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Charlie feels protective of Bella, and he's not thrilled with Edward at the end of New Moon. He also remembers being a teenager. It's time for Charlie to have a chat with Edward.
For the folks at the Lexicon who brought up this particular topic and contributed to the discussion.
Thanks to Lakegirl for a great beta.
Chatting With Charlie
Charlie looked nervous when he opened the door. "Come on in, Edward. I'm glad you had some time."
I already knew that Bella was working. But still, I'd been worried when Charlie called. It was Bella, and, well, she's Bella. Anything could have happened to her. Even at work. I followed Charlie through the house half-expecting him to tell me she'd found some way to have a life-threatening accident with a cash register.
"Have a seat, Edward." Charlie gestured towards the couch as he sank into the armchair. He clicked the television off. "I wanted to talk to you. Alone. About Bella."
Charlie fidgeted in his chair. His thoughts didn't even make sense. Bella's absence suddenly seemed ominous. What if she had been hurt at work? But if she were at the hospital, Carlisle would have called. "Is everything okay? Is something wrong with Bella?" I waited as patiently as I could for his answer.
"Bella's just fine, Edward," Charlie assured me. Then, almost under his breath, he muttered, "And I want her to stay that way."
Does he know? Did he figure it out, too, the way Bella did? Or did Billy tell him? Or Jacob? I breathed deeply. "Is Bella in danger?" I asked innocently. Of course she's in danger. She's dating a vampire. I kept my face blank and waited for him to answer.
Charlie eyed me speculatively. The kid acts worried about her. "Not particularly. Not in danger. But parents worry about their children." His eyes caught mine. "In particular, fathers worry about their daughters." Especially once they start dating.
Oh, now I get it. "I worry about Bella, too. Charlie. When it comes to her safety, you and I are in perfect agreement." I held his gaze.
Damn, the kid speaks more formally than I do. Charlie ground his teeth, then said, "What I'm saying is, well, you're spending quite a bit of time with my daughter. I remember what it's like to be a young man. How I felt about Bella's mother…" Charlie smiled and allowed his thoughts to wander. She was so beautiful. Bella looks so much like her mother. Sometimes it hurts to look at her. "A young man, a beautiful young woman." Charlie shook his head and focused once more. "Not that you'd like her just because she's pretty." There'd better be more to it than that.
May as well break it to him. "Actually, I don't simply like Bella, Charlie. I love her. More specifically, I'm in love with her." I clenched my teeth and steeled myself for what I thought was probably coming next.
Charlie nodded and sighed. "That's why we're having this talk. It's about exactly how much you love her." Think you love her. "Bella hadn't dated much before you. She's … she's innocent." She'd better still be innocent.
"I don't believe our actions have been inappropriate in any way, Charlie," I assured him.
What has he done to her? He narrowed his eyes at me. "Well, what I was taught was appropriate between two teenagers and what you have been taught is appropriate may not be the same thing." I DO know what kids are doing these days. If I didn't have so much respect for Carlisle Cullen… If Bella hadn't thrown such a fit… Well, he wouldn't be in this house. I'd have chains on the door to keep him out and her in.
Like chains could keep me away from her. I resisted the urge to scoff openly at Charlie's ridiculous thought. "I'm sure we have been taught different moral standards," I replied smoothly. And my education was probably far more conservative than yours. "But I promise you, I have always treated Bella with respect, and I always will." Because anything less would kill her.
Charlie spat out, "Damn straight you will! You hurt her once before, and you're already on thin ice for that; you hurt her again, and I'll hurt you. Don't forget I'm the Chief of Police. I carry a loaded firearm at all times."
Did he just threaten to shoot me? He did not just threaten to SHOOT me. Exactly how do I respond to that? How does someone who's afraid of getting shot respond? I opened my eyes wide and swallowed hard. "Ch-Charlie. Truly, I-I never meant to hurt her. I-I thought it was best to make it a clean break. But then I found out, in the most miserable way you can imagine, that it wasn't good for either of us."
All things considered, Charlie had taken my return to Bella's life better than I had expected. I knew I should count my blessings and take whatever he had to dish out. God knows, I deserved it.
"I know just what teenage boys want," Charlie growled, getting back to the subject at hand, "and I don't want that for my daughter."
"Well, Charlie, I think you'll find out that I'm not your typical teenager." Because I'm one-hundred-and-five.
"What do you want, then?" Charlie eyed me skeptically.
Wonder what he'd think if I told him the truth; that I want to drink her blood. I smiled. I could tell the truth. At least part of it. "I want her to be safe. I want to never hurt her again. I want to make her laugh. I want to kiss her and hold her hand. And someday, preferably not too long from now, I want to marry her. After that I want to do some things that I probably shouldn't go into detail about with you." Let's see what he thinks of that!
Charlie's eyes flashed with anger. "You want to marry her? You're too young! She's too young." Marry her? Marry her! You're not even out of high school yet!
And here I thought he was only worried about us having sex.
He crossed his arms over his chest. I'd seen the same stance when Bella dug her heels in. "She's 18 now, Charlie. She can make that decision." I kept my voice steady. Getting angry wouldn't help things. "I can take care of her, if that's what worries you."
"And how would you manage that?" Charlie snarled.
What would he say if I told him how much money I have? Probably shouldn't. Just stick to the bare facts to keep him from worrying. "Charlie, my father was an attorney. He made a pretty good living. When my parents died, I inherited everything: the house, the accounts, the stocks. I also have a major trust. Carlisle has made additional provisions for each of us, as well. I can take care of Bella. I promise you."
"And Bella," Charlie asked, "Do you have any idea how she feels about this?"
I'd hoped to bring this topic up with Charlie under better circumstances. Talk to him about it before I asked Bella again. Get his blessing. Show him a ring. Not like this, on the spur of the moment. No choice now. Time to really bite the bullet. "Well, sir, quite frankly, I've already asked her, and she's said no. But I'm not giving up." I waited for the barrage. Surprisingly, it didn't come.
Charlie sighed. Thank God. She said no. "And those things that you don't want to go into detail about. You haven't already started doing them?" He'd better just say no!
I shook my head. "No, sir! In fact, many times Bella has teased me because I draw the line before she does."
She… What? He draws the line? Charlie frowned. Is he straight? "You're not…" How do I ask him if he's straight?
I chose to ignore the fact that he was questioning my sexuality and focus on the frustration in his voice. "I respect Bella, sir. I don't want her to make any decisions that she might regret later." You wouldn't believe how hard I've tried to stop her from making decisions she might regret.
Charlie didn't respond immediately. He stared out the window as he thought about what I said. He doesn't want her to make any decisions she might regret later? Is he for real? Or just trying to pacify me? Maybe this kid isn't so bad. And as long as she goes out with him, she won't be going out with other boys who WILL do anything to get her into bed. Is he straight? Come to think of it, he is kind of…what are they calling it? Oh, yeah, metrosexual. Doesn't matter. A gay boyfriend in high school isn't so bad. Not a lot of worry for dad. It's all good, either way. As long as he doesn't marry her if he's gay. Maybe that's why she said no. "There are a lot of boys who want to go out with her, you know. They call."
Okay, I can't believe this. He actually thinks I'm gay! Wait, did he say other boys call? "Who are they, Charlie? I can take care of them." Like I don't already know. Newton. Crowley.
"Just keep her safe, Edward," Charlie sighed. It seemed he couldn't think of anything else to say to me.
Thank God this conversation is over. "I'll do everything within my power to keep her safe, sir," I assured him again. "I promise to take care of her."
Charlie glared at me. "You'd better. Otherwise, I'll break your ass and own your soul!"
I almost snorted. Own my soul. HA! I'd like to see that! I don't even own my soul any more. "Yes, sir." I nodded gravely and glanced at the clock. "I think it's time for me to pick Bella up from work, Charlie. I should go." He nodded, and we both stood. At the door, he shook my hand and watched as I walked to the car. As I started the Volvo and drove away, I could hear him listing things he would do to me if I touched Bella and wondering about my sexual preference. Which should bother me more, that Charlie thinks I'm gay or that he threatened to shoot me? I laughed. I wonder if Bella knows that Charlie thinks I'm gay?
What a disturbing experience. I liked to think that I had a bit more panache than the average teenager, but I hadn't been prepared for that. I actually felt like a 17-year-old talking to Charlie. Had Alice seen that conversation in a vision? If she had, I'd never live it down. At least she wouldn't know that Charlie thinks I'm gay! He never said anything about it, he only thought it. Thank God for small miracles.
I pulled into the parking lot and stopped in front of the sporting goods store. Bella stood at the door listening to Newton while she waited. A smile shot across her face when she saw me pull up. I watched as she left the store and approached the car. She's so beautiful. Charlie is right to worry about her. She climbed into the front seat and reached for my hand, still smiling. It still shocked me that she could love such a monster as I. For me. That smile is for me. I lifted her hand to my lips and kissed her palm without taking my eyes off her face. For that smile, I'd chat with Charlie every night.