September 2016: Garrett

A/N: At some point, one of the little notes my beta-girl left in one of my docs said "Garrett/Katie spin-off?" and I grinned huge, because I'd already started this.

Tam, this one's for you.

For all the time you have spent correcting my Australianisms, pointing out my unnecessary wordiness, waging war against my infernal adverbs, gently, and talking me through "I don't know what to do" freak-outs. For all the WCs, all the word-sharing, all the kind tweets, the retweets, the DMs, the PMs and the emails. For being one of the most talented writers, ever, and yet being so incredibly humble and sweet. For being a beautiful friend.

This is my way of saying "Thank you."

Thank you.

And a million thank yous, also, to Dragonfly366 who beta-ed this for me so I could keep it a surprise.

Just Like Heaven, The Cure

"Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream" she said
"The one that makes me laugh" she said
And threw her arms around my neck
"Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I'll run away with you
I'll run away with you"

Spinning on that dizzy edge
I kissed her face and kissed her head
And dreamed of all the different ways I had
To make her glow
"Why are you so far away?" she said
"Why won't you ever know that I'm in love with you
That I'm in love with you?"

October 2016.

I hear the slap of Katie's joggers on the path as I'm picking my squirmy daughter up out of her high chair.

"Mummy's home."

Lucy grins at me, her chubby cheeks smeared with pumpkin and vegemite. "Mama!"

"Yeah, Mama's home. Let's clean you up a bit, Luce. You're a grub."

Lucy wriggles and whines as I run the facewasher across her chin. "Mama!"

"Yeah. But Mama probably wants to have a shower. She went for a run. She'll be all sweaty and heaps yucky."

"Mama yucky."

Of course that's what she chose to parrot. Her timing is outstanding.

"Oh, that's nice, Gar. Real nice."

I laugh, turning to kiss my wife. Her skin is sun-browned and damp with sweat, and her blonde hair is coming loose from her ponytail. Fuck, she's gorgeous.

"You know I like you sweaty, babe." Hell, if it weren't for the twelve-month-old in my arms, I'd be doing everything I could to make her even sweatier.

Kate shakes her head at me, her nose wrinkling as she takes in our daughter. Lucy is trying to climb out of my grasp, her fat little hands flexing as she reaches for her Mum.

"Lucy-goosey, do you have vegemite in your hair?"

"Uh, yeah. She smashed one of her sandwiches against her head. Maybe you should take her into the shower with you?"

Katie grimaces, but accepts our grinning, vegemite-smeared little monkey into her arms. I don't know that she'll ever get used to the smell of the sticky brown spread. Lucy, though—like all Aussie kids—loves the shit out of its salty goodness.

"Mama yucky."

I bite my tongue, trying not to laugh as Katie rolls her eyes. "Yeah, well. Mummy's yucky, and Daddy's not getting any."

Bloody hell. I really need to stop shooting my mouth off in front of the grommet.

"What time do you need to pick up Bella and Edward?"

My eyes find the oven clock. "I should probably leave in about fifteen minutes."

"'kay." Katie kisses me sweetly, while Lucy cheerfully wipes vegemite all over her shoulder. "Drive safe … No, Lucy! That's yucky!"

"Mama yucky!"

Ah, shit. I'm so dead.

I fucking hate airport parking.

Stupid, shitty, money-sucking hellhole.

I watch a few aeroplanes coming into land as I wind my way through the maze that is Sydney International Terminal—the flying kangaroo red and proud as she swoops to the earth.

I stomp through the terminal, flopping down in the ugly plastic chairs to wait for my cousin and her husband to emerge through customs. I pick up the discarded copy of the Herald beside me, flicking through it with no real interest.

When I finally see Bella appear, I can't help but grin, remembering the first time she appeared through these gates.

"Garrett! Come here, and sit down!"

"But Muuuuum! I want to watch the aeroplanes land."

"You can watch them from over here. Sitting down. Quietly."

Mum just doesn't get it. It's so much more exciting, standing with my nose pressed against the glass, my fingers swirling grease across the windows as I watch all the differently decorated planes touch down. I'm as close to them as I can get, seeing as I'm not allowed on the runway.

I like the white ones with the red tails the best. Mum says they're called "kwantus."

Weird name, but I like their kangaroo. The idea of kangaroos flying is so cool. I'd like to hop in the pouch of a flying kangaroo. I'd be just like Dot, but my kangaroo would fly—so much more awesome than being bounced around everywhere.

Mum starts jumping and squealing like that annoying girl who was in my preschool class last year. Olivia, I think. Or Kylie. I can't remember. She was stupid and annoying, always squealing and screaming. I thought putting cicada shells on her dress might make her be quiet—that she'd like to have a look at them for a while or something. Instead, she just screamed even louder and I got in trouble for scaring her. Girls are so dumb.

Mum is a girl. That must be why she's acting all crazy and jumping all over that other lady—who is also a girl.

There's another girl, too. An actual girl, though—like the ones at preschool, not a big one like Mum. She's standing next to the other crazy lady.

She looks cross. She has pretty brown hair tied in pigtails with blue ribbons, but her mouth is all frowny and her arms are over her chest like Mum's are when I haven't cleaned my room.

I don't blame her for being grumpy and annoyed. My mum and that other lady are being super silly. They're talking really fast and crying and laughing. I don't really know why someone would cry and laugh at the same time—how can you be happy and sad together? It's very confusing.

Maybe this girl knows.

"I'm Garrett."

The girl tips her head, her big brown eyes going all squinty. "You're my cousin."

I shrug. "Are you Isabella?"

She nods and her shiny brown hair bounces around like two slinkies.

"My mum and your mum are sisters," I tell her.

"You talk funny," she says.

She talks kind of like Mum, so I know what she means. "It's because you have an accent."

"I do not." She frowns at me, like she thinks I might be calling her a rude name.

"You do, too." I nod my head. "Just like my Mum. You have an American accent."

"What's an ak-sent?"

I smile. I can teach her this. "People from different countries talk differently. My Mum is from America, so she talks a bit different than my Dad and me. We're Australian."

Isabella thinks about this for a while. "If I stay here for too long, will I start talking funny, too?"

I'm not sure about that. "I don't know. Mum lives here, and she still talks American. I think you'd have to stay here for a long time. Maybe like three years."

"I'm staying for one month."

"I think you'll still talk American, then."

She nods, looking relieved. "You can call me Bella. My dad does."

"Okay, Bella." I hold my hand out for her. "Do you want to go watch the aeroplanes land?"

"You mean airplanes?"

I shake my head. I think she must be younger than me because she doesn't know some words. "Aer-o-planes."

She holds my hand and we walk over to the window. I show her the kwantus planes, and tell her they're my favourite, and she tells me she didn't come in one with a red tail, but she really wishes she did.

"Where's the snow?" she asks.

I am confused. "Snow?"

"Yeah. Do they scoop it away so the air-o-planes can come in?"

I look at her as she stares out the window. "There's no snow here."

She pulls her hand away from mine. "No snow?" She says it like she doesn't understand, like she hears me but can't believe what I'm saying.

I shake my head. "It's summertime. And even in winter, it doesn't snow here. Only like, far, far away."

"It's Christmas next week."

Duh. "I know."

"Christmas is in winter."

"No. Christmas is in summer."

Bella's brown eyes go really big, and her chin starts to wobble, and I think she's going to cry.

I'm sad that she seems so disappointed—I love Christmas time.

"It's so awesome," I assure her. "We'll go swimming, and eat prawns and Paddle Pops, and go to the beach and drink lots of cordial."

I must say something wrong, or maybe Bella doesn't like cordial or going swimming, because she doesn't smile. Instead, she starts to cry really loud for her Mommy.

I'm pretty sure Bella's mind has wandered back to the same time as her gaze drifts out over the concourse. Her lips twitch and she smiles, the back of her hand moving to sweep her fringe out of her eyes.

Edward ducks to speak into her ear, his hand hovering over the small of her back. He frowns as she nods, and I catch the worry that washes across his features before he forces them to smooth out, smiling down at his wife.

Bella is quiet as she greets me—her smile is genuine, but she looks heaps tired. It's a long flight, but there's something … off. I can't put my finger on it.

I hug her gently, and ignore Edward's outstretched hand, hugging him, too. We've long since buried the proverbial hatchet, and I love these two like a sister and brother. Yeah, that analogy has a huge flaw in it … They're family, and I love them.

When Bella excuses herself to the bathroom, I watch Edward's forehead crease with worry as his eyes follow her.

"Everything okay?" I go for casual. "She seems really tired."

"She is." His hand finds his hair, tugging it out f his eyes. "She was pretty sick on the flight over."

"What, like airsickness?"

He frowns at me. "I don't know. I mean, I don't think it could be—she doesn't get motion sickness, you know?"

"Maybe it's just a bug. Like a virus or something," I offer.

"Yeah." He nods, but the tension doesn't ease around his grey eyes. "Yeah, that's probably it."

Having Bella and Edward around is awesome. I've missed them like crazy since Katie and I moved back down here two years ago, and it makes my heart all mushy and shit having them around.

I'm teaching Edward how to barbeque properly, as we sip Matilda Bay's finest and watch our wives sprawl out in the afternoon sun.

They come out of the house clad in these fuck-awesome little bikinis—and I'm pretty sure Edward appreciates this every bit as much as I do. He groans quietly as Bella bends over, spreading her towel on the grass. She's my cousin, so I don't exactly look closely. I do notice, though, that she's gained a couple of kilos and they look really bloody good on her.

It's not really that much of a shock then, when the muffled grunts and moans float down the hall on the nighttime breeze, intruding Katie's and my bedroom a few hours later.

Kate looks at me, her eyes wide, hand over her mouth. I shrug.

"Honestly—" I tell her, keeping my voice low, "—with those two, I'm just glad they're in the guest room and not on our dining room table, hey?"

My wife slaps me, shaking her head. "Garrett!"

I roll my eyes. "It's happened before."

"What?!" she whisper-shouts.

"Did I never tell you about that? When they were doing the we're-not-together-but-we-act-like-we-are thing?"

She shakes her head, her expression wavering between amusement and disgust.

"Yeah." I nod my head. "They assumed I was at yours. It was heaps awkward."

Nocturnal disturbances aside, there's also an added bonus to Edward and Bella being here.

They freaking love my daughter.

She warmed up to them really quickly, too, so the past few mornings they've given her breakfast and taken her down to the park or the beach so Katie and I can sleep in.

"Can Bella and Ed move in permanently?" I ask as Katie moves over me, my hands on her breasts, her mouth on my neck.

"Please, yes." Her voice is strained, hot and damp on my neck. "Oh, fuck. Fuck."

She pushes upright, the early morning light bathing her in gold as she rocks over me. Her head is thrown back, her long hair grazing her arse, her breasts swaying as her movements become frantic

My fingers dig into her hips as her rhythm falters, keeping her moving as she shudders and gasps with her climax.

As the spasms wracking her body subside, I move her off me, rolling her over, scrambling to my knees, pulling her hips up to meet mine. Katie gasps, her elbows buckling as I fill her deeply.

Our frantic push and pull, the sound of skin slapping against skin, and our growling groans and curses are a startling contrast to the clear summer day beginning outside our window.

"Oh, fuck." My lips press against Katie's shoulder blade, and then I'm lost, getting dumped by the wave of pleasure that crashes over me.

We collapse onto the mattress, and I pull her close, fitting her gentle curves against me.

"I love you." I tell her.

Her response is mumbly and garbled. "I love you, too."

An hour and a half later, we're standing on the verandah sipping cold juice, when Lucy's giggles announce their return. She's sitting on Edward's shoulders, her round face split with a wide smile.

"Edda! Mama! Edda!"

Katie chuckles. "Have you had fun with Uncle Edward, Luce?"

"Mama! Bebba!"

"Where is Bella?" Katie asks.

Edward frowns, reaching up to lift Lucy from her perch and pass her to Kate. "She slept in this morning. She wasn't feeling well. I'll just—"

"I'm okay." Bella steps out onto the deck, barefoot and sleepy-eyed, her hair tangled and chaotic. "Ugh, what is that smell?"

The three of us inhale deeply.

"I can't smell anything, love." Edward reaches for Bella, and she steps into his embrace, melting against him.

"It's fu—I mean, it's really disgusting. Like, I don't know … like rotting seaweed or something."

"The mangroves?" I frown, meeting Katie's gaze. "But you can't smell them from here—"

"I do." Katie points out. "Or, I did, anyway."

"Yeah, but only when you were—Oh. Oh."

Edward looks between us, Bella's head tucked under his chin, his hands gently sliding up and down her back.

"When she was what?"

I nod at Kate, and she turns to Edward, smiling.

"There're some mangroves, like, a kilometre that way," she jerks her chin. "They stink, but we can't usually smell them here. But, uh, I could smell them when I was pregnant with Lucy."


The look on Edward's face is strange, and so is the worry-tightness it puts in my chest. He looks like—like he can't decide if this is the best or the worst thing he's ever heard.

His arms tighten around Bella, his lips finding her hair.

The effort he exerts in pulling back from her so that he can meet her eyes, is written in the lines of his face. "Sweetheart?"

Bella's shoulders rise and fall. "I don't know."

Katie puts her hand on Bella's shoulder. "I think I have a few tests under the bathroom sink. If you, uh, yeah—" She trails off, motioning for me to follow her inside.

Inside, I take Lucy from her. "Is she—They seem, I don't know—"

"I'd imagine they're scared, Gar. Bella's miscarried before," she reminds me.

I had forgotten all about that. Bella told me her story a few months after she came back to Chicago, back to Edward. I felt like a shithead for giving her so much crap—that girl had dealt with far more than I ever realized.

"What do we do?"

Katie smiles at me, her eyes shining with tears. "Whatever they need us to."

Once her pee confirms that she probably is pregnant, Edward pretty much refuses to leave Bella's side for more than a few minutes. She's unfailingly patient with his hovering—which is starting to piss me off, and I'm not even the one being coddled.

I'm really fucking relieved when they see a doctor, and make an appointment to have an ultrasound.

Katie insisted we go out for the day, in case they had to deal with bad news, so I'm heaps nervous as we unbuckle our sleeping daughter and make our way inside.

I peek into the living room, apprehensive.

Bella is lying with her head in Edward's lap, soundly asleep. His fingers are combing through her hair.

As soon as I step into the room, he looks up, and his face tells me everything.

He's pretty much fucking glowing with joy.

My eyes burn a little, but I shake my head and offer him my hand. He shakes it firmly, not even trying to hide his own tears.

Katie looks in from the kitchen, having settled Lucy in her bed. She catches my eye over Edward's head and I nod at her, gesturing for her to grab three beers.

She returns quickly, leaning down to murmur her congratulations to Edward and press a kiss to his cheek.

We clink beer bottles and Katie asks when Bella's due.

"Mid April." He grins, relief and joy colouring his tone. "She's already fourteen weeks. We, uh, we're past the first trimester." He shakes his head, like he can't believe it.

Katie smiles, "That's wonderful."

He nods, more tears sliding down his face as his fingers brush his sleeping wife's cheek. "Bella's healthy, the babies are healthy and growing. They said everything looks perfect."

I'm so fucking ecstatic that it takes a while for me to register something. "Wait. Babies?!"

He nods, his grin huge. "Twins."

I love it when you guys review. It's the best, ever.

And I'd love it even more, if you'd go read In the Debris, or On a Limb, and review them, too. Breath-stealing stories, both of them.

Thank you all so much for your love and support along this journey. It's been wonderful.

Coming soon. Put me on author alert, if you'd like ...

Figmentum: 1. figment, fiction, invention, unreality; 2. thing formed, devised; 3. image. She coaxes him into existence with every word she writes. What will Bella do when she finds herself falling in love with the main character in her latest novel? Bella & Edward, Romance & Angst.


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