STOP! This story is a sequel to my previous story, "Battle Scars." If you haven't read it, this story won't make any sense whatsoever. Go on my profile and read BS first.
Now, if you've read BS...yay! The sequel is here! I'm not sure how long it will be-hopefully not as long as BS-but we'll just have to see!
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all recognizable characters. I own any bugs that happen to pop up in this story.
Chapter One: "Not Now" Edward's POV
I pulled in to my parents' driveway, noticing that my love Bella was frozen next to me. I took her hand in mine, softly stroking her skin, and put the car in park. "Are you ready for this?" I asked her.
"What are we going to tell them?" she asked, pursing her lips in worry.
"Whatever you think we should tell them," I replied.
She glanced in the backseat, where her children—our children?-were strapped in their car-seats. "Nana?" Abby asked happily.
Bella bit her lip and looked back at me. "I'm going to have to tell them I'm separated from Jacob…"
"Yes," I nodded, "but what do you want to tell them about us?"
"Nothing," she decided after a minute of pensiveness. "Considering that I'm not even sure how to classify…us…then let them assume what they want to assume. Right?"
"Sounds good to me."
She gave me a small smile. "Emmett will be the first one to say something."
I shook my head. "Mom will corner me as soon as you're not looking."
"I'll be sure to keep my eyes on you, then," she replied. "Edward? You love me, right?"
"More than anything," I promised her.
She finally beamed. I had missed that wide smile. "Then I can do this."
I quickly pressed a kiss to her temple and cut the engine of my Volvo. "Of course you can. Come on, silly. Emmett's going to eat all of the food."
I pulled EJ out of his car-seat while she retrieved Abby. I walked into the house confidently, giving Bella an encouraging wink. That little flash of a smile from earlier was already gone. She had too much on her mind.
"Edward!" Mom exclaimed happily, coming to kiss my cheek.
"Hi, Nana!" EJ greeted her.
"Hello, my sweets," she replied, kissing him. "Nana has made lots of goodies for you and your mommy and sister!"
"Did you just go on a cooking spree or something?" Bella asked as she set Abby on her feet.
"Yeah, I was in the mood for turkey and dressing," Mom shrugged, pulling Bella into her arms. "Darling, you look more rested than you have in a very long time."
Blood tinted Bella's cheeks. "Edward let me sleep all night and all day," she admitted, throwing me a grateful smile.
"That's my boy," Mom winked at me. "And Bella, how is Jacob? I know you went to see him today."
The harsh beeping of the alarm clock jarred me out of my dream. My eyes snapped open. The gray light of a rainy morning was tinting Bella's bedroom, casting a pearly sheen across my love's face. She was peacefully asleep, snuggled into my side, even snoring a little.
For some reason, her tiny snores were utterly adorable. I appreciated them because it meant she was sleeping well.
I slammed the top of the alarm clock, effectively shutting it up, and let out a long sigh. In response, Bella pulled herself tighter to me and rested her head on my chest.
"You're not making getting out of bed any easier," I whispered to her, stroking her hair.
As if she heard me, she smiled.
I had been having flashback dreams for a while now in the few weeks since she had separated Jacob. It was like so much had happened that my brain needed to process the scenes over and over again. Before I had been so rudely interrupted, I was dreaming about the night she had kissed me. It was one of the greatest nights of my life, if not the absolute greatest. I didn't mind reliving that one over again.
I closed my eyes and put a hand on her hair, as if that were keeping her permanently close to me. She was so warm and soft and just plain cuddly. I could see why the bugs loved to snuggle so much—Bella was good at it.
All too soon, my snooze alarm went off. This time I sat up to turn it off, trying to wake myself up.
"Edward?" Bella mumbled.
"Come back to bed, sweetie."
I smiled involuntarily. "I have to get ready for work. You stay and get some more sleep."
She tilted her head toward mine, her puckered lips searching. I bent and gave her a gentle kiss that made her lips curve upward in a grin. "I'll make breakfast," she said sleepily. I had a feeling that she wasn't even conscious of what she was saying.
"No, you go back to sleep."
She didn't reply this time, so I very quietly moved out of bed and stepped into the hallway. There was only silence coming from the nursery; Abby and EJ were still asleep. I tiptoed down to the bathroom and started my shower. The hot spray felt good and threatened to send me back into sleep.
Alice interrupted before Bella could come up with a logical answer. "Bella! You no longer have bags underneath your eyes!"
"Thanks," Bella said a bit sarcastically.
I wanted to tell her that she looked beautiful, but I held back.
Mom, with her sixth sense, could see that something thick was hanging in the air, so she quickly diffused the situation. "Let's go eat," she said enthusiastically.
It looked like everyone was at the house. Mom had promised me she would keep it small for Bella's benefit, but obviously my sweet mother couldn't just turn people away from her table. Dad was talking with Jasper about medical terms I couldn't understand. Emmett and Rosalie were arguing over whether or not Rose really should be "eating for two." For the first time in a long time, with a protective hand on the small of Bella's back, I felt like my family was finally complete. Especially when EJ cooed something and gave me a sloppy kiss before shouting, "Doc!"
Dad turned around. "Hey, kiddo," he greeted EJ. "I hope you're hungry, because your Nana has been working hard."
"Let's sit down," Mom smiled. I kept EJ in my lap and sat next to Bella, who was having a baby-talk conversation with Abby. Mom started passing around the large plates of food.
"How is he?" Rosalie asked Bella softly, slapping Emmett's hand as he tried to steal her roll.
"Fine," Bella said listlessly, spooning out a little dressing onto a plate for Abby. "Edward, can you pass the English peas, please?"
"Sure," I said, obeying her wish and taking the dressing from her so I could feed EJ.
Dad cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Rosalie, how was your checkup today?"
"Wonderful," my future sister-in-law gushed, and I could already see the glow in her face.
"We heard the baby's heartbeat," Emmett added. "He's a strong little bug."
"So no bombshells were dropped?" Jasper asked, and I knew he was referring to Bella's ultrasound that discovered there were two bugs instead of one.
"No," Rosalie said. "I'll leave the bombshells to Bella."
I suddenly heard a pounding on the door. The soap had been rinsed off my body so I turned the water off. "Bella?"
"Daddy!" Abby exclaimed from the other side of the door. "Daddy!"
I grinned. Bella had obviously already gotten up against my wishes and had started the day with the kids. "Just a minute, Abby-Bug," I said as I put my flannel pajama pants and t-shirt back on. After I was dressed, I opened the door and scooped the little girl up, kissing her face.
"Good morning," I told her clearly, trying to lull her into copying me. "Good morning, Abby."
"Daddy," she said simply, squeezing my neck with a dazzling smile on her face.
"Go see your mommy so I can get dressed, okay?" I put her on her feet and pointed toward the kitchen, where I could hear Bella preparing breakfast.
After she ran off, I went to the closet and found the suit I had brought over the night before.
"I'm not sure I could handle another set of twins," Alice admitted. "My credit cards would turn to dust from being swiped."
"You mean my credit cards," Jasper grinned at my little sister.
"Well, when we're married, what's yours is mine—"
"I'm getting a divorce," Bella suddenly announced, interrupting Alice.
I heard the scrape of forks as they froze on plates. In total and utter shock, I turned to see her judging the expressions of my family confidently. She didn't seem to be self-conscious at all. I was proud of her.
"What?" Alice asked, her voice small.
"We decided today," Bella said before nonchalantly taking a bite of turkey.
"W-what did Jacob say?" Dad queried. Everyone was still frozen.
"It was a mutual decision," Bella shrugged. "Emmett, will you pass the butter, please?"
My brother did, indeed, pass the butter, after mumbling, "Talk about bombshells..." But I felt his eyes—and my mother's eyes—flicker to me meaningfully.
I just concentrated on helping the bug in my lap with eating green beans.
I walked into the kitchen, fully dressed and groomed, with my tie hanging over my shoulder. EJ and Abby saw me and ran to tackle my legs. I laughed and picked them up. "Good morning, loves."
"I made you on omelet," Bella told me, taking plates to the table.
"You really didn't have to—"
"I like taking care of you, Edward," she told me a bit firmly before standing on her tiptoes to kiss my chin. "So quit complaining and just enjoy your omelet, okay?"
I smiled at her. "Yes, love."
I wanted another kiss, but I didn't want to carry things too far. She was still a bit sensitive about a few things. So I put EJ and Abby in their high chairs and helped Bella cut up one omelet between them.
"Is it good?" she asked me as I took my first bite.
"It's wonderful," I replied. "You're a fantastic cook, and you know it."
She smiled as she drank in my compliments. I knew that Jacob had grown sparse with his compliments in the last days of their marriage, so I tried to be generous with mine. It wasn't hard to find things to compliment Bella on, though. She was perfect in every way—beautiful, kind, intelligent, funny, caring, loving, and a really great chef.
I went to the counter to pour up the pot of coffee between us. I added just the right amount of cream to hers before handing it to her.
"Thanks," she said quietly, watching me as I grabbed some sippy cups and put milk in them.
"So what are you doing today?" I asked her after I had given the bugs their drinks.
She swallowed uncomfortably. "I'm…uh…going to see Jacob in the hospital."
My heart sank, even though I knew it was irrational. "Oh," I said quietly, staring at my omelet.
"Don't be mad," she requested quietly. "He is still my husband, technically."
"What are you going for?"
"I have to check on his progress," she explained, running a hand through her long mahogany hair. Even though it was in the morning and she hadn't showered, it was still so pretty and shiny. "I need to know when he'll be discharged and when he's going to come move out. I need to know where the heck he is going when he moves out. And we have to discuss the divorce…"
"Yeah," I said quietly. "That's true."
She sighed and came to sit in my lap. "Edward, I love you. I do still love him, but I'm getting over that. I can't continue to love a man who has left bruises on me and who doesn't love my children. You are the object of my affection. I know it's taking me a while to give myself to you fully…"
"No," I interrupted her, kissing her shoulder, where the bruises had been. "I understand, sweetie. I just…worry about you being alone with him."
"I'll be fine," she promised me.
"Are you going to take the bugs to see him?"
She shook her head. "No…I know I will have primary custody, but frankly, I don't want him to warm up to them at all. I would prefer to let my children only know one daddy when they're older—you."
I wrapped my arms around her, unsure of how to answer her. I kissed her temple before asking, "Are you okay? Do you want me to take today off?"
"Oh, I'm fine," she immediately assured me. "You can't just keep taking days off. I'm a strong person, too."
"I know you are," I replied. "You're the strongest person I know."
She smiled and softly kissed my lips. I suppose it was wrong to do this while she was still married, but it was on her own accord. Jacob wasn't much of a husband, anyway—completely absent and distant.
However, she pulled away when I instinctively tried to deepen the kiss.
"Not right now," she said simply, using the same excuse she always did, climbing out of my lap and walking to the sink to wash the skillet.
"I'm sorry," I said contritely, once again unsure of how to approach her."
"It's fine," she said sincerely. "I know, I'm not a complete woman…yet…"
"You're perfect," I replied. "Don't worry about me. Just focusing on healing yourself."
She gave me a smile and stepped back over to me to knot my tie. When her handiwork was perfect, she pulled me close and laid her head on my chest. "Have a good day at work, Rhett."
I involuntarily grinned at the nickname. "Have a good day with the chil'uns, Scarlett. Do you want me to come over for dinner, or vice versa, or do you want a night alone with the kids?"
She rolled her eyes playfully. "Oh, I guess I can stand to see you again…"
I chuckled. "Dinner at my place, then."
"Sounds like a plan, sweetie."
And then she kissed my cheek as a goodbye.
Happy with that little token of her love, I kissed the kids goodbye, grabbed my briefcase like I was in a 1950s sitcom, and headed out to face the workforce. My mind started to wander as I drove into Forks.
"So, should I say 'congratulations'?" Rosalie asked a bit nervously.
Bella gave a small, brave smile and nodded. "I think that you could consider that to be the correct sentiment. It definitely is for the safety of the bugs. They were the deciding factor."
Mom reached across the table and squeezed Bella's hand. "I'm so proud of you, sweetie. You're such a good mommy."
"Thank you, Esme," Bella nodded.
Jasper gave her much of the same compliment.
"So," Emmett said slowly, trying to sound casual. "What about you and Ed-"
"Emmett," Rosalie hissed. "Not now."
I frowned as I stopped at a stop sign.
Call me impatient, but it seemed like the only answer I was getting was "not now."
As always, reviews are appreciated.
I hope my American readers had a fantastic, filling Thanksgiving!