Bella walked into the courthouse, smoothing out her skirt and blouse. She glanced at herself in the mirror and saw dark smudges and circles around her eyes. She hadn't gotten very much sleep, and the evidence was wearing directly on her face. She ran her fingers through her hair, trying to work out the knots, hoping to look a little more presentable for the judge.
It was an important day. The fate of Livvie's life was in this man's hands. It was rare that a judge would go against the last wishes of the parents, but it was known to happen from time to time.
Jenks had reassured them though that it was just a proceeding that they would have to go through. Demetri and Tanya were very clear in their wishes. They had wanted Edward and Bella to raise Olivia.
She walked into her apartment, throwing her keys down on the table. Bella was still completely in shock about the reading of the will and their last wishes. The will clearly spelled out that they wanted Edward and Bella to raise Olivia . . . together. There was a contingency though that one could do it if the other one didn't want to or wasn't able.
So they had decided to try this.
She sighed, looking around the lobby trying to find Edward. After the funeral, they had rushed to arrange temporary care of Livvie, and since Edward had the most support in the area, it made sense for him to be the one to apply for temporary guardianship.
So here they were three days later.
She turned and saw Jason Jenks waiving her over. She walked over and greeted him. "Where is Edward with Livvie?"
"They are in chambers right now. They haven't started yet, and Edward wanted to get Livvie settled before the judge came in."
Bella nodded. "It's almost noon, and Livvie is bound to be a little wound up. Edward and I have been trying to stick with Livvie's nap schedule, but with our erratic schedules, it is proving to be a little difficult."
Jenks smiled. "Melinda tried forever to get Gracie to follow a schedule, but it just didn't happen. Trust me Bella, raising a child isn't easy."
"Demetri and Tanya made it look easy," she sighed. "What were they thinking? They left Livvie to me and Edward!"
"They had their reasons." Jenks smiled as he opened the door to the chambers. It was an informal meeting, so the courtroom wasn't necessary.
"Yeah, well I wish they would have explained it to us," Edward sighed, running his hand through his hair. He was dressed in his scrubs, which were wrinkled, a clear sign that he had already worked through the night and into the morning. He shifted Olivia on his hip, and kissed her soft cheek. "My mom just dropped her off. Can you check the bag for her bottle?"
Bella nodded and found a bottle of juice. "Why don't I take her for a little bit?" She suggested softly. Bella knew that she looked bad, but Edward looked like he had been through the gauntlet. "How has she been sleeping?"
"Awful," Edward admitted. "She cried for the past two nights, and has been sleeping a lot during the day. I finally caved and took her to my mother's house last night. The little bugger was a complete angel for my mom and dad."
"Well, I'll take her for you," Bella offered. "I just finished up the photo shoot for Holly's Wood. She might rest better in my apartment. Plus, Eddie, you look exhausted." She reached up and tussled his hair, causing him to grumble. She knew he hated that nickname.
"I just worked from midnight to eleven," Edward groaned. "Can you cut me some slack . . . I haven't slept in twenty-four hours."
"I know, and that is why you need the rest." She shifted Livvie on her hip. "They wanted us to do this together. We need to do this together."
Edward smiled. "Thanks Bella. I'm just not used to the two of us working together like this."
Jenks smiled at the two of them. "Get used to it. You guys are parents now."
Edward opened his mouth to say something when the judged walked in.
"I'm Judge Cho, and I have been assigned to the case," he said introducing himself. "Why don't you guys have a seat and tell me a little bit about yourselves?" He gestured toward the chairs that sat in front of a mahogany desk.
Bella looked at Edward, who just looked a little puzzled. She cleared her throat and turned her attention toward the judge.
"I'm Isabella Swan," she spoke softly. "I knew Demetri for fifteen years, and Tanya since they started dating in college."
"So you went to the same college," the judge hedged.
"Yes," Bella replied, picking Livvie up. "Dee and I went to Seattle U after we graduated Forks High. He went into political science, I went into the arts."
"So no real degree to speak of," the judge spoke, writing down something on his forms.
"Hey," Edward spoke up. "Bella is a successful photographer, who travels the world. She is world renown and even won the Ansel Adams award two years running and was nominated for a Pulitzer this year. And yes, she does have a degree to speak of. She earned a degree in Literature and Fine Arts and has a teaching certificate."
Bella turned and looked at him. She raised an eyebrow at him.
"Demetri would constantly ramble on and on about your work," Edward said. "I was bound to remember some of it." What he didn't know is that Demetri didn't know about her nomination for the Pulitzer.
She nodded. "Thanks," she reached over and squeezed his hand. "Even though I may not be a wonderful ER trauma doctor like Edward, I can hold my own when it comes to helping out with Livvie's expenses," she defended.
The judge nodded. "My mistake Miss Swan. Now, Edward is a trauma surgeon. Are you on call a lot? Is your schedule erratic?"
"I'm on call one night a week and every third weekend of the month," Edward replied. "As for my schedule, it is somewhat flexible, but I work about fifty hours a week."
"How do you two plan on making your schedule work so you have time to parent Olivia?"
"We haven't talked about it much," Bella answered honestly, earning a hard stare from Edward. "But we do have a wonderful support system in place for emergencies and we can use Livvie's babysitters from previous times. We have been able to work out the rest of the month, where one of us, or Edward's mother will be with Olivia throughout the day."
"We are trying to provide her with as much consistency as we can," Edward piped up.
"Who will be the primary custodial parent?" Judge Cho inquired. "Are you two living together?"
"No!" They both shouted at the same time. Olivia just looked at her godparents and stared.
"So 'no' to living together, so that leaves me the first question I asked. Who will be Olivia's primary custodial parent?"
Jenks sighed behind them. "It wasn't specified in the will directly, only that Edward and Bella were to be the ones to raise Olivia in the event of their deaths."
Judge Cho placed his glasses on the desk and rubbed his eyes, a gesture which Bella had seen Edward do numerous times before.
"I normally don't go against the wishes of the parents, but this seems to be more complicated than what it needs to be. Livvie needs to have stable parents and a sense of normalcy. What happens when one of you wants to be in a relationship, and the significant other begins to play "mom" or "dad" to Olivia? I just don't see how this can work. It's obvious to me that you two are just acquaintances who just happen to share the same friends. I don't know why they would do this to their little girl. "
Bella looked up, "They did this because they knew that Edward and I, even though we may not always agree, have always put Olivia first. We may not always get along, but that little girl is our life . . ."
Edward nodded. "They chose us for a reason. We may not understand it, but we owe it to them to try." Edward reached over and snuggled Olivia to his chest. "She knows us and loves us. We are all she has left."
"They have living family in other parts of the world," Judge Cho pointed out.
"But Tan and Demetri didn't want that. They wanted us," Bella said, stating the obvious. "Edward's right, we owe it to our best friends to do this."
Judge Cho shook his head, causing Bella to freak out just a bit. "Against my better judgment, I will award guardianship to Edward Cullen and Bella Swan of the minor child Olivia Lebedev. This will be on a temporary basis until visits with a social worker and a child liaison are complete throughout a 1-year trial period. If everything is satisfactory then it will change from temporary to permanent guardianship."
They both let out the breath they had been holding.
Olivia was staying with them, and they had no clue what the hell they were doing.
Bella walked out of the chambers, holding Olivia tightly. She looked over at Edward, who looked completely dead on his feet. He walked over and wrapped his arms around the two of them, kissing Olivia on the head.
"I almost thought that he was going to rule against us for a minute," Edward whispered, just pulling them tighter to him.
"I know," Bella whispered. "Edward, we have to figure out a way to make this work. We have to get past all of our pettiness and make this situation work."
"I know," Edward admitted. "Well, we are going to need to sit down and figure out the logistics of everything, maybe even a custody schedule. It's a little ridiculous, but since we don't live together, we are going to need some kind of structure." He yawned, stretching up. "Sorry about that."
"It's fine," Bella waved it off. "You seemed really wiped. Why don't I drive us back to my place so you can catch a nap. I'll make us some dinner, and then we can work out some of the finer points of the arrangements."
"Yeah Edward," Bella said. "I really don't want Livvie losing another father . . ."
Edward nodded, swallowing thickly. It hit him. He was for all intents and purposes Olivia's father now. The thought of that was staggering. He took a deep breath, looking over at Bella and Livvie.
"Hey, are you okay . . . you are looking a little green," Bella told him. "Do you need me to take you to the doctor?"
"I am a doctor," he grumbled, "And yeah, I'm okay, just over tired. Nothing that a quick nap can't fix."
Bella looked at his quizzically. She knew Edward Cullen, and whereas they weren't the best of friends, she still knew something was up. He turned a shade of green at the mention of becoming a father. She shrugged it off as nerves. That was normal right?
"I'll drive. Should we take the 'Vette, or should we take my Jetta?"
"I don't have the Vette anymore, I sold it two days ago to another doctor," Edward admitted. "I wanted to get something safer for Livvie, but I haven't gotten around to doing any car shopping yet. I have my dad's Mercedes SUV. I'm sure he would let you drive it."
He took Livvie from her and led them to the mentioned vehicle. After strapping Livvie in, Edward took a glance over at Bella who was adjusting the mirrors to her height. The sun was breaking through the clouds, and he noticed that there was a little tint of red to her hair, something he had never noticed before.
Edward rested his head against the head rest, closing his eyes. He remembered the night of their blind date. Demetri and Tanya had been going on and on about Bella Swan, and just how perfect they would be together. Edward just shrugged it off, not really ready to meet perfect - he didn't need Mrs. Right, he wanted Mrs. Right Now. He had gotten an early acceptance to med school during his junior year, and decided that he was going to go to med school unattached.
He rang the doorbell, waiting for her to answer, and when he did, he was blown away. It was not just any girl, it was the girl that was the starring role in is freshmen year fantasies. Edward had seen her walking across campus, always with a Starbucks cup in hand. Then, the first class he walked into, there she was. Art appreciation had just become his favorite topic.
He had watched her throughout the semester as she talked about her passion for art in the class, growing more enamored with his mystery girl every day. But alas, the semester ended as quickly as it began, and Edward never had the chance to talk with her.
He figured it was a missed opportunity.
And there she was, she was "the" Bella that Demetri had been talking about for years.
As much as he wanted to kiss her, he couldn't. He had a life's plan and he needed to stick with it. He just went on the date to make Tanya happy.
So he did what he knew how to do best, push her away. He knew he couldn't be what she needed, and he wasn't ready for her then.
Now it was too late, she was with Mike Newton.
He laughed at the irony. He had always been so careful to protect himself with his indiscretions throughout school, and he still ended up with a baby.
But it didn't matter to him anymore. Livvie needed a family, and Edward was going to make sure that she had a family.
Edward opened his eyes as Bella turned into her complex. He recognized the building. It wasn't in the worst part of town, but it wasn't in the best part of town either.
"Did I wake you up?" Bella asked.
"No," Edward told her. "I was just resting my eyes, thinking about how we met."
"God, you were such a jerk," Bella smirked. "If I didn't know better, I would think that you were trying to blow our first date, but you have a reputation . . ."
"I don't know what you are talking about," Edward grumbled.
He picked Livvie up and followed Bella to the door.
"I should warn you, it is a bit messy, but I will tidy up when you guys are napping."
Edward nodded, knowing that he didn't clean his place either. And it got worse with having Livvie living with him for the past 72 hours. "Don't worry about it Bella."
She kicked open the door, letting Edward walk in first with Olivia. It was the first time that he had seen her place. To his left, there was a spacious kitchen with all new stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, which flowed into a sunken living room. There was a fireplace against an exposed brick wall, which flowed into an office space. There was a spiral staircase made entirely of metal and an open loft on top.
Bella took Livvie in her arms and smiled. "It will do for now, but when she gets more mobile, I'll have to get a different place with separate rooms and ways to put up baby gates."
"I think it's great. You are actually only a couple of blocks from my penthouse, which isn't baby approved either. But as you pointed out, we have a couple of months until Livvie becomes mobile," Edward yawned.
"Why don't you take my bed?" Bella suggested. "I'll take Livvie to the park so you can get some shut eye."
"Are you sure?"
Bella smiled at him. "You had her for the past three days without her. I'm sure that you are tired, and that you need to catch up on some sleep."
"Sure, yeah, that sounds great," Edward told her. "Then we can go for dinner."
Edward heard the door shut as Bella made her way to the park with Livvie. He fell back on to the bed, staring up at the ceiling. Everything in his life had changed in an instant. Frustrated, he stood and started pacing the room, noticing the small knickknacks that made the room. There was a picture of Bella, Demetri, and Tanya sitting on the dresser.
Their wedding day.
He was such an ass to Bella that day, and not that she didn't deserve it. Bella had come in that morning and spilt coffee all over him, and sure it was an accident, but that left him scrambling trying to find a tux shirt on extremely short notice. And of course, he took his anger out on her, and was a complete ass to her the entire day.
It seemed like yesterday.
"God Tan, what were you thinking?" He voiced. "Did you really think that us raising Livvie would be a good idea? We are trying our best, we are trying to hold it together, but how did you think this was a good idea?"
He flopped down, inadvertently knocking over something on the nightstand. Another picture of Bella with Mike Newton.
He shook his head, turning the picture face down, wondering how Mike was going to react to the situation. Bella had hinted that she hadn't told Mike, and that it really wouldn't matter what Mike had to say anyway. Olivia was going to be her first priority.
Just as Olivia was going to be his first priority now. She was his life.
He closed his eyes, and quickly feel asleep surrounded by the smell of lavender and vanilla.
Edward woke up several hours later to the sound of hushed talking and Livvie giggling. He made his way down the stairs and saw that Mike was standing in the kitchen, and by his body language, he could tell that Mike was pretty angry.
"Hey, thanks for letting me crash. I didn't realize that I was that tired," Edward said, breaking into whatever conversation that were having. He stretched, working the kinks out of his back. It was mostly for display though. He wanted Mike to know that he was still working out and that he would kick his ass if he as so much looked at his women the wrong way. "Hey sorry Mike, I didn't see you standing there. I woke up to the most delicious smells."
"Thanks Edward," Bella answered, keeping her eyes lowered to the ground. Her voice had lost the lightness to it that it held this morning, and it had cracked while she was speaking. She definitely was upset.
"What can I do to help? I can set the table . . . Mike are you staying?" Dear God, please say he isn't staying.
"Dinner won't be ready for another thirty minutes, so it can wait. I don't think Mike will be staying. We have to work out the details . . ."
"Like hell I shouldn't stay!" Mike roared. Livvie started crying, which didn't sit well with either of them. Edward moved first and picked up his ward out of her pack-n-play. "This arrangement effects me too!"
Mike had a point.
"Edward and I have to work out the finer details of this," Bella hissed. "We have to figure out what days we can take her, what days to set up a babysitter, who will take her to appointments. None of that includes you."
"It does. If this little brat is going to be part of your life now, it makes her part of mine. I should have a say!"
Edward shifted Livvie on to his hip, and ran his fingers through her soft curls, soothing her. "Don't call her a brat," Edward threatened. "Don't go making this any harder than what it has to be for us. We have joint custody, and we have to figure this out."
"What about our free time and our trips we have planned? Are you going to throw them all away for a kid that isn't even yours? And what about you Edward, you never wanted children. You were always strutting about the house lecturing on 'no glove, no love.' Well lots of good it got you. You didn't even have to have sex to end up with a kid!"
"Mike!" Bella shouted now. "That's enough! Our free time, our trips, well all of that is going to be thrown to the wayside until we get this figured out. Maybe if Edward's schedule can work out then he can watch her and we can still have time together, but I'm not guaranteeing anything." She sighed. "I know I dropped a bombshell on you, and that is why I'm willing to forgive you this once. Go home Mike, we will talk about everything later."
"Fine." Mike turned toward the door and had his hand on the doorknob when he turned. "Bells, I love you."
"I know Mike," she said sadly as she turned back toward the sauce she was making.
The door slammed, causing Livvie to whimper. Edward rubbed her back and walked over to Bella doing the same thing for her.
"What the hell where they thinking Edward?"
Edward sighed, knowing exactly what she was referring to. "I don't know Bella, but things will get figured out and we will get through this. They wouldn't have picked us if they didn't think we were capable of doing this."
"When did you get so smart?" She teased him. She knew that Edward was extremely intelligent.
"Power naps do wonders for the brain."
She smiled slightly. "Do you want to try this sauce?"
He nodded as she brought the wooden spoon up to his lips. "Damn Bella, if you weren't a great photographer, I would tell you to quit your day job and to open up your own restaurant. That is some great sauce."
Just as Edward was getting ready to say something again, a foul stench filled the air, causing both of them to gag.
"What the hell Edward!"
"It's not me!"
They both turned and looked at Olivia who was sitting with a smile on her face.
"Wipes are in the diaper bag," Bella told him.
"Why do I have to do it?"
"Because you're an ER doctor and have to deal with gross smells and blood all day. I'm sure you can change a diaper . . ."
"I have, for the past three days. It's your turn."
"I'm cooking," she tried.
"No dice, the sauce has to simmer. That gives you plenty of time to change her and to get your hands washed before you finish up. Besides, women should be naturally better at this than men. It's engrained in you at birth or something like that to want to change diapers , to be a mom, and to shop."
"I wasn't like any of those girls, and I have never changed a diaper before. So you are going to have to walk me through it."
"You never babysat before? You've never had to change Livvie's diaper before?"
"Never," she confirmed. "She has always been asleep when I've had to watch her by myself."
Edward smiled. "There is a first time for everything."
He handed her Livvie and grabbed a diaper and wipes from the bag his mother packed. "Grab a blanket and throw it down on your ottoman."
He chuckled. "It's easier to wash a blanket then try to scrub poop out of your upholstered ottoman."
When she was set up, she stared down at her young ward. She tentatively removed the diaper, and instantly flooded the room with stench. Edward gagged. "Shit, this has to be the foulest, smelling . . ."
"Edward, you aren't helping," she screeched. "Just pass me the wipes!"
And pass he did. A half a box later, Edward handed her the diaper. Bella attached the diaper, looking handing Livvie back over to Edward.
"Bella . . ."
"What Edward?" She screeched as she started to toss away the wipes.
"The diaper is on backward." He flipped living back down and quickly changed the position on her diaper. "Overall though, I think we did a good job. She only got her foot in her poop twice."
She groaned. "There has to be an easier way. Edward, we really don't know what we are doing, do we?"
"Nope," he replied popping the p. "But we will figure it out."
"From your lips to God's ears." Bella sighed, kissing Livvie.
AN: So there has been some progress made. Edward and Bella are now parents. I could use your help, give me some funny stories of what happened with you while babysitting, or if you are a parent some issues you had to face. I don't have kids, but have plenty of nieces and nephews, so yeah . . .
Some readers have pointed on that Edward and Bella don't like each other, and true, they aren't BFFS or anything like that, but the story is a slow burn, and lemons and all that good stuff will happen, I promise.
I hope all my American readers had a great Thanksgiving. Sorry this was a little late, I do try to update every Sunday on this story.
As always, reviews rock my socks.