A/N: This is originally an Outtake I prepared for the Red Cross Fandom Fights Hurricane Sandy Relief.
FYI, this entire outtake, Parts 1 to 3, is just one big ball of fluff.
Thanks to Michelle Renker Rhodes for always being so ready to correct my mistakes.
All characters (except the Cullen kids) belong to S. Meyer.
OGBB – Cullen Kids' Style Part 2
Saturday evening arrived - despite all my attempts to stop it.
And despite protests coupled with growling, objecting and downright complaining, my old girlfriend, Bree Tanner, along with her husband would be joining us for a home cooked dinner.
I lay on our bed in my boxers, head propped up by pillows, channel surfing through the TV. I was on strike today, even if Bella hadn't figured it out yet. Yeah, I was more than just a bit pissed off about the fact that I had to spend my weekend night hosting a woman I'd honestly never planned on seeing again. And her husband.
Bella looked at me through the dresser mirror, where she'd been primping for the past few minutes, and raised a brow.
"Not that I'm not enjoying checking out your yummy abs through the mirror, but don't you think that it might be time to start getting dressed?"
I didn't answer.
She laughed at me.
Laughed at me.
"You are so damned grouchy today," she snickered, turning back to the mirror.
"As if I don't have reason to be," I muttered lowly. "First, I had to deal with the worst, most painful cock…block of my life a couple of nights ago. Second, I've finally got an afternoon off, and there is absolutely shit on TV. And now," I scowled, "this dinner…"
She set her lipstick down and turned to look at me again, pretty red lips stretched out in one of those grins that had gotten my heart racing from day one. Yeah, I loved those grins, but I wasn't about to tell her so now. She was supposed to be my life partner, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, yet she'd ruined my Saturday. That had to give me the right to some sulking, didn't it?
"You don't have reason to be grouchy, Edward," she chuckled. "First, I believe we more than made up for your cock blockage early the next morning and last night. Second, you don't like watching TV anyway, and third, it's just dinner, for God's sakes. There's no reason to get so worked up!"
I held her gaze, and without breaking the connection, turned the TV off and stalked over to her. Instead of intimidating though, I only seemed to be causing her amusement based on the beautiful yet misplaced grin that only grew wider with each step I took.
My wife looked gorgeous - as always. She'd donned a pretty red wrap dress that we'd picked up during our trip to Paris, which fit her perfectly and showed off her still perky breasts and ass - as well as her shapely legs. Her hair hung wavy and loose around her face, and God I wanted to reach out and run my hands through the silkiness of it. She was a goddess, she really was. I remembered her telling me once, when we'd first met, that her mom was in her mid-forties and still looked good, so therefore she could easily assume that the same would hold true for her as she got older.
Of course, it had all been a lie. Renee Swan had been dead for over fifteen years at that point.
But I could definitely see where that statement could've been true. Bella was thirty-five now, yet she easily kicked any girl ten, fifteen years her junior to the curb. She had the body of a twenty-year old and not one, single solitary wrinkle to show for her three plus decades on this earth.
Damn, it was hard to remain irritated instead of throwing her over our bed.
Stay strong, Cullen.
I lowered my head so that it could be level with hers, still holding her gaze.
"No reason?" I hissed. "No reason?"
The whole time, she just grinned my way.
I shut my eyes tight and drew in a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
"Never mind the fucked up relationship Bree and I once had. That was nothing but…wasted time and you know what? I'm fine with that because it brought me to you. It's what she did to you that day outside my parents' house that I can't forget. Or forgive." My hands fisted involuntarily. I dropped them to my sides. "And yes, I know I wasn't totally innocent in that cluster-fuck either, but-"
The grin on Bella's face shifted quietly into a tender smile. She reached out and wrapped one hand around my jaw.
"Edward, that's all water under the bridge, babe. And besides, if Bree hadn't made me think that you'd betrayed me and told her all my secrets, then I wouldn't have been hit by Ben's car, and then I wouldn't have had to beg Jake for a ride to Seattle, and you wouldn't have come back to your parents' house to find me gone. And then I would've never gotten on that bus to Cali, and you would've never had to chase it down, and I wouldn't have experienced one of the most exhilarating and uber-romantic moments of my entire life! Oof!" she fanned herself playfully. "I'm getting all hot and bothered just remembering it! Watching you pull up to that bus all determined-like, green eyes blazin' while my kegel muscles just sang with exhilaration! And then I met that lady on the bus – I forget her name – but it was she that helped me realize that I needed to go to Tuscany for me, not simply to get away from you. And then I fell in love with Italy and you took me back a few years later, and we got married there! And Doctor Maietta in Florence was the one who helped me realize that I couldn't keep letting old fears rule my new life, so you and I decided to make a family of our own and now we have Maia and Jamie and Masen! Actually, I think I may have to thank Bree for the shit she said that day!"
Before I knew it, she had me chuckling.
I wrapped my hands around her face.
"Bella, I love you with all my heart and soul." She grinned, but my hands were wrapped around her face, so it was this sort of squished up grin that made her look adorable. "And I love how forgiving, and funny, and playful, and quirky, and downright nuts you are sometimes. But I swear to God, if I hear you thanking Bree for anything tonight, I'm going to totally lose it."
She burst out laughing.
I didn't mean to listen in.
I was simply coming to my parents' room to tell them that I'd just seen Jamie and Masen from my bedroom window, in the backyard playing vampires and warewolves in the clothes they were supposed to be wearing for that dinner tonight – the one with my dad's ex-girlfriend.
And then just as I approached the door and raised my hand to knock – because I'd forgotten to knock once about a year ago and trust me no matter what age you are you're never quite ready to see your mom and dad tonguing each other down while your dad gropes your mom's ass – when I heard what my dad was saying:
"Never mind the fucked up relationship Bree and I once had. That was nothing but wasted time, and you know what? I'm fine with that because it brought me to you. It's what she did to you that day outside my parents' house that I can't forget. Or forgive. And yes, I know I wasn't totally innocent in that cluster fuck either, but-"
What. The hell?
My mom cut him off and went into this long speech, half of which consisted of things I'd never even heard them talk about! This…Bree woman apparently made my mom think my dad had betrayed her, causing my mom to get hit by a car, and Uncle Jake to drive her to Seattle, and then there was some sort of crazy bus chase that, oh God, apparently did things to my mom's kegel muscles, and I had to cringe because I may have been young, but I knew what kegel exercises felt like. But she was soon off of that topic - thank the Lord - and went on about her time in Tuscany, which of course, we heard about all the time, and Doctor Maietta, which my mom never forgot and whom she always compared to the therapist I'd seen for a few years, Doctor Michaels – who'd been great by the way. And then she went into their marriage in Rome, and then having us. And somehow, my sweet, loving, funny, beautiful, quirky and sometimes naïve mom had turned it all around into something she felt she had to thank this Beeyotch Bree for!
Oh, it was on now!
I hadn't been thrilled to know that my dad's ex-girlfriend was coming to dinner to begin with - because really, why was that even necessary? And apparently, from the grouchy mood my poor dad had been in for the past couple of days he wasn't exactly jumping for joy about it either.
I turned right around and tip-toed quietly down the stairs…
Jamie and Masen were running around in the backyard, Jamie in front, and Masen chasing behind. Jamie's pretty, purple dress already showed green grass stains on the front while Masen, brown hair waving wildly, yelled,
"If I bite you, Vampira, you will die!"
I chuckled despite the pissed off mood my accidental eavesdropping had put me in. Jamie and Masen were two little pains, but they were my pains. Since the day I'd come to live with mom and dad, Jamie had been my heart. It had been her cute, baby giggles more than anything that had gotten me to smile again. She was so, so beautiful, and despite her craziness, so damn sweet, just like our mom. And Masen, well that boy was certifiable, especially the way he tended to always take things apart and then attempt to put them back together, often with disastrous results. But since the moment mom brought him home, his eyes would light up the second he saw me and really, how could you not love someone who worshipped you that much?
"Jamie, Masen!" I hissed as loudly as possible while trying not to call the attention of our parents upstairs.
When they failed to either hear or listen to me, I stuck my pinkies in the corners of my mouth and gave a low whistle, then put my hands on my hips so that they could see I meant business here.
"James and Masen Cullen!"
That got their attention.
Huffing and panting, they made their way over to me.
"I need you both to listen to me carefully - and do exactly as I say."
They stared at me wide-eyed - like I said, these munchkins worshipped me. It was a power I could easily abuse if I wanted to, but I loved these two nut-heads. I would never use my power over them for evil.
And what I was going to do now did not count as evil. It was totally and one-hundred percent necessary, after the crap that Bitty Bee Bree had apparently put my mom through.
This right here was going to be war, Cullen-Kids-Style.
And that's how OGBB – Operation Get Bree Back – went into effect.
I took the pretty cheese tarts out of the oven and breathed in deeply. Mmmm. Emmett had given me the recipe, and man did they smell good! The roast still had a few minutes to go, but it also smelled slamming. I'd already mashed the insides of the baked potatoes and added cheese and bacon before stuffing them back into their skins and in the oven. Maia had offered to toss the salad for me right before serving dinner, and Jamie would be preparing her world-famous freshly squeezed lemonade. Masen would set the table once we were ready to eat.
The Cullens were ready for company.
And just in case Bree was still on that vegan, health-conscious diet of hers, I'd sautéed up some tofu and thrown together a quick veggie chili as her main course.
The doorbell rang.
With a deep breath, I made my way towards the foyer, from where Edward's voice blended with a couple of others.
"Hey guys," I called out. Bree's big eyes (yes, they were still pretty big) turned my way. She smiled, a bit uncomfortably, and looked thinner than I remembered her from over a decade back, which kind of made her eyes pop out more.
Honestly, I was having a hard time getting past those eyes - I'd forgotten how big they were!
And then I remembered something else I seemed to have conveniently forgotten when I'd bumped into her a couple of days ago at the market.
The last time I'd seen this woman I'd bitch-slapped her!
Ignoring the way my hand tingled with the memory, I approached carefully and kept my hands within easy view lest she fear another backhand. I would never do that again.
At least not without proper provocation.
"Bree, how are you?"
"I'm good, thanks." Her voice shook slightly - nerves I assumed. She cleared her throat. "Bella, Edward, this is my husband, Doctor Diego Rodriguez."
I looked over at the man standing next to her. He was a couple of inches taller than she, with dark hair and dark skin, handsome, stiff posture; smile cool and composed.
Perfect for her.
Damn it, Bella! Chill with the childishness!
I gave him a friendly grin and put out my hand. "It's great to meet you, Doctor Rodriguez. I'm Bella Cullen."
He took my hand and shook it. "Please call me Diego. It's good to meet you too. My wife has told me a great deal about you."
"Uh oh," I chuckled.
Doctor Diego turned to shake Edward's hand.
"Edward Cullen," Edward said, in his most formal tone. "Good to meet you."
"Good to meet you, too," Doctor Diego responded in an equally formal tone. He straightened his shoulders and puffed out his chest.
We moved through the foyer into the living room, making small talk as we went.
"This is a beautiful home, Bella," Bree said, taking in her surroundings.
"Thanks," I answered, unable to disguise my pride because yeah, I loved my home.
We took our seats over the soft, suede sofas. Edward sat next to me and Bree and Diego sat across from us. Edward picked up my hand, absent-mindedly lacing his fingers through mine the way he always did when we were seated next to each other. Bree's eyes flashed quickly to our hands. She reached out for her own husband's hand.
He looked up at her, seeming startled.
"So you're living in Houston now?" I asked in my most friendly tone.
"Yes, I've been there since I…" – she cleared her throat again – "…left Forks. Diego and I met about five years ago - when I started working at Houston General. He's head of the Mental Health Department there. We've been married for three years."
"Oh, that's great," I smiled honestly. "Congratulations."
"Thank you," Bree answered.
Queue Uncomfortable Silence Number One.
"So how long have you two been married?" Bree asked.
She'd directed the question my way, but Edward was the one to respond.
"Ten years last summer," he grinned, tightening his hold on my hand.
"Wow," was all she answered.
Queue Uncomfortable Silence Number Two.
"Edward, Bree tells me you're Chief of Staff at the small hospital here in town?" Doctor Diego inquired.
Knowing him for thirteen years now, I could read Edward like the back of my hand, and I could tell by the way he shifted forward in his seat that that 'small hospital' comment did not go unnoticed.
Edward grinned. "Yes, I am. It's an extremely gratifying job. I get to work with dozens of people I respect highly, and then at the end of the day, I get to come home to my wife and kids. Those are the perks of a small town life."
Doctor Diego nodded slowly. "Yes, I suppose it's a different sort of life."
The sound of loud voices accompanied by equally loud footsteps reached my ears. I silently thanked my noisy children for their perfect timing.
"And speaking of kids, here come ours," I grinned, twisting my neck around to watch my little group walk into the living room. Well, the term 'walk' was really relative, because it was more like two separate hurricanes whished in - followed by a calmer, steadier breeze.
Maia must've worked some of her calming magic with them though, because instead of running around the sofa in circles - something I would not have put past them - Jamie and Mase came to a stop right in front of us, accompanied by their big sister. The three of them faced our guests quietly and calmly, waiting to be introduced.
I bit my lip and decided to pretend that my children's display of good manners did not shock the ever living shit out of me.
Apparently, Edward and I were of like minds on this.
He cleared his throat. "Bree, Diego, these are our children: Maia, Jamie and Masen. Guys, these are Doctors Bree and Diego Rodriguez. Friends," - he forced out – "of ours."
"Actually, Edward," Bree cut in, "I still go by Bree Tanner."
"Yes," Doctor Diego agreed, "We…decided it would be better for Bree to keep her last name." He chuckled sort of uncomfortably.
Edward blinked. "Oh. I apologize."
Maia stepped forward and stretched her small hand out to Bree. "Doctor Tanner, it's a pleasure to meet you."
Bree silently shook her hand.
Then Maia reached out and did the same to Doctor Diego. Once she was done, Jamie, then Mase followed her example.
Whatever the heck was going on, I stuck my chest out proudly. Yup, these were my kids.
"Doctor Tanner, Doctor Rodriguez, I sure hope you're enjoying your stay in town."
Bree smiled hesitantly at Maia. "Yes. Yes, we are. It's been a long time since I've been back - since before any of you came into the picture."
"Yes, my mom was telling me that. Well, we sure hope you'll come to town more often - and come visit us. Jamie and Masen and I love company. Don't we, guys?"
Jamie and Masen squirmed next to Maia, eyes wandering around the room distractedly.
"I said, don't we, guys?" Maia hissed lowly, elbowing Jamie, who knocked into Masen.
"What? Huh? Oh yeah!" Jamie cried. "We love company! We hope you come by again and again!"
"We love company!" Masen mimicked in his five-year-old voice. "Come again!"
"Well, aren't those sweet kids," Doctor Diego proclaimed.
Maia grinned broadly.
"Can my brother and sister and I get any of the adults something to drink?" Maia asked.
"I would love some water," Bree hedged carefully. She turned to look at her husband.
"That sounds great. I'd like some water too, please."
"Sure," Maia agreed sweetly. "Two tall glasses of water coming up right away." With one final grin, she walked towards the kitchen, Jamie and Masen at her heels.
I looked over at Edward, who looked completely bewildered. Was he thinking the same thing I was thinking?
Had aliens come down from Mars at some point in the last half hour and replaced our kids with clones?
"My goodness, Bella," Bree chuckled, placing one dainty hand across her chest, "I have to say, you seem to have raised three polite and well-behaved children."
And like the hidden jab behind her husband's 'small hospital' comment, I didn't fail to pick up on the heavy tone of surprise in her voice, as if my well-behaved children were the complete opposite of what she'd expected.
But like Edward, I decided the best thing to do would be to take the high road and ignore her tone of disbelief.
Besides, I'd already backhanded her once in my lifetime.
We made some more small talk until the kids came back into the room, Maia and Jamie each holding a tall glass of water, with a crisp, clean white napkin under each. Jamie handed hers to Doctor Diego, and Maia to Bree. They thanked the kids and then with another sweet smile from each, all three kids excused themselves and left the room.
"Mom, just let me know when you want me to start the salad," Maia said to me before leaving. I nodded, too dumbfounded to speak.
"And when you want me to make the lemonade," Jamie added.
"And me set the table," Masen finished.
"Alright, guys, we'll let you know," Edward answered, mouth curled up in a smug grin.
I chuckled lowly. When I looked back at Bree, she was gazing at Edward, eyes slightly glazed over.
Ahh, the grin, of course. Yeah, it was a beautiful grin, and I suppose it wasn't easily forgotten.
I sighed quietly. Me and my bright ideas.
We made more small talk while Doctor Diego alternated between rather pleasant and interesting comments interspersed with flagrant personal pats on his back about his successful, high-profile career. After fifteen minutes, I could already tell when a large boast was on its way because he'd always take a sip of his water beforehand. It was comical actually, and Edward seemed to agree with me, at least enough so that he didn't feel like he had to compete. The fact was that Edward was a very successful doctor. He didn't need to prove anything to anyone.
"So, Bella," Bree started, while the men discussed baseball - a 'safe' topic, "What's it like to work at the high school? It must be maddening to have to deal with all those annoying teenagers day in and day out."
"Actually, I really enjoy it," I chuckled. "Their minds are so…open and wondrous and ready to learn and even teach!" I marveled. "It's like a new adventure every day!"
"Really?" Bree smirked. "Well, I worked with teens for a while when I was running group therapy, and I've got to be honest," – she took a sip of water – "I thought they were downright-"
Here Bree paused, brows knitting together. She swallowed her water down almost forcefully, with an audible gulp.
"Is something wrong?" I asked.
She took another sip of water and grimaced, eyes almost popping out of their sockets with how wide they grew.
"The water…Diego…darling," she turned, interrupting his conversation with Edward, "Does the water taste…salty to you?"
Doctor Diego frowned and took a sip of his own water. "Not at all, sweetheart. It tastes extremely fresh and clean - like mountain water. Is it mountain water?" he asked me.
I shrugged. "It came from our fridge. Not really sure where it was before that," I chuckled.
"Well, it's delicious." He turned back to Edward, ignoring the way his wife's tongue was hanging out. Slowly, Bree stuck her tongue back in, closing her mouth with a shudder.
"I can bring you another glass," I offered, and started to get up. "Maybe the dishwasher didn't get all the soap out-"
"No, no, no, that's fine," she insisted, and set her glass down.
Hesitantly, I sat back down.
"Mom!" Maia called out from across the hall. "The oven chimed!"
"Dinner's ready!" I stood up once more, and this time the rest joined me. "Shall we move into the dining room?"
Hand in hand, Edward and I led the way into our formal dining room.
"I've prepared cheese tarts as our appetizer, and a beautiful roast with twice-baked potatoes for tonight!" I announced proudly. "And Maia makes a lovely salad with-"
A quick look passed between Bree and her husband.
"What is it?" I asked, stopping short.
Bree looked embarrassed. "Well, it's just that Diego and I are vegan, Bella."
My eyes flashed to Edward. His nostrils flared. For a split second he looked ready to say something, but I begged him with my eyes to chill. Mouth set in a tight line, he looked down at his feet.
"Well, that's fine," I went on quickly, "I wondered if you were still vegan, Bree, and just in case, I prepared a vegetarian chili for you with a recipe Emmett gave me, along with sautéed tofu. How does that sound?"
"Oh, Bella," she said, sounding genuinely grateful, "that sounds great, but you really shouldn't have gone through so much trouble."
"No, she really shouldn't have." Edward chuckled as he said it, eyes firmly on mine, but it was hard to miss the serious tone in the chuckle.
Queue Uncomfortable Silence Number Three.
"Alright then, everyone take your seat, and I'll be back in a couple of minutes with dinner."
"I'll come help you," Edward muttered, following me into the kitchen, stomping all the way.
Oh boy. What the heck had I gotten myself into here?
The conclusion to this little outtake coming tomorrow!
Link to 'Stories by Patty Rose' is on my profile.