This week had gone by okay. It was Wednesday and my kids were happy. I started to make breakfast for the kids and Esme.
"Daddy!" Abby yelled, running into the kitchen.
"Good morning, Abby. Math Club today, don't forget."
She made a face. "I won't. Why can't I audition for the play?"
"Your mother said so," I sighed.
"But auditions are Monday, and that'll be Esme's rules. Do you think she'll let me?"
"Maybe, sweetie. Where are Esme and your brother?"
"He's trying to talk her into letting him skip Math Club and try out for the football team. The coach really wants him."
I sighed. The coach had been calling nonstop since Nick's first day of freshman year. Next week they would both get what they wanted. "He has to go today. And to the youth group tomorrow and Friday."
She sighed. "Can't wait till we can quit." She sat down just as Nick and Esme came into the kitchen.
"Sorry, Nick, but it's still the week for your mother's rules," Esme said.
"I know, Esme, it's okay. Counting down the days until it's over. Can you drop me off early this morning? I have to work with Alyssa on our science project, and this is the only time the teacher said he's free in the lab."
"Of course. Abby, I'm coming back to your school today."
"Yay! All of my friends loved you! They said you were so nice."
"I'll be there after I get done at the church." She didn't look to happy about that one.
"You don't enjoy the work at the church?" I asked, sliding the plate of bacon on the table.
"It's not the work that bothers me, it's the other women."
"Yes, I think they disapprove of the way I raise my family."
Her family sounded like it got along just fine. Ten kids with perfect grades that respected her and her husband. Who cares if they dated each other and fought? "Well, it sounds like your doing a fine job."
She smiled at me. "Thank you, Michael. You're children are incredibly polite…and neat. I wish my kids could keep my house this clean."
I laughed. "You've got ten teenagers, I surprised you can even keep food in the house with five boys."
"It can get hard at times," she admitted, grinning. "But I wouldn't have them any other way. You kids ready to go to school?"
"Yeah," Abby said, grabbing her lunch off the counter. "Bye, Daddy."
"Bye. See you after school. Be good."
"Okay." She hurried out to the car.
"Have a good day, guys."
"Thanks," Esme said, following Nick out the door. "You, too."
I nodded and started washing the dishes. Today I was meeting with my lawyer to discuss some things. I wasn't about to give up my kids. Darlene would take it hard, but it was the only way things could work out.
"Here you are, Nick."
"Thanks, Esme." He started to get out. "Don't forget, I'll be out late because of Math Club." He shook his head in disgust..
"I won't forget. Abby, what time do you get out?"
"4:30. Have a good day."
"Like that's possible," he muttered, low enough so human ears wouldn't detect it.
"So, Abby, ready for school?"
She shrugged indifferently. "I guess. What's for dinner tonight?"
"I'm not sure yet. I should probably shop tomorrow, shouldn't I?"
"Yeah. Mother's usually really busy today."
I walked her to her classroom then headed to the church. This wasn't going to be a good day.
"Hello, Esme," Anna said. "Today we have to help with the weekly bulletins."
"Oh, okay. All I do is put a paper in each booklet?" I could have this done in ten seconds if it wasn't for the humans and camera.
"That's about it."
"How was your day so far?" Kathy asked.
"Oh, fine. I dropped the kids off at school. After here I'm headed back to Abigail's school."
"How's Nicholas doing?"
"He's fine. He had a project to work on so he went in early."
"The science project? My son told me it was really hard."
"He didn't explain it exactly to me. All he told me was he had to go in early to work on it."
"You didn't ask him?" Tina asked, looking shocked.
"No. Should I have?"
"Yes. Don't you ask your kids what they have to do?" Kathy asked.
"No, not really. If they don't tell me by themselves I figure I'm better off not knowing."
"Well, there aren't many secrets in my house anyway." With all my gifted kids, there wasn't much anybody didn't know.
"So all your children turn each other in?" Anna asked. She seemed a little happier about that.
"Every chance they get. Jacob turns in Rosalie. Rosalie turns in Jacob. Edward turns in Emmett. They're all mature, though, so there's not much that goes wrong."
"What about your children? Are you always in their business?"
"Yes. I find that it's easier to know before it's too late than to find out when they're in jail."
"My kids have never been to jail." The cops didn't know enough to catch their illegal behavior.
"Well, with all the secrets…."
"Don't judge my children. They're all good enough kids." One more day of this. I kept repeating that to myself the whole time. Quitting was going to be the first rule change. "What are your children into?"
"Oh, my son plays baseball and my daughter's in choir."
"How nice. Does Darlene let her children do anything they want to do?"
"It's for their own safety," Kathy explained. "I hear Nicholas has a crush on Alyssa. That's not good."
It was more than a crush. "Why?"
"Because they're too young."
"They shouldn't date until they're preparing to get married."
"Really? And your son is fifteen?"
"Sixteen. He understands."
I wonder how many of their kids were sneaking around behind their backs. "Oh, of course. My kids know the limits." They weren't allowed to do anything this week.
"Interesting. Where are the seniors planning on going to college?"
"They're think Dartmouth, Harvard, something along those lines."
"They've been accepted?"
"We're waiting for the letters. It's not really a problem for them."
"Yes. Oh, look at the time. I'd really better get going. I have to be at Abigail's school soon."
"Oh, it was nice having you, Esme."
"It was nice being here," I lied. I walked out at a quick human pace. I had just noticed that everyday this week had been overcast. I had forgotten to ask Alice about the weather.
"Oh, good afternoon, Mrs. Cullen," Abby's teacher, Ms. Finn, greeted me. "We're just getting ready to walk over to the library." The library was in a different building, so they needed a parent to help get all the kids there.
"Okay. Good afternoon, kids."
"Hi!" a chorus of voices greeted me.
"Esme!" Abby said, getting in line. "I need to find a book about a president. Everybody does."
"Okay, I can help with that. I know all of the presidents."
"Really?" a boy asked. "Can you say them all?"
I smiled and said them.
"Is that right?" he asked his teacher.
"Yes. Maybe we should work on doing that. How many are there?"
"Yes!" She continued to quiz them on the way to the library. "Now you have to use your indoor voices. Go ahead."
"Esme, I need your help," Abby said. "Can you help me find a president?"
"Of course. Which one do you want to do?"
"The children have taken to you so well," Ms. Finn said, walking over. "How many kids do you have?"
"Yes. They're a handful."
"How old are they?"
"They're all between sixteen and eighteen."
"All teenagers? Wow. Are they all yours or….?"
"They're all adopted."
"Yes. Rosalie and Jasper are my husband's niece and nephew. Bella, Emmett, and Allie are my nieces and nephew. They're parents passed away."
"Oh, I'm so sorry."
"Thank you. Then we adopted Edward and Renesmee, Jacob, Alice, and Caleb."
"Wow, that's a lot. What does your husband do?"
"He's a doctor for the local hospital."
She nodded. "That all must take a lot of time."
"It does, but I wouldn't have it any other way."
The second part of my afternoon went a lot smoother than the first. Even for a vampire the time went fast, and soon I was headed back to pick Abby and Nick up.
"Hi!" Abby said, jumping in the car. "Math Club was boring. Everyone's a geek."
"But are they nice?" I asked.
"Sort of. The girl who sits next to me is nice. I like my friends from class better. That girl's a fourth grader."
I nodded. Maybe next week I could plan something for her and her friends. Nick, too. He deserved some time as a normal teenager.
"Hey," Nick said, getting into the car and smiling.
"Good day?" I asked.
"Really? What's up?"
"We were playing football in gym, and the girls started acting like cheerleaders for us." He grinned. "I was quarterback and it was so great. Ran the last play in for a touchdown."
"Isn't that good?"
"Yeah, but my mother never comments like that."
That was definitely going to change. "How was the rest of your day?"
"Uh, okay. I got extra points for knowing so much about the Civil War. Thanks for teaching me."
"Your welcome. Do you guys have any homework?"
"A quiz tomorrow in history, and a paper due Friday in English, and a worksheet in geometry. Not too much."
"I have to finish reading the story in reading," Abby said. "And I have to read that book about the president. We're doing a project on them. It's fun. Esme, I need you to look something up for me in the encyclopedia when we get home."
"Okay. What do you guys want for dinner?"
"Doesn't matter," Nick said. "I have to go get started on homework. Oh, and I have to write out the notes for mine and Alyssa's project. It won't take long."
"Okay. I'll start whenever you guys are done. Your dad gets home around 5:30, right?"
"Yeah. Start whenever." He jogged upstairs.
"He seems to be in a good mood," I said, helping Abby with her homework.
She nodded. "He's happy that this week is half over. Woops." She glanced at the cameras. "I wasn't supposed to tell anyone or Mother would get mad."
"Uh huh. When's dinner?"
"I'll start it right now. So, youth group tomorrow, huh?" I wanted to see exactly what she thought about that.
"Yeah," she sighed, putting her books away.
"You don't like it?"
"It's okay." She shrugged. "I'm going to go read. Can you call me when dinner's done?"
The rest of the night was repetitious. I had a feeling the rest of the week would be the same.