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Edward meets Charlie. Edward gets a great offer.
"Wow, Dad! You didn't tell me you were coming into town," Bella says with a tremble in her voice and an uncomfortable smile on her face. If she is trying to make me feel at ease, she's doing a terrible job at it.
His gruff voice alone is freaking me out when he says, "Well, that would've ruined the surprise, now wouldn't it?" I can't help but squirm when he looks me right at me.
"Dad, this is…" Bella clears her throat. "Edward."
Charlie Swan looks at me long and hard and I feel like a fucking rabbit being targeted. Doesn't he hunt? Didn't Bella say something about him hunting? I know he's sizing me up, but fuck, if it didn't feel like he's deciding if I'm the right guy for his daughter or he's just measuring me for my coffin.
"Nice to meet you, Edward," he says entirely too sweetly while holding out his hand for me to shake.
I'm about to offer my hand for him to shake, but Bella blocks the exchange. She moves to stand between us and opens her front door with her eyes solely on her father. Gone, is the scared little girl and in her place is the strong defiant woman I love. Her sudden confidence is coming off her in waves and I would've felt empowered by it if I hadn't been locked under Charlie's scrutiny and invasive stare. He hasn't taken his eyes off of me and I'm shuddering until Bella catches it and scoffs at her dad, causing him to break his stare down with me.
"Dad," Bella says in a stern voice. "Be nice." She rolls her eyes at him and he smiles as she holds the door open, beckoning him to enter first. She nods for me to go in next, taking the takeout from me. Bella closes the door before I can bolt back outside. She tells us to go to the living room and Charlie turns to me with a sickly sweet smirk. "Lead the way."
I shiver a little as I pass him, walking into the living room. I can feel his eyes on my back. Forget deciding if I'm the right guy for Bella. He's measuring me for a coffin. This man is going to kill me.
We sit on the couch in awkward silence until Bella calls me to the kitchen. I fly off the couch like it's on fire and run to the kitchen. Bella hugs me when I walk in, and kisses my cheek. "Relax, baby," she whispers.
I give her a half smile and pull her into another hug, making her chuckle against my chest. Relax? That's easy for to say. She's not the one who has to impress Charlie Swan, my possible undertaker.
"You're not the one who has to impress him, love."
Bella chuckles again and pulls away to look up at me. "He's going to love you. Don't let him scare you."
I widen my eyes at her and she laughs and then whispers, "Just relax." She moves over to her fridge and takes out three beers. "Besides, I'm gonna to kill Jake. He knew Dad was coming in and he didn't say anything. He just let us walk blind into this trap. We're going to win, baby. 'Cause I'm going to fucking kill Jake!" she whisper-yells. "Now, take this beer to him, it's his favorite." She hands me the Budweiser. "It's good thing you both like the same beer. That's a point up in Dad's book." Holy shit! I'm a point up! I feel like cheering. Fuck, Charlie has me acting like a kid. "I'll share the food and be out in a second." I nod and leave the kitchen.
Charlie is flipping through a car magazine that was on Bella's center table. He looks up at me and I start to ramble. "Umm…Bella will be out in a sec. She's sharing the food." He looks between me and the beers in my hand. "Umm…I thought you'd like a beer. I like Budweiser too." I internally roll my eyes at myself. I sound like a five year old.
"Why do you assume I drink?" he says sternly. "Do I seem like an alcoholic?"
"No, Sir!" I almost shout like a drill sergeant just barked an order at me. I've got to get a hold on myself before I jump through a window.
"It's just…Bella said to take the beer to you and she explained the coincidence of us liking the same type of beer offhandedly."
A small smirk appears on Charlie's face and then disappears just as quickly. It's enough for me to relax for a millisecond. He takes the beer I offer him and I take a seat on the farthest end of the couch. A part of me thinks that if I'm close to him, he'll choke me before Bella comes out here. Where is she?
We drink our beer in a tense silence until Charlie breaks it. "So, Edward…" Charlie begins but Bella interrupts us and I sigh in relief a little too loud and Charlie smirks again. Yes, you're driving up a fucking wall. You win!
"Dad, here," she says, offering him a plate. She places mine in front of me and takes a seat across from us. She jumps up quickly and runs for her own beer and comes back. "What were two talking about?" she says with a smile. "How incredible I am?"
I let a shaky laugh. Thanks, Bella. She winks at me and I smile and duck my head, but I unfortunately look Charlie's way and his stern look wipes the smile off of my face. Bella is shaking her head and chuckling when I look her way. "Dad…" is all she says.
We begin to eat and are doing so in an almost comfortable silence. I notice Charlie like his daughter doesn't need to fill the air with idle chatter while eating. I like the similarity. But Charlie decides to drive me back up the wall I'm slowly descending when he says, "So, Edward. I was about to ask you this before."
Bella cocks an eyebrow at her dad, as if to say, 'Really?' but I ignore it. Again, Bella isn't the one under Charlie, the hunter who probably knows how to hide a body, scrutiny.
"Do you live here too?"
"No, sir." I say quickly.
"Really?" he says in a teasing tone as he points at something across from us. "So, that's Bella's jacket then?"
I follow his pointed finger to the jacket I was wearing wore when I came over yesterday. It's hanging off the back of a chair. "Oh! Umm, sir, I can…umm, explain that."
"You two had a sleep over?" Charlie smiles and I shiver in fear, because the sinister look on his face makes me want to run for my life.
Bella throws mea lifeline and thankfully saves me. "Dad, stop grilling Edward."
When she says it, something amazing happens. Charlie blushes and looks down like a scolded kid. Then, he apologizes to me and says in a whiny voice as he complains with an almost innocent look on his face. "I just want to get to know him."
"Not by intimidating him," Bella scolds. "Edward's great. He's sweet. He's the most wonderful guy I have ever met."
I'm at a loss for words. I want to kiss her so bad, but I'm still afraid of her dad will rip me to pieces.
"He looks like he loves you," Charlie muses and my eyes nearly pop out of my head. Shit! Am I that obvious? "What?" He smirks at me. "Did I let out a secret?"
"Ummm. No. I just…"
Bella saves the day again. "Dad, stop it. Quit putting Edward on the spot."
Charlie laughs. "I'm just fucking with him."
I let out a breath when he cursed and Bella laughs. She tells her dad to stand and waits for us to shake hands and introduce ourselves properly.
Charlie is all smiles. "Hi, I'm Charlie Swan."
"I'm Edward Cullen, sir. It's nice to meet you."
Things seem to blow over after that. Charlie and I sit and talk and I come to see that he's a really cool guy. Yes, he's overprotective of his daughter and he still grilled me with questions, but Bella is always there to jump in and make him behave. He's real funny too and we exchange a few jokes as I find myself relaxing more around him. He shares stories about Bella, making her groan or roll her eyes at him, but never without a smile on her face. You can see how much she loves her dad and I absentmindedly wonder if I had a daughter if she'd love me as much. Where did that come from? But with Bella in my life, it's been happening more frequently. Thoughts of the future. I know I want Bella in it. I don't see a future without by my side.
Bella is begging her dad to stop with the stories when I decide to throw her a bone and share a few about myself as a kid. After that, the conversation drifts to fishing and Charlie starts to explain animatedly about his favorite pastime. Bella gets up and clears the dishes as Charlie and I continue to talk. She has a warm smile on her face.
"You love her?" he asks as soon as she's out of earshot.
"More than anything," I say simply.
"Treat my baby right, am I understood?"
We say nothing more on the subject. I think it means I've passed the test but a part of me is still too nervous to care. Maybe tomorrow it'll matter.
The night ends and I'm a little bummed to know with Charlie staying with Bella, there might be no 'alone time' for a while. But this is her dad and he doesn't want to kill me on the spot. Maybe he would if he knew the things I've done to his daughter. Bella complains as I'm leaving that I don't have to go.
"Baby, we can't keep our hands off of each other and I'm going to leave while I'm still on your dad's good side," I tell her as she stand at the door, pouting.
"You're not being fair," she says, jutting out that sexy bottom lip and I want to bite it. "I don't want to sleep in that big bed all by my lonesome. I want you to keep me warm. I'll behave. I swear." I give her a long, hard look. "Fine," she resigns, because she knows she's lying. "Go."
"I'll see you soon, love."
"I'll miss you," she says as she pulls me down into a kiss which leaves me breathless and wondering if I couldn't pull her around a corner somewhere. I need to leave.
"I'll miss you too."
The next day at work, the ER seems brighter and filled with promises of a good day. No one understands why I'm smiling so much, but I don't care. I'm happy and in love.
"What's wrong with you, Edward?" Carlisle asks while we're on break. "You have hardly stopped smiling since this morning."
"I met Charlie." I smile.
Carlisle's eyes widen in disbelief. "As in Charlie Swan?" Obviously, he knows Charlie since Alice and Bella are best friends.
"Yes." I can't wipe the smile off my face.
"Bella's father?" Carlisle questions.
"Yeah." I chuckle. "The one and the same."
Carlisle raises an eyebrow in continued disbelief. "So, how come you're standing and walking for that matter? Why aren't you on a gurney, groaning in pain?"
"Why isn't Jasper?" I counter and he laughs. He knows he's protective of Alice. In fact, I doubt Carlisle has ever approved of anyone his daughter has ever dated.
"Well, while I'm still waiting for him to fuck up…" I laugh and Carlisle joins in before he continues, "Jasper is an okay guy. I haven't seen Alice this happy before."
"You're right," I agree with him. "I've never seen her so happy with a guy for this long. But I feel the same way about Bella. I haven't been this happy before. I doubt it. I thought I found it, but I hadn't. Bella is everything to me, Carlisle. When I look in her eyes, I see the future. I see her in my life. I think marriage and kids. It's fucking insane! But I want it."
He stares at me in amusement and astonishment before he answers, "Well, I can say, I'm happy for you both. I wish you two all the best."
Carlisle isn't come off the Charlie issue though. "It doesn't explain you not being in a coma though?"
I laugh and shake my head at him as he chuckles. "I guess, well, Charlie likes me. For now."
"That he likes me?"
"No. That you're realistic enough to add the 'for now' part of that statement."
Lunch passes with Carlisle messing with me, but it doesn't deter my mood. We continue our shift. We are working in the OR when Bella calls up for surgical assistance. Carlisle and I take it and head down to the ER. Bella sighs and winks at me when we walk in. I duck my head briefly and blush. This woman does the strangest things to me. I don't get my body's reactions to her sometimes. I feel like a shy teenager all over again. Carlisle shakes his head at me and smirks. We get to work and are successful with the patient which Carlisle and I escort up to the OR. I text Bella after observing the emergency surgery Carlisle performs on the patient, asking her to lunch. She responds with her acceptance. Carlisle catches me in the hall with a shit eating grin on my face and laughs at me.
"You've got it bad," he says.
"Fuck, I do," I say, laughing at myself.
He tells me he wants me to observe another surgeon. It's more toward my field. Cardiology. I text Bella quickly, telling her to wait for me. She agrees and wishes me luck. I almost text back, saying that I love her. I know I should wait, but it's getting hard not telling her in every text or in every conservation.
"The cardiac surgeon requested you specifically, Edward," Carlisle says proudly.
"It's Aro. Since I have been boasting about you wanting to work in the field of Cardiology on the golf course, Aro has been paying attention. Are you ready for this?" Carlisle asks.
"He likes to ask a lot of questions," Carlisle advises. "He's notorious for it and very no nonsense. Are you sure?"
I should be nervous. Aro Volturi is one of the best cardiac surgeons in the country. "I am." But I'm not. This is my future.
I walk out of the operating room in a daze. It was an amazingly wonderful daze because Aro Volturi has just made me an offer too good to refuse. I told him I'd think about it, but damn, what's there to think about?
Shit, I have to talk to her about this. It's an amazing fucking offer. I'd get to train under Aro Volturi himself for my surgical residency. The only problem is, he's leaving Chicago, and so would I. We'd be working out of Los Angeles, California. To be fully trained by Aro, I'd have to live and work in Los Angeles for the next seven to eight years. I told him I'd think about it. Carlisle doesn't seem too pleased with the offer. I know he'd rather I stay in Chicago. Stay home. If I choose to, I'd complete my residency under Carlisle's supervision along with Dr. Eleazar Denali. He's another fantastic cardiac surgeon. He's more in the background, but his skills are unbelievable. He and Carlisle's are old family friends. Eleazar doesn't love the limelight as much as Aro Volturi. I have a choice. A choice I want to discuss with Bella. Go or stay? It also bothers me that Carlisle won't tell me why he's suddenly unhappy with Aro's offer. Maybe he thought Aro would've remained at Mercy. I'll talk to him about it later. Right now I have to get downstairs and find Bella. I want to talk to her. This is a tough decision. How can I leave her? I want the opportunity but I just found Bella. I'm in love with her. I want to be with her. Yet, I can't ask her to pack up her life and follow me to wherever. No, Bella's life is in Chicago. That means my life is here. How I can think about leaving? My family is here. My friends are here. Chicago is my home.
The elevator doors open and I'm about to step out and end up bumping into him.
"Hello, Edward," my father says.
"What are you doing here?"
"It's a free country last time I checked."
"Whatever. Excuse me." I move around him but he follows me to the front desk. Bella isn't around. Carole is sitting at the desk and tells me Bella is in an emergency. She glares at Edward Sr. and I glance back in time to see him winking at her and smiling slyly. Carole mutters something about 'disgusting bastard' and gets up. I beg her to tell Bella I'm heading to lunch and I'll pick something for her. Carole nods and walks off.
I try to get rid of Edward Sr. by ignoring him, but he follows me outside. "What do you want?" I turn and demand. My anger is rising for the first time today. I'd been in such a good mood. Why did this asshole have to come here and change that?
"I feel hungry." He shrugs with a smirk on his face. I want to punch him. I stalk off and he follows me.
I stop again and turn to him. "What does that have to do with you following me?"
"I'm not. We're just going in the same direction," he says with that disgusting smirk on his smug face. I want to kick his ass. Every time he comes around, my day ends up in the gutter with me thinking of reasons to stay out of prison. I hate the bastard.
"You don't eat where I eat," I say to him.
"You don't know that," he counters. "Anyways, I'm here to see Carlisle. He's not returning my calls."
"I'm not Carlisle."
He chuckles. "You've got your mother's fire. She was always rude and straightforward."
I scoff and walk off.
"What? What did I say?" he says with a chuckle behind me.
"Fuck off." I don't look back. I cross the street and head to the diner. I get inside, grab a seat, and orders lunch. My father sits down in front of me and my blood begins to boil. He's pissing me off. "What?!" I slam the menu down on the table top causing others to look at our table. Something flashes in my father's eyes. It's gone before I can see what it is. But if I had to guess, it would be sadness. But that can't be because Edward Sr. cares about no one but himself. I've learned that from experience.
"I told you, I'm hungry," he continues with the sick smirk plastered back on his face.
"This isn't a five star restaurant," I sneer.
He smiles at me, covering whatever confusion is going on in his warped head. "So much hostility, Edward. You're a young man. You should learn to relax."
"Keep your advice to yourself, old man." I snap, and try to ignore him.
A waitress bravely takes my order and he orders what I order. I order lunch for Bella. Edward Sr. is talking shit about whatever he wants to talk about because I'm not acknowledging him and I go on ignoring him while texting Emmett telling him, he's about to come down to the diner across the street from the hospital to arrest me for either assault or murder if Edward Sr. doesn't shut the fuck up and get up and leave me alone. Emmett tells me to cool it. Ignore him if I have to and he'll go away.
"You really look like your mother," he says and I stop and glare at him. "You've got her anger too."
"Don't talk about her." I'm pissed and I want him gone. I don't want to talk about my mom with the likes of him.
"Don't," I warn him. "You don't know anything about her."
He smirks and I hear it before he says it and I want to knock his teeth out. "I did have two children with her. I think I know her a little bit better than you, Edward." I spring up and grab him by the collar, pulling him to him. My eyes are blazing as I stare into his almost frightened ones. "Don't talk about her, you motherfucker. You ran out when the shit got to hard for your lazy ass so fuck off with what you know." I push him back down in his seat and he straightens his shirt and tie while I sit across from him, huffing.
"You have…" he starts with a shaky laugh.
"Shut up! I shout, making more people look at us. "You came around, you screwed her, you got Emmett and me, it was too hard for your rich ass and you bailed and she died. End of fucking story!"
The waitress delivers the lunches and I pay for all three. I stalk out of the diner and walk away. Alice sends me a text as I'm walking through the ER doors, telling me she just found out that Tanya and my father aren't together anymore so I should watch out for Tanya. I thank her and head to the front desk. Bella is in another emergency and I really want to talk to her. I leave her lunch with Carole and go and find a quiet place by myself to eat. I'll see Bella later.
After eating, I realize I still have another thirty minutes before my lunch break is over so I leave for a while. I can make it there and be back in time. I really need someone to talk to about this and I know she's best person, even though she can't answer me.
I ride up the path that leads to her grave and stop. I park my bike and get off. The grass is green and the sun is high in the sky, but the cool breeze and shade from her tree will make it comfortable to sit and talk to her. I take a seat in the grass next to her headstone. "Hey, mom," I say, imagining her smile. I tell her I miss her and then I don't stop. I tell her about Aro's offer, my thoughts of a future with Bella. Emmett and Rosalie. Jasper and Alice. I tell her how happy for them. I tell her how I feel like life is falling into place. I tell her there's still a part of me that's stupidly mad at her for leaving me even if I know it wasn't her fault. I tell her about Edward Sr. and what I wanted to do to him because my mom was like that. You could be honest with her about anything. I find myself crying as I think about leaving Chicago; leaving her. I whisper my fears, my hopes, my dreams and then I tell her I'll come see her again and I get up and leave.
Bella is in the ambulance bay when I arrive at the hospital. I thought she was waiting on an emergency. She wasn't.
"I'm waiting for you. Are you okay?" she asks as she pulls me into a hug.
I sigh in relief. Her arms feel like home. "I'm fine now."
"Where did you go?"
"I went to see my mom."
Bella looks solemn as she nods in understanding. "I want to talk you about something."
"Okay," she says with a look of interest in her eyes.
"I got an offer," I say. I don't mean to dumb on her, but I can't see straight. Edward Sr. has upset me so much. Bella senses it and keeps me in her arms as we stand off to the side of the building, talking. "Aro Volturi wants me to complete my surgical residency under his supervision, but there's a problem."
Bella looks sad. "You'd have to leave. You'd have to go to Los Angeles."
"Yes. You know?"
"Aro is a rock star, Edward. Chicago isn't fantastic enough to hold him. Los Angeles made an offer and he isn't turning it down. Word around the hospital is that he's stealing all the best interns to take with him. You and a few others will make him look good. But Aro is one of the best. You'd learn a lot, baby." She kisses my lips briefly. I pull her to my lips again, kissing her soundly before letting her go.
"If you had the choice what would you do?"
"Make that decision for you, Edward," she says. "I can't give you my choice."
"Because it would be selfish."
I understand. Bella can't tell me what she'd choose because it would involve her staying in Chicago for me. She doesn't want to affect my decision. She wants me to choose what's best for me. I kiss her again, soundly, making her giggle when I pull away.
"Thanks, love." It's the only way I can say 'I love her' at the moment. It's something I hope to change…soon.
"You're welcome," she says with a smile. "So…did you tell your mom about the old lady that's bugging you? Does she like me? Or does she think this dusty old woman should leave her son alone?" Bella smiles and jokes.
If only she knew. My mom would've loved her. "She would've loved you."
She blushes and ducks her head into my chest. "I think I would've thanked her for such a wonderful son."
We talk a little more and then we head inside. We're spending the night apart because Bella's working a double shift.
I walk into my apartment, exhausted from work, my earlier excitement about Charlie liking me and Aro's offer and then the disastrous episode with my father. As soon as I see my bed, I throw myself across it. I'm fast asleep before I can even take off my shoes.
I turn over and open my eyes, sighing as she comes into view. "Hi, Mom."
"Hi, baby." She smiles. "I was happy to see you today."
"I was happy to visit."
Mom is as beautiful as ever. Her caramel, unruly hair, with those thick wavy curls I use to love playing in as a child, is lying on her shoulders. Her floor length, white, lacy summer dress is swimming around her ankles as she steps closer and kneels before me, leaning her elbows on my bed.
A genuine almost ethereal smile lights up her face as she says, "Bella is very beautiful."
"I love her."
"I know," she says. "I have known since you laid eyes on her. It's something I prayed for. Emmett has found the girl for him, but I use to worry about you until Bella."
I smile as a tear falls from my eye. "I miss you, Mom." I cry.
"I never went away, baby," she says with shimmering tears in her eyes. "Edward, I have been here, every step of the way. I cheered on your first day of being a nurse and I was the happiest at your medical school's graduation. You can't see me, but baby, I see you. I love you. And Emmett, I'm always watching over him. Don't worry. Let me handle it. I'll never leave my boys hanging."
I smile amidst my tears. "What am I suppose to do?" I know she understands. Everything in me tells me that she does. "Aro made me an offer and it's too unbelievable to refuse."
"Sweetie, it's your life, and if this is something you truly want to go for, then you've got to take the chance. If then, you'll know. Only you can decide. Take a minute and think about it though. Look at it from all sides. But promise me, you'll live your life to the fullest."
"I promise, but what about Bella?"
Mom smiles knowingly. "It'll all work out. Trust me, baby, you'll see."
I open my eyes to my darkened bedroom as I hear a whisper, "I love you, Edward."
Next: Welcome to Forks.