AN: Fyi, there are a few pictures from this chapter and the latest outtake up on the Blog! An Outtake of Alice & Jasper's Wedding is up now and an EPOV outtake will be up later today!
As always, every review gets a secret teaser sent out on Monday in addition to the ones that are posted on the Blog! They may be out a little late (Monday night/Tuesday morning) this week because we have a packed weekend to celebrate the mister's birthday!
Love you guys! XoXo
A little while after the decision was made for them to stay the night at the Cullen home, Carlisle followed Bella out to her rental to grab her and Jack's bags. Carlisle grabbed the two suitcases from the trunk while Bella grabbed her carry-on bag and Jack's backpack from the back seat. Carlisle shut the trunk and smiled tentatively at her.
"You didn't bring much," he observed. She shyly tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
"I wasn't sure how long we were staying. My friends who are driving here have some of our other things with them. I figured we could buy whatever else we needed." She shrugged.
Carlisle nodded and stared off into the distance. The house was surrounded by a smattering of trees that turned into a small forest in the back of the house. Bella heard him sigh and she glanced up at his face curiously.
"I apologize deeply for my son's behavior today. He has a bit of temper these days," Carlisle explained. "He's been through so much and it's left scars that you can't see. That doesn't excuse his behavior towards you, but I hope that you can forgive it. Esme and I will talk with him and try to knock some sense into him." He have her a tight smile.
Bella nodded and looked at her feet.
"I understand," she practically whispered. "I can't begin to imagine what's going on his head. I wouldn't have come here if I meant any harm." She frowned.
"I'm worried that it will upset Jack if he continues like this, though. I won't take any more of his disrespect towards me. While I understand he has issues, I am not a doormat." She shook her head.
He nodded in understanding.
"No one wants to hurt Jack anymore than he's already been." Carlisle looked deeply into Bella's eyes and put his hand on her shoulder.
"Everyone's emotions are running haywire right now. Give it some time, please. You are an incredible woman to have done what you did. No matter which way you look at it, you saved my grandson's life and I will forever be in your debt. I will make it quite clear that anyone who gives you a hard time is to answer to me."
Bella gave him a watery smiled and hoisted the bags on her shoulder as they made their way back to the house. She stopped in front of the door and turned to look at Carlisle once again.
"Thank you for your support, Carlisle. I love Jack with all of my heart. Now that we've found you all, I want you all to be a big part of his life, but let me be clear on something. He is my son and I won't leave here without him."
Carlisle was taken back at her fiery words, but his admiration for her only grew. It was as clear as day how much she and Jack meant to each other.
He nodded curtly and set down one of the cases in order to open the door for her.
"Thank you," she said quietly as she walked into the house.
"No, Bella Swan," Carlisle whispered behind her back, "thank you."
Carlisle carried the bags up to the guest room next to Jack's room. She followed him inside and her jaw almost dropped to the floor. The room was enormous and gorgeous, with floors that were hardwood and walls with a creamy beige look. Immediately to her right, there was a queen sized bed with a purple comforter, which sat across from a fireplace set in the middle of one wall, which was flanked on both corners, about five feet high, windows on either side. The left side of the room contained a small alcove, with three more of the same-sized windows and a pair of sitting chairs. The wall directly across from the foot of the bed had built in shelves on either side of a wooden cabinet.
He set the suitcases down on the bed and smiled at her. He walked over to the cabinet door and opened it, revealing a large walk-in closet. There were clothes hanging on racks and a small chest that sat in the middle of the room. It was almost the same size as Jack's bedroom back home. In fact, she thought to herself that she could probably fit a small bed in there and still be fairly comfortable.
"This is the closet, obviously," he chuckled. "Don't worry about any of the clothes, they're things that Esme hasn't gone through to donate yet."
Bella's eyes widened as she glanced over the many expensive dresses and blouses that lined one of the walls. She blinked and composed herself before turning to Carlisle and smiling in return.
"Thank you, this is more than I expected. I appreciate your hospitality."
Carlisle sighed. "You're welcome. It's the least we can do. Esme and I want to make this situation as comfortable as we can for all of us. I seriously think that she or Edward might have had a panic attack if you two left right now."
Bella nodded sadly. This was turning out to be more difficult than she had anticipated.
"Well," Carlisle said as he cleared his throat. "I'm going to go find Esme and let her know that you're getting settled."
Bella looked nervously at the room's exit, wondering what Jack was up to. Carlisle followed her gaze and gave her a slight smile.
"If you're wondering where Jack is, I think he's in his room at the moment."
She looked at him in surprise and then laughed. "Am I that obvious?"
Carlisle's smile widened. "You two are like magnets. You move, he moves. It's quite fascinating to watch actually."
Bella's heart skipped a beat. She hadn't meant to come across as a bitch to anyone, but her emotions were scattered all over the place. She was frightened, nervous and anxious, but there was also a part of her that felt excited at the prospect of getting to know the family that Jack came from.
Carlisle left the room and Bella followed quietly behind him, carrying Jack's backpack. His door was open so she walked in and set the bag on the bed. He was sitting on a chair gazing out of a window that over looked the backyard and pool area. When he heard someone enter the room, he looked over and smiled at his mother. He walked over and wrapped his arms around her waist. Bella automatically encircled her son and she ran one of her hands through his hair.
"So, what are you thinking right now?" she asked.
"I'm thinking that this is a very cool house. Esme and Carlisle are super nice, as well as Em and Rose. I keep trying to remember more things, but I can't. I feel like I'm trying to grab a kite, but the string keeps slipping away."
Bella sat down on his bed and situated Jack so that he was standing between her legs and that their eyes were level. She smiled at him and stroked a finger down his cheek.
"It's ok, Little Bit. You were just a baby when you were last with them. You're not going to remember much, but it'll be fine. You can make more memories. It's so clear how much everyone loves you and missed you."
Jack's eyes watered and he smiled slightly.
"I know, but it still bothers me. I think I remember my dad the most. I remember sitting at the piano with him, his smile and the way he smelled. I'm so happy that we came here, Mom. My heart feels likes it going to burst out of my chest!"
Bella smiled and smoothed down his hair before resting her hand on his shoulder.
"That's good, baby. You deserve this. To know everyone again and to be happy."
Jack leaned forward and rested his head against her shoulder.
"I am happy. I was happy," he whispered. "It just feels like I found a puzzle piece that was missing, y'know?"
Bella nodded. "I know, sweetheart."
Jack pulled back and looked into her eyes. His mouth was set in a hard line and he looked upset. Bella cocked her head to the side in confusion.
"What's wrong, Jack?"
He shook his head and stayed silent.
"You've got to tell me what you're thinking, baby. I can't read your mind."
"I don't like the way that Em and Dad talked to you. It wasn't fair and I'm angry about that."
Bella gave him a surprised look and then grasped his shoulders firmly.
"Jackson," she said in her stern, mothering tone, "while I understand that you're upset, you are still a child. As much as I love you and adore that you'll stand up for me, I am the grown up. I can take care of myself. I want you to remember your manners and not talk back to them like that again."
She sighed and cupped his face lightly between her hands.
"Your father is angry. He loves you very, very much and you were taken away from him. I'm sure that hurt him so very badly and even though you are here in front of him, it still hurts. I think we both need to be patient and understanding because this is just as hard for him as it is for us, maybe more so."
Jack nodded and sighed.
Both of them looked up, startled when they heard someone clear their throat from the doorway. Bella's heart clenched when she saw that it was Edward who stood there, with tears in his eyes.
"I-" he started, before stopping to swallow. "I was just wondering if you'd like to sit and talk for awhile, Jack?"
Jack looked up at Bella and she nodded. They needed this time to re-connect. Jack stepped back and she stood up. She smiled and looked down as she made her way out of the room. Before she was fully out of the door, she felt a shock-like tingling make it's way up her arm when Edward reached out to touch her. He pulled his hand away and looked at it curiously. He looked up into her eyes and gave her a small smile.
"I'm so sorry," he said quietly. "May I talk with you later as well? I'll try not to be a jerk." He gave her a small, yet sexy, smirk.
She smiled and nodded. She looked back at Jack and caught his eye.
"I'll be next door if you need me. I'm going to make some calls to Pops and Allie, okay?"
Jack nodded and sat down on his bed, turning to look at his father anxiously. Bella sighed and went back to her room and tried to quell her racing heart. She absently ran her hand over the spot where Edward had touched her. It felt like the imprint of his fingers was etched into her skin now. It was very disconcerting.
She picked up the suitcases and put them in the closet, shutting the door behind when she left. She kicked off her shoes, pulled out her phone and flopped down on the bed.
She dialed her dad's number, but it went straight to voicemail. She left him a message letting him know that they were safe and sound, staying with the Cullens and that she'd try to call him again later. She called Alice next.
"Hello Bella-Boo!" her chipper friend chimed out. Bella sighed, instantly feeling better hearing her voice.
"Uh-oh! I don't like the sound of that sigh. Is it not going well?" she asked, her voice was laden with concern.
"Ugh, Allie, it's more difficult that I thought it'd be. I mean, I knew it wasn't going to be unicorns and butterflies, but I'm pretty sure his dad hates me."
"What?" she asked, incredulously. "You freaking saved his son from God-knows-what could have happened on the streets. How could he hate you?"
Bella sighed. "Maybe hate is too strong of a word. Intensely dislike maybe? I mean, I represent everything that he lost. I'm sure he's hurt and angry. I'm not the one he should be pissed at, but I'm the one in front of him. It's freaking tortuous though. He's so damn hot. Like, melt-your-panties-with-just-one-look hot." She groaned.
Alice giggled. "Oh, my. Bella Swan, it sounds like you have a crush. This is completely unheard of. I might need to call Angela to get this on the front page."
Bella couldn't help but laugh right along with her friend.
"Shut up, Al. He's just so, so, ugh!" she exclaimed. "He seems like such a nice guy one minute, and then a total jerk the next. I wanted to slap him at one point, but then when I said we were going to the hotel, he looked like he was going to have a panic attack, so we decided to stay here."
"Wait, you're staying in his house instead of the hotel? Bella, is that really safe? I mean, I know you want to make everyone happy, but you've gotta think about your own safely, seriously!" Alice chastised.
"Calm down, woman. It's his parents house, which is enormous and beautiful. I figured it would be fine, since I was calling you and Dad to let you know where I would be. Just in case you needed somewhere to start looking for the body."
"Bella, do not joke about this! I am going on record as saying that I completely disagree with this decision."
"Duly noted, Alice."
Alice sighed. "You do realize that Jasper is going to flip his lid that you did this without talking to him first, don't you?"
Bella heard someone talking to her in the background and her confusion soared.
"Allie? Where are you and where's Jazz? Aren't you guys supposed to be on the road already?" she asked.
"Sorry about that, Bells! Something came up at the shop and I won't be able to get away until Monday afternoon, but I'm going to fly out as soon as I'm finished. Jazz left earlier today to keep on schedule. He didn't want you to be out there any longer than necessary without support."
Bella felt tears prick her eyes when she thought of how awesome her friends were.
"Thanks, Allie, I don't deserve you guys," she said quietly. Alice laughed lightly.
"Just keep that in mind when Jasper is tearing you a new one for not keeping him in the loop," she giggled. "I'll try and break it to him gently when he calls me later on."
Bella smiled and shook her head.
"Thanks, Allie. I'll let you go and talk to you later, okay?"
"You got it, Bells! Be safe, okay?"
"Yes'm! Love you, Al," she responded.
"Love you, too, Bell! Give Jackie a kiss for me!"
"I will! Bye!"
Bella hung up her phone and sighed. She hadn't thought of Jazz's reaction beforehand and she grimaced thinking about it now.
"Oh, well," she sighed and closed her eyes.
Bella rolled over and groaned at the awkward position her neck was in. The room was dark, with just moonlight shining in from the windows. She picked up her phone and noticed that it was after ten o'clock and her battery was almost dead. Remembering that she had left her charger and laptop bag in the car, she sat up and turned on the lamp next to the bed. She stood and walked into the en-suite bathroom, using the facilities and running her fingers through her hair to get out any tangles.
When she was finished, she threw on her shoes, opened the door and stepped out into the hall. She quietly made her way down the stairs and was walking past the kitchen when she heard voices from within.
"Edward, please," she heard Esme say. "Try to be nicer to the poor girl. She's been nothing short of amazing with him. She could have ignored the information she received about us and continued to live their lives, but she chose to take the risk of bringing him back to us. I won't let you chase her away by being so confrontational with her. This time, we may never see him again."
Bella's chest was tight until she let out a breath that she didn't know she had been holding. Her brow furrowed as she thought over Esme's words. Was she trying to force Edward into being nice to her because she was scared she'd take Jack away?
"I know, Mom, I'm sorry." His velvet voice wrapped around her and she closed her eyes, momentarily forgetting what she had come down here for.
"I'm not mad at her and I know it wasn't her fault. I just want to wrap my hands around Victoria's neck," he said angrily.
"Then you need to stop pushing that off on Bella. It's not right, son," she heard Carlisle interject. Edward let out a frustrated growl.
"I know that! I just-" He stopped. "I don't know what I feel," he finished quietly.
Having heard enough, Bella stealthily stole her way out of the front door and down to her car. She had managed to open it and gathered her things in her arms before she heard the front door open. She looked up and saw that Edward was standing there, looking at her. She made sure that she held everything securely before shutting the door and locking up. As she made her way back towards the house, she noticed his stance was tense.
"Is everything alright?" she asked. He nodded curtly and opened the door for her. She walked in and up the stairs in a sort of confused daze. Why had he come outside and looked at her that way? Was he afraid that they were sneaking out in the middle of the night? Once she thought about it, she figured she couldn't really blame him for his paranoia, so she left it alone and made her way up to her room. She plugged her charger into the wall and sat the laptop bag on the bed. She turned and was startled to see Edward standing in the doorway. She hadn't heard him follow her upstairs.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to scare you. I was just wondering if you had a moment to talk?"
"You know, your mood swings are starting to give me whiplash," she said softly.
He grimaced and was just about to respond when Jack's voice sounded out behind him.
"Mom?" he called. Edward turned and stepped into the hallway so that Bella could pass. Jack was standing there in his Batman pajamas.
"What's wrong, sweetie?"
"I had a bad dream. Can you sing to me?" he asked in a small voice.
She looked at Edward quickly and saw that his eyes were resting on Jack with a sad look on his face.
She walked over and took Jack's hand and walked him back to his room.
"Sure, baby, I would love to."
She turned back to see Edward still standing in front of her door, somewhat awkwardly.
"Would you like to join us?" she asked.
His eyes widened and he smiled slightly while nodding. She smiled back and they walked in Jack's room. Edward sat down in the chair by the door and Bella curled up in bed with Jack.
"What would you like to hear?"
Jack thought for a moment before responding.
Bella smiled and started running her fingers through his hair while she sang.
Good night my angel time to close you eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you Good night my angel now it's time to sleep And like a boat out on the ocean
And you should always know
Where ever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark and deep
Inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me
I promised I would never leave you
Good night my angel now it's time to sleep
And like a boat out on the ocean
Do do do do...
Goodnight my angel now it's time to dream
And dream how wondeful your life will be
Someday your child will cry and if you sing this lullaby
Then in your heart there will always be a part of me
Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabies go on and on
They never die that's how you and I will be
Bella fell silent once the song was over and listened to Jack's even breathing. She took a deep breath in through her nose and let it out slowly. She didn't get to sing him to sleep much anymore, but when she did, she reveled in it. She glanced up at Edward and saw that he was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and face in his hands. As soon as she saw his shoulders shaking slightly, she carefully extricated herself from the bed. She walked over quietly as she could and placed a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her, his green irises standing out brightly in his red rimmed eyes. Tears were running down his face as he held in quiet sobs. She reached down for his hand and led him out of the room, so as to not disturb Jack.
Without either one of them saying another word, they went into Bella's room. She slid off her shoes and sat down on the bed, patting the spot next to her. He looked at her tentatively.
"You wanted to talk, right? Might as well be comfortable."
He nodded stiffly and wiped his face before removing his own shoes and sat down next to her, leaning against the headboard.
"I want to start by saying how very sorry I am that I've been. . . difficult with you." He swallowed thickly.
"Victoria and I dated in high school and have always had a volatile relationship. I thought that we were in love, and thought it was like that because we were both passionate people. I was a year younger because I skipped a grade early on. We both got into Northwestern and got a little apartment off campus. The summer before our sophomore year, Vicki found out that she was pregnant. She was a few months shy of 19 and I had only just turned 18. Neither one of us were prepared, or ready to be parents, so I had to talk her out of an abortion. I couldn't bear the thought of her killing our child. I offered her anything I could to get her to bring it to term and then I would take care of it. She refused and disappeared for about a month. She showed back up at our apartment looking haggard and worn. My first thoughts were that she had gone through with it and I was devastated. She quickly corrected me and told me that if I wanted the baby, then I would have to marry her. Her father was a big shot in the community and it would ruin their family's reputation if she had a baby out of wedlock. Thinking that I loved her and wanting nothing more than to keep my child safe, I agreed."
He reached out and absentmindedly began rubbing her palm with his thumb.
"We had a quick wedding at City Hall at the end of August, which our parents were opposed to, but nothing would change our minds. At the end of the next March, our baby boy was born. I was ecstatic and over the moon. Victoria just seemed like she couldn't care less. I chalked it up to postpartum depression, and hoped that it would get better. We were both able to finish out the school year, thanks to my mother taking care of Jack while we attended class. Her parents bought us a penthouse apartment so that we would have more room for the baby, and we continued to go to school with Esme babysitting Jack. My mom adored him so it was never an issue for her. Victoria coasted through school, not really caring about what she was doing. I have no proof, but I think her father pulled some strings or used some bribes to get her through. She barely had any interaction with our son. I'd pick him up after class and take him home, feed him, and then bathe him before reading or playing with him. Jack was my reason for existing."
Bella felt tears in her eyes as Edward's voice cracked on his last sentence and his tears started to drip slowly down his face.
"When Jack was around two, Victoria started going on spa weekends with her girlfriends once a month, which turned to twice a month, and then eventually every weekend right before he disappeared. I was happy to spend my time with Jack, so I never really thought about it. We graduated the summer after he turned two. Victoria went to work at some fluff job that her father made up just for her. I started to work at an acquisitions firm at the bottom and worked my way up through a pair of a promotions the first year. In mid-September that year, Victoria said she was taking Jack with her to visit her mother in Phoenix. Even though Vicki didn't really have a lot of interaction with him, he was still her son. I was so busy with my newest promotion and was working long hours, so I thought that it might be a good idea for him to spend some quality time with her."
Bella tried to steel her heart for what was coming next. She had lived through her perspective, but now she was finally getting to hear Edward's.
"I called them every night. I spoke with them the first night they were gone, but for the next few after that, she said that he was sleeping. When she called me to tell me that he was missing, my heart shattered. I called work and took a leave of absence and was on the next flight to Phoenix. I was scared and angry that she had allowed something like that to happen. When I got to her mother's house and found out that he had been reported missing for over 48 hours before she even thought to call me, I was livid. I called my lawyer, James, and interrupted his vacation visiting family. He flew right down to Phoenix and worked with Victoria and I to set up interviews with anyone who was in the vicinity of the park where she said he was taken from. I grew more withdrawn and took solace in the bottom of a bottle once two weeks had passed. I gave up in despair and allowed James to find a Private Investigator. He started reporting back to Victoria when I was too wasted to hear what he had to say. After a month in Phoenix, the local police told us that we should make peace and go home. I mean, who the fuck says that to a parent? It broke me, it really did. We finally decided to go home and Vicki went right back to life as normal, as if her child had never been there to being with. I bought an air mattress and slept in his room for the first month of being home. Victoria tried to seduce me back into bed and it worked. I tried to bury my despair and hide in the arms of my wife, but I couldn't go through with it. I couldn't allow myself to hide while my son was scared out there somewhere. No matter what anyone said to me, I couldn't allow myself to think that he was gone for good. I just couldn't. I knew if I let that happen, I wouldn't be able to pick my life back up."
His voice grew steadier as he continued on.
"So, I threw myself into work and let it take over my life. I decided to start my own firm and it shot up right from the starting gate. Six months after Jack disappeared, I found out that Victoria was sleeping around and had been for quite awhile. On her next "spa weekend" I packed up everything I owned and all of Jack's things and had Emmett help me move it here. I went back to leave her a letter and in my anger, I trashed our bedroom. I hadn't felt that much pleasure since before Jack disappeared. I ended up staying here because I too far gone in depression to care about anything other than working. I've slowly pulled out of it and started socializing more, but still nothing took my mind off of Jack. Every day got easier to bear and on the day that I realized that, I broke down and cried my eyes out."
He closed his eyes and when he opened them again, they were full of tears.
"When I walked in here today and I saw you, my heart skipped a beat. That hasn't happened to me in such a long time. When Mom walked over and said that you were Jack's adopted mother and you brought him to see us, my heart expanded and shattered at the same time. I saw him and I knew who he was. I would have known if she had never said anything. My heart felt like it was going claw its way right out of my chest. When I held him in my arms, I felt all of the years melt away and I was whole again. When he spoke so lovingly with you, my jealously and anger at the situation took over. You are the very last person in the world who deserved any of that. I am so damn sorry, Bella. I hope you can forgive me."
He started sobbing and Bella wrapped him in her arms. He rested his head on her shoulder and cried his heart out. After a few minutes, she felt his breathing even out and she looked down to see his face peaceful and asleep. Her heart ached after hearing his story. She brushed a piece of hair across his forehead and gazed at him, noting that he looked like an angel as he slept. An exact replica of his son, who had cemented himself into her heart five years earlier. She reached next to her and turn off the lamp and settled into a more comfortable position, with Edward's head still resting on her shoulder and her arm wrapped around him.
She closed her eyes and sent a silent prayer above that this older version of Jack would leave her heart intact when it was time for them to go back to Washington.
I want to let you guys know that on Friday, September 10th, TLammy is hosting a #Readalong for Parachute on Twitter. It'll be my first time participating in one and I sincerely hope that some of you join us as well!
I'll be posting directions on how to participate on the Blog next week! Feel free to follow me there as well! (AT)KitsuShel