A/N: This is the last out take for the Come Back to Me family. I hope you've enjoyed their struggles and triumphs. I thank you all for sharing their journey with me. It's amazing what kind of story is sparked from one song!
Huge thanks to my betas, pre-readers, and all those who stepped in and helped out in a pinch: LJ Summers, BellaMadonna, Roselover2, Katmom, Babette12, Kstab100.
Again, thanks so much for reading and reviewing! You can follow me on twitter Melolabel or just have me on author alert. I'll be working on The Kept Men's Club next!
Come Back To Me
The Chronicles of Lucas Cullen
Lucas Cullen inherited the all of the best qualities and a few of the more infuriating ones from both of his parents. He potty trained when he was exactly three and could also use big boy utensils at the dinner table. He was the smartest kid in his kindergarten class. By the middle of the year he could read, write all of his sight words, and was extremely articulate.
He was also kindred spirits with Pigpen from the Peanuts cartoon, extraordinarily stubborn, and highly inquisitive. There was always a little cloud of debris following him wherever he went. Often random piles of trash, craft project leftovers, or food would be left behind when he exited the room. His stubbornness generally manifested itself at meal time. Vegetables were his enemy—well all veggies except frozen peas. Still frozen. But even then there were issues.
Edward sat down and observed his grinning two-year-old, Luc. His face was covered with spaghetti sauce and he was happily squishing thawed peas all over his highchair tray. Luc peeked up and said, "Daddy! Daddy pea! Daddy pea!"
"Yes, buddy. You're eating those nasty frozen peas. Good boy." Just as Edward picked up his fork and dug in to his own dinner, Luc sneezed. All of a sudden a pea hit Edward's hand. When Edward figured out that it had come from Luc's nose, he groaned.
A quick glance was all he needed, to see two more green orbs in his son's nostrils. "Bella?" Edward called out. She was in the kitchen fixing her own plate and hadn't made it to the table yet.
"Has Luc ever stuck peas up his nose?"
"Did he do it again?" Bella hurried from the kitchen, plopped her plate down on the table with a clatter, and immediately lifted Luc's chin. Sure enough, both sides of his nose were blocked with peas.
"So it's not the first time?"
"No," she replied to her husband, then turned to the toddler. "You little stinker!" she said to the smiling cherub with resigned frustration. Edward started to massage the sides of Luc's nose but Bella stopped him. "That doesn't work. Trust me."
She left the room to search for a pair of tweezers. Edward was just wiping the sauce from their son's face when she returned. She plucked him out of his highchair, got one of his old flannel blankets, and wrapped him up, pinning his arms down.
"What are you doing?" Edward looked on dubiously.
"I'm gonna get the peas out," Bella replied, matter-of-factly as she laid Luc on the softer carpet of the living room. She straddled the little boy who squirmed and wriggled against his swaddling. He knew what came next and wasn't happy about it.
"You know I've done this before," he said somewhat smugly.
"Yeah, on other kids. You've never been able to tolerate Luc's fussing. Just stand back and let me do my thing." Bella squeezed her legs a little tighter to insure that a flailing arm didn't come popping out of the bindings. She pulled a pen light from her pocket and put it in her mouth, turned Luc's head to the side and held it down gently. The tweezers weren't even halfway there before Luc started wailing.
"Are you sure you need to. . ." Edward started, but was cut off by a sharp grunt and what sounded vaguely like a "zip it Cullen" but he couldn't be sure.
He watched his wife expertly extract three peas from their son's nose. Edward knelt down and wordlessly accepted the foreign objects as though he was an O.R. nurse, receiving soiled surgipads. He was internally divided on whether or not he wished someone else had been there to witness the comedic role reversal.
"Do you have your otoscope? I just want to make sure I got everything."
"Oh. Uh, yeah. Hold on." Edward jumped up, tossed the peas in the trash and dug through his med kit. He knelt over their son and turned to his wife, scope in hand. "Allow me?"
"Be my guest," she smirked and held Luc's head still while Edward shined the light up his nose.
"All clear," he declared after a thorough examination.
Bella lifted the little boy, un-wrapped him, and set him in her lap. She gave him a big hug and kissed his forehead. "Lucas Cullen, where do the peas go?"
He ducked his head then peered up with saucer-wide eyes and pointed to his mouth.
"That's right, little man. Peas go in the mouth. Not the nose!"
"No nose, mommy."
"That's right little man. No nose. Now, up a stairs for jammy time!" The sandy-haired little boy scrambled out of his mother's lap and started up the stairs.
"So how many times has he done that?" Edward asked again as he put away his scope.
"That was the fifth."
Lucas was very quiet on the drive home from Sunday dinner with the whole family. Bella glanced back at him several times during the trip because it was so out of character for him to be that quiet. Usually, he would talk a blue streak from Forks to Port A. without stopping.
When they arrived at home, Luc remained contemplative throughout his bed time ritual. His covers were pulled up under his armpits and still he'd said scarcely a word. As Edward leaned down to kiss his forehead, Luc asked, "Daddy, why is aunt Alice so fat?"
"Well, she has a baby growing in her tummy."
"How did a baby get in there?"
Too soon! Warning! Warning! Why is he asking about where babies come from? Edward's thoughts were panicky and he felt all the blood drain from his face. In fact he felt lightheaded and moments away from passing out completely. Why were there no "Teach your kids the birds and the bees 101" classes in med school?
"Well, Luc, when a Mommy and a Daddy love each other, they . . .You see, there's a special place where a baby can grow . . ." Mayday, I am going down in flames, he thought.
"Did she eat it?"
"Yeah. Did she eat it and that's why her tummy is so big?"
"Well, no. She didn't eat it."
"Then how?" he asked, frustration and confusion clearly written all over his little face.
It was at that moment that Edward heard a soft "Ahem" behind him. He looked at his wife relieved and at the same time chagrined. She was pink to her ears with restrained laughter.
"Have you been wondering about this since dinner at Gramma's?" Her soft voice floated through the room like a warm breeze.
Luc nodded and gazed hopefully at his mother. She sighed as she sat down next to him and stroked her fingers through his unruly hair. "Well, sweetie, you remember what happens when you plant a seed, right?"
"It grows into a sunflower. We did that at school."
"That's right. Well, mommies and daddies each have part of a seed and when they put them together, a baby starts to grow. It has to grow in a special place that only mommies have called a womb. It's different than where food goes in your tummy."
"Oh. Okay." Luc said with a sleepy yawn. "Love you Mommy. Good night Daddy."
"Love you, too, sweetheart. Now close your eyes and go to sleep." The little boy yawned, snatched his beloved Snoopy dog from the corner of his bed, and began to suck on the frayed tail.
Flummoxed, Edward followed Bella into their room and sat heavily on the edge of the bed. "How did you even know what to say?"
"Your mom gave me a book nearly a year ago. She said if Luc was anything like you, we'd want to be prepared for questions like that any day." Bella grinned and straddled her husband, pushing him down on the bed.
He wrapped his arms around her and asked, "What are we going to tell him when we bring home Aimee?"
"I've got a book for that, too." She kissed him quiet and reached over to turn the bedside lamp off.
"Hey hon, where's Luc?"
"He's out back playing with Ethan."
Through the sliding glass door, Edward observed where the boys were playing. They were both standing side by side toward the back of the yard by the cinderblock retaining wall. It seemed like they were swaying back and forth. It took a moment for him to realize exactly what they were doing.
When the light bulb over his head flickered on, he began laughing; not just a chuckle but a full-belied laugh that drew Bella to his side.
"What? What's so funny?"
"Oh. My. Gosh. Are they . . .?"
"On the wall?"
Bella marched over to the sliding patio door and wrenched it open. As she walked onto the deck and focused more closely she could make out an L and a U already marking the wall. Ethan was happily making swirly patterns.
"Lucas Charles Cullen! Are you PEEING your name on the garden wall?" She stood there with her hands on her hips, fighting to keep her expression serious as Lucas and Ethan both frantically tried to pull up the fronts of their pants. "Front and center. Now!"
Both boys trudged toward the house, heads down, until they stood in front of the grownups.
"Lucas, please explain where you got the idea to pee your name onto the garden wall."
His mossy green eyes darted to his cousin then down to the ground as he shrugged.
Bella then leveled her gaze on Ethan, asked the question again, and was met with more silence and a few elbow shoves between the two boys. Edward had retreated back into the house, unable to keep a straight face.
"You have ten seconds to explain this to me or there will be no popsicles." With her hands on her hips and the tone of voice she was using, there was no doubt in Lucas' mind that his mother was serious.
His desperate eyes flashed to hers, a war of emotions raging in them. With eyebrows knit together and a scowl on his face he grumbled something too low to hear.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Look at me and say that again, please?"
Luc finally met his mother's gaze and said, "Uncle Emmett."
After an extensive lecture on the location of the bathroom and how it's only okay to pee outside when camping, as well as a warning about never doing that again, the boys were finally released back to their play.
When Bella stalked back into the kitchen, Edward held a just-waking-up Aimee in his arms, blowing raspberries on her cheek. She glanced at her husband and growled, "Your brother is a dead man."
His face was hot. He licked his dry lips and took a deep breath, his hands tightly curled around the small slip of paper. His heart was beating a hundred miles an hour. Was it possible to have a heart attack at thirteen years old? He thought.
"Come on," he chided himself. His voice was low and full of self-recrimination. "Stop being a chicken and dial!"
He held the phone in his hand and mashed the buttons with a determined ferocity. One ring. Two rings. Three rings . . .
No way was he leaving a message. Not. Gonna. Happen. His thumb was poised over the disconnect button. Just as the fourth ring sounded and he was sure the answering machine was going to come on, a gruff voice sounded through the receiver.
"Hello?" Crap. Her father answered.
"Uh. . . Hi, is Lexi there?" His voice cracked and squeaked. He pretty much wanted to fall through the floor and never see the light of day again.
"Who is this?"
"Lucas Cullen, sir. Is Lexi home?"
He could hear Lexi in the background asking "Who is it?" and "Is it for me?" but he figured the less he spoke to her father, the better.
"She's home. Just a minute." He sounded grumpy, which only served to make the knot in Luc's stomach twist even tighter.
After an agonizing thirty seconds a sweet voice came through the handset. "Hello?"
"Lexi?" Another squeak. He dragged his hand down his face and stifled a groan.
"Yeah?" Her voice was breathy and soft just like her skin and her hair. Not that her hair or skin was breathy, just soft and pretty.
She giggled. "I know."
He grinned at the fact that she knew it was him. Maybe this wasn't such a big deal after all. "So. . . watcha doing?"
"Nothing. What are you doing?"
Silence. Everything he'd planned on saying flew out of his mind. And now neither of them was saying anything. Think, idiot, THINK!
"So. . .how do you think you did on the science quiz?" He rolled his eyes at his own stupidity. He was asking her about school? But he had nothing else. His mind may as well have been wiped clean by aliens, or something.
"I don't know. Okay, I guess?"
"Oh. That's good." Stu-pi-do! Just ask her. He thought again derisively. "So, I was wondering if. . . maybe. . . uh. . ." The words stuck in his throat. He felt a little bead of sweat running down the side of his face.
"Yeah?" she prompted.
"Do you maybe want to sit by me at lunch tomorrow?" Another freakin' squeak. He almost growled—a trait he'd inherited from his father.
After what felt like forever, she finally answered. "Okay."
"Yeah?" He couldn't keep the excitement from his voice, which elicited another soft giggle from his crush.
"Yeah," she replied. He could hear her smiling through the phone.
"Cool. So, I'll see you tomorrow."
"M'kay. Bye, Luc."
"Bye, Lexi." He clicked the phone off and flopped backward on his bed, euphoric and scared to death.
"Oh, you guys look so cute together!" Bella reached up to straighten Luc's bow tie and smooth the lapels of his tuxedo for the hundredth time.
"Mom, c'mon. It's fine. Are we about done with the pictures? Our reservation is in, like, twenty minutes."
"Just one more!" Like any proud mother, she snapped several more pictures of her baby boy and his date, Lexi Morris, before they left for the Junior Prom.
After a few more complaints and a giant eye-roll, Luc and his date walked out to the car.
Edward had to pull his wife off the front porch even though the taillights had long-since disappeared.
"Do you remember when that was us?" She sighed. Her voice trembled with emotion as she recalled one of their first memories together.
"I nearly threw up, I was so nervous to meet your dad." He smiled as he rubbed his wife's shoulders. He sat down on the couch and drew her to his lap, nuzzling her neck with his nose.
"And he still pulled the stupid cleaning-my-gun-when-the-boy-comes routine. I can't believe he did that."
Edward chuckled. "It was an effective deterrent to any hormone-fueled thoughts I might have had that night."
The trip down memory lane lasted the better part of an hour. They took a break to tuck Aimee into bed and fix some popcorn then settled onto the couch for a movie.
The movie was still playing but both Edward and Bella had fallen asleep on the couch. They probably wouldn't have awoken were it not for the squeaky hinge on the front door. Bella popped her head up and saw Luc close the door, his back was facing her but she knew something was wrong just by his posture.
Then she saw the time and became doubly worried. Luc didn't even glance in the direction of the family room before trying to scurry up the stairs unnoticed. "Luc?" she called out.
He stopped cold, one foot on the second stair, the other still planted on the ground. His shoulders slumped even further.
Bella scrambled off the couch, pushing Edward's shoulder at the same time trying to rouse him from sleep. "Is something wrong? Why are you home so early? I thought the dance went until midnight?"
"Uh. . . Yeah. It goes until midnight. Lexi . . . um . . . wasn't feeling good . . . so we left early." His voice was dull and he'd only turned slightly, not even allowing his full profile to be seen by his parents.
All of Bella's mom senses were hyperactive. His story didn't ring true. Something was definitely wrong.
Edward stepped behind his wife and asked, "Did she eat something bad at dinner?"
"No. Dinner was . . . fine," came the grumbled reply.
"She didn't throw up, did she? It'd be a shame to ruin such a pretty dre . . ."
"She didn't puke. Okay? Can I go to bed, please?" He cut off Bella's ramblings with a sharpness that was wholly out of character for her sweet boy.
"Lucas," Edward warned.
"Do you feel ill? Shall I get you a towel for the edge of your bed or some Pepto?" Bella continued with her interrogation. She was going to get to the bottom of this.
"NO, Mom. Jeez. I'm not sick."
"Then what is it, honey? Please just talk to us."
Luc turned around, his red-rimmed-gaze fixed somewhere between the family picture on the wall and the ceiling. "She ditched me. Okay? Are you happy now?"
A heavy silence hung in the air before Bella answered. "No, Lucas. I'm not happy at all." First shock then anger barreled through Bella. Why on earth would Lexi have ditched Lucas? They'd been sweet on each other since middle school. "What happened?"
"I'm such an idiot," he growled to himself, rubbing his eyes with his fists.
Bella began to say something but Edward squeezed her shoulders and whispered a soft "no" in her ear. She clamped her mouth shut and waited impatiently for some kind of explanation.
"I was the parent-approved date—her cover. As soon as we got to the dance Jason Trimball swaggered up like he was the freakin' king of the world. Two seconds later the rest of his crew shows up. Then he puts his arm around Lexi's shoulder and they start walking away. So I'm all like, 'What the hell, Lex?' and she's all, 'Thanks for dinner, Luc, but you know I'm with Jason, right?' Then she just walked away."
It only took a single heartbeat for Bella to switch from concerned to outraged. How dare that little strumpet use her son like that? She'd been stringing him along for how many months? Years, even? Bella stomped into the kitchen and grabbed the phone off the cradle.
"Mom! What are you doing?" Luc chased his mother into the kitchen.
Bella started dialing. "I'm calling Lexi's parents. They should know she's out with that . . . hooligan."
"NO! Just . . . leave it be. Please. I just want to forget that Alexis Morris exists."
"But, it's not right. And he's a . . . a criminal. . ." she trailed off weakly. The defeat etched on her son's face was screaming at her to do something. Anything. But Edward was standing behind Luc shaking his head back and forth emphatically.
"Just . . . No, mom. I was an idiot. I should've seen it sooner. I'm . . . so stupid."
And that was the kind of talk that Bella would not permit. She stepped up to her son and searched his eyes. They were so full of sadness and pain—more pain than any teenaged kid should have to go through.
She lifted her hand to his cheek and said, "You are a sweet, trusting, kind-hearted young man, who got played. I'm so sorry she used you like that. But you are not an idiot. I can't listen to you talk about yourself like that. You are my miracle." She reached her arms around her great big boy and just wanted to hold him and rock him until all of the hurt was gone.
His arms hung limply by his sides as he indulged her need to comfort him for a few precious moments before pulling away. It was the benevolent act of a true teenaged martyr. "I'm going to bed. I'll see you sometime next year," he grumbled as he trudged up the stairs.
"I'm here if you want to talk, Son," Edward added, trying to be helpful.
"Uh . . . Oka-ay, Dad." Luc shook his head and continued up the stairs with one last muttered "g'night."
Bella walked into the kitchen and began warming up a mug of water in the microwave. When Edward joined her, he could hear her muttering about all kinds of crazy plans to Facebook-stalk Lexi among other nefarious social media attacks.
The microwave beeped. Bella methodically took a tea bag out of the box and dunked it exactly fourteen times into the hot water before throwing it into the garbage. She squeezed a tablespoon of honey into the mug and stirred. She was still stirring when Edward wrapped his arms around her and kissed her neck.
"I know you're pissed, hon, but we need to let him handle this. You can't save him from everything."
"But she . . ."
"I know." Kiss.
"And he's so . . ."
"I know." Kiss.
"But . . ."
"I know, but he'll be okay." Kiss.
"Are you sure?"
"He'll talk to us when he's ready."
"Okay, but I'm not inviting the Morrises to the Christmas party."
"I should think not." Edward chuckled and led his wife up to bed.
"Are you excited, Aims?" Luc glanced over at his not-so-little-anymore little sister as they drove to the stadium. Aimee would be participating in her fifth Special Olympics and the task of helping her check in and get registered for her events fell to Luc since both his parents were working.
"Yes," she said with a huge smile splitting her face.
She bounced all the way to the line where several other participants were waiting to check in. One of Aimee's friends happened to be in line right in front of them. The two girls quickly became engrossed in a conversation about their favorite events. That left Luc plenty of time to fool around on his phone as they slowly inched forward in line.
"Name?" Luc whirled around at the sweet, musical tone of the volunteer's voice. In his eagerness, he fumbled his phone and dropped it on the ground. He glanced up at the young woman and felt his insides turn into Jello. She was gorgeous, angelic, beautiful, and so HOT. She had short, blond hair that fell messily across her forehead. Her nose was dotted with a smattering of freckles and her eyes were a glassy light blue with a ring of darker blue around the outside edges of her irises. Her lips curved into a wide and inviting smile as she arched one eyebrow, waiting for a response.
Luc squatted down to pick up his dropped phone but misjudged the distance between his head and the underside of the table. When he went to stand, he cracked his head on the edge of the table—hard. It took every ounce of restraint to bite his tongue against the stream of curses that was about to fly out of his mouth. It certainly wouldn't make a very good first impression to start cussing like a sailor in front of this woman.
Aimee giggled as she watched her big brother floundering. Luc rubbed his head as he tucked his phone into his back pocket.
"My name is Aimee Cullen."
"It's good to meet you, Aimee. And who have you brought with you?"
"This is my big brother, Lucas."
The angel turned her focus from Aimee to him and flashed what was probably a million-watt grin. "Are you okay, big brother Lucas?"
Luc rubbed the bump on his head and smiled sheepishly. "I'd be a whole lot better if I knew your name." He flashed his own killer smile—another trait inherited from his father—and winked.
She just ignored his flirting and looked back at Aimee. "Well Aimee, my name is Claire and I'll be helping you get checked in." She shuffled through papers, pulled out a lanyard with all of Aimee's participant information, and had Luc fill out the standard liability release form. "It looks like you're a veteran, aren't you, Aimee?"
"This is my fifth time!"
"I'll bet your family is very proud of you!" Claire said obviously focusing her gaze on Luc. He felt a blush—curse from his mother—heat his cheeks.
Smiles and hooded glances passed between Luc and Claire as she gathered copies of Aimee's paperwork into the orientation folder.
"You ready, Aims?" Luc asked as he accepted the folder from Claire.
He threw his arm around Aimee and led her toward the bleachers. She fell into step beside him as she studied her I.D. badge, trusting he'd lead her in the right direction. In her characteristic loud voice Aimee asked, "Do you think Miss Claire is pretty?"
Luc turned back to check-in table, feeling the heat all the way to the roots of his hair as he caught Claire's gaze, and said with a chuckle, "Yeah, Aims. I do think Miss Claire is very pretty."
They'd only walked a few more steps when he felt a small hand on his arm. He turned to see Claire with a hot pink sticky-note in her hand. He grinned when he saw the seven digit number, hastily scrawled on the paper.
"Call me," she whispered.
"Count on it," he replied. His crooked grin spread even wider as he watched her walk back to the table.
Later that evening as Luc and Aimee drove home she asked, "Are you gonna marry Claire?"
He pondered on their brief meeting. There was something about her that called to his soul. "I don't know, Aims, but I've got a good feeling about her."
"Yeah. Me too."
A/N: Pics of Lucas and Claire are on my profile! They say write what you know. The Pea story=Babums #4. The Pee story=Boy #2.
My oneshot/plot bunny attack has been entered into an anonymous contest. Once I get the okay, I'll start tweeting the contest site so you can read all the entries.
Also, I'm prereading for LadyGwynedd and her new story Nightingale. Bella (a seamstress in England) signs on to be an indentured servant for a Mrs. Cullen and her two daughters who live in the Americas. That should work out fine, right?
So if you want to know what I'm posting, make sure you have me on author alert. Also if you want me to reply to your review, you must have Private Messaging enabled. I so appreciate all your reviews and encouragement. I love hearing from all of you wonderful readers! Thanks so much.