Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.
While the foundation is being laid for my mom's restaurant, I sit on-site working on another job. Sam has worked with the client before, but he has been little help with deciphering what it is they actually want. I thought freelance work was the way to go, but without having any contacts in Los Angeles, I've been checking out a few firms. This ornery client is making the idea of working with a firm just that much easier.
Every car that drives by slows down to view the spectacle of a new building in Forks. I shake my head as Mrs. Cope drives slowly past us, wiggling her finger in a wave. I smile and lift my hand in greeting. Nostalgia hits and I realize that as predictable as this town is, I'm going to miss it.
The ease I've found working with Sam will be hard to find again. Everything that has happened since I got here has tied me to this place.
After packing up my things, I check in with Sam on the progress that's been made today. I'm confident that they've got this, but I'll still check back tomorrow. With the restaurant construction underway, I've just got to get this office started, so I can oversee its completion and move on. Once I have a better timeline, I'll let Bella know my plans.
As I pull into the diner, the gravel covered parking lot crunches under my tires. Once inside, I take a seat at the counter. Looking at the menu is as pointless as ever, but I look at it anyway, waiting for something to pop out at me. When Maggie pulls the pencil out from behind her ear, ready to take my order, I close the menu and ask for the special.
I get an idea for the office plan, pull a pen out of my pocket, and start sketching out a rough blueprint on a napkin. When I'm satisfied that I've got the idea saved in a way I won't forget by the time I get home, I fold the napkin and put it in my pocket with the pen.
A plate of meatloaf smothered in gravy is set before me just as Charlie, who's still dressed in uniform, takes the seat beside me. "Hey, Maggie. I think I'll have one of those." He gestures his head to the side toward my plate.
I grab the napkin from the silverware that is set up for the empty spot next to me. "Hey, Charlie. Still on duty?"
"Yeah, just catchin' a dinner break." Maggie sets a coffee mug in front of him, and he thanks her with a nod of his head and a flirtatious smile before turning back to me. "I heard you're headin' out of town soon." He lifts his chin, studying my reaction.
Luckily, Bella let me know that she told him about our Thanksgiving plans. "Yeah, I need to start packing."
"I'm glad you're drivin' with Bella to her mom's. I don't like her drivin' so far by herself."
When Charlie's food arrives, we eat side-by-side, exchanging comments here and there about work and sports. I begin wondering what my friendship with Charlie will be like once my relationship with Bella is no longer long-distance.
"Do me a favor though. When you get back, don't be tellin' me about it. There's nothin' about that trip I need to know about as long as my little girl is safe."
I wipe my mouth off with the napkin, folding it in half as I do and laying it on top of my now empty plate. "No problem."
"I will tell ya, that boy Renee's seein' isn't much older than you. The things Bella's mentioned about the kid are pretty peculiar if you ask me. I've never met the guy, but I wouldn't trust him if I were you."
I nod at Charlie's view on Bella's stepfather, knowing his biased view is something I respect, but I'll try not to base mine by his.
Back at home, I load up my computer and work on the design I started on the napkin until I hit another roadblock.
I start packing my bag for my trip to both Los Angeles and Phoenix. There's a lot to pack for a five-day trip when I don't know how formal Bella's family is on holidays. I fill two suitcases and get this idea that I'll just leave some of it at Bella's place, so I don't have to move it later.
Putting my weight on the suitcases, I force the zippers closed. My phone starts ringing. It's Bella.
I check the time before I answer and find that it's past the time I usually call.
As soon as I answer, she says, "Don't be mad."
I scoff. "How often are you talking to my sister? You sound just like her."
"Oh, really? I have been talking to her a lot."
Better her than me. Having Bella there for Alice to discuss wedding plans with has kept me out of it. I'm already doing my part in designing the setting. It was starting to worry me that I was one of my sister's go-to people to discuss her wedding plans with.
"So, what's going on?" I ask.
She groans. "Uh, I can't tell you. It's supposed to be a surprise."
"What?" I laugh. "Wait. I'm going to be mad about it?"
"I didn't think so, but the fact that they don't want me to tell you, makes me think you might be."
I breathe in and decide to not worry about it. My life seems like it's becoming a constant turn of never knowing what I'll be up against next. At least, this time I got a warning.
As soon as I exit the gate at LAX, I look around for Bella. She's not the first recognizable face I see.
Emmett's wide grin is aimed straight at me, and he takes a few long strides before squeezing me in an embrace.
"What the hell? Why didn't you just tell me you would be here?" I ask him, returning his hug and then pushing him away.
"You would have got all pissy about me crashing Bella's holiday and made sure I couldn't come."
Shaking my head, I say, "That's not true."
"Don't worry about it." He slaps my shoulder. "Bella's Madre said she'd love to have me."
I see Bella then, looking worried as she bites her lip and digs the toe of her shoe into the floor. I know what she's doing. She's trying to look innocent, just in case I'm mad. Emmett's probably right though. I wouldn't have given the okay on him coming with us, but now, I'm backed into a corner.
"Hi," I say to Bella.
She shrugs her shoulders up to her ears as if she's suddenly shy. "Hi."
I grab her hips, pull her close, and kiss her. I'm over the nervousness. It's not necessary. I'm not mad about Emmett being here. Although it is a surprise to me, it's not for me.
Emmett gives us a low whistle.
Pushing Bella's hair behind her ear and ignoring Emmett, I ask her, "How long has he been here anyway?"
"I'm sorry." I laugh.
She moves her fingers along the back of my neck. "It's been fine. I think this is the most I've seen him since he got here."
"I bet." With my arm around Bella, I turn to Emmett. "Not that I don't want to see you, but why are you coming with us to Phoenix? Wouldn't you rather stay here with Rosalie?"
Bella shifts her feet. "Rose's family is…stuffy, and she has some decisions to make that are better if her parents know she's making them for herself and not Emmett."
I don't miss the look that Bella and Emmett exchange, or how quick Emmett is to grab my luggage and stay quiet.
The three of us go out to lunch before we drop Emmett off at his hotel. I realize how much I've missed him. Emmett and I have never been that close. I've never understood how he can be so light-hearted about everything. Emmett is a people person. He loves everyone. Through Emmett's eyes, the world must be a beautiful place. Not even the years he's spent in a toxic relationship have jaded him.
I've always related more with Alice, aside from her being peppy, bossy, girly, and usually annoying. We have the same heart. It's a bond that I've never wanted to rub in Emmett's face. That is exactly why I need Alice to get over the idea of me being the best man in her wedding. I'm not Jasper's first choice. His friend, Peter, enlisted in the Air Force and won't be able to take the position. I understand the hard place that puts them in, but I can't do that to Emmett. I don't see how Alice would be able to either.
As adults, I wonder how my relationship with Emmett could be closer. As kids, our hobbies didn't clash, but they were always different. We were both athletic, but he preferred wrestling while I played baseball. We both played video games, but never the same game. He was always in love. I just dated to date. This could be really good though—Bella and me, Emmett and Rose, and the possibility of my brother eventually moving with me here to Los Angeles.
I know my mom is holding on to a possibility of us all settling in Forks. With me planning to leave, and Alice already set on living in Forks, Emmett is the only wildcard.
When I walk into Bella's apartment, her living room furniture is gone. It's completely empty save for an abstract painting on the wall.
I look around, dumbfounded. "What happened here?"
"Angela is moving in with Ben, so we sold the bigger stuff we bought together." She gestures around the room. "The table and chairs are gone too."
"Do you want me to come with you to pick out new stuff?" I set my suitcases where the couch used to be.
"Not yet. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do yet. Rose is still figuring out some stuff."
I snap my head back to look at her, imaging the potential catastrophe of Bella living with Rosalie. "Are sure you can handle that? You two butt heads a lot."
"I know, but that's just recently. Our priorities stopped being the same. Last year, we were great. Now that's she's talking to Emmett, it's like we're getting back to the way it was."
I shrug. "Okay, if you're sure."
"I am. She's not though. She's hoping we find somewhere affordable, so we can be neighbors. She's afraid if we live together, I will end up hating her."
I can see that happening, but I leave it alone. "Do you want to go out tonight?"
"No way. I'll be lucky if I can get you to hug me while we're at my mom's."
I shake my head. I'm sure I'll hug her.
She pulls me to her room, walking backwards as she tugs on the button on my jeans. I kick the door shut behind me and it closes easily—too easily. The beads hanging from her door are gone. I look past her as she takes her shirt off and see a few boxes in the corner—some are empty, some are filled.
I help her take off my shirt. "Are you selling all your stuff?"
Running her nails up and down my back she says, "No, I'm donating it. I'm going to be twenty soon. It's time to leave the teenager behind."
Her mouth on mine keeps me from responding.
She pulls me to her bed, pushes me down, and straddles me. For a while, I forget all about missing furniture and boxes.
Two-thirds of the way through our drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Bella takes her turn behind the wheel, and I learn why she always lets me drive. If she's not slowing to a snail's pace to read a sign, she's gunning it down the freeway. I'm not scared for my life, but I've learned the true meaning of motion sickness.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath to relieve the nausea. "Is there anything I should know about your mom?"
"Not really," she says, flipping down her visor to block the sun. "She's just like me, but I guess I should warn you that she has trouble keeping her hands to herself. Oh, and her and Phil aren't private. I can't say you won't be scarred for life. My mom will ask you any question she feels like. Other than that though, they're cool. My dad's the one you'd have to worry about, so you got through the hard part first."
"Lucky me." I pull out a stick of gum, fold it in half, and put it in Bella's mouth before getting out my own.
"You'll be fine. Tell me about your mom, since I'll be meeting her soon."
Emmett leans forward from the middle seat in the back, opening his mouth wide. I shove a piece of gum into his mouth—wrapper and all. He makes spitting and gagging noises as he pulls it out of his mouth.
I roll the gum wrapper into a ball and consider what to tell Bella about my mom. "She doesn't realize her kids are grown up. She still frets and tries to take care of us. There's always something cooking. She's obsessed with making sure everyone's eating. Every time I talk to her, she questions what I eat."
"I feed you. She knows I feed you, right? You told her?" She takes her eyes off the road long enough to give me the beginnings of a heart attack, before she jerks her head back to the road.
"I told her, and she's impressed. Alice doesn't cook at all," I tell her, but I don't tell her my real worries.
My mom will be polite and supportive of Bella and me, but I'll see right through her if she doesn't approve. She'll say something like, "It's nice you have someone to spend time with while you get yourself settled." I've heard it before. Emmett hears it on a reoccurring basis. Jasper is lucky enough to have been considered family before things progressed between Alice and him.
"She doesn't question what I eat," Emmett says.
I snort as I laugh. "No one would ever question if you eat."
"What about your dad? What's he like?" Bella asks.
"You'll have to watch her around dad. The ladies love him" Emmett says, cracking his knuckles.
I roll my eyes as I fiddle with the air vent. Emmett's ex had trouble keeping her hands to herself. I don't have that worry with Bella. "He's like yours, but clean cut and by the law."
"What do you mean by the law? My dad's a cop."
"Exactly." I laugh. "He's above the law, and he knows it."
She smiles, shaking her head as she turns up the radio. I'm subjected to what is now considered old school in the afternoon. I didn't like these songs in high school, and it's hard to believe the music that was popular when I was in high school is already considered old school. Emmett's head bounces as he sings along to every song.
We pull up to a circular driveway in front of a multi-leveled Spanish style home. The design is interesting, but I can tell by the shape from the outside that there will be awkward angles and unusable walls on the inside.
Bella takes my hand before we get out of the car. "This is it. Are you ready?"
I pull her closer and kiss her. There is no way to predict the next time I'll be able to, so I kiss her like I would if we were saying goodbye for a long time.
"Let's do this!" Emmett opens his door, breaking our moment.
Emmett carries both of our suitcases, only leaving me Bella's. I follow behind Bella to the front door. She flips through the keys on her key ring. Just as she finds the right key, the door opens.
A short haired, older version of Bella has her arms out stretched. "My baby!"
Bella goes right into her arms. It's weird. I always thought Bella looked like Charlie, but, I can see now that she doesn't. They just share hair and eye color.
Bella's mom steps away from Bella and extends her arms to me. She wraps her arms around my waist, presses her cheek against my chest, inhales loudly, and nuzzles closer. I place my palms on her upper back and resist the urge to pat.
"My baby does so well." She taps her hand against my cheek before turning to Emmett who is quick to pick her up in a bear hug, making her squeal and giggle.
A short, beady-eyed man, who's wearing his baseball cap backwards, joins us outside. "PhiI," he says, shaking my hand, gripping it harder and jerking it up and down more than is necessary. A toothpick moves in and out of his mouth as he looks Emmett and I up and down. I get that he's a sports agent and probably checking out our build because it's what he does, but Charlie's right—this guy is peculiar.
"What do you think of the house, Edward?" Phil asks as we take the grand tour.
"It's unique." I point out the aspects that I do like and keep the many more that I don't to myself.
Phil shows off his weight bench to Emmett as I make my way to the kitchen. Bella is prepping for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner.
"You're going to be fine, honey." Renee brushes her hand down Bella's hair. "Don't worry about what anyone thinks. I'd be bending over backwards to be with that man too if I were you."
I'm curious as to what this conversation is about, but I don't want to intrude. I clear my throat to make my presence known.
Renee turns to me, placing her hand over her heart as if I startled her. "Edward, go ahead and set yourself up in Bella's room."
"I'm fine on the couch." Emmett was already given the guest room.
"Don't pretend you sleep on the couch at Bella's place. Unless this is one of those movies where you're not really her boyfriend for whatever reason, then go ahead and sleep on the couch." She waves her hand, and I don't know how to argue with that.
Bella raises her eyebrows at me, daring me to argue.
"Bella's room it is," I say, careful not to say her name. I tried Mrs. Dwyer, and she said to go ahead and call her mama. That's not something I can say with a straight face. She was sure charmed though when Emmett called her Madre.
I take my suitcase to the room Phil told us was Bella's, but he didn't bother to show us. His tour only highlighted the aspects of the house he wanted to flaunt. Looking around the room, I'm surrounded by black and deep red.
Arms wrap around my waist from behind. "You're really sleeping with me?" Bella asks.
"I don't know. I'm kind of scared." I take her hands and maneuver her in front of me. "Did you have a gothic stage?"
"No, I just liked the color scheme." She kisses me, and I let her, keeping it brief as my heart pounds from the idea of getting too caught up with her here in her mother's house.
For dinner, we eat pizza in the living room and Renee picks at a salad, scrunching her nose up at the pizza even though it was her idea. Phil talks and talks and talks to Emmett. With Phil being a sports agent and Emmett a personal trainer, Phil somehow has endless things to discuss with Emmett. I'm not offended that Phil has had little interest in me aside from wanting my opinion on his home. He's just showing off, and damn, the guy can talk. Emmett's given me his "save me" eyes a few times, but there is nothing that I can do. I sit content with Bella leaning into my side as we listen to their conversation. Every time we visit, I should bring Emmett along.
"Phil, why don't we all take this chat to the hot tub?" Renee says as she sits on the arm of the chair Phil's sitting on. "I hope you boys brought your trunks."
Bella sits up, tense. "Mom, no! Ew!"
Renee stares at her with her mouth open. "What? What's the problem?"
"Ew. Ew." Bella shakes her head and repeats the word again and again.
"You're being ridiculous, Bella. There's chlorine in the water. There's nothing to worry about." Renee's voice is nurturing as she tries to ease Bella's worries.
"No way," Bella says. "You two are on your own. We are not going in there. I have to get up early to start cooking anyway."
Renee looks to me.
Bella takes my hand. "He's helping me."
Renee shakes her head, smiling. "No, men don't help with things like that. It's best you learn that early."
"Well mine does." Bella sits up straighter as she speaks out against her mother. She has every right to call her mother out when she feels that she is wrong, but it makes me nervous to be caught in the middle of it.
"Yeah, I think I'll head to bed too." Emmett stands up. "Knock on my door when you guys wake up. I can help too."
He says goodnight and doesn't even make it out of the room before he pulls out his phone.
Bella and I say our goodnights too. As Bella hugs Renee, I hear Renee's loud whispered words. "Where did you find these two?"
I shower alone despite Bella's offer to join me and tap on Emmett's door while she takes her shower.
He opens the door, wearing a goofy smile and holding his phone up to his ear. "Hey, what's up?"
"Nothing. I just wanted to say goodnight." I was hoping to kill some time with him, but he's otherwise occupied. "Goodnight, Rose," I say louder.
Emmett chuckles before closing the door.
When I'm alone in Bella's room, I look around, but I don't open any drawers. As long as I don't touch anything, I don't consider it snooping. She is so extreme with her decorating. I wonder what her next room will look like, and eventually, the one I hope she shares with me.
I climb into her bed and it hits the wall, adding one more reason as to why I won't be easily seduced while here. Bella walks into the room wearing a short black robe, and her hair is twisted up in a towel. I watch her undo the towel and shake out her hair before grabbing a brush from her bag.
When she's done brushing her hair, she turns the lock on the door. I know what she's doing.
"I'm just here to sleep," I say. "Don't get any ideas."
"Too late." She unties her robe, letting it fall down her arms to the floor.
Of course, she's wearing nothing underneath.
"Bella." I groan and look up at her ceiling.
"No? You don't want me?" She questions teasingly. She knows I do.
"It's just disrespectful."
"It's not. They're the ones being disrespectful, trying to get us into that hot tub." She shivers. "Uck!"
She reaches down for her robe. It's not like her to give up so easily. Her parents have either turned her off, or I made it clear that I wouldn't be giving in.
I throw her pillows and blankets on the floor. Banging her bed up against the wall repeatedly is not an option.
"What are you doing?" she asks.
I lie down on the floor. "I hope you can be quiet."
Her eyes light up. She nods her head before turning off the lights and joining me on her floor.
My first Thanksgiving with Bella was definitely different than any I has experienced before. Her mom refused to eat anything Bella made in favor of her new raw food diet. She failed to mention her new diet until dinner was served. Emmett and I were able to ignore the facts about how unhealthy the meal was and ate more than our share.
While Bella argued with her mom, I was able to get some time alone with Emmett. He informed me he'd be moving to Forks with the rest of the family and would continue to date Rosalie. He also said that if it works out, he'd relocate again to be closer to her…in Seattle.
It threw me for a loop that she would be moving up there, but I let it go. It's not really my business, but it made more sense as to why Bella and Rose were still figuring out if they would be living together and why Rose needed to take some time alone with her parents to get everything figured out.
As much as I enjoyed spending time with my brother and Bella's family, I'm glad to have her to myself now. Now that we're back in Los Angeles, I want nothing more than to enjoy my last day with Bella. I'm kissing down her neck and getting lost in her softness when I'm interrupted by the high pitched sound that signals the dryer is finished. She washed all my clothes even though I told her not to. I know it comes from what I said about my mom still trying to take care of me, but I don't need Bella to be my mom.
She tries to get off the bed, but I hold her closer. "Just leave it."
"We have to get you packed." She pushes against me.
I grab her arms, pulling her back on the bed. I'm not eager to get ready to leave. "Just leave it for when I come back."
Her nose scrunches, "Why would you come back? I'm going home for Christmas."
She's right that I won't be back for a while, but I will be eventually, and soon, I'll be back permanently.
I lace our fingers together. "I know. I didn't want to say anything until I had more of a timeframe, but after the projects I'm working on are done, I have every intention of moving down here."
Her eyes open wide and she gasps. "You would do that?"
"Of course, I've already looked online at a few apartments nearby."
"You don't want to just stay with me?" she asks, tilting her head to the side.
"I…do you want that?" I study her face for any sign that she's not sure about this.
"If we're in the same city, I'm pretty sure one of our places will become pointless." She smiles as she leans her forehead against mine.
"Okay, we'll find a place."
"So I'll get everything tied up here, and you can find us a place." She kisses me and says against my lips, "But not here…in Seattle."
"Seattle?" I back up and look at her, confused.
"Yes." She puts her finger against my lips. "Don't say anything. I want to do this."
"Okay," I say against her finger. Tension I didn't realize I had is relieved. I can't imagine anything better than living with Bella and staying near my family.
Thanks for reading! I'm sorry I take forever to update, but I'm always working on it, and this story is wrapping up!
Thanks to everyone for who helps me on this story: tawelephant, ttharman, SunflowerFran3759, and dazzled eyes22!
If you read my other story, Boundaries Undefined, I should have an update next Wednesday.
Leave me a review. I love to hear from you.