*This story is currently being re-written. I have pulled all but the first chapter for editing. I will begin posting again after I complete my other WIP, The Sound of Silence.
The Preacher's Son: Chapter 1
Saturday, June 13, 2009 –
I stare down at the oversized, camouflaged duffel bag I purchased at the army navy surplus store during my last trip to Seattle. I made the trip exactly two weeks ago today, three days after my eighteenth birthday (and coincidentally, my graduation from high school) and two days after my adoptive father, Carlisle, made the decision to take me with him on his mission trip to Uganda. I am still in denial that I am going to spend eight weeks in Africa, so much so that I have refused to even start packing my bag until now… mere hours before we are scheduled to leave for the airport.
Africa, the fucking Dark Continent.
I shudder at the thought of spending eight weeks there. Christ, it will be a miracle if I survive one day, let alone eight weeks! I visited the health department with Carlisle last week where we were vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Meningococcus, Hepatitis B, Tetanus and Rabies. Yes - fucking rabies, in case I am bitten by a stray dog.
These are the diseases for which vaccines are available.
There are, of course, other diseases we could easily contract in Uganda for which there are no known vaccines. These include but are not limited to African sleeping sickness (contracted through the bite of the tsetse fly) and Marburg and Ebola hemorrhagic fevers (contracted through – well, who the hell knows, but they are some scary motherfucking diseases). The health department worker that administered our vaccines grimly explained to us that it is possible to survive a bout of African sleeping sickness but that Marburg and Ebola hemorrhagic fevers are almost always fatal. Outbreaks of the human Plague are also common in Uganda, he commented before providing us with several bottles of the antibiotic doxycyclineto be taken prophylactically if we are exposed to rodents or their fleas, the bite of which act to transmit the disease. Finally, as if this all isn't enough, we were prescribed Malarone, a malaria prophylaxis to be taken once daily, starting immediately, with food.
Fuck my life.
Needless to say, my head was spinning by the time we left the health department that day, and neither Carlisle nor I said much to each other on the ride home. I was fucking pissed at him, and he knew it. Traveling to Uganda is going to be a fucking nightmare and my thoughts were more than confirmed when we arrived home that evening and I decided to Google that shit for the first time. And not because I don't know where the fuck Uganda is. I am not an idiot.
I know Uganda is a small, land locked country in central east Africa bordered to the west by what I consider to be the scariest and most fucked up of all African nations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to the north by Sudan, which I don't hold in much higher esteem. Uganda's neighbors to the west and to the south, Kenya and Tanzania respectively, aren't so bad. At least each of these countries is more or less politically stable. And Uganda is too – or at least it appears to be at the moment. Unfortunately, Carlisle and I will be traveling to southwestern Uganda, to an area susceptible to cross border violence with the DRC, so our security is not as assured as it might have been if Carlisle had elected to minister to people in the capital city of Kampala instead of to Congolese refugees in southwest Uganda.
I have Googled Uganda a few other times since that night, but no matter how hard I try to find something redeeming about traveling there, I just can't. I am fucked and I know it. I can't believe Carlisle is doing this. How the fuck am I going to survive eight weeks in Africa? I have never lived in fucking abject poverty, and I see no reason to start now.
As I move lethargically, almost robotically about my room collecting things to pack in my bag, my mind skims back in time to my graduation - to the single event that pushed Carlisle over the edge, making him feel like he has no other choice but to drag my ass to Africa with him.
Friday, June 12, 2009 –
The day starts out like any other in the dreary little town of Forks, Washington, where I have lived for as long as I can remember. The sound of the rain as it pelts my window draws me from my sleep. It is my graduation day, also my eighteenth birthday, and the day I should theoretically gain access to my four million dollar trust fund, but that sure as shit isn't going to happen. I reach up and rub my bleary eyes. I stayed out late last night, partying with friends and celebrating the end of school. Unlike me, most of my friends have parents that are pretty cool with underage drinking. Hell, most of my friend's parents supply us with whatever alcohol we want, as long as we consume it responsibly and remain on their property. We do generally stay on property, but we rarely consume alcohol responsibly.
Of course, I am the lucky one to have a fucking Anglican priest for an adoptive father, not to mention trust fund trustee, so my house is generally considered to be off limits for partying. It really is a pity. Carlisle and I live in one of the nicest homes in Forks – a sprawling five thousand square foot mansion tucked up in the backyard of the Olympic Mountains. It is pretty fucking ridiculous - the fact that Carlisle and I live in this huge ass house ourselves. But Carlisle wasn't able to bring himself to sell it after Aunt Esme passed away. She died when I was ten of breast cancer - the same fucking disease that robbed me of my biological mother, Elizabeth Platt, when I was just six years old. Some fucking luck I have.
I glance at the clock. It is already two-thirty in the afternoon. I have slept away half the day, and I have to be on campus is less than four hours to walk the proverbial line. I roll my eyes. I could care less about graduation. I am really more interested in going out afterwards, getting fucked up and fucking Tanya – in that specific order. I smile when I think to myself that I have all summer long to do that shit. I'll be home alone, unsupervised for eight weeks while Carlisle ministers to the natives in Uganda. I plan on making the most of this time by myself, living it up and partying hard with my friends until late August when I'll be leaving for Berkeley. I've been accepted there on a full music scholarship. Not that I need a scholarship with all the money we have. But whatever - I am a fucking brilliant pianist, and if they want to pay me to study what I love, I sure as shit am not going to argue. I can think of plenty of other things to spend my millions on once Carlisle hands the money over.
I walk downstairs in hopes of finding something to eat in the refrigerator, though I knew that it's unlikely I will. Carlisle and I normally eat out for lunch and dinner, with breakfast generally consisting of a bagel or some cereal. Carlisle does go to the grocery once a week, to be sure that there is milk and juice and other bare necessities available to me, but that is the extent of it. He long ago gave up on preparing well balanced and nutritious meals for me. I can't even remember when we last shared a meal together in our own home.
Walking through the kitchen door, I unexpectedly bumped into him.
"Edward, how nice to finally see you. I was beginning to think you were going to sleep through your own graduation." Carlisle looks up at me from where he is working at the kitchen table, a noticeable smirk on his face. "Happy birthday, by the way. As of today, you're a free man." I turn my head and glare at Carlisle.
"Free man? I'll be a free man when you give me my fucking money," I spit then cringe at the tone of my own voice. I didn't mean to sound so cold, but Carlisle doesn't flinch. He is used to me, used to my little outbursts and the disrespectful, rebellious teen act. He is also keenly aware of how pissed off I am that he refuses to release any of the money in my trust fund.
"Please watch what you say, son. You demean yourself when you speak that way." Carlisle speaks quietly, and I know that he means every word that he says, but the fact that he says this to me several times a day really tends to grate on my nerves. I roll my eyes at him and he sighs, going back to work on his sermon or whatever the fuck it is that he is doing.
"Would you like to go out to dinner tonight to celebrate your birthday and your graduation?" Carlisle asks a little while later as I sit on a bar stool eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes. Fuck. I figured he would want to do something to celebrate the two events, and dinner is the most logical thing for us to do. I really don't want to go out to dinner with Carlisle, but I don't want to be an ass either.
I love Carlisle. I may not always show it, but I do love Carlisle. The man is literally a saint, having put up with me and my foolishness all these years. My biological father and namesake Edward Masen abandoned my mother and I when I was just one year's old. When that happened, Carlisle and my Aunt Esme invited us to move in with them, despite the fact that they had recently lost their firstborn, a little boy named Emmett who was born stillborn several months earlier. Aunt Esme was understandably traumatized by the passing of her son, but the presence of me and my mother seemed to help ease some of that pain. Once we came to live with Carlisle and Aunt Esme, we never left. Four years later, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was already in the advanced stages of the disease when she was diagnosed, and she passed away several months later. When my mother died, Aunt Esme and Carlisle immediately moved to adopt me. Two months after her death, I officially became Edward Anthony Cullen.
Carlisle and Aunt Esme gave me a good life, and they always treated me as if I was their own. My Aunt Esme, in particular, was furiously devoted to me and spent a great deal of time and energy trying to make up for my pitiable past. She spoiled me, more than she probably should have - giving me most everything I wanted. She was also always sure to remind me that she loved me unconditionally, and that though her sister had given birth to me, she loved me like I was her own. I believed it, and I loved her back just as fiercely as she loved me. And then she fucking died, just like my mother, and my whole world more or less went to shit.
"How's dinner at the Lodge sound? Say, seven thirty?" Carlisle speaks up with a suggestion, and I groan. I don't really want to go to dinner at the Kalaloch Lodge. Going to dinner there will be a full blown event, and it is likely to take a couple of hours which means it will be close to ten before I can go out my friends. Unfortunately, I don't think I have much of a choice. It isn't like I can ask Carlisle to take me to Subway for my combined birthday-graduation dinner.
"Yeah… that's fine, I guess. Are you sure you can get us a reservation on such short notice? They're probably already booked with it being graduation and all." Carlisle looks at me a bit sheepishly before answering my question.
"I took the liberty of making the reservation a few weeks ago in the hopes you'd agree to go."
I inwardly cringe. I hate it when he says things like that. Christ, does he really think I would deny him the opportunity to take me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday and graduation? Am I really that bad? I smile weakly at Carlisle before turning to leave the kitchen. I figure I may as well go ahead and get my shower and maybe head over to campus a little early to fuck around with some of my friends before tonight's big event.
"Edward?" Carlisle calls softly to me from where he sits at the table. I turn to him just as I am about to walk through the doorway into the family room.
"I made a reservation for three, just in case you decide to invite Tanya to come along." Carlisle tries to appear disinterested as he says this to me, but I know he is studying me, anxiously awaiting my response.
"Why would I want to do that?" I ask, trying my best not to appear too irritated.
"I don't know. She's a nice young girl, and you seem to spend a lot of time with her. I thought that maybe if she's your girlfriend…" I immediately cut Carlisle off.
"She is not my girlfriend," I sternly correct him. I start to fidget a little, shifting my weight from foot to foot. Carlisle continues to watch me, not saying a word, and it is starting to make me nervous. "What are you staring at?" I challenge him a moment later when he still hasn't said anything. Carlisle just shakes his head.
"Nothing, son. Sorry for the assumption. I'll change the reservation to two, all right?"
"Yeah, fine, whatever. I'm going to take a shower and head over to school. I'll meet up with you in the parking lot by the gym after the whole song and dance is done with, okay?" Carlisle nods his head quietly before returning to his work. I stare at him for a moment before storming off upstairs.
It fucking pisses me off the Carlisle assumes that Tanya is my girlfriend. Does it really appear that way to outsiders? Because nothing could be further from the truth. Tanya and I are mutually agreed upon friends with benefits, and that is it; we are nothing more. A small smile tugs at my lips as I recall the day, nine months in the past that became the case.
Tanya showed up on my front door step the afternoon of our first day back to school. I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to let her into my house. Although we had been friends since elementary school, Tanya always had a thing for me, and I wasn't really interested in having any sort of a relationship with her, or with anybody else for that matter. So as not to give her the wrong idea, I was always careful not to spend too much time with her. I didn't want that sort of complication in my life.
Though I was wary of inviting her in, I did it anyway. She told me she had something important she wanted to talk to me about, and I figured the least I could do was listen to what she had to say. I remember moving into the living room where we sat down together on the couch, and she proceeded to tell me that after all these years she finally understood and accepted that I wasn't interested in dating her. She said she was sorry it had taken her so long to come to terms with this fact, and she hoped that with this behind us we could become better friends. She was really looking forward to our senior year together, and she didn't want for there to be anymore awkwardness between us. I have to admit, I was relieved… really relieved to hear her say those words. It had been uncomfortable for me to spend time around her in the past, knowing she had feelings for me that I didn't return. I told her I was glad things were cool between us now, and I had no problem with the two of us being friends – I never did have a problem with that. I stood up from the couch then and moved towards the front door, intending to show her out. But she didn't follow me. Instead, she remained seated on the couch, looking all fucking bashful and shit… and she asked me how I felt about casual sex.
Fuck. What does any seventeen year old boy think about casual sex? The truth of the matter is we think with our dicks… most of us, anyway. Not that I would have allowed myself to make a stupid mistake just to get inside of a girl's pants, but as fucked up as Tanya's question was, I found myself telling her that it was just my type of sex. Crude… I know, but it was the truth. Tanya appeared encouraged by my response, her blue eyes shining brightly and her rose colored lips curving up into a smug smile. She knew I desired her… fuck – who wouldn't? She was tall and slim, and she had enormous breasts and beautiful strawberry blonde hair that hung midway down her back. She was easy on the eye, that's for sure, and in truth, I had wanted to fuck her since middle school. But I never acted on those impulses because I knew it would be wrong to sleep with her when she wanted so much more. I could be a prick, yes, but fundamentally I wasn't an asshole. I didn't relish the idea of hurting a girl, especially one I'd known for so long. But things were different now. Tanya was sitting there telling me that she didn't have feelings for me anymore. Though there was a small part of me that doubted what she said, I did what I think most seventeen year old boys would probably have done upon finding themselves in a similar situation – I stupidly agreed to be fuck buddies.
Our friends with benefits agreement worked well to begin with. Tanya and I had sex, and a lot of it. It was fantastic, really. I could have Tanya whenever I wanted, and it was safe. I knew Tanya was clean because shamefully, I was her first. I didn't realize that until we were partway through the act the first time. When I pushed into her and felt the resistance, I knew. And it freaked me the fuck out. I really didn't want to be Tanya's first. I would have preferred for her to have been with somebody who really loved her - not just some hormonal teenage boy who wanted a good fuck. I hesitated, ready to stop if she wanted to, but Tanya encouraged me to continue and so I did, because fuck - I was hard, and I really wanted to stay buried in her pussy. For her sake, I did try to be as gentle as possible. Like I said before, I may be a prick, but I'm not an asshole.
Things continued like that for awhile. We had sex almost every day after school and sometimes on the weekends, too. I was happy, and completely sexually satisfied. Of course, there were still plenty of girls at school who pursued me, but I couldn't be bothered with them. I didn't want to mess with a good thing, and sex with no strings attached was definitely a good thing. Unfortunately, things started to change that Christmas. There was a girl at school, Lauren, whom I briefly dated during my junior year and who had developed a renewed fascination with me at the beginning of our senior year. She pursued me relentlessly up until Christmas when she finally gave up and hooked up with Tyler Crowley. I was thoroughly relieved… and so was Tanya.
I remember clearly the day that I realized things were starting to change. Tanya and I were lying together in my bed, watching a movie. We were still on Christmas vacation and Carlisle was at work, so we had the house to ourselves. Tanya and I had just finished fucking and we were lying panting on our backs when she shifted onto her side, reaching out and trailing her fingers down my cheek. I instantly tensed. Tanya and I never touched each other tenderly like that. We weren't rough with one another, but when we had sex there were no tender touches, no meeting of the eyes and very little, if any, kissing. So this was new, and it immediately put me on guard. I glanced nervously in her direction.
"Put some clothes on or something," I said to her as I jumped up off of the bed and went to find my underwear. Tanya winced, and I immediately regretted my words. I hadn't meant to be so harsh.
"Look, I'm sorry. Just… I don't think we should lay naked together in bed and cuddle and shit. We fucked, now we need to get dressed, all right?" I tried not to sound like too much of a prick, but I realized I was failing miserably. Tanya looked at me for a moment, hurt clearly evident in her distant stare, before reaching across the bed for her panties and bra. I decided I needed a little bit of space, and I went into the bathroom to finish getting dressed. When I emerged, Tanya sat fully clothed in the middle of my bed. She was fidgeting, nervously twirling the index finger of her left hand around a long, thick strand of strawberry blonde hair. I sighed.
"Do we need to talk or something?" I asked, already knowing the answer to that question. Tanya just shrugged. I stood by the bed feeling a little annoyed and whole lot edgy.
"Can you please just tell me what you're thinking?" I asked impatiently, just wanting to get the fucking conversation I knew we were about to have, over with. I was prepared for this conversation. Actually, I was prepared for this conversation from the moment we established our little agreement. I'd known all along there was a distinct possibility that the whole casual sex thing just wouldn't work out, and I'd sworn to myself that if Tanya started to develop feelings, I would back the fuck off. I didn't want to hurt her. I didn't want that on my conscience. I really did care about her as a friend, and I didn't want to be the fucker that broke her heart.
"I'm just so relieved is all," she whispered quietly, looking cautiously up at me from under her eyelashes.
"What?" I asked, completely bewildered by her statement.
"I'm relieved… that Lauren is with Tyler Crowley now. It means she'll finally leave you alone."
Fuck. I groaned. This wasn't good.
"What does it matter to you?" I asked.
"Well, we're together, in a way, aren't we? I mean, I know we're just friends that happen to have sex with each other, but it's a monogamous relationship, isn't it? I don't want Lauren or anybody else thinking that you're available."
I stared at Tanya in disbelief. I was really trying to wrap my head around what she said. Fuck, did she really just use the words monogamous and relationship in the same sentence? No matter that she seemed to be referring solely to our sexual relationship; the underlying tone of her comment pointed to so much more.
"Tanya," I began slowly. I really didn't know what the fuck to say, and I didn't want to be too insensitive, but she had to know how I felt. She had to know that nothing had changed. We were still just two friends who had decided to have a little bit of fun together. There was nothing more between us - nothing more. "I thought we agreed that our relationship would be based purely on casual sex. I mean yes… I'm only fucking you right now, but if I want to be with another girl, this…" and I motioned to the space between the two of us with my right hand, "this isn't going to stop me. I care about you as a friend, but nothing more." Tanya's head fell at my words, and I groaned loudly in frustration
"Come on Tanya, you're not being fair. We agreed to this! You can't just go changing shit on me now."
"I'm not, Edward," Tanya quickly interjected while lifting her head back up to look at me. "I understand what you're saying. Nothing's changed. I… I guess I just want to know that if you do decide to be with somebody else, that you'll at least let me know. I don't want to be left in the dark."
I couldn't believe Tanya was sitting there asking me that. Of course I would tell her. Not that there was a chance in hell I was going to fuck up what I had with her because it was so damn easy… there was no emotional commitment necessary and that was just how I wanted it. But if for whatever reason I did decide to be with another girl, I would tell Tanya first. It was only fair.
"I'd tell you, Tanya," I said simply, and she looked up at me, offering me a weak smile.
"Good." Her blue eyes seemed to search mine for a moment, but I looked away.
"So, um, are we okay here? Because I'm feeling really fucking uncomfortable and I don't want things to be this way." I waited for Tanya to say something, but she didn't, and this made me very nervous.
"Tanya," I said very seriously, "if this is getting to be too much for you, I understand." I ran my hands through my hair in frustration when she still didn't say anything. "Fuck," I mumbled loudly. "This is getting too complicated. Maybe we just need to go back to the way things were before."
"No, Edward!" she suddenly cried, sounding panicked at my words. "Everything is fine… really. Nothing's changed. All right?" I stared at her for a long time, trying to decide what was right and what was wrong as well as whether or not I believed her when she said that everything was fine.
"Okay," I finally said, because it was the easiest thing for me to say. And because as selfish as it was, I really didn't want to stop fucking her. I just hoped like hell she wasn't developing feelings for me, because that could only end one way - badly.