Guess what, I'm BAAAAACK! And with a multi-chaptered fic even - WOOT!
I still don't own Twilight! Yeah, it came as a huge shock to me, too. Guess i'll have to send back that solid gold toilet seat I bought with all my royalties...
All my love & gratitude to my betas, ScottishRose1028 and PixieKat07. And bewbie gropes & ass slaps to my amazing pre-reading team, AtHomeJo, OneBraveLamb (who named this little ditty for us), BilliCullen, and CullenCrazy01, for their amazing feedback and assistance!
Without further adieu, welcome to 'Til I Said it to You (title inspired by the Reba McIntyre song of the same name).
"Cullen!" a gruff voice echoed down the hallway. The young man seated on the bunk, hands in his messy russet-colored hair, looked up as his name was called. Several emotions flashed across his face – first surprise and relief, quickly followed by anger and finally superiority. He remained seated until the guard was at the cell door, keys in hand. "You made bail, you need to come with me to process your paperwork."
The young man stood gracefully, his bearing regal despite the wrinkles in his expensive clothes and the cuts and bruises on his unshaven face. He sneered contemptuously at the other men in the holding cell as he approached the guard. "I told you fuckers I wouldn't be in here long. Sucks to be you!" he laughed as he stepped into the hallway, already anxious to taste the freedom.
He followed the guard to the front desk and bestowed his most charming smile on the pretty blonde clerk sitting there. "Please tell me you're the angel who's handling my paperwork," he said smoothly, his smile widening when she blushed and nodded. He glanced down, surreptitiously checking out her tits as he gleaned her name from her ID. "Well Lauren, that makes me a very happy man," he replied in a low voice that he had been told on more than one occasion made women's panties drop.
"You're not going to be happy for long, Edward," barked a steely voice behind him. Edward barely held in the eye roll as he turned to meet the cold, hard gaze of his father. "Finish your paperwork and meet me at my car."
"I have my car here, Dad," Edward reminded him.
"No, you don't. I had it towed to the house. Meet me outside, and no messing around in here," his father replied, his eyes cutting back to the pretty clerk, who now looked very uncomfortable as she quickly completed the forms needed for Edward's release.
"Sure you don't want to stay here and make sure I cross all the t's and dot all the i's, Carlisle?" Edward asked acerbically, glaring at his father.
"If you can't sign 'Edward Cullen' without realizing it doesn't have any t's or i's, perhaps I do need to stay," Carlisle retorted, just as sarcastic, before spinning on his heel and exiting the building.
Edward scowled at his father's retreating form, feeling his temper rise when the guard beside him laughed. He turned abruptly, remembering at the last moment to replace his scowl with a smile for the clerk. "Sorry about that, Lauren. My father is…" uptight? an asshole? trying to ruin my life? "Intense."
"It's okay, Mr. Cullen," Lauren said in a soft voice, her eyes firmly fixed on the paperwork in front of her. "I need you to sign here, here and here, then check the contents of this envelope and make sure that your personal property is being returned to you and sign here."
Edward sighed, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. His altercation at the bar last night had ruined his date and his chances of getting laid then, and apparently his father was fucking with his chances here as well. He dutifully signed the forms, checked his wallet, cell phone and keys and signed again. He watched as Lauren tore off his copies of the forms and handed him the neat pile. He decided to try one more time. "I do seem to be missing one thing, though"
She looked up, her big blue eyes confused. "What's that?"
"Your number?" he hinted with a playful wink.
Lauren smiled and blushed, grabbing a business card off her desk and flipping it over to scribble on it before handing it to him. Edward made sure that his fingers brushed hers this time when he accepted the card that held her full name and phone number.
Edward ignored the impatient sigh of the guard when Lauren giggled. "Thanks, angel," he said, walking toward the door. "I'll give you a call later."
He left the building, squinting in the bright sunlight as he realized he had no idea what time it was. He did realize it was a weekday and he should probably have been at work by now, but since he was with his father, who was CEO of the same company he worked for, he figured he should be just fine.
He could see his father sitting behind the wheel of his Mercedes sedan, his posture tense as he spoke into his cell phone. He spotted Edward and said a few more words before ending the call, gesturing impatiently for Edward to join him.
Edward had to tamp down the childish urge to move slower than usual just to piss off his father. He crossed the parking lot and opened the passenger door, opening his mouth to speak as he settled into the luxurious leather.
"Save it for home. Your mother is there waiting for us and I'm sure this isn't a story that I particularly want to hear twice," Carlisle said abruptly.
"All right then," Edward said, surprised that his mother had stayed home from work as well. He leaned back against the seat and closed his eyes, exhausted from a night of no sleep in the holding cell.
It seemed like only moments later that Carlisle was shaking him awake. "We're home and you are an absolute mess. Please make yourself presentable and meet your mother and me in my study in thirty minutes," Carlisle told his son.
"Sir, yes sir," Edward saluted him sarcastically, turning to march up the stairs to his room. He was tempted to ignore his father's order and climb straight into bed, but he figured Carlisle would just come find him and disturb his sleep anyway.
Carlisle watched his son climb the stairs with a heavy heart. He didn't know if he had the courage to follow through with the plan he and Esme had created during their sleepless night after Edward had called to tell them of his arrest. He reached up and ran his hands through his hair in frustration, a gesture he had seen Edward unconsciously mimic thousands of times.
Gentle hands rubbed Carlisle's shoulders and he sighed heavily, turning around to draw his wife into his arms. She held him tightly, giving him comfort and strength with her touch. "Es, are we doing the right thing?" he whispered, his voice filled with uncertainty.
Esme Masen-Cullen echoed her husband's sigh, her heart aching. "We have to do this, sweetheart. We thought he'd learn when he got in trouble at Dartmouth last year, but it only got worse when there were no consequences there. And now here at home, this is the second time he's gotten into trouble with the law. He's showing up late or hungover to work and that's when he bothers to show up at all. The parties, the girls, all of it needs to stop."
"But he's so young," Carlisle argued. "Maybe he just needs more time."
Esme's voice was sad but firm. "With the way things are now, time isn't going to change a thing. Other men his age and younger manage, Carlisle. You managed, before we met. Edward has always had us to do for him, he's never had to do things for himself. He can do it, I know he can; he just needs to learn how. I'm afraid this is the only way."
Carlisle leaned down and brushed his lips against Esme's, feeling her tremble beneath the kiss and he knew that this was just as hard for her as it was for him. Edward was their only child, born after two miscarriages and a highly dangerous pregnancy that the doctors warned them never to repeat. He wondered if that was perhaps why they had always indulged Edward.
Their son had always been charismatic and popular, with natural good looks, academic ability and athletic talent. He'd lettered in baseball and track in high school, as well as graduating valedictorian. His academic career at Dartmouth was just as stellar, graduating summa cum laude with a simultaneous bachelor's degree in architecture and an MBA. Despite the demand of his dual degrees, his social life hadn't exactly suffered—he had also been elected president of his fraternity two years running and was considered quite a big man on campus. They had thought that his troubles were nothing more than fraternity pranks, until they had started to be repeated here at home and now things were out of control.
Esme ruffled Carlisle's hair affectionately. "I'm going to grab a cup of coffee, would you like one?"
"Please," he said gratefully, squeezing her waist once more before letting her go. "Meet me in the office?" he asked with a hint of dread.
"It will all work out, darling. I promise," Esme said, laying her hand on her husband's cheek. Carlisle had trusted Esme with his entire life for the last twenty-five years and she had never steered him wrong. He knew she was right and they were doing what they had to do. That knowledge, however, did not make the coming confrontation any easier.
Five minutes after Esme joined Carlisle in his office Edward sauntered in, freshly showered and shaved. Esme studied her son's face, trying to hide her dismay at his appearance. She accepted his kiss on her cheek gratefully, knowing that it could be some time before he would show her affection again.
Edward settled into a chair across the desk from Carlisle and raised an eyebrow at him. "So, to what do I owe the pleasure of this meeting?" he asked mockingly, as if he had no idea why they were gathered there in the middle of the day.
"Would you care to explain to your mother and I what happened last night, how you ended up in jail?" Carlisle asked, hoping and praying that his son would show some responsibility and remorse for his actions.
Edward shrugged his shoulders. "Some jerk was messing with my date and got in my face when I told him to take a hike. I guess the club felt we were a little loud for their tastes."
"A 'little loud'? You two caused several thousands of dollars in property damage," Esme said in disbelief. "Not to mention your face looks like it's been run through a meat grinder," she commented sadly, lightly touching his cheek where there was a long scrape that ended near his busted lip.
Edward grinned at his mother. "Yeah, but you ought to see the other guy," he replied cheekily. "Besides, we'll just pay the club for the damages and they won't press charges. The other guy swung first so I'm in the clear there. It's all good, Mom. No worries." Edward leaned back in his chair, folding his arms behind his head and smiling as he thought about calling Lauren later, wondering if she'd be up for a little action tonight.
He missed the look his parents exchanged as Esme moved to stand behind Carlisle, but he recognized the tone his father used next. "Edward, your mother and I need to talk to you about the consequences of your actions from last night. Actually about the way you've been acting for the last couple of years, the trouble you got into at Dartmouth, your drinking, your carousing, your work performance… everything."
Edward groaned. "Seriously? We're gonna do this right now? Because I'm pretty beat, you know I didn't really get any sleep last night, right? Although if I'm going to get the Edward-needs-to-ride-the-straight-and-narrow-from-now-on lecture again, I'd rather be asleep," he mused.
"Edward, you're aware that I own your BMW and the iPhone that you currently use, correct?" Carlisle asked abruptly.
Edward nodded sullenly, having no intention of making this any easier on his father. I'm twenty-two years old, for Christ's sake, he thought. What's he going to do, ground me?
"I assume you have your keys and phone with you?" Carlisle prompted.
Edward rolled his eyes but nodded.
"I'd like you to return both to me," Carlisle said, holding out his hand. "Now, Edward!" he barked when Edward didn't move.
"You can't take my car and phone," Edward snapped.
"Actually, I can and I am. If you refuse to turn them over I'll just have your car re-keyed and your phone deactivated. It would be easier on both of us if you just handed them to me now."
Edward gritted his teeth, reaching into his front pocket and pulling out the keys to his beloved car and tossing them carelessly on his father's desk. He pulled his iPhone out of his back pocket and threw it down on the desk top, the display lighting up with a picture of the three of them together at Edward's college graduation four months ago.
Edward ignored the proud smiles on his parents' faces from the picture and instead looked up insolently at Carlisle's blank expression. "Any thing else, Daddy? Am I grounded? Do I have a curfew? Oh wait, I can't fucking go anywhere because I don't have a fucking car!"
"Watch your language, Edward," Carlisle warned him. "And yes, there is more. I have a few things for you, actually." He handed Edward a slim phone that, while hardly a relic, certainly didn't have all the bells and whistles of Edward's iPhone.
"What's this?" Edward asked with distaste, flipping open the display.
"This is a pay-per-month phone. Your mother and I have paid for the first month, but you will be responsible for any other months. For now, it only has calling. If you want—and can afford—texting and data, you will have to add and pay for those yourself."
Edward thought of his job at Masen Design & Construction and the significant salary he earned there and planned to have his iPhone back before the month was out. "All right. What else, Pops?"
Carlisle ignored Edward's sarcastic tone. "This is your debit card. It is attached to your checking account and is not, I repeat, not a credit card. Its limit is whatever you have saved in your account and you don't get more until you put more in there—your mother and I will not be contributing to the account. We have canceled all of your credit cards, Edward. Before you argue with me, I am perfectly within my rights to do so, since you were merely a signor on my accounts and they were not accounts of your own. You're welcome to apply for your own cards; however, I think you'll find that very few banks are willing to grant credit to someone who doesn't have employment or even a place to live."
"Employment? Place to live?" Edward echoed hollowly, his eyes searching from Carlisle to Esme and back again. "Dad, what are you…"
"Edward, your mother and I think that you are having some trouble finding your place in the world. In the company. In the family." For the first time, Carlisle's voice faltered.
Esme squeezed Carlisle's shoulder and took over speaking, her voice strong. "Edward, you are hereby dismissed from your position at Masen Design & Construction. You may list the company on your work history and we will provide a professional reference, but do not expect it to be more than that."
Edward was speechless as he stared at his parents. They wanted him to do what? Go out and find a job? It had been understood since before he went off to college that he would one day assume the reins at Masen. Both of his parents worked at Masen, Esme as the head of design and Carlisle as the CEO. It was the Masen family business, inherited from and built up since the death of Esme's father. But now Edward was apparently dismissed from the family business. He opened his mouth to speak, but his mother waved him off; she obviously had more to say.
Esme took a deep breath before continuing. "And we feel it's time for you to find a place of your own. You've never lived on your own, not even in college, and you need to see what it's like, making a living for yourself, being responsible for yourself. You need to get a job on your own talents, earn a paycheck, pay rent, grocery shop, cook and do your own laundry, make a budget." Esme's voice was lighter and she actually sounded excited, as if she was sending Edward off on an adventure.
To Edward, it sounded as if she was sentencing him to hell. "Because you've done all those things, right Mom? The housekeeper, the groundskeeper, the chef—they're just all for show? This house, which you inherited from Grandfather, you pay rent here, right? The company you work for, started by and named for your father, you got your job there by filling out a job application, did you?"
"Edward, you will not speak to your mother that way!" Carlisle snapped as Esme gasped in shock at Edward's words. "I know this is a surprise to you, but we feel this is necessary to get you on the right path again. You've lost your way, Edward. You're not living up to your potential; you're not being the man that we know you can be. The drinking, the partying, the women, staying out all night and either coming in late or blowing off work altogether...it's unacceptable and you need to turn your life around."
"Don't you think it would be easier with, oh I don't know...a job and a place to live?" Edward spat sarcastically.
"You've got money in the bank, which is more than most kids have when they graduate college," Carlisle said, nodding at the debit card in Edward's hand. "Find an inexpensive apartment to rent."
"Most kids have parents that help them, rather than fire them and kick them out of their own home," Edward muttered darkly. "How am I supposed to find this 'inexpensive apartment' or even a job without a vehicle?"
"You have more money in the bank than most kids," Carlisle said. "If you're careful, you'll be able to afford to pay cash for a good used car plus manage your other expenses. And as far as a job goes, we live in the largest city in Washington State. There are hundreds of jobs in Seattle—all you need to do is find one."
"When do you want me gone?" Edward asked gruffly, clearing his throat around the sudden lump that had developed.
"We think it would be best to start right away. Your mother and I can put you up in a hotel for a week if…" Carlisle said, his voice compassionate.
Edward straightened his shoulders and met his father's gaze, identical green eyes clashing, refusing to give in to the impulse he suddenly had to throw himself into his parents' arms and weep. "No, as you said, it would be best to start right away, so I'll manage. What am I allowed to take with me?"
"Your clothes of course, and your personal effects from your room. I'd say just about anything you took to college is up for grabs. Your laptop, however, is Masen Design property and must stay. Do you want some help?" Esme asked.
"No, thank you. I'll go pack my things and call a cab," Edward said stiffly, rising from the chair and pocketing his new cell phone. He pulled out his wallet and placed the debit card inside, removing the credit cards he'd had in there for years and tossing them on his father's desk.
"You don't need to take a cab, we can drive you anywhere you need to go," Carlisle protested.
"Step one in learning to 'manage my expenses', right Mom?" Edward smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. "I'm going to go up and pack now. Did either one of you want to supervise to make sure I'm not taking something that isn't allowed?"
"Edward, don't -" Esme started, but he cut her off.
"Edward don't what, Mom?" he snarled, running his hands through his hair as he looked back and forth between his parents. "You two are kicking me out, without a car, without a job and without a place to live. Don't expect me to be all happy and thank you for it. As far as days go, this one would have to rank as one of my worst."
"It's not exactly high on our list of good days either, son," Carlisle said gently, a hint of regret in his tone.
"Says the man who's kicking me out. Sure thing, Dad," Edward replied, his voice hard and his eyes cold when they met his father's. "No worries, I can't pack fast enough."
Carlisle let out a ragged breath when Edward stormed from the study, slamming the door so hard it made the windows rattle. He looked over at his wife, whose eyes were filled with unshed tears.
"We're doing the right thing, right?" she whispered.
"I think so, Es, I think so. He'll be fine. He's half Masen and half Cullen—it's not in his genetic makeup to fail," Carlisle's voice was persuasive, but he wasn't sure if he was trying to convince his wife or himself.
They left the office, heading for the living room which faced the front door. Upstairs they could hear Edward slamming drawers and cabinets. Carlisle and Esme sat closely together on the couch, his arm wrapped tightly around her shoulders, both taking comfort from the contact.
Edward trudged down the stairs about forty-five minutes later, a large duffel in each hand. He looked at his parents with the same hard expression he had worn earlier in the office. "This is all I can manage this trip. May I return for a few more things when I get settled?"
"Of course, sweetheart," Esme said soothingly, making a muscle in Edward's jaw flex in response. "Can we drive you somewhere?"
"No, the cab should be here any minute."
"Will you call us and let us know where you end up, how you're doing?" Carlisle requested.
"Why, do you really care? Seriously, you're kicking me out and then you expect me to make regular status reports?"
"Edward, we love you, and believe it or not what we're doing here is for your own good." Esme reached out to touch Edward's shoulder, but he pulled back before she could make contact.
"I choose to believe...not. My cab is here. I'll see you around," Edward said, walking out the front door without looking back at the house or his parents. As the cab pulled away, Edward removed the cell phone from his pocket and deleted the contacts for Esme and Carlisle Cullen, vowing not to call them for anything.
Show of hands - who thinks Edward's an ass? *counts* Yep, he is!
I'm going to do my best to stick to a once-a-week (or every 10 days) posting schedule, but I make no promises, because about the time I do, my world just goes to hell.
If there was anything in this chapter that made you smile, laugh, sigh, or even growl in frustration, please send me a review & let me know. I'll do my best to answer you! Thanks for taking the time to read!