This chapter was beta'd by the beatuiful Kas90 and JennDur. Thank you ladies, for your sweet and kind words.TKegl helped with the imagery and I've beaten myself up over this chapter. A lot of things happen and it was crucial for me to get it right.
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, "The Green Fields of the Mind," Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977
December 31, 2003
"I really think you're going to like him." Izzy fiddled with the coaster under her drink.
"Is it that important to you? For me to like him?" Emmett asked.
"Yeah, we haven't been together that long, but we've known each other for a while. I think," Izzy paused, "I think he could be it for me, you know?" She squirmed at Emmett's raised eyebrows. "What?"
"I just hate the idea that he's fresh out of a relationship and he's jumping into another one with you. Something just doesn't sound right." Emmett held up his hand to stop her from interrupting. "Don't give me that look, I'm not trying to tell you that this is a bad thing. Let me tell you something about guys-"
"This oughta be good."
"Shush. Men are like monkeys. They don't let go of one vine until there's another one to hold onto."
"That's horrible," Izzy laughed, throwing her straw wrapper at him.
"That doesn't mean I'm wrong. Look, if it means that much to you, I'll give Eric-"
"Right, I'll give Edmund a chance." Izzy rolled her eyes but smiled. "You've been through a lot." Emmett grabbed her hand across the table. "I just wanna see you happy, and if Ewok makes you happy, then that's almost enough for me."
"So where is this guy? He was supposed to be here over thirty minutes ago."
"No clue." Izzy tried his cell phone, but it went straight to voicemail. She knew he was supposed to be with his mother, but that meeting should have ended hours ago. She had a very bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.
December 31, 2003
"So what's this I hear about you and Lauren splitting? She's such a lovely girl, Edward, you could be very happy with her."
"She broke up with me. Besides, it shouldn't it matter."
"Oh?" Esme raised a carefully sculpted eyebrow. "How so?"
"I've met someone. Well, not met, exactly- we've known each other for a while, but things have now started to develop. I really like her, mother. She's someone really special." Seeing the look on his mother's face, Edward instantly felt his need to defend Izzy rise.
"She couldn't be that important if you didn't bring her for Christmas brunch. What's her name?" Edward knew this to be some sort of trap. If Esme didn't recognize her surname, then he would catch nothing but hell from her. However, if she did, there was an almost one-hundred percent chance her family wouldn't be as well-known as the Mallory's. Either way, Edward was screwed.
"Why does the last name sound familiar?"
"Her step-dad is Phil Dwyer."
"She's not his child? What a shame."
"It's not like she had a choice, mother." Edward instantly saw where this was going. Izzy's mom would be seen as the type to be a gold-digger; and in turn, so would Izzy. Everyone knew the Dwyer family for owning half of the Seahawks as well as Phil Dwyer being the General Manager of the front office.
"I do believe the Mallory's are quite upset about this split. I had lunch with Elaine yesterday and she was devastated that we wouldn't have any little Cullen-Mallory babies to spoil."
"I'm sure Lauren will find a some rich sack of shit soon enough," Edward said dryly.
"Whatever," he muttered. "I'm sure she'll find a nice husband who will answer her every beck and call."
"I don't know about that, dear. I had breakfast with Lauren this morning, she's quite torn up. You should see how she's doing."
"Why would I do that?" He snorted at the idea.
"Because, Edward." Esme's voice took on a serious tone. "You would do well to remember what family name you have and the responsibilities it carries. The Dwyer's are new money, and a flash in the pan. The Mallory's are old money and their name carries more weight than some man who got lucky with a few stock tips. They're a good family. Lauren is a good match for you. You'd do well to remember that."
"But I don't love her. I never did."
"Love isn't necessary to have a successful relationship, Edward. Lauren is a lovely girl and I'm sure your affections can grow into caring for each other."
"She dumped me. She told me she didn't trust me and that playing baseball was a lousy way to make a living. According to her, I was useless playing college ball because I would never aspire to anything more than a batboy. She wants someone who can earn a large paycheck today-"
"I'm fully aware of everything said and she's very sorry. She hopes that you'll talk to her and be willing to reconcile."
"What if I don't want to?" He challenged, feeling bold for the first time in a long time.
"You don't have a choice. She's on her way and should be here at any moment."
"Fix this, Edward." Esme pressed her manicured nails into his knee. "I will not be made a fool of because you can't keep it in your pants for a girl who was raised by a tramp. I love you, son. I just want to see you do what's best for your future." With her final words, Esme rose, smoothed out her pencil skirt and cardigan set. She adjusted her pearls slightly and gave Edward a cursory nod and left.
"Hey, Edward." He looked up and saw a very morose and repentant Lauren Mallory standing in the doorway.
Sighing and feeling any chance at happiness fade away, he invited her to sit down.
Rosalie Hale considered herself a strong woman. When she met Bella Swan several years ago, the two had formed a bond over broken hearts. Rosalie suffered because of a wedding called off by a fiancé whom had discovered a preference in men, preferably more than one at the same time. Bella was broken because she had the love, but in the end, she wasn't enough for him or his family. Rosalie's predicament didn't seem as serious as Bella's, and upon learning the reason behind Bella's tears, Rose took on a protective, motherly role, secretly vowing to let Bella never be hurt again.
When Bella would begin dating someone new, unbeknownst to Bella, Rose would run full background checks on the poor guy. She was a lawyer after all, she reasoned, and she had wanted to help people. Bella was her best friend and it was the least she could do. Angela also became involved in Rose's efforts and helped with the background checks.
So when Tyler Crowley began pursuing Bella, to say Rosalie and Angela were wary that he was an athlete-a baseball player no less-that had hurt Bella the first time; Rose was hesitant to trust him. At the beginning Rose, Angela and Bella were waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did.
Over the course of time, Tyler proved that his affections for Bella were genuine, and she had started to care for him too. He made Bella happy, therefore Rose was happy.
The news of Edward Cullen's trade back to Chicago sent Rose in rant of many directions. Rose and Angela had a few conversations over coffee about how to handle the inevitable breakdown that was coming. The only conclusion they could decide on was to make sure that when it did happen, they would be able to drop everything and rush to her side.
Angela confided in Rose that she was hired to be Edward's real estate agent. She felt bad, guilty, as if she were fraternizing with the enemy. Angela was torn; on the one hand, she needed the money, but she felt disloyal to her good friend. Jake had already tried telling his girlfriend that she was being ridiculous, but it fell on deaf ears.
After the impromptu lunch with Bella and Tyler, Angela was silent in the car on the way back to her office to meet with Alice. "You wanna tell me what that was all about?" Jake cautiously asked.
"I just feel bad about the whole client thing," she sighed. "I'll get over it though."
"Did you tell her?"
"Yeah," Angela paused, knowing what was coming. "She said it wasn't a big deal, and I shouldn't be surprised that Alice Brandon came to me because I'm the best in the business."
Jake glanced at his girlfriend out of the corner of his eye and held his tongue. Angela, noticing his obvious distress and keeping his mouth shut, gave him permission.
"Go ahead and say it."
"I told you so! I knew she wouldn't care; Rose said she wouldn't care, so it's not just me. So yeah, I was right and you were wrong."
"No, and wipe that smile off your face."
"Not a fucking chance. Actually, here." Jake dug out his phone and briefly fumbled with it before sticking in Angela's face. "Now, say 'Jake was right, and I was wrong.'"
"Not a fucking chance. Why do I keep you around?"
"Because you love me and my talented fingers."
"Do you feel better now that you told her?" Jake softened his voice, letting her know that he was being serious.
"Yeah, I do." She smiled and gave him a kiss at a red light. "Thanks."
He took a last look around his condo and nodded to himself in satisfaction. It was clean, ready for the next owner. He wouldn't miss this place at all. There were too many memories of Lauren, and that in itself was a constant reminder of what he had given up. Despite the fact Lauren had left years ago, he could still envision her in his bathroom, getting ready for an event, or even worse, the man he caught her fucking in his bed and they weren't even living together.
He and Lauren both knew that being together was a mistake, and as a result, they were both miserable. It didn't surprised Edward that Lauren had been cheating, but that didn't mean it didn't sting any less. Much to the dismay of both their families, Edward and Lauren split two years to the day after the lunch Esme had arranged.
Immediately after the split, Edward began searching for Izzy Dwyer. Sadly his search turned up the bare minimum. The few things he could find were about Phil Dwyer and his bitter divorce to Renee Swan, that Phil was now working for the Chicago Blackhawks, and Izzy Dwyer's Facebook and Myspace page had been cancelled. The last bit hadn't been a surprise since her phone number and email account had been canceled as well. In a sense, she had dropped off the planet and had zero desire to be found.
He'd debated the idea of hiring a detective to try and track her down, but he was quickly bogged down with the sudden movement of him being brought from the Mariners triple-A team to the majors. Between the hype of what he could do on the field and getting to know his teammates, he became sidetracked.
Edward left his condo, a small carry-on in hand, and never looked back. He smiled as he climbed into the cab and told the driver where to go. As he strolled through the airport, he had a spring in his step. He happily ignored the stares from women and some glares from a group of men wearing Mariner's hats.
He had one thing on his mind now; he was going to Chicago, to hopefully play out the rest of his career and win back his girl. His sails deflated a little when he received a call from Alice.
"I'm waiting to board, I can't talk long."
"That's okay, this won't take long. I just need to give you a quick heads up."
"I'm on my way to go see an apartment with Angela, the realtor. Uhm, Edward, I don't really know how to say this." Edward was surprised at Alice's tone. Normally she was always so composed and matter of fact; it was making him very nervous.
"Angela knows Bella Swan," she rushed out.
"That's a coincidence, but I don't see the big deal. Bella's a journalist, surely she knows a lot of people," he offered.
"They're friends from college, but that's not the point. She had lots of pictures in her office."
"I'm about to get on a plane, what's your point? Bella has friends, big deal." Edward was glad Alice couldn't see him roll his eyes.
"The pictures were with her friends, and her boyfriend." Alice grew quiet and let Edward process the information.
"Yeah, Emmett. I know," he grumbled.
"It's not Emmett. That's a completely different story."
Edward inwardly cursed himself for not having enough time to have a more in depth conversation with Alice. He frowned at the flirty smile from the ticket agent as he boarded the plane.
"It's Tyler Crowley," Alice said, then felt the need to clarify, "he's on the starting rotation."
"I know who he is!" he snapped.
"Don't get pissy with me, Edward Cullen! I thought I'd give you a heads up, but if you're going to be a jerk-off about it, I won't tell you the last part."
"Alice, wait, don't hang up." He cradled the phone on his shoulder while he stowed his carry-on. "I'm sorry. Tell me what's going on."
"Angela told me that he's planning on proposing to her during the All-Star break."
"That's in two fucking months!" Then a thought occurred to Edward. "She just telling you all this? As if it's just normal conversation?"
"I know, I thought it was weird too. I think she just wanted to send a message. I get the impression her friends are very loyal. I'm sorry, I gotta go, Ed. Have a safe flight, I'll see you in a few hours."
Edward settled into his seat and ignored the fight attendant swaying her ass in his direction. He spent the entire time lamenting about how badly he'd fucked things up.
Well there ya go! Now you know a bit more about what happened.
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