So, here is my entry for The Jukebox contest. I haven't given 2Hearts... up at all, I'm having email issues! There will be a post one way or another soon!
Song choice: Nothings Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship
Rating: M for a lemony memory!
Summary: Too Young, too different, too anything, too much love to deny her anything. Slices of life from The one and the one who took her breath away!
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I own a sad Saab convertible that is in the shop. I'm just borrowing! The new characters, plot and situation are just the products of my busy brain. Don't copy, please. It's better always to ask first!
This is nuts. Her dad's gonna' shoot me. I can't believe I asked her before I asked him. Ten thousand other thoughts ran through his head as he sat down for dinner with her family. Dinner with her crazy, eccentric family - which I barely know. Edward's brain could not shut down or turn off. Caffeine might have been useful; it might help the mania seem more logical.
To an outside observer, it would be another family sitting down for dinner. To this family, everything would be changed, undone, altered by the next hour.
First, Charlie Swan, a precise, manufacturing engineer would find out that the idea of a logical answer for every question was now in question in his own mind. His daughter, his baby girl had bounced into the house a few hours earlier, singing:
And we can build this dream together,
Standing strong forever
Nothing's gonna' stop us now
And if this world runs out of lovers,
We'll still have each other
Nothing's gonna stop us,
Nothing's gonna stop us now
He had followed right behind her, Charlie knew that something was coming, but he'd been hoping for more time. He was a father. He was the father.
He remembered the feeling of being on edge when he'd left her at school to study somewhere else. He'd kind of hoped she'd find a more local boy, but going to college two states over put a kink in that plan. His department hadn't hired anyone new, at least not in her age bracket, so bringing someone home for dinner hadn't worked out either. Now they sat around the table, over meatloaf, green beans and mashed potatoes. It was his favorite supper. Damn that boy looked happy at the meatloaf.
"Mrs. Swan, the meatloaf looks great. Much better than the stuff in the café at school."
"Edward, no need to be so formal now. Call me Renee"
Listening to his wife, he swallowed hard, his dinner beer almost catching in his throat. Is this woman psychic? Has Bella said something to her?
"Thank you Mom, it does look really good." Bella spoke to her plate as Charlie watched her. She seemed a little distracted, not just by the boy at her side, but as if life itself was overwhelming her.
"Mom, pass me the butter."
"Mom, Puh-leese pass me the butter."
And so, dinner began. Now, Edward glanced around the table. Jacob was happily describing his buddy's newest video game, something with frogs and traffic, to his father. Thankfully, Mr. Swan, Senior Chief Engineer at RMS, was listening with rapt attention. Renee ?– not sure if I'd be able to choke out a first name. As he thought, it occurred to him this was his soon-to-be? He took a big gulp of water. Nope, not going to go there either. Edward seemed to be observing the dinner with a knowing eye. He wondered if Bella had broken their promise. Hell, he was wondering if when it came out that he'd…He was horrible at hiding things from his brother...
It had been agreed, that until he'd had a chance to properly speak with Bella's father, Edward and Bella would not announce, confirm, deny or let on in any fashion that they were, in fact, engaged. Yeah, I'm gonna be living in the doghouse for a while if and when she figures out I spilled to my family. Edward could only hope the doghouse was the extent of his punishment.
Due to a lack of serious effort, Edward had blown a few courses his freshman year at university and had to return early from his year abroad, and live at home, taking a few credits in summer school to graduate on time, Bella had remained overseas without him for a few weeks, but her coursework would allow her to graduate a year early. Not because Edward was finished but because her scholarships and funding would otherwise run out before her degree was finished. Bella was no engineer, but she could plan. The other factor, Renee told Bella a degree was the only way she could come home while searching for a job. Bella hadn't told her mother she did not want to "come home" but better to have a plan B, just in case.
Charlie had just reached for the mashed potatoes. Renee had way over cooked again, even with two boys at the table. He was holding the serving spoon of mashed potatoes over his plate when Edward spoke.
"So sir, I guess you are wondering what my intentions are toward your daughter?"
The world stopped. Like, in those commercials, where the camera goes 360 degrees and every thing is examined; yeah they would all recall that moment the first time they saw a commercial like that. They would all recall the crazy frenzy that next enveloped the dining room.
Simultaneously, Jacob jumped up, waved his fork at Bella and Edward and shouted "I knew it I knew it, they're gonna' get married." He then began to hop excitedly around the table, repeating loudly, mostly to himself, over and over.
Renee stood up from the table and announced, "Let's celebrate. I thought so. I have a carrot cake that will be perfect." She darted into the kitchen and the clatter of the dishes was not enough to completely drown out Jacob
Are you wondering about Charlie? Yes, well Charlie was in a state of shock. No moment with scotch and a pat on the back. No giving Edward a hard time before a blessing. No cigar. Nope, nope, none of that for Charlie. His little girl, his first baby, his Princess was now the Princess of someone else. He watched as Edward put his arm around Bella, as Bella blushed as bright as a berry. The mashed potatoes finally slipped from the spoon he still held over his plate; landing with a loud enough plop to re-animate him with the sound.
"Edward" It still came out with enough of an edge. He set the serving spoon back in the bowl. "I'm guessing that the moment just struck and you had to ask her." He'd softened his tone. One truth in that family: as hard as Charlie was on his children for grades and behavior, he'd never been able to deny Bella anything she'd really wanted. Last year the one thing she'd wanted was impossible to grant and that had almost crushed him.
Last year, Bella had sat at this table, silent and strained. She'd not said a word to her family; but being so far apart without a phone call was eating her alive. She hadn't gotten a letter yet, only one of the students in the year program had contacted the school to report all the juniors had arrived and were enrolled in classes. When Bella returned to campus, she'd found her box filled with letters. Edward hadn't found the post for the first week. They'd written nearly every single day to each other. How could Charlie not help his princess at least study in the same country for a term? Over his wife's misgivings, he'd bought her the ticket. Now he sat, watching the light dance in her eyes again, waiting for her fiancé's response.
"Sir, you know your daughter very well. I saw her and I had to know, I had to ask her." Edward beamed as he spoke, holding Bella's hand.
Later that evening, Bella and Edward were finishing up the kitchen duties. Bella was craving a little normalcy in what had become a bigger evening than she'd intended. They stood side by side, WLS playing softly in the background as they loaded the dishwasher. Edward began to sing softly to the radio.
Looking in your eyes I see a paradise
This world that I found is too good to be true
Standing here beside you, want so much to give you
This love in my heart that I'm feeling for you
Next, Bella sang along to the second verse:
Let 'em say we're crazy, I don't care 'bout that
Put your hand in my hand baby, don't ever look back
Let the world around us just fall apart
Baby, we can make it if we're heart to heart
The chorus started to play and Edward took her hand and pulled her onto the back porch, into the surprisingly warm October evening. He danced with her in the moonlight as they listened to the chorus. He sang again the verse:
I'm so glad I found you, I'm not gonna lose you Whatever it takes, I will stay here with you Take it to the good times, see it through the bad times Whatever it takes is what I'm gonna do.
Charlie watched the pair from the dining room archway; they were framed in the porch door, a perfect photograph in his heart. Be well, my baby girl. Be happy. I can see you are loved. I guess I can love you both. As always, Charlie could always find a way to accept and love whatever Bella did. He slipped away, leaving the couple to their dance.
"Mommie, how long till we see Grannamaw and Paw-Paw?"
The tiny voice from the back seat belonged to Penelope Marie. At three, she'd learned to love the sound of her full name and voice and never hesitated to use either. Before Edward or Bella could answer, her brother Eric piped up.
"We just got into the Dells. It's halfway."
"So, still real long, Eric?"
At three years her elder, Eric seemed to tolerate his little sister more than he doted on her. Two such different temperaments in their children left their parents scrambling to keep the peace more often than not, so at this time Bella and Edward were thrilled that there was at least no fighting going on in the backseat of the mini-van. They needed the quiet. This was an impromptu trip. The call from Chicago had come just two days prior.
Charlie had survived a heart attack last year, with bypass surgery and a diligent rehabilitation routine, his health and his outlook on life had been bright. There had been trips planned, and discussions of bringing each of the grandchildren on one each. Then Charlie had developed a cough around Valentine's Day; it wasn't gone by Ash Wednesday, so he'd called his doctor.
They'd planned to spend Easter with Edward's family. They'd been about to book the flights to Seattle when the call came last week.
Pancreatic Cancer. A spot somehow missed in all the tests last year. Metastasized to the lung.
Minneapolis, where Edward had just completed his residency and was now with the University, was an easier drive than flight. Bella might stay on for a while; she'd need the van, plus more room for stuff for the kids. They had not spoken a lot on the exact plan; they simply worked and packed together. Once they had seemed an unlikely pair to their friends and family, now anyone who knew them saw how their strengths and weaknesses dovetailed perfectly. Whatever one needed, the other simply provided. Jake, Bella's brother had called them the Velcro duo at their wedding.
When Bella stayed with Penelope and Eric, it would be the first long separation since the two weeks after graduation from college. Bella had found a job in Minneapolis the day that Edward had received his acceptance into the U of MN Medical School. They'd married that next spring. He'd had a room near campus; a room in the building where Bella was sharing an apartment. Well, a two bedroom meant that one was Edward's, Edward's study.
Edward popped in a CD. Starship started playing as he watched his bride stare out the windshield as she drove. Edward had had the vantage point of observing Bella's relationship with her family members over the years: Renee was always a whirlwind; buzzing with one bit of information or knowledge that Bella simply must organize her life around. Never hyper critical, but always a little, Bella had always seemed to shrink a bit from her mother. Jacob and Bella seemed to get along OK. The almost 8 year difference in ages and difference in everything from Baseball teams (Cubs vs. Sox) to politics did not dovetail well. They had grated on each other earlier, but as Jacob had grown and traveled a bit, he'd been nicer to his sister, to the point of real warmth between them. They would need it as the glue of the family was really Bella's dad.
Charlie had surprised Edward after his surgery. The calculating and cool engineer who seemed more interested in analyzing than living life had accepted the advice and really worked his rehab and rehabbed his life as well. He'd really sat and played with his grandchildren. He'd been affectionate toward his wife, warmer than Edward had ever seen them before. He'd been even more doting on Bella, calling her at least once each week, when before she had had to initiate the contact. Bella had basked in the attention. Motherhood and life had been eating at his beautiful wife and she'd begun to draw into herself a bit, seeming tired and pre-occupied with the kids and her part time job and the house. Edward wasn't in a place where he could give her all the attention he'd wanted to; the heart attack's affect was the silver lining. Her father's attention had cracked that shell and she'd relaxed back into the warm woman he loved and married.
Now Edward watched as she drew back into herself bit by bit. The next few months would be hard. It became clear to Edward on the drive that Bella was unaware how close she was to her father. She wasn't an engineer, but her approach to problems and life was more like her father's than she realized. He would have to prepare himself to help her afterward. The song on the CD was the one they'd cleaned up the kitchen to the night they'd announced their engagement. The night he'd also told Bella that he was horrible at keeping a secret. He felt his eyelids grow heavy again.
"Honey, get some more rest. You didn't sleep at the hospital last night, you told me yourself." Bella patted his knee and he allowed the heaviness to claim him. He slipped into a memory and dozed into a dream.
They'd danced to another song, Color my World by Bella's hometown's namesake band, Chicago. It was an almost over the top song, but that night it had worked. They climbed the stairs, the kids' rooms were on the second level and Edward's case was in Jacob's room. He went in and remembered a thirteen-year-old Jacob smirking as he'd dug out his toothbrush.
"Look, it's cool. Be good to her, because she's my sister and all. Oh and don't make too much noise. I'm gonna watch TV."
He'd crept across the hall. Bella had been sitting on her bed, brushing out her hair, clad in a button down shirt. Just his button down shirt and a pair of socks; she was damp from a shower and glowing in the moonlight from her window.
He'd sat behind her, setting his legs around her and, taking the brush from her hand, with long firm strokes from the top of her head to the middle of her back, he began to brush her curls. He'd slipped off his jeans and was just in his briefs and socks.
"Will we be caught?"
"Bella, we're engaged and everyone knows now." Something dawned in her eyes.
"What? When did you call your parents? Why didn't I talk to Esme and Carlisle?" With those words she stiffened slightly.
"Bella I'm a lousy liar." He placed his hands on her shoulders, head bowed.
"I know. I knew you'd already told them when I watched you tell my father. I'm not …upset any more." She'd slipped an arm around him and squeezed slightly
"No? I mean no. I mean…"
"Ssh. Kiss me now. I figured out I like it that you can't lie. I know your family. They don't do secrets."
He wrapped his arms around her, accidentally pushing the brush into her chest, into the open space on the shirt, right between her perfect breasts and she jumped and cried out a little. He tossed the brush onto her dresser with one hand and then stroked her hair with his fingertips from root to tips.
"Ssh, sorry. Let me kiss it and make it better."
There is nothing hotter than seeing your beloved in your damp white button down shirt, that shirt clinging to her every curve. She turned toward him and he slipped his hands into the cotton, along her damp skin. Her two legs came over one of his as he cradled her in his arm, the other hand stroking between her breasts, softly his fingers trailed over the spot as he began pressing his lips to her forehead, kissing down her nose and kissing her mouth. He captured her bottom lip, sucking on it and running his tongue along her teeth, slipping in to touch hers. Edward continued to kiss down her neck, a soft kiss to the top of each breast as he gently rolled her nipples with his fingertips. She moaned softly as he knew she could feel his arousal rubbing against her round bottom cheeks. No sound from downstairs emboldened him further. Edward kissed down her stomach, petting the curly mound at the apex of her legs. They slowly squirmed and scooted while he was kissing her stomach until she was prone on the bed, her head just touching the bottom of her pillows. He slipped a finger along her folds, between her inner and outer lips. They were already warm and wet. He stroked around in a pattern and stroked her pearly nub with his thumb as he slid two fingers inside. "Are you better? Are you ready for this?" He watched her slow sweet smile and soft nod of her head. Then Edward scooted down between her legs, sliding his hands under her sweet round derriere, lifting each cheek into his hands, kneading them softly with his fingertips as Edward's lips met Bella's most private ones. She was his honey and that was all he tasted. Edward swirled and dipped and sent his tongue in deep, making pass after pass over the apex of sensation. He could barely make out her "yesss oh fuh yess of oh Edward!"
She moaned, grabbing a small toss pillow to bury and muffle her sounds. Edward could not wait to get her to a place where they could make all the noise they wanted. In truth her moans and cries went straight to his cock, and as Bella reached the point, her shattering around his lips was only assuring him that her shattering around his shaft would be Edward's favorite thing ever. EVER.
As she trembled, he kissed back up her core, her chest, kissing each pert nipple at least three times as he lined up at her entrance. A mere nod of her head and Edward was slipping inside with one swift plunge. Bella wrapped her legs around him, cradling his face in her hands. Inside her warm, wet, private place embraced him as tightly and silkily as her arms.
"I love you so damn much Edward Cullen." She looked on with heavy, lusty eyes as they rocked back and forth, a heavy rhythm between hearts and thighs.
"Only you" they breathed to each other and then there were only sounds of stifled moans and gasps as he felt her grow close again. She clamped her lips together to keep silent as she came apart around him, pulling him to his release. He'd buried his head in a pillow to keep the noise down when something hard poked him in the back of his bicep…
"Sorrie Daddie!" Penelope looked sad as Edward peered around his seat. "Mommie didn't answer and I really need to go to the bathroom."
"Sorry baby, Mommy is looking for an exit. We're almost in Illinois."
The minivan passed a crew changing the speed limit sign. 70! Hallelujah! This will take hours off the trip. Edward looked over at his wife and realized she was getting tired too. He vowed to take over the helm as they pulled into the first stop over the Illinois line. She tuned in WLS on the radio as they parked. It wasn't music, so she shut it off. Bella sat back heavily in her seat and closed her eyes for a moment. Edward watched his girl as he remembered a few more lines from that song.
Ooh, all that I need is you,
All that I ever need
And all that I want to do,
Is hold you forever, Forever and ever
"Come on love, come on kids. I'm gonna captain the Starship Cullen the rest of the way." Edward announced as he opened his door
To a chorus of laughing children, he held hands with his girls as they entered the rest stop.
He held her hand every chance he got for the next few weeks. He held her in his arms as she finally fell apart, the realization of what she'd lost pouring over her like a waterfall.
Those lyrics echoed in his head. Hold you forever… Nothings gonna stop Us now.
There were boxes everywhere; a lifetime of stuff to be sorted and packed, donated and sold or given to the kids. Jacob's girls were little, but they were good at putting tissue paper around the glasses and breakables that were going to the Salvation Army. Charlotte elbowed her older cousin Penelope, to get her attention.
"Nelopee, I found a CD in the glasses. Can we play it?"
"Mom, is there a working CD player or computer in Gramm's house? Char's right, a little music in here would help."
Bella came into the dining room with Carrie, carrying an older CD boom box. "We should see if this works before we donate it."
"Will Greaded Gamma meed it?" Carrie's speech was getting clearer to them the more they heard it. Cleaning out the house after Renee's stroke was the first time they had all been together for any length of time since Charlotte's christening eight years earlier. Jacob and the girls hadn't even been able to come for Eric's wedding. Their son and Aimee had also driven in, to introduce Patrick Charles to his great-grandmother. This stroke had been the last straw. The family had convinced Renee to leave the big house and enter an assisted living building in her neighborhood. Jacob was swamped with his new job at Apple; he'd made sure everyone had the latest Phones after the first episode last year. His girls needed him, as their mother was about to end Jacob's first and, as he declared it, final try at matrimony. Bella and Edward were in the process of selling their home and moving their things to storage. Eric was married, Penelope was on the coast for school and Edward was joining a traveling medical group. For now, Bella was enjoying being an aunt and grandma. Edward walked in with a box of trash bags.
"Dumpster's here. Wow, that's quite a boom box! I think it used to be in your dad's room." He knelt next to Carrie and helped her plug it in.
"Honey, She's still your Grandma. She's a great grandma to Patrick because she's a grandma to me and Aunt Bella is Patrick's Grandma." Amiee had come in after setting Patrick down in a port-a-crib for his nap. She gave Carrie a pat on the shoulder as she picked up a box marked for them.
"Carrie, cousin Amiee is right. She's married to the family now, so she's cousin to us." Charlotte spoke with the special relish reserved for big sisters to instruct their siblings.
Eric called out "Sing it sistah!" laughing, as he passed with a load of rubbish from another room on his way to the dumpster.
Suddenly the sounds of Starship wafted loudly over the room
The packing and sorting and laughing and living continued.
And we can build this dream together,
Standing strong forever
Nothing's gonna stop us now
And if this world runs out of lovers,
We'll still have each other
Nothing's gonna stop us,
Nothing's gonna stop us
And we can build this dream together,
Standing strong forever...
Jacob watched as his sister stopped as the box was filled, stepping out onto the back porch. Finally taller, he put his head on top of his sister's and placed his hands on her shoulders as they looked out over the falling leaves in the backyard.
"Somebody will have to rake."
"Nah, Bells, I've got that covered. Ya done good sis, ya done us proud. Dad's gotta be happy."
"Ya think?" She sniffled a bit, overcome with the memories.
Jacob turned and went to his girls as Edward came and put his arm around Bella. "He's right. Your dad is very proud of you. Of us, of all of us."
On the privacy of the porch, they held and kissed each other, the music playing on as it had that night not so very long ago.
Woh oh oh-oh-oh (Nothing's gonna stop us now)
Nothing's gonna stop us (World runs out of lovers)
Now (we'll still have each other)
(Nothing's gonna stop us) us now
(And we can build this dream together)
hey baby (Standing strong forever)
I know (Nothing's gonna stop us now)