Rated M. Synopsis: What started as an average day becomes a day of terror for Edward and Bella. Canon-based, canon-pairings. BD. Lemons and swearing in some chapters.
Dedicated to my husband, who doesn't object when I spend time doing this, and who made some highly amusing suggestions. Being a father, he has a perspective on Charlie that I don't. Also dedicated to Katie, who listens to all my re-writes and laughs in all the right places. With kudos to "Ithaca is Gorges" by giselle-lx who perfectly captured for me Edward's suffering during NM.
None of this belongs to me. All belongs to Stephenie Meyer and Summit. This story is written as a loving tribute, not for profit. No copyright infringement is intended.
Find 1910's American slang such Edward might use at .com/slang/1910
Characters: Edward, Bella, Alice, Rosalie, Jasper, Emmett, Angela, Ben, Charlie, Carlisle, Esme
Chapter 1: Alice Is Wearing Us Out
Time used to drag for me. Now, the days seemed to blur. Only 25 days remained until Bella would take my name and belong to me forever. Somehow, she was changing me. Somehow, I didn't hate myself so much anymore. I was beginning to be able to accept what I was. Dealing with some other individuals was not becoming easier, however. Maybe it was just angst. I was having a hard time controlling my irritation these days.
The wedding planner, my normally fun sister Alice, was driving all of us mad. All the big things on her list were checked off, and we were now down to the smaller details. The pace she set was still beyond frenetic, and it was wearing on the entire family's nerves. I had taken to calling her Boss. Yes, Boss. Coming Boss. She was a terrifying little monster. I found myself just doing what she ordered without thinking much about it.
This morning, she had attired me in Armani, and forced Bella into a handkerchief sized dress that she normally wouldn't be caught dead in. Then she dragged us out to some farmer's field and took professional quality photographs that would probably not endear me to Charlie. She had bullied us into poses that would have earned a shotgun wedding in my day, insistent that romantic engagement pictures were all the rage. I suspected it would come back to haunt us at some future date. Oddly, it did not seem to phase Bella at all, and Alice was adamant that we would be glad to have the pictures to look back on.
Alice and Rosalie spent hours poring over the images, bickering incessantly over which were best and how to tweak the compositions to perfection. Bella and I took advantage of their preoccupation to sneak out for a run and a cuddle, but we'd been back for an hour now, ticking items off Alice's annoying list.
My sisters interacted in a muddle of joy and irritability that had Jasper skulking in a corner. Jasper was hardly ever home these days. He was almost as anxious as me for the big day to arrive. Presently, Emmett came through the door. Jasper latched onto him and dragged him off hunting.
Just when Bella and I thought we could make a safe getaway, Alice approached with an armload of proofs for our inspection. Apparently, we were not to make our escape before choosing a picture for the engagement announcement. What a rum break!
I sighed and rolled my eyes. Bella was frazzled. And hungry. It was way past feeding time for the human. I opened my mouth to tell Alice to eat my heart out, when Bella's cell phone rang. A mercy, thought I.
Little did I realize that unforeseen events were about to be set in motion, that would lead to a day of terror for us both.
Chapter 2: Two Hour Torture
Bella's phone rang and she grabbed it on the first ring. It was Angela. Bella visibly relaxed. Perhaps Angela was psychic. She guessed that Bella needed a break, and was calling to ask whether we could spare enough time to go take in a matinee with her and Ben the following afternoon. What a lifesaver! I nodded at Bella in encouragement and plans were quickly firmed up. Bella's relief was palpable. My mood lifted instantly. A couple of quiet hours to sit still together with undemanding friends sounded so appealing.
Alice tried to spoil it, to take control of our time once again. "I don't think you will find this double date relaxing, Edward. You'd be better off spending the day with me". I scoffed. What could be more stressful than another day of unrelenting Bridesmaidzilla?
Bella and I chatted optimistically. An uneventful night and morning passed, and after an early lunch we drove to Port Angeles to rendezvous with our friends.
Perhaps we should have asked in advance which movie they were hoping to see, but neither of us thought to inquire. Bella and I looked at each other in alarm. Our friends had picked the summer's blockbuster: a hot romance flick that was sensationalized in the minds of every teen who had seen it. It was the kind of movie Bella and I routinely avoided, based on the premise that our tenuous hold on virtuous behavior did not need that kind of trial. Bella tentatively voiced her reluctance to Angela, "It's, um…a little steamy, isn't it?" Bella's eyelashes fluttered and the color rose up her neck. She was flustered.
Normally we could count on Angela to be accommodating. Not so today.
"Oh, come on Bella! You're getting married in a few weeks. Don't be so uptight". Angela grabbed Ben's hand and led the way to the ticket booth. Bella and I eyed each other again. Somehow her eyes reminded me of a deer's before I pounced on it. I wondered what my face looked like. We broke eye contact and walked to the counter as though we were entering the Volturi's death chamber. So much for a stress-free afternoon. Why did I bet against Alice?
Sitting through the movie was sheer torture. The indubitably excellent plot was both angst-ridden and seductive, and the climax was an extended lovemaking scene with full frontal nudity. Bella and I spent the majority of the two hours cringing away from each other. Bella ate M&M peanuts compulsively. Her flirty skirt was too short and her white tank top emphasized her curves. Her scent was a torment in the dark theatre. Blushing heat rolled off her in waves. It caressed me. I squirmed uncomfortably. Angela and Ben picked up on our discomfort and exchanged an inward laugh. Some friends.
Finally, the movie ended and we exhaled in relief. Angela and Ben suggested that we spend the rest of the day in Port Angeles and go out for dinner. Bella hastily declined, unconvincingly claiming an obligation to Alice. Ang and Ben smirked at each other. They didn't buy it, but they didn't argue with us either, and I sent up a prayer of thanks to all that was holy. Bella and I needed some space .
We took a leisurely, non-contact walk on the boardwalk until we were able to cool off and chuckle over our weaknesses, and then decided to head for home. Charlie would be expecting his supper.
Chapter 3: Bad Idea
As soon as we got to Bella's house, she bee-lined for the kitchen and started pulling ingredients out of the fridge for Charlie's dinner. Steak stir-fry. Ugh. Disgusting. Before she even had anything unwrapped, the telephone rang jarringly.
"Oh, hi Dad. What's up?" I could hear Charlie say that one of his officers had called in sick and he would likely be home quite late unless he could get Mark to come in to replace him. He told Bella not to bother waiting for him or to make his dinner. Bella immediately put all the food away, wished her father a good evening, and hung up the phone.
"Bella, you should eat," I said.
"I had that candy. I'm really not hungry. I'll have something later if I need it." She took my hand and pulled me into the living room, then flicked on the tv before dragging me onto the loveseat.
There was really nothing decent on. She flicked channels for several minutes before settling for an old B-movie about aliens. Wonderful. Bella seemed to be sitting self-consciously and wasn't as demonstrative as usual. I guess the afternoon's "entertainment" was still on her mind. Suddenly, I was thinking about it. Bad idea. I shifted slightly away, feigning interest in the appalling tv show. It wasn't working. Bella's attention was on me, and I could taste her pulse in my throat. I felt a pull from my groin. I stared resolutely at the tv. Something told me Bella was not fooled one iota by my pretenses. Her heart throbbed loudly.
Time trudged on and the aliens attacked and the temptation to touch Bella did not get any more tolerable. I made a fatal error. I took a surreptitious look at her, from under my lashes. The center of my universe was staring at me, her lips slightly parted.
At that moment, I stopped thinking. Idiot, I remonstrated with myself., but I was already carried away and it didn't look like Bella was going to be any help. Stupid titillating movie. Stupid pushy interfering friends. One moment her hands were on me and the next we were upstairs, she on the bed and I on the floor at her feet, and both our t-shirts were on the floor. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
With superhuman effort, I pulled back slightly. "We said we'd wait," I reminded her. Bella sought my eyes. Deadly determination blazed in hers.
"We said we'd wait to consummate our relationship. We never said we wouldn't explore each other." There was no way she was going to let me back down. Resistance was pointless. It was a lost cause. The problem was, I had repressed my urges for so long that I wasn't sure how to open the cage safely … how to slacken the monster's leash without letting him hurt Bella. I was frightened, but I couldn't panic. If I were honest, I had to admit…I wanted this.
With infinite slowness, Bella moved in for the kill. She watched me carefully, not wanting to push me too far, too fast. She lightly kissed my neck. I was losing it. Bella bit my throat. It was maddening. I moaned and pulled her closer. Then, we were necking and her hands were kneading my butt and I could not find any power to stop. The air thickened as we constructed our own insular bubble. There was nothing but the two of us. Scent, texture and sound. The rest of the world had ceased to exist.
Bella's blood had ceased to be a temptation to me, as soon as I had decided the thirst was controllable. So I decided that I could restrain my strength and be as gentle as I needed to be. As long as I could keep the monster on a leash, it would be fine. But, the monster liked to look. And he liked to play rough. I closed my eyes and rested them against Bella's collarbone, panting. If I didn't want to break her, I would have to maintain control. I could do this as long as I didn't look at her too closely. Don't over-think it, stupid, the monster growled at me. Relax.
I pulled back again and gave her a final opportunity to stop me, to revert to safe, chaste behavior. No dice. She pulled me closer by the waistband of my jeans and smothered me in more delectable kisses. Oh, hell. I'm undone. Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. I watched Bella unbutton my jeans. I gasped when she cupped me through my briefs. I was instantly ready to do anything she might demand.
Carefully, I reached behind her and unhooked her bra and slid it down off her arms. Her heat, her scent, scorched me. I was too overwhelmed even to tell her how perfect she was. I put my lips and tongue to better use and fondled her ass with both hands. How many times had I dreamed of this. I breathed her in. I swallowed the hot air radiating off her skin. Bella whimpered and knotted her hands in my hair. Ecstasy. She tugged my jeans down and I stepped out of them. I abruptly became aware that she was not wearing anything under the skirt. But, just as I was starting to push her down, focused upon trailing teasing fingers home, I became aware of something unpleasant outside our bubble.
It popped with a shocking click. There was something cold and cylindrical pressing on the side of my head. There was someone standing right behind me. Someone whose jumbled thoughts were hard to decipher. Someone who was juddering with incoherent rage. Holy crap I am dead.
"Charlie, no, please! Don't shoot me!"
Chapter 4: Charlie, No, Please! Don't Shoot Me!
Bella shrieked. She slithered backward off the bed and tried unsuccessfully to cover herself. She turned whiter than me, then boiled a delectable red. I groveled on my knees at the foot of her bed. Charlie was gruesomely assassinating me in his mind. I put my hands over my head, surrendering to his rage and cursing myself at the same time. How could I have missed his arrival? Now I was going to be shot in the head, and I had no idea what would happen after that. It wouldn't kill me, but could it do brain damage? Would I still be sentient afterward? Would I be a mindless monster? My family would have to take me out. Worse, if the bullet ricocheted instead of penetrating my skin, would my almost father-in-law or my priceless Bella be injured? The situation was beyond terrifying. We had to find a way to calm Charlie down.
I rapidly addressed the floor. "Charlie, please, please calm down. Listen! We didn't do anything. I wouldn't hurt Bella, I promise. I swear. Please Charlie, think! We love each other, Charlie and the wedding is in 3 weeks. Please don't do it. Don't do it to her. Please talk to me." Charlie's finger was shaking on the trigger. Crap!
Bella was sobbing from her position at the head of the bed. Sometimes she forgot it wasn't easy to injure me. She reached up to Charlie in supplication and echoed my words. We might as well have been talking to a brick wall. Charlie was resolved that one or both of us were going to be in a burning dumpster, in some secluded spot, before nightfall. That had to be avoided or he really would kill me.
I was still begging, too mortified to look up, when I felt the handcuffs snap around my wrist. Oh, swell. Wasn't I already fettered enough by my obligation to maintain the human charade? One wrong move and it would be Carlisle looking to put me in the ground. Or Rosalie. Or the Vulturi. Crap. There was no choice but to submit to Charlie's demands. I let him bind my hands behind my back. Belatedly, I realized my clothes and shoes were still on the floor. I felt exposed. Vulnerable.
Suddenly, Charlie was attempting to drag me upwards by the hair. "On your feet, you rotten lecherous disrespectful bastard,", he growled. He still had the gun on me. I rose to my feet, attempting to look unsteady, which wasn't much of a stretch, and allowed him to steer me down the stairs. Bella's begging grew worse. "Daddy!", she cried, "No, Daddy, don't hurt him! Edward!" I could hear Bella putting on her shirt and shoes. She bounded down the stairs and out the front door as Charlie pushed me over to the cruiser. But Bella wasn't begging now. Her teenage tendencies had kicked in and she was livid.
Bella grabbed Charlie's arm before I could say anything. She was shouting at her father now, pulling the Move Out Card, while I tried to tell her to stop provoking him and run for help. She ignored me, naturally. Charlie shoved her off and stuffed me into the back seat of the cruiser. Bella wormed her way in after me despite my protests.
Although Charlie's thoughts were hard to follow, as he was totally out of his gourd with incandescent rage, I could detect no wavering in his determination to kill me. My body locked down with stress. I did not know what to do. No way to run or hide, no way to fight and discussion wasn't working. Please God, show me a shred of mercy. Haven't I tried not to be a monster? Please throw a bone to the dog under the table. I feared I was about to find out once and for all whether vampires had souls. I feared I was about to meet God in pre-jizzed white underwear. If Charlie actually did manage to destroy me, I hoped the remains would be burned so my family could not witness my disgrace. A faint echo from long ago tugged at my memory: My mother. I was twelve. She told me to always wear clean underwear when I went out, in case I were ever in an accident. Ironic. Good thing she was not around to see me now.
Already, Charlie was backing out of the driveway and punching on the siren and lights. He quickly accelerated to a dangerous velocity. I had never experienced a human driving so fast. I hated it. There were no seatbelts and I couldn't hold onto Bella. She was mashed up against my side, whispering frantic questions in my ear. I had no answers for her. Charlie had not made up his mind where we were going. I wished I could take Bella's hand, but I could hardly break the handcuffs. Charlie would know I wasn't normal.
Charlie drove further and further from Forks and Bella and I were silent. After a while, Charlie turned off the siren and started driving in circles. It was twilight. A shred of optimism sparked in me. Charlie was calming down. Perhaps we could talk after all. I looked down at my love and gave her a faint smile of reassurance. She shuddered and put her head on my shoulder. I stared at Charlie's face in the rearview mirror, wishing I could think of something to say that wouldn't reignite his temper. Well, Jasper often told us that saying nothing was sometimes the best option.
I was so distracted, trying to decide what to do, that I still wasn't picking up much from Charlie except determination to rend me into tiny little pieces. With a start, I realized where we were. Charlie was pulling into my family's private road. Oh, no. He's going to speak to my parents. Oh, God, not that. Anything but that. Oh, I hope Rosalie and my brothers aren't home. I am never going to live this down. Ever.
Within moments, the cruiser spun to a stop in front of my house, and Charlie got out and slammed his door. The car became dark and quiet. There was a pause, and then the car door closest to me opened. My sensitive eyes blinked in response to the sudden overhead light, and Charlie was again dragging me, out of the cruiser and up the porch steps. He straight-marched me to the front door, gun drawn, and rang the bell. Bella trailed timidly behind.
Then, my father was on the threshold, looking completely discombobulated. He took in my disheveled appearance and Bella's mortified blush, and Charlie's glare. Carlisle beamed at me. My jaw dropped. Then Carlisle looked at me in confusion. How in Heaven's name did he catch you unawares? You must have been pretty focused on something else! He smirked. I shrugged. Carlisle shook with silent laughter. I glared, which amused him even more. Wasn't he supposed to help me out?
"Well, Charlie, I think I can hazard a guess at the reason for this delightful visit. Won't you please come in, and we can discuss your concerns? No need for the gun. Edward knows better than to try to escape." Carlisle chuckled. Charlie frowned blackly and stepped into the foyer.
Chapter 5: Mortification Personified
My future in-law stomped through the front door, shoving my youngest, nearly naked son and bra-less, future daughter ahead of him. "Sit there and don't move", Charlie ordered, indicating the bench beside the door. The kids slinked obediently to the bench and sat themselves there, looking remarkably like a couple of toddlers who had been sent to the naughty chair. They looked like they wished the ground would swallow them up. Charlie holstered his gun.
As soon as Charlie's back was turned, Edward took the opportunity to slip his bound hands under his backside and pull his legs through. I guess he figured the odds of Charlie committing murder were dropping as the number of witnesses increased. Sometimes he acted so much like the 17-year-old he resembled. When his knowledge and opinion on certain subjects were based on reading and second hand accounts, and not from first hand experience, he was at a loss as to how to handle things. Bella was exposing him to a lot of first-hand knowledge, and this turned him from the independent, sometimes arrogant vampire back into that flustered, insecure human boy. Hearing this in my thoughts, Edward's eyes flashed up at me.
Modest Edward put his hands in his lap with an unconvincing attempt to look nonchalant, and Bella's fingers crept tenderly around his arm. I made a quick assessment of their condition. Edward's eyes were like dark holes, and very bruised. You must have been genuinely scared. Not for yourself, for others. He nodded. With a start, I realized Bella's eyes matched his. Upon closer examination, I realized her pupils were huge with distress. Shock. Her eyes were also puffy from crying. Poor child.
Esme was peeking hesitantly around the corner of the dining room wall. "Hello, Charlie," she said with convincing, but artificial, warmth, "Can I get you a refreshment?"
"I think Charlie could really use a beer, Esme. Please bring one for me, as well."
"Just hold on, Esme, I think you should hear what I have to say". Charlie had adopted a wide stance, looking for all the world like a gunslinger prepared to draw.
Alice chose that moment to materialize, camera in hand, looking like the Cheshire Cat. "Say 'cheese' kiddies! This one's for the wedding album. I can't wait to show Rose." Jasper chortled from somewhere out of sight.
I caught Edward mid-launch and deposited him back on the bench. The bench clunked against the tempered glass wall and his feet smacked hard on the floor. No damage to the house, thank Heaven, or Esme would go on the rampage. "Settle down." We'll deal with Alice later.
"What on earth is going on, Charlie, to upset you so?" My wife looked disingenuously from face to face in an attempt to appear that she didn't get the picture. Charlie stared at her incredulously.
Alice's voice came beaming from the foot of the stairs, where she had retreated to sit and snicker over Bella's bra-less state and Edward's lack of attire with Jasper, "Come on. Isn't it obvious? Daddy caught them in flagrante delecto".
"He did not!" Edward bellowed. "We didn't do anything. Much. It was nothing," he paused, "And then he was going to shoot me!" His incredulous eyes sought my help desperately.
"So undressing my baby girl is nothing, is it? Come on, I caught you red-handed with your dirty claws up her skirt", Charlie snarled. Edward blanched even further. He was so pale he looked translucent. Esme shot a very pleased look at Edward. Unfortunately Charlie did not miss it. He caught my look, too. Sigh. This was going to be difficult.
"She's not wearing any panties," Jasper chortled, loud in the uncomfortable silence. I couldn't avoid looking. No, she wasn't. Bella tried to crawl behind Edward's back, burying her burning face. Alice and Jasper couldn't contain their merriment.
"Jasper Whitlock Hale, in the name of Roosevelt, shut up!" Esme exclaimed.
"Alice! Jasper! Go to your lair! Uh, I mean, room." I berated myself internally for the slip.
Instead, they invited themselves up to have a better look. Jasper stood with his arms folded, looking like he couldn't have ordered superior entertainment for any amount of money on the planet. Alice danced over to her brother and her best friend. "See, Edward? I told you the movie was a bad idea. You should have listened".
"Alice, gloating is unattractive," Edward snarled.
"So is ignoring the advice of your older, more experienced sister." Alice turned to Bella. "You are such a naughty girl," she smirked. Bella flushed crimson.
"Alice!" Esme waved her arms desperately. Edward's teeth clenched with an audible snap. His bound hands flew up to his mouth and he winced. Apparently, he had managed to bite his tongue. He was not having a good day.
"Alice! Jasper! Go!" I barked.
Alice smiled angelically and sauntered upstairs, ignoring Edward's sub-volume growl and poisonous look. Crystal peals of laughter echoed down and as we heard the camera clicking in her wake, Edward's growls became increasingly loud. Charlie turned to look at Edward in shock. Edward cleared his throat, and said, "Excuse me. I get indigestion when I'm upset."
Jasper moseyed after his mate, stopping to clap Edward on the arm on his way out. "Way to go, Bimbo," he drawled, "See ya later, baby sister." Edward glared after him, seething.
I refocused my attention on Charlie, who was apparently waiting for us to freak out on the kids. Sadly, he was going to be disappointed.
At that moment, Bella's stomach snarled loudly enough for all present to hear. She blushed again.
"Edward, hasn't Bella had supper?"
"No Dad, we've been otherwise, uh, occupied." Edward shot a meaningful look at Charlie, who ignored him.
"Well, you'd best take her to the kitchen and let her fix herself something to eat. She looks about ready to drop. You should eat, too." Bella cringed. Raid the emergency stash, Edward. Edward nodded once. He murmured for her to 'come along' and they slunk past Charlie as fast as Bella could go.
Almost inaudibly, their voices came back to us in whispers. They were reviewing their narrow escape, and comforting each other, and wondering what the fallout was going to be. Then Bella asked how he was supposed to hunt with Charlie playing warden. Edward told her about the emergency stash. We'd started stocking blood for Bella as a safety measure before the war with the newborns.
Edward denied his thirst. I sighed. Edward, you need to be able to focus. Emotions are running too high and you don't want to hurt Charlie by accident. In the end it was Bella who convinced him. She asked whether he was afraid to lose control with her so close while he drank, and he admitted that it shouldn't be a problem because he wouldn't have to unleash his senses to hunt. Edward simply abhorred drinking human blood. Bella told him not to be ridiculous. An instant later, I heard him sneak a blood bag from the fridge in the garage.
Charlie was waiting impatiently. "Come in, Charlie. We'll have that beer, and talk where we can be comfortable," I urged.
Charlie allowed himself to be led into the living room. He sank warily into one of the white leather chairs. Esme and I sat down on the opposing chesterfield. I put my arm around her, and we waited expectantly.
Once the kids were settled comfortably with their food, I heard Bella ask the crucial question: how had Edward missed Charlie's arrival? Edward confessed, with some reluctance, that Charlie's thoughts were difficult to hear, although Edward normally caught the tenor of them. Bella reserved her opinion on that. Big surprise. I wondered what made the Swans different from everyone else, that they couldn't be read by Edward. Wouldn't I love to be able to test them!
Chapter 6: Setting the Record Straight
It didn't take long for Charlie to launch into his castigation of Edward. Esme and I listened quietly. It was exactly what we would expect the father of a young lady to say. It didn't honestly ruffle our feathers at all, but I could hear Edward, the 105 year old kid, muttering quietly and nervously to Bella in the kitchen, giving her the gist of what was being said.
Esme popped out to retrieve beer from the fridge. She stopped to pat Edward and Bella on the head, gave Edward a new pair of jeans and shoes, hugged them both, and whispered for them to not be anxious.
"Charlie", I finally interrupted, "They are getting married in less than a month."
I heard Esme prepare a second pint for Edward. She whispered, "Remember, if you are stuck in those cuffs for an extended amount of time, that a human would have red marks. You should rouge up your wrists with a couple of drops of blood later or Charlie will be suspicious."
In response to me, Charlie stepped way over the line. "He left her once, Carlisle. Who is to say he won't do it again? What if he test-drives the car and then decides he doesn't like the model?"
I heard two faint hisses issue from the kitchen and I heard Bella ask what was wrong. She didn't get an answer. That cut it. I felt my temper rise for the first time in over a year. "Enough." I said. I was no longer prepared to sit idly by and let Charlie think badly of Edward. It was time to set the record straight, whether Edward sanctioned it or not.
Esme passed around the beer, then sat herself back down beside me, and gave my leg a calming pat. I took a moment to compose my thoughts. I considered what I could say to bulk out the truthful elements of the story with believable fiction. Adding in part of one of my patient's stories should work.
"Edward doesn't deserve that, Charlie. Edward asked me not to tell you the story surrounding his abandonment of Bella for two reasons. First, he likes to beat himself up and he thought he deserved your treatment of him, and second, he was afraid of what you would think of the true story. But I think you need to know it so that you can move forward and stop hurting a good soul. And he is good, Charlie, as I hope you can open your mind enough to see".
Charlie sat back a bit in surprise. He probably didn't expect me to criticize him. He folded his arms and waited for me to begin.
"What I tell you now is privileged information, Charlie, and I expect you not to divulge it to others or discuss it with Edward. Bella knows everything, of course, but he is a very private person. Edward doesn't want to dwell on the past. He has dealt with most of his skeletons and we don't want him to slide back into mistrusting people, or himself. He has come a long way, and we are proud of him.
"Edward was born in Chicago. We don't know much about life inside his household, but we do know that his parents died tragically and he was home alone with them at the time. He remembers having older siblings but he doesn't remember a thing about them. The Adoption people wouldn't tell us anything, except to say the siblings were away on an extended stay with relatives at the time of their parents' demise.
"We don't know how many days Edward was alone. He didn't know to leave and get help. Edward was six, so he knew how to fend for himself. Nobody looked for him. Nobody missed his parents until it got to be time for the other children to go home. Edward's relatives found him catatonic next to deteriorating corpses. They did not want the responsibility of rehabilitating him so they made him a ward of the state.
"I was a new intern, only 18, having accomplished all my schooling early as an exceptional learner. Edward became one of my patients, and for some reason I got attached to him. It might have been because we share similar health conditions. Since I couldn't have kids, Esme and I made the decision to take him for our son. However, the road to recovery was long and we were frightened for him. He was a virtual zombie for a long time. It took two years for him to respond to any affection or instruction from us. He couldn't go to school. Esme home-schooled him. We could never leave him with a sitter. It terrified him into rages.
"A mentor of mine eventually suggested that it might be a good idea for him to have another child with whom to interact. That's when we got Emmett. Emmett was a great kid, an ideal big brother, and he drew Edward out of hell. By the time Edward was ten, he was able to integrate into school, and we were able to live more like a normal family.
"I had a couple of short-term job stints. In Montana, we found and adopted Alice. Then I took a better job up in Alaska and uprooted them all. Still, we meshed into a family, thanks primarily to the talents of my loving wife, and the kids seemed to enjoy the move. While we were there, our kids met the Hale twins, who were living in a children's home. Our kids really felt for them, and they hit it off. Our son and daughter started dating them. Before long, the kids had bamboozled us into taking them in, too. Soon, Rose and Jasper had their 16th birthday and were out of foster care. And that is when we left Alaska and set down roots in Forks. You know what's happened since.
"Last fall, I made a mistake that almost cost me everything that matters. I was offered a prestigious job in LA along with a simply ludicrous amount of money. I was happy in Forks, but they wooed my ego. No one else in the family wanted to move, but I was selfish. I urged my family to give California a try. I thought Esme would adjust, and after all, the kids were all reaching adulthood and then they could live wherever they wished. They all had assurance of my support, so that would not be a factor. However, nobody adjusted.
"The whole family fell to pieces. We fought constantly. We've never cut each other up before. Emmett and Rosalie moved out. Esme and I assumed Edward would stay at home with us for a couple more years. He was the first of our children despite being the youngest, the most determined to please, and the most attached to us. We had rather hoped for purely selfish reasons that he'd live at home until he was 30.
"Edward had other ideas. He was more serious about Bella than we thought. Before we left Forks, on her 18th birthday, he asked her to marry him. She turned him down."
Charlie's head snapped back in shock.
"Of course, Bella believed herself too young to enter the commitment of marriage, but Edward would not believe that she really loved him. He was devastated, but he accepted that she just didn't want to commit. He didn't listen to our attempts to reason with him. He insisted that Bella had dumped him and that he wasn't going to go back and expose himself to more rejection.
"Almost immediately, we moved to LA. Esme and I had bad fights, which Edward overheard. And he missed Bella so desperately. We all did. She was a breath of fresh air. She used to make him laugh all the time. She could get him out of his funks better than anybody else. Edward sank deeper and deeper into depression until it was Night of the Living Dead again. He'd curl up in his room and not move for days. Nothing we said or did could bring him out of that private hell. After two months of it, Esme and I were seriously considering putting him in a mental facility. He was down 30 pounds and we thought we were going to lose him.
"Unbeknownst to us, Edward overheard a conversation about sending him into treatment. He shouted at us, and tried to run away from home. I managed to catch him, and we had a serious talk. He refused to contact Bella and forbade us to do so. He thought a time away from home, where everything reminded him of Bella, might do him good. At home, he was the odd man out, living with dedicated couples. He said he couldn't handle it. I gave him the means to travel, and elicited his promise to maintain regular contact with us.
"He didn't realize, but giving him a credit card enabled me to keep tabs on him. He moved around constantly, progressing farther and farther south. Being away did seem to help him a little, but we missed him dreadfully. The other kids wanted their brother back. Alice was taking it really hard. Christmas was so depressing, even though he phoned. He still didn't want to come home.
"Alice finally went behind all our backs and arranged a trip back to Forks, just to check on things. Meanwhile, Edward had come home for a surprise visit.
"One day, Alice chanced to encounter Jacob Black, who was upset. He revealed that Bella had gone cliff diving unsupervised when he had not kept his promise to take her, and that she had almost drowned (Whoops, I just got Jacob into trouble. Charlie looks stunned. Too late to take it back). Soon after, Rosalie called Alice to see how things were going, and Alice unwittingly made it sound like Bella had killed herself. She said that Bella had gone to the beach alone and jumped off a cliff, and that she, Alice, was going to your house. Rosalie thought Bella was dead and she was beyond fury. She phoned home looking for Edward, and when he answered she called him every bad name in the book. She told him that Bella was dead because she loved him and he dumped her, and that it was entirely his fault.
"Edward went off the deep end. As you know, I habitually keep a medical bag with me so I can make emergency house calls. I didn't do it as much in LA. The bag was at home in my office. Edward helped himself to some morphine. He took a hefty overdose." Charlie gasped. He was obviously rethinking some of his assumptions so my plan was working. I pretended to sip my beer, and then continued.
"I was very hard-pressed to save him. We had to put him on Watch at the hospital. Meanwhile, Alice had tracked down Bella. They discussed everything that happened, and then Esme phoned and told Alice that Edward was in the hospital. Despite the fact that we relayed the message that Bella was fine, Edward did not trust us. He thought we were lying to protect him. So many people in his life had abandoned him. He was fading away, no will to live.
"Esme phoned Alice again, and Bella jumped on a plane and rushed to the hospital. When she ran into his arms, all the walls came down. Edward and Bella worked out their misunderstandings, Edward recovered remarkably quickly, and he expressed his wish to go home to Forks.
"My family agreed that we wanted to go home ourselves, to the people and the place that we really love. We've been happier in Forks than we've ever been anywhere else, and this is where we intend to live. We decided that we had best get Bella home. Everybody had been so worried about Edward that we rather forgot about how worried you would be. I'm sorry, Charlie. I should have talked to you then, but I didn't want Edward upset any further. He had to work things out on his own.
"Bella and Edward have been pretty much inseparable ever since. She's even gone to counseling with him to confront his poor self-worth, anxiety and overprotective tendencies."
There was a sudden onslaught of banging from upstairs, and some dust filtered down from the ceiling. Alice and Jasper were celebrating the Union in their room above us, and they were being deliberately loud. "Be my Sub, Jazz," Alice screamed. Jasper exulted, "Oh, yes, Mistress, yes!" Gutteral screams issued from Jasper. Then, he hollered, "Will Bella be Edward's Domme, Mistress?" Alice replied, "No, Bella will be the Sub. She's normally in charge, so she will need the release."
Charlie gaped at us.
"Don't mind them Charlie, Alice and Jasper have a sick sense of humor. They have been married a long time." Esme said consolingly.
Charlie's eyebrows were on the ceiling. I heard Edward groan, "Oh, this cannot be happening. Somebody tell me this is not real." I heard him bang his head on the butcher's block-topped kitchen island. Probably trying to block the onslaught of mental images Alice and Jasper were doling out. He didn't normally stick around to hear such things. I cleared my throat and got back to business.
"Now, Charlie, you can think of Edward as damaged, or rash, or weak, or stubborn, but you must not think of him as a cad. He has only ever been respectful and mindful of Bella and wants what is best for her. He is very kind, fiercely loyal, self-sacrificing and well-intentioned. Please judge him fairly. He has a lot of respect for you, and wants your approval. I understand your concern about them being intimate, but we are actually encouraged that Edward is not repressing himself. I don't think you have to worry about immature behavior now the way you might have had to do a year ago. They communicate well now and they know what they want. They learned the hard way".
Alice and Jasper's lovemaking, meanwhile, was increasingly vocal and higher in pitch. It drowned out Edward's whimpering. Finally, there was a great pair of screams and the following silence was deafening.
Charlie sat still for several minutes, processing everything while he gulped downed a second beer. Finally, he cleared his throat to speak. There was no sound coming from the kitchen. Edward and Bella were waiting with bated breath to hear what Charlie would say. I wondered what they thought of my story.
Chapter 7: Reeling
Carlisle had told me some pretty unexpected stuff about Edward, and I thanked him for clearing up the past. I couldn't help expressing my hope that Edward and Bella would behave with more decorum than Alice and Jasper. It was still distressing to think of Edward as my daughter's lover, but I supposed I'd have to get used to it.
Seemed like I had pretty seriously misjudged the kid. I still wasn't sure how much I liked him, but clearly the reasons I had for hating him were not valid. I thought of the respectful way he always spoke to me, even when I didn't really deserve it. I thought about how he always seemed to put Bella's needs ahead of his own. I thought about the way Edward worried about Bella's safety and about her education.
I thought about how Edward was concerned for Jacob, when Jacob crashed his motorbike, even though Jacob was his rival. Edward acted maturely even though I rubbed Bella's attachment to Jacob in his face. I had to admit that Jacob encouraged Bella to do things that endangered her safety, and I had personally seen him try to provoke Edward to fight. Jacob was reckless. And he was mouthy. Edward never rose to the bait. Well, it seemed that he really was a decent guy, even if his decisions weren't always wise.
Then, I thought about the way I had hurt Edward. I had never treated him as well as he consistently treated me. It did not escape my notice that he had never dishonored me in any way while I often behaved monstrously toward him. This evening, he didn't try to run, and he didn't try to fight me, and he begged for me to talk. He had shouldered all my abuse without complaint. I had lost my self-control and I had terrified him. And humiliated him … and Bella.
Crap. The kid was more mature than me. How did that happen? And now there was a reckoning at hand. I cringed internally, but there was no use putting it off.
I trudged toward the kitchen. I passed a clock in the hall, and was shocked to realize that the hour was very late. Edward and Bella had pulled high stools up to opposite sides of the island. There was a single, soft light burning above them, casting a golden glow over their upraised hands. The rest of the kitchen was pitch black. They looked…beautiful. Emotionally wrung out.
There was a white plastic cup with a lid and a straw next to Edward. I could smell it from the doorway. My nose wrinkled at the awful odor. I wondered what was in it. An empty plate and half a bottle of pop were next to Bella. Bella was rubbing Edward's wrists where the handcuffs rested. She shot me a resentful look. His wrists were chafed. A tidal wave of guilt assaulted me.
Edward must have heard my soft step, because his head whipped around and he flinched. I hung my head and held out my hands meekly.
"It's ok, Edward, I'm not going to hurt you anymore. As long as you don't hurt my girl, I will never hurt you again".
"I will never hurt your girl sir, never. Your girl means everything to me. I'm sorry I broke your trust, Chief". He stopped speaking then, seemingly at a loss for words.
"I'm sorry I refused to accept you, Edward. You didn't deserve the treatment I've given you. I'm sorry didn't trust or accept your relationship, too. Just be careful what you do, kids. Some actions have far-reaching consequences." I pulled the key to the handcuffs out and held it up with a gesture to the boy. I removed the cuffs and he sighed with relief and stretched. That made me sigh. "I hope you will forgive me for mistreating you. It wasn't right. I promise I won't lose my temper that way again".
Edward's eyes twinkled in the dim light. "Thanks, Chief, apology accepted".
My nose wrinkled. "Edward, what is that you're drinking? It doesn't smell so hot". It occurred to me that I rarely saw him eat or drink anything.
"Oh, uh, it's a protein-based supplement. There's a lot of salt and iron in it to balance my electrolytes. My family shares a lot of severe allergies. There's not a lot I can eat. It isn't very pleasant, so I try not to eat in front of people. Sometimes I eat something in order to fit in, like pizza, but I usually pay for it later." He ducked his head, embarrassed. Poor kid. Like he didn't have enough to worry about. Here I'd known him more than a year and a half, and I hadn't even known about this. Guess I had avoided getting close to him. That was shameful.
I hesitated briefly. "Edward…I think it is time for you to start calling me Dad". Well, definitely, he did not expect that. Slowly, he got down off the stool, and tentatively put his arms around me. I reached up and gave him a pat on the head, and backed out of it, embarrassed. "I must have really scared you, you're freezing cold. Go get a sweater."
"My circulation isn't great. I get cold easily." Oh. I blinked. I opened my mouth to ask about his health, and whether his conditions were genetic, then decided it might not be the best moment. Bella's business, I guess… although I'd been hoping for grandkids someday. Edward shuffled uncomfortably.
"Well kids, I think this night has lasted long enough. I think you need some time to unwind, and I think my presence will not be helpful. Edward, I am leaving my girl in your family's care tonight. I would like you to bring her back when I get home from work tomorrow so we can make sure things are resolved to our mutual satisfaction." Both their jaws dropped practically to the floor.
"Yes sir. We'll be there."
"Okay. Goodnight kids."
"Night, Dad, and thanks. See you." Bella kissed me on the cheek. I turned to go.
A sudden commotion disrupted the silence and I jumped. Rosalie and Emmett had jumped from a tree branch through the open kitchen window. Beats me how the heck she got up the tree in high heels and a long, tight skirt. Maybe he carried her.
"Oh, Charlie! What a … surprise. Fancy you being here at this hour. You're just in time to see Edward and Bella's Engagement Announcement. It will be in all the area newspapers tomorrow." Rosalie beamed. Emmett guffawed and looked at Bella with anticipation.
Rosalie showed the picture to the kids. They both turned whiter than death. Then Edward hauled Bella out the kitchen window onto the tree branch and they both disappeared quickly from sight.
"Huh!" said Rosalie. "What is the matter with them?"
"Dunno". I took the picture she handed me and scanned it briefly. Then I did a double take. Maybe I should have used my gun after all.
Chapter 8: Sequestered
Edward slung me onto his back and leapt nimbly down the tree. Alice was leaning casually against the house, holding out my bra in one hand and Edward's shirt in the other. "Gah!" I yelled in shock. Edward shushed me consolingly.
I snatched the bra. "So where's my underwear? You couldn't have brought that, too?" I colored as I realized Edward had just carried me on his bare back down a tree, sans panties. Was Jasper watching? Yep. I could hear him snickering in the trees.
"I don't think so, girlfriend. You won't be needing it," she smirked.
"Alice," Edward snarled, "Boy! You knew all that was going to happen, and you spruced off on me. Why, Alice?"
I folded my arms, bra dangling, and glared at my Maid of Honor. Hopefully somebody would explain Edward's antiquated slang to me someday. The object of my adoration dragged his shirt over his head and glowered.
"Oh calm down, will you? Besides, you two are often MIA when duty calls. I saw that this was the best way to handle it, really. Trust me. Charlie will adjust and everything will be duck soup from now on. Look how much more kindly disposed he was to you just now."
"Yes, until Rosalie showed him that picture. How could you have picked that photo to display publicly?! It's practically pornographic. Are you a sappy date? Charlie is going to have my balls."
"I told you, it will be fine. He's going to think about how fast you two disappeared, and he's going to feel guilty about it. I am going to go in there and admit mea culpa for the Announcement, and you two will be off the hook."
Edward sighed and pinched between his eyes. "Couldn't you have picked something a little less risqué to put in the papers? Like folks around here don't get an earful about us enough! Like the males of the species don't ogle Bella enough! What was the idea?"
"I just thought some of the Romeos who chase Bella could use a reminder that she belongs to you," Alice shrugged.
"That's a load of bull. I don't think looking at that photo is going to convince Bella's admirers to leave her alone. More likely, they will crop me out of the picture and pin it up in their rooms".
Alice rolled her eyes. "Whatever. It was a dilly of a picture. I couldn't resist. So sue me."
"Speaking of a dilly of a picture, what in the name of all that is holy do you think you are going to do with the ones you took tonight?"
"Oh, they're just to prove to Rose and Emmett that I wasn't making all this up. I'll delete them after that."
"Fuck." I had never heard Edward swear before. He was pinching his eyes shut again.
"We all love you both, c'mon. We're just glad you aren't a repressed stalker anymore."
"Thanks very much, Alice. Just you wait 'til I've got something juicy on you. I will get you for this.
"Oh, and speaking of 'getting' something, I can't believe you and Jasper! Doing the horizontal mambo while Carlisle was trying to settle Charlie down? If you ever send me mental pictures like that again, I am going to turn you both inside out! And you put the idea of Dommes and Subs in Charlie's head. He's probably scarred for life. You are a bloody intrusive pair of meddling voyeurs."
'It takes one to know one. Maybe it was a little over-the-top, but you hurt my feelings when you laughed at my advice. Besides, Jazz and I had to do something to get Carlisle back for sending us to our room. We missed too much fun. And we weren't exactly horizontal. More diagonal. You know, Jasper's really flexible."
"TMI, sister! I wish you'd stop trying to direct my sex life. I can manage on my own. It's private. Stick with directing Jasper's."
"The trouble is, your sex life has been a little too, um, private, for far too long." Edward rolled his eyes, and put his hands on his hips.
With a rush of wind, the bad boy Texan materialized at my side. I flinched. "Did somebody mention directing my sex life?" he said in his round baritone.
"You butt out, too. You're going to scare Bella out of marrying me."
"There were no secrets in the family before Bella came along, I just think she should be granted the same status as the rest of the Cullen-Hale Clan. She'll be less easy to scare, soon, too. Much better, and more durable, and then you can-"
"There were plenty of secrets in the family before Bella joined. People just didn't try to goad us by flaunting their behavior. Don't try to distract me from the subject. The evening didn't go so well thanks to Charlie, which should please Charlie, and I-"
"What do you mean, 'it didn't go so well'? You were amazing." Alice beamed at her brother.
"Hey, Bimbo, we provided a distraction." Jasper was wearing a black 'Bite Me' t-shirt along with a studded dog collar and wrist bands. He had a silver dog leash threaded through his black skinny jeans like a belt, and steel-toed black cowboy boots with silver spurs on them. He looked more dangerous than ever. I backed up a little and he smirked at me.
"Yeah, now Charlie thinks our parents are permissive flower children. Great improvement. Besides, you didn't need to provide a distraction. You could have used your influence to calm Charlie down earlier, and instead you let us experience the evening from Hell."
"By the time I saw Charlie, he had himself well under control. There was more chance that I'd make things worse if I intervened. Our idea was far more fun," Jazz growled at Alice from under his lashes. She looked up at him coyly. They were usually so reserved with each other that I was a little taken aback, "And, I was preoccupied. You can't find fault for me with that, Bimbo. You wouldn't be in this situation had you not been preoccupied. That was hysterical. Did-ja have fun on Second Base, children?" He regarded us seriously with his head crooked slightly. Like we were going to answer.
"Oh yeah, a loaded gun in proximity to Bella was fun."
"Are you referring to your gun or Charlie's? Bella was never in any danger, Edward. I Saw that hours ago. Otherwise, I would have intervened before you got too carried away. I wouldn't want to lose my baby sister. The chance to let you two cut yourselves loose from all that angst, on the other hand, was irresistible."
"Alice! Please don't say the word 'cut' around me! You let us jump in the ocean with a Great White. You promised me that you wouldn't go overboard," I pouted, "Then, you stacked the odds that we would get into trouble. Give me a good reason why Edward and I shouldn't run off to Vegas right now."
"Because you love me, and all of this will look silly tomorrow. Now why don't you take Bella someplace nice, Edward, and let her get some sleep. After I talk to Charlie he won't be mad at you anymore, and then he'll be restless until you patch things up, So you should call him first thing in the morning." With that, Alice hopped daintily up the tree and through the window. Edward and I stared after her.
"It's a good thing she's cute," Edward muttered.
"Oh, yeah. It is, for sure. Have a good night, Bella. A really gooood night." With that, Jasper swung himself lithely up the tree and through the window of Carlisle's office, and was gone.
"Edward? Uh, why does Jasper call you a bimbo?"
"'Bimbo' used to mean 'tough guy' when Alice and I were kids. He means it as a compliment. Edward took my hand and led me around to the garage. He unlocked the Vanquish and opened the passenger side door for me.
"They weren't watching when we, uh…were they?"
Just then, Esme quietly came in through the kitchen door, shutting it softly behind her. "Everything's okay," she reassured us. "Here's an overnight bag for you, Bella. There are toothbrushes and some supplies, pajamas and fresh clothes for both of you. Alice packed this for you earlier today. Oh, and she put your passports in here, too. She seems to think you'll need them." Edward gave his mother a disapproving look. I wondered what was going through her head.
I took the bag with a murmur of thanks, blushing, and hid my bra in it. I hugged Esme and got in the car. I was going to kill Alice.
Edward backed the car out of the garage and lit off down the drive. "Edward? I don't understand why Alice uses a lot of the same slang that you do. If she has no memory of her human life, how could she know early Twentieth Century slang?"
"The mynah bird picked it up from me. She wishes she could remember something pleasant from her human life, you know? It makes her feel better. It makes her feel like she has roots." I felt a smidge of pity for Alice. Not more than a smidge. I was still fantasizing about pushing her into a tree chipper-shredder.
Edward drove and I found myself nodding off. He woke me when we were just outside Seattle. He had pulled into a nice looking hotel, and told me to stay put while he went to register. Edward paused before getting out of the car. "Bella, I hope you won't be … offended, but I think there has been enough excitement for one day. Can we just rest?"
"Yeah, that sounds pretty good right now. I won't push tonight". He smiled my favorite crooked smile, got out, and walked into the lobby.
Minutes later, Edward was back, and then he led me quietly through a back way to our room. He swiped us in, and set my bag down on the dresser. The room was freezing. I shivered. Edward shut off the air conditioning. I excused myself to take a human moment, snagging the bag on my way.
Before long, Edward was wrapping me up snugly in the white down duvet. "Bella?" he breathed softly into my ear. It tickled.
"I don't think I'll be asking you to 'bring on the shackles' for awhile."
I chuckled. Then Edward chuckled. Before long we were both laughing uncontrollably, sprawled out on our backs.
"Only us," he howled, "That could only happen to us!"
"Not necessarily, it could happen to anybody. It just seems that it always happens to us."
I rolled onto his chest to confront him, "Oh, and where were your superpowers when Charlie was sneaking up the stairs? Not keeping an eye out for danger then, were you , Mr. Overprotective?"
"I told you my kind was easily distracted, didn't I? You, Miss, are the biggest distraction I've ever met. You should be flattered that I lost track of everything else. Huh! I can't believe he hauled me up in front of Carlisle and Esme in my tighty-whities".
I threw myself back on my side of the bed, "At least you had some. Every member of your family will soon have seen my lack thereof. What an introduction to the family that keeps no secrets from each other. I guess I should be glad, at least, that Emmett wasn't there."
Edward choked, "At least Charlie didn't shoot me. I could just see the bullet ricocheting." The hysterics resumed before he finished his sentence.
"He probably would have killed himself and me. Another JFK magic bullet".
"That is terrifyingly plausible for you. Thank Heaven he didn't punch me, because he thought about it. I bet he would have done it hard enough to crush every bone in his hand. And I wouldn't have known how to fake being hurt." Edward theatrically put his hand to his jaw, rolled his eyes sadly and whimpered 'ow'. His grin marred the effect.
"Not in the least convincing." I grinned back. "We'd really have some 'splainin' to do then! Like why his hand was in irreparable bits and you didn't even get a bruise."
Edward blinked earnestly into my eyes with an expression reminiscent of Alice, "Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry Chief , but I'm the undead, and we don't bruise. Would you like me to keep your hand cold until we drive you to my house? I could hold it for you. I have no circulation so my hands are always freezing. The genius vampire doctor will be glad to tend you and stop your blood from flowing. Oh, I didn't mean it that way!"
"Oh, don't crack me up!"
Several minutes passed before the snickers died down. Edward put the lights out. It was briefly quiet, then Edward did a remarkable imitation of Charlie, "Bells? I forbid you to marry the undead day-walker. He might give you cooties. You are grounded for the rest of your life."
"Just get to know them 'Charlie'. Come over Sunday for dinner."
Edward groaned, "Oh, love, now that is enough." Muffled snorts into his pillow.
"You, sir, are giddy."
"Go to sleep, minx". I couldn't. The giggles broke out again. Then, he giggled because I giggled and I giggled because he giggled. It just kept escalating, until finally we were both roaring so loud that somebody thump-thump-thumped on the wall. That brought tears of mirth to my eyes, and made it even harder to stop. We tried to stifle the laughter. One of us would gasp, and then silent giggles would briefly shake the mattress again.
I reached over and stroked Edward's hair, trying to see him in the dark room, "I've never heard you laugh like that before."
"Probably because I've never laughed like that before. My existence was so monotonous before you came along. Don't ever leave me, Miss Swan."
"Of course not, Mr. Cullen. Who else could make me laugh like this?"
Chapter 9: Unwanted Attention
It seemed like I barely had my eyes closed when room service was knocking on the door.
"Breakfast time for the human," Edward announced silkily. By the time I groggily sat up, Edward was placing a tray on my lap. Crepes with cream and strawberries. Perfect. I smiled up at him as he kissed me good morning.
"Guess I should get this over with," he sighed, pulling out his cell phone.
"Hello, Charlie… yes, we're fine. We're in Seattle. Bella's just having her breakfast. I thought we'd spend the day here, and then head for home at supper time, ok? … No, we haven't seen it yet. Are you mad?… Yes, well, I'm pretty upset with Alice, myself. We shouldn't have left the choice to her. Too late now…Yeah, I guess so…Charlie? Thanks…Yeah, I'll tell her. See you tonight…Okay, bye."
"Sounds like that went well," I sighed with relief. Maybe we were going to come out of this relatively unscathed. Maybe Alice was right as usual, drat her.
"Charlie sends his love."
Both of us were eyeing the rolled-up newspaper that Edward had set down earlier on the bed. He sighed and opened it, searching for the Announcement. He examined the paper, and then held it up for my inspection. The picture was drool-worthy, I had to admit, with smouldering eyes and a suggestive pose, but I could only imagine Mike and Tyler doing as Edward said: cropping the picture and fawning over me. Too late to do anything about it. I shrugged.
I returned my attention to breakfast while Edward disappeared into the shower. The thought of that was highly distracting. I jumped up and dressed before I could do anything rash. Then I rummaged through the bag to retrieve the hairbrush Alice packed for me. I made myself presentable in record time.
Soon, Edward emerged, looking like a model for GQ in a button-down shirt and dark grey jeans, and I ducked in to brush my teeth. By the time I came out, Edward had assembled our things and asked if I were ready to check-out. I decided to accompany Edward down to the lobby. No reason to be embarrassed, I figured. Nobody knew us here.
We approached the desk, where the clerk was perusing his newspaper. He looked up as Edward placed the keycard on the counter. The clerk smiled up at us briefly, then did a double-take. Then he was on his feet and yelling excitedly, "Hey, Tom, get out here!"
Another clerk came barreling out of the back room. I felt Edward freeze beside me.
"Hey, look-it, it's that couple from the paper!" the clerk yelled ecstatically. I cringed. The men were goggling at us in joyful disbelief.
"Can I have your autogra-?"
Edward threw out his hand in a gesture to stop talking. "No. Just check us out. Now."
The first clerk processed our paperwork and handed it to Edward with a dejected expression. His buddy Tom was still holding up the paper, comparing the picture to the real thing. I blushed furiously.
"Are you two models?"
"No!" Edward said brusquely, "No more questions."
"Okay, sorry. We hope you enjoyed your stay." The first guy dared to wink. Edward hauled me out to the car at the speed of light. Maybe we weren't going to live through this after all.
Edward climbed into the Vanquish and hyperventilated on the steering wheel, looking thunderous. We sat awkwardly for a few minutes.
"Distract me, please."
"I'm not going to be much help there. Can we feed Alice and Rose and Jasper into a chipper-shredder?"
Edward laughed. "I hope you won't mind, but I think we will go a little further a-field from Forks. Maybe lie low for a few days 'til the gossip goes a bit stale. We can call Charlie to explain, okay?"
"I think that would be wise. I wonder how many papers Alice put us in."
"So where do you want to go?"
"How about another visit to Canada? Ever been to Niagara Falls?"
I gaped at him. "You're kidding. That's like a gazillion hour drive."
"Not for me. Probably it would be beneficial if it takes some time to get there. I need to think up some solid reasons not to kill Alice and Rose. What do you think?"
"About killing them or going to Ontario?"
"Both," he smirked.
"Well, a double murder sounds tempting, but we do have the wedding to consider. I think we'll have to let them live. The trip sounds awesome, though. Do you think we'll get in trouble?"
"How much more trouble could we possibly be in? I think Charlie will understand my wish to get you away from any acid tongues."
"Sounds logical to me. Let's go. I'm excited."
The Vanquish's wheels screeched as Edward peeled out of the parking lot. He careened out of town like the hounds of hell were after us. For once, I was not sorry he was speeding.
Author's Note: Look for the sequel, "Minibusted", coming soon.