So I meant to post this yesterday for Thanksgiving, but, well the day got away from me, as has the subsequent Friday. It's been food, crafts, and Harry Potter viewings for me, which my soul desperately needed.
Anyway. Here is a fun little one shot I threw together for Thanksgiving. It's not been preread or beta'd, so all mistakes are on me.
Charlie and Renée Swan and their five daughters were about as famous as anyone could be in the small lumber town of Forks, Washington.
Charlie—who had grown up a star athlete in high school—was now the police chief, who coincidentally, doubled as the mayor. He was charismatic, charming, and generally loved by all. His wife Renée was just as adored. Renée had been the class president, the captain of the drill team, and had taken their small debate team all the way to nationals in her junior year. She was envied for her ability to do—and have—it all. Even now, as a woman into her late fifties, Renée looked no older than thirty-five. She was active in the community, and despite all she gave back, she was able to still raise five lovely daughters.
Irina was the oldest, and she'd followed her mother's footsteps, tackling on more projects and rolls in the community than anyone could keep up with. She'd graduated with a 4.5 GPA (a record first in Forks as they did not offer AP Classes. Irina had had to drive to Port Angeles three times a week for the extra credits), and had been accepted at not one but three Ivy League schools
The second oldest, Rosalie, was just as intelligent, though her pursuits were much more mechanically inclined. She graduated early, and at sixteen, was off to M.I.T. on full scholarship.
The third daughter of the Swans was Kate, and though she got good grades in school, her focus lay primarily in giving back to her community. Since she was six years old, she'd been orchestrating charity drives, fundraisers, and community festivities. Kate, like her father, had won the vote and hearts of the people.
Next was Tanya, who it was agreed, was by far the most beautiful of the Swan sisters. She'd left Forks to go to New York, where her modeling career had taken her around the globe. She was an international phenomenon, beloved in cities around the world.
Then, there was Bella, the youngest of the Swan girls. She was not blonde like her sisters, nor tall and statuesque. She was not gifted with athletic coordination or eloquent speech. She was small and dark haired and very clumsy, with a loud mouth and even louder opinions. It was true, she held the same level of confidence as her older sisters, but that was about where their similarities ended.
When Bella—who was sixteen years younger than her eldest sister—finally graduated, she slipped away to college, rarely checking in with her family anymore.
With children of such important lives, the Swans were rarely together anymore. There was always at least someone missing from the family gatherings.
This year, it was going to be different.
Renée planned Thanksgiving a year in advance. She knew her family was too busy at Christmas to come home, but Thanksgiving? She could demand Thanksgiving. She contacted all the assistants and agents that managed her children, sent out countless reminders to all for an entire year.
This year, she'd get her family together.
Bella stared at the reminder email from her mother, trying to come up with any excuse good enough to get out of this dinner.
She couldn't come up with one. There was no way around it, she was going to have to go home.
She'd managed to avoid the experience over the last several years through a combination of working odd jobs that demanded her availability on holidays, as well as moving frequently, which made it difficult for anyone back home to know exactly where she was.
It's how she preferred it.
"I'm going to have to do it," she groaned, looking up at her roommate who was busy fixing a cup of tea in the kitchen. Alice looked at her.
"No way out?" She asked, knowing immediately what Bella was talking about.
Bella huffed. "None. Mom might send a P.I. after me if I don't show up."
Alice grimaced in misery.
"Well good luck."
Bella tapped the edge of her computer with her thumbnail before huffing and slamming the laptop shut. "I can't think about it anymore."
Alice nodded and came to sit next to her on the sofa. "Well, we could always go out for a drink?" she offered, sipping at her tea.
A drink sounded exactly like what Bella needed. "Yeah, let's do that."
She stood from the sofa and Alice set her cup down, standing as well. Bella started to head to her bedroom when she froze. "Shit!" She hissed, loud enough to startle Alice. Bella whirled around in time for her friend to catch the look of horror on her face. "I can't go home alone," she said, shaking her head. "I have to bring a date."
Alice stared at her.
"You have to?"
"One of my sisters is bringing her new fiancé and the other ones all have these super successful husbands and boyfriends or whatever. I have to or I will literally never hear the end of it."
Alice winced. "What are you going to do?"
Bella groaned, turning on her heel and heading to her bedroom. It was about as good an answer as she could give.
Renée was over the moon. She was expecting her daughters to start pouring in at any minute, and it was just as well because the family was expected in the town square in two hours. Just in time for everyone in town to see how beautiful and successful her children were.
Renée frowned at that thought. She hadn't heard from Bella about when she would be arriving, and she was worried that her youngest would show up dressed inappropriately, or worse, be completely alone.
"Charlie, have you heard from Bella?"
Charlie looked up from the TV slowly, a frown across his brow. "Bella?" he asked, as if he was trying to recall who she was. "No."
Renée rolled her eyes at her husband. Of course he wouldn't know anything. Why she expected him to after thirty-five years of him being utterly clueless in her marriage she didn't know.
She considered texting her daughters, but she knew no one would know. For some reason, her youngest was obsessively private about her life.
Instead of worrying about it, Renée turned her attention toward preparing their home for the arrival of her daughters.
The first to arrive was Irina and her husband Laurent. Renée rushed out of the house to kiss the pair before turning all of her attention to her two absolutely perfect grandchildren, Alec and Jane. The twins were nine, and with their blonde hair and big blue eyes, they'd lived up to Renée's expectations flawlessly.
A car pulled onto the drive as Renée was smothering her grandchildren in kisses, and she stopped and looked up to see who it was. She squealed in delight when Rosalie climbed out of the SUV, her swollen belly the most enchanting sight Renée had ever seen. From behind the wheel, Emmett, Rosalie's husband, climbed out, offering Renée a dashing smile. She'd been impressed with her daughter for landing a football player in the NFL. She worried that Rosalie would be too consumed with her work with NASA to date, but she'd thankfully been proven wrong.
Renée rushed to greet the pair as Kate's car pulled up on the street. She and her fiance Garrett soon joined the crowd gathering on the driveway.
Renée was overcome with her delight, and she still had two children yet to arrive.
They all moved inside, where they were only a few minutes before Tanya was striding in through the front door, her model boyfriend flashing grins behind her. It was easy to swoon for James; he delivered a perfect, wholesome, all American look that Renée believed to be the perfect addition to her family.
Everyone was here but Bella. As usual, her youngest was late.
"It's getting late," Renée worried, glancing at her wrist watch. "We better head into town. I'll leave a note for Bella to join us there."
So the Swan clan packed up and headed out, walking toward town square looking like an army of high-achieving perfectionists.
Renée basked in the attention her family received. She was fueled by the jealous looks of the women whose own children still lived at home, not accomplishing anything in life.
She had it all, and she wanted everyone to know it.
The Swan family enjoyed the Thanksgiving parade that Renée had started nearly twenty-five years ago, before moving on to the parking lot of the diner where small vendors were set up offering everything from crafts to homemade foods. The Swans dispersed, each setting out to visit a different table.
As Renée was considering a set of hand made ceramic gourds from a local artist, a glance up at precisely the right moment let her catch a glimpse of none other than her youngest daughter.
Renée set down the gourds, ignoring the artist who was still talking about them, and left, heading clear across the parking lot.
Bella was alone—much to Renée's disappointment but not surprise. It seemed most of the other Swans had caught sight of her as well, because soon there was a crowd gathered.
It was awkward for the sisters. Most of them weren't all that close to Bella, having lived their own, very full lives away from home while she was still so much younger.
When no one made a move toward her, Bella's lips quirked into one of her lopsided smiles that Renée had always tried to get her to practice not doing. "Don't all rush me," she joked.
Rosalie moved first, swooping through the crowd to pull her sister into her arms.
"It's good to see you," Rosalie said, squeezing her sister gently. There was thirteen years between the sisters, but even so, Rosalie had always been Bella's favorite.
"You too, Rosy," Bella said, gently squeezing her sister and taking in the scent of lavender. "You look," She paused, examining Rose's belly as her sister pulled away. "Ready to pop," Bella finished, quirking that half smile again.
Rose flashed her her own perfectly straight smile. "I hope so," she mused, rubbing her belly. "I'm pretty done being pregnant."
Rosalie's greeting broke the ice, and Emmett pulled Bella into a hug before her sisters each took a turn. Some of them hadn't seen her in two years or more, and though it was awkward, the smiles on everyone's faces were genuine.
Finally, Bella turned to her mother. "Hey, ma,"
Renée hated when Bella called her that. "Isabella," she said, pulling her youngest into a brief hug. Bella was so much shorter than her sisters, and Renée found the height difference to be awkward.
When they pulled away, she took in her daughter more closely. That god-awful nose ring, her dark hair, far too short and uneven, her eye makeup too heavy… Bella had always marched to the beat of her own drum, and Renée had never understood it.
"Here alone?" Renée asked, wanting to draw her attention from the tattoos she could see peeking out from the edges of Bella's sweater. Bella shook her head.
"You'd think so, but no." She turned, and as one, the Swan family turned as well. "I brought my boyfriend. He's here somewhere. Maybe he got lost in the crowd."
Beside Renée, Tanya snorted her disbelief. Of the five sisters, none fought more than Tanya and Bella. They were closest in age and too opposite. Things had been tumultuous between the two of them under one roof for so long.
"I'm sure, Dear," Renée said placatingly. She didn't expect Bella to be here with anyone. No one did.
Bella turned back to her family, sensing their skepticism. She was about to argue—a truly useless thing to do except she enjoyed arguing with them—when a heavy arm came around her waist, pulling her against a very taut chest.
The slack looks on every face around her was the sweetest victory she'd ever felt. "Everyone," she said, reaching out and curling her arm around a very firm, very warm stomach. "This is my boyfriend, Edward. Edward, this is everyone."
No one could stop staring at Edward. The Swans had gone back to the main house to get ready for the large Thanksgiving dinner Renée had been working on all week. All the Swan women had become thoroughly distracted by the sight of Bella's guest. He was undoubtedly the most handsome man any of them had ever seen. Even James, who was an actual model, paled in comparison.
Edward was tall and lean, with a bright smile that was so dazzling, Renée didn't even care that it was crooked. His eyes were the color of the evergreens that filled the windows of the Swan House, and in the lush dark forest, his copper hair shone like a brand new penny.
Then of course, there was his accent.
"I didn't even know English guys came like that," Rosalie groaned as the women gathered in the kitchen. They were all watching Edward talking to their significant others.
"Where the hell did she find him?" Irina demanded, eyeing him. She might be quite a bit older and happily married, but she couldn't help staring.
"Isn't it obvious?" Tanya asked, her voice dripping with cruelty. The women all turned to her in surprise. Tanya glanced across the room where Bella was still in the bathroom. "She hired him."
She was met with four blank stares.
"What do you mean?" Renée asked.
Tanya rolled her eyes. "Some guys pimp themselves out like this around the holidays. You can hire them for family events and stuff to get people off your back." She looked back at Edward. "Look at him and tell me that makes sense with Bella."
Her sisters and mother all looked back at Edward. He was in a league all his own, and the more they thought about it, the more sense Tanya's theory made.
"I don't know," Rose said, frowning slightly. "How could Bella afford to pay any guy enough to put up with us?"
Kate snorted into her wine glass and Tanya rolled her eyes. "Don't believe me? Fine, we'll get him to admit it." She turned her jealous gaze back to Edward. This was such a Bella stunt to pull—one that Tanya was reasonably sure she'd pulled before. Unlike Rosalie's wedding though, this time, Tanya would prove it.
Dinner proved to be too chaotic an affair for Tanya to get anywhere with proving Bella's relationship a farce. For one, they were seated at the other end of the table, and for another, her twin niece and nephew were bombarding her and her date with questions. It wasn't the first time the twins had relentlessly hounded a relative for information, and usually Tanya was happy to talk about her exciting life as a international model, even if it was to two nine-year-olds, but right now, she was busy.
"Have you ever been on a flight with someone more famous than you?"
Tanya scowled at her niece's question, inherently offended by it. She wasn't the most famous person in LA—not by a long shot she knew—but she didn't like to be reminded of that.
"James," Tanya hissed in quiet desperation. James turned to the twins, flashing them a bright smile.
"We were once on a flight with Chris Evans," he said, effectively turning their attention to him. Tanya zoned them out as she tried to focus on the conversation happening at the other end of the table. Bella was all over Edward, who looked stiff and uncomfortable with the touching, even as he tried to smile through it. He was a terrible actor, even if he was gorgeous beyond reason.
It looked like Renée was having no trouble falling for Edward's act. She was swooning harder than really seemed necessary to Tanya.
Renée wasn't the only one though.
All through dinner, eyes were drifting to Edward. Bella felt them, the gaze of her family, some envious, some still surprised, all of them utterly dazzled.
Edward had done that to her too when she first met him.
She looked up at him at the table, the square corner of his jaw sharp as it was dusted with stubble. He looked out of place in this dreary place, but even so, she made her almost nervous to look at. He was so beautiful.
After dinner—which Bella was surprised to find, they were able to get through almost painlessly—they cleared the dishes before all moving to the living room. Edward sat on an old chair Renée had reupholstered years ago, and Bella plopped herself right into his lap.
"So, Edward. What is it you do?"
All eyes turned to Edward, and he shifted, looking uncomfortable. He cleared his throat once before his arms settled around Bella. Tanya wondered if Bella had to pay extra for PDA.
"I uh," he said, clearing his throat. "I do a little bit of a lot," he said, shrugging one shoulder.
Bella nodded. "Edward's a great musician," she said, turning to her family.
"Are you? What do you play?" Tanya asked, leaning toward him. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
"Oh, well, I uh," he floundered and Tanya exchanged a glance with Irina. He obviously wasn't a musician, but Tanya was willing to bet he did a spot of acting.
"How did you two meet?" Rose asked, rubbing her swollen belly. Beside her, Emmett was on his third slice of pie.
"Work," Bella said quickly.
"What do you even do these days?" Tanya asked. She looked at Edward and shot him a sultry smile. "I'm a model," she told him. His eyes widened.
"God, you're shallow," Bella huffed. Tanya turned to her sister. "I got into porn."
Bella had a way of delivering sarcasm so dryly, no one in the Swan family could quite tell if she was actually joking or not. There was a shocked silence, interrupted only by Emmett choking on his pie as he tried to laugh and eat at the same time.
Rosalie handed him a glass of water as Renée regained her composure. "Honestly, Isabella."
Bella smirked, sipping her wine. Behind her, Edward was turning pink at the tips of his ears.
"Okay," Rosalie said, shaking her head. "Kate, how is wedding planning going?"
The change of focus off the youngest Swan daughter helped ease the room, if only slightly. The conversation turned to wedding details which Bella happily tuned out. It wasn't that she wasn't happy for her sister. She was, but this was the third wedding and she knew her input wouldn't matter. She just had to show up and look pretty and not offend too many of her sister's new family members.
It really was asking quite a lot.
She felt Edward shift under her lap, and she glanced up at him. He looked mildly uncomfortable, and she wondered if it was from the PDA or because she was too heavy. "Wanna take a walk?" she asked.
Edward let out a breath.
Bella stood, downing her drink and setting her glass on the coffee table. "We'll be back," she said to her family.
"Where are you going?" Renée demanded.
"Post Turkey Screw," Bella said, not glancing back as she yanked him toward the door. She heard her mother spluttering in indignation and Bella grinned. She and Edward put their shoes on and wrapped themselves up in scarves and coats before stepping outside.
The moment Bella was free from her family, she let out a long breath. "I'm sorry," she moaned. "I know this isn't what you signed up for."
Edward chuckled. "You didn't underplay them," he said, shaking his head. "Porn?"
Bella snorted. "I'm trying to teach my mom a lesson," she said, shoving her hands into her pockets. "She gets all up into my personal business and I know nothing I tell her will be good enough so maybe if I shock the hell out of her she'll stop asking."
Edward nodded. "Hence the screwing."
Bella grinned, glancing up at him. "I mean, I'm game if you are."
He barked out a rich, warm laugh that made Bella feel tingly.
"It's surprisingly cold here," he said, gracefully changing the subject. Bella allowed it, grinning as they walked.
"It can be."
Edward looked up, taking in the massive trees. "Beautiful though," he mused. Bella sighed.
"It is. I think if my family wasn't here, I'd want to live in the Pacific Northwest the rest of my life."
Edward looked at her. "But you won't?"
Bella shrugged. "I don't like to cut out possibilities all together, but come on. I can't be within a day's drive of these psychos."
Edward chuckled, stepping a tiny bit closer to her as they walked. "They aren't all so bad. Your dad is nice."
Bella rolled her eyes again. "He's paid to be nice."
Edward grinned. "And at least one of your sisters seems genuinely excited for you to have someone in your life." When Bella looked at him, he elaborated. "The pregnant one, Rosalie?"
Bella nodded. "Rose is my second mom. More like mom in a lot of ways. She's thirteen years older than me, so she wasn't around all that much when I was little, but since I moved out we've gotten closer. She and her husband live out in D.C."
Edward nodded. "She works for NASA, is that correct?"
Bella glanced up at him, surprised he remembered. "Yeah. And her husband plays football in the NFL, though I think he's pretty close to retiring."
Edward shrugged, unimpressed. Bella liked that about him.
They walked on, chattering quietly. By the time they got back to the house, Bella was nearly frozen through.
"I'm so cold. We should have come back sooner," Bella complained as they walked up the steps to the porch. Edward hummed, pulling her into his arms as they entered the house.
"There are perks to being cold," he whispered. Bella grinned at him as Kate and Irina passed them in the entry. Her sisters paused, eyes wide and Bella lingered in Edward's arms just a little longer before stepping out of them to shed her outside layers. Edward excused himself to the restroom while Kate and Irina cornered their sister.
"Okay, seriously, where did you find him?"
Bella stared at her sisters innocently. "I didn't find him. He found me."
Before they could ask, she was moving past them into the living room again. Irina looked at Kate who shook her head. "I think Tanya is right," Kate whispered.
Irina nodded. "I do too. But if Bella has gone through all this trouble, the least we can do is not mention it. She must obviously feel pressure to keep up with us," Irina said quietly. Kate frowned.
"I guess," she said slowly. It seemed so, un-Bella. Her youngest sister did what she wanted, regardless of whether her sisters had done it before or not. In fact, if her sisters had done it, Bella usually picked another path. She hated repeating them.
Could she really be hiding such vulnerability?
Rosalie was exhausted. 32 weeks pregnant plus the draining experience that was Thanksgiving with the Swans and she was more than ready to curl up in their hotel room and pass out. Emmett was busy, helping to pack up left overs and Rosalie slipped off to the bathroom, again.
As she was walking by the downstairs guest room, she heard hushed voices coming from the dark room.
Four sisters had taught all the Swan girls to eavesdrop well, and Rosalie slunk against the wall on instinct.
"You have to stop checking him out!"
She was surprised to hear Tanya's voice. Who was she talking to?
"Jesus, Tan, have you seen him? He's fucking gorgeous. When I agreed to come here as your date I didn't expect sex on legs to walk in like that."
Rosalie almost choked on her tongue as James's voice started to rise with his agitation.
"Keep your voice down!" Tanya hissed. "Look, get through tonight okay? We're almost there. And if you can try to throw in a grope or two in front of Bella, that would be great."
James groaned. "What is it with you two?"
Tanya huffed. "Look, she's not going to top me, okay? I brought a fucking model home for Thanksgiving."
"Tanya, I'm a model but even I can see that man is hotter than anyone I've ever seen."
A sound of a smack met Rosalie's ears. "Stop getting hard over him, okay? We're almost done. Eyes on the prize."
James sighed, and Rosalie caught her queue, hauling herself into the powder room. She shut the door, leaning back against it. She glanced up at the mirror to see her eyes wide as she processed all she'd heard. It looked like Bella wasn't the only one contracting out dates for the holiday.
Charlie Swan was well and fully content. His daughters had all been present, each one coming home with someone who hadn't annoyed him. He'd seen his grandchildren, watched his football, and eaten his favorite foods.
Now all there was to sleep it all off.
His daughters were leaving, heading out for the night with promises to stop by the house at various points tomorrow before they all dispersed back into their lives. Charlie could barely leave his recliner as the girls all wished him a good night.
When the house was finally empty, he let out a long, happy sigh.
All he needed now was a nightcap.
He got up from the recliner, padding over to the well stocked bar to pour himself a cognac. Out of the small window the bar sat next to, movement on the lawn caught Charlie's eye.
He tugged back the curtains slightly, surprised but amused when he caught sight of his youngest daughter talking with her date. He'd liked Edward. He'd been funny, charming, and utterly non-invasive. The perfect balance according to the Chief.
It looked like Bella was talking, and when Edward shook his head, Charlie's daughter paused. He wondered what they could possibly be talking about, hidden from the street by massive pines, when Edward swept Bella into his arms, twirling her around and pinning her to a pine. Charlie watched, slack jawed as the assumed nice young man nearly devoured his daughter on the Chief's front lawn.
He liked him a little less now.
Embarrassed at catching them, Charlie grabbed his drink and stepped away from the window, retuning to the recliner.
He turned the TV on a little too loud, wishing to wipe the memory of what he'd just seen from his mind.
Renée joined him a few minutes later, scowling at the volume.
"Honestly," she berated, grabbing the remote and turning the TV down. "Charlie, I'm worried about Bella."
Charlie glanced at his wife over his glass. "What about?"
Renée sat on the sofa. "There is no way Edward was really her boyfriend," she said, shaking her head. "Sweetheart, I'm worried our daughter is lying to us."
Charlie grunted. "I wouldn't worry about it Nee."
Renée continued on. "If she wasn't so ornery, maybe young men like Edward would like her. Instead, she has to resort to paying them for their time. Oh god, Charlie is our daughter a John?"
Charlie sipped his drink, wishing this entire conversation away.
"Bella is fine," he said finally, swallowing another mouthful.
"Of course, it's unlikely she'll find anyone of any worth with her lifestyle," Renée continued, ignoring her husband. "I don't know where she gets this rebellious streak from but it'll be the end of her."
Charlie finished off his drink far too soon.
Renée continued to worry over their youngest daughter, critiquing everything about the girl from her style to the time she'd gotten in trouble as a teen.
Charlie got up to get another drink, returning to his recliner while Renée continued to rant. She barely even noticed his movement.
"And yes, I know we have four other daughters, but I want grandchildren at some point," Renée complained. "Would it kill her to get her life together?"
"She's twenty-one," Charlie pointed out. "And we have nearly three grandkids as it is."
Renée shook her head. "Charlie, Bella is wasting her life chasing men who clearly have no interest in her!"
Charlie remembered the way Edward had attacked her, the way he'd practically worshiped her in the yard.
Charlie swallowed the rest of his second glass. "Bella is doing just fine. I'm going to bed."
3 Weeks Earlier
"Shit!" Bella hissed, storming into her room. "Shit, shit, shit."
She picked up her phone, automatically calling back the most recent number.
"Hey," Edward said, answering on the first ring.
"It's time," Bella said, flopping back on her bed.
"Mm, time for what?" he hummed. God, he sounded delicious even over the phone.
"For you to see how deep rooted my crazy goes." Bella moaned. "But come over first so we can have sex once more before you realize you have to leave me."
Edward laughed, and the sound soothed her. "Love, I'll happily come over for sex, but what are you on about?"
Bella sighed. "What are you doing over Thanksgiving?" It was a silly question. He didn't celebrate the holiday.
Bella winced. "How would you like a trip to glorious little Forks where I'm sure my family will be horrifying and inappropriate and make you definitely want to dump me."
Edward snickered. "A year of dating down the drain after a single dinner?"
Bella huffed. "I don't expect to make it past the appetizers."
Edward hummed. "I'll go with you."
Bella frowned at her ceiling. "Really?"
"Yeah, I think it's time I met the Swans. How bad could it be?"
Bella groaned. "Famous last words."
Edward chuckled, and Bella sagged at the sound of his familiar laugh.
"I'm outside your place, open the door."
Bella hung up her phone, heading out of her room to answer the front door. As soon as it was cracked open, Edward pushed his way in, immediately stooping down to pull her into a searing kiss. "Everything will be fine, Love," he said, once she was dizzy from the power of his kiss. "Take me home for dinner with the Swans."