All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer; I just like to play with her characters.
No copyright infringement is intended.
I wrote this outtake at the request of my beta, darcysmom. She's been a great sounding board and an even better friend. This is for her.
When You Least Expect It
I thought losing my wife would be one of the hardest things I'd ever have to face. Not only did I lose my wife, I lost my best friend and lover – the mother of my only child. I was left to raise my daughter on my own. I had no family to speak of, other than distant relatives I had no contact with.
Thankfully, Bella was a good girl. She was thirteen when we lost Renee, and in the aftermath of her death, I realized that my daughter had lost her best friend too. We did the best we could to hold each other together and get through each day.
When she announced that she wanted to go to New York after graduating high school to pursue a career as a Chef, I thought my heart would break. Bella had loved cooking for as long as I could remember. As soon as she was old enough to sit up on a counter by herself, Renee had Bella helping her. Renee came from a fantastic line of cooks. Everything was made from scratch and more often than not, no recipes were involved.
At first, it was hard to get Bella back in the kitchen after Renee died. I came home after work one day to find Bella cooking up a storm with her mother's picture sitting proudly on the counter beside her.
"I feel close to her here, Dad," Bella explained.
New York seemed so damn far away. There were culinary schools in Los Angeles. She could stay home and go to school here. But I knew I couldn't do that to my Bella. To be happy, she needed to spread her wings and fly. I wouldn't be responsible for caging her - she'd never forgive me.
I flew to New York for her pinning and graduation ceremony. I was so proud to see my baby girl achieve her dreams.
"So what's next, baby girl?"
"Dad …" She chided, probably hating the fact I'd called her baby girl. Secretly, I think she loved it.
"I'm serious, Bells."
"I've been offered an internship at a well-known restaurant in Manhattan, Dad. I start next week."
"You're staying in New York? Bella? Hell, I thought you'd come back home when you were done with school. Now that Ben's finished at the academy and you're through with school, he was hoping that you two could …."
"Umm, no, Dad. We can't. Ben's a nice guy, but we want different things. He wants to settle down and start a family and I want to begin my career. We talked about it before I left. We're just not on the same page."
"Okay, baby girl. No pressure from me where Ben is concerned, but he's a good kid. You deserve someone good. Don't you want someone to share your life with?"
"I do, Dad, but I need someone who understands that I want to begin my career first. Besides, I met a guy, his name is Jasper, and he's great."
Bella seemed excited about this Jasper character and I raised my brow at her.
"It's not what you're thinking, Dad. Jasper is just a friend – my best friend. Anyway, he goes to Columbia and he asked me if I was interested in being his roommate since my internship will be in Manhattan."
"Oh, this ought to be good," I grumbled.
"Dad, it makes the most sense. Where I'm living now isn't all that great of a neighborhood and it'll take me forever to get back and forth to work. Jasper's apartment is right there. He'll be my roommate, Dad, not a love interest."
Bella crossed her arms and looked at me with her brows furrowed. She looked so much like her mother in that moment and my heart ached.
"This isn't going to be a "friends with benefits" arrangement is it?"
"Dad! No! Oh my God! I can't believe … Dad, just … no."
"I only want to make sure that you're taking care of yourself, Bells."
"I am, Dad. You don't need to worry about that."
Four months later, Bella met Mike Newton, and she thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. I needed to meet this clown to judge for myself. Bella agreed that she'd take a few days off at Christmas and bring Mike along so I could meet him.
"Be nice to him, Daddy. I love him."
"You love him? Bella, honey, you shouldn't wear your heart on your sleeve."
"I'm not, Dad. Mike isn't the first guy I've dated. Yes, he's the first one I've given my heart to, but I really love him, Dad. He's sweet and smart. Mike treats me with love and respect."
"I see. What does Jasper think of him?"
Bella rolled her eyes and bit her lip before speaking. Little did she know that I knew everything I needed to know from those two gestures.
"Jasper thinks I could do better. Mike is not his favorite person."
"And what makes Jasper think that?"
"He says that it's male intuition."
Mike Newton asked me for my permission to marry my daughter while he was visiting over the holiday. He promised me that he would love her and always do right by her. If he truly made her happy, and was as in love with her as he seemed, I couldn't deny him. Nor could I deny my precious daughter.
The following spring, Bella and Mike were married in a small ceremony in Seattle, at the Edgewater Hotel. Bella made the most beautiful, blushing bride. Dressed in a princess-style ball gown, I escorted her down the aisle. She was breathtaking and I knew I'd never forget how happy she looked that day.
Not long after the wedding, Bella and Mike relocated from New York to Tacoma, where Mike had accepted a new job. They bought a small fixer upper and began their life together. Bella took a job working in a quaint little restaurant and it was a job she quickly fell in love with. Bella was thriving in love and business, and I'd never been prouder.
Three and half years later, Bella announced that she was expecting their first child. I knew that she had been undergoing fertility treatments and she didn't have an easy time getting pregnant. Sometimes I had to wonder to myself if a greater power was keeping them from having children right away. The afternoon that Bella called me to say that she was having a baby, her voice was filled with happiness and I knew then, just like I knew the day I found out that Renee was pregnant with Bella – that there would never be a more loved child than the one inside of her. The announcement of his conception was the greatest Christmas gift of all.
Kaden Andrew Newton was born on a warm day in mid-August. I had taken some time off from work and made the trip to Washington to be with my daughter and wait for the arrival of my Grandson. While I couldn't make up for my wife not being there, I had to try. I couldn't very well leave my daughter with no family there to support her.
"He's beautiful isn't he, Daddy?"
"He sure is, baby girl. Your mama would've loved him."
Bella never looked more beautiful than she did holding her tiny son in her arms.
I suffered a heart attack six months later, and as I lay there on the floor of my kitchen, I dreaded never seeing my daughter or grandson ever again. I woke up in a sterile hospital room with the angelic face of my daughter smiling down on me.
"Bella," I whispered.
"Baby girl, you're here."
"Where else would I be, Daddy?"
"Where's my Little Man?"
"He's with Mike in the waiting room."
"Can I see him?"
"Maybe. We've got to get you out of ICU first."
A little over a week later, Bella drove me home from the hospital.
"Mike has to go back to Tacoma, so he can get back to work, but Kaden and I are going to stay here with you for a bit to make sure you're settled."
Bella spent the next month fretting over my health and playing nurse until I was strong enough to care for myself. While she worried over me, I enjoyed playing with my grandson. He was growing so quickly and was becoming quite the handsome little guy.
Once I was feeling one hundred percent again, I made the trip to Tacoma for Kaden's first birthday party, and then again for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had yet to miss a holiday with my grandson and I wasn't about to let a heart problem stop me. It was on those visits that I realized how much responsibility Bella held in their household. Mike was quite the spoiled husband with little or no responsibility around the house.
"How are things with you and Mike?" I asked one morning over coffee.
"I don't know. He's been different lately. I think he's just tired, he's been working long hours."
"Hmm. I bet he misses spending time with Little Man."
"He does, but Kaden's such a mama's boy that Mike doesn't know what to do with him. Kaden can't help it. He's with me all day long, how can he not be a mama's boy?"
Kaden was two and a half years old when Mike left. Bella and Kaden came to L.A. to visit for Easter and Bella broke down and told me that she hadn't heard from Mike in over a week.
"Oh, Daddy. What am I going to do?" Bella asked, tearfully.
"You're going to go home; pack up everything you want and sell what you don't want. Take care of yourself and that little boy – to hell with Mike. I'll be there to help you load up a moving truck and you and Little Man can come here and live with me until you get back on your feet."
Four months later, Bella and I loaded up a U-Haul and moved her and Kaden from Tacoma to L.A. Mike hadn't had any contact with them in over four months. I couldn't imagine what in the hell was going through his head to make him leave his wife and young son.
Bella, Kaden, and I settled into an easy routine. Kaden was a happy little boy and he was very well behaved. Bella had done an extraordinary job with him so far, and he brought indescribable happiness to my life.
While I was happy to have Bella and Kaden under my roof, I could see the struggles my daughter was going through. Since Mike left, Bella had become depressed. I could see her internalizing everything and keeping to herself. I knew if she didn't get it out and talk about it, she'd explode from the pressure. She took to spending a lot of time with Jasper again since he lived in L.A., and when she had a chance, Alice would tag along. Alice confided in me that she was leery of spending time with both Bella and Jasper because she didn't want theirs to be a reminder of the relationship that Bella no longer had.
Within two weeks of living with me, Bella enrolled Kaden in a private preschool – the first of many steps to provide her son with a stable environment. A couple weeks later, Bella contacted an agency at Alice's urging. She was to interview for a position as a personal chef. When the agency emailed Bella the job requirements, she was very excited because the hours required were minimal, and the job paid extremely well. The hours meant that she'd be able to drop Kaden off at school and I'd pick him up from school when her schedule wouldn't allow it. She'd rarely be required to be at work after five p.m. It seemed like the perfect job.
When Kaden fell ill that November, Bella felt completely helpless. She struggled to take care of herself and Kaden on her own, but she seemed to be drowning. I wasn't much help to her in the hospital – hating the place myself. There was something about the sterile environment that left me feeling ill and I couldn't bring myself to stay more than a few hours at a time.
"Bella, Mrs. Cope made you a nice supper. I'll drop it by before it gets too late."
"No thanks, Dad. That was sweet of her, but my boss and his mother stopped by and brought us dinner; soup for Kaden and a smorgasbord for me. It was very kind of them."
"Well I can still come by and sit for a few minutes. Just long enough for you to clean up a little bit. I'm sure you'd like a nice shower, Bells."
"Oh, uhh … Ed … erm, I mean, my boss's mother sat with Kaden long enough for me to take a shower and clean up, so I'm good. You don't have to come by tonight if you don't want to, Dad."
"Wow, well then, I guess you've got everything covered and you don't need dear old dad."
"I'll always need you, Daddy. Thank you for taking such good care of us."
"Always, baby girl."
Bella brought Kaden home late the next night. Clad in his footie jammies, my Little Man crawled into my lap and I held him tightly as he fell asleep in my arms. I was so glad to have them both home.
A few weeks later, Bella was in the kitchen making dinner when the doorbell rang unexpectedly. Koda was barking like crazy, and I had no idea why. Bella came rushing out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron and opened the door. I couldn't quite see who it was from my spot in my recliner, but it didn't take me long to figure out that it was Bella's employer. From the sound of his voice, he seemed young, but I couldn't tell exactly how young he was. Bella wasn't permitted to tell me anything about him – she'd signed a non-disclosure agreement as a part of her contract.
"That was my boss. He came by to drop off Christmas presents for Kaden and me." Bella said quietly after locking the door again.
"Well, that was awfully nice of him."
What would have been nice was to have been introduced to this man that my daughter spends most of her time working for.
"Dad … he didn't want us to have to wait until January that's all."
"Like I said, that was awfully nice of him."
Bella rolled her eyes and walked back into the kitchen.
When Bella and Kaden finally opened the mystery envelopes that Bella's boss had dropped off, they discovered annual passes for Disneyland. They seemed a bit extravagant to me, but Bella seemed pleased, and I knew Kaden would be happy. Bella had been talking about taking him to the amusement park, but she hadn't been able to find the time.
I watched my daughter carefully over the next couple weeks. She was off for the holidays because her boss was visiting family. It was nice to have her and Kaden home every day. Bella and I were able to resume our morning ritual of having coffee together and reminiscing about our favorite Little Man. Every so often I would see her looking at her phone with a smile on her face – undoubtedly talking or texting with someone.
"Dad, I'm going out for a little bit. I was hoping that you wouldn't mind watching Kaden for me. I'm going to look at a condo and I don't want to take him with me."
"That's fine, but Bells, you know you don't have to move. You and Little Man can stay here for as long as you want."
"I know that, Dad, and I appreciate it. Kaden and I need to do this though. We need to be on our own – we can't encroach on your bachelorhood forever."
"My bachelorhood?" I asked curiously.
"Yeah, Dad. You might meet someone you want to bring home, someday. That would be a little awkward with Kaden and me here."
While I had a few lady friends – friends were all they'd ever be. Renee was it for me. I know the last thing she'd want was for me to sit around mourning her death, but I couldn't bring myself to replace her. Nearly sixteen years later and I still missed her as if no time at all had passed since her death.
Over the next month or so, Bella seemed to struggle. She was unhappy at work or something was bothering her. The frown lines on her face had become more prominent, and I worried about her more often than not. Sometimes at night, I could hear her crying, and I wondered if that was a regular occurrence.
One morning, Bella seemed especially distressed, and I offered to pick Kaden up from school, thinking that if she could get out of work early enough, she could have a little time for herself to see Alice or go to the bookstore or something. When she called me a few hours later to make sure my offer was still good, she sounded exasperated. She called back later that afternoon to see if I would mind watching Little Man a while longer. She was going to have dinner with a friend and wanted to make sure that I could put Kaden to bed. She asked me to give him a kiss for her and read him a story before settling him into bed for the night.
"I know it's been a while since I've had a child of my own to tuck in, Bells, but I've got this. I can handle giving him a bath and reading him a story. We'll be fine, I promise."
"Thanks, Dad. I appreciate it."
"Yup. See you when you get home."
I wouldn't go to sleep until I heard her come in the door. It was something that had been ingrained in me since she was a teenager.
The next morning, Bella seemed better but still not back to her same happy self. Kaden went with Bella one evening to have dinner with her friends and when he came back, he talked about some character named Edward non-stop. From the way Kaden spoke of him, you'd have thought Edward had hung the moon. The thought of my Little Man getting so close to a man I didn't know bothered me, but I trusted Bella's judgment. I knew that she wouldn't put him in a situation where she had no control – but the way Kaden spoke about Edward rubbed me the wrong way none the less.
Another week passed and instead of anger, my sweet daughter seemed to be full of sadness. Kaden seemed a little bit sad too, if I was being honest. There was a shift in Bella's relationship with her employer who by this time, I had assumed was Edward.
"What's wrong, baby girl?"
"Nothing," she lied, waving away my concern. "I've got to get packing if we want to get moved into our new place this weekend."
I reminded her again that she was welcome to stay with me as long as she needed or wanted.
"I know that, Dad, but do you have any idea how weird it is to move back in with you after living on my own for eleven years? After I've built a home of my own filled with my things? I miss that."
"I know, Bells. It gives this old man peace of mind knowing that you're being looked after though."
"I appreciate that, Dad. Just like I appreciate everything that you've done in the past and continue to do for Kaden and me. I … I can't thank you enough."
I pulled her into my arms and kissed the top of her head – just like I did when she was a little girl.
"I'm gonna miss you two around here. Especially my mornings with my Little Man." I admitted.
"Dad … we're not going that far. You can see Kaden as much as you want - you know that."
"I do know that, baby girl. Please promise me that you won't forget your way over here, okay?"
Edward did one thing right – he hired a company to move all of Bella's things for her. For that alone, he earned extra brownie points from me. Bella worked hard enough without having to worry about moving heavy boxes and furniture.
A month had gone by, and Bella and Kaden seemed happy in their new environment. Bella wasn't working because Edward was working on a project out of town, so Bella had plenty of time to volunteer at Kaden's school. It wasn't until I received a panicked phone call from Bella that I was even aware that she was coming down with something. I had picked Kaden up from school to spend the afternoon with him, and I assumed Bella was running errands. I had no idea she'd spent the morning at the doctor's office.
"Bells … I wish you'd called earlier. I could have picked him up and taken him to school this morning. If you've got an ear infection you won't be much good to him until it goes away. I remember the awful ones you had as a kid. You don't want to wake up screaming in pain in the middle of the night and wake Little Man up. I'll come over and bring you some dinner and pick up some clothes for Little Man, and he can stay with me tonight. We need some time together anyway."
As a little girl, Bella had horrible ear infections. She'd wake up in the middle of the night, holding her ear, screaming at the top of her lungs. As parents, Renee and I felt completely helpless because there was no amount of Tylenol that would take away Bella's pain. At six years old, we had tubes inserted in her ears, and though they popped out a few years later, she still continued to have problems. Renee was a saint getting up with Bella at all hours of the night, picking Bella up from her bed and sitting in the rocking chair with her. No matter how big Bella seemed got, she was never too big to sit and rock in her mother's arms.
My girls. One was gone, but the other was still with me, and I'd do anything I could to help her. In this case, it meant looking after Kaden. Bella may have thought it was a burden to me – having to look after my grandson all week, but the truth was – I needed it. Little Man was the greatest joy of my life, and I needed to hold on to every minute I could with him because he wouldn't be little forever.
Kaden stayed with me for nearly a week. Bella got worse, and I ended up taking her back to the doctor and demanding that he perform a more thorough examination – cost be damned. I later learned that Edward had set up insurance for Bella and that he was taking care of her healthcare costs until that insurance came into effect. Edward was quickly earning my respect.
The first few days were the worst. Bella got worse before she started getting better. I worried that she needed someone there to help her, but Alice was pregnant and didn't need to be around Bella and I needed to keep an eye on Little Man. I could go over and look after her while he was at school but that was only three hours out of the day. It wasn't nearly enough to properly care for her. God bless, Edward, for sending his mother to take care of Bella.
I'll never forget the first time I talked to Esme Cullen. I answered the phone and she politely introduced herself and told me that Bella worked for her son and that he had sent her to take care of Bella knowing that I had my hands full with Kaden.
"Mr. Swan, your daughter and grandson mean a great deal to my son. He wants to help Bella in any way he can. I'm more than happy to stay here with Bella until she's feeling better."
"Please, Esme, call me Charlie. I have to say I was a little skeptical of your son, but so far, he's done right by Bella in taking care of her the best way he knows how. I appreciate you coming to help out."
"Oh, Charlie, it's my pleasure. I met Bella and Kaden over Thanksgiving. They are just the sweetest things, and like my Edward, Bella seems a little lost. If I can do something to help her, it's my absolute pleasure to do so."
That's when I started to realize that there was more going on between my daughter and Edward Cullen than Bella wanted me to believe.
Bella pretty much had Emmett, Edward's security guard at her beck and call. Emmett would go over and sit with Bella while Esme was out getting groceries, and he even spent Valentine's Day with her because Edward's dad came down from Napa to take Esme out to dinner.
From what Esme had briefly mentioned of her husband, I was reminded how Renee and I used to be when she was alive. It sounded to me like Edward had a solid upbringing and was raised to have respect for his partner and relationships. The more I heard about Edward, the more I wanted to meet him. I needed to see for myself who he was and what he was all about.
I had hoped that once Bella went back to work for the few days that Edward would be home for the Academy Awards ceremony, things would get back to normal. But instead, as the days grew closer to his arrival, Bella started acting guarded again. She never mentioned it, but I knew that something wasn't right with her. Edward was to come home late on Thursday night and Bella spent most of that day making easy meals for him. I honestly think she was torn about wanting to please him and distancing herself.
Late Friday morning, Bella called to make sure that I was still picking Little Man up from school and keeping him for the afternoon. I'd promised him we could go to the park and play, and I couldn't very well break my promise.
"No problem, Bells. You know I'm always happy to spend time with Little Man. Are you going to be at Edward's?"
"No," Bella sniffled. "I need some time to myself this afternoon. I'm not sure where I'm going, I'll call you later, okay?"
"All right, sweetheart. Just be careful, okay?"
I could tell by the sound of her voice that she'd been crying, and I wondered what had caused it. Something told me that it had to do with Edward, but I couldn't quite work out why. After our afternoon in the park, I took Kaden back to Bella's condo. She'd called earlier and said she was at home if I wanted to bring Kaden by. The house was quiet when we walked in and I figured she was napping, so I sent Little Man in to find her. Before I left for home, I asked Bella if they'd come over for dinner on Sunday.
"I'm overdue for one of your lasagna's, baby girl. Think you could come over and make one for your old man?"
"Sure. We'll come over around lunch time and I'll get everything started."
As promised, Bella and Kaden arrived shortly after lunch time, their arms laden with shopping bags and Koda trailing behind them. Kaden immediately took off to play outside in the sunshine – it was a beautiful day outside. I knew that Bella would refuse any of my offers to help her out in the kitchen, so I sat back and watched from my recliner. Mechanically, Bella worked in the kitchen, the same forlorn expression on her face.
"Want to talk about it?" I asked, knowing that I should, because it's what Renee would have done.
"Talk about what?" Bella clipped.
"Whatever is bothering you."
"Nothing's bothering me."
"Bullshit, Isabella Marie. Something's eating at you. I can see it all over your face."
"I don't want to talk about it, Dad. It's nothing for you to worry about because you can't fix it."
"Bella … baby girl, maybe I can't fix it but could I at least help?"
"There is something I need your help with …."
Bella launched into telling me that she had suddenly quit her job working for Edward and had sought out new employment with the agency. She'd been hired as a personal chef for a couple who lived in Beverly Hills. She'd be working the complete opposite schedule to the one she had working for Edward. I shook my head in disbelief, but if that was what she wanted, far be it for me to tell her otherwise.
I agreed to help her by watching Kaden at their condo in the evenings. I'd be responsible for getting him dinner, bathing him, and putting him to bed. I knew bedtime was the part that Bella would miss the most because she lived for reading his bedtime stories with him. Come to think of it, that was Renee's favorite time of the day as well.
I asked Bella if they'd stay and watch the basketball game with me, but Bella bowed out, saying she was tired and that she'd promised Kaden they could have a movie night together.
The next day, Bella announced that she'd finally filed for a divorce from Mike. I was happy for her – happy that she'd legally be free from Mike but sad that it meant her marriage was over and that Kaden could potentially bounce between two households. I worried what divorce meant for my Little Man.
I watched over both of them very carefully for the next few weeks. I wasn't sure what state I'd find Bella in, and I had to admit that I worried she'd plunge into a deeper depression than she'd been in when she first arrived. Edward seemed to make things better for her, but she hadn't mentioned him in weeks, and she avoided any and all conversation if he was mentioned. Kaden, of course, still talked about Edward incessantly – his little stuffed tow truck a blatant reminder of someone he'd only known a short time.
Alice called me in a panic about three weeks later. Bella had gone with Alice to a doctor's appointment and then they were supposed to have lunch together – something they rarely did anymore. Alice wanted to know if I could pick Little Man up from school. Bella had gotten some news from her lawyer and Alice rambled something about Jasper coming to pick them up. I worried for my Bella – the only thing that could have rattled her was if Mike had asked for visitation or custody. Little did I know that Mike had done something infinitely worse – he had given up Kaden altogether.
I'd never understand how a parent who wanted a child so badly could let that same child go so easily. I'd always known that there was something about Mike Newton that wasn't good enough for my daughter and now I understood why.
I didn't talk to Bella that evening – I left her in the care of Alice and Jasper. It broke my heart to see the way she scooped Kaden up into her arms when I dropped him off. The love she had for her little boy poured out of her, but I could see there was a lot of sadness there too. Bella called me early the next morning and wanted to know if I would mind picking up Kaden and taking him to school. It was rare that I got to take him to school, and I couldn't find it in me to say no. I imagined that after the night she had, Bella needed a morning to herself.
"I'm sorry, Dad. Something came up that I need to take care of this morning and I need you to take him to school for me."
"Sure thing, Bell. Though I hope picking him up won't be a problem for you. I have a doctor appointment this afternoon and I won't be able to pick him up."
"No, Dad that won't be a problem. Can you pick him up at nine?"
"Yep. I'll see you two then."
I went over to Bella's a little early hoping that she'd tell me what was going on and she didn't disappoint me. She told me all about the conversation with her lawyer and how Mike had given up his rights to Kaden.
"That son-of-a ..."
"No, Bell. Who does that to their kid?"
"I know, Dad."
"Damn, baby girl," I said, reaching out for her and pulled her in to a hug. "I'm so sorry."
Sorry couldn't begin to cover what I was. I hated that things ended this way for her, but I was sorrier that things ended this way for Little Man. He deserved a better father than Mike Newton. Hell, Bella deserved a better husband. I only hoped that she'd find someone who deserved her and loved her like she was the most precious thing in the world – because she was.
A couple weeks later, Bella told me that she was seeing someone and asked if I would mind picking Little Man up from school and watching him a few more hours so that she could have lunch with the other man in her life.
"Who are you seeing, Bell?"
Bella's voice was so soft, it was almost a whisper.
"Edward? As in the Edward you used to work for?"
"I had thought that maybe things didn't work out with him. You haven't talked about him in so long that I thought he was a thing of the past."
"People argue, Dad. Edward and I had a disagreement, but everything is fine now. He's home for a few weeks and we want to get to know each other a little better."
"What about Little Man?"
"Yeah … I want to get to know Edward a little better before I fully introduce Kaden into his life. I know he's met him before, but I don't want Kaden to get attached to Edward in case Edward and I don't work out."
I nodded, understanding where she was coming from.
"That's smart, Bell. The last thing we want is for Kaden to get hurt again."
"I know Edward wants to get to know him, but I think this is the right thing to do for now."
I couldn't have agreed more.
On the days that Bella went out with Edward, I'd keep Little Man and we'd go to the park and play or stay at home and have lunch before I let him and Koda out into the yard to run around. Kaden would come in after an hour or so of playing hard and fall into the couch to watch his cartoons for a little while. It was never long before he was sound asleep.
One day, Bella and Edward had gone out, and I was watching Kaden at Bella's. I knew that Bella wanted to spend a couple hours with Kaden before she headed to work and I watched through the window as they pulled up. I eyed Edward carefully, hoping that Bella would bring him in for a more thorough inspection. Unfortunately, she didn't, but Kaden sure did go tearing out the door toward her. I only hoped that Edward didn't mind the bond these two shared. If he tried to come between them, there would be hell to pay.
Bella looked a little worse for wear when she came home from work that night. She was home earlier than usual and seemed upset.
"Hey, kiddo. Little Man's playing in his room for a few minutes before bed. You're home early … everything okay?"
"Yeah, everything's fine. I'll tell you all about it in the morning after I drop Kaden off at school, okay?"
"Sure, baby girl. You sure everything's okay? You look upset."
"Yeah, Dad. I'm good. I just want to put my pj's on, read Kaden a story and relax."
"Okay, kiddo. See you in the morning."
"Goodnight, Dad. Thank you."
I made the few steps down the hall to peek in on my little man once more. He was happily playing with his Matchbox cars on the rug in his room.
"Goodnight, Little Man. Be good for mama, okay?"
"Bye, Papa!" Kaden yelled.
"Bye, Little Man," I chuckled. "See you tomorrow."
After that night, everything seemed to shift. Bella spent as much time with Edward as she could, and she began to keep Kaden with her. When I did see Kaden, Edward was all he would talk about. I was still undecided as to whether that was a good or bad thing.
A few weeks later, I called Bella because I hadn't seen her or Little Man in what seemed like forever. Bella had mentioned that Edward was getting ready to leave to film a new movie and I'm sure that if she was serious about him she and Kaden were spending as much time as possible with him.
"Hey, Bells …. Where have you and my Little Man been? I've tried calling for the last couple days and I've had no luck. I wanted to see if I could pick up the little man this afternoon and keep him here with me tonight."
"Oh … umm, we've been at Edward's. He's getting ready to go work on another project and he's leaving tomorrow morning."
"I see. Well, if you needed to work you could have called me, Kiddo. I feel like you never call me anymore."
"I'm sorry, Dad. I didn't mean to ignore you. I've been busy, and Edward enjoys having Kaden over at the house so it's been nice to be able to be with Kaden and work at the same time."
I couldn't help feeling there was more to the story, and I weakly attempted to call Bella out on it.
"Bells … why do I feel like there is more to this story than you're telling me?"
"There is, Dad, and I promise to tell you all about it this weekend, okay? I'll come over and make you breakfast."
God, did I miss breakfast with her and Kaden. Bella and I used to sit and chat over morning coffee and I sorely missed it. I had a feeling she was now sharing her morning coffee with Edward and that thought didn't sit right with me, but I knew my daughter, and I knew that she wouldn't get herself into a bad situation twice.
"Sounds good, Kiddo. In the meantime, can I come over and get my Little Man?"
I was so anxious to see Kaden that I couldn't help myself.
"Dad … we're at the beach right now but if you want him tonight – he's yours."
"I absolutely want him, Bells. It'll give you a break."
Bella promised that she would take him home and clean him up before dropping him off at my house. I'd get the entire evening with Little Man and I couldn't wait.
I checked my panty cupboard and made sure that I still had all of Kaden's favorite foods in the house. I know I wasn't supposed to, but sometimes I found myself munching on his snacks purely because they reminded me of him and the thought brought a smile to my face.
When Bella stopped by to drop Kaden off, I could tell that my Little Man had been crying. He was clingier than usual and held tight to Bella.
"He's sad that Edward is leaving in the morning, but he'll be fine." Bella reassured me.
"Okay. Come on, Little Man. Papa's got Cars in the DVD player. We're gonna have breakfast for dinner and watch movies."
"Yay!" Kaden cheered, perking up.
I knew he'd love to have breakfast for dinner … my boy loved his pancakes and bacon. Granted mine weren't nearly as good as Bella's, but Kaden would eat them with no complaints.
I saw more of Bella and Kaden over the next few weeks. Edward had gone off to work on a new movie, and Bella tried her damnedest to fill the void he'd left behind.
"So what's the deal with you and Edward? Are you dating now?"
"Sort of," Bella answered softly. "With him across the world, it's a little hard to 'date' but yes … we are trying to pursue a relationship."
"Are you ready for that?"
Bella's sweet face screwed up in concentration before she answered.
"It's been over a year, Dad. It's been even longer than that since I was last in love. I really like Edward. He's good to me and Kaden. He's good for us."
"Bell … I don't want Edward to turn into another Mike."
"I know, Dad. I worried about that too, trust me. Edward is different. I feel differently about him than I did Mike. It's not something that I can describe, but everything about Edward is different."
"Please be careful, baby girl. I don't want to see you and Little Man hurt again."
"We're going to see Edward for a few days while he's in Morocco. He bought us plane tickets and took care of the arrangements."
I wanted to panic at the thought of them being so far away, but Bella reassured me that one of Edward's security guys was going with her and Kaden, and they'd be completely safe.
"How long will you guys be gone?"
"Less than a week, Dad. We're going for Edward's birthday. It's the only thing he asked for, so I couldn't very well tell him no."
One weakness of Bella's – if she cared for someone, she had a hard time telling them no. Even when it wasn't the best thing for her. I wanted to have faith in her, that she was making a good decision in taking up with Edward. I'd never met the guy and that was weighing heavily on my mind.
The night before they left for Morocco, I took them out to dinner, if only to spend a little bit of time with them.
"You two be careful, you hear?"
"Of course, Dad. We'll be fine. I'll call you when we get there, okay?"
I was glad to have Koda for company while Bella and Kaden were gone. She was a little piece of them. They returned just shy of a week later. Bella looked tired but seemed like she felt a lot better after spending a few days with Edward. Kaden was over the moon excited – apparently he and Edward had gotten quite close. I didn't know if I wanted to be jealous of a man I didn't know or not.
When I asked Bella how their trip was, she smiled widely, and said it was great and she wished they didn't have to leave.
I growled, not liking that fact one bit.
"You must like this guy a lot to travel so far and drag my little buddy across the world."
"Dad …" Bella whined.
"Don't start with the 'Dad' stuff, Isabella Marie. I've never even met this character. How am I to know if he's good enough for my daughter and grandson?"
Don't get me wrong – I trusted her judgment, I knew she'd never go through all the shit that she'd gone through with Mike again, but I was her dad. I loved her like no other, and I loved my grandson every bit as much as I loved my daughter – I wanted someone good enough for them.
"I promise he's a really good person, Dad. Kaden loves him and Edward is so good with Kaden."
"So … Edward. This is the guy you were working for?"
Bella nodded, confirming that Edward was in fact, her employer. I asked her if it wasn't awkward getting involved with her boss. She explained that she'd technically started seeing him while she wasn't working for him, and she'd started up again before he left for Morocco. After Edward returned, Bella promised she was going to explore other options. That was my girl. Bella would never get herself into a situation where her integrity was being compromised.
Bella and Kaden had come over to get Koda, so I led them through the house and out to the back yard. Koda saw Bella and went nuts, running in circles and whining. She had missed her mama. Little Man laughed as Koda danced around him, licking him every chance she got.
"Bella … just tell me this guy isn't like Mike. Kaden doesn't need to get caught in the middle of a relationship that won't last. He needs someone who's willing to be a strong father figure, someone who will love him in a way that his own father never will."
"I know that, Dad. Edward is the complete opposite of Mike. He cares about Kaden – he loves him. Believe me, Dad … I've had this conversation with Edward and I've struggled with letting Edward into our life, but he really is a good guy."
"Do you love him?" I asked.
I could see the answer written all over her face and I knew that I needed to meet this clown, and soon.
"Yeah." Bella nodded, the most beautiful smile crossing her face.
I pulled my little girl into my arms and hugged her tight.
"Bells, are you sure you want to get involved with someone like that? I know you said he's a good guy, but you have to watch out for the good ones too. He spends a lot of time away from home, and you have no way of knowing what's going on with him while he's gone."
"Dad, I know Edward. I also know how hard he's fought for me since I met him. He would never be unfaithful – he doesn't have it in him. He's not wired that way. I trust him to tell me if his heart doesn't belong with me anymore."
"How is he with Little Man?"
"God, Dad … Edward loves Kaden so much. He's wonderful with him. He's attentive, loving, strong, and very protective. He's good for Kaden."
"That's what I want to hear, Bells. I want him to take good care of you and my Little Man because that's something that Mike was never capable of."
"I know he wasn't, Dad, but I promise you that Edward is."
"Just be careful, Bells. You and that little guy deserve the world – don't accept anything less. When Edward's got time, you bring him 'round so I can meet him – officially."
"I will, Daddy. He won't be home until the end of July or early August though. Can you wait until then?"
With Edward across the world, I'd have to. Until then, I'd have to settle for getting all the information on him I could. I even had a friend of mine check into him.
"He's clean, Charlie. Edward Anthony Cullen is an upstanding citizen. He's never even had so much as a speeding ticket."
Huh. Well, that was good news, I guess. It made me feel better knowing that my daughter's boyfriend wasn't a criminal or that he was trying to hide a record of beating women or something equally upsetting. Not that I had expected to find something like that – I'd spoken with his mother and she was a lovely woman, but you never know and I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Bella and Kaden visited Edward's family for the Fourth of July weekend, and the one time I talked to her while they were gone, she seemed to be enjoying herself. She'd taken Alice along as company, and Edward insisted that he send his security guy with them. I was glad to hear that Bella would have someone else to share the driving responsibilities with – Alice sure as hell didn't need to be behind the wheel.
Edward seemed to do a good job of taking care of Bella and Kaden even from far away. I had to give the guy kudos for that.
Monday morning, I received a call from my daughter – my very distraught daughter.
"Daddy … someone broke into our condo while we were gone." Bella sniffled.
"Someone broke into our condo, Daddy. Edward and Emmett seem to think it was the paparazzi, but they won't know for sure until the prints come back."
"Wait a minute … you're telling me that you came back last night and you discovered that your condo was broken into and you're just now calling me to tell me about it? Bella, why in the hell didn't you call me last night?"
"Because I didn't want to upset you, Daddy. The last thing you need is to be upset by it. Emmett called the LAPD and they came over and took care of things."
"Isabella Marie Swan! I taught you better than that. You should have called me or Eric. We would have liked to have been informed about it – you know that Eric will take better care of you than anyone else there would have … Bells … damn it!" I cursed.
"Daddy … calm down. It's over and done with and there's nothing you can do about it anyway."
"Where are you now? Please tell me that you're not at your condo."
"No, Daddy, I'm not. I'm at Edward's. He insisted that we come here. Emmett is staying here as well. I don't know if I'll be able to go back to my condo or not."
I felt a little shaken to hear that my daughter had called her boyfriend, who was half-way across the globe, about her condo being broken into - instead of her dad who was only across town. I didn't know how to feel about that. I was happy that Bella and Kaden were obviously safe and being taken care of, but I was unhappy that it wasn't me taking care of them.
"You know you can come here, Bells. You guys will be safe here."
"I know, Daddy. Edward insisted that we come here because it's gated and it's safe here. I feel safe here."
Knowing that Bella felt safe was a huge relief.
"Bells … I know you don't want to hear it, but I think we should pack up your things and move you and Little Man back in with me. There's plenty of room and I love having you guys here. We can have our morning chats over coffee …."
"Daddy … I knew you'd say that and of course I know that you'd love to have us there but the truth is that I was going crazy not being in my own home. I'd lived on my own for so long that it was difficult living under a roof that didn't belong to me. I wanted my own things, to have my own place. I need to provide a place for me and Kaden – not you, Dad."
I could understand where Bella was coming from. I never had to go through what she did, but I understood that it was hard to come back home after being gone for so long. The ache to have your own place – it made sense to me.
"So you're going to stay at Edward's?"
"Yeah … for the time being anyway. He's not here, so Kaden and I can keep an eye on his house for him."
"What about after he comes home?"
"We'll deal with that when Edward comes home, Dad."
"Aren't you guys going away again after he comes home?"
"Yeah, but like I said, Dad, we'll deal with that when Edward gets back."
Bella, Kaden, and I had lunch together about a week later. Bella told me what the LAPD had found out and filled me in on what was going on for Kaden's birthday party. I advised her to press charges against the paparazzo who broke into her condo. I had called Eric and asked him to do what he could about getting involved on the case. He was in agreement with me that Bella should press charges, but that she also needed to get a lawyer involved to be on the safe side.
Bella made the decision to move out of her condo with a heavy heart. I knew it was a decision she didn't make lightly, but I felt it was the best thing for her to do. Alice volunteered to watch our Little Man, and I went over to help Bella and Emmett pack up her condo and put all her things into storage again.
"I don't want to put Kaden's things in storage. His furniture yes, but not his toys. I want him to have his things."
Emmett and I both agreed with her. Little Man needed familiar stuff around him so he was comfortable. Edward didn't seem to mind the intrusion, so we moved most of Kaden's toys into Edward's guest room.
Bella and Kaden had been at Edward's for a couple weeks when Bella called to let me know that they were going to stay with Alice until Jasper came home because the doctor had put her on bed rest.
"Are you sure you want to take Little Man over there? He can come and stay here ya know."
"I know that, Dad. But it's Alice and he'll help keep her entertained. You know that Kaden adores Alice and Jazz. We're not that far away if you want to come over here and see him, Dad."
I had planned to do just that. One day, I had a slew of doctor's appointments, starting in the morning and ending in the early afternoon. I figured I could swing by Alice's and pick up my Little Man and take him out for a late lunch. I had bought him a little something when I was out picking up a few groceries the day before and I realized as I left my last appointment that I had left it at home. I stopped by to get it real quick and noticed that the light was flashing on my answering machine. I hit the play button and heard Bella's message.
"Hey, Dad, it's me. I was hoping to get a hold of you but I guess you're not around. Alice's water broke and she's gone into labor. If you get this message, please call me back. I need you to come and get Kaden and keep him for me until I can come pick him up. Thanks, Dad. Bye."
Then the second message played.
"Hi, Dad. Never mind that first message. Edward surprised us and came home early. He's watching Kaden for me. He and Jazz walked in just as Alice and I were running out the door. Their timing couldn't have been better, really. Anyway, Kaden is with Edward and I think they'll be fine. I'll call you later and let you know how Alice is doing. Love you, Dad."
When I heard that Edward was watching my grandson, my first instinct was to head on over to Alice's and rescue my Little Man, but then I thought maybe I should give Edward a chance and let him have a little taste of what taking care of a three year old entails. Bella's done it alone for over a year, I supposed a few hours couldn't hurt Edward, and I knew if Bella had reservations about leaving Little Man with Edward, she would have asked me to go over and check in on them.
A couple hours after I had settled into my recliner and found a decent ball game on TV, I heard knocking on my front door. I swung the door open to find Emmett grinning back at me on the other side.
"Chief Swan, Sir."
"None of that Chief Swan shit, Emmett. It's Charlie. Now what can I do for ya?" I asked as I motioned for him to step inside.
"Edward asked me to come over and get Koda. He's sure that she'd rather be running around his backyard with Kaden than here by herself."
"Ahh. Well, good thing she's not by herself then, eh? She's here with me and she's fine." I said as I patted my daughter's dog on the head.
I'd grown quite fond of Koda since Bella had moved in with me. She was a good dog and she loved my daughter and grandson. We'd never had many animals when I was growing up and we never owned any when Renee was alive because she couldn't bear it when they passed away or if something happened to them. We had a couple kittens when Bella was little, but as soon as they got big enough and we turned them outside – they never came back and the thought of that made Renee upset, so we didn't have any more. But Koda – she was as loyal as they came. Bella never had to put a leash on her to take outside because she'd never roam far from Bella's side.
"I don't think he meant it to offend you, Charlie. Ed's happy to be home and he's ecstatic to be spending the afternoon by himself with Kaden. Sure, he'd love to have Bella there with them, but since she's at the hospital, he's happy to keep an eye on Kaden."
"So he thought my Little Man would like to have his dog back, huh?"
"Yeah. Ed's kind of fond of Koda too, so that helps."
"I see. Well, I can't keep you from taking her if it keeps my grandson happy. But you tell Edward that he needs to keep a close eye on my grandson. If he has so much as a bruise the next time I see him …."
"I'll tell him, Chief."
I grabbed the leash and let Emmett load Koda up in a dark SUV. I could only shake my head as they drove away.
Bella called me late the next morning to let me know that Alice gave birth to a bouncing baby boy earlier that morning. Emmett had picked her up at the hospital and taken her home to Edward's. She told me that Edward had done and extraordinary job keeping my grandson and that he was happy and healthy and glad to have Edward back.
I didn't see much of Bella and Kaden when Edward returned. Bella and I got together one morning and talked about Kaden's birthday party over coffee while Kaden ran around my back yard. As if Bella knew what I was thinking, she warned me about my behavior around Edward.
"Daddy … don't scare him. He is a genuinely nice guy and he's so good to Kaden and me. He's taken care of us when he didn't have to, and he hasn't asked for anything except love in return, and I've decided that I'll happily give him that."
"I trust your judgment, baby girl. But, I'll be honest and say that I hope like hell that Edward continues to be good to you and that little boy. You two need someone good in your life. Someone who isn't going to run out on you."
"Edward's not going anywhere, Daddy. Come to the party – meet him and see for yourself that he's a good man. He loves my son, and Kaden loves him. Please, Daddy?"
I couldn't tell her no when she looked at me with her lip jutted out. Bella's eyes were the perfect mix of my own brown and Renee's green.
Edward Cullen's estate sat on a quiet street. Well, as quiet as you could get with paparazzi sitting outside the gate. I expected them to converge on my truck the moment I pulled into the driveway, but they didn't. They kept their distance and I didn't hear their cameras clicking.
I felt a little intimidated as I walked into the large entryway. I could have fit my entire house in the first two rooms of Edward's house. I had to give props to Edward - there was plenty of room for my grandson to run around.
Kaden met me at the door and pulled me into the large, open living room. The kitchen overlooked the living room, and I found Bella hard at work in the kitchen. Edward was leaning against the counter talking to her, his fingers gently touching her arm.
"Papa, Papa! Come meet Ewward!" Kaden sang as he pulled me into the kitchen.
"Hi, Edward." I said, attempting a smile. "This is a nice place you've got here."
"Thank you, Sir. It wouldn't be quite as homey without Bella and Kaden here."
Bella turned to face me and I pulled her into a hug.
"Hi, Dad." Bella whispered.
"Hey, Bells." I smiled widely, missing her beautiful face. "You doing okay?"
I watched her expressions to try and gage how she was really doing. She seemed happy – she was radiant.
"I'm great, Dad. In fact, I've never been better. Now come on in, you can meet Edward's dad, Carlisle."
I'm sure that Bella was just trying to take some of the pressure off of Edward, but he seemed like a pretty nice guy, and he'd have to face me sooner or later. I almost felt like he should be the one to introduce me to his parents, but I understood that Bella felt like it was her job because she was the hostess.
It was nice to see Esme again, and I enjoyed meeting her husband, Carlisle. Both of them seemed to be decent people and best of all – they loved my daughter and grandson and welcomed them into their family with open arms.
I was deep in conversation with Carlisle about the baseball standings when Edward came out and handed Bella her phone telling her that she'd missed a call. My stomach dropped, and I immediately knew who was calling her.
Karen Newton had called me a few days prior asking for Bella. I'd only spoken to the woman a handful of times. She was flighty, at best, and she wasn't much of a conversationalist.
"Bella doesn't live here, Karen. She's doing well on her own and she and Kaden live a few minutes from here."
"I need to speak with her, Charlie. It's important. I want to know how my grandson is doing."
"He's doing fine, Karen. Bella is a fantastic mother. You know that, you've seen it yourself."
"Hmm … that's your opinion, Charlie. Anyway, if you could get me her number, I'd appreciate it."
I didn't see any harm in passing along Bella's number. In hindsight, I should have gotten Karen's number and passed it along to Bella, but I wasn't thinking that far ahead. Never in a million years did I expect her to call and bother Bella on Kaden's birthday. I wasn't even sure Karen Newton remembered when her grandson's birthday was.
Bella's phone rang again and she took the call, walking over to the side of the yard to talk. She wasn't on the phone long, but I caught the look on her face as she disappeared into the house. Edward followed soon after, and I knew if anyone could calm her down, it would be him.
They stepped through the patio doors about fifteen minutes later. Bella's eyes were red, and she'd obviously been crying. The expression on Edward's face was somber. Bella sat down on the sofa between Esme and me.
"Was that Mike's mom you were talking to on the phone?" I asked.
"Yeah. Can we talk about it later, Dad? I really want to enjoy the rest of the party and not think about that phone conversation."
"Sure, Bells. When she called and asked for your number, I didn't think she'd pick today of all days to call and talk to you."
"You don't have to apologize, Dad. You didn't give it to her maliciously, but don't think for one minute that she didn't calculate the timing of her phone call. She knew that she'd rattle me today by calling. Her mission was accomplished but I refuse to let her rain on Kaden's parade."
A few minutes later, we moved into the house where Kaden unearthed a mound of presents. From new trucks to new clothes, there wasn't anything else that little boy could want or need. The gifts were followed by the cake. Bella had worked so hard on it and it looked really good. She needed to give her pastry skills more credit.
The party began to wind down, and Jasper took Alice and baby Jackson home before coming back to discuss the issue of Karen Newton. I lingered because I wanted to know what was going on too.
"What do you mean she wants him?" I asked, unable to keep the anger out of my tone.
"Dad, calm down. I don't want you to have another heart attack," Bella pleaded. "Mike didn't tell his mom the truth about his leaving. She was under the impression that I left him and took Kaden away from Mike without another word."
"Daddy …" Bella plead.
Bella chose to include Edward's sister, Rosalie, and Emmett in on the conversation. Jasper and Edward's parents were also present and it made me happy to know that so many people were pulling for Bella and Kaden. They all loved them and wanted to see them safe and happy.
Carlisle suggested that Bella get in touch with Edward's brother-in-law-to-be, Jared, and talk to him. He was apparently a family law attorney at a firm in San Francisco. I agreed with the suggestion – it was better for Bella to be proactive about the situation before it got out of control.
"Bells, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have given her your number. I thought I was doing the right thing. I know if I was in her shoes, I know I'd want to see Little Man too."
"But, Dad … you've always been a part of his life. You came to Tacoma to visit as often as you could, and we Skyped nearly every day. Kaden knows you and he knows that you've been around since he was little. He has no idea who Karen Newton is. Sending him a Christmas card with a check in it for five dollars doesn't make her Grandmother of the Year. Especially when she lives in the same goddamn town!"
Esme kiboshed the rest of the conversation, saying that it could be continued in the morning. I agreed. Bella was exhausted, and it was clear on her face. I kissed her on the head, telling her goodnight and told her to call me if she needed me. I knew she wouldn't, but I needed to say it for my own peace of mind. Edward volunteered to walk me out and I nodded in reply.
"You really care about them, don't you, son?" I asked, stopping at the door to my truck.
"Yes, sir. I'll do anything for them."
"Bella has become so independent – especially in the last few years. Mike had become lazy, so Bella took everything onto her own shoulders. She's very stubborn, but I can see that she's trying with you. Bella seems to be happier than she's been in a long while."
"I want her to be happy. I love to see her smile and hear her laugh – it's music to my ears. And Kaden … he's amazing."
"He is that. Little Man reminds me so much of Bella when she was little. My wife would have loved him."
"Bella told me a little bit about her – she sounds like she was an incredible woman. Lord knows she played a part in how wonderful Bella turned out."
"She was my everything," I whispered, the ache in my chest growing. "My girls were my world. We lost Renee sixteen years ago, but the pain is so fresh that it feels like yesterday."
I shook my head, trying to will away the pain of Renee's absence.
"If you're what Bella wants, it isn't my place to tell her otherwise. My only hope is that you'll treat her with the love and respect that she deserves and that you'll love that little boy like he's your own."
"Those are my intentions, Sir."
"Good. Now you better get back in there to our girl. She'll need you tonight."
Edward shook my hand firmly before turning and heading back into the house. I thought about our conversation the entire way home, and as I crawled into bed that night, I felt much better about Bella's situation. Edward's words and actions over the past few months were like a comforting blanket and his sincerity was written on his face. As I drifted off to sleep, I realized that Edward looked at my little girl the same way I had once looked at my wife.
The next morning, Esme called me wanting to know if I wanted to join her, Carlisle, and Kaden for breakfast. Apparently, it had been a rough night for Bella, and Edward. Esme wanted to give them a little quiet time to catch up on some sleep.
"What do you think of this situation, Charlie?" Carlisle asked after Esme led Little Man away to the bathroom to wash up.
"Karen Newton, our kids, and this relationship they're trying …."
"I have to admit that I was a little worried about both, but after talking to Edward yesterday, I think my daughter and grandson are lucky to have him. Now if we can resolve this issue with Karen Newton, I think Edward, Bella, and Kaden can relax and find their way together – if that's what they want."
"I have to agree with you there, Charlie. But I think my son is the lucky one. Bella came into his life at the perfect time. He was getting over an awful relationship and needed a friend more than anything. Edward's professional life doesn't give him the luxury of having too many good friends. Bella saw past all the bullshit to the man he truly is, and Kaden … he's a ray of sunshine to everyone. My family has taken to him like a fish takes to water. Both Bella and Kaden are truly a blessing in all of our lives. This Karen Newton thing – it's just a little bump in the road, and we'll do whatever we can to help and support Bella with whatever she needs."
A few moments later, Esme returned with Kaden and our conversation was over, but it was heartwarming to know that so many people appreciated Bella and loved her and Little Man.
When we returned to the house, we all gathered in the dining room to discuss the issue of Karen Newton. I mostly sat back and observed. I wasn't a lawyer – I didn't know exactly what the law said where grandparents were concerned, but there was one thing I was sure of – she'd never get custody of Kaden – there wasn't a person in the room that would allow that to happen.
Over the course of the next few months, I watched from afar as Bella and Edward's relationship flourished. Bella agreed to permanently move in with Edward who would be working locally. Bella was over the moon happy that he'd be home every night with her and Little Man. Kaden started preschool in the fall, and Edward proudly escorted him to his first day of school.
Edward slipped into the role of Kaden's father with ease. The more time I spent with them, the more I saw what Bella was talking about. Everything was so natural between them. Edward's role as doting dad and stern disciplinarian seemed to work well for both Bella and Kaden. I was glad that my daughter had finally found the right person to share her life with.
It was the following spring that Edward called me one morning and wanted to know if he could take me to lunch. I knew that the conversation he wanted to have with me was a long time in coming, but he was waiting until the timing was just right.
"Charlie, I think you have an idea why I've asked you to join me today."
"Yeah, Son, I have an idea, but why don't you tell me?"
Edward took a deep breath.
"Charlie, I want your permission to ask Bella to marry me. I may not ask her today, or even next week, but when I do, I want your blessing. I love Bella with everything that I have and I would love nothing more than for Kaden, Bella and me to be a family."
"Are they your everything, Son?"
"Yes, Sir. I love them more than life itself and I need them more than I need my next breath."
What I saw in Edward's face made my chest ache. Had Renee been with me, she would have slapped my arm and thrown her arms around Edward telling him how wonderful he was and how happy she was so see someone who loved our daughter and grandson so completely.
"Then you have my blessing, Edward. Take care of them – be good to them and love them."
"I will, Sir."
I sat next to my wife's grave later that afternoon. I talked and talked. It had been too long since I'd last visited, and I wanted to catch her up on everything that had happened in the past year. I wanted Renee to know that our little girl finally got her fairy tale.
A/N: Just a lil something for y'all to read over the weekend. If you're in the U.S. - Have a safe and Happy 4th of July.
As always, THANK YOU for reading and all the love and support you've given this fic and to me.
Kaden's POV will be the next outtake I post - and of course, the Mike Outtake has been donated to Fandom4Oklahoma. Christag_Banners has made a BEAUTIFUL banner for it - I will get it up on my profile SOON. Thanks for the gorgeous banner, bb! (If you look real close, the letter you see in the background of the banner is actual text from the outtake!)
Much love - Kare