Get your tissues! Beta'd by TDS88 and Itsange from PTB! You guys rock!
Chapter Twenty Two
Edward, Bella, and all the Cullens stood with the Cheney family as they said goodbye to a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. There wasn't a traditional service for Angela Cheney. Instead, her husband had decided to have her cremated and hold a memorial with her closest family and friends. So as they stood in Edward's backyard, they all remembered the fun and laughter, the joy and sadness they'd shared with the kind soul that was Angela.
"Today, we gather to honor the memory of Angela Cheney," the minister spoke. Ben brought his fist to his mouth as he tried to stifle the sobs trembling through him. Edward reached out to his childhood friend with a comforting grip on his shoulder. Grace, Ben and Angela's eleven-year-old daughter, clung to her father's arm, seeking and giving comfort. Ben wrapped his arm around his little girl as she sobbed.
The minister spoke of all the good deeds and love Angela had for the youth of their city. He spoke of her triumphs in her personal life as well as her professional one. Everyone loved Angela Cheney. She would be sorely missed. The minister called Edward up to give a eulogy for Angela.
Edward gave Ben's shoulder another squeeze before stepping forward. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "I knew Angela most of my life. She moved here when Ben and I were in the second grade. She was always the shy quiet girl who preferred to sit in the corner with a good book than to play on the playground. Ben liked that about her. I remember the first time he set eyes on her. He couldn't stop staring." Edward chuckled a bit at his memory. Ben smiled through his tears. "He was the first to introduce himself to her. She was his from that point forward, and he let everyone know. Love like that has to mean something. Angela was more than my friend's girl, she was like a sister to me. She was always there to lend me her ear whenever I needed advice–even if it was three in the morning. I'll never forget the day she told me to get my head out of my ass and forgive Bella. That's a day I'll always be grateful for. She helped me look past all the wrong to see the right. She was a wonderful woman all around. She'll be greatly missed. We love you, Angela." He kissed his fingers and pressed them to the earn on his left.
Ben grabbed him and hugged him tight. Whispering his thanks in Edward's ear. Edward, who wasn't one for hug from men, hugged him back just as tightly. He knew, had their situations been reversed, he would have needed Ben there to be his rock.
After the service, everyone stayed for a small dinner and fellowship. Then Ben took his children and went back to his apartment to finish packing. He knew he was making the right choice in moving his family to his sister's. They needed a more stable life; they needed a woman in their life, who would love them like their mother had.
Derrick and Seth sat on top of a picnic table in the park near Derrick's apartment. "Tomorrow?" Seth asked.
"Yep," Derrick said, popping his 'p' as he leaned his elbows on his knees, staring at his feet.
"You'll keep in touch, right?" He couldn't look at Derrick. He dropped to his back across the table and stared at the darkening sky.
"Of course. This doesn't change my feelings for you." Derrick picked up Seth's hand from his thigh and kissed the back of it.
"It changes things though," Seth mused, finally looking at his long time friend.
"It does." They sat quietly for a while. Derrick tracing the lines in Seth's hand.
Seth closed his eyes as tears burned them. He gripped Derrick's hand as he sat up. He cupped his face and looked deeply into Derrick's eyes. "I love you. I'll never love anyone as much as I love you." He didn't allow Derrick to respond as he crashed their lips together.
Derrick was shocked at first, but then soon gave into his partner's bruising lips and deepened the desperate kiss. Their hands wrapped around each other tightly as they clung to the last few minutes of togetherness they had.
"Seth, honey," the voice of his mother broke the boy's lust filled haze. They broke apart both gasping for air.
Seth wiped his mouth and turned to his mother. "Yeah?"
"Baby, Dad and I are going home," Bella told him.
"I'll get a ride," he told her. His eyes still locked on Derrick's.
Bella stepped closer and grasped her son's hand. "Okay. But you should both go inside. I don't like you out here this late." She kissed the boys' cheeks and left them.
Derrick looked to his hands then said, "We can go to my room."
"Okay," Seth agreed quickly.
Once inside, with the door shut tightly, they picked up where they left off outside. It wasn't long before both where lying naked on Derrick's bed.
The next morning, Ben knocked on his son's locked door. Derrick blinked his eyes quickly, then looked to his left. Seth lay on his back with one hand behind his head and the other one outstretched around Derrick's shoulder. He looked peaceful and perfect to Derrick.
Derrick maneuvered out of bed and pulled the blanket over Seth. He slipped on his jeans then opened the door to his father. "Yeah," he whispered sleepily.
Ben peeked in the room and saw Seth. "He stayed the night?"
Ben nodded. "We're leaving in an hour. You should pack the rest of your things and eat something."
Derrick's eyes filled immediately with tears. His father pulled him into his arms. "I know this is hard, buddy. I swear, I'm only doing what's best for all of us. Please don't hate me."
Derrick shook his head. "I know. It's just hard. He's my Angela," he told his father.
"I know, baby. I know." Ben kissed his son's head. Then held his face between his palms. "A love like that will stand the test of time. You'll stay in touch and maybe you guys can go to the same college. Don't give up."
"Never," Derrick whispered. His father hugged and kissed him again, before shutting the bedroom door.
Derrick turned to see Seth sitting up in bed with the blankets wrapped around his naked body. "Your dad wasn't pissed was he?"
"No. He understands. But, I've gotta pack. We're leaving soon."
Seth nodded. "I need to head home. I'm sure my dad is gonna whale on me for staying out all night."
Seth chuckled. "Don't be. I'm not. Best night ever." He kissed Derrick softly. They sat quietly for a few more minutes. Then Seth said, "They'll never be another guy. I only want you."
"But Heather?" Derrick questioned.
"I love her. You're on a different level in my mind, Derr. I only feel this way towards you. No other guy could or will take your place."
"So Heather won't replace me?" Derrick asked uneasy.
"Never. It's just you and her. Equally," Seth told him.
Derrick smiled. "I wouldn't be mad if you moved on," he explained.
"There's no moving on. I told you. You're it for me. No other guys, no other girls. Just you and Heather. I'm done."
"You sound like your dad." Derrick chuckled.
"I guess I am a lot like him in that way. I know what I want, and I'll keep it no matter what. He fought his own brother for my mom. I'd do the same." After an all too brief make out session, Seth left Derrick's for the last time.
Seth pounded on the door four times before Heather answered. "Where the fuck were you?" he asked harsher than he intended.
Heather took in her boyfriend's expression and sighed. She could tell he'd been crying. "Shower. Come on. You look like hell." She grabbed his hand and pulled him up to her bedroom. She pushed him to sit on her bed then helped him take off his shoes. As soon as his last shoe was off, he pulled her up and into his lap, sobbing into her neck.
Tears filled Heather's eyes as she tried to comfort Seth. She loved Derrick too, and would miss him deeply, but nothing like she'd miss Seth if he would ever leave. "He's gone," Seth whispered between sobs.
"I'm so sorry." She held him tightly. They wept in each other's arms for a long while before calming. Heather ran her fingers through Seth's longish hair as he stuttered for breath. "I love you, Sethy."
"I love you, baby. Sorry," he whispered embarrassed. He sat up and wiped his face and cleared his throat.
"Don't go," she told him clutching his arms when he shifted on the bed.
"I'm not. Can we lie on your bed?" he asked.
"Of course." When they'd both stood she pulled back the blankets while Seth took his jeans off. They climbed in together and cuddled closely.
"Don't leave me. I can't handle any more," he whispered to her.
She pulled back and smoothed her hand down his tear stained face. "Never, Seth. I'm yours."
He kissed her passionately for several long moments. Before resting his forehead to hers as the panted softly. "We had sex last night," he told her.
"You did," Heather said with some shock.
Seth nodded quickly. "Are you mad?"
"No, baby. I'm not mad." She pecked his lips reassuringly.
"I don't know what sex with a girl is like, but what we did was pretty awesome. I wish we would've done it sooner. Sorry, I guess I shouldn't tell you that." Seth chuckled dryly.
"It's okay. I want to know everything about you. I love Derrick too." Heather was more understanding than Seth imagined she'd be. He was relieved.
"Do you want to have sex with girls?" she asked shyly, hoping she wasn't about to get her heart broken.
"No," he said softly. She stiffened. "I want to have sex with one girl. You. But not today. I'm exhausted."
"I wasn't asking …" she started but he stopped her with a kiss.
"I know you weren't."
"So what happens now?"
"I guess I won't be having sex with him again. I guess we could have Skype sex." He shrugged.
Heather giggled. "No, I mean with us."
"Oh, sorry. Sex brain." Seth blushed.
"Must've been pretty good then," she teased.
"Best I've ever had." He chuckled.
She laughed and slapped his arm. "It's the only sex you've ever had."
"For now," he growled playfully and attacked her neck with kisses and nips. He pulled back and smiled crookedly at her. "I guess it's just you and me for a while. We can still talk and email each other, but I doubt he'll be coming back here. Actually, I know he won't. Dad told Ben never to come back."
"Mob rules are weird," Heather mussed.
Seth smiled at her. "What mob?" He winked. She smiled.
"Seriously though, Seth. We'll be okay. We have each other." He didn't respond but squeezed her to him tightly.
Esme and Carlisle sat on their bed each holding a baby: Esme, their daughter, Maya Christine, and Carlisle, their son, Maxwell Carlisle, affectionately called Max. Other than their journey to Angela's memorial, they'd not left their house since their return from the hospital. Carlisle wanted to keep their bubble of protection as long as possible. "Carlisle, promise me nothing like that will every happen again," Esme said as she gazed at her sleeping child.
Carlisle sighed. He knew he couldn't promise her something like that. He kissed her forehead. "I'll do everything in my power to protect all three of you, but I can't control what others have against my family."
She sighed. "I know. I've never been so scared. Giving birth to our children was supposed to be a loving and memorable time, it was anything but."
"I'm so sorry, sweetheart. I'm grateful you're all alive and well."
They sat staring at their children a while longer. Esme hadn't yet told Carlisle about the birth, other than she was afraid and had nothing for her pain. She couldn't tell him how she begged Aro to spare the life of her children. She couldn't tell him how Aro had taken the children from her, naked and cold, with the promise she'd never see them again. She wanted to tell her husband, she just couldn't voice the words. She wanted him to know Jasper had rescued their precious babies and had vowed to care for them if something should go wrong. She knew her brother-in-law was a good man. She prayed daily for Jasper and Alice's return.
"As am I," she whispered.
Carlisle was returning to work. Esme had cried on and off for the better part of the night, and was completely exhausted. Emmett offered to let his oldest daughter, Bri, come over and help Esme while he was working, but Esme declined.
"I'll call you every chance I have," he promised.
She nodded. "I'll be okay. I'll sleep when the children sleep."
"Be sure you eat and drink enough today." He kissed her deeply and held her tightly. He left quickly knowing her tears would rip him apart. His own anxiety was enough to have a colleague write him a prescription. His only peace was that his family was safe and alive.
Emmett and Rose sat in their family room watching their five children play a very loud game of indoor football. It wasn't something Rose normally allowed, but she couldn't bring herself to stop their fun. After almost losing everyone she held dear in her life, she wanted to embrace every moment, loud or quiet.
Emmett pulled his wife on his lap and kissed her neck. "What's on your mind?" he asked softly.
"Just feeling incredibly lucky to have my family safe." He hummed in agreement. "Will you quit?" she asked him. The idea of Emmett continuing to work for Edward was more than she could bear at times. She didn't believe for one second he would go completely legit. She feared more than ever for her family's safety.
"Quit?" he asked with a raised brow.
"The business," she hedged.
Emmett sighed and leaned back on the sofa. He rubbed his hands over his face then looked into his wife's pained eyes. "Babe, it's not that simple. You just don't quit the mob."
"But Edward said he'd go legit." Rose tried to keep her voice low, so she wouldn't disturb her playing children.
Emmett took her face in his hands and stared into her beautiful blue eyes. "Even if he does go legit, there'll still be things I have to do. I'm his lawyer, his brother, I can't and won't abandon him."
"What about me, our children? Are you willingly letting possible harm come to us again?" Rose moved off his lap and stood. "I don't want to make you choose. Don't force me." She walked away leaving Emmett to think about their future.
Emmett's phone rang distracting him from his tormented thoughts about his wife's words. He saw his little brother's name on the screen and groaned. He knew his reprieve wouldn't last long. "Cullen," he said formally. Not wanting anyone to know it was Edward, especially Rose.
"Cullen? Whatever. Listen, I need to meet. Get Carly and meet me at the spot." Edward hung up without another word to his brother.
Emmett walked through the house until he found his wife. She was lying in their bed sniffling. He sat down beside her and moved back the hair that had fallen in her face. "Babe, I've gotta run out for a bit. Do you need anything?"
She let her watery eyes drift to his. "Why?"
He sighed. "Edward wants to see Carly and me."
"Oh." She closed her eyes as her tears began to fall again.
Emmett cursed under his breath and pulled her into his arms. "It's just dinner. Brother stuff. Baby, I can't cut my family out of my life."
"I know. I don't want you to, but I don't want you working for Edward anymore either."
"I swear, I'll do everything I can to make life safe for you and the kids. Please trust me. This thing had nothing to do with Edward's job. It was my dad's business. Personal, you know."
"I understand, Emmett. But how long will it be before you're tracked down for what you do, or who you associate with. It's dangerous."
"I know. Things will get better. You'll see. I gotta run. I'm grabbing Carly." He kissed her quickly then left.
Edward entered the Three Brother's restaurant he co-owned with his brothers, and went straight to his waiting table. The booth in the back corner was always left open for the Cullen brothers, who under normal circumstances ate there every Thursday. They'd been absent for the past few weeks, but Edward was ready to set things right.
"Hello, Mr. Cullen. What can I get for you?" Tammy, the head waitress, asked.
Edward looked over the menu for a moment then said, "Give me the double with extra fries and a coke."
"Right away, sir. Will your brothers be joining you?"
"Yep, any minute." Edward never once looked up at the waitress. He kept his eyes on his phone as he responded to his wife's text messages. Bella had been texting him about every fifteen minutes to be sure he was okay. He loved her, but she was wearing on his nerves. He tried to make sure he was extra sensitive, given her situation. He didn't want her going into premature labor. They had four months to go, and he was determined they'd both be safe and healthy.
"What's this about, Edward?" Carlisle asked as he slide in across from his brother, Emmett followed him into the booth.
Edward smiled and put away his phone. "Just a meal with my brothers. I already ordered." He motioned for the waitress to come back. After she left with the brothers' orders Edward said, "How're the families?"
Carlisle spoke first. "The twins are growing and doing well. I'm worried about Esme. She's had nightmares every night, and she barely sleeps. I have to remind her to eat. She's trying to breastfeed, but her body just isn't producing enough milk for both children."
Edward nodded sympathetically as did Emmett. "Has the doctor prescribed anything?" Emmett asked.
"No. She didn't tell him how she really feels; she wouldn't let me go in with her either. I pulled her chart after hours. I could write something up for her, but she'll be angry." Carlisle slumped down in his seat with defeat. Emmett cupped his brother's shoulder giving him a reassuring squeeze.
"Rose is beyond pissed with me right now," Emmett said, taking his turn in the conversation.
"Why?" Edward asked. He'd pulled his phone back out of his pocket to respond to Bella's fifteenth text.
"Wants me to give up working for the family."
"Not happen'. You let her know?" Edward asked, fingers flying over the screen.
Emmett blew out a breath. He knew that'd be Edward response. He let Ben go, but he'd never let his flesh and blood go. "I told her I wouldn't abandon my family, any of them."
"Good," Edward chirped, looking up from his phone.
"What about Bells?" Emmett asked.
Edward raised his eyebrows and clacked his tongue. "Bella understands. She's driving me nuts though. Won't stop texting me. Every damn ten minutes, she's asking if I'm okay; wants to know where I am."
"They're all worried," Carlisle surmised unnecessarily.
Edward shook his head. He was about to speak when their food arrived. The men ate heartily and in silence. Once they'd pushed their plates away and ordered dessert, Edward said, "I ain't quittin'. We can't let some underling dipshit take what we've worked hard for. PD wants me to go legit and help them against crime. I'll play along, but I've got some new business I want to take on."
"Like?" Emmett asked.
Edward's eyes lit up. "Slot machines … got this guy doublin' serial numbers. It'll look legit, but we'll get double the profit. It's easy."
"So they'll be in a casino? Or one of those little mom and pop joints?" Emmett asked, finding he wasn't so opposed to the deal.
"Both. They're opening a casino across the river. Tommy, the guy that owns the joint, says he'll cut me in, I'll supply the equipment, he'll give me twenty-five percent. Then I'm turning Isabella's into a mom and pop joint. I'm letting Jeremy and Oz cover it. We'll get one hundred on the dub serials and twenty five off the originals. Foolproof." Edward smiled brightly.
"Unless, someone checks the numbers," Carlisle added.
Edward leaned forward and eyed his brother. "You gonna tell?"
"No," Carlisle said quickly. He knew better than to get on the bad side of Edward.
"Good." Edward sat back slowly. His eyes flicked to Emmett. "I'll need you to get all the paperwork going on Isabella's. I'm not closing it down. I want to move it to a nicer area. The shop's doing well. You think you can handle that, Em?"
"Yeah. I'll start Monday, first thing." Edward nodded. He was anxious to get his hands into something. He'd play nice with the law, but he wouldn't lose his territory or his money.