A/N: A fun little future-take for our sweet little family. Hope you enjoy it!
If you haven't yet, please go to w w w dot ageofedward dot com and cast your votes! I have 2 entries: Shut Up n' Drive—Sixties Edward and Hot cars AND The Lady's Honor—Regency Edward in a tail coat and breeches. (Edward Cullen, Earl of Rushford) I'll post a snippet for The Lady's Honor at the bottom. Both are on my profile. Voting runs from NOW until Feb 22, 2012.
Thanks to all of you who have read, reviewed, rec'd and tweeted! I so appreciate it. And special thanks to Roselover2 for talking me through this one! I dedicate this chapter to all the boys that like to play with dolls and to all the girls who like to play with trucks.
While You Were Knocked Out Cold
Outtake 1 Enlightened Parenting
The meeting with the illustrator went well, Bella thought. With any luck they'd be in print within a couple months. Right now, though, her sole focus was meeting Edward and Isaac at the school. It was spring Parent/Teacher conferences and Isaac was very excited to show his mom and dad some projects that he'd worked hard on. Bella smiled at how eager he'd been when she told him of their appointment with his first-grade teacher.
She pulled into the parking lot glad that she was fifteen minutes early instead of barely on time as was her usual M.O. Maybe they weren't here yet, she thought, as she climbed out of Edward's old Volvo. There were a bunch of kids on the playground and parents positioned like satellites around the perimeter of the jungle gym. She scanned the group but didn't see her boys, at least not until she looked over toward the sandbox.
Edward was squatted down next to Isaac, Elsie wrapped snugly against his chest in the camouflage sling, helping their son shovel sand into a bucket. There was just something about seeing him carrying an infant that was so sexy. It was totally natural for him and the sight of him with Elsie like that almost made her want to keep his arms continually supplied with little babies. Almost. She shook her head at the thought and was about to head toward them when she saw Brady, one of Isaac's classmates, start toward the sand box.
"Brady!" screeched the boy's mother. "Stay over here on the slides, or go play basketball over there. Just don't go to the sandbox."
Bella stopped short, feeling a bit confused. Why wouldn't Rachel want Brady to play with Isaac? She hung back and watched the scene play out.
Another mom looked at Rachel and said, "Yeah, I can't stand shaking sand out of Collin's shoes. I don't know what that dad is thinking. And to sit there digging in the dirt with a baby?"
"No, it wasn't the sand I was worried about, it was the Cullen kid. I let Brady play at his house once and he came home talking about how they'd played dolls and had a cupcake war. I thought he mean action figures and a food fight, but no. They actually played with baby dolls—girl baby dolls. Can you believe it? And they baked cupcakes and decorated them with flowers. I just can't even…"
"Like, they played house with the baby doll?" asked Collin's mom.
"Dolls! And apparently the dad played with them."
At that point Bella's blood was boiling. How dare they judge her husband for being the most amazing, involved father in the world? And to withhold friendship from her son because he was learning valuable life lessons and being allowed to discover a variety of hobbies and activities that he enjoyed?
She looked over to the sandbox and saw that Edward had stood up and was waving at her. He dusted off Isaac's rear end and started walking toward the play structure, his arm gently cradling their three-month-old daughter.
It was then that the harpy-moms turned around and saw her standing there. Bella leveled them with one raised eyebrow.
"Oh! Bella, what a surprise," said Rachel. "I didn't know you were there."
"No, that much is obvious. I'm sure you have better manners than to bad-mouth the most wonderful father in the world, to his face, or his wife's face for that matter."
"Save it. Just know that when your son turns out to be an uninvolved couch potato of a father, who doesn't know the first thing about parenting and nurturing all of the qualities—not just the barbaric and quote 'manly' ones—of a well-rounded child, you'll wish he had an example like my husband."
"It's just not normal, Bella—" Rachel replied with a sickly sweet know-it-all kind of voice, but was cut off by more of Bella's venom.
"Don't even go there when you don't know what you're talking about. Do you even watch The Food Network? Did you know that nearly seventy six percent of head chefs are men? I know I sure don't mind it when I can take a night off in the kitchen and not have to order take-out." Bella was fuming and felt like steam was pouring from her ears.
Within moments, she felt the calming influence of her husband's touch, right at the base of her spine. She could blame her fit of temper on the accident; she was still prone to occasional outbursts, but this one was driven solely by her inner mama-bear. With Edward's hand on her back, though, she felt all of the tension and fight drain from her shoulders, down though her fingertips and back into the ether.
"Hey, sweetheart." He trailed his fingers gently up and down her back and kissed her cheek. With a nod to both of the mean moms he said, "Hi Rachel, Emily." Bella marveled at how good her husband was.
Isaac threw his arms around Bella's legs and hugged her. "Mommyyyyyyy!" he shouted as he squeezed her tight.
She ruffled his hair and bent to kiss the top of his head. "Hello there, handsome. How has your morning with daddy been?"
"Awesome. Daddy let me help change Elsie's diaper. It was stinky, but he showeded me how to wrap it up like a little football, then he letted me step on the diaper can thingy and he threw it in the hole and we scored two points!"
Bella smiled at Edward and inwardly gloated that he'd just proven her point to Rachel and Emily.
"It's just about time for our appointment," said Edward as he took Isaac's hand.
"I'm right behind you," replied Bella.
When Edward and Isaac were almost to the door of the school, Bella turned to the other two women and said, "It's called enlightened parenting. You should join us in the twenty-first century and give it a try."
She strode away with her head held high and the knowledge that she really did have the best husband and family in the whole wide world.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed it! Reviews are love and I so appreciate them! Please take a few second and go vote for Shut Up n' Drive and The Lady's Honor over at w w w dot ageofedward dot com! If you haven't read TLH, I hope you will give it a try. It's up on my profile. Thank you so much to all who have read and reviewed.
Snippet of The Lady's Honor:
By the next morning, there were already a number of wagers in the betting book at White's gentleman's club, as to whether Lord Rushford would indeed find himself leg-shackled, how soon he would wed Miss Swan, and if her brother, Mr. Swan, would kill the Earl or not.
"Tough lot there, ol' chap," said Lord Newton as Edward strode past. "Too much trouble for a bit of muslin, wouldn't you agree?"
Edward turned around and was about to plant him a facer when he was restrained bodily by two sets of arms, one large and muscular, the other more wiry, but no less powerful.
"Save your fists, Rush. There's nothing to be done for boors like Newton," said Emmett, Lord Halston, Edward's best friend.
Edward could feel the fight dissolve from his strained muscles as soon as Halston spoke the words. Jasper, Lord Whitmore, patted Edward once on the shoulder and released his hold. "Bad form, Newt," said Lord Whitmore. The trio turned from the cowed Lord Newton and retreated to one of the more private rear parlors of the club.
Both Whitmore and Halston had been present at the disastrous ball the night prior and so needed no explanation for the early morning buzz around the club's betting book. Edward had already enlightened his friends in great detail of what had actually transpired between Miss Swan and Heller. Not that it really mattered. Perception counted for ninety-nine percent when it came to a lady's reputation and in the eyes of the ton, he had been the one to compromise Miss Swan most assuredly.
"Will you go make your addresses to her papa?" asked Whitmore.
"I'm afraid I shall have to. Deuce take it, but I did not mean to land myself in such a fix."
"Come now, Rush, the chit seems biddable. She'll not put up a fuss if you wish to have your carnal freedoms, will she?" Halston asked as he shook open the daily news.
Edward groaned and raked his fingers through his hair. "That's not how the Cullen men are bred. Blast!" He tapped his fingers on the table, inwardly cursing the moral streak of fidelity that seemed to have been grafted to the very fiber of his being.
He felt the discreet touch of Whit's index finger on his forearm, alerting him to an approaching visitor. Edward looked up and saw Jacob Swan enter the parlor flanked by two young men with whom Edward was not at all acquainted.
"Rushford," greeted Swan.
"Mr. Swan," replied Edward with the merest inclination of his head.
"I am here to settle the matter of my sister's honor."