I searched frantically for him. How did he manage to get away from me? I just turned to look at a book that caught my eye for a second. Just a second. But a second was all it took for some creep to take my baby for me. All my worst fears came bubbling to the surface. What if somebody had taken him? What if I never saw him again? I looked through all the isles of the bookstore to no avail.
My breathing became more and more labored and tears started to well up in my eyes. I was just about to ask one of the male employees to check in the men's restroom for me when I saw my baby boy.
I had almost walked past him, almost missed him. But that was his jacket peeking out from the side of the bookshelf. It had to be. I ran towards him, ignoring the funny looks that people were giving me. I had to get to my baby boy, make sure that he was safe and unharmed.
"Logan! Oh thank God." I looked to see that he was sitting in a chair, reading a book with a complete and total stranger. My Logan looked up when he heard me call his name and a wide smile appeared on his face as he dropped the book that he was reading and he came scampering over to me. I enfolded Logan in my arms, breathing a sigh of relief that I hadn't lost the one thing that kept me waking up every morning. Sensing my worry, Logan smiled up at me, hoping to ease my worries; he had always been a little more in tune with how I was feeling, even as a baby.
I could remember a couple of days after I'd taken him home when I started to worry that his father would come and try to take him from me as I was watching him sleep. I started to get flustered, and I couldn't help the tears that slid down my cheeks at the thought of my baby being taken away from me. Logan woke up shortly after I started choking out sobs. I walked over to him and picked up my bundle of joy, sitting in the old wooden rocking chair that Renee had rocked me in. Logan stared at me for a couple of minutes and then he started making funny faces and I couldn't help but smile and laugh with him. And he'd done the same thing ever since.
I ignored the man that Logan had been reading to, my eyes roaming over my son's form, making sure that no harm had come to him, but I could feel the stranger's eyes on me and it made me pull Logan closer to me again, hoping that he would just accept my apology and leave us alone.
"I'm sorry if he was bugging you sir," I said as I held Logan's hand, as we made our way to retrieve his jacket, walking so that my body was in front his. I held it out for him as he maneuvered his arms into the sleeves.
"He was no trouble at all. He's a great reader." The deep tones surprised me and I looked up at the man and my eyes widened and my breath caught in my throat.
He had short, dark brown hair with the beginnings of sideburns. Light blue eyes that were full of life and laughter continued to look upon me and my son with interest. His jaw was strong, and his lips pulled up in what was the making of what was sure to be a breathtaking smile. His broad shoulders filled out a light blue and white striped shirt magnificently and I couldn't help but notice how ripped he was. His biceps bulged and he wasn't even flexing them. Even sitting down, I could tell he was tall, at least 6' 5''. And I was almost positive that he was all muscle.
He could've subdued both my son and I in a matter of seconds, and that frightened me. But then I realized that he was doing everything in his power to seem as little as possible, having also sensed my stress levels.
I cleared my throat and blood rushed to my face; I couldn't believe that I had just openly gawked at this man. "Yeah, he loves to read." I said softly, still slightly baffled by the man, there was no doubt in my mind that he was the finest male specimen that I had ever seen. "I'm sorry again but we should be going." I said looking at Logan, trying to center myself again after my adrenaline rush.
"Ok Mommy," he said softly, looking back at the man and offering him a small smile. I held Logan's hand and started to walk away as quickly as possible without actually running away, when I was stopped once again.
"Wait, I didn't get your name!" The man was now standing and my suspicions about his height were answered. He was intimidating when sitting down, but now he just scared the shit out of me. What to do? I could just keep walking and pretend that I hadn't heard him, but I had already stopped.
"Bella," I decided telling him that much, hoping that it would be enough to satisfy him.
"Will I ever see you again Bella?" he questioned, talking a couple of steps closer to us. I bit my lip nervously and held onto my son's hand tighter.
"I don't know if that's such a good idea," I admitted slowly, hoping that he would understand. Logan was my main priority and I wouldn't do anything that could end up in him getting hurt.
"Do you have a husband or boyfriend?" The man questioned. I frowned, what business was it of his if I had a significant other?
"I don't see how that's any of your business." I replied curtly, hoping that he would just drop this and I could get my son home for his lunch and then nap. The giant smiled knowingly.
"If we see each other in the near future will you give me a chance? Or at least a last name?" I raised an eyebrow. Forks, Washington was a small town, there was no doubt about that. But the chances of me seeing this man were very slim. Hoping that it would get him to leave us alone I nodded my head. "Perfect." He replied, smiling. "I'll be counting the minutes Ms. Bella." His eyes moved down to my son and I couldn't help but pull my baby in closer to me. "See ya later Logan." I was surprised that Logan had talked to the man in the first place, normally he was really shy and introverted, and so talking to strangers had never been a problem before. But Logan had had no issues with being open to this man and that worried me.
"Bye, bye Emmett." And he offered a tiny wave which the man returned with interest. I scurried out of the store, looking back every so often to see if the man was following us. But he wasn't, he just stood where we left him, watching us leave.
When we got to my truck, the same one my dad had gotten me as my homecoming gift when I first started living with him, I helped Logan get buckled into his seat. "Logan, you know that you're not supposed to talk to strangers right?" He nodded his head once, looking down at his small hands. "Baby, I need you to promise me that you won't something like that ever again okay? Mommy was scared." I placed my hands over his to stop his fidgeting and hopefully get him to look up at me.
"Sowy." He whispered. "He was nice dough. He wouldn' have hurt me." I could hear the conviction in his voice and I hoped that he was right this time.
"Okay baby. But I still want you to promise me okay? Because not every stranger is like that man. And I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Sowy Mommy. I won't do dat 'gen." I let out the breath that I had unconsciously been holding in and kissed Logan's head.
"I love you baby, always remember that. Okay?"
"I know Mommy. I love you too." Smiling, I ruffled his hair before closing his door and getting in myself.
The trip back home was quiet, after playing at the park with his Uncle Jake for close to three hours prior to going to the bookstore, Logan was tuckered out. I smiled as I watched him fight to keep his heavy lids from closing as he looked out of the window. I knew that he would fall asleep before we got home. There was road construction preventing me from taking my usual, shorter route home, but with the detour, it would take us at least twenty-five more minutes before we got home.
My thoughts inevitably went back to the man Logan had been reading with, and I couldn't help the one last shiver that swam through my body at the thought of him getting taken away from me. My worst fear. As much as I hated to admit it, the man didn't look like he wanted to hurt Logan or me, and there was a small part of my brain that wished I would see him again, but that was stupid thinking. I rolled my eyes at myself and looked in the mirror once more to find that, sure enough, Logan had conked out, his head resting against the window, snoring lightly.
My brow furrowed when I noticed that there was a car pulled over onto the shoulder on the opposite side of the road. The driver was sitting in the driver's seat, rummaging through the glove box. I pulled over as well, getting out and checking to make sure that Logan was still sleeping before I checked for any oncoming cars and crossed the street.
"Sir, do you need any help?" The man froze and when he turned around, my heart stopped.
The man from the bookstore. The one Logan had been reading with. Only now he was wearing a light jacket and a beanie hat that had made him unrecognizable from behind.
"Hello Miss Bella." He was wearing a big grin on his face as he closed the glove box and stepped out of the car. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, turning to look back at my truck with Logan still sleeping soundly. I turned back to the man to find him still staring at me.
"Are you going to tell me your last name now?"
"You haven't told me your name." I pointed out, trying to get his attention off of me.
"Sorry," he said, grinning sheepishly now. "Emmett Cullen at your service." I narrowed my eyes at this strange man, wondering what his fascination with me was.
"I've got some cables in my truck. Do you want to see if we can jump start your car?"
"Sounds good to me Miss Bella." I left abruptly before he could ask me about my last name again, walking to my truck and driving to the other side of the road, making sure that Logan was still asleep before I climbed back out and popped the hood, cables in hand.
Emmett held out his hand for the cables, but I ignored him and attached the cables to the battery posts before handing Emmett his cables so that he could do the same. He looked at me for a moment, surprise etched on his face, before he took the cables that I offered him.
"How'd you know what to attach them to?" He questioned, as he clipped on the clamps. I debated on not answering him, but he turned and looked at me expectantly.
"My Dad's the Chief of Police and my best friend's a mechanic. Both of them are really overprotective and so they made sure that I know how to change a tire, jump a car, and carry a can of pepper spray with me at all times." I explained, making my way to the driver's seat to go start my truck.
"But they let you drive this hunk of metal? Shouldn't they be more worried about getting you a safer car for you and your son?" I narrowed my eyes at him and stalked over the big brute of a man.
"I don't see how it's any of your business Mr. Cullen. And I'll ask you not to question my choice of transportation." I was pleased that he had the decency to look ashamed.
"I apologize Miss Bella. I wasn't in the right."
"Just don't do it again," I stated, and moved back to my truck, starting my truck. I looked over at Logan who was still fast asleep, a little drool forming in the corner of his mouth. I smiled at him and moved a curl that had fallen onto his forehead.
I got out and looked to find Emmett off to the side of the road, his hands shoved in his pockets and his shoulders hunched as he paced back and forth. With my arms crossed over my chest, I made my way over to him. As I approached, he looked up at the sound of the gravel crunching under my shoes. On the downward slope to where Emmett was standing, I tripped over some invisible object and fell onto my ass.
Emmett rushed over to me and knelt by my side, checking me over for any blood. "Are you okay?" He questioned hastily, running his hands over my back.
"I'm fine Emmett." I told him, grabbing onto his hands to pause their search. His brow was furrowed and his eyes disbelieving. "Really, I'm fine. I fall all of the time; I'm kind of a klutz."
"You're sure you're okay?" I nodded my head resolutely. Emmett looked me over once more and then held out his hand to help me up. I took it appreciatively and whipped the dirt and rubble from my butt with my free hand.
"Can I have my hand back?" Emmett's massive hand still encased my own and I was surprised that it felt… nice.
"Oh! Yeah, sorry." He dropped my hand like it was a hot potato that he'd been holding for far too long. "Um, I just wanted to apologize again for what I said earlier. I didn't mean to offend you… Sometimes I just don't think before I say stuff." I shrugged and slowly started making my way back up the hill to the cars, Emmett by my side.
"We're humans. Humans make mistakes all the time, it's in our make-up. Nobody's perfect." When we got to the cars again, I turned off my car and suggested that he go and try to start his.
The car started, but it didn't run. I ran my car again and we tried once more but once again, his car didn't start. There weren't any conversations that were had while we waited, but the silence was comfortable.
After the third time we tried, I was starting to get increasingly frustrated.
"Maybe I should call my friend, he's a mechanic and he can check your car out. Plus it's getting late and I really should be getting Logan home, I'm surprised that he's slept this long. But if he sleeps any longer, he won't go to bed tonight." He nodded in understanding and agreed that I should probably call Jake.
Grabbing my phone out of my purse, I dialed the number that I had long ago memorized and waited for Jake to answer.
"Black Mechanics. This is Quil speaking, how can I help you?"
"Hey Quil, its Bella. Is Jake there?"
"Bella! How things are on your side of the world?" I could practically see the smile on his face. And I couldn't help but smile at his craziness.
"Things are pretty good. Is Jake there?" I repeated, not wanting to get caught up in a conversation with him at the moment.
"Oh, yeah. Just a sec." The voices became muffled as Quil held the phone away from his face. "Jackey boy! Bellsy Boo is on the phone and for some reason she wants to talk to your ugly ass!" I tried to stifle a giggle but it came out as a snort, much to my embarrassment. I heard Jake yell at Quil and what sounded like a scramble for the phone. I rolled my eyes at their antics.
"Hey Bella. What's up?"
"I have a favor to ask you. If you're not too busy of course." I said, not wanting to bother him at work if he was backed up.
"I'm never too busy for you Bells. What's up?"
"My friend's car won't start and I was wondering if you could come and take a look at it. We've tried jumping it three times and it still won't run."
"Yeah, I can come out. Where are you?" I relayed our location and then hung up the phone after he said that he should be here in about thirty minutes. I thanked him profusely before I hung up and walked back over to Emmett who was leaning against the hood of his car, his hands hidden in his pockets again.
"Jake's coming out. He said he'd be here in about thirty minutes or so." Placing my phone back in my pocket, I went to stand next to Emmett, crossing my arms over my chest and rubbing my arms with my hands, hoping the friction would warm them up.
"You cold?" Emmett questioned, noticing my action right away. I nodded my head slightly. "Why don't you go sit in your truck until your friend gets here. You'll be warmer."
I shook my head resolutely, "I can't just leave you out here by yourself." Emmett rolled his eyes and started shouldering off his jacket. I shook my head and raised my arms in protest. "I can't take your jacket. I'm fine. Really." Emmett shook his head and continued to take off his jacket.
"You're cold and you won't go warm up in your car. You're taking the jacket. I don't get cold that much anyways. I just have it because my Mom always told me never to leave without a coat. 'You can always take layers off,' she'd always say." He held out the jacket for me to put on and I gradually slipped my arms into the oversized sleeves. Emmett stepped in front of me and zipped the jacket up as far as it would go before pulling the hood up over my head, pushing the hair that had fallen loose from my ponytail out of my face, his fingers lingering on my cheek. Blood rushed into my cheeks and I turned my head to the side, displacing his fingers from my face. His hand dropped to his side despondently and he moved back to my side, crossing his arms over his chest again. I couldn't help but take a quick intake of breath at the scent of something so purely Emmett surrounding me. It was welcoming, calming, and… Emmett.
"Warmer?" He questioned after a moment of silence, breaking me out of my thoughts.
I nodded, "much thank you." I looked straight at the still sleeping Logan, I was worried that he wouldn't sleep tonight, but I didn't want to wake him quite yet, afraid that he would be jittery and want to play and I didn't want him running around the street or too close to the forest, so I let him sleep some more.
"Does he talk to strangers often?" Emmett questioned out of the blue, seeing where my gaze was directed.
I shook my head resolutely, "This is the first time he's done it. And I'm worried that it'll become a habit. Normally he's really quiet and reserved, only talking to family and friends. I have no idea what made him go up to you."
Emmett shrugged his shoulders. "I like kids, maybe he sensed that. They have really great intuition." I nodded my head robotically, pictures flying through my mind of Logan getting taken from me and me never seeing him again. "I wouldn't ever hurt him. Or you. Or any other kid for that matter. I think that shit is sick." I nodded my head, starting to understand that he really didn't mean any harm.
"I'm starting to realize that. But you have to understand, I'm a mother. I don't know what I'd do if I lost my baby. He means the world to me." Emmett nodded his head.
"I know. I mean, I don't know know because, well I'm not a woman, and I'm definitely not a mom. But I understand what you mean. My Mom's always been really protective over my sister and me. My Dad too, but my Mom more so. The maternal instinct I guess." I nodded my head mutely in agreement. "He seems like a good kid though."
"Yeah," I murmured quietly. "He's a very good kid. I love him so much. I don't know what I'd do without him."
Emmett nodded his head in understanding and turned around at the sound of an engine coming up the road. I too turned to look up the road and smiled when I saw the Black Mechanics tow truck coming upon us.
Jake pulled over once he spotted us and I headed over to him, going into his open arms, embracing him warmly.
"Bells," he laughed. "You just saw me this morning." I blushed and squeezed him tighter once more before I stepped back. Jake laughed at my blush and slung his arm around my shoulder, walking me back over to where Emmett was standing. "Where's the little big man?" He questioned as we meandered over. "Sleeping in the car," I responded, "you wore him out today at the park." He just smiled at me, "what can say? I play a mean game of Hot Lava Monster." I rolled my eyes and looked at Emmett again. I bit my lip as I saw the change in his stance, no longer was he leaning casually against his car hood with his hands in his pockets. Now he stood proudly at his full intimidating height of 6' 4'' with his arms crossed over his chest, his muscles bulging against the confines of his t-shirt.
I swallowed anxiously at the complete change in Emmett and wondered what had trigged this completely different personality to come out into the open. I stood awkwardly at Jake's side, wondering where to begin.
Introductions were probably a good start.
"Emmett, this is my friend Jacob Black. Jake, this is Emmett Cullen." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jake's eyes widen in surprise and his body stiffen slightly, I ignored him, deciding that it must have just been some male macho thing going on. Emmett held out his hand which Jake grabbed, plastering a fake smile on his face as both men tried to squeeze the living shit out the others hand. This went on for five agonizingly long minutes. I rolled my eyes at their childish antics, wondering what on earth they were trying to prove to each other.
After the first five minutes of their contest, I was starting to get fed up with it real fast. So to get Jake's attention, I elbowed him in the ribs. Hard. He automatically dropped Emmett's hand and his arm went to his torso, massaging the place where my elbow had made contact with him.
"What was that for Bells?" He demanded. I shrugged and put my innocent look on. "I don't know what you're talking about Jake." He glowered at me and moved to Emmett's car, messing around with things unknown to me under the hood. For the first couple of minutes, Emmett stood next to him, but then he made his way over by me where I was standing, by the driver's side door, casually looking on.
"You warm enough?" Emmett questioned.
"Yeah, do you want your jacket back now?" Emmett shook his head. "You hold onto it. I'm good." We watched Jake work in silence, as the sky started to darken around us. When Jake finished his inspection twenty minutes later, walking towards us, wiping his hand on a dirty rag that he always carried with him whenever he was working.
"So what's the news?" I anxiously.
"I can't tell for sure, but from that quick look, I'd bet that one of the battery's cells is dead so I'm going to have to tow it back to the shop." I sighed, wondering what Emmett was going to do.
"How long do you think it'll take?" Jake shrugged. "It all depends on if I'm right or not. It's almost closing time and I can't ask the guys to stay any longer than they already have. Maybe by lunch-time tomorrow."
"Is there a chance that you'd be able to get it done tonight?" I questioned hopefully. "I'll try, but I can't promise you anything. I have to get back to help my Dad go to the store tonight. Rachel's coming for a visit." I nodded understandingly. Billy Black, Jake's dad had been in a wheelchair for the past ten years, and he counted on Jake a lot.
I turned to Emmett, biting my lip, wondering if the idea that had been swimming trough my thoughts for a couple of minutes now, was such a great idea. "If you want, you can come back to my place and have some dinner while you wait. I've got some beef stew and bread."
"That'd be nice. If you don't mind that is."
"Let me just go make some room in my truck." I walked over to the driver's side and bit my lip, wondering how this was going to work. Logan still had a car seat and although the truck had a bench seat, it would be a tight squeeze to fit all of us in. I got to work on moving some of my bags back to the bed of the truck, turning to see Emmett and Jake talking in hushed tones over by Jake's tow truck. Not paying them any more attention, I got in my truck and moved it back over to my side of the road so that I wouldn't be in Jake's way.
Making my way over to them after parking once more and brushing a kiss over Logan's forehead, I shoved my hands in the oversized pockets of Emmett's jacket, second guessing myself on if I was really ok with letting this relative stranger in my house. Emmett seemed like a very nice man, and I did like talking with him, but… No. Stop Bella. You've already invited him over, it would be rude to revoke that invitation now. He won't hurt you. I nodded my head decisively, knowing that everything would turn out okay.
When they noticed me approaching, they both shut up abruptly. I raised an eyebrow questioningly but neither offered a response to their strange behavior, so I let it go. For now.
"Will you need any help getting the car up?" Emmett questioned. Jake shook his head resolutely.
"Alright, call me when you get back to the shop ok?" I said to Jake who nodded and held out his arms to me. Once again, I was enfolded in his embrace as he hugged me close to him and kissed the top of my head.
When he let me go, I looked to Emmett who looked slightly uncomfortable. "Ready?" I questioned. He nodded his head and smiled at me. I think my heart stopped. This smile wasn't like the others he had given me in the short time that we had known each other. This one was different. More special. More personal. More… him. It showed off both of his dimples on either side of his face, made his eyes sparkle merrily, and transformed his entire face.
I smiled back hesitantly and waved once more to Jake before Emmett and I walked to the truck. "You'll have to sit in the middle. Logan isn't exactly a waking up person, especially in a car." Emmett shrugged. "Doesn't matter to me, I'm just glad that I have a ride. I really appreciate it Bella." Emmett climbed awkward into the middle seat, trying to maneuver his body so that he could get in without making too much noise so as not to wake Logan up.
I got in after him and started the car, waving once more to Jake before I pulled out onto the street and started back home. Emmett kept the conversation flowing nicely, asking me how long I had been living in Forks for, if I like it here, and such. My answers were vague, but not rudely so, and he accepted them, telling me a little bit more about himself in return.
He had one older sister named Rosalie who, even though he knew perfectly well that she could take care of herself and was reminded of that quite often, he felt the need to protect. His father was a doctor in Chicago, where he was born and raised, and his mother was a philanthropist for numerous charities. Emmett told me that he was a die-hard Momma's boy and he had no idea what he would do without his mom.
I smiled at the love that emitted from Emmett as he talked about his family. It sounded like they all had fun together. From the Game Nights every Thursday, Movie Nights every Friday, and Sunday Brunches.
A complete family.
I sighed wistfully. That's what I wanted for Logan. I wanted him to know what it was like to have a mom and a dad supporting him for the rest of his life. I wanted to find someone who accepted and loved me for who I am, faults and all. And who accepted and loved Logan like his own. But guys tended to get freaked out when they found out that the woman they were dating was a single mom.
"Bella. Bella? Are you ok?" Emmett questioned. I blinked out of my stupor and looked at him for a moment before turning my gaze back to the road again.
"Oh, yeah. Sorry. I must've zoned out." I shook my head to clear the fog, realizing that we were only a block from my house. I could still feel Emmett's concerned gaze on me, but I forced myself not to turn to look at him again, concentrating on the road in front of me.
I pulled into the driveway and got out, leaving the door open for Emmett who followed me out. I grabbed my bags out of the bed of the truck and then walked over to Logan's side of the car. "Logan, baby it's time wake up. We're home." I unbuckled his seatbelt and tried to pick him up, but he wasn't being very helpful, shrugging sleepily out of my grasp and turning away from me, hoping to catch a couple more minutes of sleep. "Logan come on. Get up big guy." I tried once more to pick him up but he wouldn't budge again.
"Let me get him," Emmett said. I looked up at Emmett and then at Logan and then back at Emmett. After a moment of studying him I moved out of the way and took the place that I had just vacated.
"Hey little buddy. Time to wake up okay. It's almost time for dinner." Logan's eyes fluttered open for a moment before they closed again and he groaned groggily. Emmett picked him up and pulled him out of his car seat. Logan snuggled closer into Emmett's embrace and fisted Emmett's t-shirt in his tiny fist. "Emmy," he mumbled once before rubbing the sleep from his eyes with his free hand.
I closed the truck door after making sure that the locks were set, and went to work retrieving my keys from my purse. I unlocked the door and ushered Emmett in, motioning for him to set Logan on the couch. Emmett sat on the couch and arranged Logan across his lap, making quick work of taking off his shoes and jacket. I took them and placed them by the door and then watched as Logan started to wake up in Emmett's arms, using his free hand to wipe the sleep from his eyes.
"Emmy? Emmy!" He exclaimed once he was more awake. "What you doin' here?"
"My car broke down and your mom said that I could stay here while it was getting worked on." He explained and watched Logan scramble off of his lap to sit next to him, looking up at him with big, curious eyes.
"Why'd your car breakted down?" This was the most he had talked so soon after waking up. Normally it took an arm and a leg to get him to wake up in the mornings. Something that was not pleasant, especially since I wasn't much of a morning person myself.
"I don't know little man, something must not have been working right." Logan nodded, his face becoming gravely serious.
"Gampa and Unka Jake are always tellin' Mommy to get wid of her 'piece of crap truck'."
"Logan," I reprimanded. "We don't talk like that. Even if Grandpa and Uncle Jake say it." Logan bit his lip, a habit that he had no doubt picked up from me. "Sowy Mommy." I shook my head and sighed as I thought about the conversation that I would have to have with Charlie and Jake again about watching their language, normally they were pretty good, but sometimes they forgot that kids had a tendency to hear and repeat things they weren't supposed to.
As Logan avidly started telling Emmett about his morning at the park with Uncle Jake, I couldn't help but scrutinize Emmett to see how he was handling Logan's strange fascination with him. I had to say that I was surprised; Emmett took everything in strides, engaging with Logan in conversation and responding in full to all questions asked.
After a few minutes of watching the two interact, I made my way into the kitchen, grabbing the stew out of the fridge and scooping portions into three bowls. As I put the first bowl into the microwave, with a paper towel over the top, I felt another presence in the room. I turned to find Emmett leaning against the wall, watching me work.
"I put a DVD in for Logan, I hope that's okay. He wanted to watch the 'Magic School Bus'."
"That's fine. Thanks for putting it in for him."
"Do you need any help?" Emmett pushed himself off of the wall and came over to stand next to me.
"Um, if you could get out three cups out from the cupboard directly above the stove and then the silverware that's in the drawer to the left of the dish washer, that would be helpful. Thanks." I took out the first bowl of stew and replaced it with one of the others, setting the warmed up stew on the table.
"No problem." He responded. "What would you like to drink?"
"Milk please," as I got the fresh loaf of bread out to cut, I watched Emmett out of the corner of my eye and saw him grab the cups and silver wear from their respective places and set them on the table before grabbing the milk out of the fridge, the flap of all Logan's pictures that I had hung up on the fridge giving away his location, and pouring it into the two tall glasses that he had previously retrieved.
I couldn't help but notice how at ease he seemed and I couldn't help but feel the same the more I was in his presence.
"Swam," I blurted out before I could refrain myself. Emmett looked up at me with raised eyebrows. "That's my last name. Swan." Understanding washed over his face and he took a moment to study me.
"Bella Swan. Beautiful Swan. It fits you." I bit my lip and tried, and failed, to stop the blush that flowed into my cheeks. Sensing my discomfort, he turned his attention back to his previous task, then walked out of the room to question Logan as to what he would like to drink with his dinner. Apple juice as usual.
"Do you like corn?" I questioned as I cut up several slices of the bread that I had made, along with the stew, this morning while Jake played with Logan.
"Corn? Oh, yeah, I like corn." Emmett took the second bowl of stew out of the microwave and placed the final bowl in.
"It looks really good. Do you like to cook?" He complimented, back to watching my work around the kitchen.
"Thanks. I do like to cook. My mom is horrible in the kitchen and my dad isn't much better, so if we didn't want to order takeout every night or eat anything that was ghastly over or undercooked, I kind of had to learn. My parents didn't force me to; they would have gotten the meals, but I've kind of always like to make stuff so they let me." He nodded and lapsed into silence for a moment.
"So how old is Logan?" He picked back up with the Twenty Questions while I took out a pot and placed it on the stove then took out the corn and butter.
"He just turned five a couple of weeks ago." I grabbed a plate and placed the slices of bread on it and then set it on the table. While Emmett waited for the final bowl to be done, he stood next to me by the stove.
"Cool." Then his voice became a little more hesitant and it took me a minute to fully understand his next question. "Does the Dad help at all?" I froze mid-stir and closed my eyes, taking a shaky swallow.
"No." I responded coldly, ending the conversation before it even really started. Emmett took a hint though and he didn't push the topic.
"So what do you do?" He questioned, getting out the final bowl.
"I'm a 7th grade English teacher." I added some butter to the corn and regretted the abruptness of my answer, but I couldn't shake off the surprise of being caught off guard with that question.
"So where does Logan go while you're at work?" Emmett grabbed three more bowls for the corn and placed the butter on the table for the bread.
"He goes to a preschool in town. He used to stay with my Mom, but then she got a job at the local diner and she wasn't able to watch him anymore, and with my Dad and Jake working as well, there wasn't really any other option. Logan didn't really like the change at first, mainly because he was so used to the quiet and not having anyone else to play with. And some of the other kids are really rambunctious and loud where he's always been more reserved and quiet. He's getting more used to it now, but it's still a work in progress."
"Yeah, I can see that happening." Emmett agreed.
"Would you mind helping Logan pause his movie and tell him that dinner's almost done?"
"Sure," I heard Emmett conversing with Logan and the sound from the TV ceased and they both came back into the kitchen. Emmett asked if there was anything else he could help with and when I insisted that I had the last of it covered, he joined Logan who was sitting at the table, looking longingly at the food.
After I set down a bowl of corn at everyone's place, Logan automatically picked up his spoon, anxious to dig in. "Careful babe, it still might be hot." His lower lip jutted out in disappointment as he took a couple seconds to blow on his spoonful before he ate it greedily, as he did with each of his bites.
The phone rang just moments after we started eating and as I stood up to answer it, I could feel Emmett's eyes on my form, heat flooded into my cheeks and I ducked my head, wishing that I'd left my hair down so that it could hide my face from his curious looks.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Hey Bells, its Jake."
"Hey, so what's the diagnosis?"
Jake sighed, "I was right, it is a dead cell in the battery but I can't fix it tonight. I've got a battery in the shed at Dad's but I can't go there just to come back to the shop again. Not tonight. It's getting kinda late and I still have to take Dad to the store. I'm sorry Bells."
I shook my head, knowing that he did try his hardest. "It's not your fault Jake. I understand, and I'm sure Emmett will too. Will you be able to get it done tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I should be able to get it done by lunch."
"Ok. I'll let Emmett know. Thanks again Jake."
"No problem Bells. I'll talk to you later."
"Yep, tell your Dad I said 'hi'."
"Will do." He replied, and the line went dead.
I hung up the phone and went back to the table to find both Logan and Emmett almost done with their first helping.
"That was Jake. He was right about the dead cell, but he won't be able to fix it tonight. He said that he'll have it done by lunch tomorrow though. I'm sorry."
Emmett shrugged, but he didn't look too disappointed. "That's alright. Would you mind if I borrow your phone after dinner? I'll need to call a cab." I nodded my head mutely, my thoughts drifting off to other possibilities.
"Mommy can I weave the table pwease."
"Sure baby. Why don't you get ready for bed okay?"
"Do you need any help?" He shook his head resolutely and scrambled off of his chair and up the stairs to his room. Emmett and I fell into a silence and I noticed that he had finished his food. "Do you want some more?" I questioned, motioning to his two empty bowls.
"Oh, yeah. If you don't mind." He was about to get up and get it himself, but I beat him to it, taking both of his bowls with me and filling them up again, putting the stew in the microwave to warm up. As I stood with my back to him, I could feel his gaze burning into my back.
"You don't have to call a cab," I relented. "I can take you home tonight and then if you want I can take you out to Jake's tomorrow as well. If you want me to I mean…I'm not trying to force myself on you… I just…" Emmett cut me off as he came to stand next to me. He lifted my chin up with a finger, forcing me to look him in the eye.
"If you don't have anything else to do, I'd really appreciate it if you could give me a ride." He smiled my smile and I couldn't help but get slightly lost in it. The dinging of the microwave brought me back to the present, and with slightly shaky hands I handed him his bowls back.
Whoa. Wait a minute. My smile? Since when was it my smile? I barely even knew the dude!
I shook my head to try and clear those kinds of thoughts from my head. I did not need to be thinking those things with him sitting at my table eating dinner. No. Bad Bella.
"Ok. After dinner then? I'll drive you home. And then… No never mind… stupid idea." I started to trail off at the end, whispering to myself as I took my seat again and began eating.
"What? What were you going to say?" I shook my head and looked over to the seat that Logan vacated. "Bella, what were you going to say?"
I sighed and looked at him, pleading with my eyes for him to just drop it. He raised an eyebrow questioningly, and motioned with his hand for me to continue.
"I was just going to ask if you wanted me to pick you up earlier and then we'd have a brunch…but you probably have way better things to do. It was a stupid idea. I don't know what made me think of it."
"That would be nice." Emmett said, my surprise at his words making me look up at him.
"Are you sure? It was just an offer; I don't want you to feel obligated if you already had plans." Emmett shook his head.
"Honestly Bella. The only people I know here are you and Logan. I don't have any plans at all."
"If you're sure…" I bit my lip.
"Positive." He said, stopping the words that were about to come out of my mouth. I smiled hesitantly at him and went back to eating my food.
Logan came back into the room, freshly dressed in his pajamas and climbed back onto his chair. "You don't have to stay here with us babe. You can go and finish your movie until it's time to take Emmett home." Logan simply shook his head and placed his Cars coloring book on the table, soon followed by his crayons. As Emmett and I finished our meal, Logan kept us company, allowing us to sit in a comfortable silence.
"Would you like some more Emmett?" I questioned teasingly once I realized that he had already finished his seconds when I was almost done with my first helping.
Emmett blushed. "If it's alright. I don't like to pass up on a good home cooked meal, and this is very good meal. And I'm a growing boy." I smiled at his goofiness and stood to grab his bowls and fill them both up again.
When both Emmett and I finished, he grabbed took my bowls as well as his and put them in the dish washer before I could even stand up to do it myself. "Thank you." He smiled back at me. "Are you ready to go now?"
"Whenever you are." He insisted.
"Logan, why don't you get your shoes and jacket on so we can take Emmett home okay?" Logan looked up from the picture of Mater that he was coloring.
"Can't Emmy stay over with us Mommy? We can 'ave a seep over! And I'm not done wit my piture yet. I've gotses to finish it Mommy!" Logan's lower lip jutted out and his eyes got puppy-dog like.
"Logan, we need to get Emmett home soon because he needs to get to bed, just like someone else I know." I raised my eyebrow, pointedly looking at him. "But Mommy!" He protested. "I've gotses to finish my piture! I've just gots to!"
"How about you bring your crayons and picture with us in the car and you can finish it while we're dropping Emmett off. Sound good?" Logan's brow furrowed as he thought it over before he eventually nodded his consent. "Alright. Go get your shoes and jacket on now, okay?" He nodded and, after shoving his crayons in their box, he ran to get his stuff on.
"Thanks for dinner Bella. It was really good." Emmett complimented me, and, of course, my blush started back up again. "Do you always do that when someone compliments you?"
"What?" I asked, clueless.
"Blush." He clarified. "Because if so, I'll have to compliment you more often, and I won't run out of compliments. Ever." I blushed even deeper. "So beautiful," he whispered. Or at least I thought he did… maybe…possibly…no…probably not… I mean, why would he?
"I'm ready Mommy!" Logan called out, breaking me from my stupor.
I looked up at Emmett from under my lashes and I searched through my purse, trying to find those damned keys. Once they were in hand, we headed out to my truck, and, after locking the front door, we were on our way. Emmett told me where he was staying for the time he was here and although I wasn't too familiar with the part of town he was staying in, I was pretty sure I knew where I was going.
"Can you put on music Mommy?" Logan requested from his seat, still devotedly coloring his Mater picture.
"Sure baby. What do you want to listen to?"
"The Banana Man!" That was his favorite. Emmett looked at me curiously.
"The singer's name is Raffi and he sings a banana song and the cover of the album is him with a banana, so Logan calls him the 'Banana Man'." Emmett nodded, and listened to the music that played through the speakers. I bobbed my head with the beat of the music and sang softly to some of the songs, reminiscing.
We pulled into Emmett's temporary driveway and I parked the car, getting out with Emmett following close behind. "I finished my piture!" Logan exclaimed, adding one final detail in one of the corners, concentrating on it diligently, his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth as he worked. When his picture was fully finished, he held it up triumphantly, looked at it once more, as if making sure one last time that everything was there, and then he held it out to Emmett. "Fo' you Emmy!" Emmett smiled and took the picture from Logan's outstretched hand.
In the corner that Logan had added the final detail to, I could see the words:
written in his messy scrawl.
"Mommy hangs my pitures up on the figerator." He said matter-of-factly.
"I saw. I'm going to put this up on my fridge too. Thanks bud." Emmett said, and reached in to ruffle Logan's hair. He giggled and grabbed the hand that had previously mused his hair, pulling on it, forcing Emmett to lean into the truck.
Then Logan gave him a hug, wrapping his little arms around Emmett's neck as best as he could in the awkward position. And Emmett hugged him back.
"See you 'morrow Emmy?" I heard Logan ask. "Yep, I'll see you tomorrow little buddy. Be good for your Mom okay?" "Okay." Emmett retreated from the truck, his picture still in hand.
I was about to get into the truck again when Emmett's hand on my shoulder made me pause. "I just wanted to apologize about before… when I asked about Logan's dad. I didn't mean to upset you or anything, I swear. I… I didn't realize that it was a… touchy subject." This was the most nervous I had seen him all day.
"It's not your fault Emmett. I'm the one who should be apologizing. You asked an innocent question and I snapped. I was in the wrong and I should apologize. So, I'm sorry." I smiled gently at him.
"Um…" he cleared his throat. "I'll see you tomorrow then?" I raised my eyebrows at the abrupt change in subject, but refrained from commenting.
"Yeah. I'll pick you up around ten? Is that okay?"
"That's perfect. Do you want my number? Just in case something happens or anything?"
"What's your number?" I questioned, pulling my phone out from my pocket. He recited it to me and I save it in my contacts. "I'll see you tomorrow." I said, and climbed into the driver's seat.
"Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow." He said, and watched as we drove away.
When Logan and I got home again, we were both ready for bed. I tucked Logan in, surprised beyond belief that he was still tired after that ridiculously long nap, read him his bedtime story, and then headed off to bed myself.
And as I went to sleep that night, I couldn't help but think of one person.