All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer; I just like to play with her characters.
No copyright infringement is intended.
HUGE thanks to darcysmom and twimom817 for beta'ing and their unending encouragement and to Edwardismyobsession1971 for prereading. HUGE love for these fantastic ladies!
When You Least Expect It
"So tell me, Isabella, what are your qualifications to be a personal chef?"
I took a deep breath.
"I attended the French Culinary Institute in New York and when I graduated from there, I did an internship under Christopher Lee, the executive chef at Aureole."
"That is quite impressive indeed. According to your resume that was five years ago. What have you done since then?"
"I've taken some time off. My dad took ill and I had to take care of him. He's much better now that I've been here to help him and cook him some decent meals."
"What else can you tell me about yourself?"
"Well … I'm a single mom. My little boy is my whole world since his dad left. My culinary skills, my dad, and my son are all I have," I said sadly.
"Isabella … honestly, I think you might be exactly what I'm looking for. My client, Mr. Cullen needs someone to come in daily to prepare breakfast, a quick lunch and an evening meal that could be reheated easily. You'd only be needed a few hours a day. You've be given an allowance to buy whatever groceries you'd require. Mr. Cullen will give you a rundown of his likes and dislikes to make your job easier. Are you interested?"
My heart leapt at the thought that I'd be able to take Kaden to school and pick him up on my way home.
"Definitely. It sounds like it might be just what I'm looking for. Will I ever be required to work in the evening for dinner parties or things like that?"
"That might be a possibility in the future but you'll know ahead of time should an event like that arise. Ms. Newton, I'm sure you're aware of Mr. Cullen's celebrity – the only thing we require is a non-disclosure agreement. Will that be a problem?"
"No, not at all. Will I be reporting to Mr. Cullen or someone else?"
"For the most part either Mr. Cullen or his assistant, Eric. Isabella, I don't know what you know of Mr. Cullen, but he's generally a very laid-back person. He's also very quiet and can be shy until he gets to know you. How much interaction you have will depend on the two of you."
"When will I start?"
"Mr. Cullen will be back from his latest project in two weeks. Eric will be in touch with you to make sure you have his schedule. You'll be able to come to the house and familiarize yourself with the kitchen well before he arrives. November will be very busy for Mr. Cullen, so things may be erratic, but you'll have enough time to settle into a routine before he leaves again at the end of January."
We talked briefly about my salary which was more than I was expecting. I'd be paid a retainer to stay on as an employee during the time that Mr. Cullen would be away filming and I wouldn't be required at his house every day. I happily signed the NDA and walked out knowing that I was taking the first steps to raising my son on my own.
I, Isabella Marie Swan-Newton, was going to be personal chef to newly single, actor-heartthrob Edward Cullen. Things were definitely starting to look up.
"How'd the interview go, baby girl?" My dad asked as I walked into the kitchen, setting the shopping bags on the counter.
"I got the job." I smiled. "I start in two weeks."
"What about Little Man?"
"He'll be okay, Dad. I can drop him off at school before work and pick him up on my way home."
"So it's part-time?"
"Part-time with full-time pay. Everything will be okay, Dad. If this job works out, I'll have more than enough to provide for Kaden and me. We'll be out of your hair before you know it."
"Bella … you guys aren't in my hair. You took care of me when I needed it and now I'm taking care of you. I love waking up in the morning and having Little Man snuggle up in my lap. I love my time with my boy. I know this hasn't been easy on you, Bells, but I want to do what I can to help out."
Although it's been just under a year since Mike left, the pain was still fresh in my mind. Not pain for myself, but for my son. Kaden talks about him almost daily, wanting to send him letters so he'll know where to find us. The truth is, I don't know where to send them. The sadness in my son's sweet little face is enough to break my heart every damn time.
As I put away the groceries, I caught a glace of my baby playing in the shade of the backyard with our dog, Koda. Thankfully, my Dad loved Koda as much as Kaden and I did. A friend of mine had given her to me as a puppy after she had found her abandoned in her yard.
"Bella … you and Mike have got to take this dog. She's loveable and adorable but I have to call her ugly so I don't get attached."
Mike and I had been married for two years and had just moved into our first house. We had plenty of room and a fenced in yard. I'd wanted a puppy but knew we had to wait until we had room for it to play and since we'd bought the house, I thought the timing was perfect. Mike didn't agree.
I told my friend to bring her on over that I'd be glad to have her and she brought Koda over the following weekend. She was the cutest little brown ball of fur. Sweet and playful, but she too was a little bit broken.
"I think whoever dumped her abused her. She will only go outside for me." My friend warned.
She was right. Every time Mike would go to let her out, she'd sit by the door and whine. He'd get frustrated and she'd hide under the dining room table. Poor little baby, but she eventually grew into the most loveable and loyal dog I'd ever seen. My friend was beside herself that she'd given away such a good dog and made me promise if there was ever a time when I couldn't care for her that I'd call her up and let her take her back.
Yeah … so not happening.
When Kaden was born, Koda wasn't jealous, but she became fiercely protective. Where ever my baby boy was that's where my dog was. When Mike left me to raise our two year old on my own, Koda became my faithful companion. With the help of my Dad, I packed up my things I couldn't live without and sold the rest. I had to walk away from my beautiful home because my lousy, good for nothing husband quit making the payments on it and it was foreclosed on.
Our plan was that I would be a stay at home mom until Kaden started Kindergarten and then I'd go back to work full time and pull my weight in our household. Apparently Mike felt that three more years was too long to wait and he went to work one day and never came home. No phone calls, no texts, no emails – nothing.
I felt my marriage beginning to crumble shortly after Kaden was born when I asked Mike to take a more active role in our household. I couldn't keep up the house, do the laundry, mow the lawn, cook all the meals, pay the bills and take care of the baby all on my own. It was like I was the only strong person in our relationship because at the first sign of pressure – Mike buckled.
"You never pay any attention to me anymore!" Mike complained.
"I don't have time to pay attention to myself let alone you!" I retorted.
"It's always Kaden this, and Kaden that. Why? Why Bella?"
"Because he's our son! That's why, Mike. You wanted him as much as I did, so why did you change your tune now that he's here?" I asked as I nursed my son at my breast.
"I didn't change my mind. He's my son and I love him. I love you, Bella. I just want us back."
"It'll come with time, honey. We're just settling into a new routine that's all."
I wish that's all it was. It was the beginning of the end. Not long after that, Mike lost his job and spent a few months at home in our office while we used up our savings to stay afloat. When he finally got another job, it was one that he'd have to commute to. In the end, it was easier to get him an apartment in the city and have him come home on the weekends. Unfortunately it was such a far commute that every weekend was even impossibility and every other weekend was his visitation schedule. Eventually it became once a month until finally he didn't come home at all.
I didn't mourn the loss of my husband. I mourned the loss of a father for my child. I wasn't angry because he left me – I was angry because he abandoned our son. My sweet, innocent little boy who thinks his daddy hung the moon and stars. I'll never tell him otherwise.
We moved in with my Dad in a small three bedroom house in Southern California. It was a far cry from the lush green and almost constant cloud cover I was used to in Tacoma, Washington, but I was scared and needed help raising my little boy.
My friend Alice had become a godsend. She was a hair stylist at a trendy salon in West Hollywood and when she found out they were looking for someone to be a part-time receptionist, she immediately recommended me for the job.
Alice and I had been friends since we were kids. We had one of those friendships you could walk away from for an indefinite amount of time but when you came back to it, it was just as strong and as special as it was before. She supported me when I moved to New York immediately after high school to attend culinary school.
"You're going to make a fabulous chef one day, Isabella Swan." Alice promised.
Alice was the Maid of Honor at my wedding when I married Mike. She came to visit me while I was doing my internship with Christopher Lee and actually was with me the night I met Mike. We'd gone out dancing one night and then went to an all-night diner afterward. Mike kept staring at us and finally Alice had enough and went over to his table and introduced herself then she drug Mike back to our table to introduce him to me.
We dated for a year before we got married. A couple months before our wedding, Mike took a job with Boeing in Seattle as some type of computer consultant and we ended up moving to Tacoma where we bought our first house. At the time, we had every intention on staying there for several years. I found a job as an executive chef at a trendy local restaurant and I loved my job. At the time I was 22, married, completely in love, and had a great job.
A few months later, Mike decided that he was ready to try for a baby. It took us a year and a half and several rounds of fertility treatments to get pregnant, but when we finally did – we were ecstatic. I cried the day we went for an ultrasound and we found out we were having a boy. Now that he was nearly four, I loved him so much more if it was even possible.
I continued to watch him as he ran around the yard playing with our dog. He was a happy, healthy, smart, and well-rounded kid. His favorite time of day was the thirty minutes before bedtime when we'd snuggle up in bed and lose ourselves in a good book. I learned early on that simple children's books bored him so I moved on to chapter books like Charlotte's Web and James and the Giant Peach. He'd giggle as I used different voices to distinguish different characters.
"Oh, Mama. I love you." He'd laugh as he snuggled under the covers.
"I love you too, Little Bear." I'd whisper back.
I hoped with my entire being that my new job working for Edward Cullen would be all it was cracked up to be. I needed it to be.
A/N: I know, I know. It's been so long since y'all have seen a solo story from me but I've been working on not one but THREE new stories. The plot bunnies have been hell on me these last few months. This is the third one I started but it called to me to finish it up before the others.
To answer a few questions … I don't expect this fic to be more than 25 chapters. I will post it every Monday. I am currently writing Chapter 15 so I am way ahead of myself. This will have a HEA. If I haven't addressed your concerns, please let me know! =)
Just so you know – yes this story has a lot to do with the events of late involving one of our favorite couples but it is also a very personal story and I'd love to hear your thoughts. That said … this fic is not meant to offer an opinion on those events and is exactly what it is … FIC. Thanks for reading.