Summary: Edward and Bella have been together since High School, but after 20 years and too little time to be themselves, they find themselves at a crossroads, where one wrong decision could be their breaking point.
Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight; I just enjoy playing in her sandbox. This is a realistic look at marriage so there will be some cursing, some loving and a helping of angst. It also made my beta cry a little, so a pocket pack of tissues may be necessary.
A/N: This was born out of brainstorming for a FGB piece and when the idea was vetoed, I couldn't write the original story, so instead, I kept the opening and came up with this. Much love to my WC ladies for the support, A Cullen Wannabe for her beta job, and candykizzes24 for the amazing banner. Finally, to everyone involved in this fundraiser from organizers to all the donors for making this thing such a huge success.
"OW!" I screamed before letting a "fuck" fall from my lips as I hit the wall.
Edward ducked his head out of the bedroom and then called out into the hallway. "Jeremy, you can't leave your toys around, you know how mommy always trips over them."
I looked up to see a near blank expression on his face. In the beginning, a comment like that would have been accompanied by a wicked, crooked smile, his eyes dancing with mischief, but not now. Twenty-one years together had stripped away the people we had been in high school. Work, kids, friends…they filled our time and now we simply existed together.
Okay, that may be a little harsh. We had simply become a vanilla couple, having sex only a few times a month, but there were people who had it much worse.
I collected myself off the floor and continued downstairs as my son flew by me, a quick, "Sorry, mom," as he went.
Making it to the kitchen, our eldest daughter, Carlie sat with our youngest on her lap. She cooed to her with a bright smile. "Jenny, look mommy's gonna get your lunch packed while I get you ready for school!" The enthusiasm in her voice warmed my heart. I had been nervous when I found out I was pregnant with her halfway through my junior year, but Edward had promised everything would be okay, so I took a Fall semester off as I was highly pregnant and wouldn't be able to make it through to finals before she was born. I never went back.
That was why I was pushing college on Carlie so hard, I wanted her to have a whole slew of options no matter what came at her; she needed to be prepared.
I had just finished making lunch for the kids and began fixing Edward's when I heard him come in the kitchen. "How's your foot?"
"It's fine. I smacked my shoulder on the wall pretty hard though." I looked up to see him pouring coffee into his travel mug.
"Jeremy and I had a talk; he's going to pick up his things from now on."
"He's seven, Edward. He'll remember to clean up for three days and then I'll be back on the floor in the living room this time."
"What's for dinner tonight?" Our routine was now in full swing, he asked about tonight while getting ready to head to the hospital.
"Carlie's making lasagna, so please try to be on time for her."
"You're not cooking tonight?" I cut my eyes over to see his confused stare.
"It's Wednesday, I have my late class tonight."
He grumbled, slamming the fridge harder than was necessary after putting away the milk. "I don't understand why you went back to school after all these years."
I got annoyed at having to have this fight again. "Because our daughter is going to be graduating high school next year and I don't want her to think that her mother gave up on her education for her, I need to finish this."
We'd been having this same argument since I went back last Fall, only able to take two classes a semester. I was now only 12 credits from graduating. I don't know why it bothered him so much, but it was always a conversation ender.
A few minutes later, Carlie came down with the kids, taking the packed lunches from me and loading them into her car so she could drop them off on the way to school. I finished Edward's lunch and handed it to him, waiting for the quick peck on the cheek before he headed off to work.
I grabbed my purse and followed shortly after him, on my way to the hardware store I cashiered at.
Work as always, was painfully slow, chauvinistic men assuming I didn't know the difference between glue and epoxy. Making me want to bash their heads in with a hammer, which is in aisle three, right next to the staple guns.
When I finally got off of work I drove to the pre-k to get Jenny, only to find that Edward had already picked her up. So with the afternoon truly free, something that was so rare, I called Alice and asked her to meet me for a late lunch.
We were sitting at one of the booths in the back of the restaurant when out of nowhere a hush came over the room as Mike Newton walked in with a young woman that was most definitely not his wife. "That bastard, you think he'd at least have the common decency to take her out of town for lunch until his divorce was final."
"Divorce, he and Jessica?"
Alice nodded and then turned to me. "You didn't know? He started coming home late, or not at all, saying he fell asleep at the office, but in reality he was spending the night with her. It's shameful really."
"Yeah." In all honesty, I wasn't hungry any more, but we stayed through lunch and I was soon sitting at home looking at my mile long 'honey do' list that Edward would never get to.
Carlie was in the kitchen making dinner while I could hear Edward upstairs with Jenny and Jeremy. "Edward, can I talk to you a minute?"
"There are some things that have to get done around the house, could you help me this weekend?" I was hoping he'd use one of his days off to knock a few projects off the list. One of the perks of marrying a doctor in a small town hospital.
"Bella, I'm exhausted when I get home at night and my weekends are the only time I have to relax. You work part time at a hardware store; can't you do it when you get home?"
I was a little caught off guard by his curt attitude, but didn't say anything because the kids were there. "Dinner will be ready at 5:00, so make sure the kids are washed up."
With some time before my class, I called Rosalie and let her know I was coming over. When I pulled up, the garage door was open and Rose was leaning against her car. The garage door closed behind me as I got out of my car, the tears streaming down my face. "Bella, what happened? Is it the kids? Edward?"
"I miss my husband." I sobbed as she pulled me to her.
"Where is he? I didn't know he was out of town?"
"He isn't, he's home with the kids. But he's not my Edward, not the one I fell in love with. That man flirted with me like I was the sexiest woman on earth and made time when I needed him. He hated it when I got hurt. He doesn't even laugh at me when it happens. He's cold. Do you think Edward would ever cheat?"
"No. But I also can't believe he's acting the way he is, but you say he is. Talk to him, and if you want Emmett to use him as a punching bag, I could have him follow you home."
"If Emmett comes, he'll tell Edward to treat me right, which will turn into another fight."
Rosalie gave me another hug and I could almost hear the wheels turning in her mind. "I know this isn't very feminist, but why don't you put on a sexy piece of lingerie and remind him of what's sleeping on the other side of his bed every night."
"Yeah. I'll put on his favorite little baby doll and we'll see how long before he peels it off."
I left Rosalie's feeling better about things and arrived at class just in time for the lecture to begin. I tried to pay attention, but my mind kept traveling home to what was going to happen later tonight. Class ended around 9:00 and I headed for the parking lot with a group of my classmates. "Bella, don't forget next week's study session is at your place," Bree, the head of our study group called from her car.
The drive home was easy enough and by 9:30 I was pulling into the driveway. The lights were off, so I knew the kids were down. Walking upstairs and into our room, seeing Edward asleep in bed, I knew he couldn't have been asleep long, because he'd have been up wth the kids, so I hurried to get ready.
Putting on some make-up and teasing my hair so it had some fullness, I slipped into my teddy and climbed onto the mattress. Leaning in close, I shook him lightly and whispered in his ear, "Edward, wake up, baby."
He shrugged out of my grasp and before I could attempt anything bolder, he grumbled, "I have to be up at 4:30, let me sleep."
There really was no way to describe the wave of hurt that hit me as I slid off the bed and grabbed my robe. It had been a while since I'd really made an effort, the times we'd had sex was usually when we're both home and not fighting, so to be rejected brought all the insecurities with it. I went to the den and grabbed one of the throw pillows off the couch, hugging it to my chest as I cried myself to sleep.
The next morning, I was surprised to wake up in bed. Edward must have carried me up so I wouldn't aggravate my back, which did something to ease the knot in my stomach. I showered and got dressed for work before making the kids lunches. Soon the sound of the shower let me know that Carlie was up, so I went to wake Jeremy and Jenny. Thankfully, there weren't any fights, so I was able to get everyone in Carlie's car and headed off to work without too much effort.
I parked in front of the store and headed straight to the time clock so I wouldn't forget to punch in. Sam, the store manager, was in this morning and was in a foul mood, making me wish I'd called in sick. I was behind the register when we opened, but Paul was late so I spent the first forty-five minutes doing both jobs while Sam sat on his ass and did things that could have waited until we had coverage. It wasn't until 9am that we had the four people needed for the store to run smoothly, but by that time I was so pissed about having to do Paul, Jared and Sam's extra work that I stopped asking for their help.
When the afternoon guys came in, I was so worn out and I'd only been there five hours. As soon as our assistant manager Jake walked in, Sam was out the door, but Seth and Quill came in with him, so I knew my last two hours would be easier.
Around 2pm, a customer wanted help with a 60lb bag of concrete, and after the morning I'd had, I tried to do it myself. Seth saw me and ran over, taking the bag and following the woman to her car. Jake saw me rub my back and came over to give me a one-armed hug.
"What's with the wonder woman routine?"
"Your friend Sam and the morning crew were useless today. I got so tired of being ignored that I stopped asking."
"Well, you're with the A-Team now, so you can relax. I have a feeling that Sam's on his way out anyway, so don't get too upset about it." He gave my arm one last squeeze before Seth bounded in.
"Bella, you have to be careful. If you throw out your back again, we'll get stuck with Leah to cover for you."
"Dude, Leah's your sister." Quill called from one of the aisles.
"Exactly, I don't need her bossing me around here like she does at home."
We all broke out into laughter at that comment, because I couldn't imagine spending that much time with Leah. Calling her intense was polite.
The last hour went by nicely and I was on my way to the pre-school to get Jenny. Carlie called to let me know that she was going to the library to get a book for her paper, so she and Jeremy would be home in a little bit.
I walked into the house and got Jenny settled in her room with a few of her toys while I relaxed on her bed. When the kids got home, my back was so sore that I couldn't really move, and Jeremy was the first to see it. "Mommy, you look sad."
"My back hurts, sweetie."
"Mom, why don't you go lay with the heating pack, I'll tell dad to order a pizza when he gets home."
"You don't mind watching your siblings?" I hated that she acted like a second mother sometimes, but she was old enough that she could be trusted with them and enjoyed it.
Listening to my daughter, I got the heating pad and went to lay down, hoping it would help.
I was still in our room when Edward came home, two slices of mushroom pizza and a drink in his hands as he walked over to my side of the bed. "How's your back?"
I felt the pad move and Edward's hands probe my lower back. "I'll call Harry and tell him that you need a few days. It'll be worse if you try to work through it."
"I was hoping it wasn't that bad." I hated missing work, everyone scrambled when someone missed a few days because we really needed a few more people working there.
"Maybe you should think about quitting? I mean, it isn't like we need the money. You complain about the people, you're killing yourself for people who don't work hard themselves-"
"Edward, my job is not up for debate." This was the other fight we seemed to be having more and more. He had his hunting, which he knew I wasn't a fan of, and I had my job and my classes; it was the things that we did to have our private time. The only problem was they flooded into what was supposed to be our time.
He left me with my dinner which I ate alone, before taking my muscle relaxer and going to bed.
The few days that followed my back landing me on bed rest were torture. I couldn't do anything so Carlie was picking up the slack, but finally, today I was feeling a little better and using my time to work on a few of the easier projects around the house. I'd just finished changing out the door knob in Carlie's room that stuck more than it opened properly, and was headed down to get the Teflon tape so I could change the shower head in our bathroom when I tripped over something right at the top of the stairs.
I landed hard on my right arm and felt it break as much as I heard it. I called Emmett and he came to the house, knowing I didn't want the drama of an ambulance. It was sweet that he didn't even comment on the house being a little messy since I couldn't bend to clean as much, or that I'd hurt myself walking down the stairs, but with the week I've had, I'm assuming that he thought I'd suffered enough.
When I arrived to the ER, I made the nurse get me one of the other doctor's, Edward had never been good with me and broken bones. When I broke my leg before Junior Prom, I thought he was going to die from it, he was so upset.
Dr. Grenady had passed me onto a resident to set the bone after I came back from x-ray, but before she could, Edward was standing outside the curtain chatting with one of the nurses. They were laughing and she was flirting a little, before she pointed to me and he turned, his face a mask of concern.
"Why wasn't I called right away?" He started to dress down the resident, so I stepped in.
"I know you're busy, I didn't want to bother you for a broken arm."
He brushed some of my hair behind my ear and sat next to me. "It's not a bother when you're hurt. Here, take my hand." Edward held my hand and pressed his lips into my hair, whispering that it'd be over in a minute when the swift move realigned my bones, but not before I screamed in pain. "Don't you know how to align a bone properly without causing the patient that much pain? Just go, I'll do the cast myself."
The resident got up and left us as Edward grabbed the supplies to put my cast on. I straightened my arm for him as he began his work. "How'd you break your wrist?"
"I was going downstairs and tripped over one of Jeremy's action figures, at least that's what Emmett said."
"You called Emmett?" I could hear the hurt in his voice as well as see it written across his face.
"I didn't want to call 911 and I knew he'd be able to leave the shop to get me."
"You could have called me. But then again, you didn't even want me to know you were here."
"I was going to find you before I left. I just knew that if they told you, you'd come in here like a bull in a china shop, like you did with that poor kid you ran out of here."
"I hate seeing you hurt."
"Which is why I asked them to get you after they finished with me. I knew that it would be worse for you."
His eyes met mine and his expression softened. "Always more concerned for the other person. You have to be selfish sometimes, Bella."
I took a deep breath and looked back at the opening in the curtain. "You and that nurse seemed friendly earlier, who is she?"
I watched as his features darkened and his brow furrowed. "That's Tanya, we've become good friends. Her girlfriend, Kate, is a bit of a handful so she's always coming to me for a good bull session because I'm not as closed minded as the other people who work here."
"Oh," was all I could say, but my whooshing breath said so much more.
"Bella," Edward grabbed my chin and made me look at him. "You're my wife; you're the only one I want." He seemed to hesitate for a moment before continuing, "I'm sorry about the other night."
"You did carry me to bed."
"I didn't want you to wake up with back problems, but it killed me when I saw that you'd gone to all that effort and I'd been so short with you. The tears made it worse; I don't want to be the one to make you cry."
He reached up to wipe my tears away. "I was so afraid that you didn't want me anymore. I miss the man that would sneak up behind me in the kitchen, trying to get a little before the kids were up."
"I know. It's just so hectic trying to be chosen as the new head of the ER, it takes up so much energy."
"Edward, if that's what getting the job is like, imagine keeping it."
"It will all calm down, I promise."
I wasn't sure that was the case, but this was the most civil conversation we'd had in a while, so I wasn't about to instigate a fight. "Do I need anything else before I'm discharged? Because I have to call Emmett back so he can drop me and the kids off."
"Give me a minute?" Edward ducked out of the curtain and came back a minute later. "Alec is going to cover for me, so we can go home together. Also, I called Emmett and he said that they were fine with having the kids spend the night. That way you can relax. I'm going to get them to sign off on your release papers and then we can leave. Okay?"
Twenty minutes later we were in the car, driving back to the house. "What were you doing today when you fell?"
"Knocking a few things off the list of minor repairs I had. I'd left the shower head in the bag on the kitchen table, so I was going to get that when I broke my arm."
We pulled up to the house and Edward went to unlock the front door while I slowly walked up the steps. Walking into the house, I felt a little ashamed that Emmett had seen the house this messy. Between my back and Carlie helping with the kids, there wasn't anyone to clean. Edward went to the kitchen and came back with two bottles of water and the bag with the shower stuff.
He took my left hand and led me upstairs and into the bathroom, it seemed odd that he was going to fix the shower now, but then again, he may want to wash up after his long day at work.
"So how in the hell do I do this?"
I giggled at his frustration and then pointed to the shower, "You're going to have to get in there, so you may want to change first." Nodding, Edward went into the bedroom and came back in a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. "Okay, now twist off the shower head; it shouldn't need a wrench to come off."
I watched as Edward followed my instructions and sat the old shower head on the edge of the tub. "Next?"
"Clean off the threads from the pipe and then wrap it with the Teflon tape." Edward took the rag and wiped the pieces of old tape off and then rewrapped the threads. "Good, now in the package you'll see a little piece that looks like a 'T' you're going to screw that onto the pipe."
Edward attached that and then screwed the hose onto the other opening. Taking a big step back, he turned on the faucet and then pulled the stopper to start the shower with the head firmly held in his hand. When the water came out of the shower with no leaks, he looked like he'd just climbed Everest. "That's it? That was so easy."
"Most of the things I've been doing are. They don't take a lot of time, but there are just a lot of them. I'm just glad I got all the door knobs done before I fell, that would have been a pain to deal with now."
"How does it feel?"
"It's starting to hurt again; I think the meds they gave me when I first got to the ER are wearing off."
"Do you have any left from your back, or should I have the pharmacy deliver the prescription?"
"I have some left over. I think I'm just going to take one and try to nap, I'm exhausted."
Edward cleaned up the shower and then watched as I took my pill and climbed into bed, my arm resting next to my pillow.
I'm not sure how long I was asleep for, but the sun was a lot lower as it streamed through the bedroom window. The sound of a vacuum running downstairs was what woke me, but more because I couldn't imagine who was cleaning. I got up and looked in the mirror and was less than pleased with my reflection. Unable to put my hair up, I simply pulled out the tie and brushed it left-handed, before going down to see who was here visiting.
I was careful coming down the stairs this time and was shocked to see Edward pushing around the vacuum, the toys and junk that had been littering the downstairs all gone. As he finished the room, Edward switched off the machine and turned to see me watching him, a frown forming. "I didn't wake you, did I?"
"It was worth it. Have you been cleaning the whole time I was asleep?"
Edward nodded and then walked over to me. "And working on your list. I replaced the cabinet locks and the dryer vent, but that light fixture scares me."
I couldn't help but laugh at his comment. "It's easy once you turn off the electricity."
"Where'd you learn all of this?" His voice held a bit of amazement in it.
"Some of it I had to know living with Renee, and the rest I learned at work."
Edward put the vacuum away as I walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. "I don't really pull my weight around here. I'm going to work on that. I mean, I talked to Jeremy about his toys, but I didn't enforce it and you got hurt because of it."
"What are you in the mood to have for dinner?" I looked over at the lack of food we had and tried to come up with a few things I could cook.
"I kind of took care of dinner. Jasper was meeting with a client and he said he'd drop it off on his way home."
"Edward, what did you do?"
The doorbell rang and Edward looked at me, "Oh, I changed the doorbell too. The old one would only ring half of the time."
He ran to meet Jasper and as soon as I saw the maroon writing on the white take-out bag, I knew what he ordered. "Was Jasper really in Port Angeles, or did you tell him that I had been in the hospital and dinner from Bella Italia would make me feel better?"
"He got some for Alice and the kids too. I promise, I didn't make him go out there to get your favorite dinner. I would have done it myself if he hadn't been there."
"Okay. Well, I'll get us some plates-"
"Let me." He sat the food down and grabbed the plates and silverware while I got the cups and the container of iced tea. We sat down and Edward served me before he got his own as we settled in to our quiet dinner. It was nice to just be the two of us, talking about our days and catching up.
After our meal, we cleaned up and then Edward went to shower as I turned on the TV in the living room. I didn't hear him come down, but I definitely felt his hands as they ran down along my shoulder and down my arms, his lips pressed against my neck. "Bella, let's go upstairs."
A chill ran through me at his request. He was initiating it. I'd spent so much time over the last few months wondering if he still wanted me and here he was showing me just how badly he still did.
I ran around the couch and Edward grabbed me, holding me against him as he kissed me, our mouths open to each other as he reached down and before I knew it, I was swept up into his arms as he ran up the stairs.
Sitting me on the bed, he pulled back quickly and I clipped him with the cast. "Edward, I'm going to knock you out with this damn thing on my hand."
He chuckled and leaned in, his breath fanning my ear, "We managed pretty well when you broke your arm in high school. I think I can make love to my wife without any more bloodshed."
My stomach clenched at his words and I kissed him again as his hand went to the hem of my shirt, pulling it up and off of me before going to the clasp on my bra and releasing me from its confines. His shirt was next to go, followed by his pants and boxers, off in one clean movement, leaving him naked before me. It had been too damn long. Edward's hands were at my waist next, so I lifted up so he could help me out of the rest of my clothing.
He moved me up the bed, careful of my arm and soon his mouth was lavishing my breasts with eager attention as his hands trailed lower to the place I needed him most. My Edward worked me into a frenzy, leaving me breathless until he slid up slightly and I felt him pressed against me. "God, I've missed this. I swear, we'll find more time for us. I'll help you out more around the house, and I am definitely going to be awake the next time you tap my shoulder." He winked and pushed forward, entering me slowly, savoring the sensation.
"Oh Edward," I called out as he pushed forward as he brought our hips together. I was full and content; I was home.
Our rhythm was slow and our lips rarely parted from each other as we moved towards completion. His hands tracing my body as my left hand twisted in his hair, my right safely above my head.
I felt his pace pick up as we both grew closer to our climax, the signs we'd memorized in our years together. He faltered and then drove into me a few more times as my eyes cinched shut and my good hand pulled his hair. I heard him call out my name as he release followed quickly. Edward sank down against me, his weight heavy against my body, but I would never have spoken a word about it, in love with how close we were.
When he did climb off of me it was only long enough to help me out of bed as we went to the bathroom. Edward helped me put a bag on my arm to keep the cast wet and then we got in the shower together, where he helped me wash my hair and body before taking care of himself.
Thirty minutes later, we were both in bed, my right arm resting against his stomach and my head on his chest. He held me against him and it felt heavenly, like a dream, but it wasn't meant to last.
In the week that came after, Edward was true to his word. The housework was shared, the fighting ceased, and we got to spend time as us before we went to sleep, but then the short list for the new head of the ER was released. Meetings were being set up, not to mention more shifts were added so that each candidate could have more time running a shift so their fitness for the job could be assessed.
I was back at work by that time, restricted to the register as my arm prohibited me from putting away stock, or helping customers take things down because I couldn't climb the ladder. The girls were busy with their own families and the only one who caught my bouts of anxiety filled ramblings were my daughter, but I made sure that she knew everything was fine.
Luckily at 7 and 3, Jeremy and Jenny weren't aware of any of my concerns. The weeks came and went, but there was no relief for us. Edward was practically living at the hospital and I was starting to feel run down. I walked into work one morning to Sam's less than sunny disposition, but one whiff of his coffee had me running for the bathroom. My breakfast was soon gone, and to be sick in a bathroom used by the guys I worked with and construction workers, I had to be sick, or…
I walked into the office to see Harry behind his desk, a knowing look on his face. "Leah can be here in 15 minutes, and Paul can cover until then. You do more than your share around here. All you've been doing the past two months is getting even for all the shifts you've covered all these years. Feel better, Bella."
I grabbed my purse and was back out the door before the first customer was in. Making a stop on my way home, soon I was in my bathroom staring at four pregnancy tests, all with the same result.
The emotions that washed through me were powerful in both their ferocity and their variety…joy, fear, anger, excitement, and dread. I couldn't do this. Not again. Not at 38, and certainly not alone, because that's what I was. Even with Edward lying next to me the nights he wasn't working the graveyard at the hospital, I felt now more than ever that I was alone in the marriage. One week of good behavior didn't cut it, especially with me pregnant.
I remembered his shock four years ago when I told him about Jenny and now; I wasn't sure how he would react. Would this baby feel like another weight added to the shackle keeping him from what he wanted? Would he dare to mention the possibility of not having this baby? Would I?
I needed to talk this out, so I called Alice, knowing that she was the only one not at work this early. Rosalie could come over in a few hours when she was off work, but right now I needed to talk before I lost my mind.
"Alice, you have to come here, now," were the only words I spoke and two minutes later she was at my bedroom door.
"Bella, what is it?" Her eyes took in my frantic expression and she sat me back on the bed.
"Oh my…does Edward know? Congratulations! If he doesn't know, you have to call him. He'll be ecstatic!"
"Will he? He's so focused on being the boss at work that he's barely here."
"I thought you said things were getting better?" She sat beside me and squeezed my left hand.
"They did, for a week. Then just like he was going to keep Jeremy from leaving his toys around he didn't follow through, and we all know how that ended." I waved my cast clad hand around for good measure.
"I'll be right back." Alice stepped into the hall and was back quickly, though I wasn't too surprised when Jasper walked in thirty-five minutes later.
"Did she tell you I was crazy?" I looked my brother-in-law right in the eyes.
"No. But she did say you were upset about finding out that you were pregnant."
"I can't do it alone, Jasper."
"Who's asking you to?" He looked to Alice quickly, afraid he was out of the loop on something.
"Edward is. Regardless of whether we survive this, he's going to do what's best for him, and we get the leftovers. I'm tired, Jasper. I'm just so fucking tired."
"Have you tried talking to him?"
"We used to fight about it, then the last few months he realized that it was unfair. It was right around when I broke my arm, but a week of good behavior and I was seeing the same old things from him. It's his job. If he were just a doctor in the ER then he'd have more time, but he has to be in charge so he's been pushing the last few years to show that he could do it. But come on, it's Forks! What disaster could befall this town that would need a staff to rival the University Hospital in Seattle?"
"You're going to tell him about the baby, right?" I didn't answer right away and Jasper moved to stand in front of me, "Right, Bella?"
"Eventually. I don't know. I don't know anything anymore."
Alice walked up beside Jasper and took my hand. "Carlie has her sleepover tonight, so I'll go pack some of the kids' things and then pick them up. If you need more time then Carlie can come to our house tomorrow. Take all the time you need."
Those were the last words that she spoke to me as they both left me alone with my thoughts. I wasn't alone for long when I heard the front door slam. "Screw you, Alice," I muttered as I heard the hard pounding of Edward's feet as he ran up the stairs.
"Bella? Bella!" His voice got closer until he threw open the door and found me sitting on the floor at the foot of our bed. "What's going on? Alice called me and said that if I valued you that I'd come home. Are you sick? You're supposed to be at work-"
"Edward. I could kill your sister right now, she shouldn't have called you."
"If something's going on with you, I have a right to know."
I scoffed at him and tried to stand, pushing off his attempts to help me. "A right? Why, because you're my husband? That isn't a title you can use whenever it suits you. Husband and father are pretty low on your priority list and I don't know if I can do this again."
"Do what? Bella, things have been so good between us lately."
"No, they haven't been bad, but when you're never home it makes it easy to avoid fights. I love you, Edward, and that's why it kills me to even be thinking the thoughts I have been. This baby-"
"Baby?" Shit, now I'd done it. "You're pregnant?"
"I took a few tests this morning, they all came back positive."
His face lit up as he pulled me to him. "Oh sweetheart, this is so amazing! Look, I know I've been busy, but it will calm down and everything will work out. I promise."
"I hate that word. Promise. Like you promised to make sure Jeremy picked up his things, or you promised to help around the house. You have the attention span of a 2 year old when it comes to this family and I can't raise this baby alone. I won't do it alone."
"What are you saying?"
"What I've said. I can't keep spelling things out for you, Edward, and I have to do what's best for this family."
Edward watched me for a moment, before pulling his phone out and dialing a number. He was still staring at me when he spoke to whoever answered. "May I please speak to Dr. Molina?"
There was a brief pause before he spoke again. "Dr. Molina, it's Edward Cullen here. I've just received some news and I'm afraid that I'll have to pull myself out of the running for the position." There was a pause and then he spoke again. "Yes sir, my family has to come first and I've lost sight of that. Thank you, sir. I'll see you tomorrow. Have a good day."
He turned away and sat on the bed, his head falling into his hands. "I watch the guys at work manage their family and their career, and I thought I was doing it too. Bella, you are more important to me than a job…I just didn't realize that it was pushing you away like this. My ignorance isn't an excuse, but hopefully you can forgive me and we can really work on this. We're having a baby and I don't ever want that to be something you feel burdened by."
I sat next to him and wrapped my arms around his side. "I'm going to quit the store. I don't need the stress and maybe if I'm home all the time and you're home at a normal hour, we can have the time together we've been promising each other."
"I'd like that. Now, why don't I go make my wife and baby some lunch and we can talk more about the changes that need to happen around here."
"That sounds perfect." I knew it wouldn't be as easy as we were making it sound, but we were finally both there, making the effort.