To Have and To Hold
A/N: This is the first of two brand new multi-chapter stories I'm working on. My goal is to post chapters for this story every other week. However, with that said I do have 4 little boys who have very busy schedules, so please don't hold me to that schedule or get upset if I'm unable to update like planned. I will do my best, but I'm only human who does need sleep every once in a while and my children will always come first.
Thanks venomousgal for being such an amazing beta and support system, who I learn from every time I get a chapter back.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or the characters. No copyright infringement intended.
I walked into my parent's home with my laundry bag swung over my shoulder. This was my normal weekend routine. I drive home every Saturday afternoon and while my mom does my laundry for me, I chat with my dad about the city life. My dad had issues with me living in the city. He always imagined I'd stay close to home in our small town of Forks, but I had bigger ambitions and I liked the city.
My house had a washer and dryer but damned if I knew how to use them. Here I am a twenty-five year old man and still having my mom do my laundry. She typically made up a few dinners I could heat up in the oven at home as well. She didn't want me eating take-out all the time because she said it wasn't healthy for me. Yes, I know I'm a mama's boy, and I'm proud of it. My mom gives me anything I want and does everything for me. Who wouldn't want that?
I threw my laundry bag on the floor of the laundry room and walked towards the kitchen. My little sister, Alice was sitting at the bar in her pajamas and eating a bowl of cereal.
"Did you just wake up?" I asked.
"Unfortunately, yes. I could have slept for a few more hours," she answered with a sigh.
"You do realize it's almost one in the afternoon, right?" I wondered.
"What's your point?"
"Never mind," I laughed.
I walked to the fridge and pulled out the carton of orange juice to get a drink.
"Where are Mom and Dad?" I asked.
"Dad had an emergency at the hospital and Mom just left for the grocery store. She told me to tell you she'd be back within the hour."
I opened the cupboard and pulled out a cup. While pouring, I noticed a slight movement from outside the kitchen window. I raised my head to get a better look and noticed the back of a small person with long dark wavy hair sitting on the edge of the porch. She had her head down and almost appeared to be crying.
"Alice, who is on our back porch?" I inquired.
Alice's gaze followed mine to the back porch and landed upon the mysterious girl sitting on the edge of our porch.
"It's just Bella Swan," she answered nonchalantly.
"Bella Swan, your best friend who ran off with her boyfriend last summer?" I asked for clarification.
"That's her. She showed up last night soaking wet and crying."
"What happened to her?" I asked feeling a sudden sense of concern.
"She got knocked up by her dumbass boyfriend and then he left her."
"What!" I gasped.
I remembered Bella being this innocent little girl who had been best friends with Alice since grade school. She'd spent the night at our house almost every weekend from the time she was about ten years old. Last summer she took off with her boyfriend, Mike Newton and hadn't been back since. Alice carried a lot of resentment towards her for leaving right before their senior year of high school. I had heard her parents were distraught and did everything they could to convince her to come back, to no avail.
All I knew about Mike Newton was he wasn't known as being the nicest person in the area. For whatever reason, Bella worshipped the ground he walked on and alienated her friends and family to be with him.
"Why did she come here instead of going back home?" I wondered.
"You have a lot of questions," Alice pointed out. "I'm not awake enough to answer them all."
She hopped off the stool and placed her bowl in the sink.
"I'm just curious." I admitted, still staring out the window.
"Look," she began with a heavy sigh. "All she told me was she got pregnant and Mike suddenly decided he wanted to join the army or something. He left her stranded in San Diego with nothing. Apparently once he's done with basic training or whatever he's coming back. Thankfully, she was able to hitchhike her way here. She doesn't want to go home because she's afraid of what her parents will say and do. She knows they're still mad at her for leaving the way she did and with her dad's election for police commissioner she's afraid of embarrassing them. She came here thinking I wouldn't still be mad at her, but I am. Mom and Dad let her stay last night, but they aren't going to let her stay forever. Honestly, I don't want her to stay either."
"Have a little compassion, Alice." I snapped, appalled at her lack of empathy.
"She's the one who left to have this great, wonderful life. She's not my responsibility to take care of. She needs to call up Mike and make him take responsibility for his mistakes," she sneered.
I shook my head in amazement of her behavior. I never realized how resentful she was towards Bella. "The least you can do is talk to her and try to make her feel better. Try to think if you were in her shoes. Wouldn't you want a friend to lean on?"
"I wouldn't get myself in that type of situation. I'm not that stupid." Alice retorted, with her hands on her hips.
"You're being kind of a bitch, you know?" I stated.
"How would you feel if your best friend abandoned you, then showed up out of the blue and kept you up all night puking? You know I don't like sick people."
"She's not sick, Alice. She's pregnant." I sighed, exasperated.
"It doesn't change the fact that I had to listen to her puke her guts out all night long. I don't want to listen to that for the next nine months."
"Whatever, Alice," I said rolling my eyes and walking past her. "No wonder she left. You aren't the greatest friend."
She glared at me in response as I opened up the sliding glass door and walked out on the porch.
I could hear Bella sniffling and quietly crying. I walked up behind her and handed her a tissue before sitting down next to her. Startled by my presence, she jumped slightly before taking the tissue from my hand with a grateful smile.
"I don't know if you remember me," I began, hesitantly. "I'm Alice's brother, Edward."
"I know who you are," she replied in a small sad voice. "I haven't been gone that long."
"I was just trying to make conversation," I excused.
"Sorry, I'm just a little on edge right now." She sighed and ran her fingers through her long hair, pushing it back and away from her face.
"Forgive me, but I asked Alice for details about why you were here. Are you going to be okay?" I offered, scooting closer to her.
"I don't know," she cried. "Alice doesn't want me here, nor do your parents. Not that I expect them to take me in. They see me as a bad influence on Alice and I don't blame them. I just didn't have anywhere else to go. The last time I talked to my parents they told me not to come home. I made my choice and I have to live with it. I don't think they'll let me back in so easily. Not with my current condition anyway."
"I think knowing they have a grandchild on the way might change their minds. People say stupid things when they're upset and frustrated."
"Still, I don't know if I want to go home. I don't want to look at their faces everyday and see the disappointment and shame they have for me." She looked down at her lap and twisted her fingers together.
I rubbed her shoulder in a comforting way and whispered, "I'm sure it'll be okay."
"You don't know my parents." She climbed to her feet and walked back into the house. I followed behind her and distinctly heard her in the bathroom gagging. I felt sorry for her. Alice, who was still in the kitchen, made a disgusted face and covered her mouth, "Tell me when she's gone. I'll be upstairs taking a shower."
I always knew Alice was squeamish around sick people but I didn't think she'd be so rude to someone she once considered her best friend.
I rummaged through the kitchen and found some saltine crackers and poured Bella a glass of water. When she finally emerged from the bathroom she looked miserable. She was pale white and her eyes were bloodshot. She was even shaking slightly from the stress the vomiting was putting on her body.
"I got you a glass of water and some crackers," I offered. She walked over and sat down on the stool very slowly. She nibbled on a cracker but barely ate any of it.
"Thanks," she replied with the weakest, smallest voice I'd ever heard come out of her mouth. Growing up she was always fairly loud and boisterous. She never held anything back. This was definitely a different Bella than the one I once knew.
"How far along are you?" I asked.
"I think about two months."
"Have you seen a doctor yet?" I inquired, concerned about her health.
"No," she laughed bitterly. "I don't have any money. How am I going to pay for a doctor?"
"You need to, though," I pointed out. "You can't go nine months without seeing a doctor. There are so many things that could go wrong if you don't have adequate health care. There are services you can get to help with the health care."
"Why are you being so nice to me?" she questioned skeptically. "Alice is barely speaking to me and your parents look at me like I'm the scum of the earth, yet you're giving me advice and trying to help me feel better. Why?"
I shrugged and lightly chuckled. "I guess it's in my nature. It's what I do for a living. I see at least a half a dozen girls like you every month. I'm a social worker and it's my job to help people in similar situations as yours."
"Oh… you probably think I'm pretty pathetic, huh?" She grimaced and looked down at the counter.
"No," I laughed. "You aren't pathetic and you'll get through this. All you need to do is find the right type of assistance. I can even help you if you want."
"I don't want to be a charity case. Besides, I haven't even decided if I'm keeping the baby." Her brown eyes lifted to meet mine, shining with unshed tears.
My heart sank when she suggested not keeping the baby. I'm not supposed to have an opinion or try to push my views on people who choose abortion but half of the women coming into my office afterwards regretted what they did and having to watch them going through traumatic guilt and pain was always heartbreaking.
"There are those options as well. I can help you find the right doctor," I offered quietly.
"I'm not meaning I'm planning to have an abortion," she quickly corrected with a look of horror on her face. "I could never do that, I just meant I've thought about giving the baby up for an adoption. I can't be a mother. I don't know the first thing about taking care of a baby and no child would ever want me as a mom."
"Well, I can help you with that part also," I informed her.
"I don't know. I really haven't given a lot of thought about what I want to do. I'm just trying to come to terms with what happened and where I go from here." She blushed and stared at her hands again.
"Edward," my mom called from the front door, shattering the sudden silence.
"In here," I shouted back. She walked into the kitchen with a grocery bag in her arms. "Do you need any help?"
"Could you?" she asked, smiling. "I've got a couple more bags out in the car still."
"Sure, Mom." I walked out to the car and loaded two bags in my arms to carry in. My mom was already putting stuff away when I walked back into the kitchen. Bella sat there silently and uncomfortably while my mother completely ignored her presence.
"I'm planning to make you some enchiladas and some stroganoff to take home with you, Edward," my mom informed me.
"Sounds great, Mom," I said in return, smiling sheepishly at her.
"I think I should go now," Bella whispered, suddenly standing to her feet. "Thank you so much for letting me stay the night, Mrs. Cullen. I truly appreciate your generosity."
"It's not a problem, Bella," my mom replied as sweetly as possible. "I hope you can get things worked out with your parents. I'm sure they'd be very happy to see you."
"Yeah," Bella said with a doubtful tone.
"I'll walk you out," I offered guiding her out of the house and on to the front porch.
"Thank you for the advice," she said touching my arm, with a grateful expression.
"Are you planning to go back to your parents now?" I asked.
She shrugged and shook her head. "I don't know, I guess."
"Do you want a ride?" I asked, gesturing towards my car.
"No, I'll be fine. I like to walk it helps me get past the sickness."
I pulled out my wallet and took out a business card handing it over to her. "Well, if you need anything don't hesitate to call, okay."
She nodded her head, looking down at the card in her hand. "Thank you." Turning around, she slowly walked down the few steps and towards the road. I waited until she was out of sight before going back inside and sitting down at the bar in the kitchen. My mom had already started a load of my laundry and was busily making meals.
"Poor girl," my mom sympathized. "I feel sorry for her, but I don't want her around Alice. I don't want her giving Alice any ideas about getting pregnant at the same time. I know she tried very hard to get Alice to leave with her when she did."
"I didn't know that," I commented, somewhat shocked.
"Yeah, Alice told me about a week after Bella left that the plan was for her to leave also. They had these high hopes to go off to Hollywood and become big stars. That Mike Newton kid supposedly has an uncle who is a director and promised them a roll in his next project. I'm so thankful Alice changed her mind. It turns out that uncle was actually a porn director and wanted Alice and Bella to be featured in his next movie. He had plans to get them fake ID's and set them up in an apartment if they agreed to be in his porno movies. Mike was going to be his apprentice and learn the ropes so he could start making his own movies."
"How do you know all this?" I demanded, scrubbing a hand through my hair.
"Well, apparently I raised a pretty smart girl. She did some research on this director Mike told them about and found out what he really was. Once she had evidence she tried to talk Bella out of going. I guess she was even begging her to stay but Bella trusted Mike and told Alice she was a liar and was just jealous because she had a boyfriend and Alice didn't. Bella left and Alice stayed."
"So, did Bella actually do these porn movies?" I asked, unable to associate the sweet girl I knew with a porn star image.
"I couldn't tell you, Son," she answered. "I hope not, but I'm afraid she probably did since she's been gone for so long. I fear who the father of that child she's carrying is. It could very easily be anyone's."
The concern I had for Bella's wellbeing grew even more after finding out this information. Knowing this definitely explained the resentment Alice still had for her and why my parents didn't want her around. It also explained why she thought she couldn't go home.
"Is she gone?" Alice whispered, walking into the kitchen.
"Yeah, she left a few minutes ago," my mom replied, making a face.
"Thank God. I don't think I could handle much more of the puking anymore. I can't believe she actually got herself knocked up. She always said she never wanted to have kids or to get married," Alice commented.
"I hope she goes home to her parents. She needs someone to take care of her. She's so young and already in such a bad situation. I'm just glad I raised smart kids who didn't get messed up in the same way she did," my mom added.
Alice smiled at her appraisal and grabbed a pinch of shredded cheese before walking out of the kitchen and into the living room. She plopped herself down and started watching TV.
"Mom, do you actually think she's going to go home?" I asked, apprehension overcoming me.
"I hope so, but I don't know. I just hope she doesn't go back to California where she got in trouble in the first place. As much as I don't want her around Alice, I still care about her and want her to get her life straightened out. I've known her since she was just a little girl and always considered her like a daughter. I just want her to have a better life than she has now."
"I gave her my card and told her to call me if she needed any help," I admitted. My mom smiled and reached across the counter to place her hand on my cheek.
"I'm so proud of you for being the caring and helpful man you've become. You and Alice are my greatest accomplishments. I couldn't be any prouder of who you have become and the work you do for the less fortunate," she praised. As much as I appreciated her compliment of my work I couldn't help feel a little like she was being condescending to people who didn't have a perfect life like she considered ours to be.
I left the kitchen and walked into the living room to watch TV with Alice for a while. I didn't pay much attention to what she was watching as my thoughts kept drifting to whether or not Bella was okay. Blame it on the day job but I couldn't let go of my concern for her. I kept imagining if it was Alice who was in her shoes and what I would do for my sister to help her out. I wondered if it was my sister, how my parents would react and what they would do. Would they abandon her or would they be compassionate and want to do everything they could for their little girl regardless of how she messed up? I liked to think it would be the latter but I really wasn't sure anymore.
After a few hours my dad came home looking exhausted. He greeted all of us briefly then he went upstairs to take a shower before dinner. My mom made a double pan of enchiladas so I could take some home with me as well as the stroganoff she had told me about earlier. She also made a pan of brownies and some chicken salad mix for sandwiches. My mom always thought I ate like I was ten people. When I still had roommates it was fine but now the food she sent home with me every week never got finished. I actually ended up giving my neighbors some of it recently just because I didn't want it to go to waste.
"All your laundry is washed and folded in the basket. I ironed all your good shirts and put them on hangers so be sure to hang them up as soon as you get home," my mom instructed.
"I will, Mom."
"When are you ever going to learn how to take care of yourself?" my dad asked while watching my mom fill the back seat of my car with the basket of clothes and the casserole pans full of food.
"I guess when I get married and have someone else to do it for me?" I joked. My dad laughed and shook his head at my response.
"I raised you well, didn't I?" he commented causing my mom to give him a dirty look with a raised eyebrow. I laughed at their exchange before giving my mom a hug thanking her for the food and doing my laundry.
I headed home around nine that night. It was a long drive back home but I didn't want to stay at my parents for the night like I did occasionally. I had plans to mow my lawn and do some maintenance around my house while we had the rare nice weather for the weekend.
I headed out on the highway and turned my music up loudly while I drove. I was bobbing my head and keeping beat to the music with my hand on the steering wheel when I saw Bella walking along the side of the highway. My gut told me I needed to stop.
"Bella," I called out to her, rolling down my window. She walked closer to the passenger side of the car and looked inside. "Can I give you a ride somewhere?"
"No, I'm fine." She backed up and shook her head.
"I really don't mind. You can't walk along the highway in the middle of the night like this. You're going to get hit by a car. Just let me drive you to where you're headed." I begged.
She looked across the car meeting my eyes with a sad, pained expression. "I don't know where I'm headed. I don't have anywhere to go."
I turned off the car and hopped out walking around to where she was.
"You aren't going back to your parents?" I inquired.
"I can't. They won't accept me." She bit her lip and sniffled, her small chin wobbling.
"You can't know that. They're your parents. I think they would be a lot more understanding than you think they would be." I smoothed my hand over her shoulder and rubbed gently.
"Edward, you don't know what they said to me when they found out where I was and what I was doing. I'm so ashamed I can't even talk about it," she cried. "How do I tell my unborn child what it is I did?"
"I can imagine you're having a lot of regrets and fear right now, but you need someone to help you figure this out. I can't just leave you here on the side of the road in the middle of the night." I replied softly.
"I'll be fine," she assured mustering up all the courage she could. "I've been in worse predicaments, believe me."
"I'm sure you have but that doesn't mean you should. Why don't you come home with me tonight?" I offered. "Tomorrow I can try to help you figure out what to do."
"I don't want to be a charity case," she spit with an angry tone. "Someone will eventually pick me up and give me a ride somewhere."
"It's not charity, Bella. I'm only trying to help because you're practically family. Right now you need to think about your child and what's best for him. Now, if you want somewhere to stay for the night then get in the car, if not I'll be forced to call the police and have them pick you up."
"You wouldn't," she dared.
"I most definitely will. It's my job," I deadpanned.
She sighed contemplating her options.
"It's really not a hard choice, Bella. A warm house with a comfortable bed or a jail cell for the night," I added.
"Fine," she accepted albeit reluctantly. I opened the passenger door for her and helped her in. All she had with her was a small backpack which looked to be rather empty as is. She really did have nothing.
I walked back around the car and got in before pulling back out on the highway. She was rather quiet during the drive, and after a while I noticed she'd fallen asleep. She probably needed the sleep after everything she'd been through the last few days.
While I drove I wondered what exactly I was doing taking her home with me. This was something strictly prohibited in my line of work. However, she was like a little sister, and I couldn't just leave her on the side of the road. I had to help her. It was only for one night. Tomorrow I'd try to convince her that the best option was to go home to her parents. And if she still refused, come Monday I'd do what I could to find her temporary housing and assistance.
I pulled into my driveway a little after midnight. Bella was still fast asleep in the passenger seat, so I gently shook her shoulder to wake her up.
"Bella, we're here," I whispered. She stirred and opened her eyes to look around. She yawned as she picked up her backpack off the floorboard in front of her and opened her door. I grabbed my basket of laundry from the back seat and walked her to the front door. I opened up the door allowing her to step in front of me. While she looked around, I placed the basket on the floor before going back out to my car and getting the rest of my stuff.
"There's a spare bedroom down the hall," I explained gesturing for her to follow me. I pointed out the bathroom, knowing she would probably need to use it at some point. I opened the door to the spare bedroom and turned on the light. This used to be my roommate, Garrett's room until he moved to New York. There really wasn't a lot to it except for a bed and dresser with a few old sports posters on the wall that Garrett had left behind. "I'll get some sheets and a blanket for you."
Leaving her in the room alone, I walked to the hall closet to get bedding and a couple towels. I walked back in the room and began making the bed up for her, while I explained she was welcome to take a shower and help herself to any food in the kitchen she wanted. She stood there silently and completely still while I spoke.
"Well, it's late and I have some stuff I need to get done tomorrow so I'm going to bed. I'll see you in the morning," I sighed walking out of the bedroom.
"Edward," she called. I stopped at my bedroom door and looked back across the hall to her. "Thank you."
I smiled and nodded my head before slipping into my own bedroom and shutting the door. I really didn't know what I was doing, but I had an overwhelming urge to help her. She needed help more than anyone I'd ever worked with. She needed a friend.
Thanks for reading. I'm not one who begs for reviews and I understand if you don't want to leave one, but I'd really love to hear what everyone thinks whether good or bad. I'm all for constructive criticism. I'm sorry I don't always reply to every review I get. I always have good intentions to but with such a busy schedule there never seems to be enough time for everything I want to do. I truly appreciate every single review and reader I get and will try very hard to answer any questions anyone has, so don't hesitate to ask.
Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers and Happy 4th of July weekend to all my American readers. :)