Saturday morning in an empty house is kind of sad. I have Sports Center blasting as I stand in the kitchen eating some of Billy's sugar-bomb cereal. The kettle sounds like it should start boiling soon, making it that much closer to a fresh French Press of Colombian.
I pick up the remote and punch the favorite button. The Cartoon Network blares to life, and I watch some confusing Japanese Anime show with a samurai with a tail and 80's metal hair. I think it's one of the ones that Billy likes. He has a whole book shelf of his comic books that I've been collecting for him, much to Bella's annoyance. I make him do chores to earn each book--most of the chores total bullshit--but Bella lets me get away with it.
The kettle whistles, and I turn to pick it up. As the water fills the pot, swirling and mixing with the coffee grounds, I inhale deeply. The smell of coffee is almost better than the taste. I finish setting up the pot, set the timer on the microwave and return to the odd samurai cartoon. I'm not sure that I really understand what's going on; it seems he knows this dark haired girl who kind of reminds me of Bella. That gets me thinking about Bella, leaving me confused and horny.
It's my own fault. I suggested that my mother take Bella on a little girl spa getaway thing for her birthday. Bella deserves a break from everything. Embry took the kids for the weekend, and Billy practically bounced out the door when they left. Sabrina was subdued, as usual, but she rolled her eyes when I asked if she wanted to stay with me. I took that to mean "no." I laughed, remembering how Bella complains that she's getting an early start at being a pissy teenager, even though she just turned 11
I turn off the TV with a sigh and stare at my soggy breakfast. I walk over to the sink, making sure to rinse out my bowl before I put it in the dishwasher. I lean on the counter while I wait for the coffee. It's too quiet. The house is too empty and lifeless. I miss Bella yelling at me through the floor instead of coming downstairs to ask me a question. I miss Billy sneak-attacking me whenever my back's turned. I even miss Sabrina pointedly ignoring me when we're the only two people in the room.
I sigh as the microwave beeps and I press the coffee. I sift through the over-stuffed cabinet that Bella gave me to store my collection of coffee mugs. After a great deal of thought, I choose my "hard workin' man" mug, a gift from Bella. She left it for me on the kitchen counter the first morning after I officially moved in. I always call her my "hard workin' woman," mostly to tease her for being stubborn.
Bella doesn't need to work. I could support us nicely with my salary from the foundation, not to mention my family related assets, but she refuses to live a life of leisure. She insists that it would spoil the kids and that she needs work to keep her mind active. It took every ounce of self control I had to not laugh at her when she said it.
The truth is that she's freaked about moving closer to the "m" word. I never imagined that I would be the one pushing for a long-term commitment. Then again, I never imagined I'd meet a woman like Bella.
"Bella," I sigh as I say her name and laugh at myself, looking down at the reflection of my smiling face in the black liquid in my cup. Ah, Ed, you are one lucky asshole.
The front door slams open, making me nearly jump out of my skin.
"Shit," I yelp, spilling coffee all over the place.
"I'm going to my room!" Sabrina yells as she stomps through the doorway and heads up the stairs. I put down my coffee and rush toward the door.
"Sabrina?" Embry appears in the open doorway, his face stricken and flushed.
"Hey, what's going on?" I ask and he gives me a look that's a combination of angry and a plea for help. Embry's a good guy. He and Bella have handled their break-up real well, which is good, because I like him. He's funny and easy going, which makes Sabrina's little drama-splosion confusing.
"It's just..." Embry shakes his head. "She's having a hard go of it. Bells won't tell her about her father and it's not my place." Embry's face falls a little, as he looks at the empty stairwell. Bella told me a few months after we were together that Embry wasn't Sabrina's birth father, not that it seemed to make any difference to him. They'd told Sabrina the truth when she was 8. Bella told me that Sabrina had taken the news well, but it seems like things may have changed.
"I love you, Sabrina! No matter what," Embry yells at the empty stairs. I hear stomping and a sharp smash. Sabrina's not very verbally communicative; I've seen her in arguments with her mother, and she tends to express herself physically. I imagine that something just hit her wall.
"Kids," I say with a weak smile and shrug.
"Yeah, I don't want to put you in a bad place, man." Embry gives me a pained smile and I feel my heart go out to him. He's having this hard time with his kid and he's apologizing to me.
"Don't sweat it," I say with a wave of my hand.
"Thanks, man." Embry gives me a soft playful punch in the arm. "I'll drop Billy off tomorrow night. Good luck." He practically runs out the door, and as I see it close behind him, I realize what's going on.
"Son of a bitch," I hiss as some kind of angsty thrashing music begins to make the house vibrate.
"Mother!" My voice sounds a little more strained than I'd intended, but Sabrina's been alternating between thrashing angry rock and equally annoying depressing whiny rock music. I think I have a migraine and am ready to either start drinking or just hang myself.
"Edward, are you okay?" My mother sounds startled and I panic. I don't want to ruin Bella's weekend.
"I'm fine. Is Bella around?" I'm whispering, like a jackass, as if anyone around my mother can hear me. I'm stressed out.
"No, she's up in her room taking a nap. Do you need me to get her?" She switches from concerned to suspicious. My mother knows me well.
"NO! I mean, please don't bother her," I sigh, relaxing against the kitchen counter. "I just need a little help here, with... Sabrina." I groan as I comb my fingers through my hair and listen to my mother's soft laughter.
"What is it?" Esme Cullen is sweet and tolerant, but she is also my mother. She's lived through my arrogant teen years, my psycho girlfriends, and so much more. I wonder if she's been waiting for this day, when all my sins would be visited back on me.
"She came home early. Embry said that she's upset about -" I stop short when I hear stomping on the stairs.
"Edward, are you still there?" My mother asks; her concern returning.
"Just a second," I mumble into the receiver, as Sabrina comes stomping around the corner. I'm frozen where I stand, as nearly five foot tall ball of female rage storms past me.
Sabrina grunts as she yanks open the silverware drawer, and I wonder if it's supposed to be an acknowledgment of my presence.
"Uh, hey," I say lamely, as I watch her grab a spoon and march over to the freezer. She pulls open the door, reaches in, and produces a large carton of Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk. It's Bella's special ice cream; even I don't touch it, but there's no way I'm going to stop Sabrina as she storms back out of the kitchen.
"Edward?" My mother's voice startled me and I remembered that she was still on the phone.
"Oh, sorry mom." I say as I hear Sabrina's door slam. "She's a little scary." Esme laughs through the receiver, irritating me a little.
"Edward, dear heart, you really need to toughen up," she laughs and I stiffen. She's my mother; she's supposed to be helping me, not laughing.
"Mom," I say, whining, when I'd intended to sound angry. How does she do this to me? Suddenly, I'm 12 and she's teasing me about finding a Playboy under my bed. She sighs, but at least she's not laughing.
"First, it doesn't matter what she's upset about. What matters is that she's upset. Second, do not try to tell her about something similar to her situation," she says in a low droning tone that makes me feel like I'm in school again.
"But don't you think it might help if I tell her about my-" I don't even get to finish my sentence before my mother starts groaning in my ear.
"Edward, you're over-thinking this," Esme says with a tolerant sigh. "Just listen to what she has to say, show her that you're on her side, and above all else, DO NOT say anything about yourself."
"Right. So what should I do right now? She's upstairs playing music really loud." I'm not sure how I should put her instructions into action.
"I suggest that you relax and wait for her to talk to you. She might not say anything at all. Just try to be ready to be there for her, in case she needs you," she says and I let out a long sigh.
"You're sure it'll work?" I ask as another thumping rock song begins to shake the ceiling.
"Yes, now go. I need to get ready for dinner," she says with a little laugh.
"Alright, I love you mom. Thanks," I say, as I creep into the living room.
"Good luck, dear." She hangs up as I quickly make my way past the stair and settle onto the couch.
So, the plan is to do nothing, it sounds easy, maybe too easy. I grabbed the remote and turned the TV on.
I'm an hour into Happy Gilmore and halfway through a large pepperoni pizza when I hear the stairs creak. I play it cool, half-watching Bob Barker beat the crap out of Adam Sandler as Sabrina leans against the opposite end of the couch.
"Is that pepperoni?" she asks casually.
"Help yourself," I say with a nod and take sip off my beer. She slides onto the couch and grabs a piece of pizza. We sit in silence for another 20 minutes, with her munching and me drinking my beer. As I chuckle over Happy's fantasy about midgets on tricycles and half-naked women holding pitchers of beer, when I notice that Sabrina was staring at me.
I give her a sideways glance. She has one leg folded underneath her, the other bent, with her knee tucked under her chin. I figure this means that she wants to talk to me. So, I set my beer bottle on the table and shift so I'm looking at her. There's a curious and almost annoyed look on her face, that reminds me of Bella. I try hard to not smile and fail.
"What?" she asks in a soft growl, which makes me want to laugh, but I stifle it, knowing it would only piss her off more.
"Nothing," I say with a shake of my head. We sit there in silence for another few minutes. Then Sabrina huffs, her body lifting and then deflating with one breath.
"It's just...like, I'm not a kid. You know," she says as she turns her head to look at the TV. She sets her cheek on the top of her knee, but I can still see the tell-tale glistening in her eyes.
I start to freak a little. I'm not prepared for crying; crying is my hard fucking limit. Luckily, she's able to gather herself as she raises her head and looks at me. She has a look of resignation on her face, and for a moment, she looks so much like her mother that it's almost worse than the crying.
"I'm just tired of their excuses. Like, it's my right to know... about... him."
She slaps her hand to her chest and I nod, not really getting it, but I'm not about to say anything. Sabrina nods, her eyes shifting to the back of the couch. She goes quiet again as she picks at a loose thread sticking out of the upholstery.
"I just want to know where I come from." Her voice is so quiet and strained.
"Yeah," I say softly as I fight to stay still, to not say more. Esme said that no matter what she said, I should just agree and support her. To not try to reason with her, to not try to relate or tell her about myself. It sounded it easy, simple, but it's like torture to watch her struggle and not try to help.
I want to tell her how much her parents love her. That it doesn't matter who got her mother pregnant, that Embry is her father and that's all that mattered. I want to tell her that she has a family that's here for her, and that I'm here for her, that I will always be here. Instead, I sit like a lump on the other end of the couch, while she fights back tears in silence.
After a few silent moments, she shifts a little and pretends to watch the movie. I follow suit, keeping a close eye on her as she starts to eat pizza again. After the credits start to roll, I turn back to her. She's already on her feet. I freeze as she closes the distance to stop in front of me, her hands on her hips.
"Thanks," she says in a short, clipped voice. Her thin arms circle my neck in a hug. I pat her back awkwardly, and she pulls away. She gives me a brilliant smile as she bounces away.
I hear her bounding up the stairs to her room and then some pop diva starts to howl about partying the night away, and I relax back into the couch.
I have no fucking idea what I did, but it must have worked. Thank fucking god.
"Edward?" I ask softly.
"Mm, yes," Edward's voice is breathy, and I can imagine him spread out on my bed.
"What are you doing?" I continue, a slight giggle to my voice.
"Shouldn't you be asking me what I'm wearing?"
"Alright, I'll bite. What are you wearing?" I sigh, sliding a little further into the warm embrace of the water, as the bubbles tickles my chin.
"Nothing," I can hear the smile in his voice as he says it. It takes me a second to realize his meaning.
"Edward Cullen, are you naked on my bed?" My toes curl as I speak, imagining his firm, toned ass pressed to my clean cotton sheets. He laughs in a low rumble through the phone.
"Yes, ma'am, I cannot tell a lie," Edward's voice shifts from light to a low growl. "My cock is so hard. Now it's your turn to tell me what you're doing, right now." His voice is breathy, making me light headed. I envision him moving against the mattress in a slow thrusting motion.
"I'm in the tub," I giggle as I confess to him.
"Where are your hands?" Edward's breathing is starting to pick up and I wonder if he's already touching himself. The thought immediately inspires a corresponding mental image of a nude Edward stroking himself as he talks to me. Electricity shoots through me and I moan a little. "Oh, well I guess that's a good enough answer for me," he says in a low chuckle. I suppress a laugh as my hands grip the sides of the tub. I don't want to ruin the fantasy by telling him.
"Where do you want my hands to be?" I try to make my voice sound seductive, doing my best to sound like Kathleen Turner in Body Heat.
"Whoa," Edward says with a startled snort, which immediately annoys me.
"What?" I'm trying to be fucking sexy and he thinks it's funny.
"I was just wondering why you've been holding out on me... Mrs. Robinson," Edward's voice has its low rumbling quality that makes him utterly sexy and irresistible, but I'm still a little pissed. I stand up, wobbling a little from the heat of the water. I press the button for the drain with my toe and it springs open, the water drains away with a loud, gulping sounds.
"What's that?" He sounds normal, concerned.
"I'm getting out of the tub," I sigh as I press the phone to my shoulder with my chin and pull on the thick bathrobe. This place is amazing, and I really need to thank Esme for this gift.
"Bella, what's wrong?" Edward groans through the phone as I tighten the ties on the robe.
"I'm just tired." I give him my old reliable excuse as I stomp into my room and sit down on the bed.
"Bella," Edward says my name in that long, low tone that makes me feel guilty and frustrated at the same time. I love and hate how easily he can read me. Embry hates confrontation, so even if he knows I'm pissed, he'll just let me be. I can count on him tip-toeing around me until I cool off. Edward won't let me stay angry. He'll poke, prod, and pester me. He won't rest until I'm smiling again. It's adorable and fucking infuriating.
"Edward." I say his name in the same tone, hoping he gets the clue to let me be as I search for the remote for the flat screen TV. Jesus, I don't want to know how much this place is costing Edward's mother.
"Did you find my present?" He asks almost casually, and I freeze. He's trying a different angle, and he's going to piss me off even more.
"Edward, I told you that I didn't want anything." I sit up and almost throw the remote against the wall. "Your mother's already spending a shit-ton of money on this spa..."
"Bella, stop," Edward sighs through the phone and I grip the remote so tightly the channels flip faster than my eyes can keep track.
"What?" I ask slowly, as I try to work past the tension in my jaw.
"Please, go look in your suitcase," he begs quietly, and I slide off the bed, quickly crossing to my suitcase. I kneel and throw open the lid.
"What am I looking for?" I ask as I toss my neatly folded clothes over my shoulder, frustrated with how our night's been fucking ruined. He doesn't answer me. He doesn't have to, because as soon as I lift my worn pair of sweat pants out of the way I see the box. I gasp, because it's shape was unmistakable.
"Edward!" My voice is raw. I fight back the fear that's making my hands shake as I lift the small velvet box out of the nest of clothes.
"It's not a ring," he says quickly, and I feel disappointment flood me.
The reasonable, adult side of my brain reminds me that we've only been together a year, and it's too soon for me to be expecting an engagement ring. Especially since I'd told him flat out that I'm not ready to jump back into marriage. I fucking hate myself sometimes. I love Edward and I will happily accept if he asks. It's Edward that I'm worried about. He's still young and he has his whole life ahead of him. He's too young to tie himself down with a family and me.
"Good," I say in what I hope is a stern voice.
"I know the rules and I try to only bend the smaller ones," he says with a breathy laugh. I make a small grunt of agreement as I open the lid of the box. The silver sparkles like diamonds in the defused light in my room. I can't breath as I pull it from the box, the long chain dangling feather light over my fingers.
"Edward it's... beautiful," I whisper into the phone.
"You like it?" His voice is high, showing his age a little, and I laugh. "I remembered when you were working with Sabrina on her project and you said how you loved it."
How did he remembered that? I'd been helping Sabrina do a project on symbols, and we'd drawn up a bunch of different ones. Ying and Yang, the peace symbol, and I'd added in the infinity symbol. I've always liked the idea of something never ending, that through twists and turns, it always returns to where it starts.
"I love it, thank you," I say softly, absently tracing the surface with my thumb.
"I want you to wear this and remember that no matter what happens, I'm with you." Edward's voice is serious as he continues. "I'm not going to ask you for a commitment that you're not ready to give, but I love you Bella and I'm not going anywhere, unless you kick my ass out."
There's a lump in my throat stopping me from speaking as fat tears roll down my face. I want to believe him and want to tell him how much this meant to me, but I'm a big weepy mess.
"Bella," he says my name in a tentative voice, and I sniffle. "Oh shit, are you crying? Please don't, I'm sorry." He's sputtering and it's fucking adorable.
"No, it's a good thing," I laugh as I wipe away the tears. "Hold on a second." I set the phone down and put the necklace around my neck. I fasten the clasp and trace the cool metal as it rests against the warm skin of my chest. I pick up the phone and move back to sit on the bed.
"Edward, you are so getting laid when I get home," I promise in my low, seductive voice.
"I really need to buy you jewelry more often," he says with a relieved laugh.
This was originally write for ninapolitan's birthday. I've decided to finally put it here, for those of you that might be interested in what Bella and Edward have been up to.
I would like to thank algonquinrt for doing a fabulous job of beta'ing this for me on very short notice. Also, MsKathy is a goddess and deserves more than the likes of me to worship at her feet.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to this story - all copyright and trademarked items mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.