This is my new little baby. I've been nursing it for a while so I hope you enjoy. I will try to post every Wednesday, but please forgive me if I get behind a little. I do have a few chapters banked, so hopefully I can stick closely to an updating schedule.
EmDempster is my mastah-beta. EllisBell725 and KnittingVamp7 pre-read and hold my hand. Much love to them all.
This disclaimer will apply to this chapter and every chapter posted from here on out: I am not Stephenie Meyer (sadly) and I do not own Twilight or any of its characters (even more sadly). No copyright infringement is intended. Plus, you'd be sadly disappointed if you tried to sue me.
"If you finish them, then you can go."
"Fine. We'll just sit here until you do. Would you like to move tables so that you don't have to watch the other kids? I mean, since you aren't going to finish your nuggets so you can play, too…"
"Hmmmph." The little sandy-haired boy beside me crossed his arms and poked his bottom lip out as far as it would go.
"Be careful not to trip on that thing. I'd hate for you to get hurt."
"La-Laaaaa," he whined.
"I'm just sayin'." I turned my attention back to my own chicken sandwich and fries, trying to ignore the petulant child sitting next to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him turn his attention toward the multi-colored play area, watching the other children as they climbed up through the plastic levels. You could hear them as they scrambled through the tunnels overhead followed by the drumming sounds indicating that one was making his or her way down the twisty slide.
As soon as Brandon let out a heavy sigh, I knew I had won the battle. He picked up one of his last two chicken nuggets and shoved it into his mouth making his cheeks poke out chipmunk style.
"Brandon, you know better than that. Where are your manners?" He grinned at me and laughed a little at his own silliness. "Make sure you chew that up well, okay?" He nodded and I watched his jaw move up and down for a few moments until he swallowed it all down. Before he could shove the remaining one in his mouth, I reminded him once again, "Bite, please." He did as I asked and took one last drink of his juice box before he hurried out of his shoes and over to join the other children.
"They are just too busy for their own good, aren't they," the lady at the table across from me asked. I laughed a little and nodded.
"Definitely. Meal time is always a fight for us. He's too busy and too picky." I focused on trailing the hurried little boy with my eyes as he darted around the room.
She laughed in and nodded in agreement.
"I know. Mine are five, seven and ten. They're either all arguing with me about what we're having for dinner or arguing amongst themselves at the dinner table. It's never peaceful." I chuckled again and nodded my head. "How old is yours?" she asked.
A small smile came to my lips as I answered, "Three, almost four."
"They're sweet at that age."
"Sometimes," I laughed in return.
"Yeah, sometimes," she agreed.
I checked my watch and noticed how close it was to noon. The nervousness I had tried to push back earlier set in once again. Brandon had not spent the night away from home in almost three years. Although we had talked about the weekend, I knew the words I had said probably went straight from my mouth, through his ears and back out. I was worried how he would react tonight and honestly, how I would. I hadn't spent the night away from him in three years either.
He ran back and forth, climbing and sliding and screeching with the other kids. Right as the second hand hit the number twelve, I spotted a familiar face and groaned to myself. It was time.
"Hi," Jasper said as he sat down across from me.
"Hi," I responded softly. We sat in silence, observing for a few moments, before Brandon looked our way and broke into a smile. He rushed over to the table and skidded to a halt, losing his balance and toppling to the floor. Jasper helped him up and Brandon automatically threw his little arms around Jasper's neck. I wanted to cry.
"Hi, Daddy!" he said excitedly.
"Hi, buddy. Are you ready to join me for a guys' weekend?" Big blue eyes widened at the question and he jumped up and down.
"Yes! Are we ready to go now?" I was surprised that he was so anxious, and a little scared too. What if he decided Jasper's house was more fun? What if he came back and said he didn't like me anymore? What if….
"Well, let's go get your bag, okay?" Brandon nodded in agreement and soon we were standing at the trunk of my car, Jasper holding Brandon's hand while his other was occupied by the little green dinosaur bag. I bent down to Brandon's level, trying my best to fight back the tears so he wouldn't think I was upset with him.
"You be a good boy, okay buddy? Remember to mind your manners and do as Daddy says, okay?"
"Okay, La-La, I will," he promised solemnly.
"Can I have a kiss and a hug?" He threw his free arm around my neck, unwilling to let his daddy's hand go. I got a quick peck on the lips and that was that. I stood up, still trying to compose myself, but my lip was quivering so badly that I was afraid I was going to start sobbing in the middle of the parking lot and embarrass myself. I took a deep breath and looked Jasper straight in the eye.
"Remember to brush his teeth and make him potty before bedtime. There's a ziplock baggie in there with vitamins he can have in the mornings. Just one each day. I also packed an extra set of clothes and underwear and…."
Jasper held up his hand and stopped my rambling.
"Bella, I know. You've told me a thousand times. And I still have the detailed list you had Mrs. Cope give me. I promise he'll be ok."
"You promise?" I confirmed wearily.
"I promise," he repeated. "Plus, Mom will probably not leave us alone the entire weekend, so I'll be supervised." He laughed a little and in that moment, I could see the nervousness appear around the frayed edges of his calm exterior.
I knew Charlotte, Jasper's mom, would be there and oversee that things were going smoothly. We had spoken several times over the phone, and she spent most of those conversations reassuring me that everything would be fine. I was sure that she would be there to help Jasper out in the event that he needed her. Since she had already raised a child, I was pretty sure I could trust Charlotte to take care of Brandon. But I had a reallyhard time trusting Jasper. I was working on it.
"Okay. If you need anything, though, please don't hesitate to call me."
"I will, Bella. Come on, buddy." They started toward a sedan at the end of the parking lot.
"I love you, Brandon!" I called out.
"Love you, too, La-la!" He waved and then disappeared as Jasper placed him in his car seat. I choked back a sob once more and climbed into my car, praying to God that this wasn't a mistake and hoping that Jasper didn't mess this up. That little boy was my life, and I would protect him with it.
Chapters won't always be this short. Thoughts? I'll try to put a teaser on Fictionators next week. Update next Wednesday.