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"Made in the Shades"
Chapter Eighteen: Epoch
A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds - Mark Twain
Life was good.
I had my girl.
I was graduating high school tomorrow.
Not going to Ben's party wasn't a big deal at all. I had the chance to jack my dick while my parents and Peanut watched television in the living room. No hot books were needed. All I thought about was my girlfriend, and since she's my girl again, I didn't feel guilty about it.
Grease stains, bobby socks, my green cardigan, and Bella wearing only those three things while she straddled my lap . . .
All too soon there was a mess on my stomach, and I reached for some tissues.
"Shit," I laughed, still panting as I cleaned myself up.
I jumped, dropping the tissue. I could have sworn I heard Bella call my name.
It was coming from outside—my open window.
Quickly, I threw a t-shirt over my head, and it stuck to my stomach. "Fuck." I tripped over my creepers in my haste to get to the window. "Yeah?" I hit my head on the pane. "Fuck me—Hey . . ." I blew out a breath, holding my forehead.
"Hi." Bella looked so small standing on my lawn, and sad—she looked so sad, and she was panting along with me.
"What happened?" I whispered, hoping she heard me.
"Bella?" My mother asked. The porch light was turned on, and Bella was suddenly glowing.
My gorgeous girlfriend looked down, hugging herself. "Mrs. Cullen, I'm sorry to just—"
"Nonsense, dear." My mother came out to usher Bella inside.
I left the window, grabbing the forgotten tissues and wiped myself off. Then I fastened my jeans and ran from my room to meet them in the foyer.
"What happened?" I asked.
Bella was hugging onto my mother, but when she saw me she embraced me instead. I didn't care that my mother was right there and held her tightly. She was shaking, and I grew more concerned. "Baby?" I kissed her hair as she sobbed. "Angel face . . . tell me what's wrong."
"Edward, why don't you two sit in the kitchen? I'll make some tea?" Mom looked uneasy, too.
"Um . . . okay," I agreed, taking Bella into the kitchen.
Nestled at the table, Bella had calmed down. She was no longer crying, and I waited to hear what was plaguing her; however, my father joined us too. My girlfriend was reluctant to speak in front of him. All I could do was rub her back, soothe her, and hope Dad went back to the couch.
"Here you go, honey." Mom placed a mug in front of her, and then took a seat opposite us. "Edward, Carlisle . . . give us a minute."
"Like hell—" I started.
My father whacked me on the back of my head. "Edward Anthony!"
"I'm sorry." I shrugged. "She's—she's my woman. I—" I didn't mean for it to come out quite like that.
"Fair enough," Mom said, staring at me.
It almost felt as though she respected my presence, like I was a man.
"I'll be in the parlor . . ." Dad left us.
While watching him go, I slumped my shoulders—coming down from that masculine high.
"Isabella?" Mom took her hand. "You can talk to me, remember?"
"Stop pressuring her," I whispered. "She'll—she'll talk when she's ready."
"I'm here, you know?" Bella rasped. "You guys . . . you're talking about me like I'm not even here." Her face crumbled, and she cried into her hands. "Everyone does that."
I leaned in to whisper, "I always know when you're around. You can't hide from me—my body knows." Maybe I was talking about my Johnson, but my words were true, and it made Bella crack a smile. "You're so pretty—" My lips barely grazed her cheek.
"Edward!" Mom scolded.
I let go of Bella, staring between her and my mother.
"You're so kooky," my girl giggled.
"Is everything all right?" My mother cut her off. "You're always welcome, but you scared me. It's late."
"I—" Bella deflated a bit. "Um, Rosalie Hale?"
"Oh, Jesus . . . what'd she do?" I asked.
You could have heard a pin drop in my kitchen, it was that quiet. Mom's face remained neutral, yet I'm sure I had paled—shocked. Then I shook it off and a loud guffaw escaped me. I slapped my knee, nearly bent over in hysterics where I sat. "Good for her. Miss Stuck-up is knocked up . . ."
The ladies present didn't share my humor.
"Um . . ." I stopped laughing. "Sorry. Please continue."
Bella shook her head. "I should go—"
"Don't!" I grabbed ahold of her hand quickly. "Not after everything." A part of me felt if she left, she was leaving me, and we had come very far.
Bella swallowed, studying the table. "I couldn't—I couldn't stay there." She looked to my mother. "I'm not horrible, but I dislike her—"
"You're preaching to the choir." I jerked a thumb to Mom.
"Edward." Her tone was stern.
"Admit it. I'll say it. This isn't a Rosalie-friendly spot." I shrugged, looking to my brown eyed beauty. "We all hate her, even this one."
"The Hale girl is in trouble . . ." Mom cleared her throat. "What is she going to do? Last I heard, she was going out East for school?"
"Not anymore," Bella whispered. "She's moving in, the baby will get Paul's room when he leaves . . . Nobody cares about what I want."
"You can live here," I said.
"Edward." Mom pinched me.
"That's crazy," Bella laughed. "I just—"
I looked to my mother. "I'm leaving in two months. She can have my bedroom, or the guest room."
"Let's slow down a bit, shall we?" Mom raised a brow. "We're getting a little ahead of ourselves. The Hales might refuse . . . I doubt they know just yet. I would have heard." She left the table.
"They kicked her out," Bella said.
Mom nodded. "I bet it was a shock . . . they'll come around. I'm going to phone your father to let him know you're here."
"Yes, ma'am." Bella bowed her head.
When my mother walked down the hall, I leaned into her. "Are you okay?"
She cried. "I know I'm going to get stuck with the baby somehow."
Sadly, I knew that, too—felt it in my gut.
"How could you put your mom out like that?" she whispered. "It was weird and—"
"They adore you." I intertwined our fingers, rubbing my thumb along hers while I thought about a few things. "We could always . . . I mean, I could get a job. We could get our own place somewhere. You could still work part-time after school—"
"What about school for you?" she asked.
I shook my head. "Does it matter? Maybe—maybe I could take a year off, and then we both go to U-Dub?"
She rolled her eyes. "Like that's going to happen now?" She started sobbing again.
"It'll happen." My stomach tied in knots as I embraced her. "Whether you go next year, or . . . whenever. You want that? I'm going to make it happen."
"We're kids," she cried.
"So…?" I couldn't see her point. "I could even join the army."
She shook her head no. "I-I wouldn't want you to be away from me. Heaven forbid you were sent overseas—"
I gritted my teeth. "You're only obligated to be home until you graduate, right? We have time to figure something out. I have my wheels, I have you . . ." I smiled, which made her crack a grin. "Everything else . . . we can figure out as we go along."
"You're a dreamer."
"I am," I admitted. "But I have big plans for us."
She pulled her plump bottom lip into her mouth with her teeth, and I bent lower—touching my nose to hers. "I love you."
"I love you, too," I whispered, and we kissed—her lips were soft, her tongue slowly moving inside my mouth.
I groaned, deepening it, and then heard a throat clearing.
We broke apart fast, wiping our mouths.
"Chief Swan is on his way to pick you up."
"No," I said. "I'll take her home—"
"It's late," Dad said, coming out from the dark hallway. "But . . . why don't you both go sit on the porch?" He gave Mom a look.
I felt defeated, as though I had no say in anything. Of course I knew exactly how Bella felt, only she has it worse.
The porch was dimly lit. The street was quiet, and the moon was half-full. I escorted Bella over to the swing and sat next to her. With our short moment of privacy, she leaned into me. No words needed to be exchanged. We just enjoyed each other's embrace, even if I couldn't keep the dirty images at bay. My mind wandered . . . and I hoped everything would work out.
"What if I didn't go to college?"
I didn't know how to reply to that. "I-I only want you happy." I kissed her hair, leaving my arm wrapped around her shoulders.
"I mean . . . I don't know what I mean. Your mom is happy, right?"
I nodded. "I think so."
"What if . . . What if after you graduated, we got married?" She turned to face me.
I searched her eyes, wondering if she was kidding around. "You're still in high school—"
"I meant college, silly." She smiled.
"Definitely." I didn't have to think long at all. "What if we got married when you graduated from Forks?"
She groaned, leaning away. "I'm sorry. It'd be for all the wrong reasons . . . I love you, but I want to get away."
I pulled back, away from her. "I understand."
"Do you, really?" she asked.
"I'll take you away . . . if it'll make you happy."
"What would make you happy?" she whispered.
I opened my mouth to respond, my eyes trailing down her body, but I couldn't say what I wanted to.
"No, you—just you." I pinched the bridge of my nose. "Just you—my girl."
"Cool," she said. "We have time, though. Nothing needs to be decided tonight. You have a great plan . . . I'd just be holding you back."
"Stop!" I nearly shouted. "Stop with that, okay?"
She put her hands up in surrender just as I heard Charlie's cruiser come to a stop behind me. When I turned, he hadn't even made a move to leave his vehicle.
Taking Bella's hand in mine, I walked her down to the car.
He nodded, giving me half a wave.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" I asked Bella.
She grinned. "Of course. I'll be in the audience—I'll be the loudest while you grab your diploma."
"Thank you." I chuckled.
Charlie watched her get in the car, and then gave me some shifty look. Since I was used to the death glares, I went back into my house, feeling as though a ton of bricks was on my shoulders now.
What the fuck was I going to do?
How could I save Bella from that whole mess?
"Dad?" He was still awake, sitting in his reclining chair.
"No," he said.
"You don't even know—"
"Your mother told me." He continued to read his book. "Your girlfriend isn't moving in."
"You're going to U-Dub—"
"That's for me to decide," I said.
He shook his head. "It's not. You're going—You're going to keep the plan we've had for months. For the past two years, you've had your head in the clouds. I lost all hope that my son would even get into a college, and then—by some miracle—you managed to get into U-Dub, you pulled it off. Now, you want to piss it away, just to stay close to some skirt?"
Anger flared inside of me, and I took a rapid step forward, my jaw and fists clenched.
"What? Edward?" Dad stood from his chair.
Taking a deep breath, I didn't do anything. I stood there like the coward I was. "She's not just some skirt—"
"You're going, and that's that. End of discussion!" he shouted over me, my words.
"How can you—"
"Go to bed, Edward. It's done," he sighed.
I snorted without humor, and I noticed the look my mother gave me—pity. "Right," I said.
After about a minute of just staring at him—the man who never understands, my warden, my asshole of a father, I ran up to my bedroom.
The next morning, I slept in. The birds chirped outside, the sun was miraculously shining, and I was graduating from high school.
At that realization, I jumped from bed with a start.
My diploma held my freedom. With it, I could get a job or two. I could get Bella and me the fuck away from everything and everyone without asking my father for a penny.
It was simple, and I couldn't believe how I could have overlooked it, how I could have gotten so upset.
All I needed was my high school diploma.
For luck, I rubbed one out before breakfast, and then once more while I showered.
"What if people talk?" Alice Brandon was standing in front of me and Ben Cheney was pretending not to listen to our conversation. We're in line to grab our diplomas, and she's talking about Jasper.
"Who cares?" I shook my head. "If you like him, then go steady with him. You're going to NYU in the fall—you'll be the only two from Forks there. It'll be a fresh start for the both of you."
"I know." She nodded. "Did you hear about Rosalie?"
I turned to look down the line as I nodded my head.
She wasn't here.
"Her parents sent her away," Alice whispered. "Like my cousin Mary—she got pregnant when she was fifteen. They go away for close to a year, and then come back like nothing happened. Or . . . Rosalie once told me about this guy—a doctor in Seattle." She stepped closer. "He makes it disappear somehow, but it costs a lot of money."
"He must be devastated." Her eyes widened. "The Hales went to their house late last night, picked her up. I know Bella must be relieved." She let out a snort. "Just saying."
Ironically, I was relieved, too.
Maybe I didn't need to know what my future held at this very second.
An hour later we were announced Forks High School graduates of 1956.
And ten minutes after that—for the first time ever—my father embraced me and told me how proud he was.
Bella kissed me in front of everyone . . . a lip-lock I'd never forget.
She was proud, too, and said she had a gift for me later on.
After those two exchanges, I felt like the king of the world, clutching that diploma.
My parents invited Bella, Emmett, Paul, and Charlie out to dinner with us. I loved it because I was able to be with my girl and our families.
And high school was behind me.
And I still had no concrete plans for the future.
Bella still has another year to go and that makes me sad, but I know Emmett will be with her. He plans to run the garage full-time. He was down during dinner, and no one addressed the elephant in the room. Bella had given my mother a vague rundown of what had happened. Rosalie's parents came to get her, and it was all pretty dramatic—them prying her from Emmett's embrace, Charlie trying to break them apart as well.
Ben, Jake, Peter, and Paul will be at U-Dub with me, along with—I have no idea.
Those are the only people I really talk to.
"Alice agreed to go steady with me!" Jasper jumped up and down. "I told you!" he shouted, which made me laugh. "Defeat is not in my vocabulary! And she's going to be my wife."
I raised my beer to toast him.
"Gimme a sip." Peanut grabbed my longneck, and I gave it up freely, until Mom called us in. We were all back at my house for cake and beer. One-by-one, we trailed into the dining room, and my eyes found her quickly.
"Hey." I wrapped my arms around Bella.
"That cake looks delicious."
"So do you." I kissed her softly on the neck and didn't care who saw. No one said anything, and so I went in to kiss her again.
"Easy," Charlie warned.
And a part of me just wanted to test him.
So, I gently kissed Bella's lips. "I love you."
"Whoa!" Charlie backed away from us.
Bella laughed, pulling me down to kiss her. "I love you, too."
Thank you for reading.
Please leave me your thoughts.
Only one more chap, and then the epilogue is left . . .