This is an outtake written for the Fandom4LLS compilation. Much love and many thanks to my prereader, EllisBell725; my beta, EmDempster; and the fabulous Christag for the lovely banner which is linked on my profile. Also, a big thank you to the ladies who put this fundraiser together and to all of you that donated.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
goldenrod (n): A plant (genus Solidago) of the daisy family that bears tall spikes of small bright yellow flowers. In many cultures, it is often thought to possess potent medicinal or healing qualities.
"Edward?" Mom's voice carried down the empty hall as I heard her footsteps nearing my room. "Honey, have you seen your father?"
"Yeah, he told me to tell you he had to run to the emergency room and visit a patient. He'll be back in a little while." By the time I finishing relaying the message to her, she had stepped inside my door and was propped against the frame.
"You look nice. Plans tonight?"
"Yeah, a date."
My lips had been sealed regarding my impending night out with Bella simply because I didn't want my mother to start planning the guest list to our wedding yet. She had been dropping hints here and there for a few years now about me settling down. I tried reasoning that she should just be grateful that I wasn't a notorious playboy. She argued that she had raised me better and expected me to be a gentleman anyway. I never won an argument with that woman.
"Oh really?" Her face remained calm but I knew inside she was probably jumping up and down like a twelve year old girl. "Anyone I know?"
"Maybe," I replied cryptically. I fastened my watch while out of the corner of my eye I could see her growing impatient with my vagueness.
"What?" I asked innocently.
But then she narrowed her eyes and I willingly gave in before I turned into a cowering five-year-old again. "It's Bella Swan."
"Oh," she breathed, a smile spreading across her face at the sound of Bella's name. "I don't know her personally, but I've heard she's a lovely girl."
"Yes, she is," I agreed.
"How did you meet her?"
I laughed, remembering our encounters at the bookstore and supermarket. Within an hour of meeting her, after the flirting and banter, I was totally enamored. I knew before I walked away from her that first day that if she wanted to she could have me eating out of the palm of her hand. I was hooked.
"We met a few weeks ago. Lucky for me, she's also my realtor."
"Hmmm, that's convenient," my mother smiled that all-knowing motherly smile. "So where are you taking her?"
"I have no idea yet."
"There are a lot of nice little places here. She could probably suggest a few." She pushed off the door frame and walked up to me, reaching around to smooth down a turned up piece of my collar.
"Make sure you're extra sweet to that girl. I know I said I don't really know her, but I've heard a lot of things. She's had a little bit of family problems, but if what I'm told is true, she's one of the strongest, most generous people I've ever heard of. She deserves the best, which is something I know you can give her."
"Thanks, Mom. And I know about her situation. Well, a little bit anyway. I know she's caring for a child that she didn't give birth to. That's about it."
"Well, let her tell you the rest when she's ready. It's a dandy of a story." She reached up and patted my cheek. "Have fun tonight. I'd love to 'officially' meet her sometime if this dating continues."
I laughed and bent down to kiss her cheek.
"I'm sure you would, but it's our first date. Let's give it until at least the second or third," I teased. "I'm running a bit late. See you guys later?"
"Sure, honey. I think we're going to meet some friends for dinner, but we'll be home later. Will you be home later?"
"Yes, Mother. I'm not…Let's just…not have that conversation. Okay?" I focused on my keys and picked at an invisible piece of lint on my sleeve, studiously avoiding eye contact.
My mother - the only woman who can make me blush. Although now I was afraid Bella would give her a run for her money. I felt like I turned into a bumbling idiot anytime I was around her.
"Have fun," she said with a chuckle and walked out the door.
~ G ~
Twenty minutes later, I stood on the white porch of Bella's house and hesitated slightly before knocking on the door. My nerves were on edge and the fluttering in my stomach had been present all afternoon. I had never been this nervous before a date. It was alarming and a little unexpected. I was supposed to be the smooth, suave one, right?
But then she appeared at the door wearing tight jeans and a shy smile and all those jittery feelings started to fade.
"Hi," I breathed, unable to really express my joy in seeing her. Plus, I'm a guy. If I had busted out with, "I've missed you so much and couldn't wait to see your face again and your eyes haunt me at night and will you marry me?" right away, she probably would've shut the door in my face. Men have a certain reputation to uphold.
With a glorious smile she returned my greeting and I gave the prerequisite compliment that all guys should give. I was forced to go with the banal 'You look beautiful' when what I was feeling at the time was more a long the lines of, "You look fucking hot and it's possible the zipper on my pants is imprinting on my dick right now." But once again that probably wouldn't have gone over well.
Besides her unbelievably hot body, one of the first things I had noticed about her in the bookstore was her dark brown eyes. They were so expressive and I felt like she didn't even have to talk for me to know what she was trying to say to me. Tonight, with her hair pulled back, they were pulling me in, calling to me like a siren. And I was the poor sailor about to dive in head first.
I dug out my best gentlemanly manners, pushed all horniness aside, and helped her into my truck. Pulling out of her driveway, I aimed the truck toward downtown although I had no idea where we were going. I enlisted her help and ended up heading to their local monthly festival.
She mentioned Brandon at one point and I couldn't help but ask where he was.
"He's with his dad," she replied pensively. As an afterthought, she added, "they just recently started spending time together."
What was the deal with this little boy? As much as I tried, I couldn't piece together where he fit into Bella's family tree. I assumed Bella must have been close to one of his parents, but her expression when she told me that he was with his dad led me to believe that she wasn't too happy about that.
"Really? So you and Brandon's dad aren't..." I hedged.
I assumed not but felt that I had to ask. She quickly responded with a shocked negative response and I could almost feel the relief pouring from me.
Then she asked about what I left back in Chicago.
"There hasn't been a woman in my life, besides my mom, in quite a while," I answered truthfully.
It had been a while since my breakup with Kate, but the story was not something I wanted to get into on our first date. Not that it was bad, but I didn't believe the material was first date topic-worthy.
Pulling onto the street parallel with the main street downtown, I searched for a parking spot as Bella spoke up again.
"Well, now that we've established that we're both single and not sneaking around, what shall we talk about?" Her words made me cringe. I was sure she thought I was an asshole for even toying with the idea that she could possibly be with someone else and still go out with me.
"Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so blunt about it. I just wanted to make sure."
A gentle touch on my forearm relaxed my over-thinking brain and eased the defensiveness that had suddenly kicked in.
"It's no big deal, Edward. Relax. You had every right to ask, as did I. We're good now. Let's enjoy the night, okay?"
I shook off my nerves and nodded. We climbed out of the truck and stepped into the balmy night air, her arm tucked into mine like it was meant to fit there. Lights were strung all through the downtown street, over and around tents and awnings. Vendors were set up along the sides of the blocked off road, selling toys and crafts, but the main atmosphere was that of a large family reunion. People were randomly crossing and weaving through crowds to catch up with friends, chatting about their kids, the weather and life in general.
Bella would stop every once in a while to look at hand-carved wooden animals or trains. Brandon's name was constantly pouring from her mouth, but I don't think she realized it. Not that it bothered me. I wanted to know more about the cute little boy I had met at Emmett and Rose's house. He looked nothing like Bella, but there was a resemblance in there somewhere. At the time, I wasn't able analyze his features to pinpoint what exactly reminded me of her.
"How's the loan process coming along?" She asked as we casually crossed to the other side of the street.
"It's going very well, I believe. I hope the inspection comes up clear. I mean, I expect there to be a few minor things, but hopefully nothing major. I can't wait to get in and get started on some projects." Working with my hands was something I had always enjoyed. I had learned to do simple projects around the house when my parents renovated their house in Chicago while I was a teenager. At the time, I was reluctant to help my dad do anything, but now I was glad I had acquired the skills. It would save me a lot of money in the long run.
"I don't think you'll have anything to worry about. The house is in great shape."
'Mmmhmm," I agreed. "I hope the inspector agrees. If everything goes well, my loan officer said everything should push through within the month."
"That's great, Edward," she said sincerely. "I think you'll be really happy here."
Turning my head slightly, I could see the small smile on her face bathed in the glow of the lights from the festival. She looked almost angelic and just that small glance at her did weird things to my heart. I couldn't remember ever feeling like this before, especially this early in a potential relationship.
"I think so too. I plan on being here for a long, long time." I turned my head to face forward just as her smile widened and her grip tightened on my arm.
We strolled in comfortable silence for a while making a couple of loops around the entire setup, only stopping to chat with a few people my father had introduced me to since my arrival and a couple of fellow staff members at Port Angeles High.
It wasn't too hard to convince her to join me on the dance floor when we saw that people had crowded the wooden square near the bookstore where she literally first ran into me. I pulled her to the middle and into my arms. My hands rested on the gentle swells of her hips, a feature on her that I greatly appreciated. I liked that she had curves I could mold my hands around. Women were supposed to be soft and welcoming and everything about her – her body, her attitude – was just that.
When she unexpectedly asked me about why I moved here, I was completely honest with her. I had no shame in admitting that I had made the move for my mother. I could certainly take care of myself, but she was a very important figure in my life. While I didn't consider myself a "mama's boy", I was close to her and any woman I planned to be with would have to accept that.
Bella was gracious and concerned, as I expected she would be. She listened intently as I explained the situation about the lump my mother found, so many emotions crossing her pretty face.
I managed to indirectly gather a little fact about her when I mentioned that I learned to not take my mother for granted. It was evident as she agreed with me that her own was not around. I left the comment lingering, letting her set the pace of how quickly we discussed heavy things like that. I would follow her lead and be there to listen when she was ready to open up.
"Anyway," I continued lightly, "it worked out perfectly, almost like it was fate. I think this is where I'm meant to be." Standing there, looking at the pretty brunette nestled against my chest, I couldn't help but ask her what was running through my mind.
"Do you believe in fate?"
Her gaze bore into me and I watched her eyes as they flickered back and forth between mine, possibly searching for some kind of insincerity but there was none to be found. She softened her gaze and spoke softly.
"I never did before, but I'm starting to."
~ G ~
"Edward, honey? Is that you?"
"No," I called out teasingly.
She rounded the corner from the kitchen and shot me a glare. She was used to my ribbing. Hell, I bet she even missed it when I wasn't around.
I was in a playful mood. My date with Bella had gone better than expected. We sat out in her driveway after we got back from the festival, simply talking and learning the small stories of each others lives. I also learned a good bit about Brandon. Playful banter ensued the way it usually did between the two of us. My jaw was kind of sore from smiling so much.
"Don't make me pinch those ears, young man." My mother tried, unsuccessfully, to contain her laugh as she wagged her finger at me. I shot her a smile and breezed past her to get a drink from the kitchen.
"Well, someone looks like they had a good time. I take it everything went well?"
"Mmmhmmm," I agreed while getting a glass from the cabinet.
"What did you guys do?" She hopped onto a bar stool and clasped her hands under her chin, eagerly bouncing like we were about to sit around, gossip and paint each other's nails.
"You should've had a daughter, Mom," I chuckled. "We went to Summer Saturday downtown. How come you guys didn't tell me about that?"
"Sorry, honey. I forgot to mention it," she said with a nonchalant wave of her hand. "So tell me everything. Is she as wonderful as she seems? Were you a gentleman? Are you going to see her again?"
I rolled my eyes at her attempt to con me into girl talk.
"Yes, she's as wonderful as she seems and yes, I was a gentleman. And I'm sure I'll see her again soon. And with that, I'm going to bed. Goodnight." I placed my glass in the sink and walked over to where she sat at the counter.
"Fine then. Just leave me in the dark," she pouted and then sighed loudly. "You never tell me anything. In the future, when you go out with a new girl, I'm going to bribe you when you get home with warm chocolate cookies and a glass of cold milk. While you're stuffing your face, I'll get the information I want out of you."
"Sure, sure, Mom." I stepped beside her and bent down to her level. "But there are two things wrong with your plan. One, I'm buying my own house so I won't be coming back here after dates. And two, although it's very early and sounds crazy, if I have my way there will be no other new girls. She's 'the one'."
I pecked the cheek on her stunned face and laughed as I hurried out of the room with a final call. Let her dwell on that all night.
That wedding guest list would be in its first draft by morning.
Much love to you all for reading!