A/N: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. Any similarities to the original characters or themes from the books or media franchise are used here for entertainment purposes only, with no monetary gain for me, the FanFiction author. All original content, ideas, and intellectual property of Rm w/ a Vu are mine . . .
. . . but the responsibility for the replacement of any ruined articles of clothing due to spontaneous combustion after reading the citrusy parts of this story is all yours.
I want to thank all of those who read and reviewed the last chapter. While not all of them were *great*, I do appreciate you taking the time to tell me how you felt. I knew when I plotted this story out a year ago that I was going to upset some people when I went this direction, but I'm not the kind of author who's going to change a storyline just because a few people are upset. The truth remains that a lot of you (while still worried about this situation) trust in me to give you that HEA.
Chapter 31. Decisions, Decisions
I can't believe how accepting Bella's been about this whole fucked-up situation. However, I'm not sure I entirely buy it either. Yes, she surprised me by acting so maturely, but I can tell it still bothers her—how couldn't it?
She assures me that she'll support whatever decision I make, but does she mean it? She flat-out told me she's not ready to be a mother, and while I would never force that upon her, if I choose to raise this baby, things will change. The baby will cry at all hours of the night—I'm not naive enough to think otherwise—and she'll find it hard to find any quiet time to study. Not to mention, our relalationship, while I wouldn't want it to, could suffer horribly.
I can't believe I got myself into this mess. I'll never drunk dial anyone ever again; no good comes of it.
Trying to find the right time to tell Bella everything proved to be difficult, and ultimately, I decided to wait until we were home. No matter how I spun it in my mind, it ruined the vacation. Of course, Bella points out that my emotional withdrawal did that, anyway. I'm such an asshole.
It's just my luck that when I finally find the courage to just rip the Band-Aid off, we're interrupted . . . by the source of my dilemma, no less.
When all the pieces fall into place for Bella, the look in her eyes kills me. Knowing I caused her that look makes my stomach roll, and I vow to never forgive myself.
The minute she grabs her keys and starts for the door, I feel sick to my stomach. I don't know what exactly to do, but I know I can't just let her walk out that door without trying to explain everything to her. She says she'll be back—that she just needs to think—and while I know she's absolutely entitled to some time alone to process this, I'm reluctant to agree. I let her go, though, because I have to deal with Irina. While I would much rather hash things out with Bella now and not later, I need to know the details of what needs to be discussed. And only one person has that information.
Angry that Bella found out the way she did—again, it's completely my fault for not telling her sooner, but I'm looking for a scapegoat for my blame—I glare at Irina as I storm back into the house. She's hot on my trail and closes the door behind us.
"I'm sorry," she quickly says. "I didn't realize she had no idea."
"Why are you even here?" I demand, furious.
Irina's eyes widen and she pulls back slightly, almost afraid. "We're running out of time." Her voice is quiet and hesitant. "I figured coming to you and discussing this maturely was the right thing to do."
"How do I even know it's mine? We used a condom, and you were supposedly on the pill."
Her face contorts from afraid to angry in an instant. "How dare you even imply—"
"How dare I?" I shout. "You came barging back into my life with this."
"Oh, pull your head out of your ass," she barks. "Condoms have a three percent failure rate—it's written right there on the box. And yes, I am on the pill, but apparently the antibiotics I was on for a bronchial infection rendered them completely fucking useless." She takes a deep, cleansing breath before continuing. "Now, it took both of us to make this mess, and I'll be damned if you leave it all on me to clean up."
"What do you want from me? Money? To get back together?" I ask, pacing back and forth, my self-loathing and rage still bubbling under my skin.
Staring at me incredulously, Irina shakes her head. "You're unbelievable, you know that?" I stare at her, dumbfounded. "Everything's always about you, right? All the girls are just lining up to get a piece of Edward Cullen." Her sarcasm isn't appreciated, but it knocks me off my high horse for a moment.
"I don't want you back, Edward," she seethes. "I want you to decide what the next step is." She looks down, placing her hand over her flat stomach. "I don't have a maternal bone in my body—you know that. Kids were never in my future."
I swallow thickly, taking a step back until I hit the wall and letting it support me as my legs threaten to give out. "So what are you saying?"
"I'm saying, if you want the baby, it's yours. I'll get a paternity test to ease your mind, and I'll carry it to term. Like a surrogate. I'll do all the things a pregnant woman is supposed to do: I won't drink, I'll avoid large quantities of seafood and caffeine . . . I'll give you a healthy child, and after it's born, I'll sign over any and all claim to the child. Or there's always . . ." She lets her words hang there for a minute, implying that she'd be okay terminating the pregnancy.
Even though this isn't how I saw my life turning out right now, the thought of not manning up to the responsibility being thrust at me makes me uneasy.
"Why?" I croak, once I've found my voice again.
"I've always been selfish," she says with a smirk. "You know that. I just got the opportunity of a lifetime working in Italy. A child would complicate that. I haven't signed my contract yet, and I'm sure I can negotiate its terms so I can stay in the US until after the baby is born." A heavy silence fills the room, and Irina watches me expectantly. "I'm giving you the choice."
"I don't . . . I can't . . ." I thrust my fingers through my hair, fisting it roughly. "Bella."
"I'm not going to ask you to make up your mind right now. But sooner would be better than later." She offers me a smile. I think it's meant to come off as reassuring, but I'm not feeling it. "No tricks, Edward. I'm serious when I say I'll sign over all parental claim."
All I can do is nod in her direction, but I barely see her; I'm staring at nothing and everything at the same time, all of it blurring into nothingness.
"She's lovely, by the way." She laughs once, genuine humour ringing out. "Quite the firecracker. I didn't mean to cause trouble for the two of you, but I think she's stronger than you're giving her credit for. If she feels as strongly for you as I think she does, based on the death glare she gave me earlier, then I think she'll stick by you through this. Give her time, Edward."
With that, she leaves, and I am faced with a decision that has the potential to change my entire life.
I stumble over to the stairs and sit down to figure out how my life had gone from damn-near perfect to completely fucked in what feels like seconds.
When Bella finally arrives home, she seems nervous, but less upset than before. I'm beyond relieved she showed up at all, because, while she told me she'd be back, I figured she was just feeding me a line to placate me.
From there, we talk. We talk about it all. She's more than candid about how she feels—about my omission, my obvious distress, and where she's at. Neither of us really eats, instead picking at the sandwiches we've made for something to busy our fidgeting hands. By the end of the conversation, I'd say we're in a better place than moments earlier. It's not back to where it was, but we've still got so much to work through.
Exhausted, we head upstairs for bed. I'm supposed to go into work tomorrow, but I'm thinking I might see if Emmett can handle everything solo for a few days. I've got a lot to figure out, and not a lot of time to do it.
I stare at Bella across the bed from me. It's dark in the bedroom, the moonlight only casting enough light that I can make out her expressive eyes. There's two feet between us as we lie on our sides, facing one another, and the room is silent except for the sound of our breathing. I admire her silently, thankful and confused for how forgiving she's been.
"Thank you," I whisper, reaching out and pushing a strand of hair behind her ear.
"For saying you'll support me. It can't be easy for you to have to go through this."
Bella shrugs, dropping her gaze from me. It's something I've come to recognize as her tell when she's trying to be strong and selfless. "It's nothing. You'd have done the same."
"Bella . . ."
She sighs. "Yeah, it sucks," she confesses, reaching out and taking my hand. "But I love you."
Still worried that she doesn't understand just how much things could change for us with a new baby, I give her hand a squeeze. "You know a baby will change things, right?" She stares at me, her eyes wide and nervous. "It doesn't change the way I feel about you or us, but I want you to really think about this, sweetheart. If I decide to raise this child on my own, your life will be affected as long as you live here."
She sits up in an instant, pulling her hand from mine and placing it against her chest like she's guarding her heart. "Are you asking me to move out? Do you not want me here anymore?"
"What?" I exclaim, following her lead and sitting up. "No. That's not what I'm saying at all. But you said you're not ready to be a mother. If you live here, you'll be subjected to the all-night crying, midnight feedings, and diaper changes. You're young and just starting your life. Going to school, getting ready to start your career . . . I'm giving you the opportunity to change your mind. To back out of your lease . . . and out of this relationship."
"I've already told you I'm not going anywhere. I've known about all of this for less than eight hours, Edward. I'm scared. You need to give me time to process everything. Right now, it all feels like I'm caught in a dream. Like I'm going to wake up at any minute and we'll still be in Whistler." She pauses for a moment and smiles, restoring a little of my hope. "Yes, I said I'm not ready to be a mother . . . but I didn't mean ever. We'll figure this out. We'll just have to take it one day at a time."
There's conviction behind her words; it wavers a bit, but it is enough to convince me that we'll be all right. I turn to look at the alarm clock and see that it's late, and we're both clearly exhausted. We lie back down and continue to stare at each other until we fall asleep. There'll be time to talk tomorrow.
::: Rw/aV :::
I refuse to make a choice until a paternity test can confirm whether or not Irina's telling the truth. She tells me she'll set up the paternity test and let me know when the appointment is. Apparently, between ten and thirteen weeks, the most accurate way to test paternity is to collect a chorionic villus sample. I suggest we try to get in before Irina enters her second trimester so we still have options, and while she seems a little annoyed by the underlying insinuation that the child isn't mine, she agrees to it.
Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, folks.
The first few days are still a little tense, but Bella and I try to get things as close to normal as we can. Emmett and Rose assure me they can cover for me for the rest of the week. I haven't given them the details of why I need a few extra days off, but they're understanding nonetheless.
In addition to not telling Emmett and Rose, I've decided to wait and not tell my parents until I know for certain that the baby is mine. Bella agrees that it's for the best, and her constant reassurance helps keep me grounded through it all. Even if I still don't deserve it after all I've kept from her.
That night that we talked about everything, I vowed before falling asleep to never keep anything from her again. If something happens in the future, I will tell her immediately. No matter what it is.
Irina sets the paternity test up for two days after she and I spoke. I'm extremely nervous, but Bella helps calm my nerves. She offers to come with me, but I don't want to make her feel obligated to do something she's not quite comfortable with. While I would love her to be there, just the offer is enough to show her support.
Irina and I wait in the waiting room after we sign the appropriate paperwork. She seems perfectly fine while I can't get my hands to stop sweating. Normally, I'd be a little concerned by how calm she is, but it only makes sense given the future she's chosen for herself.
"How is she?" Irina asks politely, trying to keep my mind occupied. "Bella, I mean."
"She's good. Better than good, actually," I confess. "She's been surprisingly supportive."
"I told you she would be."
"Irina?" The nurse's voice interrupts us, and Irina stands up to follow her into one of the rooms. Not long after Irina leaves, another nurse calls my name, and I follow her into a room across the hall. My portion of the test is far less invasive than Irina's, as they take a swab from the inside of my cheek, so I'm done before Irina and wait for her in the waiting room.
She comes out with the nurse, looking no different than when she went in, and we're assured that we should have the test results within the week. Which means I could be explaining this to a lot of people by next weekend.
Thinking about what my parents might say causes my anxiety to spike, and it's all I can think about on my way home. Bella notices the minute I step through the door, and she ushers me into the living room, settling me onto the couch and rubbing my shoulders to help ease the tension in them.
"It'll be fine," she assures me softly, letting her fingers move up my neck and into my hair. It makes my scalp tingle, the sensation moving below the surface of my skin and all over my body. "They'll understand. They're going to be grandparents. How could that not be good news?" She pauses for a minute, her hands ceasing their ministrations, and she rests her chin on my shoulder. "Regardless of how it happened."
I sigh, letting my head fall to the side to rest against hers. "How are you so okay with this?"
Bella lifts her head and starts massaging my shoulders again. "I'm still not . . . not completely, anyway," she admits. "But I'm taking it a day at a time, Edward. I'm working toward accepting what life's thrown our way."
I reach up with my right hand and place it on hers, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Take as much time as you need. Just promise you'll tell me if you're ever feeling . . . fuck, I don't know . . . overwhelmed."
As the week passes, I go back and forth about how the paternity results will come back. Part of me feels without a doubt that Irina is telling the truth, but the part of me that wants so badly to go back in time to the way things were with Bella hopes otherwise.
When the results come in the mail, Bella's by my side, having just returned from school. She stands behind where I sit at the kitchen table and places her hands on my shoulders. It feels like she's lending me any strength she has as I open the envelope and pull out the piece of paper.
It tells me what, deep down, I already knew it would: the baby is mine.
I sit there, staring at the paper in silence. Time seems to stop, the edges of my vision darkening until all I can focus on are the results. My eyes start to itch and dry out from my inability to blink, and it isn't until Bella wraps her arms around my neck and kisses my cheek that I take my first breath.
"Okay," she says sweetly. "So now we know." I nod, rubbing my hand over her forearm.
"Now we know," I repeat. "I guess it's time to make a decision."
Sighing lightly, Bella straightens up and walks around my chair, taking the test results from me and setting them on the table before she sits across my lap. "Edward, you made the decision the minute Irina explained everything." I open my mouth to protest, but Bella smiles and cuts me off. "Don't try to deny it. I could see it in your eyes that night. The fact that you're willing to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done is . . . admirable, and I think it's made me fall in love with you just a little bit more."
She's not wrong; there was very little doubt that I would raise this child if it turned out to be mine. But I still worry that this whole situation will drive an even bigger wedge between us than it already has. Wrapping my arms around her waist, I nod. "And you're sure you're all right with this? For a baby to come into my life?"
"Our life," she amends. "We have . . . what? Seven months?" She inhales a shaky breath, her smile faltering for the briefest of seconds. "I think that gives us enough time to figure things out."
::: Rw/aV :::
I invite my parents over for coffee Saturday afternoon. I'm nervous as hell to tell them that they're going to be grandparents, but Bella is sure to remind me that they don't seem like the type that will be upset.
"They might need time like I did to understand it all, but they'll be ecstatic," tells me before they arrive. I'd assume Bella will make an excuse to get out of the house while I tell them, but I'm surprised to find out she's planned on showing her support by staying close by.
When the doorbell rings, Bella runs off to the kitchen to prepare the tea and coffee, and I usher my parents into the living room.
"Where's Bella?" my mother asks brightly.
"Um, getting the coffee," I explain, clearing my throat as they take a seat on the sofa.
They watch me expectantly as I stand before them, and I decide to just tell them. Stalling in an effort to figure out the best way to deliver this news caused problems for Bella and me, and I wasn't going to repeat that mistake again.
I take a deep breath. "So, the reason I asked you both here wasn't just to have coffee," I confess, wringing my hands in front of me.
"Oh, dear," my mother says, reaching for Dad's hand. "What's happened?"
"Um . . . well . . . You're, uh . . . You're going to be grandparents." They're eyes go wide simultaneously, but I don't see anger there, only excitement.
Before I get a chance to clarify, Bella appears just then, holding a tray with the coffee and teapots on it, and when my parents notice my focus shift to her, they're on their feet and turning around.
Mom quickly takes the tray and sets it on the end table before wrapping her arms around Bella, pinning her arms to her sides. "Oh, this is so amazing—I mean, a little soon, sure, but you two were just meant to be together."
"Oh, this is awkward," Bella groans, bringing her arms up as much as possible to pat my mom's back. "Esme, no." She looks to me for help, and I step forward.
"Mom, Bella's not pregnant," I amend, my voice low and rough.
Mom releases Bella, looks to Dad, and then to me. "I'm confused," she says.
"Irina," I croak. "Irina's pregnant."
Now their eyes go wide with every emotion other than excitement. "Irina," Mom repeats, reaching blindly to her left for my father. "Irina's pregnant. How? When? Good god, Edward, why?"
I suddenly feel like a six-year-old child again, under the scrutinizing glare of my parents when they caught me kissing the neighbour girl in the backyard. "I didn't . . . it wasn't . . ." I sigh, collapsing into the chair and pressing my face into my hands. "I don't know."
"Is that why she called the house?" my father asks, and I nod, still unable to look at them.
A warm hand presses to my shoulder, and I feel Bella's presence as she slides onto the arm of the chair. "She came to the house just after we'd returned and delivered the news. We were caught off-guard, yes, but we're trying to make the best of the situation," Bella explains, running her hand over my shoulders.
I lift my face from my hands and look up at her in awe. I didn't fail to notice how she used the word "we," and while I'd heard her say it the other day, it still renders me momentarily speechless. Her support gives me the strength I need to continue explaining everything to my parents.
By the time I tell them what Irina's proposal is, my parents seem to have relaxed. A little. Like Bella, they're still trying to process what they've just learned, and are going to need a little time. They leave after their coffee is finished, hugging Bella and me and telling us to call them if we need anything.
Once they're gone, Bella closes and locks the door before turning to me with a smile. "Well, that could have gone worse."
Unable to voice my gratitude for all she'd done this afternoon, I pull her into my arms and kiss her. Saying "thank you" just doesn't seem like enough, but even kissing her doesn't seem sufficient.
She accepts it, though, winding her arms around my neck and pulling me closer, her tongue tracing the line of my lips before deepening our kiss. My hands move down over her hips until I grab her ass and lift her up. The minute her legs wrap around my waist, I turn us around and head for the stairs. I stop kissing her so I can see the steps, but she continues to kiss and bite the skin of my neck, making it difficult for me to focus on climbing the stairs when all I want to do is press her against the wall and have my way with her. When her fingers twist into my hair, they send a tingling sensation from my scalp, beneath my skin, and straight to my groin—it's really not helping my inability to focus.
At the top of the stairs, I find myself unable to keep my lips off of her anymore, and I move forward quickly, slamming us into the table outside the game room. It rocks beneath the force of our weight, and everything that was on it falls to the floor one at a time. I grunt as my lips find Bella's again, and her hands frantically begin tugging at the button of my jeans before she slips her hand inside and wraps it around my cock.
"Ah, fuck," I moan against her lips as she moves her hand, tightening her grip slightly and repeating the action. Instinctively, I thrust my hips into her palm while my hands move up under her shirt.
The table wobbles beneath Bella, and she giggles, her head falling back while I kiss the smooth column of her throat. "Perhaps we should move this to the bedroom before this table gives out."
Always one to oblige, I remove my hands from her tits and grab her ass, lifting her off the table and carrying her down the hall. Inside my bedroom, I toss her down on my bed, and we scramble to remove each other's clothes. Our fingers claw desperately at buttons and hems, our hands paw at newly exposed naked flesh, and before I can even kick my pants off entirely, I grab a condom from the bedside table and put it on before nudging her knees apart and entering her slick heat.
The instant I'm sheathed within her, I realize that it's the first time that we've made love since we left Whistler, and I wonder if she's made this realization as well. One look in her eyes tells me she has. I lower myself until our bodies are completely pressed together, all of the air expelled from within our bodies until we can feel one another's heartbeats, and I hold most of my weight off of her by balancing on my forearms.
As our hips roll together, seeking the pinnacle of ecstasy, I attempt to slow our lovemaking, to show her how much her love and support have meant to me these past two weeks, but she's having none of it. She uses all of her strength to roll us over, taking her place above me and setting our pace. I always love it when she's on top, and I find myself struggling to hold on as her hips move up and down, back and forth, and around in sensual circles while her fingers curl against my chest, her fingernails biting gently into my skin.
Every muscle in my body tenses, and the surface of my skin tingles from head to toe, my fingers going numb, as I teeter on the edge of losing control. My hands fly to her hips, curling around them and pulling her harder against me. She cries out as her pussy tightens around my cock, coaxing my own orgasm from me before she collapses on my chest, panting heavily.
We lay like this long enough that I get to feel her quickened heartbeat slow to its normal pace once more. My hand moves up and down her spine slowly as my eyes fall closed, contentedness blanketing the both of us.
"What are you thinking about?" Bella asks out of nowhere, shifting her head until her chin rests on my sternum.
I tilt my head to look at her and smirk. "Nothing really, just basking in the moment. You?"
"I miss Whistler," she confesses.
I automatically assume she means she misses how simple our lives seemed when we were in Whistler, so I look at her apologetically. Before I can respond to her, though, her eyebrows pull together and she shakes her head. "Oh, no. This isn't about what we came back to. Not at all. It's just . . . because we came back to all of this, I never really got a chance to really let our vacation soak in, you know? I'm going to miss the cabin, and it makes me sad that we'll never get to go back there. We'd built a few memories there, and I'm sad we won't be making more in the vacation home you grew up in." She pauses, biting her lip lightly. "Especially now, you know?"
I do know, and she's absolutely right. Some of my best memories were from our family vacations up to Whistler, and I'd enjoyed the new ones there with Bella. And now that I was going to have a child of my own, I could imagine introducing him or her to that part of my life.
And maybe this would be the perfect way to show Bella how much I appreciate all that she's done. It would prove my loyalty to her and show her that I foresee a long and happy life with her . . .
"What if we didn't have to say goodbye," I say quietly, drawing curiosity from her eyes.
"What do you mean?"
I smile, lifting my hands to her face and pushing her hair back before cradling her jaw, my thumbs moving idly over her cheekbones. "What if I bought the cabin from my parents? For us."
A/N2: I know I've already lost readers due to this turn of events. I knew it would happen, and I'm okay with it. Really. There've been some pretty harsh reviews, but it's not something I've never experienced before with some of my other fics. I get it. It's cool. I appreciated every review, because it helps me understand what people like and dislike.
Those of you who have chosen to stick by me through this little twist, what did you all think of how the situation is being handled? I tried to get a little of the humour back that we were used to (as well as some of the citrus ;)). I clearly can't get RIGHT back to it, because that would be unrealistic and a bit insensitive to the situation, but it'll get there. I promise.
One more thing I want to mention to all of those who are having trouble grasping how Bella could possibly love a child that's not biologically hers: this Edward is adopted. To site this huge biological reason as to why Bella could never love it as if it were her own seems odd to me, especially when Edward is proof that DNA and blood don't give you the ability to love...it's the size of the person's heart and their ability to open it to others. Yes, he made the baby with an ex, but it's still a half of the man she loves. How could she not love it :)
So, let me know what you thought! Teasers await those who review!
Next up, we hear from Bella. Some big stuff is going to happen. In a very good way :)