Disclaimer: SM owns the characters, but Peyton's all mine!
This was my contribution for the SU4K compilation. Some of you have already seen this in the PDF but some haven't so since we can post these today, here it is. I sure have missed these guys and not only was writing this for a great cause extremely fulfilling, it also let me revisit some of my favorite characters.
Thanks to Ange de'laube who made me a beautiful banner to go along with this (You can find it on my blog or in The Breakers group on FB), to Laurel who as always helped make my words so much prettier, and to J'me, my soulsister, who is always by my side.
Summary: A mysterious letter threatens to disrupt the life Edward and Bella have made. Who sent it and what do they want? A glimpse into the future of our favorite family from Corea and The Breakers.
Dedication: For Katalina. You are an inspiration to us all.
"Baby?" I ask anxiously as I stare at her.
Back ramrod stiff, her fingers still clutch the envelope that came in the mail earlier today. In the reflection of the window I can see her eyes are closed, mouth set in a tight line. Her chest rises and falls as she takes deep breath after deep breath.
She hasn't said a word in five minutes.
It feels like hours.
I knew this would be bad. From the moment I threw my keys on the table and dropped my briefcase on the floor in the foyer and flipped through the mail, I knew this would not go well. I stared at the return address on the envelope, praying, hoping, it would change, closed my eyes and stared at it again; my stomach dropped out of my ass and landed on the floor when it didn't.
Frozen in place, I listened for any sounds from deeper in the house. Nothing. Bella, Sam, and Max weren't home from Corea yet and Peyton was who knows where. Great. I closed my fingers around the damned envelope, paced, slapping the thing against my leg as I walked and wondered whether I should call Bella right away, call Charlie, or just wait for Bella to come home.
Like a chicken-shit, I chose the easy way and decided to wait.
Looking at my wife now, I'm not so sure it was the right choice, though nothing would make this any easier.
"Bella?" I murmur again, torn between staying where I am or taking her in my arms and pretending like none of this is happening right now.
I go with the latter because, well, there's never a time when I don't want my arms around Bella. I cross the room quickly and slide my arms around her waist. Silently, she lays her hands over mine and then lays her head back against my shoulder. In the other room I can hear Sam and Max playing with their toys, and from upstairs, there's the low hum of Peyton's TV. The usual sounds that fill our Masen home every day. Normally they would bring a smile to my face but today, right now, the only thing I'm focused on is Bella.
"Why are they doing this now? I mean really, Edward, what in the hell are they thinking? What do they want?" Her voice is tiny and scared and it breaks my heart.
I squeeze her tighter, kiss her cheek, and rest my chin on her shoulder. "I have no idea."
And, Jesus, does that ever suck. I fucking hate not knowing the answer. Whether it's deciding with Bella if we should go to Corea on a Sunday or stay at home to snuggle on the couch, helping Sam with his spelling words, or showing Max how to tie his shoes, or even, God help me, listening to Peyton as she rants in the way only she can about some drama at school with her friends, I always have the answer. Sometimes it's the wrong one as Bella and Peyton are apt to remind me with glee when the occasion calls for it, but still, it's me my family looks to when answers are needed. The fact that I'm totally blindsided at the moment has royally pissed me the fuck off.
I've thought about it for hours, tried to look for angles and agendas and I've come up with Nada. Zilch. Zero. I don't have the first fucking clue what they could want, now, when so much time has passed by.
"I just don't understand. After all this time . . . it doesn't make any sense. We're happy, Peyton's happy, they haven't cared about her since the day she was born, before even, and now all of a sudden, out of the damned blue, they send a letter asking for who knows what?" She turns around and grips my arms, her nails digging into my biceps, even through my shirt. I don't care if she makes me bleed, she can hang on as tight as she needs to. Always. "What should we do?"
Her eyes are wide and shimmer beneath the tears that have yet to fall. I stare at her face, the one I've been blessed to fall asleep beside and wake up to for almost ten years, and I reach up with one hand and lay it gently along her cheek. She's still so damned beautiful. There are a few wrinkles beside the coffee brown eyes that still sparkle with happiness and love and mischief every day, a few strands of gray, not that I'd ever mention them, mixed with the hair that tickles my nose every morning. Her stomach's not quite as flat, though she can still rock the shit out of a bikini. Her legs still look fucking fantastic in a pair of tight jeans, and her ass, well it's still the finest ass I've ever seen.
And even better than that? She's still all mine and there's not a day that goes by that I ever forget it either.
"I don't know, baby, but we'll figure it out together, just like we always do, okay?" I lean down and brush my lips across hers, relieved beyond belief when she sighs and relaxes against me. "I love you and nothing and no one is going to hurt you or our daughter, I don't give a flying fuck who they are. I promise."
Even not knowing what's in the envelope or what Evan's parents want with Peyton, it's an easy promise to make. Nobody hurts my girls.
"But what if they . . . I mean can they?" she begins again, and this time, I sigh.
It's no wonder Peyton can work herself into a tizzy quicker than Emmett can inhale a slice of chocolate cake - she's just like her mother . . . and her baby brother. Granted, Max is only three so the worst thing to happen to him is when Sam hides his favorite blanket or he only gets a few spoonfuls of ice cream - a tragedy if there ever was one, for sure, instead of the heaping bowlful he begs for every night. Thank goodness Sam takes after his Grandpa Charlie; the kid's most always the picture of calm and easygoing. There's only so much drama one man should have to endure on a daily basis.
"Enough, all right. Just stop," I admonish gently as I take her hands in mine. "You cannot freak out like this, especially in front of Peyton." I lift her hands to my lips and kiss them gently over and over again until I see her take a deep breath. "Good girl." I smile. "Now, take a second and think, baby. It's been sixteen years since they've had contact with you or Peyton. We don't even know what they want; maybe they're just writing to say hello," and she snorts and I wink to let her know that I'm kidding, mostly, but it helps to erase the dip between her eyebrows.
She's still holding the envelope in a death grip and I slowly peel her fingers back until I can pry the mangled thing out of her hand. I toss it on the sofa, still unopened. The letter to Bella that accompanied the envelope addressed to Peyton sits in a crumpled wad on the coffee table where Bella threw it. All the letter to her asked was that she give Peyton the other envelope. "They can't do anything, Bella. Not a damn thing. Hell, we could throw the fucking envelope in the fire and Peyton would never even know." And oh, isn't that just tempting? My mind wavers for just a moment and when I look back at Bella, she's smirking. Yeah, my girl knows exactly what I was just thinking about doing. "I know, I know, we'll tell her, damn it all. But the point is, whatever they want, we'll deal with it."
"I know," she breathes, and smiles again.
"Now as her dad, just the thought of those people popping up like this and asking you to give her a letter has every warning bell firing in my brain, but they can't hurt her. Not if we don't let them, okay?"
Bella doesn't say anything for the longest time and it's frustrating as hell to watch and wait. Normally her face is an open book; her eyes have always told me everything, even when she doesn't mean or want for them to, but standing in front of me, right here, right now, I have no idea what she's thinking.
She bites her bottom lip and I know if her hands were free, she'd use one to push her hair behind her ear, just like she's always done when she's upset.
God, I hope she never changes.
"We'll talk to Peyton after dinner," she says succinctly.
My stomach twists, not that I expected a different answer. I know we have to, but fuck if it doesn't suck sometimes having to do the right thing.
I wedge my knee between her legs and then cover her mouth with mine. Her familiar citrusy scent swirls around me and I kiss her a little harder, deeper than I initially intended. "I haven't kissed you in more than twenty-four hours. I missed you."
My tongue sweeps from side to side in her mouth, tasting, loving, reminding her with each pass that everything will be okay. She sighs into my mouth and I swallow the sound, and press my hips harder against hers. My cock definitely likes what I'm doing because it swells beneath the sweats I'd changed into after work. Almost two days without her is way too long in my book.
I love that our family is so close, but I'm a greedy bastard. Sue me.
She's been gone since yesterday. She and the boys spent the night in Corea with Renée and Charlie for no other reason than Grandpa Charlie missed two of his three grandsons. His favorite two if you ask me, but I doubt Em and Rose would agree with my assumption. Their son, Will, is a year younger than Sam, and every bit as rambunctious as his father with his mother's blond hair, blue eyes, and no-nonsense attitude. I love the hell out of the kid. He and Sam are the best of friends and he adores Max. I can't say he feels the same about his baby sister, Amelia, though. As far as Will's concerned, Amelia doesn't even outrank Zalula, his pet guinea pig. He'll come around though, I have no doubt. Baby girl is as cute as a button, dark hair and eyes like her daddy, but boy is she ever a demanding little thing. Almost two and she most definitely runs their house. I love visiting and seeing her, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't glad to be able to leave her in Rose's and Em's hands when it was time to go. She is going to be a handful - and a half - when she gets older.
Jasper and Alice have two-year-old twins, Caroline and Madeline, that are about the same age as Amelia. Let me tell you, Rose and Ali pregnant at the same time - not fun, for anyone. At all. Between Jasper and his worrying, Emmett and his whining, Rose with her bitching, and Alice with her obsessive planning, it's a wonder that any of them were still on speaking terms with everybody else by the time the babies came. It was an insane, rather tense nine months, for sure. I had never been more thankful that Bella and I lived forty-five minutes away from all the craziness. Hearing about it from Charlie and Renée was more than enough, thank you very much.
A shout followed by a screech in the other room makes both of us jump. "Let me go stop World War whatever number we're on, and you go tell Peyton we need to talk to her after dinner," I tell Bella as I kiss her forehead.
She steps back, nods, the stands on her toes to kiss my cheek before turning and going upstairs. I watch her leave, frozen in place. That one little kiss, easy and without a second thought, just a brush of her lips across my cheek is enough to leave me staring after her like a puppy waiting for its master. She's always had the power to render me stupid; that hasn't changed since the day I met her. Another screech, this one followed by the distinct sound of Sam going "ooomph" at Max and I walk toward the playroom.
I chuckle when I walk in the room, though when the boys hear me and look up, I try to put on my serious face. I manage . . . kind of. Taking a minute to survey the damage gives me the few seconds I need to try to hold it together. Max has somehow, though I'm sure with his big brother's help, managed to tackle Sam to the ground. He's straddling Sam's legs, his own chubby legs barely stretching around. His little bare toes are digging into poor Sam's thighs and Sam, God love him, is trying his damnedest not to laugh as Max squishes his face.
"Sammy, you 'posted to be nice to me. Pop say so," he gurgles in his Max speak. Part rasp, part squeak, it's the strangest concoction I've ever heard. It makes me smile every single day.
"Max," Sam tries to say, though it comes out sounding more like "Mmmph." He rolls his eyes, a trait inherited from the Swan side of the family, and stares up at his brother until Max lets go and sits up. Not that he moves from his perch. "I was just trying to show you how to put them together, I wasn't gonna keep 'em."
Max opens his mouth to answer back, but before he can I hurry over and sweep his squealing, giggling chubby little butt up into the air. His happy laugh fills the room and instantly all the bullshit about Evan's parents means next to nothing. My boys, my daughter, my wife . . . my family are what's important, everything else comes in a very distant second.
A loud bark followed by a low, rumbly growl pulls my attention toward the other two members of our family . . . the four-legged ones. Brady, the old man of the Masen house, lifts his head as if it weighs a hundred pounds and shows the newest Masen, a chocolate lab named Weebles of all things, his teeth as the puppy sits almost right in his face. Poor little guy, but Sam was adamant that he be named that, so he's stuck with it now.
Max wiggles, eyes bright and shiny and I know he wants to get down so he can go play with both his best friends, between Weebles and Sam, it'd be hard to pick one Max loved more. Of course, smart Masen boy that he is, Peyton and Bella are in their own stratosphere as far as Max is concerned. My boy definitely takes after me in that way at least . . . maybe it'll make up for the hair. He's going to curse me for days when he gets a little older.
The smells coming from the kitchen make my stomach rumble and thankfully just about the time I'm about to go into the kitchen and risk life and limb to try to sneak a taste, Bella calls everyone to the table.
"Whoa there." I chuckle as a whir of brown hair streaks past me. I manage to catch a pinch of Peyton's t-shirt and pull her to a stop. "And hello to you, daughter of mine." I grin when she huffs and blows a strand of hair out of her face.
"Hey, Dad." She smiles, though it doesn't quite look like a normal Peyton smile. She shifts from foot to foot and nervously nibbles on her thumbnail.
"Ugh, stop that." I groan and pull her hand from her mouth. I don't let go of her hand though, and as it sometimes hits me square in the chest and steals my breath, I'm struck by how small her hand looks inside of my own.
My baby girl, growing up, but still, she'll always be my Sprite. Bouncing on her feet, talking a mile a minute, when seashells and sand dollars could bring good luck, and when ice cream with sprinkles could fix just about anything. Things change, but the fact that she's still my best friend hasn't changed one single bit.
"What do you and Mom need to talk to me about?" she asks and this time it's the bottom lip she chews on. "I know I did bad on my Algebra test, but I'm going to take a re-test so I can play in the game this weekend. And I know I forgot to put gas in the car, but I'll do it on my way to school in the morning."
Sighing, I don't say anything, but I pull her into my arms and hold her close. Coconut-lime, laundry detergent and the faint hint of sweat from her basketball practice fill my senses and I squeeze her tighter. "It'll be fine," I reassure her . . . or me, probably both of us. "We'll have some ice cream after dinner and talk once the boys are in bed. There's only a little mint chocolate chip left and if Max gets his grubby little hands on it, we won't get any."
My kid, he has excellent taste in ice cream, just like his dad.
"Come on," I say after I kiss the top of Peyton's head, "Mom made spaghetti and if we don't get in there, Sam will eat it all before we can get any. The kid's a bottomless pit, I swear. He must get it from your Uncle Em."
Dinner is easy and loud, like it is every night. Sam chatters, Peyton rambles, Max . . . well he holds entire conversations - with himself. The puppy darts in and out of the chair legs, the noise level rises more every minute, the food is delicious as always, and it's everything home should be. Happy and comfortable and full of all the best things. Bella watches Peyton, I watch her, and Peyton just soaks up the adoration of her brothers like it's her due. I know the conversation after dinner isn't going to be the easiest we've ever had, but watching Peyton laugh at Max makes me realize, it won't be that bad either. I won't let it.
Two hours later and Sam and Max have been bathed, read to, tickled, kissed, and tucked into bed leaving just me, Bella. and a very nervous Peyton.
"P, stop looking like we're about take away your car or something. You haven't done anything wrong . . . or have you?" I quirk my eyebrow at her and give her the lawyer look. I hold it as long as I can, which is something like point three seconds, if that, until she grins and rolls her eyes.
"Dad." She huffs. Her exasperated, slightly indulgent tone makes me smile and settles most of my nerves evaporate.
Those people have no claim to my daughter, none. Their blood might flow through her veins, but the Swan blood is stronger and while there's not a drop of Masen in her biology, she's as much a Masen as Sam and Max. Always has been, always will be.
I lean against the arm of the sofa and reach for Bella's hand. Peyton is sitting across from us, knees pulled up beneath her chin, in the chair she's claimed as her own for years. The mascara she doesn't need and I wish she wouldn't wear is a little smudged beneath her eyes, her hair's in a messy ponytail, and with bright orange nail polish on her toes, I can see hints and glimpses of the amazing woman she'll soon be. Just like her mother.
Bella squeezes my hand, and suddenly I'm tired of giving those people any more of my time and my time with my family. "Okay," I begin and Peyton squeaks and her eyes get about as big as saucers at the sharp tone of my voice. I take a deep breath, give Bella a quick smile to erase the glare on her face, and then look at Peyton and try again. "Okay," I say softer, "something came in the mail today and your mom and I need to talk to you about it."
Peyton's eyes get bigger and bigger and the fidgeting stops and the bottom lip and the thumb nail both go in the mouth as I briefly tell her what's going on. Listening to myself talk, I can't help but feel a little foolish at the whole thing, like we've turned this into something so big when it's really . . . not.
"But what do they want?" is the first thing out of Peyton's mouth when I'm done.
"I don't know, baby. All my letter asked was that I give you yours. They didn't say anything else," Bella tells Peyton slowly.
And still, I'm pissed as hell at those people for disrupting my family. Assholes.
I don't have any ill feelings toward Evan, at least not any I'd ever admit to. The fact that I hate with a fiery passion that he was Bella's first, that it's his DNA that lives and breathes inside of Peyton, is something I keep locked in the very deepest recesses of my mind because if I didn't, I'd drive myself crazy with jealousy. I can appreciate his friendship with Bella, and with Seth and Xavier, and the fact that they all grew up together, and I've even laughed plenty at some of the stories they've all shared with me, but what I definitely don't appreciate is his parents trying to insert themselves into my daughter's life after they went so far out their way to keep her out of theirs.
Peyton is quiet for a long time and Bella watches her and then stares up at me. Worry and love swim in her bottomless brown eyes and I can't help but lean down and kiss her forehead.
"Can I see the envelope?" Peyton finally asks in a voice that reminds me so much of our first summer together. Small and timid, and I'm taken back to the night before I left on my first three day trip on the boat when she was so worried about me.
"Of course." Bella hops up and then hands the envelope to Peyton. She looks at it, holding it in her hands and stares for minutes and minutes. She doesn't look up, she doesn't say anything else, just holds the damned thing as if she can use x-ray vision to see what's inside.
"Do I have to open it now?"
I stand and then sit on the couch beside Bella and motion for Peyton to come to me. I pull her between us; her giggle as we squish together lets me know that while she's probably a little confused, this is all just a minor bump in the road.
"You don't need to decide anything right now, P. No one is rushing you," I tell her as I brush her hair behind her ear and kiss the side of her head.
In moments like this, when she looks so lost and scared, it makes me want to keep her locked in her room where nothing bad can ever touch her or make her cry or hurt her.
She sighs, sounding exactly like Bella, and then curls into my side. We don't say anything. I don't push, I don't question or offer advice, I just sit and hold her, waiting, just like I've always done. Peyton has never kept anything from either Bella or me. We've never worried about there being things Peyton couldn't or wouldn't tell us. Even if she went to Xavier or Rose or even Brody - the damn kid - before coming to us, there has never, ever, been a time, when Peyton has not come to us about something important.
Little things, like her wanting to get a bellybutton ring, a conversation I overheard with Lucy that I would pay a huge fucking amount of money to unhear, or what to wear on a date, or the fact that there's a party she wants to go to that she's knows we won't let her attend, those are the things in the life a teenager, an almost woman, that are just a part of growing up. Bella and I trust her to make good decisions and know that if she ever needs us, we'll always be here. But for the big things, like wondering about my time in prison, or worrying about if Xavier and Seth's application for adoption will be approved … those things she won't ever keep from us.
"Can I go upstairs? I kinda want to just sit and be by myself," Peyton finally asks as she sits up and looks back and forth from me to Bella.
"Of course." Bella smiles at her. They share one of those moments, the kind where not even me or Sam or Max can intrude upon and I let the love that is never hidden, never shied away from, fills the room. It's a living, breathing presence and it's what makes our house truly a home.
Peyton squeaks and throws her arms around Bella's neck. I hear a muffled, "Love you, Mom," from beneath the mountain of brown hair, daughter's and mother's. Peyton lifts one arm and waves it in the air like a broken wing, flapping and flip-flopping her hand. I chuckle and lean forward and let her pull me into a now three-way hug. "Love you, too, Dad."
My girls, I sigh. I could live right here forever. The only thing missing is the boys.
Kisses and another suffocating hug and Peyton rushes up the stairs to her room.
The silence that descends as soon as she's gone is startling. I'm not sure I like it. I turn and face Bella. "Well?"
She shrugs and blows out a long breath. "I have no idea," she says with a shake of her head. "All we can do is wait and see what she decides to do."
Now it's my turn to shake my head, and I do, pushing all thoughts of Evan's parents to the very back of my mind. It only takes me about half a second to remember that my very gorgeous and sexy wife has been away from me for the past two days and some quality time - in bed - is definitely in order.
I slap my hands against my thighs, the sound loud as it echoes through the stillness of the room. "Come on," I say with some force as I stand and grab her hand in mine. "Let's go upstairs and forget about the world for a little bit. You left me for two whole days; I think you need to make it up to me."
"Oh you do, do you?" Bella sasses back, but the look in her eyes, all dark and sexy and like she'd like to eat me up with a spoon makes me hot all over.
I walk backward, pulling her with me. I nod. "I do. I think it might take hours. All night even." My foot hits the bottom stair and I step up, somehow managing not to bust my ass. I take another then one more, leaving her below me. I lift her hand, stretching her arm. Her thin, tight T-shirt rises, showing off her almost flat stomach. I kiss the tips of her fingers, then swirl my tongue around her index finger. "And a massage." I suck her finger into my mouth, closing my lips around it. Her eyes darken, her breath quickens, and my cock is definitely hard as a fucking rock. "Maybe you should fuck me tonight, ride me until you scream my name."
"Jesus," she whimpers, her breath coming in short, choppy bursts.
She licks her lips, her eyes hooded and smoldering. I smirk. Oh yeah, tonight is definitely going to be fun.
We walk up, up until I hit the top step. Stopping, I pull her to me, and then kiss the shit out of her. Hard and bruising, I claim her mouth. It's messy and wet and kissing her still makes my blood sing as much as it did the very first time.
"Mmmmm." I moan as I lick my lips when we separate. "I think it'd definitely going to take you all night. I hope you got plenty of rest at Renée and Charlie's."
She giggles and I drag her down the hall. We peek in at the boys as we pass their doors, both still blessedly sound asleep. Peyton's door is cracked and just as we're about to pass we hear, "Xav, I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to know, but more of me wants to ignore the whole stupid thing."
"I knew she'd call him right away," Bella whispers and I nod in agreement.
There's no way in hell Peyton wouldn't call Xavier. Seth's probably listening, too.
A huge sigh and then we hear her say softly, "Mom's okay, Dad probably not so much. He seemed fine, but you know him. I know he's upset. He always thinks he can fool me by being all calm and stuff."
I huff and roll my eyes when Bella elbows me as she points at the door and mouths 'yes' at me.
She's silent for a few seconds, listening as Xavier does his thing and makes her think about everything from all sides. He's always been that way with her. He's indulgent and spoils her rotten, hell, he threw a huge fit when he couldn't buy her first car, but what he does even more than that is truly listen when she talks. He has this way of making Peyton see not only the big picture, but each individual part that makes the whole. It's quite something and as she's gotten older, it's come in handy more times than I can count. For someone as emotional as she is, and honestly, as I am when it comes to her, Xavier's rationality has saved us from a lot of unneeded grief.
Another sigh, this one quieter, which is not a good thing. I reach for the door, ready to push it open when Bella stops me with a shake of her head and her hand grabbing mine. Now I sigh. Fuck, I hate this.
"But what should I do?" she asks again and I have to close my eyes.
Assholes, I rage again in my head. Hearing my daughter in any amount of pain makes me want to beat the shit out of something, someone.
"Do you think Evan would want me to know his parents? Were they nice?"
Bella sniffs and lays her head on my shoulder. I know she's thinking about Evan, about what happened between them and to him. I can feel her pulling away, getting sucked into the past. It can't have her. I hook our index fingers and lead her away from the door, leaving Peyton in the very capable hands of Xavier and Seth. They might be an hour away, but that doesn't mean that they won't take care of my girl. I urge Bella into our room and close the door, locking it behind us. Now it's time to concentrate on my other girl . . . my wife.
The rampant want from earlier is gone, replaced by the overwhelming urge to comfort and love away the dip between her eyebrows, the frown on her face, the worry in her eyes.
Slowly, and without a word, I pull her toward our bed, our eyes never leaving the other's. We stop beside the bed and I pull her shirt over her head, then mine. Her bra comes off next, then my sweats. Fingers and mouths, we touch and kiss. Shoulders, the column of a neck, the hollow of a throat. Loving and slow, our world narrows until there's only the two of us.
"I love you," I whisper against her lips.
I slide my hands into her shorts and groan in the back of my throat. Warm, soft skin against my palms, her scent fills me as I run my nose along her neck and suck on the spot behind her ear. Kneading, squeezing her ass, I press my knee between her legs. She's hot where I want her to be, and I'm hard and aching. Tilting my hips, she rubs right where it feels so good and with a shove, I push her shorts and panties over her hips and watch as they fall down her legs.
"So fucking gorgeous," I murmur when she's naked.
We tumble to the bed and I scoot her to the center. By the time she's beneath me, I'm naked, hard, and ready to slide inside her and stay there until the sun comes up.
"Look at me, Bella," I whisper as I hover over her. Our eyes lock and I can feel it as she lets go of everything but me. "There it is." I smile and brush my lips across hers. "I've waited two days for that look."
I nudge her legs wider and rock my hips against her center. She's already hot, already slick. I rest my weight on one arm. A swipe of my tongue around a pebbled nipple, a circle of my finger around and over her clit, and then I slide inside of her, smooth and easy as can be.
My mouth covers hers, my body, too, and I kiss and love away all the worry, all the pain that thinking of the past has brought into the present. A present that has no place for hurt or confusion. Not for Bella and certainly not for my Peyton. It's unacceptable and I won't have it.
"Mine, baby. You and Peyton are mine. Stay here, with me, with our family, the one we made together."
"Edward," she whispers. Her hands wrap around me, her legs tight around my waist. "Love me. Just love me."
Her voice shakes; her nails dig into my side. Harder but not faster, I move in and out. Our breaths mingle, our hearts pound in the same rhythm. She's mine, I'm hers, and this is our life, our love . . . our family.
"Come with me, Bella. Are you almost there? I want to feel you."
The muscles deep inside her clench and she's so tight. So wet. So hot. "Hurry, Edward. I'm so close."
I snap my hips, drive further inside of her until it's impossible to tell where she ends and I begin. Citrus and sweat, her and me, our scents fill the air along with each ragged breath.
She throws her head back, her entire body stretches and tightens beneath mine. She's so fucking beautiful when she's like this. Naked and free and right on the cusp of letting go.
"That's it, baby," I grunt, feeling my own muscles bunch and flex. Stomach coiled, thighs burning, and I throb inside of her.
"Oh, fuck, now, Bella. Come now."
That whimper groan sound that never fails to push me over the edge bubbles out of her mouth and we ride the wave together. I lay on top of her for as Iong as I can until I slip out of her. Whispered words of love and a few kisses and then we get ready for bed. After a quick clean up and teeth brushed, I hold her close, tucked right beneath my chin.
"Do you think we should check on her?" Bella asks quietly as her fingers dance over my chest in the most pleasurable way.
"Nah. Xav and Seth will do their job and in the morning things will look much better for all of us. Try not to worry, Bella. P's going to be just fine, trust me. She might have some questions, she might be confused for a bit, but this will pass before you know it." I wiggle and scoot until we're face to face. I brush the hair off her forehead and lean forward and give her a gentle kiss. "You watch, she won't even read that letter. I bet it's in the trash before lunch tomorrow."
I probably shouldn't feel so glad about that, but God damn it, I am.
Bella yawns and settles against her pillow. "I always knew they'd regret cutting her out of their lives, but this is Peyton's decision." Her voice is slow and sleepy and I lay my hand on her hip. A few deep breaths go by and I think she's fallen asleep. I lean forward and kiss her cheek and feel her mouth lift in a smile. "You did miss me," she says sweetly.
"Of course I did. I hate sleeping without you."
"You're such a baby." She snuggles closer and I wrap my arms around her. "Love you. Thank you for being so strong, so calm, about all this."
I chuckle and pinch her side. "Ahhh, you silly woman. I told you, I was pissed at first, don't get me wrong, but this will blow over before it has time to even start. If she reads it, she reads it, but I know my kid, it won't change anything. All it might do is curb whatever curiosity she might have had and prove that she has the best family in the world."
She wriggles closer, tangles her legs with mine and pretty much uses me as a pillow. I don't mind one damned bit.
"You're right," she mumbles, just barely awake.
"Damn straight I am."
By the time she takes her next breath, she's sound asleep and hopefully she'll stay that way. I know she's tired and worn out; she was that way before she even got home, before all the bullshit. I relax next to her, reveling in the way she feels beside me. Warm and soft and all mine.
I drift for a bit but a noise from downstairs catches my attention.
Finding my sweats and T-shirt, I get dressed and quietly go to my daughter.
She must hear me come down the stairs or she knew I'd get up to check on her because when I make it into the kitchen my bowl of ice cream waits beside hers.
"Ahhh, I knew I loved you for a reason," I tease as I kiss the top of her head before sitting beside her.
She smiles, kind of, and then takes a bite. Spoons scrape against bowls. I can hear her swallow, can practically hear the wheels spin in her head. They're going so fast, I'm surprised there's not smoke coming out of her ears. Her knee bounces, her eyes look everywhere but at me, and it's obvious she wants to talk but doesn't know where to start.
So I do.
"What did Xav and Seth have to say?"
She stirs her ice cream, scraping the spoon back and forth over the mostly melted mess. I scowl, she should know better. Wasting mint chocolate chip is like a sin in this house. She shrugs and keeping her head down she says, "That they had their chance, that I don't owe them anything. That I need to think about what I really want and not worry about disappointing anyone. That they'll love me no matter what, that you and Mom won't make me do anything I don't want to do."
I slurp my spoon, smacking my lips at the last bite. "Hmmm, imagine that. Xavier knows what he's talking about for a change," I tease but when she doesn't smile I drop the spoon on the island and lay my arm across her shoulders. "He's completely right, you know. I do not want you getting upset about this, Sprite."
She snorts, sounding just like Bella. I pull her stool closer and kiss her temple. "Okay, fine, I know it's kinda weird, and probably a little confusing, but I mean it, P. Tomorrow, next week, next month or never . . . if and when you read whatever is in that envelope, it's completely your call."
"Do you think . . . I mean, what . . ." she stammer and huffs.
"Come on, P, spit it out." I nudge her with my shoulder.
"I was a Swan and now I'm a Masen. I have the family I want. I don't need or want anyone else."
I swallow the grapefruit-sized lump in my throat. "You're some kid, you know that?"
She lays her head on my shoulder. "I'm your kid."
"Damn straight you are." I kiss the top of her head, and blink back the tears. "You'll always be my Sprite."
"And you'll always be my best friend."
Seriously guys, this was so much fun to write, I missed them all so much! Thank you for embracing my little world in Corea and loving them as much as you do. Your support for this story continues to blow me away.
I'm gonna take the opportunity to share some information with you all:
I'm in the process of writing my first original fiction. I have set up an author page on FB and have an author Twitter if you'd like to follow me (I hope you will!) I've updated my info on my profile page and will continue to do so as changes and exciting things happen (fingers crossed). I'll also continue to update my FB group and my blog with any new information as well so you'll be able to find me if you want to!
Don't forget that the full and complete PDF of The Breakers is available for download on my blog. It's listed along the right-hand side of the page. We'll be working on Watching Her and Drumsticks and Penalty Kicks so keep your eyes out for that, okay?
Last, my partner in crime, prettykittyartist, and I are hosting a Cowboy Lovin' contest. How awesome does that sound? We have some amazing pic prompts and soul searing lyrics picked out for you all to choose from and then wow us with your sexy cowboys and sassy cowgirls! We're so excited about this, we have an incredible group of judges working with us and it's going to be so much fun! So, write for us and be on the lookout for all kinds of entries! You can check out the contest rules, prompts, and info here: theheartofcountrycontest dot weebly dot com or follow our twitter atTHOCContest
As for Edward, Bella and fic ... I'm going to concentrate on my original fiction for a bit, but never fear. I have a few more ideas for some Twilight stories floating around and I know it won't be long until I won't be able to stop myself from writing them! You guys have always been so supportive and encouraging to me, I won't be able to stay away indefinitely! I miss y'all too much for that!
I hope everyone had a wonderful and special holiday season and that the New Year brings you all nothing but good things!
Lots of love ...