AN: I want to start out by saying THANK YOU to everyone that is still with me. Thank you for all of your support and for putting up with the sporadic updates from me. About a week after I posted the last chapter one of my ferrets passed away and it kind of hit me hard because he was the first one I had and a big part of my family. I wasn't going to even attempt trying to write while in that state of mind. Things would have taken a hard left into angstville if I had. When I did get back into a good enough mood to write some personal things came up that I had to take care of and writing was unfortunately put on the back burner. Now that all of that is cleared up updates will be coming more often.
Thanks so much to Say Goodbye Again for beta'ing this story.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
The next morning I awoke to the persistent gray of the Forks' sky. I yawned as I sat up and stretched my arms over my head. A glance at my alarm clock indicated that it was time for the day to start, sitting on the table next to the alarm was my cell phone; I noticed the flashing LED light and picked it up to see the 1 new text message.
Rose wants to get to school early so we're all going ahead. I dropped off your stuff from yesterday, last night after everyone left. You BETTER wear one of the outfits I bought you yesterday, missy. No arguments. If you show up at school in jeans and a t-shirt I will drag you back to your place and make you change.
I laughed quietly to myself; Alice knew me all too well. I got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom to prepare for the day ahead. After a hot relaxing shower, I pulled my brush through my hair to smooth it out and quickly but thoroughly brushed my teeth. Wrapped in only a towel, I went back to my room and started looking through my closet. Not only had Alice dropped the clothes off, she put them away also.
How did I not notice her in my room last night?
After a few minutes I settled on one of the many tight fitting, low cut Henley shirts that she insisted on buying, in red and a pair of black skinny jeans. I slid on a pair of red ballet flats to finish the ensemble before going to get Anthony ready for his day.
Anthony was already sitting up in bed playing with one of his many teddy bears when I walked into his room.
"Hey baby, you ready to go see Grandma Esme?" I asked him as I picked him up. He nodded and threw his arms around my neck in a hug. After he released me, I set him on his feet and told him to pick out what he wanted to wear.
Anthony came back with a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt in hand. He thrust his clothes to me and attempted to take off his pyjamas. I couldn't help but laugh at him as he struggled to remove the clothes from his tiny body. When he noticed, he glared at me then walked over and held his arms up above his head so I could help. I instantly pulled the shirt up over his head and had him changed.
Once he was fully dressed he ran from the room with me slowly following behind him. I wasn't ready to face today; the only good that came from it was knowing this was the last year I had to deal with most of the people I've put up with over the past few years. When I reached the door, Anthony was already in his jacket, tapping his foot impatiently with his arms crossed over his chest.
As soon as I released Anthony from his car seat he bounded towards the house. I lifted the bag full of his toys and other things he may need throughout the day off the passenger seat and threw the strap over my shoulder before following behind him. Anthony stood in front of the door practically bouncing in place. He was spending way too much time with Alice; her bubbly personality was starting to rub off on him. I scooped him off his feet and knocked lightly on the door three times.
When the door opened, the last person I wanted to see stood in front of me. Edward. His eyes settled on Anthony's face and grew wide for a brief second before he composed himself to look at me.
"Is Esme here?" I asked, coldly. I honestly didn't want to speak to him, even if it was simply to ask where someone was.
"In the garden," his tone matched mine. I nodded and stepped around him into the house, walking towards the door that led out to the garden. I could feel Edward's eyes boring into the back of my head.
Why the hell is he staring at me, and why oh why do I wish I could slap him.
I found Esme exactly where Edward said she would be; kneeling among the vibrant coloured flowers. When she saw me, she dropped what she was doing and stood.
"Hello Bella, Anthony," she smiled and walked over to us. Anthony was trying to squirm out of my grasp. "Let me wash up and then I'll take this little one from you."
I followed her into the house and to the kitchen. She swiftly washed the dirt off her hands and arms before turning around and taking Anthony from my embrace. He wrapped her in a tight hug and planted a small kiss on her cheek.
"Thank you so much for doing this, Esme. I don't know how I can ever repay you, but I really do appreciate this."
"Nonsense, dear. You do not have to repay me for allowing me to spend time with my grandson."
I was grateful for Esme and Carlisle; they had been there for me when my own parents weren't. No matter how many times I thanked the Cullens for everything they had done for me, it would never be enough.
"I know. I'm glad that you and Carlisle want to be involved in his life. It's nice to know he has family that cares about him. Now-," I sighed and kissed the top of Anthony's head. "Mommy has to get to school. You be a good boy for Esme, okay?"
"Mmhm." Anthony nodded while he played with the ends of Esme's hair with his tiny fingers.
"I'll be over immediately after school to pick him up."
"Okay, dear. Have a good day."
With that I left them in the kitchen and went out to my car. I turned my key in the ignition and waited for the car to come to life. I pulled out of the driveway and drove towards the last first day of purgatory.
A groan escaped my lips as I pulled into the school parking lot. There was only one empty space left and of course it had to be next to his Volvo. I reluctantly pulled into the spot and turned off my car. Taking a deep breath, I grabbed my bag from the backseat and got out of the car, and headed straight for the building.
"Bella, there you are!" Alice came running over to greet me with Rose right alongside her. "We were starting to think you were going to skip."
"Alice, I wouldn't skip the first day of school. You of all people should know that." I laughed at her accusatory tone. I didn't even like the idea of skipping school in the middle of the year, (although I had been talked into it numerous times).
"I know, I know," she shook her head, giggling.
"Come on, girls. We don't want to be late." Rose grabbed both of our hands and pulled us towards the school.
Emmett and Jasper were standing outside the doors waiting for us. As soon as we reached them, my feet left the ground as Emmett picked me up into a bone-crushing hug.
"Emmett…can't…breath." I gasped. Once my feet were flat on the floor, I punched his shoulder. "How many times do you have to be reminded, I'm breakable."
"Sorry," he mumbled. "So, what'd you do to Eddie last night, Bella?"
What? I blinked a few times and stared at Emmett.
"I didn't do anything to him." I said, incredulous. At least, I didn't think I did anything to him.
"We bumped into each other when I left, that's all."
"You sure? He was out of it when he came into the kitchen." Emmett had a smirk on his face. I just wanted to smack it off of him, thankfully Rose did it for me.
"Crap, crap, crap." I hissed through gritted teeth. My hands clenched into tight fists. As that run in came back to me from last night, I didn't need this, I didn't want this. Not now. He was supposed to go on pretending that both Anthony and I didn't exist. Emmett and Jasper looked at me confused. Alice and Rose looked as if they were deep in thought. "He saw Anthony last night." My voice barely a whisper.
The four of them stood there for a moment staring at me, their mouths agape.
"Don't worry, Bella." Jasper stepped forward and placed a calming hand on my shoulder. "Everything will work itself out." I smiled weakly and nodded at him. Jasper always had this uncanny ability to calm anyone down. It was nice to have him around at times like this.
We all said our goodbyes and headed off in different directions towards our first classes. Alice and I both had English first period so we walked to class together in silence. Alice appeared to be lost in thought and I didn't want to bother her. Plus I was too engrossed in my own mind as well.
Did Edward notice how much Anthony looks like him? If he did, is he going to try to talk to me? I knew if he tried, I won't be able to contain my anger. When I saw him this morning, I wanted to hit him. I can't even imagine what urges would overwhelm me if he tried to talk to me about my – our – son. Would he expect me to forgive him easily? Ha. I'd never be able to forgive him.
I didn't even realize that Alice and I made it into class and took our seats. The shrill sound of the bell ringing pulled me back to reality. I looked around the room and tried to ignore the stares and whispers of the students around me. The teacher wasn't here yet which gave me a chance to talk to Alice. I turned to her, opening my mouth to speak but she beat me to the punch.
"What are you going to do," she asked. Again, she had that thoughtful expression on her face.
"I honestly don't know." I refrained from telling her that I hoped he hadn't noticed the resemblance between Anthony and him.
"You better figure something out, and soon." I gave her a questioning look and she shrugged.
The teacher came into the room then, muttering apologies for being late to his own class on the first day of school. He continued on to explain the syllabus for the year and the list of books we would be reading. Most of the books I had already read once or twice. The majority of class I spent lost in my own head, trying to decide what I was going to do if Edward confronted me.
I didn't even notice when the bell rang. Alice cleared her throat next to me and I turned to look at her.
"Are you going to sit here all day," she laughed and I quickly got up from my seat and followed her out into the hall.
"I'll see you at lunch, okay?" I nodded and we both turned to head to our next class.
I walked into my next class – Sociology – and immediately let out a frustrated sigh. Sitting there, next to the only empty desk was none other than Edward Cullen in all of his perfection. A string of profanities flew through my head as I made my way towards the desk, looking everywhere except at him. Of course I managed to find something to trip over and stumbled forward, catching myself on the desktop but not before dropping my books to the floor. I knelt down to pick them up and as I reached for the last notebook lying on the floor, my fingers caught the soft flesh of someone else's hand, sending an electric shock shooting through me.
I gasped and instantly pulled my hand back. My eyes drifted from the hand in front of me, up the toned arm until I was met with those gorgeous emerald green eyes. He held the notebook in front of my face and I snatched it from his grip mumbling "thanks" and standing to take my seat. As soon as I was seated, I draped my hair across my shoulder, creating a wall between my face and his penetrating gaze.
Again, I couldn't pay any attention to what was going on in class, which made me thankful that classes today would only be spent going over the normal first day material – syllabuses and class rules. Instead I was focused on the fact that Edward was staring at me for the full hour. Once the bell rang, I swiftly gathered my books and jumped from my seat, making my way out of the classroom faster than I thought possible.
I was thrilled to find Jasper was in my Calculus class, I'd have someone to help out whenever I got stuck on homework or class work. I always had a bit of trouble with math throughout the years. Jasper flashed me a friendly smile as I sat at the desk behind him. He turned in his seat to face me.
"How's your day going, so far." he asked.
I shrugged. "It's been quite uneventful."
Jasper laughed then shook his head and looked at me seriously.
"Not for too much longer. Alice seems to think that something big is going to happen today. She's pretty excited about it."
"I highly doubt that, Jasper." I scoffed.
"Now, Bella, you know better than to bet against Alice." He teased.
Unfortunately, the bell rang and the teacher called the class to order. For what felt like the millionth time today, my mind wandered while the teacher droned on about the subject matter of the class.
When the bell finally rang to signal the end of class, Jasper offered to walk with me to lunch. I declined and headed to my locker to unload my books from the first half of the day before continuing on to the cafeteria. I noticed some of the people in the hallway around me, whispering and pointing in my direction. I shrugged it off, ignoring their obvious gossip. After two years, I was used to being talked about even though it did hurt a little.
I was passing by an open classroom door on my way to lunch when a hand shot out and grabbed my wrist, pulling me inside the empty room. Startled, I looked up to see Edward standing in front of me.
"What do you want?" I glared at him, my voice dripping with venom.
"We need to talk," his voice was flat, lifeless; his face an emotionless mask. I knew that expression all too well. He was an expert at keeping up a poker face. Attuned to his act, I knew exactly how to handle the situation in front of me. I crossed my arms over my chest, holding my own.
"No we don't." I retorted.
He took a step closer so that we were merely inches apart. "Yes we do," his cool, sweet breath blew across my face. No doubt he was trying to dazzle me into the conversation I was desperate not to have with him. It took all of my strength to keep my will from crumbling.
"You made your choice, Edward. You have to live with it." I turned back towards the door. I needed to get out of this room, fast. I was nowhere near ready to have this discussion with him, especially at school. I was able to take two steps before Edward grabbed my arm and spun me around to face him again.
"Bella…" He let his façade slip for a second before composing his features again. For that brief moment, I could see the pain in his eyes. My mind urged me to reach out and hold him, to comfort him but the throbbing in my chest where my heart once was reminded me of all the pain he caused. "Please."
"There's nothing left for us to talk about, and don't touch me." I yanked my arm free from his grasp and sped from the room, fortunately without tripping over anything.
When I finally arrived in the cafeteria, my stomach was in knots. I slowly walked through the line, purchasing only a bottle of water. I found Alice, Jasper, Rose, and Emmett sitting at our usual table. As I took my seat, Jasper raised an eyebrow at me. He knew it didn't take that long to deposit books in my locker. Alice gave me a knowing look, while Emmett and Rose looked at the three of us bemused. I shrugged and opened my water, taking small sips from it.
Most of lunch, I sat there quietly, only speaking when spoken to which didn't happen too often. Everyone could tell I was lost inside my head once again.
That one encounter with Edward told me everything I needed to know. Edward did get a good look at Anthony last night and morning. I mentally slapped myself. I shouldn't have gone back to Alice's after shopping yesterday and I should have called her before dropping Anthony off at the Cullen's. If I hadn't been so careless, I could have continued to avoid the inevitable.
It felt as if someone was watching me. When I looked up at Alice, she noticed my expression and tilted her head slightly, subtly pointing across the room. I didn't have to look up to know who was staring at me. What is his problem? He's the one who said he wanted nothing to do with my mistake.
The bell finally rang, pulling me back to reality. I said bye to everyone and told them I'd see them after school back at Alice's.
The rest of the day dragged on. In chemistry, I ended up sitting at one of the lab tables by myself. I silently thanked God for not putting me through the torture of sitting next to someone who would probably act as if I was a contagious disease.
The worst class of the day had to be gym. Athletics weren't my thing and whenever thrown into something physical, someone always ended up getting hurt. Fate seemed to be on my side because the hour ended up being a free period. I spent that time sitting in the bleachers with a book in hand. Coach Carr didn't comment about my being inactive – he knew that sports and I was a dangerous mix.
"Hey Bella," a voice called to me. I looked up to see Mike Newton standing in front of me. Just great.
"Hi Mike." I gave him a weak smile, honestly not wanting to talk to him.
"How was your summer?" he asked, sitting on the bleachers next to me.
"It was alright." I shrugged. "I didn't do much except work and take care of Anthony. You know, it's hard to be a normal teen when you're a mom."
"That's true," he shifted nervously, obviously feeling uncomfortable about my statement. Good, maybe he'll finally get the hint.
"So, did you hear about the back-to-school party Tyler Crowley is throwing?"
"No, actually, I didn't. I was pretty preoccupied all day."
"Oh… well…" he twirled his hands in his lap anxiously "It's this Friday and I was wondering if you'd want to go with me?"
"I'm sorry, Mike. I have to work Friday night." I lied. Mike had a golden retriever complex and had been pursuing me since freshmen year. He could never get it through his head that I wasn't interested.
"Besides, even if I didn't have work, I wouldn't want to burden Mrs. Cullen with Anthony. She's already doing me a huge favor by watching him so that I can finish school."
"Oh, well. Maybe some other time." I nodded and he left to go to the locker room.
The day finally ended and I made my way out to the parking lot. As I slipped into my car, I noticed the silver Volvo was no longer parked in its spot. I started my car and pulled out of the parking lot, driving off towards the Cullen's home.
When I pulled up in front of the house, Esme was out on the porch with a broom in her hands. She smiled when she saw me getting out of the car.
"Hello, Esme." I returned her smile, proceeding up the steps to the house. "He wasn't too much of a handful, was he?"
She laughed and shook her head. "No, Anthony was a perfect angel, as always," she then motioned towards the door. "He's in the living room, playing…" she trailed off. I nodded and entered the house. I could hear Anthony's giggles in the living room and a grin involuntarily spread across my face.
I turned the corner to the living room and froze. Sitting on the floor with Anthony was the last person I ever expected to see interacting with him – Edward, was playing with his 'Mega Bloks Build Bigger than Me' building blocks (they were these huge, over sized Lego's). The two of them were beaming and laughing as they stacked block on top of block, building a pyramid that was as tall as Edward himself. I stayed still, not making a sound as I watched them. As the pyramid grew taller, Edward picked Anthony up in order for him to continue adding blocks.
Edward glanced up from their project and his eyes locked onto mine. I could feel the happiness radiating off him. It was almost as if he was… glowing.
It was in that moment I knew.
I knew I could never deny Edward the right to see his son again, but he had to redeem himself in my eyes.
AN: There you have it. I hope I didn't disappoint.