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.
Wow. You guys are just . . . amazing. While I still had my fair share of the "not-so-happy" reviews regarding this turn of events, I had far more support (and before anyone jumps down my throat: I did delete any that outwardly flamed ME...but I also accidentally deleted some that were only voicing an opinion of the story. This was an accident, as my computer lag was just ridiculous :( So I'm sorry if anyone noticed this and got all butt-hurt). Some of you are still trying to wrap your heads around it, and that's cool, but you're willing to stick it out. For that, I thank you. The words of encouragement that were sent my way via review and PM were more than appreciated and touched me deeply. I truly have the best readers in the fandom, and I am sad that I lost a few. I hope not forever, though, because I would hate for the events of one story to sour any of my future work.
Originally, I had this whole big spiel planned regarding those questioning the reality of the situation. I decided to forego it because I'm not looking to enrage people any more than I already have. That was never the intent, and I'm sorry that some people got so upset about this turn of events. I will say, however, that I have been in this situation, and I am drawing inspiration from my life in regards to how I chose to deal with this situation. I was 19 at the time (31 now) and I'm happily married to the man today, so I don't feel it's an unrealistic storyline. Uncommon? Sure.
I've also taken the advice of a couple of readers and changed the category to Romance/Drama. While I don't think it was particularly necessary since 2-3 chapters of drama vs 30+ of romantic and funny don't necessarily constitute the label, I can see now how some readers could misconstrue it. So, I apologize if you felt blindsided or duped, and should you not continue with this story, know that I do have several purely funny—with absolutely NO drama—fics slated for the future. From this point on, I will categorize my stories more carefully to avoid the backlash in the future. Any and all drama will be noted.
Thanks again to my readers, and a HUGE thanks to my betas. They've also played a big part in keeping me on track, telling me to pay more attention to the positive and letting the negative roll off my back (while still heeding the more civil ones as constructive). I'm not going to please everyone. This is a fact of life. I'm just happy to have the love and support of so many.
*hops off soapbox*
Before this AN winds up being longer than the chapter itself, I'm going to smile and step back into the shadows so you can all enjoy the rest of the story. We still have some healing to do, regardless of how well these two seem to be doing. Let's see how Bella's really doing . . . and how her parents react to this news.
Chapter 32. Moving Forward
I'm a fake. A phony. Every smile and show of support over the last two weeks is thick-plated armour I've carefully constructed. Yes, it's deceiving, but Edward needs someone in his corner right now. I may be young, but I understand the severity of the situation he's found himself in. And it terrifies me on a much deeper level than I'm letting on.
Edward's pretty perceptive, though, and has—on more than one occasion—suspected my unease. He's not one to leave it alone, though, and when he calls me on it, I'm forthright—to a degree. I don't feel like I can tell him exactly how much this scares me, because he's scared too. He's not only afraid of how much things will change in his life, but in our life too. I want to be brave and selfless—to be the person I've been pretending to be for everyone he's told thus far—but I'm finding it hard to adjust this quickly.
The truth is, I'm hurt. Hurt that he kept this from me on vacation—though I kind of understand why—hurt that I found out the way I did, and hurt because he'll experience all of these firsts before he and I are ready to start a family of our own. That last one is the one that stings the most.
In addition to being hurt, I'm also a little . . . confused. Oh, and pissed off. Let's not forget that one. I'm not necessarily pissed off at Edward, because this all happened before we even knew each other, but I'm pissed off that this is the curve ball life has thrown my way. Have I not had to deal with enough in the last three months? I mean, really. First, all that shit with Jake, and now this? What next?
Wait . . . scratch that. I don't think that tempting fate by asking that question is a good idea right now; I'll deal with one life problem at a time, thank you very much.
Irina showing up when she did was upsetting. She'd waited the entire week that we were away to tell Edward . . . could she not have waited another day? Honestly, it was quite rude, and when she made that "flavour of the month" comment, I felt like punching her in the face—and considering I've done that before without feeling remorseful, I'd have gladly done it again. Unfortunately, I was caught off guard with that whole "ta-da! I'm pregnant" revelation, and I'm pretty sure people frown upon those who punch pregnant women.
I hate her. No, really; I fucking hate Irina.
I'm not a person who generally doles out a lot of hate because it just wastes too much energy, and, honestly, life is just too damn short for it. Sure, I dislike people—Jake and Leah, for example—but I don't see the point in hating anyone. Or, I didn't until I met that bitch.
I thought how I felt when I learned of Edward and Heidi's tryst was the most jealous I would ever feel, but when I learned about how he and Irina had been together only weeks before we'd met . . . well, let's just say that Heidi was the initial knife wound and Irina was the twist that would keep the wound open for a very long time.
Seven months, to be exact. At least, I hope it won't be longer than that.
I haven't let on just how much Irina's appearance has upset me because, honestly, I figure Edward has more than enough to deal with. After voicing my insecurities about Heidi in BC, I've come to trust in Edward's feelings for me, and while I still feel more than a little insecure about what the future holds or whether he still has feelings for her, I can't bring myself to make this all about me. I don't want to be that person.
Okay, so I do, but I won't.
When Edward tells me that Irina only plans to be around until the baby is born, I find myself feeling relieved, and I hope I won't have too much contact with her before then. I understand that she'll be around here and there and that I can't do anything about that, but I can control is how often I choose to insert myself into any part of this that involves her.
I did offer to go with Edward to his paternity test, even though I knew Irina would be there, but, secretly, I'd hoped he would decline my offer. Thankfully, he did. I really have no idea what I was thinking when I suggested that shit in the first place.
When Edward decided he was ready to tell his parents, I told him I'd stay in a show of support. Irina wasn't involved in that, so I felt particularly good about my decision. Edward was terrified about how they would react, but I knew they'd be all right. Did I expect them to accept it right away? Not at all, but only because I was—and still am—having trouble getting used to the idea.
I'd missed the first part of the conversation, but when I arrived into the living room with a tray of coffee and tea, Esme pulled me into her arms and congratulated us. Edward really had to work on including the more important details when breaking news to people. There was a momentary pang that jolted through me, making my stomach roll. Did I wish that it was me giving them their first grandchild? Sure. Anything would be better than what is actually happening.
They took the news pretty much how I did. They worked their way through the various stages of denial, anger, and finally—after a couple of hours—they found themselves at semi-acceptance. Are they happy? It's hard to say. I think the idea of a grandchild is exciting to them, but I'm sure they find the circumstances less than ideal.
Of course, I could just be projecting.
Edward was grateful for how I supported him when he told them. This was evident in the way he kissed me after they left. I know I should have stopped him, because, emotionally, I was still pretty fragile.
But I also wanted to forget.
Getting lost in Edward—no matter how upset I was deep down—seemed like a good idea at the time. It worked for the most part, but unfortunately, it all came back when all was said and done. Then I just felt guilty for using sex with Edward as a means to push our problems aside.
Of course, my guilt was only amplified when he brought up buying the cabin in Whistler.
It was a simple question, one that only needed a yes or no answer, but I found myself unsure how to respond. The gesture is sweet, and I absolutely love the idea of Edward buying the cabin . . . but it's a big step for us. I told him I needed a little time to think about it, and he was very understanding, telling me to take all the time I needed.
It's just too much all at once, and I need time to adjust to one big change before we own a vacation home together.
It's the end of my second week back at school since Whistler, and, just like every other day, I find myself escaping in my studies. Most people when faced with a life-altering situation might find themselves obsessing about it and unable to focus on school or work, but I'm thankful for the distraction of class five days a week. While the pregnancy does ferret its way into my thoughts several times a day—how could it not?—I find it easy to push aside when I have a school project to bury myself in.
After my last class of the day lets out, I find myself torn on what to do. Edward will be at work late with Emmett, working on some contracts for a few new athletes they've acquired. I don't relish going back to an empty house with nothing to preoccupy my thoughts, so I decide to drive by my parents' house to see if Mom's home.
I've just started my truck when my phone buzzes in my jacket pocket. I smile when I see it's Edward.
Shouldn't be as late as we thought. Want me to grab a pizza on the way home?
My stomach growls just thinking about pizza, and I quickly tap out a response.
Sure. What time will you be home?
Probably around 6.
That still gives me two hours alone with my thoughts, so I decide I'm still going to go see Mom.
Sounds good. I'm going to go visit Mom for a bit.
His response takes longer than usual, but when I read it, it makes sense why.
Are you going to tell them?
It's true. We've known about this for just over two weeks now, and my parents still have no idea. To be fair, it's only been a couple days since we told Edward's parents, and they definitely deserved to know first. My lack of response must concern him, because he sends me a message.
You can. They deserve to know. This concerns you as much as it does me.
I tap out a return message before deleting it and re-typing. Then I delete that one, too, before sending:
IDK . . . I hadn't planned on it.
Another minute passes, but instead of another text, Edward calls me.
"Hey," I say softly, relaxing back in the cab of my idling truck.
"They should know," is the first thing he says.
I sigh. "It's not really my place to tell them, though, is it?"
Edward falls silent, and I can imagine him running his long fingers through his hair. "You need someone to talk to about this." I open my mouth to say . . . something, but he continues. "You and your mom are close, and I know you're not as fine as you keep telling me you are. I appreciate how supportive you've been, sweetheart, but I know you're freaking out. And you have every right to."
The entire time he's been talking, I've been nodding. "Okay," I whisper.
"So—not that you need my permission, per se—but I would understand if you felt the need to tell your mom."
The thought of telling my mom somehow takes some of the pressure off of me, but at the same time, it terrifies me . . . because, if Mom knows, Dad's not going to be too far behind. How would he take the news that my boyfriend was expecting a child with another woman?
Likely, not very well; I'd have to tread lightly when telling him.
Needing to change the subject, I force a smile, hoping that it's audible in my voice. "You'll be home with dinner at six, then?"
"I will. What kind of pizza do you want?"
He chuckles, and it's the first time it's sounded genuine in a while. "Okay. I'll see you in a couple hours, then. I love you."
My stomach flips, and I feel the truth behind his declaration. Even with everything we've been forced to deal with these last two weeks, I know how I feel about Edward and how he, in turn, feels about me. "I love you, too" I reciprocate. "I'll see you soon."
We hang up with each other, and I head over to my parents' house. Mom's SUV is in the driveway, but Dad's car is nowhere to be seen. This means my chances of walking in on them in a heated embrace are non-existent. Relieved, I get out of my truck, make my way up the walk, and knock on the door twice before walking inside.
"Mom?" I call out, hearing something being set on the kitchen counter before I hear her hurried footsteps.
"Bella! Honey!" she greets excitedly, jogging through the house and toward me as I close the door. "I'm so happy to see you. How've you been? It feels like it's been forever since we've talked."
She's over exaggerating a little; while I may not call her as often as I used to, I have spoken to her a couple of times since we returned from Whistler. I don't contribute too much to the conversation, because I've really only had one thing on my mind.
"Hey, Mom," I reply, hugging her before following her into the kitchen. "Dad working?"
Mom laughs. "You know he never works Fridays. What made you assume . . .?"
I shrug. "Well, I didn't walk in on the two of you doing it, so I just took a guess."
"Ugh." Mom groans, laying her hand over her slightly distended belly. "I hate to say it, but our love life has taken a back seat to my morning sickness."
I stop dead in my tracks, completely horrified in myself for having gotten so wrapped up in my own drama that I forgot about my mom and dad's own pregnancy.
Pressure builds in my belly, and I'm uncertain how it's going to present itself until I hear the soft giggles. Mom turns to me, her eyes widening with concern, as my laughter grows louder until I'm practically doubled over in hysterics; Irina and my mother are both pregnant. And what makes this even more hilarious, is that they're probably even due around the same time. My abs hurt from laughing so hard, and I feel a couple of tears leak from my eyes.
"Bella?" Mom asks, and I look at her, wiping the tears away only to have them replaced by a couple more.
And that's all it takes to break the dam that's holding me together at the seams.
My laughter fades, replaced by the sound of my sobbing as I start to collapse in on myself. Mom is there in a flash, putting an arm around me as she guides me to the table, and she hugs me, rubbing my back as she whispers soothingly into my ear.
I didn't mean to break down—honestly I didn't think I was this upset—but I'm surprised by how much lighter I feel once the sobs begin to ebb. It's almost as though I've been able to let go of all the pent up emotions that have been warring inside me. While I'm still worried about how Edward and I will get through this without marring our relationship even a little, somehow shedding a few tears and seeking the comfort of my mom has helped me—even if only minutely.
"What's going on, honey?" Mom asks as I pull my head from her shoulder, sniffling. "Did you and Edward have a fight?"
I shake my head, using the backs of my hands to wipe the tears from my cheeks. "N-not exactly." I pause while my mom pushes herself off the floor and into the chair next to me, turning it to face me fully.
"Then what? Sweetie, talk to me."
I take a deep, shaky breath. While I don't feel absolutely certain that it's my place to say anything, I have to wonder if talking about it will make me feel even better than the few minutes of crying I did. "Edward's ex," I begin, choking slightly on the words, "is . . . pregnant."
"Okay," Mom replies, drawing the word out a few seconds. "And?"
Another deep breath in, and, this time, I close my eyes. "And it's his."
"What?" a loud voice booms from behind me, and I swear my heart almost stops before it plummets into my knotted stomach.
I turn around quickly, my eyes widening in alarm as I take in the very livid face of my father. "Dad . . ." His nostrils flare, and his face is beginning to turn a shade of crimson I've never before seen on him. "Daddy," I try again, only he doesn't seem entirely receptive. He doesn't move, though, either, which bodes well for Edward keeping all of his body parts.
"Wh-? How?" Mom stammers, sounding a lot like Esme did when she found out. I want to turn to her and address her, but I'm afraid of Dad sneaking out like some kind of super-soldier and heading out to find an unsuspecting Edward.
"It happened before we met," I say in a soft voice, watching my father's eyes for any sign of his rage fading. When it does—even if only a fraction—I take a relieved breath. "But he's decided to raise the baby."
"What about the mother?"
I sigh again, running my fingers nervously through my hair—a habit I realize I've picked up from Edward. The thought of this makes me smile genuinely before I continue telling my parents about Edward's current situation. They both listen intently while I explain what Edward and Irina had discussed, and also how I feel about her. When I finish telling them what I know, Dad wanders toward the fridge, opens it up, and retrieves two cans of beer. Having only ever seen him grab one at a time—unless he's watching the game and doesn't want to risk missing some winning play, or whatever—my eyes grow wide with concern.
That concern soon fades when he plunks one of the cans down in front of me before taking a seat and cracking the one in his hand.
My eyes move between him and the can in front of me several times, and he watches me. It's a test, I deduce. It has to be. No way is my cop father offering me a beer before I hit the legal age of twenty-one. He knows I've been to parties—because what college kid hasn't—but he would never offer me alcohol other than the occasional glass of wine at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
"You're joking, right?" I inquire steadily. "Is this some kind of test? Because I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to have this for another eight months."
Dad takes a pull from his can and sets it down. "After what you've just told your mother and me, I'd say you've earned it."
"I don't think drowning my sorrows in hops is going to accomplish anything," I argue, even though the idea is tempting.
"So, how do you feel about what's going on?" Mom asks, and, just like that, I grab the can and crack it open.
"I'm scared," I confess, taking a small drink. "I mean, I love Edward, and I honestly don't see my future without him, you know? But I'm twenty and a student. A child could complicate things." Mom and Dad both nod, and I know they're both thinking about how they were only a couple years older than me when they became parents. "Edward says he doesn't expect me to be a mother, but how can I escape that—realistically, I mean. And . . ." I exhale loudly. "What if I'm just not ready to be a parent? This whole situation—how it happened and how I found out—has me afraid that I'll resent Edward. Or worse . . . the baby."
Mom and Dad remain silent, and I start to wonder if what I've said makes me sound like a horrible human being. "I'm sorry. That sounds awful," I say. "It's not that I question whether or not I'll love the baby—who doesn't love a baby? They're adorable—but I'm not naive enough to think that our relationship isn't about to change."
"Oh," Mom says, reaching out and placing her hand over mine. "Of course your relationship is going to change. But it's not going to change how you feel about him or him about you." She must see my reluctance, because she smiles and continues. "Yes, there will be sleepless nights and some stress in the beginning as you both learn to adjust, but it's all so worth it. The minute you see him with that baby"—her gaze travels over to my father, who's smiling back at her—"your love for him will change. But in the best way. He won't just be your partner anymore, baby. He'll be a dad."
My breath catches as I visualize the moment my mom is describing, and I feel a little bit more of my earlier apprehensions disappear. Is she right? She's never steered me wrong before, so I'm feeling obligated to trust her now. However, there's still one problem.
"Then there's Irina," I confess in a voice barely above a whisper. "I'm . . . envious of her." They continue to eye me questioningly, and my bravery wavers. "Edward's first experience with pregnancy will always be what he shared with her. Not with me. I hate to sound childish, but it's just not fair. I hate her. I hate what they shared before he even met me, and I hate that they're going to get to share this—even if she doesn't plan to be around afterward."
"Your feelings toward this woman are understandable, but it doesn't sound like either one of them intended for this to happen."
Ashamed, I hang my head, eyeing her through my lashes. "I know."
She smiles in an effort to comfort me. "Honey, he's older than you. You knew he had a past, and unfortunately he's going to be forced to remember that part of his life indefinitely." There's a pause, and I look up to see her gaze burning into mine. "He can either look at this as a mistake that needs fixing, or he can look at it as the next step in his life. And you have the power to change his outlook on this entire ordeal."
My throat feels tight as I squeak out a low, "How?"
"Listen, kiddo," Dad interjects, drawing my attention to him fully. "To answer that, I think you need to ask yourself one question: Do you love him?"
There's absolutely no hesitation between his question and my answer. "Without a doubt."
"And do you support his decision?"
Surprising myself, I reply without pause again. "Of course."
Nodding, Dad smiles and leans back in his chair again. "Then there's the answer to your own question. Your continued support will help him through this. This situation, while not ideal, has the potential to be something incredible, Bells. You just have to have the right attitude and be there for him when he needs you.
"I know it's not always going to be easy," Dad continues, "but if you love him and you can't see your life without him, then you'll need to work together to get through this. If you're feeling insecure or even just unsure about something, you have to be open and honest with him. And the same goes for him. If you two are going to make an honest go of this, you need to talk to each other about how you're feeling and what your plans are." My head bobs some more. He's absolutely right; our communication could use some work.
"Your mother and I will be here to support you, Bells. And Edward. We're here to help out in any way we can—even if that's to offer you a quiet place to study should you need it."
I sit in quiet contemplation for a minute as I mull over everything we've discussed. Every day for the last two weeks, I only thought I was playing the part of a supportive girlfriend when it was my apprehensions and fears and . . . disdain for Irina that had me questioning the sincerity behind it. And with all of that—or, most of it, anyway—stripped away, I now realize the truth: I've always supported Edward; I was just mentally blinded by all of the stronger emotions.
This isn't something that can just be fixed in a matter of minutes or hours . . . or even days, but I'm willing to work on it and be completely open and honest with Edward from this moment on. My parents have made it painfully clear that he needs that just as much as I do.
Mom squeezes my hand, pulling me out of my revelation, and my eyes catch hers. "Bella, when you find something worth fighting for, you hold onto it. No matter what."
I'd always known that my parents pretty much kicked ass, but they just upped the ante for all others out there. Of course, they're likely to make me forget about this the next time I catch them in a compromising position when I least expect.
I stay and visit with Mom and Dad for a bit longer. I'm happy when the subject changes, though my mind is never very far from Edward or the pregnancy. Since I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, the one beer Dad allowed me to have has gone straight to my head. I'm not drunk, but I'm feeling a little light-headed, and my arms and legs are all tingly. Obviously, I don't feel okay driving, so I ask Dad if he'd mind giving me a ride home.
Mom follows us in her SUV while Dad drives my truck, and when we arrive at the house, Edward's car is already in the driveway. Dad parks the truck, and I'm both nervous and calm—which I realize makes very little sense—to tell Edward about what I discussed with my parents this afternoon.
Turning to me, Dad holds the keys out to me and says, "This isn't something you can overcome in an afternoon, kiddo. Becoming a parent requires time to adjust—regardless of whether you share DNA with the child or not. You've got a big heart, Bells, I have no doubt that you'll make this child feel welcome and loved."
Taking my keys, I look down at them in my hands. "How are you and Mom so accepting of this? This can't be how you saw me living my life."
Dad laughs wryly. "No," he agrees. "You're right, it's not. But we're choosing to lead by example: you're making the choice to support Edward's decision, and we're supporting yours in order to make the transition into your new life easier. Yes, you're young, but you've always been a little wise beyond your years—with the odd exception here and there," he says, his voice taking on an air of jest with that last part. "We'll stand by you because we trust you'll do what's best for you."
My heart swells from his unwavering show of support, and I throw myself across the cab of the truck and hug him tightly. "Thanks, Dad."
"Any time, kiddo." He kisses the top of my head and then releases me. "Now, get inside and set things straight. You need to be on the same page, and it'll take time for the two of you to catch up to one another."
The minute we step out of my truck, the front door opens, and Edward looks shocked to see my parents with me. Mom stays in the SUV, but she waves to Edward, who returns the gesture, and when I look back at Dad, I see him and Edward exchange a glance. Edward looks terrified at first, but must see that my dad's not angry just . . . concerned, because his expression relaxes slightly.
I say goodbye to my parents before heading to the house, and I kiss Edward softly on my way through the front door. "Hey," I greet, pulling my jacket off.
"Hi." He still looks confused as he closes the door. "So . . .?"
I nod, answering his unspoken question. "I told them. They were . . . unexpectedly cool about it."
This only surprises him further. "Really?"
"Yeah," I reply. "But, they think we need to sit down and talk about it some more so we're on the same page. While my decision to stick by you through this hasn't changed, I've been having these . . . feelings that I need to talk about in hopes that I can move past them. I don't want any of this to come between us. Especially when we've got a pretty big change coming up in our lives." Edward's brow furrows much like it has every day over the last two weeks, and I smile, taking his hand and leading him toward the kitchen. "Come on. We'll talk over dinner."
A/N2: Okay, so this chapter wasn't as light as I'd initially planned, but I had to cut it in half for the sole reason that it was taking me forever to get it done. I'm not going to get into a long author's note because I'm not looking to start a debate on the situation in the story.
Just keep in mind that this is how I dealt with the situation in my life, and I know that not everyone would have made the same choice. This is my reality, and I'm choosing to write what I know :)
I know I've said a few times that this story is coming to a close soon—and it is—but not for another few chapters. While this has been plotted out for quite some time, as I write, the story tends to expand in other ways, which means that sub-plots get pushed to a farther chapter.
I didn't get to review replies this week, and for that I apologize. Work's been crazy, and I was working on this chapter in any spare time I had. Even my housework has suffered because of it :P I hope to make it up to you with a teaser this time around, though, as half of the next chapter is finished ;)
Until next week :)