, I see Masen towering over his son, his hands on his hips, and even I'm intimidated. And I'm not a six-year-old boy.
"What is going on in here?"
Sam rushes toward me and wraps his arms around my waist, burying his sniffling face in my stomach.
Masen crosses his tattooed arms over his chest and stares down at me. "He was playing with one of those Tanner shits from next door, and one of them swung a bat at my bike!" His voice raises with each syllable.
I run a hand over Sam's head, trying to calm him down. I know if I don't get his crying under control soon, it'll turn into an asthma attack. I tilt Sam's chin up and look down into his big, brown eyes. "Baby, I need you to calm down, okay? You'll make yourself sick if you keep crying like this."
"Yeah, that'll work, Bella. Keep babying him." Masen takes a step closer to us, and Sam squeezes me tighter. "He needs to learn there are consequences for the shit he's always doin'!"
I hold one hand across Sam's shoulders and the other holds his head to my stomach, covering his ears. I lower my voice, nearly growling at my husband. "He's six fucking years old, Mase!"
"There still needs to be—"
"Consequences, yes, I know. But scaring the shit out of my son is not the way to handle it!"
"Your son," he says, throwing his hands up in the air, his chuckle deep and anything but amused. "Sure, Bella"—he takes two steps backward toward the door—"your son. I'm just his goddamn father." He turns on his heel. "Fuck this. I'm out. See ya at Pop's tonight," he yells over his shoulder as he stomps down the hallway and out the front door. The unmistakable rumble of his Harley can be heard moments before he rolls the throttle and tears out of the carport.
"I'm sorry, Mommy." Sam's tiny voice is muffled against the cotton of my tank top. He looks up at me, and the sadness in his eyes nearly breaks my heart. "I didn't mean to get so close to Daddy's bike. It was an accident." In no time at all, he's crying again, holding on to me like his life depends on it.
"Shh. Hey, it's gonna be okay." I shuffle us toward his bed, settling on the edge and pulling him onto my lap. I brush his too-long, dark brown hair from his eyes. "There you are," I tease, smiling down at him.
The tears stop falling and he cocks a small grin, looking so much like his father in that moment. But his smile quickly falls. "Daddy is really mad at me, ain't he?"
I take a deep breath and do my best not to do the one thing Masen has asked me repeatedly to stop: Baby Sam. "Yeah, Sammy, your dad is really upset. You know better than to play around the bikes. What were you thinking, huh?" I wipe the tears from his cheeks and run my hand over his head, smoothing his wild hair.
He looks down at his tiny fingers twisted in the hem of my shirt. "I was running to catch the ball Matty threw before it hit something. I bent down to reach it, and the end of my bat hit Daddy's tire."
My hand stills. "The tire?"
He nods and looks up at me. "I'm really sorry, Mommy. I'll be careful next time. I won't go nowhere near the bikes, I promise. Do you think Daddy will still be mad at me when we go to Poppa C's later?"
I smile down at him. His wide-eyed, hopeful expression makes me give an answer I can only hope is true. "No, baby, I'm sure he won't still be mad at you."
He pops off my lap and runs toward the door. "I'm gonna go put all my toys away so we can go there faster!"
As the sound of his footfalls grow distant and the screen door snaps closed, I tilt my head back and close my eyes. To say I'm mad at Masen would be putting it beyond mildly. He freaked out over our son hitting the tire of his precious motorcycle. Not a fender or the tank, but the fucking tire.
"He's right, you know."
I exhale and breathe deeply, willing calm to fill me before opening my eyes. When I do, they meet those of the woman who has hated me since I entered her life close to ten years ago. That hate has only grown since I married her grandson almost seven years ago. "How exactly is he right this time, Carmen?"
"You baby that boy too much."
I rise from Sam's bed and step toward the door with no intention of stopping, even if it means I'll have to shoulder check the old biddy. "Don't worry, Carmen. When I need parenting advice, I won't be bothering you for it. I'll be sure to ask someone who's done it successfully"—I turn to meet her eyes as I pass—"at least once."
"Do you think Poppa C will have his pool open today? We didn't get to swim last time we were here."
I shift the car into park and cut the engine, the southern Arizona heat instantly warming the interior of my hatchback. I meet Sammy's eyes in the rearview mirror. "I can almost guarantee they have the pool open." I reach over to the passenger seat and grab the strap of the open tote there, raising it enough for my son to see its contents. "Why else would I have brought all your swim stuff, kiddo?"
He squeals in response and wiggles in his booster seat, reaching for the seatbelt. I slip out of the car and open the back door, releasing my son from his temporary prison. He squeezes past me and runs toward the door. I laugh, watching him dodge one outstretched hand after another attempt to slow him down.
I turn back to the car, gathering all the crap that seems to go everywhere with us, along with what's required to spend an evening at Casa de Cullen. I walk around to the front passenger door and open it, pulling the tote and giant bowl of Jell-O from the front seat. Reaching down for a dropped floatie, I'm head down and ass up when the familiar, deep chuckle of exes past sounds from behind me.
"He's a quick, little guy, ain't he?"
I take a deep breath, steeling myself like I always do when I have to see my brother-in-law. I grab what's left of the shit from the seat and straighten up, using my hip to close the door.
"Hey, Edward," I say softly, looking up at him with a polite smile on my face. It never fails to amaze me just how beautiful he is, how he affects me … even after all these years. "And yeah, I'm pretty sure he gets that from your brother."
"Yeah, you're probably right. Mase always was a wiry, little fucker," he says with a grin. Realizing how much I have piled in my arms, he reaches for some of it. "Here, let me help." Without asking, he grabs everything I'm carrying, other than my purse and the lidded, lime green Tupperware bowl in my arms, even with the rim of a beer bottle held in his long fingers.
We walk side by side toward the door, and I greet the few people milling around out front. Stepping through the front door is like stepping through a time machine for me. Between sleepovers with Alice and, eventually, secret sleepovers with her brother, I spent a good part of my childhood here.
We reach the kitchen, which is blessedly empty at the moment, and I open the fridge to stow away my contribution to the cookout. I look out the window over the sink and into the backyard, searching for my husband.
"He's not here yet," Edward says from behind me.
I turn to look over my shoulder. "I was just making sure Sammy found Pop." I turn around and lean against the counter. "He was excited to swim today."
Judging by the look on his face, Edward isn't buying the shit I'm feeding him.
"What happened this time?"
I push off the counter and rifle through my bag to keep my hands busy. "What do you mean? Nothing happened."
He walks closer and places a hand over mine. "One, you're a shit liar, and two, you guys always come together to these things." He nudges my chin until I meet his eyes. "What's goin' on, Bella?"
"Nothing," I say, shaking my head and stepping out of his reach. "We just had a little disagreement this morning, that's all. He got upset and left." I shrug my shoulders. "Same shit, different day, I guess."
His lips form a thin line, and he exhales heavily through his nose. "How long ago did he take off?"
I stare down at my hands as they lay listlessly on the countertop. Just like everything else about me, my thin gold wedding band doesn't even make the effort to shine anymore.
"It was around ten or eleven." I look up and meet the green eyes that still haunt my what-if dreams. "He just needed a breather," I say weakly.
Before Edward can form a reply, Esme waltzes into her kitchen. When she spots me standing across from her son, her smile falls just enough to remind me I'm no longer as welcome in her home as I once was.
"Isabella, how nice to see you. I'm sure Carlisle will be happy you're here." She looks past Edward and back to me. "Is Masen here?"
I clear my throat. "No, he had an errand to run. He'll be here soon, though."
"Hey, Ma," Edward interrupts. "I need to run out myself for a few." He takes a few steps toward his mother and kisses her on the cheek. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
Out of pure instinct, I yell out the same words I do any time one of the club members is about to ride away. "Be safe!"
Turned around, walking backwards toward the door, Edward gives me the same smirk he's given me since I was fifteen. "Always am." He turns back and saunters through the front door, leaving me alone with his mother.
Esme turns to me, a forced smile in place. "Why don't we join everyone out back, hmm?"
I nod and head toward the sliding glass patio door, Esme trailing right behind me. The party is in full swing, and Sammy's already in the pool, Underoo-clad and safely in the arms of his grandfather. Seeing Carlisle out of his cut, bare-chested with his tattoos on full display as he wades through the shallow water makes me smile. Sammy is one of the few people Carlisle Cullen, president of the Devil's Outcasts MC, can't say no to.
Other than a few of the kids here today, most everyone is crowded around the glass-topped tables and the grill, beers and mixed drinks in hand. It's strange to see all of the club members in one place and out of their cuts. I'm so used to seeing them at the garage, outside the clubhouse, or waiting at the end of my driveway for Masen wearing them, it's almost jarring to see them any other way.
I'm greeted by familiar faces, but still settle into a chair on the edge of the patio, nearest the pool and away from most of the group. Watching over my son in the water is just an excuse to stick to myself today. I'm not really in the mood to socialize.
The grinding of a shoe against the pavers sounds behind me, and I turn to watch as Rosalie snuffs out what's left of her cigarette.
"He's getting so big," she says as she settles into the chair beside me. Even at a backyard barbecue, she looks flawless. Her perfectly styled hair and impeccable makeup seem out of place at such an informal gathering, but I wouldn't expect anything less than that from her.
"He is," I say with a smile as I look over at her. Her movie star sunglasses cover her violet eyes as they watch the kids play in the water.
"You guys ever think about having another one?" She finally turns to me.
I shake my head, denying the tiny voice in my head. "No, I don't think it's the right time for us to have another."
"Things still tight? Did that asshole manager of yours ever give you the extra hours you asked for?"
I laugh, thinking of my idiot douchebag boss, Mike Newton. "No. Unless you're going for a management position, there's not much room for growth at the Dollar General."
"You know, my offer is still open if you want to—"
I reach over the table and place my hand over hers. "I appreciate it, but I really don't think I could do it." I withdraw my hand. "I can't see myself working in the adult film industry," I say with a giggle. "First of all, Mase would strangle me for even mentioning it, and second, have you seen my stretch marks?"
I laugh, but Rose just rolls her eyes. "No, you goof. A lot more goes into it than just people fucking on camera. There's an actual business side of it, too. I'm sure I could find something open in the office." She leans in close, her wide eyes dancing over the rim of her sunglasses as she drops her voice to a whisper. "We got some new talent recently that's easy on the eyes. A couple of them still need a fluffer." She waggles her eyebrows, and we both burst into laughter.
"What did I miss?" Alice swoops in, kissing my cheek before plopping down into the open seat on my other side. She hands me an open beer as she tips back her own.
I shake my head, still laughing. "Nothing. We were just talking about the new talent Rosie hired down at the studio."
"Oh, shit, that one guy has like a ten-inch dick!" Her whisper isn't quite low enough, and we earn more than one raised eyebrow from the guys across the patio.
"What are you doing over there, Ali? You bragging about me again?" Jasper shouts from his spot at the table. His sunglasses hide his sharp blue eyes, but his wide grin shines in the bright sunlight.
"You know it, baby." Alice blows him a kiss and winks, making the three of us giggle like teenagers. She sighs and leans back in her seat, smiling as she brings her beer bottle to her lips. "Drink up, ladies. I think it's gonna be a long day."
Staring down at the cold bottle in my hands, I think about how my day started and how it's not likely to get any better once my husband finally shows up. Ignoring the voice in my head telling me drinking is a bad idea, I finally take a swig, and it's bitter in more ways than one. "Yeah, I think so, too."
A/N: So, what did you think? Any characters you think you might love to hate? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And as a side note, my vision for Masen is the fine specimen of man, Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller on SoA.
I cannot stress enough, this one will NOT be for everyone. There will be angst. There will be questionable behavior from nearly all the characters. There will be a couple of Masen POV chapters. And I can assure you there will be questions from all of you that will not be answered for a while. But I ask that you trust me. I am a die-hard ExB girl and wholeheartedly believe in the HEA. If you can hang with all of that, strap on your own brain bucket and enjoy the ride. ;) But, if there are questions you MUST know the answers to, shoot me a PM or message through Facebook. I can't guarantee I'll answer them, but hopefully, I can put your mind at ease.
A lot has happened in the few weeks since I last posted. First, I've decided to dip my toe in the blog waters. Its primary purpose is to have a place to archive PDFs of my completed stories. That way there will always be a way for you to find me if something were to ever be a problem with FFN. I'll be adding the PDFs as I create them—I'm including images. ;) You can check it out and sign up for email updates, if you are so inclined, at brightsunshine1220. wixsite. com (forward slash) sunshinefics. Again, remember to remove the spaces and extras.
Annnnd ... I'm excited to say I'm a judge in a new contest. The A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Twilight Image Contest: Valentine Edition is open for entries through February 10. This is almost exclusively a Facebook contest, as the primary part of the contest is the image submitted, but we will also be posting the text parts of the entries on the FFN page, APictureIsWorthAThousandWords. So, be sure to follow in both places if you're interested.
Remember, you can follow my Facebook group, Sunshine Fics for teasers and pics that go with this story, as CSunshine1220 on Twitter, and on my blog listed above. I'm most active on FB, but I'm around elsewhere. ;)
As usual, I will update every Tuesday, barring any problems. Thanks so much for reading, and I'd love to hear what you think about the start of this next big adventure!
Lots of love