AN: First off, huge thanks to LaMomo for prettying this up and Stratan for Beta'ing!
Just an FYI, Parachute's Fandom for Preemies JackPOV piece will be posting sometime this weekend to the Outtakes. As will my one shot for the One Shot Sountrack Contest, Misery Business. Keep an eye out for those or put me on Author Alert if you'd like! I have a few other things up my sleeve as well. ;-)
"So, how was it?" Alice asked, once she got the squeals of excitement out of her system.
Bella sighed and rubbed her face with her free hand. "It was..." She paused, trying to find the right words. "It was nice, I guess? Edward was very sweet and attentive. He gave me Advil and we had a warm shower together afterwards."
"Wait, he took care of you like that? Whoa, Edward Cullen doesn't do anything half-assed, does he?" Alice laughed lightly.
"What do you mean?" Bella asked.
"Well, most guys aren't like that. My first time was in the back of Jasper's pickup truck. It was quick, painful and messy. Do you remember what I said that night when I called you later?"
"This is what we hear so much about? I'd rather use my fingers," Bella responded in giggles. "Oh, man. I can still remember that clearly. You were so pissed."
"I was indeed. I had all of that fairytale hype about how my first time was supposed to be all magical and crap. What baloney."
After a moment's pause, Alice sighed and a smile could be heard in her voice. "I'm glad that your first time went much better. I still kick myself for pushing you to lose it to Jacob. It was wrong, and I was too pushy."
"Oh, Allie. You just go overboard sometimes, but I know that you mean well," Bella said in an attempt to comfort her friend.
"Still," Alice continued, "I'm glad Edward was good to you. Maybe it paid off to have an older, wiser man."
"Al," Bella laughed out, "you make it sound like he's ancient."
A few giggles and laughs later, Bella sighed softly. "The first time really was nice, but the second time was amazing. I never knew I could feel so much at once."
Alice gasped. "A second time? You slut! I didn't know you had it in you, Bells. I'm such a proud mama." Alice pretended to sniffle.
Bella blushed and hissed into the phone. "Don't make fun of me Mary Alice. It's not nice."
"Oh, Bella," Alice responded, laughter still coloring her voice, "I wouldn't dream of it."
After a few more minutes of sharing too much info between friends, Bella hung up and made her way back to where Tanya and Esme were sitting. The former put down the magazine she was reading and smiled at her.
"How is Alice doing, dear?" Esme asked kindly.
"She's doing well. She just got in a new shipment of some Egyptian fabric, so she's in heaven."
Tahn snorted. "Alice is usually easy to please. A little fabric, some designer shoes, naked Jasper."
"Uh, eww?" Bella drawled. "He's like my brother. Just, no."
Tanya laughed. "Well, that doesn't make it any less true, you know."
Bella shook her head and it on Tanya's shoulder, getting as comfortable as she could in the hard plastic chairs. She yawned and nudged her friend.
"I'm taking a nap. Wake me when it's time to roll?"
Tanya smiled kindly. "Sure thing, babe."
Bella closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift off.
Later that night in Detroit, Bella collapsed into the bed in her hotel room. The day had been hectic after their flight landed. First, an interview with a local radio show and then off to another book signing. She had only had time for a quick phone call earlier with Edward just to check in that both of their flights arrived safely. After looking at the clock, she decided to try and see if he was still up.
"Hello, love," Edward's smooth, deep voiced caressed her ear.
She sighed, the tension in her body relaxing just by hearing his voice.
"Hi babe," she murmured, leaning back against the pillows.
"You sound tired. Did Tanya wear you out?" he asked, his voice laced with humor.
"Yes, she did. I'm glad that we only do these once a year or so. They're completely exhausting."
"I can imagine," he responded.
Something in the background caught her attention.
"Hey, can you turn that up a little?" she asked him.
"Sure, hang on a sec."
She heard the low strains of music and then the rustling of covers. The music grew louder until she could hear it clearly.
"Sorry, I love this song," she said softly before starting to hum.
Brick by brick, we can build it from the floor.
If we hold onto each other, we'll be better than before.
And brick by brick,
we'll get back to yesterday.
When I made your body shiver and
when you took my breath away,
you took my breath away.
"You never said that you were a Train fan," she commented.
He chuckled. "I wouldn't say I've been a fan, but I've never disliked them. That song you played in the car before had me give them a chance. I'm glad I did. There are several that make me think of you."
"Aww, you're so sweet," she murmured. "So, what did you guys do today?"
"Well, we had a nap when we got home, and then he talked me into going to the skatepark."
"Oh no," Bella groaned. "Did you make it home in one piece this time?"
"Ha, ha, ha," he replied in a deadpan voice. "I learned my lesson, so I stayed on the sidelines."
"That's a relief. I would worry about you being injured and all alone."
He made a humming noise in agreement. After a moment of comfortable silence, he spoke again.
"You know, I had a fantasy about you that night."
"Really?" she asked in surprise. "What kind of fantasy?"
He cleared his throat. "Oh, um, nothing much."
"Oh, come on, Edward!" she pleaded. "You can't bring it up and arouse my curiosity just to drop it."
She heard him mutter something that sounded similar to arousing being the correct term.
He sighed and chuckled. "I had a dream that you came to give me a sponge bath and take care of my wounds. Dressed like a nurse."
Her cheeks flushed and warmth spread through her chest. It was a powerful feeling knowing that you were desired.
"That sounds interesting. What happened?" she asked, somewhat breathlessly.
"Ah, erm, are you sure you want to hear this? I'd much rather tell you in person," he replied, his voice lowering slightly.
"Well, that won't be happening for a few days unfortunately, so why don't you tell me now?"
She heard him swallow. "I- ah... why is this so awkward?" he asked suddenly. "I mean, we've seen each other naked and know each other's body well, but talking about it on the phone feels so weird."
She laughed and smiled. "You're right, it does feel a little awkward, but I still want to know. Please?"
"Fine," he sighed. "I dreamt that I was tossing and turning restlessly before you appeared in my doorway. You were wearing one of those old fashioned nurse outfits with a little white hat. You walked over and asked seductively if I needed a sponge bath, before stripping me and having your way with me."
"Really?" she asked, excitement bubbling under her skin. "What did I do with you?"
He groaned lightly. "You wrapped your hands around my shaft and stroked me."
"Shaft? Is that what you call it in your head?" she asked in curiosity.
"Erm, well, no."
She scrunched her nose and started to twirl a piece of hair distractedly. "Why don't you just say what you call it?"
"I don't know... I guess it's not polite conversation material."
"Well, this isn't exactly polite conversation, is it?" she asked, cheekily.
He growled and dropped his voice an octave lower. "Really? What do you want to hear, Bella? About how your soft hands stroked my aching cock, slowly at first and then quicker until I came all over my stomach? Do you want to hear about how I woke up from that dream with sticky pants? How I hadn't had a wet dream since I was in high school?"
She let a small whimper. "Yes, that's exactly what I wanted to hear."
"Oh, Bella," he groaned, "you're going to be the death of me, woman."
"It'd be a lovely way to go though, wouldn't it?" she laughed. "Would it make you feel better to know that I thought about you as well?"
She briefly wondered where her boldness was coming from, but the thought flew from her head when she heard his gasp.
"Really? You do?" he asked in a disbelieving tone.
"Yes, why wouldn't I? You're a gorgeous, sexy man."
"But you were a, uh, virgin?"
She rolled her eyes. "Really, Edward? Just because I was a virgin doesn't mean that I've never touched myself or had an orgasm."
"Really?" he asked, shock clearly evident in his tone.
"Yes, really. I'm a 23 year old woman, and I have needs, too, you know."
"Wow," he muttered. "I never thought of it like that."
"Well, now you know. You've made my showers more enjoyable over the past few weeks."
She giggled at his stunned silence and put the phone on speaker so she could get changed for bed.
"What's that noise?" he asked. "Are you getting naked?"
"No, well, sort of," she replied. "I'm getting ready for bed, so I can curl up and let your voice be the last thing I hear before I close my eyes."
He sighed. "That sounds like a good plan. I just wish it was my arms that you were falling asleep in."
"Me, too, baby. Wednesday will be here before you know it."
"I know. I don't know how I'm going to make it for weeks until I'm able to move."
That thought stopped her in her tracks and she sat down on the bed. She knew that he couldn't just drop everything and leave his life in Chicago, but suddenly the thought of weeks without him made her feel desolate.
"Hey, are you still there?" he asked when he had heard nothing for a few moments.
"Yeah, sorry, I'm here. Just got lost in thought."
"Don't what?" she asked.
"Don't second guess everything. It will be fine. *We'll* be fine."
She smiled to herself. "I know," she responded quietly. "It's my nature to worry, though."
"That's understandable, it's part of being a parent. Just don't doubt me or us. We're a family now, Bella. And nothing can change that."
She felt the sting of tears and smiled. He always knew just what to say to melt her heart.
"I won't. I promise. I love, you so much, Edward."
"I love you, too, Bella. So much."
After a few moments, he cleared his throat slightly. "So, about these shower thoughts..."
Bella tried her best to stay busy and occupied over the next day and a half, to make the time go by quicker. After speaking with Edward last night, she agreed to meet him at his office for lunch. Tanya was taking an early flight back to Seattle to get caught up some of her other clients, so Bella and Esme also caught a very early morning flight home. She walked into the Cullen house at nine a.m. and felt an immediate sense of home. As much as she was eager to get back to her own place, she knew that she'd miss this house and the family that made it a home. Jack was already out for the day with Emmett and Rose, so she trudged up to her room with her suitcase and sprawled out on the bed for a nap. She closed her eyes and drifted off after setting the alarm on her phone.
She awoke two hours later, feeling refreshed, and quickly changed into a pair of jeans and a button down shirt, opting for comfort over fashion for this afternoon. She stopped by Esme's room to say goodbye, but the older woman was sound asleep. She chuckled and wrote a note to leave on the kitchen counter, before heading out the door and into Nevaeh. When she arrived at the office, she parked next to Edward's little sports car and made her way into the building.
Bella stepped off the elevator on Edward's floor and smiled. She had missed him fiercely over the past few days and she was eager to see him. She turned towards his secretary's desk and smiled at the young woman seated there.
"Hello again, Gianna," Bella said pleasantly.
Gianna looked up and gave Bella a warm smile. "Hello, Ms. Swan. Mr. Brooks is in with Mr. Cullen right now, but I'll let him know that you're here."
"Oh, no worries. I'll just send him a text message and tell him to take his time."
Gianna nodded and reached for the ringing phone. "Hello, Mr. Cullen's office."
She tuned out the girl's chattering and pulled out her phone to fire off a message to Edward. A few moments later, his office door opened and James Brooks stepped out, closing the door behind him. His eyes caught Bella and his smile made the hair on the back of her neck stand up.
"Miss Swan," he began in a sweet voice, "it's a pleasure to see you again."
"Mr. Brooks," she replied in acknowledgement.
His eyes shot over to Gianna, who was still pre-occupied on the phone.
"How are you doing? I heard that you've just returned from a book tour. Was it successful?"
She eyed him warily, nodding. "Yes, it was a busy trip."
He smiled and nodded as well. "Good, I'm glad that it went well. I'm happy that I've run into you, actually."
Her eyes narrowed. "Why is that?" she asked in suspicion.
He sighed and gave her a sad smile. "I know you care very much about Edward, but I'm afraid that things aren't always what they seem."
Her heart skipped a beat. "What do mean?" she asked, hesitantly.
"Look, I know you're a nice girl and the Cullen family has fallen completely in love with you, except for one. I don't know how he sweet talked you into bed or made you believe that he loved you, but Edward is only using you. I don't want you to hurt anymore than you're already going to be."
She gave James an incredulous look. "Are you out of your mind? How dare you?"
"Seducing you and getting Jackson back has been his plan from the beginning. After everything that he's been through with Victoria and losing his child, do you honestly think that he'd give his heart away so easily?"
Her eyes widened and panic began to slowly build in her chest. "No," she whispered and shook her head, refusing to believe.
"Don't be naive, Isabella. I can prove it," he responded, opening up his briefcase and pulling out a piece of paper. He held it out to her, but she couldn't bring herself to take it. He shook it in her direction slightly and Bella reached out to take it from him slowly, as if the document were a snake waiting to bite.
She looked at the man in front of her one more time before letting her eyes scan the words written before her, each one adding a crack in her heart's armor, one at a time. Her eyes stung and her bottom lip quivered as the writing started to blur with her tears.
Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Domestic Relations Division
Petition for Sole Custody of Jackson Charles Swan
Edward Masen Cullen, Petitioner
Isabella Marie Swan, Respondent
The document looked official, with the city's seal at the top of the letterhead. A gasping sob wrenched at her chest and she crumpled the offending paper in her fist. She placed a hand over her mouth to stifle the noise as she backed away from James slowly. He gave her a sympathetic smile.
"I am so sorry, Bella. I told him not to do this, that it wasn't fair to either you or Jack."
She shook her head, tears falling freely over her cheeks and fingers that were still covering her mouth. Her heart lay shattered on the ground and she couldn't stand in that waiting room one moment longer. She turned and fled to the elevator, barely making it inside before letting her rage and hurt release. She hit the wall and screamed.
"No, no, no," she cried. Her back slowly slid down the wall of the elevator and she cradled her head in her hands and sobbed.
This can't be happening. It can't be true.
She tried to calm her emotions and harsh breathing as questions began to swirl in her head.
Why did he do this?
Did he set this into motion before we got together?
Were all of his feelings just an act?
"It couldn't have been," she answered out loud. "This is bullshit. I'm not leaving until I hear it from his mouth."
Whatever happened to client/attorney privilege?
That last thought snapped at her mind. "Mother-" she said in a moment of clarity. "James, you rotten bastard."
The elevator dinged at the third floor, signalling passengers about to step on, so she quickly stood and rubbed her face, praying that she didn't look like too much of a mess. Her resolve was set. She was going to turn right back around and up to Edward's office as soon as the elevator made it to the ground floor. Edward would either crush her heart or be forced to see James for the conniving douchebag that he was.
A few moments later, her phone began to ring. As soon as she saw who the caller was, she started to wonder if Fate was on her side today.
"Please tell me that you have something, Jenks. Anything at all," she pleaded.
"Well, hello to you too, Miss Bella," the man chuckled lightly in response.
"Jenks, this is not a good time for jokes. Everything could quite possibly be crashing down upon my head. Please give me something I can use."
Immediately, Jenks was back in professional mode. "Yes, Bella, I do have something that you can use. It turns out that I couldn't find anything on James Brooks because he doesn't exist."
"Wait, how is that possible?" she asked in confusion.
"Well, it looks like he changed his name legally and had the records sealed. His birth name is James Davenport, and you won't belive where he was born."
"Where?" she asked, holding her breath and suspecting the answer already.
"Son of a bitch," she exclaimed. She quickly smiled apologetically to the man who was riding the elevator up to the fifth floor. 'Sorry,' she mouthed.
The man rolled his eyes and looked away.
"When did he move to Chicago?"
"Ten years ago. He changed his name shortly after moving there. His parents still live in Seattleand he usually visits them once a year. Would you like to take a guess which month he visited in 2005?"
She closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. "September?"
"September," Jenks confirmed. "I took the liberty of having one of my people interview Mr. and Mrs. Davenport under a ruse and obtained a few more choice tidbits. They confirmed that their son is a lawyer in Chicago and has a long term girlfriend named Vicki, who just so happens to be a beautiful, sweet girl."
"Call Tanya and give her this info. She'll know what to do."
"Yes, ma'am. I'll keep my ear to the ground. If I find anything else out, I'll let you know."
Bella pocketed her iPhone and her hands curled into fists. The anger that she had experienced minutes earlier paled in comparison to the rage that coursed through her now. The proof that James was a part of Jack's abandonment was black and white in front of her face. She fully planned on marching back into that office and tearing a new asshole into anyone who dared get in her way.
When the elevator reached the final floor, she was alone. The doors opened and before she could step out, she found herself once again face to face with James Brooks. His eyes widened in shock and her fist flew without thought. He swiftly caught her hand and pushed her back into the elevator with his body weight.
"What the hell are you doing?" he hissed angrily.
"You- you-" she stuttered. "You piece of shit! I'm not leaving here until I talk to Edward. I know who you are and what you did to Jack. You're a miserable excuse for a human being!" she shouted in her fury.
Quicker than she could blink, one of his forearms was pressed against her throat menacingly while the other hand gripped her by the hair.
"You couldn't just leave, could you?" he ground out. "No, you had to be Miss High-And-Mighty. From the first moment I laid eyes on you, I knew you'd be a challenge."
Her heart started to beat erratically, fear filling up the space where fury had recently resided. The wild, angry look in his eyes made her blood run cold. She instantly regretted not holding back her temper until she was in full view of witnesses.
His hand let go of her hair and he let his fingers trail down her cheek. She tried to turn away, but the pressure on her throat increased, causing her to gasp and freeze.
"I can see why he's been so enamored of you. You're very beautiful and feisty."
He cocked his head to the side and shook it slowly. "You really should have just run. Taken the boy and gotten the hell out of Chicago. That would have made things so much simpler. Now I don't know what to do with you."
He leaned back and hummed slightly before reaching over and pressing the button for the parking garage. Seeing a window of opportunity, she twisted away from him and landed a solid kick to his mid-section, but he recovered quickly. Her fingers were mere inches away from the emergency button when James grabbed her hair and threw her roughly against the back wall of the elevator. When she attempted to rush past him, his fist connected with her temple viciously and then everything went black.
AN: Ok, no killing me for the cliffie, okay? This is the way it's always played out in my head. You guys should know me well enough by now to know that I won't drag anything out.
Music used in the chapter was Brick by Brick by Train. (Off of the same album as Parachute)
Love, squishes and kisses until next week! Or Monday and the teasers, whichever comes first for you. Oh, and yes I know that next Friday is Christmas Eve, but I'll still be posting on schedule for my lovies!
(Srsly, don't forget to check out Jack's POV when it posts, which will probably be tomorrow night.)