34

There were only two people in the family who wouldn't fit into the club, any club really. It wasn't that they didn't like music or a drink or two. It was because they found crowds of young people offensive in some way. I saw my Grandpa Cullen dressed in a suit and tie as he looked around with a grimace on his face.

I wondered for a moment why nobody ever shot him, and then quickly looked around for mom because she would be most likely to do it. My grandmother walked up to his side and saw me looking at them. She smiled and waved me over.

I approached them and said, "I think you'll be more comfortable upstairs in a VIP room."

"Grandpa and I don't mind getting down," she said in an attempt to be hip.

"Far out," I teased. "Get a drink and just, you know, be groovy." I patted grandpa on the back and continued on to find Jasmine. I saw her talking with Trooper and I could feel my chest tighten. I walked up and they immediately stopped talking. "What's up?" I asked, pissed to think they were keeping something from me.

"Nothing," Trooper said, and looked guilty as hell. "The club is a hit, enjoy your night."

He walked away and I turned to face Jasmine. I wasn't going to let her lie to me or omit anything. Something was up with my saintly brother and I wanted to know what it was. "Tell me," I demanded.

She quickly took my hand and pulled me to the back offices. I was a bit relieved to see my bodyguard shadowing us, since Jasmine would be the one I should fear the most. She didn't open any of the doors but stood close to me in the hallway.

At this point I expected to hear Trooper had a deadly disease or he caught Emma cheating on him. I wouldn't be surprised to hear T.J. was not really his son. Jasmine looked into my eyes and my heart held still as I prepared to hear something horrible.

"Trooper wants to ask you for a donation, but he feels horrible about it," she said.

I stared at her as I tried to figure out how his actions could be due to her words. "Oh," I finally said as something dawned on me. "He needs my sperm….wait, why does he need my sperm?"

"Why would Trooper want your sperm?" she asked as she smacked my arm.

"You said a donation," I pointed out.

"Money, not spittle," she laughed. "I'm sure your sperm is all over this city. He could wipe his shoe and have your DNA."

I ignored her comment, because yeah, it was true. I had no idea why Trooper would feel badly about asking me for money. I would give him all I had if he asked. Money was for the purpose of making and losing. If I lost it all I would just make more.

I went back into the club and saw Trooper standing with Emma at a Belly bar. I walked up and put my arm around his shoulder. "Remember when I glued myself to the toilet seat?" I said.

Trooper laughed and so did Emma. We were desperate to get my ass unglued before dad got home. Trooper got a knife and had to run it under my skin slowly and accurately to get me detached. I pointed at the large guy watching me closely. "I'm paying him to keep me alive, but I should have been paying you for all the times you saved me."

"You were my little brother, I saved you happily," he said, because he was still so damn perfect.

I looked at him with a serious expression and said, "And you were my big brother, and I want to do something for you, happily."

He stared at me for a moment without responding and then nodded before saying, "A donor backed out. I have a groundbreaking for a small hospital in Somalia but if the funds aren't ready by Tuesday we lose the land and all the previous payments."

"It's yours," I said.

"You haven't heard how much," Trooper said. "I would use my own money, but it is in a trust and it would take too long to run it past the board of directors."

"I don't care about the amount, it is yours," I said again. "You can have my shoes too."

"A quarter million dollars," he said softly as if the amount would change my mind. "And I have no interest in your shoes."

"Done," I said without blinking my eyes. It also gave me a great idea. I never did anything specific with my money and I decided to make Trooper's foundation my cause of choice. It made me feel wonderful that I could help out my perfect brother. I felt a bit perfected….well, a bit.

I walked to the stage and turned on the wireless microphone. "Can I have your attention," I said loudly and the club slowly began to quiet. "I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight and I want you to know all the proceeds will go to build a school in Somalia. So have fun, drink up, and enjoy the night."

The crowd cheered loudly so I decided to give them a real treat. "Dad," I called out, "Why don't you jump up here and honor us with a song?"

They all chanted, "Edward, Edward," as he came from the upper level to the stage. I kicked off my flip flops and jumped down onto the sand. I looked around and waved for everyone in the family to come closer. I was a bit shocked when Grandpa and Grandma Cullen took off their shoes, but Grandpa and Grandma Swan seemed to really enjoy it.

Mom made her way to the front and center as she stared at dad lovingly. He spoke with the band for a moment and then held the mic and said, "Bella baby, this is for you."

The band began to play a familiar song for all the ages present in the club. It was loud, fast and upbeat. The crowd cheered and everyone began dancing with energy as dad sang, I'm a Believer.

I thought love was
Only true in fairy tales
Meant for someone else
But not for me
Love was out to get to me
That's the way it seems
Disappointment haunted
All my dreams

And then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm in love
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her
If I tried

Trooper and Emma were dancing slowly in each other's arms to the fast music, hearing a beat of their own. Jasper had Alice in front of him as they swayed to the song. Patrick and Dreamer were dancing freestyle with some weird snake like movements. Grandpa and Grandma Swan were doing a swing dance that made them look like pros, as Grandpa and Grandma Cullen stood perfectly still.

I thought love was
More or less a given thing
The more I gave the less
I got, oh yeah
What's the use in trying
All you get is pain
When I wanted sunshine
I got rain

And then I saw her face
Now I'm a believer
Not a trace
Of doubt in my mind
I'm in love
I'm a believer
I couldn't leave her
If I tried

I could tell the song meant something to my father and he sang directly to my mother as she sat on the edge of the stage staring up at him. But I felt the words too. I never thought I would find love because I didn't believe I needed it. Jasmine made me a believer. I pulled her to me, gyrating against her as I smiled from ear to ear at the song.

"Are you starting something you can't finish?" she challenged me.

"It's not about the finish," I said, and she laughed loudly.

"Oh Budge, it is totally about the finish."

I began moving backward out of the sand and she nodded in agreement. I could take her to my office, to the storage room, to a VIP room and lock it, or to the equipment closet. I was working out the pros and cons of each area when someone called out her name.

We both turned to see Dad holding out the microphone. Man, I wanted to hear her sing but I had another body part much more anxious for her attention. If I was going to let her out of my arms I at least wanted to finish, because it really, really was about the finish.

She pulled away and jumped onto the stage as mom attacked dad to finish him off. I watched angrily but my mood lightened as Jasmine spoke to the band and then turned to face me under the spotlight. The tempo slowed and the lights dimmed as she sang like an angel with a breathy voice.

I can feel the magic floating in the air
Being with you gets me that way
I watch the sunlight dance across your face and I've
Never been this swept away

All my thoughts just seem to settle on the breeze
When I'm lying wrapped up in your arms
The whole world just fades away
The only thing I hear
Is the beating of your heart

'Cause I can feel you breathe
It's washing over me
Suddenly I'm melting into you
There's nothing left to prove
Baby all we need is just to be
Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
Just breathe

It was funny that she was singing about breathing, because I felt like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs. I was suffocating from my love for her. Everyone paired off and held the one they loved tightly as I looked around the crowded sand. I was surrounded by lovers who were loyal to each other. I was so lucky.

I walked to the stage and Jasmine came over to lean down and sing right to me. I smiled and decided right then I would take her to the VIP room. She earned it.

In a way I know my heart is waking up
As all the walls come tumbling down
I'm closer than I've ever felt before
And I know
And you know
There's no need for words right now

'Cause I can feel you breathe
It's washing over me
Suddenly I'm melting into you
There's nothing left to prove
Baby all we need is just to be
Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
Just breathe

The night was incredible and I felt confident the club would be profitable and a big draw compared to some of the other clubs in the area. I got home late and collapsed into bed. When I woke up the next morning it was already ten.

I headed downstairs for something to eat and looked around the quiet house to see I was home alone. I put a bagel in the toaster just as the front doorbell rang. I opened it to find Dyno looking up at me.

"How was your night?" he asked, like he was my business partner or financial advisor.

I didn't answer his question but posed one of my own. "Where is everyone?"

"They went to Forks. Did you have a good night?"

I looked at his shirt that read, Demitri, and pointed at it. "What does that mean?"

"It's my name," he protested. Hum, I didn't know that. I really liked the idea of his name being Dyno and now Dreamer let me down by giving him a normal name.

I nodded and stepped out of the way to let him come inside. "I'm making a bagel, do you want one?"

He followed me to the kitchen and asked, "Do you have any donuts?"

"No. How about a cookie?" I offered in exchange.

"Will you tell my mother?"

I laughed and handed him four just to piss off Dreamer. Ruining his appetite was appropriate for a stupid name like Demitri. He sat at the table and I leaned against the counter and watched him. He finally asked for the third time, "Did you have a good night?"

"Yeah, it was great. I finished strong," I said with a chuckle, knowing he wouldn't understand.

"So, you'll stay in Washington?" he asked me, and stopped chewing to wait for my answer.

I realized he must have heard his mom and dad talking about the possibility the club would fail and I would return to Bolivia. I decided to tease him a bit and said, "Maybe, I might go to Alaska, do you want to come with me?"

"What will you do in Alaska?" he pressed.

"Wrestle Polar bears," I said with a straight face.

He rolled his eyes and said with confidence, "They are protected, you can't wrestle them."

I grabbed my bagel and sat across from him as I took a bite. I chewed for a moment and then asked, "What's the best dinosaur?"

"The Utahraptor was the most vicious, but the T-Rex was a killing machine too. I'm partial to the Sarcosuchus; it was ten times bigger than a modern day crocodile."

I took another bite and pointed at him as I said, "You're freaky."

He smiled up at me and said, "I like you Uncle Budge, you're a lot of fun."

"I like you too," I said honestly. "Go throw on some old clothes and we'll go frog hunting."

He jumped up with enthusiasm and ran toward the door. He suddenly doubled back and said, "Will you wait right here?"

I thought about how often I worried about being stuck in this state, this city, this house, but now it was all I could ever imagine giving me peace. I didn't care if Natalie was around, I had a bodyguard now. Jasmine and I would raise Mariella similar to the way I was raised; free to be who she is on the inside.

I looked at Dyno's eager face and said, "I won't budge, I promise."

THE END