A/N Chapter title is Threshold. It signifies that Bella and Edward are on the threshold of a new relationship and that Tanya is on the threshold of everyone's patience. lol My readers rock hard. Thank you all so much for all the reviews and everything. I'm honored. I'm also behind in answering them. Please forgive me and don't stop reviewing.
Lillie BB, you always go above and beyond for me. Though I don't think you should, I love you for it anyway. You are my angel sent from Heaven to watch over me in all ways. Thank you.
Disclaimer: SM owns the Twilight universe. I own this story line, a laptop with some of the letters worn off from me typing so much, a kick-ass flat screen to watch Twilight on, and my own characters. By the way, if you are offended by bad language... DON'T READ THIS FUCKING STORY. That is all.
"ALICE!" I shouted after I hung up the phone that night. I was so excited I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to keep breathing or not. I remember feeling like I was floating outside of my body. Alice flew through my bedroom door where I had been reading alone when Edward called.
"What's the matter?" she had asked, breathlessly. I was unable to hold back the grin on my face. "Oh my God, you're glowing. He called again?!"
"Yes! Right after his show! Oh my God, Alice, I don't know what to think, or do, or feel, or anything!" My heart was pounding out of my chest. I couldn't believe that I had kept my squealing under control when I was on the phone.
"Breathe, Bella. Right now you have to breathe!" She was right. I was hyperventilating. Nothing so exciting had ever happened to me before and I had never been so excited about anyone of the male species before either. When I was finally able to talk again, I told Alice all about the phone call. We were both squealing and bouncing on the bed by the time I was done. Jasper's form appeared in the door.
"What are you two girls in here squealing about?" Both of us erupted in fresh squeals and laughter as we excitedly told Jasper what was going on. He shook his head at us both and chuckled. "Just like teenagers," he said as he turned and left.
The events of the following twenty-four hours were a blur. Alice, Rosalie, and I made a pitcher of margaritas that night to celebrate. The next morning when I got up, I found that I was still floating on a cloud. Then, I got an email from Edward that his stupid fucking ex-wife had left his daughter alone with a twelve year old and went out and got herself arrested. I was really beginning to loathe that bitch and I hadn't even come close to meeting her yet. I wondered if I ever would or if meeting Edward was going to be a big enough disaster that I would never meet his little girl, ex-wife, or even see him again. I had called Edward to let him know I got the message and he was so excited to talk to me that I was back up on cloud nine again. Later that day, Alice, Rosalie, and I went shopping for frames for the pictures Edward had sent. I was also in a quandary about the text I had gotten from Edward requesting a picture of me.
"Why would he want a picture all of a sudden, Rosalie?"
"Probably because he's been thinking about you non-stop and wants to put a face with a name. I don't know what you're freaking out about."
"But what if he doesn't like me after he sees my picture?"
"Bella, just stop. You know that's not going to happen. You're beautiful. Let's send one of the pictures we took that night we went to Venom. You were lookin' fine that night." Alice always had all the answers to everything.
"Thanks, Alice, but I'm still nervous about it. I mean, what if he looks at me and thinks I'm ugly, or what if I'm not what he pictured, or what if…"
"Bella!" Rosalie cut me off, turning around to glare at me. "You are not ugly and he is not infatuated with your looks. He is infatuated with your mind. Remember that this all happened because of a letter. Now stop freaking out and let's decide what we're wearing to the show!" I looked at her face and she was sincere. Alice was nodding her head and singing along with "Halo" by Beyonce on the stereo.
"I'm wearing jeans," I said determinedly. I knew it was a battle I wasn't going to win, but I could at least try.
Alice glanced back from the steering wheel and then stared out the front window of the car again. I watched as her grip on the steering wheel tightened and her knuckles turned white. Then she relaxed ever so slightly before saying, in a voice that was eerily calm for Alice, "You're not wearing jeans and you're not arguing either."
"But, he told me jeans would be appropriate."
"I don't care. He's a man. What does he know about appropriate?" I shrugged and sighed. There was no arguing with Alice when it came to couture. She was the resident expert. The only person that knew even close to what Alice knew about fashion was Rosalie and even she asked for Alice's advice about clothes. I looked out the window of the car, deciding not to honor her question with an answer. Besides that, it was rhetorical. Nothing I could say would sway her and I knew better.
After a couple of hours of fruitless shopping, Emmett and Jasper joined us at our favorite Italian restaurant for supper. I recall checking my phone about every five minutes all afternoon to see what time it was, to see if I had a text from him, to see if I had missed a call from him, to see if I had another email from him. I was toast. I was totally head over heels for this man that I had never met. I couldn't stop thinking about him. I had three more days of classes to teach that week and I had no idea how I was going to get through them. I couldn't concentrate on anything but Edward and his velvet voice, his tiny daughter, his imbecile ex-wife, and the fact that two weeks from that moment, I would have met him and had no idea what was in store for me after that. It was six o'clock and I knew it was almost time for Edward to take the stage in Atlantic City. I wondered if he would call after he got done or not.
I felt Jasper's eyes on me before I heard his smooth voice with his sexy southern drawl say, "Aren't you going to eat, Bella?"
I snapped my head up and looked at the mushroom ravioli sitting on my plate getting cold. "Oh, yeah, I was going to…" Emmett, being the big brother I had never had, was always full of great advice.
"I dunno what the fuck you're all wigged out about, Bells. What's the worst that happens? He comes to town, sleeps with you, and leaves. At least you can tell everybody you slept with EC Velvet, right?" Rosalie punched him in the shoulder.
I stared at him, blinking. "Do you think that's all he wants? To sleep with me? Oh my God."
Rosalie grabbed my arm, "No, that's not all he wants, Bella. I think what he wants is a friend. Don't listen to Emmett. You know he only has one thing on his mind."
"Yeah," I said, straightening up in my seat and poking at my food with my fork, "the same thing that all men have on their minds."
"I resemble that remark," Emmett said playfully, plopping a big bite of lasagna in his mouth.
"I don't," Jasper said softly. "I love Alice because she's my soulmate and my queen. Her body is just a lucky strike extra." Alice squealed and hugged him and they were suddenly lost in a passionate kiss. Rosalie glared at Emmett.
"Sorry, babe," he said with a grin. "I love you for all those reasons, too, but you are a fuckin' wildcat in the bedroom." Rosalie huffed and rolled her eyes, going back to eating her dinner.
After dinner that night we went home and I retired to my bedroom to see if I could find a picture that was suitable to email to Edward. After Alice and Jasper got 'cleaned up', which was code for bathroom sex, Alice came in to help me. I had eight pictures open on the desktop and couldn't figure out which ones to send. We, and I use the term loosely, because Alice did all the deciding, chose three photos to email to Edward. I composed an email that tried to sound 'confident' in my appearance, per Alice's instructions, and sent them. Nervously, I waited to hear what he thought.
Around eleven that night, he called. I had almost given up and was just laying down in bed to stare at the picture of him and Abby that I had placed on my bedside table when my phone rang. I snatched it up and sat straight up in bed when I answered.
"Hey, Bella, how's it going? Is it too late?"
"Absolutely not! I told you any time! I'm good… how are you?" I tried to sound happy, but not overly excited. I hoped that my intonation was not too squeaky. Why the hell I was so nervous, who knew?
"The show was great. We're on our way to Hartford, Connecticut tonight. We have a show at the Comcast Theater on Tuesday night so tomorrow is a day off supposedly. I know Rhianne has some shit I have to do, but I'm not sure what. I'm trying to remain oblivious. It's the best way." I laughed a little bit at his attempts to remain oblivious of his schedule. I felt sure that Edward was the kind of guy that knew exactly where he was supposed to be and when, but just didn't want to go into all the lurid details with me right then.
"So, you're like, on a bus?"
"Yeah, The Beast, as we call it," he chuckled. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. I loved the sound of his laughter. My heart was racing as he continued. "So, Tanya showed up at my mom's this evening and picked up Abby I guess. Mom said she didn't share where she had been for twenty-four hours, just said 'thanks' and left with her. I'm anxious to hear from my lawyer and PI tomorrow."
"Oh, Edward, I'm so sorry. That's got to be so difficult for you, being away and not knowing exactly what's going on." I really felt for him. He sounded so sad talking about Abby and I knew that being away from her was killing him. He talked about her a lot in his letters. I knew that she meant the world to him and realized that Rosalie was right, he needed a friend.
"Yeah, it's tough, but it's all going to work itself out. On an up note, this hot chick sent me these awesome pictures of her in my email and she is drop-dead fucking gorgeous. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?" He chuckled again as my gut leapt into my throat. Did he just refer to me as a hot chick and call me drop-dead gorgeous? Holy shit!
"Um, I don't know. Did you know the address they came from?" I asked innocently. He laughed aloud before answering.
"God, Bella. You're beautiful. Thanks for the pictures. Do you mind if I have them printed in the morning so I can keep them with me? It'll give me something to look forward to."
"Um, you can do whatever you like with them. They're for you. I hope they didn't scare you away."
"You've got to be fucking kidding me. You. Are. Beautiful. I'd like to find the asshole that made you feel like you weren't and beat his ass into oblivion." I was surprised by his protectiveness and resolve. Our relationship had been nothing more than a few letters and even fewer phone calls, yet the connection we both seemed to feel was infinite.
"Thanks, Edward… I… well, thanks."
We talked a little more about his show and he told me that he had started writing a new song. He said that I had inspired his new song and he couldn't wait for me to hear it. I didn't know quite how to feel about that. Most of the songs on his new album were full of hate and anger towards his ex. Could I hope that I was helping to chip that hate and anger away?
The next few days passed in relative quiet with school finishing up and me spending the rest of my waking hours either talking to Edward, emailing Edward, waiting for an email from Edward, or waiting for a call from Edward. Rosalie took Thursday afternoon off and we went shopping with Alice for our outfits for the upcoming concert a week from Saturday. I still wanted to wear jeans but Alice wasn't hearing it. I finally agreed to a skirt and blouse as long as she didn't make me wear a cocktail dress or evening gown as she had originally wanted. I made my case that it was a rap/hip-hop concert, not the symphony orchestra or the opera that we were going to attend. She relented at that.
I was happy with the outfit I got. The skirt was white with all over box pleats. It fell to mid-thigh and was fitted at the waist with a wide brown belt. It was a French Connection, which apparently meant a lot more to Rosalie and Alice than it did me. I liked it nonetheless. I was ready to shell out the two hundred dollars it was going to cost before Alice stepped in and paid for it. I let her. She liked to buy me clothes and I was too happy to start an argument with her. We found a blouse to go with it that was sapphire blue and white. It was form fitting and cut low, but not too low. I got white high heels to wear with it and knew that I would have to practice walking in them so that I didn't fall on my face and make an ass of myself. Rosalie and Alice gave me their stamp of approval on the outfit even though I picked it out myself for the most part.
After that was over, I couldn't wait to get home. Edward was on his way to Philadelphia to play at Wachovia Center and I was hoping for a call or email. I didn't have to wait long. As soon as I got home I huffed up the stairs as fast as I could, hung my new outfit in the closet and sat down in front of my laptop. There it was. A new message from Edward Cullen. I almost squealed when I opened it. The pleasure didn't last long though.
Sorry I wasn't able to call or write yesterday, it was a bad day. I spent most of the day on the phone with my lawyer and Seth, my PI. Apparently, Tanya has gone off the deep end since I left town last week. I don't know what the hell to do. I had to go ahead and file my custody suit against her, plus I had to ask for temporary custody, and I had to have a restraining order placed against her to keep her away from my mother. You're never going to believe the shit she pulled while I was busy with my show Tuesday night. I don't even really know if you want to hear about this, but I have to tell someone. It's tearing me up. I'm fighting the urge to say fuck it all and go home.
Seth reported to me that he was watching the house Saturday night when Tanya left. He had seen the 12-year-old babysitter and had decided to remain with Abby that night rather than follow Tanya. He called a friend of his to follow Tanya. I guess Abby was okay all night, but one of Tanya's drug dealers went to her door at 2:30 in the morning. That was the guy that scared the babysitter. Seth said he almost shot the guy because he knew him from other dealings he had around town.
The guy that followed Tanya had even more fun. He got to follow her to the ghetto where she was photographed purchasing cocaine and prescription pain medications from a well-known drug dealer. Then, he had the pleasure of following her to some club where she proceeded to get smashed and fuck some random dude in the bathroom. Thankfully, I have proof of that thanks to the PI. She left around midnight, with some other loser, and got behind the wheel of her car to follow this guy to his place. Somewhere along the way, she was stopped and was arrested for DUI. She had the audacity to try to throw MY name around to the cops to try to get out of it. Not sure who bailed her out, but my suspicion points to her mother, who always bails her out. She wasn't even in jail for 24 hours before she got out and went to find Abigail.
I guess she must have stayed home and sobered up on Monday, but Tuesday she was at it again. The drug dealer from Saturday night showed up at the house again and not only did she give him a fistful of cash, she got some more drugs from him, and invited him into the house. Abby was there, Bella. Seth assured me that he watched and listened closely and that if Abby had been in any danger, he would have intervened, but mostly he took pictures and recorded conversations and such. After she was sufficiently fucked up, the drug dealer left, and then Tanya left. She took Abby with her. Seth followed them to my mother's house where Tanya got out and made a big fuckin' scene in the front yard screaming and yelling, cussing my mother out, throwing her shoes at her, and threatening to keep Abby from her if she didn't "stay out of her face." Mom called the police, but by the time they got there, Tanya was gone. Seth followed her to make sure that Abby got home safely, which she did, but it could have been much worse. I guess mom filed a complaint against her for disorderly conduct and trespassing or something. I don't know. By the time I got to that part, I couldn't even think anymore.
Bella, I'm so fuckin' angry with her. I just don't know how I'm going to manage to stay on task with this tour. I want Abigail with me, but I have a lot of arrangements I have to make before I can do that. The good news is that I got an emergency court date next week so I can stop in Chicago on my way to Seattle, go to court, hopefully get Abby, and go on to Seattle. I can't wait to get there. I just need a friend, so much. Thanks for being one and listening. I'll try to call you tonight after the show if I'm not too drunk. Honestly, I don't think I even want to drink. It would be too depressing.
Thanks again, Love, Edward
(Is love too strong a word? Because I do feel very affectionate towards you and our blossoming friendship.)
My heart was absolutely breaking for him. That woman seriously had no business trying to raise a four-year-old with the shit she was doing. For the first time, I found myself wishing for the ability to go to Chicago and take Abby away from her mother. It wasn't the last time I felt like that. I had never been much of the maternal sort, but Edward's love for his daughter was causing my maternal instincts to kick in. I was crying as I wrote my reply.
I feel quite affectionate towards our friendship as well and I'm really feeling very protective of your daughter right now. I'm so very sorry you're having to deal with all this. I wish there was something I could do to make it all go away for you. I'm fighting the urge to fly to Chicago, take Abby away from that woman, and punch the bitch in the face. Sorry, I shouldn't call her names, but I have a feeling with her it's an issue of 'if the shoe fits.'
I really hope that your attorney and PIs can give you enough ammunition to get temporary custody while you are waiting for your custody case to go through. I just don't know what you're going to do if not. I can see that this is really weighing heavy on your mind and I want so much to be able to make it better for you. I really do.
Please don't ever worry about calling me any time day or night. School is out so I don't have anything to get up early for right now. I've chosen not to offer any summer courses this year in an attempt to remember how to enjoy life for a change. I'm available any time you need to talk. If what you need is a friend, I'm your girl.
Take care, Edward. Really. Remember to take care of yourself.
Talking to Edward later that night was even worse. I wasn't sure, but I thought I detected sobbing in his voice at one point in time. That might have been the first time that I realized that all the affection and protectiveness I was feeling towards Edward was turning into love. How I could fall in love with someone I hadn't met, I didn't know, but there it was. I loved him. I can't say that I told him that. Not then. I wish I had, but I just didn't have the guts. I started counting down to his court date on Wednesday of the next week. I just hoped and prayed that it went well for him.
End Note: SO, after Atlantic City, EC Velvet is headed to Comcast Theater in Hartford, Connecticut. Militza, I sent your VIP passes, make sure you get there on time BB. VIP passes go to all reviewers for the show in the nearest city so hurry up and get in line ya'll! We need to sell these shows OUT!