a/n: Ok, so for those of you who read this in the Fandom for Texas Fires compilation this is the equivalent of regifting, but with, like, my own gift. For those of you who didn't, Merry Christmas!
"Yeah, uh, the fewer of you guys that are here at first would probably be better." Thomas' eyes slip away from mine. He's clearly up to something. I haven't seen him do that since the time he borrowed my Vanquish and got it towed. A night that has been referred to since then as "The Night Edward Got Us Kicked Out Of The Impound Lot." All I can say is I swear that car was never the same after that.
The Red Eye Chapter 31: "The Charmed Life of Thomas Swan-Cullen"
"I love you, Sweetie," Bella kisses Thomas on the head. "Be good while we're gone." It's the first time we've left Thomas completely alone in the house for this long and Bella's anxious. I decide NOT to mention to her that Alice said that everything would be fine. That just doesn't always help and there are the rare occasions that Alice is wrong, like the time Thomas got into the permanent markers and gave himself full body tattoos. She also never let Jacob watch TV with him unsupervised again. Apparently Jacob likes reality TV, the more body modifications the better.
"Mom, stop fussing. By the time you were my age you were buying prenatal vitamins and hanging out with monsters. What's the worst thing I could do? Record over Carlisle's episodes of 'Extreme Operations'?" Thomas straightens out his thick brown hair and smirks at his mom.
Bella just wrings her flawless white hands and frowns at him slightly. I sigh and pick up her bag. We are going away for the weekend with Emmett and Rose, an idea that's designed to help ease Bella into leaving Thomas alone for small amounts of time. I'm worried that he's going to go away to college next year and turn into one of those kids who've never been on their own and decide to drink their weight in cheap beer and participate in pranks that get them arrested and/or perpetrate inhumane acts against innocent farm animals.
I used to be really worried about Thomas, too, but I've relaxed a lot since he was a kid. I had a hard time letting him go to sleepovers and I made Jacob go on his school field trips with him if it was going to be too sunny for me to go myself. That is, I did, up until the infamous "Seattle Zoo monkey fiasco". All I'm going to say is that Jacob may be eight feet tall or whatever but he lacks the maturity to chaperone school children. It actually should be the other way around.
Anyhow, I used to be pretty paranoid about something happening to Thomas until I realized that a) Alice was likely to catch most things, b) being worried is pretty non-productive when you're talking about a male child raised any where near my brothers and c) not only was my entire family watching but so were the Volturi.
This actually comforts Bella quite a bit less than it does me because she thinks that they are clownish. Which they are. But the guard also knows that Aro will host a Molotov cocktail party for them if anything happens to Thomas.
I pull on her hand and gesture to the door with a smile. Bella winces and then passes me on the way out the kitchen door with a guilty look on her face.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," I call over my shoulder winking at Thomas.
He laughs and responds with: "Well, I guess that means I'll be reading Agatha Christie and listening to prog rock all weekend."
"Good one, kiddo," Emmett says, walking into the kitchen with a backpack on his shoulder and an enormous suitcase in his hand.
"Ha, ha," I say to them, pausing half-way out the door. "What are you going to do this weekend?" I ask my kid. He shrugs his shoulders and then gestures to his phone with his chin.
"Alex and Dan were gonna come over and play some games. Then I've got practice tomorrow." My kid's eyes slide away from mine briefly and then flicker back to me. Not being able to read his mind is a pain sometimes. I have a feeling something's up, though.
"No hot date?" Emmett asks. Of course, that's it. Thomas has a date almost every weekend. I'm continually surprised that there are still girls he hasn't taken out in town. I suspect he's begun making his way through the students at the community college. I can't blame him, though. I know exactly what he's looking for. I didn't find it until I was 115. I think he's just trying to get an earlier start than me.
"Naw," Thomas answers sheepishly. "I'm just gonna hang with the guys this weekend."
I nod. "I guess one weekend won't turn you into the patron saint of men with too many hobbies, here," Emmett says, gesturing to me.
"Shut up, Emmett," I say, turning to leave the kitchen with a wave at my son.
"Hey, I'm not criticizing!" Emmett calls. "It made it a lot easier to find books when you organized them by year published and then alphabetically by main character."
'You can't even read, Emmett," I respond, over my shoulder.
"That's not true! I read that book about anatomy last week!" Emmett looks at me incredulously.
"That was a car magazine," I rebut.
"Oh," he says. "I was wondering why all the ads."
We actually manage to get to the cabin by dark, despite Emmett's "shortcuts," most of which take us on the scariest, bumpiest roads in Northern Maine. Rose just put new shocks on the Jeep and he's eager to try them out. I swear, if my teeth hadn't been stuck in place since the War to End All Wars I would have lost a couple of molars on that drive.
It's a nice weekend of chasing big game around in the woods of Maine and al fresco dining but Bella is eager to get back to Farmington by Sunday night.
We park the Jeep outside so Rose can unload her enormous suitcase so I don't notice right away that the garage is a little roomier than usual. What I do notice is that Thomas is nowhere to be seen and the house lacks the usual aroma that accompanies a teenage boy soiree. There was not a single cheese puff consumed in this house this weekend. Suspicious.
The phone rings and Emmett hands it to me.
"Edward Masen?" the man on the other end of the line asks.
"Yes," I have a bad feeling about this.
"This is Brad down at Abbott Towing in Augusta. I have a 2001 Vanquish registered to you in my yard. I need to release it to the registered owner."
"I'll be there in 30 minutes," I choke out. My mind is filled with images of my beloved car as a twisted hunk of metal.
"Great. I'll let the kid know," Bud says.
"The kid?" I ask, having a sick feeling I know who he was talking about but Brad has already hung up.
All four of us pile into the Volvo: Bella so she can drive it back, Rose and Emmett so they can watch me lose my shit on the way to Augusta. Thomas, curiously, is not answering his phone. I say "curiously" because what teenage boy wouldn't like to get eviscerated over the phone by his Dad for endangering his most precious possession? That was sarcasm, by the way.
I glance at Bella during the tense drive down and I see that she is smirking slightly.
"What?" I ask.
She shrugs at me. "You were so relaxed about leaving him at home alone. You're singing a different tune now that he's done something to your little spy car, aren't you?"
"They don't make them anymore," I whine. She's still gloating. "You're just lucky you're so hot or I would never put up with your kid's shenanigans." I leer at her and put a hand on her thigh.
"Did you just say 'shenanigans'?" she asks, arching an eyebrow at me. "I think that there is something very wrong with you propositioning me while using the word 'shenanigans.' You don't need to remind me that I'm having sex with a very old man, do you?"
"Funny. I don't think you were referring to my advanced age earlier when you…"
"Stop," Rosalie interjects. "I don't even want to hear the rest of that."
"I've been listening to you two for like eighty years. Do you think I really needed to know what you named Emmett's penis? Who even uses that word?"
"There is a definite excess of information floating around in this car," Bella says. "Let's go back to guessing what's happened to the Vanquish."
"Please don't," I say but am still bombarded with images from Rosalie and Emmett's head for the next twenty minutes: car wrecks, ruined upholstery, horrible smells. It's somewhat reminiscent of the time Emmett and Thomas planned a "brocation" for us in Wyoming. Just…never again.
The object of my ire is waiting anxiously outside the office of Abbott Towing. An office that is going to close in 3 minutes according to my watch and their sign.
"We'll speak in a minute," I say to him, giving him my best "you're so busted you might want to start researching prison tattoos" look.
I enter the office and am immediately met by an officious little voice: "We're closed." There is a small, ferret-like man sitting behind a desk with a nameplate that says "Darryl Walker" and an impressive pen collection.
"I apologize, Mr. Walker. I am Edward Masen. You have my Vanquish on your lot. All I need to do is pick it up." I pull out my wallet, prepared to provide identification as well as a ton of cash just to get my precious car out of that filthy tow-yard and tucked in under it's little car blanket at home where it belongs.
"I'm sorry. You'll have to come back tomorrow. We close at six." He gestures towards the clock on the wall. The one that is two minutes faster than the Swiss engineered masterpiece on my wrist.
"I will get out of your hair as soon as I can pick up the car," I smile at him charmingly and then I realize that Darryl Walker has no hair and he thinks that I'm making fun of him. This isn't going well. I pull out a bunch of cash.
"Please, Mr. Walker. I drove down from Farmington and it would be a terrible inconvenience to have to come back tomorrow. My wife's brother got the car towed and I would be really grateful if you could help me out."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Masen. I couldn't possibly make an exception. Rules are rules." I can see from Deputy fucking Walker's thoughts that he is totally serious. He refuses to take a bribe and he is not going to make an exception from me. He's like the world's most idealistic tow-yard employee or something. God, how I wish I believed in killing people!
"I don't want to scare you or anything," I say, really meaning the opposite. "But my brother out there? He's recently released from a prison for the criminally insane and he gets pretty angry when we have to take a lot of long car rides." I gesture to Emmett through the window. Unfortunately, Emmett has chosen that moment to tell Thomas and Rose a joke and he is laughing uproariously.
The oldest living Boy Scout just looks at me skeptically. I am grasping at straws here. I point to Rose. "His wife, Rose? She's pretty promiscuous and she really likes uptight little pencil pushers." Ok, I may have not been really choosing my words carefully with that last one. Because not only do I offend him but then Rosalie rushes into the office and threatens to emasculate me for trying to pimp her out in exchange for the liberation of my car. Then Mr. "Principles and Shit" decides he's going to call the police if I don't take my hooker sister-in-law and my crazy brother and myself and get out of the tow yard.
And I've still got Thomas to deal with. We're standing on the sidewalk next to the chain link fence that separates me from my Vanquish. I just raise my hands in confusion to him.
"Mariah Thompson," he says. I look at him blankly. He continues. "I've been trying to get her to go out with me for a year. She's really into the Bond movies." He shrugs. "We drove down here in the Vanquish to have dinner and I guess I parked it in a loading zone." Thomas looks down, wincing. "I'm sorry I lied and that I got your car towed."
"All this over a girl?" I said, exasperated and confused. Thomas looked at me in surprise and nodded.
"Yeah," he said to me, frowning slightly. "I mean, it's just a car, right? I figured you'd get it." He gestures to where his Mom is leaning against the Volvo, talking on her phone and laughing.
And as I look at her I realize that he's got a good point. It may be a limited edition car and it may be my favorite car out of all the cars I've ever owned. But it's just a car.
I would hope that my life with his Mom would show Thomas that the girl trumps the car every time, no matter what. I'm pleased that Thomas can see this even when I lose sight of it.
That doesn't mean, however, that I don't spend the night outside of that tow yard so I can keep an eye on it. I mean, James Bond drove this car.
Merry Christmas! Thanks for reading! xoxo JuJu