A/N: Full Summary: How does someone inadvertently get mixed up with organized crime and live to tell about it? Good question. I'd have never dreamed that my life would have taken the path it did, but when I was summoned back to the Midwest to take care of my mother as she fought a life-threatening disease, I got in touch with an old friend…a woman… and it all started from there…naturally.
AH…All EPOV…violence (not graphic)…language…Lemons(!)…canon couples and a few surprises thrown in. Rated NC-17 just like all my stories.
Give it a shot?
(Doors & Windows & Faith is still coming up…apparently, a lot of you like virgins…but this is one that I wrote a while back and I'd completely forgotten about it until I was perusing my documents on my hard drive. I hope you like it. Like I said, it's got a little violence in it, but it's not graphic…much unlike the lemons…he, he…I hope you'll give it a shot. I plan to post another chapter later today.)
Chapter 1 – Somewhere in the Middle
I stood outside the open doorway of one of the abandoned classrooms listening to the builder as he berated my Project Manager for allowing me to buy the building in the first place. It was right before Christmas, and it was really fucking cold, though it was supposed to be unseasonably warm over the weekend and into the middle of the next week so we were working again. We'd all basically taken off the two weeks after Thanksgiving, and I was antsy to start lining up things for the next year.
"I can't believe you think this place has any redeeming qualities. Isn't it sacrileges or something to take a religious building and use it for any other purpose? You'll never get the fucking permits, you know," Emmett scoffed.
"Listen to me. It was a Catholic school at one time. The structure is sound, dammit. It's just the inside that needs to be gutted. The neighborhood is coming back, and we can make twelve condos of approximately 1,300 square feet each in here. The stained glass and the staircases are incredible and very well preserved considering it was a school for so long. It's not your job to question why I proposed that Mr. Cullen buy the building. Your job is to work with Jasper Whitlock and come up with plans of how to make it work. We could actually make eight condos and one penthouse if you two would open your goddamn eyes. I'm telling you, this will be incredible. With regard to the permits, you let me worry about that. That's what Mr. Cullen pays me for," I heard Bella respond. She knew her shit, and she was fierce when she got a project on her radar.
She'd brought the building to my attention one afternoon when we were driving along the river on our way to lunch. St. Timothy's Parochial School, having been closed for five years, was being sold by the Archdiocese of St. Louis at a very good price because the Archdiocese needed money. Churches and parochial schools were closing all over the city and parishes were consolidating, so there were a lot of properties that they were trying to turn over.
When Bella pointed out the structural attributes of the outside of the building, I had to admit that she was right. The scuttlebutt around town was that the neighborhood restoration council had received permission from the city planning board to offer tax incentives to anyone willing to buy up the old warehouses and abandoned buildings in the area and refurbish them to make residences and retail/restaurant space. Several trendy restaurants were already planning to open in the area, and the old abandoned shoe factory was set to be purchased by a major corporation to turn it into a luxury casino and hotel. So, when the opportunity came along I thought what the fuck…the city was trying to reinvent itself. Why not climb on board?
We made an appointment with Rosalie Whitlock, the listing agent for the building, and after we toured the property, which was in fucking awful shape, she gave us the name of her brother, Jasper, to come up with an architectural design to make the most of the building's attributes and convert it to condos. I got a great tax abatement when I purchased the property, and I was on board after Bella presented the well-prepared proposal. Of course, Emmett McCarty, who we used almost exclusively, was a pragmatist and he knew the job would be a big one.
"Why doesn't he make it into a small boutique hotel instead of condos?" Emmett asked her. For a moment, I considered it. With the nearness to the new stadium and several casinos, maybe a boutique hotel would have been a better idea.
"The capital requirements to run a hotel like that would far outweigh the financial gain. He'd have to find someone to run it, and the rooms would have to be small and high-priced to turn a profit, especially if we didn't have a restaurant and bar in-house. Everyone would go to other places to spend their money for food and entertainment, and that wouldn't keep the fuckin' lights on.
"Condos are the best way to go because it's near enough to downtown but not so close as to feel cut off from major thoroughfares. It's not far from shopping and restaurants and the Brewery's nearby. With the influx of new employees for InBev, they're going to be looking for housing nearby in the near-term because they won't know the area. I'm telling you, this is a fucking gold mine. We build it…we sell it…we're out. No bullshit. Now, we need to figure out how to put in an elevator without interrupting the organic flow of the building. Also, I want all of the stained glass windows removed before construction, refurbished, and then replaced when the time comes," I heard her instruct. That's why she had the job she had…she thought about shit I didn't.
"I'm still sayin' you'll never get the fucking permits legally. I don't go for that shady shit that you come up with from time to time," Emmett complained. I couldn't help but laugh. If he didn't know her well enough to know she could do anything she set her mind to, he had a screw loose.
"You seem to forget that I was able to hook you up when you ran into trouble with the City of Shrewsbury on that rinky-dink ass apartment building. I don't remember you bitching when that inspector turned his head the other way regarding the lot size. You don't like how I do business, I'll just get someone else who wants the work," she threatened.
Bella Swan was a business-savvy, tough-as-nails, extremely intelligent young woman. She was a marketing wizard with extensive experience in the construction and real estate industries because her father had owned a construction company before he retired. She'd worked for him summers and weekends for years and he taught her everything she knew. When he retired, he sold out to Emmett McCarty, who is one of Bella's friends and former employer even though she keeps his nuts in a vice better than anyone I've ever witnessed.
"Whitlock, do you think this is as crazy as I do?" I heard Emmett ask Jasper Whitlock. I didn't know Whitlock very well, but he'd designed some very impressive rehab work around the city, so I trusted Bella when she said that she thought he was a good fit for the team. Jasper's wife, Alice, was an interior designer who had also done impressive work, and from the people I'd spoken to who had used them in the past, they were a great team. We'd see.
"I think that you're underestimating Bella's vision here because you know you're gonna have a hell of a fight with the City. If you don't want the job, McCarty, I've got a buddy who I've worked with named Jacob Black. I can give Bella his number and she can talk to him about it," I heard Jasper goad. I laughed to myself. Bella knew how I felt about that fucker, so I was certain there was no way she'd entertain the idea. I'd told her that under no uncertain circumstances was she ever to use Jacob Fucking Black again, and she understood exactly what I meant by it.
We'd used him on one job, and we found his work to be shoddy and overpriced, given the quality we ended up with, plus the fact that he relentlessly pursued Bella and she told me it made her feel very uncomfortable. I waited to hear her response to Jasper's suggestion. "Again, I'll take care of the permits. I know Jacob Black. Maybe I should get him in to give a bid," I heard Bella answer. I started to make my presence known because there was no fucking way, and then I heard Emmett begin protesting.
"You know that guy's work is for shit. Don't think I don't remember about the fight he and Cullen had over the Lafayette Building. I want to talk to Cullen about this and see that we're all on the same page before I agree to your terms. I think the penthouse concept is ridiculous unless you can actually get a company to buy it for corporate housing. This isn't New York, Swan, so people are less impressed with shit like that, and in this economy, you'd never get anyone to buy it. I think twelve condos would go over better. If you only want to go with eight, maybe you build restaurant space or retail space on the first floor," Emmett suggested.
I actually liked that idea, so I walked into the room and cleared my throat. I saw Bella look at me and suddenly tense up. I didn't know why she was always so nervous around me in situations like that because she was very good at her job, but it never seemed to fail that the first few minutes of every business exchange where others were involved she was always tense.
"Oh, Mr. Cullen. I'm glad you could clear your calendar. You remember Emmett, and this is Jasper Whitlock of Whitlock and Associates. His sister, Rosalie, is the agent for the building," Bella introduced. I shook Whitlock's hand and then Emmett's hand.
"Gentlemen, what do you think?" I asked already knowing the answer. I was always skeptical of people until I got to know them well because I'd been burned on more than one occasion. McCarty was a known quantity…Whitlock wasn't.
"I think that McCarty's onto somethin'. If we put in restaurant space on the first floor and then build out eight high-end condos in the remainder of the building, it'll have more draw," Whitlock offered.
Emmett nodded in agreement, but I could see that Bella had something on her mind. "Miss Swan? Thoughts?" I asked as I shoved my hands in the pockets of my trousers.
"Well, indoor smoking issues aside, I wouldn't want to live in a building where food was prepared every night. The expense of the extra ventilation system, never mind the turnover of fledgling eating establishments in the area, could compromise the integrity of what we're trying to do here. I'd suggest perhaps a small coffee shop or convenience store for half of the lobby space, and then an elaborate lobby for the residents. The retail space would need to be kept completely separate from the residence space for security purposes. The smaller coffee shop concept would allow for a small fitness center in the back corner which would draw in younger residents. Even if the Wynn Corporation buys up the old Brown Shoe building, safety will still be a concern because then there will be tourists to worry about if you live in the area. I don't like a restaurant here," Bella offered as her cell buzzed in her pocket. She held up a finger and stepped outside.
"Damn, she doesn't miss a trick, does she?" Whitlock asked. To me, it was a statement, not a question. I knew her very well, having worked with her off and on for years before I finally convinced her to go to work for me, and Bella Swan knew her business.
I heard a laugh come from Emmett. "She's damn good at what she does, and she's got fucking connections all over town. I should have known that she'd throw that back at me about the Shrewsbury shit. Hell, I never had any problems when she worked for me regarding permits and inspections. I took that shit for granted and I let this guy hire her away from me. I wouldn't have thought about living over a restaurant. Only a woman would have thought about shit like that," McCarty responded.
"That's why she has the job she has. I like the idea of a coffee shop and newsstand here because that could offer a convenience factor to the residents as well as the neighborhood. Whitlock, do it both ways. Give us designs for twelve condos, eight condos and retail space with a gym off the back as Bella described, and then something we haven't thought about. How soon can you come up with something?" I asked. I was interested in his vision for the space because if he was as good as his sister stated, I wondered what he'd do with the space if he had creative control.
Bella breezed back into the room with a smile on her face. "I just got off the phone with the head of the Historical Society. As long as we don't alter the exterior, we'll have no problems getting them to sign off on our building plan. Part of the deal is the stained glass and the statue of St. Timothy in the grotto outside along with the restoration of the marble out front, Emmett, so you need to take that into consideration when you provide your bid. I also got a call back from Maas and Sons who are eager to bid as well, so I'll be meeting with them tomorrow. They have an in-house architect, so gentlemen I'd suggest you bring you're A-game. Now, I've got to get out to the construction site off Lemay Ferry because there's some bullshit about possible human remains. Mr. Cullen, I'll see you at the office later," Bella called as she walked out the door without addressing the other two men.
I fucking cringed at the sound of hearing about Maas and Sons. Those fuckers were basically a front for one of the 'families' in town and I hated using them. There were so many stipulations that one had to deal with when they were on the job, and half the fucking time, I waited for the DEA to show up and arrest half the crew because they were always dealing at the sites. It had happened to another contractor in town, and the guy got completely fucked over it, so I knew that she knew we weren't going there. We were legit…well mostly…and they weren't, and I had to pray she was just throwing that shit out to fuck with her friend because she knew how I felt about them.
Just like every other fucking contractor in town, I paid my dues…literally…to the neighborhood bosses and to every other fucker who had his hand out so that my construction sites didn't catch fire or INS didn't show up on a non-union job. It only took one Porta-John catching on fire at a jobsite with a note hammered to the frame of a new building I was putting up for me to understand how business was done. A quick conversation with Bella's father, and my cherry was popped regarding paying dues in the St. Louis construction business. Union bosses, neighborhood bosses, it was all shit, and it was all my problem.
It was the nature of doing business in town, and most people would never believe it for the Midwest, but that was just the way it was. There were enough people with their hands out that it was a wonder I made any fucking money, but I did.
Bella Swan knew people, mostly from working for her father, and she was able to get shit done, besides the fact that the woman had a hell of a vision when it came to looking at a lot or an abandoned warehouse and seeing its potential. That's why we worked so well together, and I gave her a lot of credit for the success of my business, considering I didn't start with shit.
I watched her walk away as I always did, enjoying the view without reaction. "Well, you heard the woman. Now, call my secretary, Tanya, and let me know when your bids and the blue prints will be ready. I'd like them within a month, but I won't hold your feet to the fire on that. I know there's a lot to wade through, and if either of you have questions, you know who to call," I answered. That was my way of saying 'not fucking me'. McCarty knew the drill. I wasn't sure if Whitlock did or not, but he'd find out soon enough.
I shook both of their hands and walked back out to my car, pulling my overcoat tighter around me. There was a note on the windshield that read, "Bring home milk and eggs. Love you." I couldn't help but laugh as I climbed inside. My fiancée was quite a piece of work. She could always find my car regardless of how far I parked from a planned appointment when she found out about them, and she always found out. She was like a fucking detective with that shit.
I pulled out my phone and called her. It rang twice before she answered. "Yes, dear," she called through the line. I couldn't help but laugh.
"What? They don't have a fuckin' Schnuck's on the way home?" I asked as I climbed inside my car. I had an appointment I wasn't looking forward to after I left the school site, and I was quite nervous about it, so it was nice to hear from her in the middle of the day. I was walking around with five-thousand dollars in my pocket, and I was heading to a bad neighborhood to drop it off. I hated shit like that so I'd brought my gun with me which also made me uncomfortable, but for where I was going, I wasn't going without a way to protect myself.
"Oh, come on, I made breakfast and cleaned up the mess. The least you could do is pick up milk and eggs for tomorrow because you like milk in your coffee not me, and you, love of my life, like a home-cooked breakfast in the morning. Now, when I talked to your sister-in-law earlier, she tried to pin me down about setting me up on a date with a guy who works for her. What should I tell her?" she asked.
"Fuck that. I'll handle her. I'll see you at home later. You know where I'm goin', right? If I don't show up at the regular time, call Felix. Love you," I called as I hung up and pulled into traffic to get to another appointment in North City.
As I sat in traffic on I-70, I called my sister-in-law. It rang once and was answered by her assistant, Kate.
"Mrs. Cullen's office," Kate answered.
"Hi, Kate. It's Edward. May I speak with Esme?" I asked.
"Oh, sure, Edward. Hold on. She's just finishing a call now," Kate responded. I changed lanes and pressed the speaker button on the phone, placing it on the console.
I'd left my Bluetooth at home that morning because I was running late when I left the house. I'd risen on time, but a shower with the woman I loved was too tempting to resist, and of course, one thing led to another, and her sucking me off, and then the two of us fucking in said shower, yeah, we didn't get out for a while. Thank God for the bottomless hot water tank.
"Edward, how are you?" Esme asked. She was a sweet person, and my brother, Carlisle, was very lucky to have found her, regardless of the prick that he was most of the time. She was the perfect complement to his overbearing nature.
Carlisle was two years older than me, but he always treated me as if I was still in fucking high school. It irked the shit out of me, but it was his nature. We were both like our father with regard to our careers…driven…but that was where it ended. Carlisle micro-managed every fucking aspect of his practice, where I, on the other hand, hired people I trusted and had no problem with delegating to those who worked for me. Even in a down-turned economy, my company was doing well and my people were making money.
"I'm great. Listen, can you fucking pry Carlisle away from the hospital long enough for dinner tonight?" I asked. It seemed like the best way to deal with all of the secrets I'd been keeping for months… actually more like years if I was being honest…but I was a private person, so only two other people knew the truth about my personal life, but I was more than ready to give it up because it was time to bring more people into the fold, especially in light of the fact that we were having a huge Christmas thing at my mom's and I wasn't spending Christmas without my fiancée.
"Sure. Will we get to meet the mystery woman?" Esme asked. They knew someone was in my life, but they didn't know who she was. I was pretty certain that Carlisle wondered if it was actually a woman, the fucking dick.
"Yeah. She'll be there. How about seven at the house?" I asked. I'd yet to have them over to the new house, and I knew Esme was chomping at the bit to see the interior. I'd never invited them because I was enjoying the privacy that we had, but it was more than time to come clean…at least to my jackoff brother and his wife, and I knew there would be backlash but fuck it all. I was in love, and they were just going to have to deal with it.
"We'd love to. We'll see you then. I've got to go. Take care," Esme called as the line went dead. I laughed to myself because I knew she and Carlisle were going to be surprised, and I was anxious to let others in on the secret.
I walked up to the rundown building on North Broadway, and I wasn't surprised when I was met with security. The biggest fucking guy I'd seen in a long time patted me down like we were on a fucking third date, and then he took my gun and motioned for me to go inside. "I get that shit back, right?" I asked. He only nodded.
I walked inside and made my way back to the office. I knocked on the door and waited. "In," I heard called. I opened the door and found the person I wanted to deal with the least. I had a site off North Kingshighway where we were going to build a grocery store, and the last thing I wanted was for the fucker to go up in flames.
"Aro, how are you?" I asked as I walked over to his desk and dropped the envelope on it. That shit always made me nervous but there wasn't a fucking thing I could do about it, so I had to suck it up. Swan always offered to do it, but there was no fucking way I was going to let her go up there and do it. Besides the fact that her dad, who'd been very helpful to me over the years, would kick my ass if I let her go, I had no desire to get the woman attacked by those thugs in the least.
"I'm good, Cullen. So, how's the business? You ready to let me invest in your company? We could do a lot of business together. There's a lot of money to be made, and you offer just the legitimacy I need," Aro responded as the fucker counted what I gave him.
"I appreciate your continued interest in my success but at the moment, I'm fine. I respectfully decline your offer, but I appreciate your interest," I responded. I didn't know what the fuck else to say, so that seemed like the logical thing.
"Okay, I get it. You're doing okay. Things take a downturn in your business, you let me know. In the meantime, when are you pouring the foundation? The weather's supposed to be warm enough so I assume you're going to do it while you can? I've got a favor to ask. Instead of your dues next month, I need to have something permanently interred at your site," he responded. That shit worried me. I knew what the fuck he was asking, and I knew if I didn't comply, I'd likely be the other thing permanently interred at the site.
"Um, we're pouring the foundation beginning next Monday morning. Excavation ends today," I answered. I wanted to bash my head into the wall, but I didn't have a fucking choice. When you deal with guys like Aro, you got no choice. I benefitted from the relationship so I wasn't lily white, but I didn't really want to know what the fuck was going on. Ignorance is bliss, right?
"Okay. Um, no one's working over the weekend?" he asked.
"Nope. I'm giving everybody the weekend off on that jobsite, and the concrete trucks show up at 8:00 AM Monday morning," I answered, feeling my stomach turn.
"Good to know. Take care. I'll see you again in February. Happy Holidays," he answered.
It was the middle of December, and the weather had gotten better when the rain finally fucking stopped, so I knew that meant that I didn't have to pay him in January. I didn't plan to be anywhere in the area when they poured the foundation because I didn't want to try to figure out where they'd dumped whatever.
I made my way outside and grabbed my gun from the guard, securing it behind my back in the waist holster that I wore under my suit coat, and I climbed into my car to go back to the office. I hated that shit worse than anything in the world but it was what I had to do to get things done, and it was better I went than Bella.
I walked down the hallway of the office and saw my secretary, Tanya, weeding through the afternoon mail. "Anything?" I asked as I walked passed her desk to my office, pulling off my jacket since I'd left my gun in the car and hanging it across the back of the guest chair.
"Bella called and said she wouldn't be able to make it back to the office this afternoon because she had a problem out at the Lemay Ferry site. She said she'd call to update you later. The progress reports for the Ballas building and the Maryland Avenue job are on your desk. I've got a doctor's appointment, as I told you yesterday, so I'll just forward my phone to voicemail and check in later," she responded from her desk. I waved to her and then shut my office door.
I walked to my desk and dialed Bella's number to find out what fresh hell was the latest problem at the Lemay job. It was an old warehouse that we were converting into retail and entertainment space to hopefully draw in small stores and restaurants to a neighborhood that was trying to recover from economic devastation, so we had high hopes. If there was a problem, I wanted to find out what it was because it was a building that Bella wasn't in favor of me buying, but I had insisted.
"Well, this is a complete and utter clusterfuck," she answered. I couldn't help but laugh. She had a way of addressing a problem that was refreshing. I attributed the sailor mouth to her summers working construction for her father. The woman could build a house by herself if necessary, as I'd been told many times over the time I'd known her.
"What's this shit about human remains?" I asked. There had been a hundred-year flood in the early '90s, and a cemetery had been washed away. The city claimed that all remains were recovered, but the land we'd purchased was right on the river, and it wouldn't surprise me if their assessment of the situation at the time wasn't completely on the up-and-up. The other option for human remains would be that some of the more unsavory folks in town…people to which I had a loose tie…had used it as a dumping ground for 'problems'. It wouldn't be the first time it had happened, and I wasn't looking forward to the outcome of the coroner's visit.
"I think it's from that cemetery, but hell, there're only two bones and no casket, so I have no idea. You know it could be anyone, what with these morons we deal with out here, it could be…anyway, we've got to get the coroner out here and excavation has to stop. We're looking at possibly a two-week delay before we can resume, which puts us into January, and that means we won't really get to work on it until after the break in April. I told you not to buy this shit, and you owe me a new pair of shoes because I had no idea I'd have to wade around a muddy construction site today. I can't buy us out of this one…the guys we have doing the excavation work are strictly legit," she lamented over the line. She was probably right, but I wasn't giving in. She had connections and could work a lot of magic. Luckily, she didn't do anything without my blessing which was another reason I'd hired her.
"Swan, make it work. You've got friends in high places. Call in favors. You've got company checks…make donations. I trust you can handle it. That's why you have the job you have. As for the shoes, give me the bill," I reminded through the line, not that I really had to. The woman was a miracle worker under the direst of circumstances. We spoke for a few more minutes and then hung up. I worked my way through the crap on my desk and checked the clock to see that it was close enough to the end of the day that I was ready to get the hell out of there and get home.
Like the pussy-whipped bitch that I was, I stopped at the store and bought milk and eggs as instructed, along with fresh pasta and pre-made sauce. I wasn't a cook but I could heat up shit with the best of them. I bought stuff for salad and a baguette for garlic bread, along with a nice bottle of Chianti, and I made my way home. I punched in the security code to the front gate, and I was happy to see my girl's car in the driveway.
I walked in through the garage and placed the groceries on the counter. "Love, I'm home," I called. I'd picked up a sleeve of sunflowers, and I pulled down a favorite vase of hers, snipping the ends just as she'd taught me and placing them on the dining room table.
She walked down the hallway in a short, white silk robe. She was drying her hair with a towel, and I was just as mesmerized as I always was when I saw her. She was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever met in my life, and I counted my blessings every goddamn day.
"Hey, I thought we were going to get pizza and watch that HBO special on the mortgage crisis," she remarked as she walked through the kitchen to the laundry room to dispose of the towel.
"Sorry, change of plans. I knew you had a busy afternoon with work, so I didn't bother to run it by you. Call it betrothed privilege. Esme and Carlisle are coming over for dinner. It's time to tell them the truth. I'm cooking," I announced as I slipped off my tie and jacket, tossing them over one of the stools at the island.
"Cooking? You don't cook," she laughed as she walked over and wrapped her arms around my neck. I wanted to pick up the phone and call my brother to cancel, but I was on a mission for the secrets to end and I wouldn't be dissuaded.
"Okay, heating up. I can heat up like a champ, you know. Now, as beautiful as you look right now, I'd suggest something a little more conservative for my tight-ass brother and his wife. They'll be here at seven," I announced as I reached under the robe and grabbed one of her fantastic breasts. I really wanted to take her to bed and fuck her, but there was family business to take care of and it was time.
"God, this is going to go badly, you know. I have a bad feeling about this," she responded. It wasn't for nothing that she was worried because a part of me worried about how Carlisle would take the news as well. He was an asshole of the first order, and he and my intended didn't exactly get off on the right foot so I knew it would be a fucking crap shoot.
"It'll be fine. Put it on. I know it's in the safe. I didn't give it to you for you to hide it. I understand why you don't wear it when you work, but you're not working tonight. It's important to me," I told her as I kissed her deeply. Kissing the woman was like an out-of-body experience, and I wanted to do it every day for the rest of my life. Feeling her tongue against mine got me hard every time, and I'd never have imagined that I could feel so much for one woman.
"Now, scoot," I ordered as I pulled her arms from around my neck before things got out of hand. They tended to do that between the two of us since nearly the first real date we went on. I turned her around toward our room and first palmed, then swatted, her lightly on the ass, sending her on her merry way to change and enjoying the sound of her fantastic giggle as she walked away rubbing her ass.
I turned on music and proceeded to heat water and the Bolognese sauce I'd bought. I made a quick salad and prepared the garlic bread for dinner. I set the table quickly and went back to the bedroom to change into jeans as the sauce simmered on the stove.
I heard her humming to herself as she was opening the safe to pull out the outward reflection of our commitment, and I couldn't help but smile. Getting that fucker on her finger was the smartest thing I'd ever done.
Fifteen minutes later, we were both in the kitchen dancing around to Christmas music as the pasta boiled and the bread broiled. The doorbell rang and I turned down the music. "I'll get it. I think the noodles are ready, and the bread probably is too. Will you take them out?" I asked. She nodded nervously, and I went to open the front door, having left the front gate open earlier.
Esme and Carlisle were standing there waiting anxiously. Esme had an inquisitive look on her face, but my big brother wore the same look of disdain for me that he always had. I was getting tired of it, quite frankly, and it pissed me off beyond reasonable thought. I took a deep breath to rein myself in, and invited, "Come on in. Welcome."
After I hung up their coats, I led them into the dining room where salads were waiting and the wine was on the table. Of course, she was nowhere to be seen. "Take a seat. I'll be right back," I remarked.
I walked into the kitchen finding her stirring the sauce and looking very timid. I walked over behind her and wrapped my arms around her. She was a remarkable woman who captured my heart from the beginning, but the timing just didn't seem to be right for a long time. Finally, when we found ourselves in the same city, I pursued her like crazy and eventually won her over, and no one, not even my snobby fucking brother or a crazy mobster, was going to take that away from me.
"Love, come on in. Time to face the music," I informed. I felt her take a deep breath and let it out before she spoke. I knew she was nervous about it, but there was no reason in my mind. She was it for me and I didn't give a rat's ass what anyone thought, least of all the arrogant asshole sitting at my dining room table.
"Edward, I just think this is going to go badly. I don't want to come between you and your brother. I love you too much for that," she responded. I turned off the sauce and placed the lid on top and spun her around to look at me.
"You're my family now. I give two shits less what he thinks, so don't worry about this. For some reason, I've always disappointed him, and I've decided that's his problem, not mine. Now, I love Esme, so come on. She'll be very happy about this," I announced taking her hand and leading her to the dining room.
I cleared my throat because they appeared to be in a heated whisper fight, and when they looked at the two of us, I could see exactly what I expected on their faces. Esme was happy, and Carlisle wasn't. Well, it wouldn't be the first motherfucking time.
My choice of profession had disappointed him. My choice of college had disappointed him…I went to a state school while he went off to some high-end Ivy League school. At the end of the day, I was doing what I enjoyed as a profession, and I was a success on my own with the help of the people who worked with me. Carlisle was a miserable fuck and could kiss my ass.
"What's this?" he snapped. I could see the smile on Esme's face, and it confirmed to me that I was, indeed, right. My sister-in-law knew quality when she saw it, and she knew that I'd made the perfect choice for me.
"Who's this? This is my fiancée," I announced. When the realization hit my brother of who she was, he scowled and jumped from his chair.
"You've got to be shitting me. This is so goddamn inappropriate. You're a fool for this, Edward. I didn't invest in you for you do go off half-cocked and do something this stupid," Carlisle barked.
"Stop right there, you fucking twit. I borrowed a hundred-thousand dollars from Esme, not you, and I paid it back with interest, so you're not an investor nor are you involved in any way, you prick. You have no claim to my success, Carlisle, and you have no say regarding with who I choose to spend my life. If you're unhappy about this, then you are more than welcome to get the fuck out," I snapped. I could feel her tense in my arms, and I swallowed my anger because it wasn't how I wanted it to go at all. Why I felt I needed his approval was a deep-seeded problem for me, but I wasn't thinking about it at the time.
"Carlisle, I think you need to hear him out. Don't be such an ass about this. Christmas is coming up. I've been trying to fix you up…" Esme responded.
"Yes, and can you please stop that? She has no idea what to tell you when you do that, and now that you know, quit doing it. She's perfectly happy with me," I commented as I pulled out her chair and we all sat down at the table.
"Well, I, for one, would be interested in learning how this came about. Is this about your money or Mother's money? Is she looking for a free ride here?" Carlisle asked in his typical fashion. Sometimes I hated the son-of-a-bitch that lived inside of him.
"I can guarantee you that that's not the reason we're together. That perception right there is the reason we haven't told anyone," she snapped. I knew she was at the end of her rope, and I needed to take control of the situation before it got even more out of hand.
I grabbed her hand and kissed it. I needed her to calm down because the tension in the room was more than palpable. "Look, I think when you hear how we got together, you'll understand it better. The reason no one knows is because of her, not because of me. I've wanted to tell anyone who'd listen since the day I got her to agree to marry me, but she's been more cautious about it. It's been four months, and I thought it was time to tell the story, so shut the fuck up for once in your pretentious life, and listen to me because I've got something to tell you," I snapped at my brother, talking back to him not for the first time in my life.
Esme took a sip of her wine and replied, "I'd love to hear how you two got together." That was all I needed. I gave them the extremely edited version, and Esme smiled and laughed at all of the appropriate times. It was quite a story, and the fact that Carlisle didn't open his mouth the whole time only affirmed to me that I was right and he was wrong, the jackstick.
"Carlisle, you are such a fucking hypocrite, it's not even funny. She took care of Ma when she was sick, and you couldn't be bothered because of your fucking career," I responded when he dismissed my story. You love family because they're family but you don't have to like them, and I didn't like my brother at fucking all.
When we went to bed that night I thought about the whole thing, including the things I left out because they weren't appropriate to share with anyone other than the two of us, and I knew I was right. She was perfect for me. I fell asleep wrapped around her, remembering the first time I saw her. She was beautiful.
E/N: So, we're off. Let me know what you think please.
Till next time…xoxo