SM owns it, Dollybigmomma rocks it, I just write it.
Chapter 1 – Ask Santa
I scratched at my fake beard. The damn thing was going to give me a rash. That dinner Angela promised me had better be good. As a single guy living very far from home, I didn't get a lot of home-cooked meals. So when Angela Cheney invited me over for dinner if I played Santa Claus for the children's ward, I just had to do it. Her husband, Ben, brought the best leftovers to work. I swear I had actually traded lunches with him before. He didn't know how good he had it.
I looked up to see him kissing his wife. Okay, maybe he did know how good he had it. I walked over and gave him a man hug which was okay because Santa was jolly and so he would hug his friends. I kissed Angela on the cheek and whispered, "There better be leftovers for me to take home, this beard is giving me a rash."
She chuckled but promised there would be. I took my place in this part of the children's ward. The children were usually separated by ailments, and this ward was my last. It was the juvenile diabetes ward. It was the one where I worked as a doctor and the one Angela and her husband worked as RN's.
The children lined up excitedly. They'd all had an extra dose of insulin so they could have their candy treat from Santa. I sat down and listened to my patients tell me about how they wanted candy, cakes, and maybe a doll. Mostly, they asked to go home. I told them I would see what I could do. Most were not steady residents here. Their families helped them manage their sugar levels and they would be able to go home. Most were just here because of slip-ups. They would sneak a holiday snack when no one was looking and end up here for a few days. Most would be going home, and the ones I knew would be going home, I told them that I would be sure to make sure they got to go home.
They all were amazed I knew their names and their family's names, but when you dealt mainly with children, you got to know their families as well. That was why I was surprised when I looked to see who was next, and I saw a thin but adorable tiny little brown-eyed girl. She looked excited and nervous all at the same time. "It's okay, Ara, Santa knows you've been such a good girl this year," the woman with her said.
I didn't recognize her, either. Her little girl took after her. Both were natural beauties. I patted my lap. "Come on, little Ara, come tell me what you want," I said and winked at her.
She smiled brilliantly and I picked her up and set her on my knee. She was so light and such a tiny little thing. I worried a little if she was eating enough, but I saw her mother was thin as well. "Well, Ara, can you tell me what's on your Christmas wish list?"
She smiled nervously at her mother and then pulled me down to her. "I want my daddy to come home," she whispered. I didn't think she wanted her mother to hear her, but I knew she did because her eyes started to water.
"That's awfully sweet, honey. I'll see what I can do," I said. If he was overseas serving in the military, maybe I could get them a teleconference or something. That little girl was just so sweet; she deserved to have it.
She nodded okay and hopped off my lap and ran to the refreshment table. I saw Angela talking to the woman for a moment and thought maybe she knew her. The woman left Angela to sit down with her daughter and I quickly made my way over to her. If I was going to get a teleconference set up, I would have to get on it fast.
"Oh, Edward," she said sadly, "Do you know what Arabella asked for?" she asked motioning to the little girl.
I nodded. "Yeah, that was what I was going to ask you about. She wanted her daddy. I was thinking if he's overseas or something, we could help set up a teleconference or…" She cut me off shaking her head.
"Edward, he isn't overseas. No wonder Bella's so upset. Her husband is dead, Edward, he was killed by a drunk driver two years ago. The bastard that killed him got two years in prison for manslaughter. And because her husband, Mike, was what they called 'fatigued at the wheel', she was stuck with all of his medical bills."
"What the hell?" I shouted a little too loudly. Everyone stopped what they were doing and was looking at the swearing Santa. My eyes landed on one of my favorite patients and I thought fast. "Nurse Angela said that Timmy thought he was on the naughty list and didn't sit on my lap."
Timothy Masen was one of my resident patients. He did not respond well to synthetic insulin and so he was on a very carefully-balanced diet to keep him from going into a coma. I specifically had purchased some sugar-free candy canes just for him.
He looked at me wide-eyed as I approached. I sat down next to him and picked him up and put him in my lap. While most kids were sitting with their parents, Timmy was alone. He was a foster child and right now they were having a hard time placing him. It didn't really matter, though; he couldn't really leave the hospital anyway. It was just sad that there was no one to sit and love on him like the other kids had. I had to admit, Timmy had a special place in my heart and I wished there was more I could do to help him.
"So, Timmy, tell me, what do you want?" I asked smiling at him.
He looked up at me still in shock, as if he had been caught doing something wrong. I knew that look because he was frequently sneaking around the hospital trying to steal snacks. The boy could eat.
"I um," he stuttered and then looked at his hands, "I um, want a family," he whispered and then looked at other kids with their parents. I hugged him tightly. My heart ached for this boy. "I'll see what I can do. Do you mind if I hang out with you?" I asked.
He smiled widely. "That would be cool."
"Wonderful, I also happen to know your Dr. Cullen," I said leaning in conspiratorially, "He said I could give you these and you could eat the whole box if you wanted." I slipped out the box of sugar-free candy canes from my sack of candy and his eyes lit up.
"You sure he said I can?" he asked excitedly.
"I'm sure," I promised.
He excitedly ate his candy canes one after another, and then I took him to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. I tucked him in, kissing his sticky cheek, laughing to myself as I made my way out.
"Above and beyond, just like always," Angela said standing in the hall waiting for me with her husband, Ben.
"Well, you know, Timmy needed a little extra love tonight," I said.
She walked up and hugged me tightly. I started to notice my itchy beard again. "You mind letting me get out of this thing?" I asked.
Ben laughed. "Better you than me."
"I'm stealing your leftovers," I warned and he just shook his head laughing again.
The next evening, we were having dinner and I decided to ask about the little girl again. She was so cute and sweet, and I just couldn't get her off my mind. I wanted to do something for her, even if I couldn't bring her daddy back. "So, you guys know Ara's mother?" I asked.
Angela looked to Ben and then let out a sigh. "Yeah, we went to school with her and Mike. We still keep in touch. I mean Bella is really busy working two jobs to keep their head above water," she said and my brow furrowed.
"Didn't they have life insurance or something?" I asked. My father had died when I was very young, but his insurance helped my mother sustain us until she remarried my stepdad, Carlisle Cullen.
"No, Edward, they were just out of high school. They married right after graduation and went off to college together. She's still paying on both of their school loans."
"Did she get a degree?" I asked.
"No, she had to drop out after her first semester when she found out she was pregnant with Arabella. Mike started working two jobs while he went to school just to make ends meet. He was attending Harvard when he died. He left her so deep in debt she lost the place they were staying. They crashed here for a little while before she finally found the place she's in now."
"I don't like that place," Ben said. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, you listened. "That sleazy manager gives me the creeps. I don't like the way he looks at Bella." He shook his head. "I helped her put some extra locks on her door. I didn't like that he had a key to her place."
Angela seemed to agree.
"So, um, what are they doing for Christmas?" I asked Angela.
She let out a sigh and shook her head. "She wanted to go home to her family in Washington, but she didn't make enough money to pull it off. Her manager's an ass and tripped her, causing her to drop her tray and then charged her for all of it. And that wasn't the first time."
"Angie, you know she's clumsy," Ben defended.
"I was there, Ben, I saw it! It was my order. I told her not to worry about it and paid for it anyway, but the manager docked her pay anyway. It was bullshit!"
Angela didn't usually swear, so her getting upset like that was really something. "If we could fit them in here, I would have them move in with us, but Bella just wouldn't have it. She's too proud or sweet, or something. She said she didn't want to take advantage of our generosity," Angela complained. She shook her head still steaming. "I want to buy a pie and then just smash it in Aro's face. That jerk pretends to be nice, but he's just as slimy as the next guy."
"Well, at least Jacob doesn't dock her pay," Ben said.
"No, he just sexually harasses her and gets away with it because his family owns the damn business and they know she can't afford to quit or cross them. Damn it, Ben, we need to find a way to help her. I'm tired of seeing my friend run into the ground by assholes and perverts."
I hated hearing my friends upset, and this woman, Bella, seemed to have been dealt a terrible hand in life. She lost her husband and had to deal with mourning while she worked her fingers to the bone at terrible jobs.
"I want to help," I said before I could stop myself.
They both looked at me surprised, but Ben spoke first. "I think we should see about getting her a new place first. I really don't trust that guy. I have a really bad feeling where he's concerned," he said with a worried face. "I don't want anything else to happen to her. I would never forgive myself if that bastard hurt her."
I nodded. "Okay, um, I could rent her an apartment, that isn't a problem."
"Yes, it is. She would never go for it. She doesn't take handouts. You would have to find a legitimate reason to give her money to rent an apartment and right now, she doesn't have time to work another job."
I rubbed my forehead. "So, I'd have to find her a job so she could work for me?"
"That's it!" Ben exclaimed, "Your place is really huge; have her move in and work for you as your housekeeper, you sure could use one."
"Hey, I don't have a wife to clean up after me," I complained. I had found myself wishing I did have someone more often than not lately when I saw Ben and Angela so happy together, but I just didn't have the time to meet women.
"Exactly. Well, what do you think? Could you handle living with a woman and her kid?" Angela asked excitedly.
I was starting to feel like I was in over my head and swallowed hard. "Can she cook?" I squeaked.
"Yes, she taught me everything I know about cooking. She puts my cuisine to shame."
"So, maybe she can be my maid and cook?" I asked.
"Yeah, that would make more sense, because a maid could come and go, but a cook has to be around to make your meals and snacks and stuff. Why don't you have one now?" Ben asked me.
"The only woman I know that can cook is your wife, and last I heard, she wasn't available," I offered.
"Well, Bella is. I'm going to call her!" Angela said excitedly.
I didn't know how it happened, but I think I'd just gotten roped into having a woman and a kid move in with me.
A/N More will be coming soon. I will update Eye of the beholder again soon I promise, that chapter is already half done and this was something I wrote a while ago and just had sitting around so it isn't cutting into my writing time yet.