I intended to post a futuretake of Clutch to celebrate that baby turning three today. But intention is a funny thing. I didn't intend to start a new story. I never intended to POST a new story without chapters banked. But here we are. I only have a rough plan, nothing close to a structured outline, but this is the only thing speaking to me right now. And words have been stubborn with me lately, so I'm rolling with it. It could end up being four chapters, it could be twenty. I mean, Shift was supposed to end with chapter six but ended up being twenty-two. We'll see how much story there is to tell with this one.
If you're here and along for the ride, thank you. It means the world to me. It also means you love these characters as much as I do, and that means even more.
The Clutch crew is back to help me with this! Many thanks to 2Brown-eyes, AushaPasha, BitterHarpy, and lastly, Driving Edward, the DRIVING force behind convincing me this should be a full fic and not just a futuretake. Love all of you to the moon and back. And thank you to Jayhawkbb for always pushing me to think outside the box and for making my words pretty. *giant squishy hugs … and a shot of Fireball* And a huge shoutout to LizziePaige for the beautiful banner. xo
Regardless of all my spectacular help, all mistakes are mine.
When history threatens to repeat itself, Edward and Bella are blindsided as the past and future come full circle. But lessons learned pave a path for absolution. All they have to do is ease off the throttle and hold on. Sequel to Clutch.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. The names aren't mine, but the story is. No copyright infringement intended.
"Way Down We Go," KALEO
"Waiting on the Sky to Change," STARSET (feat. Breaking Benjamin)
Our mingled heavy breaths and soft grunts, along with the rhythmic creaking of the bed frame, are the only sounds in our otherwise silent bedroom.
Her back arches off the bed as she grips the headboard. Her legs rest over my shoulders. Like a well-rehearsed dance, we move together. As I move inside my wife, pulling almost completely out only to slide back in, Bella is putty in my hands.
"There," she says, breathless as I bottom out. "Right there."
My hold on her tightens as I lift her hips higher and dig a little deeper. "There?"
Her eyes squeeze closed, and a soft whine escapes her. "God, yes."
Like I've got some goddamn thing to prove, I increase my efforts, practically folding her in half as I pound into her. And like I knew it would be, it's enough to send her flying over the edge.
For the second time tonight, her body trembles beneath mine, and all her breath leaves her in a high-pitched but subdued moan.
Tremors rack her body, but once those quiet, she's pliant and sated in my arms, so I bury my face in her neck and chase my own euphoria. Bella's warm skin and potent scent take over my senses, so it doesn't take long for those telltale tingles to skate over my skin.
With only a few more thrusts, I finally catch up with the feeling I've been chasing. Pleasure, as spectacular as it is familiar, rushes through me, my cock pulsing inside her.
Out of breath and with a racing heart, I release my hold on her, gently lowering her legs to the mattress and flopping onto my back. Neither of us speaks for several minutes. Blindly, I reach out and run a finger along her thigh.
She shudders in response.
I huff a laugh. "That good, huh?"
"Like you even have to ask." Lazily, she turns her head, her eyes meeting mine. "Yeah," she says quietly, "that good. Always is."
I roll to my side, pulling her close enough to kiss her. "I aim to please, sweetheart."
We're quickly lost to each other when our lips meet, moments from being swept away into another round when I hear the one of the alarm system sensors beep, followed by the sound of the front door closing.
"I thought he was home." Bella turns and looks at the alarm clock on the nightstand. Her shoulders sag into the mattress as she turns back to me. "Edward, it's almost one in the morning."
Reluctantly, I pull away from her warmth. "I'll talk to him."
Tugging on a pair of sleep pants, I step out into the hallway. Out of habit, I poke my head into Macie's room, making sure she's still tucked safely into her bed. I hear soft snores coming from her pile of blankets, so I close her door and follow the light pouring into the hallway from the kitchen.
I find Sam sitting at the table, his hand on a half-full glass of water but his focus somewhere else entirely.
"I'm just warning you now," I start, ignoring his broody behavior and heading to the cabinet for my own glass, "your mom is gonna be pissed in the morning. You might be nineteen and not in school anymore, but you still have a curfew. You're supposed to call when you're gonna be out past eleven. You know she worries. We both do."
"Sorry," he says, his voice flat.
I fill my glass and turn around, waiting for some elaborate explanation as only Sam can give. This isn't the first time he's broken curfew.
When he doesn't give me any more, I prod him a little. "That's all you've got? 'Sorry'?"
Slowly, he looks up at me, and the blank look on his face sends a jolt of worry through me. "Yeah," he says, standing, "that's all I got."
He moves to push past me, but before I can grab him and shake some answers out of him, Bella comes around the corner clutching my phone in her hand, her face ashen.
I push off the counter and get to her in two strides, pulling her into my arms. The paleness of her skin and the tears filling her eyes have my heart racing. She hasn't said a word, but she's scaring the shit out of me. "What's wrong?"
"It's—" Her voice cracks and the tears in her eyes spill onto her cheeks. "It's Tank."
With the call, Sam's sullen mood is all but forgotten while we rush to make arrangements. Bella gets things in order so she can be away for a few days, and I make sure there are guys to cover the work at my garage while I'm gone. My call to Seth is answered the way I expect. While it's clear he's upset, he says he can't get away from class or his internship hours at Ben's office. But I'm not surprised. As he's gotten older, he's kept his distance from anything to do with the club. Despite that, he sends his condolences.
The plan is for Bella to fly in with Macie, Alice, Rose, and Maggie and meet us in Tucson before we ride into our old hometown. Three full days of riding bitch doesn't appeal to her—or any of them, for that matter—aside from the fact that Macie can't. But for me, I'm going to need every last mile to sort out my thoughts, not the least of which are about our son.
Sam's one-word replies and far-off stares since Crow's call raise all kinds of red flags for me. It's not the sadness we're all feeling from the news. No, he's almost … despondent, like he's pulling away from me. But until he wants to actually fucking talk to me, there's not much I can do. Despite his mood, he says he wants to come along with me. With any luck he'll open the fuck up and tell me what's bothering him.
Before the sun rises, I kiss my wife and daughter goodbye and meet Sam in the driveway.
He nods, strapping on his helmet and gloves as he gets on his bike. "Yeah."
Once we've met up with the rest of our crew, we hit the road. At every gas, food, or piss stop along the way, Sam remains quiet, only speaking when spoken to and avoiding us when he can. Even the guys pick up on his strange behavior.
"He okay?" Jazz asks, jerking his chin in Sam's direction.
I heave a sigh, watching him walk into the gas station. "I have no fucking idea." I turn back to Jazz. "He's been like this for days."
"Think it's girl trouble? A little teenage angst?"
"Fuck if I know. I just wish he'd snap out of it. Or tell me what's wrong."
Jazz lands a hand on my shoulder. "Whatever it is, I'm sure he'll tell you eventually. You guys are pretty tight these days."
Sam, holding the door open for an older woman walking into the station, catches my eye. Even from this distance, I can see he's detached, not the smiling, friendly kid I know. In this moment, he reminds me so much of Masen after things got hard that a knot forms in my stomach. My brother made so many tragic decisions toward the end of his life, and I know if we're not careful, he could go down the same road.
"I thought so, too," I murmur.
Stuck in my own head, the two days that follow pass in a blur. Between worrying about my kid and knowing the emotions I'll have to face when we get to Arizona, I'm not very good company. Jazz, Em, and Boomer all try to pull what's wrong out of me, but even I can't explain it. All I know is that something is wrong with Sam, and he's not talking.
The only relief from the storm in my head is when I meet my girls at the airport in Tucson.
"Hey, baby." I pull her into my arms and bury my nose in her hair, breathing her in. My grip on her tightens.
"Hey." She pulls back, cradling my cheeks in her hands. Her questioning eyes meet mine. "As much as I love that kind of welcome, it's only been a few days since you saw me. What's wrong?"
"Can't I just be happy to see you?"
She searches my face, doubt coloring hers. "Of course, you can, but, Edward, you … I can tell that something is wrong. What aren't you telling me?"
I silence her questions with a quick kiss. "I'm just ready to get there. It's been a long ride."
A beat passes before she speaks. "If you're sure that's all it is."
I nod once, sharply. "I'm sure."
With Macie settled into Alice's rental car and their bags in the trunk, Bella climbs onto the bike behind me and we hit the road.
Not much has changed in the ten years since we left. The houses, the faces—although maybe a little older and a little more wary—are familiar. Friendly waves and nods from people on the street as we pass are things we'd taken for granted when we lived here, something absent in our neighborhood outside of Seattle. The same customers fill the stores. The same regulars eat at familiar restaurants. It's all a reminder of the life we left behind.
The Dollar General where Bella worked for too long is still in business, and The Big Dipper, where Bella was so close yet so far away back then, still advertises their flavor of the day in the window. The same small-town vibe still runs through this place we used to call home. The only thing different is us.
It's a strange feeling, knowing you've outgrown where you came from. Practically everything here may have remained the same, but Bella and I have not. Too much happened back then for this place to ever feel like home again.
Turning into the shop lot, the place where so many of my days were spent, a sense of nostalgia rolls through me. Memories come in a rush, and it's hard to sort the good from the bad.
Years ago, when Tank took ownership of the shop, he rebranded, shedding the Cullen and Sons name, if only on the surface. The sign is long gone, taken down and tucked away with the rest of the bad memories. But while the C&S Auto Repair sign was meant to be a fresh beginning, it still carries with it ghosts of the past.
If only Carl had treated Mase and I both like sons, things could have turned out so very differently.
Looking at the clubhouse with its new coat of paint and a line of unfamiliar bikes, I push back the unhappy memories fighting their way to the surface.
This place, all the shit that went down here back then, feels like a lifetime ago.
Like she can sense the chaotic thoughts running through my head, Bella squeezes my waist. "For Tank, right?"
I grab her joined hands and hold tightly. "For Tank."
Walking into the clubhouse is surreal. We're greeted by other members who wear the colors. I've seen some of them at NCoC, Sturgis, or even past occasions like this one. Many are familiar, but with a few more miles on their faces than the last time I saw them.
Crow's voice carries over the crowd as he walks up, arms open. "The prodigal son has returned."
"Hey, man." I give him a one-armed hug, slapping his back, but never letting go of Bella's hand. "I'd say it's good to see you, but …"
He sighs, pulling back. "Yeah. I'd say the same." He looks over my shoulder at the rest of my brothers before meeting my eyes. "I'm glad you could all make it. It's what Tank would have wanted."
The sea of bikes is pretty impressive, even to me. Members of other clubs and brothers from several states away have come to pay their respects, and it speaks to how loved and respected Tank was. The old man would have gotten a kick out of all of us coming together to celebrate him.
Along with Jazz, Em, Boomer, Crow, and one of the new members of the local chapter, I'm asked, once again, to be a pallbearer. But this time, it's not for someone stolen from us too soon, it's for a man who lived a full and happy life right up until a heart attack took him away. And judging by the young thing sitting in the front row bawling her eyes out, it's quite possible the rumor that he went with a smile on his face is true.
The service is quick, thank god. Even in the shade of the tent, the Arizona sun is damn near blistering. The only positive thing is that it doesn't allow me to dwell on what losing Tank means.
When it's my turn to shovel some dirt into his final resting place, I say a quick thank you to the man who, in many ways, was a father figure to me and a pseudo-grandfather to my kids for the last decade. The man who always had my back and my best interests at heart. The world just won't be the same without him.
"Give 'em hell, old man," I whisper, tears finally stinging my eyes. "And say hello to Mase for me."
I find him where I expect to, staring off into the distance like he has for the last week, but this time it's at the base of his father's headstone.
I grab Bella's elbow. "No. Let me."
I move to walk past her, but it's her turn to stop me. "Get him to talk. Please." I look over my shoulder, and the worry in her eyes makes my stomach twist. "He's … he's not been himself, and I'm worried."
"I'll try." I kiss her temple and walk toward our son.
The sun beats down on me as I close the distance, sweat beading and rolling down my back. Distracted by the nearly unbearable heat, I almost miss it. More words than Sam's spoken to me all week spill out of him.
"I didn't know if I'd ever come back here to see him, you know?" He turns to me, squinting into the sun. "That makes me a shitty son, right? I'm not sure if it even occurred to me that I should make some kind of effort to visit my old man's grave." He looks down at the patch of ground beneath him, picking at the dry, lifeless grass.
I sit down beside him, resting my back on Masen's headstone. "No, it doesn't make you a shitty son. It's not like you can just pop over and say hey. We live 1500 miles away. Besides, this is just a grave, Sam. You can talk to him any time you need to. You know that."
"Still," he says with a huff. "It never even crossed my mind. That's gotta mean something."
"It means you're a kid."
"What? You are. You're nineteen. You just got out of high school. You're working. You've got a girlfriend. You've got other things to be worried about besides shit like that."
Staring at the blade of grass in his hand, he hangs his head.
"What's up with you? You haven't been yourself for days. Since before Crow called to tell us about Tank. You've been … you've been somewhere else all week, kid." I swallow and lick my lips. "You're kind of freaking me the fuck out."
The silence that follows is anything but comfortable. It feels like there's a bucket of things unspoken between us, and I hate it. For years, we've been able to talk about anything and everything. From girls and sex to money and work, no subject has been off-limits between us. Seeing him keeping shit bottled up is painful.
When he sniffs and wipes at his nose, warning bells go off in my head. "Sam?" My stomach sinks when my call goes unanswered, so I try again. "Sam?"
He shakes his head and turns away from me
I lay a hand on his shoulder and shake him a little. "You're scaring the shit outta me, kid. What's wrong? Talk to me."
He turns to look up at me then, and it's like going back in time. He may have his mother's brown eyes, but everything else about him is his father's. The same confusion, desperation, and abject fear I saw all too often in my brother's eyes stare back at me.
His eyes fill with tears. "I fucked up."
A million and one scenarios flash through my head, each one more horrible than the last. "What happened?"
He drops his gaze and cradles his head in his hands. "I messed up, and I don't know what the fuck I'm gonna do." He looks up then, pleading as his voice breaks. "Emily's pregnant."
Memories of being in his shoes all those years ago flood my mind, and if I weren't already on the ground, they would have knocked me on my ass. All the air is sucked out of my lungs, and despite the blazing heat, a cold chill zips down my spine. "Are—" I clear my throat and try to shake off the shock. "Are you sure?"
He nods. "Yeah, she took a test a couple days before we headed down here."
"How far along is she?"
He shrugs. "A couple months, maybe?"
I glance in the direction of my wife, wishing she was beside me. She'd know what to say … what to ask him. "Has she been to see a doctor?"
Staring at his lap again, Sam shakes his head. "Not yet."
"Does she … do you know if she wants to keep it?"
His head shoots up, overwhelming panic filling his eyes, and it damn near breaks my heart. "What the fuck do you mean, does she want to keep it? Of course, she wants to keep it! Don't tell me you want her to get rid of it, too. Fuck that. Her parents … they said if she keeps it, they want her out of the house, and I don't … I have no clue how to handle this shit. She's not even done with school, Ed."
I hold up my hands, backing off a little. "Hey, I'm not suggesting anything one way or the other. I'm only asking if you two have talked about it. You just said yourself she's still in school. And even if she wasn't, Sam, a baby is a fucking huge commitment."
"I know. But it's …" He shakes his head and stares off into the distance. "I know we messed up. I know this isn't the right time, but I love her. I know we'll love the kid, too." Resting his head back against the granite, he closes his eyes. "I just don't know what to do to make it all work."
In a move to comfort him as much as myself, I wrap an arm around his shoulders and pull him in for a hug. "We can figure it out together."
A/N: I'm excited to revisit these characters. They're like old friends, and I hope to be able to do them justice in this new chapter of their story. As I said above, there is no posting schedule. I'll post as I write, revise, and edit. Thank you for joining me on a new journey for them.
Just like with Shift and Clutch, there's a playlist for this story on YouTube. If you search for me, Sunshine1220, you should be able to find me and all my playlists.
ASPtL is still on my radar, and I'm hoping the rush of new words and the excitement of a new story will help get ALL the words to start flowing. I'm actively working on four stories, if only in my head, so with any luck, you'll get lots of words from me very soon.
Remember, the best way to stay up to date with what I'm up to, join in the discussion, and to see exclusive teaser pics, check out my Facebook group, Sunshine Fics. I'd love if you all could join us.
I will "see" you soon!
Lots of love