Disclaimer: Anything remotely resembling Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. Any of the stories within, belong to me. Please do not copy or translate without permission.
Not Going There
Growing up, I'd always dreaded that time when the clock struck curfew and I had to go home. Back then it had seemed the ultimate of lame. What a difference a decade or two and experience made.
Today there was a small flutter of excitement in my heart when I took the turn down my father's road. Maybe it was simply because I didn't live there anymore, or maybe it could be chalked up to the chance to spend some time with my dad, but it was a comforting feeling just the same. He'd been on a fishing trip to Alaska the past two weeks, and my first order of business before my shift started was to have a cup of coffee with him and shoot the breeze. I'd really missed him.
Although a happy one, the change of moving into Edward's house had been...something I'd had to get used to. It'd been just Bug, my dad, and I for so long that I found myself missing living at home. Edward had encouraged me to set aside some time every week to hang out with my dad—even if just to talk shop—and it was a connection that I'd truly needed to have.
Also, there was the fact that I had to check on the new pup Katie had insisted we give her grandfather for his birthday. That particular conversation was a funny one that brought a smile to my face, all full of pleas starting with dogs that needed homes and ending with lonely-no-more grandparents.
My daughter… the animal advocate.
Jake (said chocolate lab) came ripping out of the house when I pulled into the driveway, barking as fiercely as a six-month old pup could. When I got out and walked around the car he pulled up short at the edge of the lawn, cowering a little when he saw me in uniform.
"Nice attack dog, Dad," I said, walking across the driveway. No sooner the words left my mouth than the dog turned into a wiggling mess at my feet, belly presented for a rub.
"What's funny is that he only does that to you—acts all tough and then turns into a complete wimp. Sue spoiled him when I was gone."
I reached down to scratch his belly before we retreated into the house.
The earthy scents of the house mingled with fresh coffee hit me as soon as I walked inside, all comfort and homey, and a small pang of nostalgia for days gone by seized me for a second. Stepping in to this house made me feel grounded in a way, and I was immensely grateful all over again that we lived so close by.
"How's it feel to be back at work full time?" he asked, pouring me a cup of coffee as I pulled the creamer out of the fridge. Jake took his place at my dad's feet, curling up in to a ball but keeping ever watchful eyes on me.
"It's good, not too busy. Summer tourists and bored kids."
"The usual," he agreed. "How's my grandbabies?"
"Getting too damn big and just as cute as anything," I said, hiding my grin around a sip of coffee when his smile got all big and goofy.
It always amazed me how my father acted now that he was a grandfather. Things that I never would have gotten away with were looked over when the kids did them, and with decidedly more than a smidgen of indulgence. And the spoiling that man did, good grief.
"And Edward's fine, too."
"Hmpf." He took another sip of his coffee, and reached down to pat Jake, acting like he wasn't going to ask.
But, I knew better. Despite the fact that Edward had "taken his girls away", they'd become pretty tight over the last year. Charlie had been his biggest advocate during the investigation, arguing to any of the brass that would listen that any of them, if put in the same situation, would have probably done the same thing. Edward was cleared of any wrongdoing eventually, but he took a little heat from his higher ups over not following protocol during the rescue. Thankfully, all he ended up with was a light slap on the wrist.
Deciding to let him play the grump card for a little while, I diverted on to another topic. "Mom called the other day."
"Oh? What's she up to?" he asked.
"Planning a trip up here in August, wants to see her grandchildren. And she said, 'It's really the only time the weather's any good up there'," I said, using air quotes.
"Have fun with that. Don't count on any babysitting."
"I know. She'll be off to Bunco with her old friends."
He chuckled. "How're your schedules working out? Childcare thing okay?"
"Actually pretty good. We're lucky to have most of the same days off, and our shifts work out that when I'm getting home he's getting ready to go in for his. We just sort of pass off the kids," I said, laughing. "It works, though, especially with not having to pay for daycare."
"Oh," he said, looking down at his mug. "Sounds like you two have it worked out…well."
It took me a minute to work out his despondent reaction. "Dad, you can have them any time you want, you know that."
"Yeah, but I don't want to disrupt the schedule," he said gruffly.
"You're not disrupting anything." I thought for a moment. "How about they come over this weekend? Would you like to keep them overnight?"
A smile spread across his face before he caught it. He cleared his throat and said, "Sure. That should be fine. You don't mind if Sue's here?"
Since we had moved out, Sue spent most of her weekends here with my dad. During the week, she kept her home on the reservation where she worked. They were comfortable in their relationship; it seemed to suit both of them.
"Dad—," I reached across the table and gave his arm a squeeze. He knew we all thought of Sue as family but for some reason needed to be reassured on occasion.
"Okay, sounds like a plan."
There was nothing like a scary call to get me back into the swing of things…though, I realized with a pang, it also made me miss night shifts. One of my first calls was to pick up an elderly woman who had wandered away from her home, and the thoughts of what could happen to her if I didn't find her quickly made me long for calls about a homeowner's too-bright lights while another neighbor tried to sleep.
I felt bad for her when I finally found her wandering around a park a few blocks from her house. She was confused and dressed in just a robe and slippers, so I let her sit in the front with me while I radioed in to the station that I'd found her. Her daughter, a woman I vaguely remembered as working at the grocery store when I was much younger, wouldn't be able to be there until midday, so I agreed to check on her house after I dropped her off at the hospital and escort her home if need be.
After checking the house and completing the requisite paperwork at the station, I headed back to the E.R to check on things, where I spied Rose walking down the hall. I caught up with her and tagged her on the elbow.
"Hi! What brings you here?"
"I came to escort Mrs. Miller home. Her daughter called and asked us to make sure the house was okay before we left her. She'd only run into Port Angeles this morning for an appointment and her mom wandered off. Do you know anything about how she's doing?"
"She's fine. Just a little confused. How have you been? Surviving the grind?"
"Yeah. It's great. I loved being home but I kind of missed work."
"I can't imagine you doing anything different."
"Yeah," I said. "Oh, been dying to tell you…Never guess who called me the other day."
"Yeah. I guess she and James have been working on getting back together for awhile and now she wants to move to Port Angeles to be with him."
"Oh, how cozy."
I snorted at her skeptical tone. Rose had pretty much heard everything I had to say about Victoria at one time or another and wasn't the biggest fan of my old partner. Not that I didn't agree, though…
"She was calling me to 'patch things up' so it wouldn't be uncomfortable. I have a feeling that it was more James behind it, but I appreciated the effort."
"Sure you're good with that bitch rolling into town?"
"I…don't know. I think it'll be good for him. He's been doing pretty good about the whole responsibility thing, which is a big relief. Well, as much as he's capable—he's still a pain in my ass every once in a while, but from what I've heard, she isn't one to put up with his shit. So…maybe. He trying, though, and I can't ask for more than that. Besides, I think I ended up with the better end of the deal."
"I would say so." She looked down the corridor to the nurses' station. "Mrs. Miller should be ready. Want to come back and get her?"
After that first call, the morning seemed relatively slow. That is, until the emergency calls started rolling in. A house fire down in Robin Hood Loop set the rest of the day on course: the fire, a false 911 call, a few traffic stops, and breaking up a fight at the park to end my day.
Gotta admit, though, the fight was a highlight. Nothing like pulling apart two over-caffeinated mothers when their children's argument resulted in them pulling each other's hair while said children looked on in awe. The one who ended up in my car whined the whole way there that the other had started it, and I was sure Newton was hearing the same thing. It was hard, but I kept the retort about her acting more juvenile than her kid inside.
I hadn't had a break yet, so I was back at the park completing paperwork in my patrol car in an attempt to make it home on time. In my peripheral vision, I could see someone approaching me from the side , so I turned to roll down my window, and came face-to-face with Connor Mallory.
I rolled down the window, "Hey, Connor, what's up?"
"Nothing. Just saw you here. Wanted to say hi."
"How's your summer going?"
"Good. Just enrolled in classes for the fall."
"You did? Where?"
"At Peninsula College. I'm going into the Criminal Justice program."
I looked at him. He wasn't my kid but damn if I wasn't swelling with pride at the moment. "That's pretty cool. I'm impressed."
"Yeah. I did Running Start last year and wanted to keep going. My mom isn't too happy about it but it's what I want to do."
I chuckled. I had to keep my comments about his mom to myself.
"Well, good luck. Keep me up on how you're doing and if I can help out in any way, let me know."
"I will, thanks." He turned and headed back towards the skate park with his board tucked underneath his arm.
"Huh," I said aloud as I turned the key in the ignition.
The comfort of the winding road leading to our home helped ease the tension from a particularly long day. There had been so many emergency calls that I had barely any time to eat. A day like today made me question returning to work. I had been spoiled after the baby was born; I was able to stay home with my kids for almost a year and just be…a mom.
I wanted nothing more than to get home, take a hot bath, slip into my pajamas and snuggle with my family. But reality was something else. Pulling my patrol car in behind the SUV, I remembered Charlie always told me early on that no matter how hard your day was, the real work started when you got home.
Stepping inside the house, I went to the small den to put my gun belt into the safe, already feeling twenty pounds lighter. From the kitchen came an aroma of the best sort: comfort food. I snuck a peek, opening the oven as mouth-watering smells of lasagna and garlic bread wafted out.
I stood up, closed the oven door and listened for the sounds of my ever busy household and was met with silence.
"Honey? Katie?" I said. After a few moments, I called into a seemingly empty house, "Where is everyone?"
"Out here," came Edward's voice through a crack in the sliding glass door.
I stepped out onto the back deck to find Edward and Katie perched at one end both holding Baby Bug up on her feet.
"Look, Mom," said Katie, excitedly.
Edward, crouched in his uniform, looked up and smiled at me—a smile that still melted my heart to this very day.
When little Lucy saw me, her face lit up full of sunshine and she bounced as she rocked a couple of times on her feet.
"Watch this," he said as he let go of her waist. She raised her arms and took a few steps toward me before squatting and falling on her padded bottom.
I raced in to scoop her up, peppering her face with kisses.
"She just started this morning. I saw her take a couple of steps from the couch, and then she was off. I'm sorry you missed it."
I placed my hand on his arm and leaned in to give him a kiss. "Oh, it's okay. I figured she might any day. She's been working so hard at it for days now. Gets this look of determination on her face like—" I said, making a scrunched face.
"Oh, that's all her mom," he said laughing.
I lightly punched him in the arm as he pulled us in and kissed me on the head.
"How was your day?"
I made a face at him.
"That good, huh?"
"The usual. It was a little better today. But I can definitely say, I was absolutely spoiled being home all of the time."
"You could have taken longer you know. We would have been fine."
Setting the baby down, I stood back up a little breathless. "I know," I said as I turned to look out at the yard. "But I love my job."
"I know that. And you're good at it. I just want you to be happy with whatever you do."
"I couldn't be happier than I am right now." I said as I leaned into him, watching Katie play with Lucy on the deck.
He was everything I imagined he was: a fantastic husband, a great father. He challenged me when I needed him to and was supportive when I needed him most. Life was so, so good, as full and close to perfect as it could be.
"I'm taking the girls to my Dad's this weekend. So looks like it's just you and me," I said smiling up at him.
It was almost like I could see the possibilities sliding into place in his mind as he put his hands on my waist and pulled me in a little closer. I instinctually looked over to the girls; Katie was teaching Lucy how to 'gently' pet Abby who laid close by. There was the softest pressure, a little kiss placed on the skin underneath my ear, and I couldn't help but sigh softly. I wrapped my arms around him tighter as he kissed me again on the neck.
"Now, I'll be thinking all night about how to make best use of our time together this weekend, Officer Cullen," he said, kissing me, the touch of his lips on mine so, so gentle.
Every fiber of my being was attracted to this man and I almost forgot where we were as I slid my hands around to his backside and whispered against his lips. "I'm gonna hold you to that, Deputy Cullen."
Leaning in painfully slow for one last kiss, he set my heart racing.
In a flash, he stepped back and looked at his watch, leaving me cold. I harrumphed at him, but his smile melted my pique.
"Gotta go. Dinner will be ready in about fifteen minutes for you guys." He kissed me and Lucy on the forehead and turned to rumple Katie's hair as she squealed. "See you tonight."
I never thought that I could love someone other than my children so much, but, oh, I did. I really, really did. And I wasn't quite done yet letting my love grow.
"Love you. Be safe," I said.
He turned around and flashed his beautiful smile at me as he stepped through the sliding glass door.
Song – Jack Johnson – Do You Remember
A/N: Thank you so much for your patience. RL has handed me a hectic couple of weeks.
Would love to hear what your thoughts are now that we're finished. Your reviews were just awesome and kept me excited to write each week. Kind of sad to see these guys go.
Please indulge me with my long list of thank yous…
Thank you to each and every one of you who pimped this story out on your websites, to your friends and on twitter.
There were so many peeps along the way who helped me out in a pinch, gave their support and encouraged me so much. kimmydonn (hearts)for your much needed red pen. If it weren't for you, I'd probably hide from semicolons—forever. carenl, I so appreciate every word of the feedback you gave me and it was the love of your Copward that made me want to do this. Thank you also to ttharman and licpa for indulging me when I bounced a few ideas off of you before incorporating them into the story.
And nic, my amazing beta and friend... I owe you so much and can't possibly tell you how much I appreciate what you've done for me. The last weeks when I was tight with time, you made it feel so easy. In my eyes, you have such a gift.
And I can't forget the Deputy that showed up one night responding to our call after we'd been burgled. His wisdom and expertise helped me so much as I wrote this story . Deputy, I've made a new friend and have the utmost respect for what you do every day. xo