Happy Friday the 13th!
This was originally written for the Fandom For LLS compilation back in July. It's worth repeating that this is a futuretake. If you skipped the epilogue of The Give Away Girl, parts of this might be confusing. Really confusing.
Stephenie Meyer still owns Twilight.
Oh I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love
Some folks just have one
yeah, others, they've got none, huh-uh
Stay with me
Let's just breathe.
Practiced are my sins
never gonna let me win, aw-huh...
Under everything, just another human being, aw-huh...
Yeah, I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world
to make me bleed.
Stay with me
You're all I see.
(Just Breathe – Pearl Jam)
"Jesus, Bella. Part of me wants to keep you pregnant for the rest of our lives," I say, brushing her hair back, so I can watch her pretty lips move up and over the head of my cock.
"You wish," she mumbles quickly before going down again.
I do. God, she's always been hot for me, but when she's pregnant, she can't get enough. To prove it, she swallows until her nose touches skin. Seeing that does me in. Every. Fucking. Time. So I keep my eyes closed until she comes up for air.
"Get up here, and let me love you." I tug her hair the way she likes, and she slides up my body. She kisses me, sucking my bottom lip between hers.
God. Her fucking mouth.
She knows how to work her lips, kissing and biting while teasing me with her hand before she finally lines us up. "I'm not going to have you for six days." She lowers herself slowly. "I'm going to think about this every night when I'm lying here all alone."
She lowers her hand over mine on her thigh and guides it slowly over her skin until my thumb touches her nipple.
"At least you'll be able to do something about it. I'll be sharing Carmen and Elliot's couch bed with Alice. I won't be able to bang one out the whole time I'm gone."
"Then touch yourself now while I can see."
She sits up, shifting onto her calves. My hands follow, touching and teasing her nipples while I still can. Once the baby comes, they'll be off limits for a while. Her hand snakes over her belly, and she brushes two fingers over her clit.
Jesus, I hope she works it fast before I lose it like a fucking sixteen-year-old. I slide one hand down to her hip for leverage and move with her. When her rhythm starts to falter, I push harder and faster until she moans quietly, and everything is hotter and slicker than before as she clenches again and again, triggering my orgasm.
She shifts to lie beside me, resting her head on my shoulder and her stomach against my side. We catch our breath, skin-to-skin as much as possible.
Saying goodbye hasn't gotten any easier for us through the years. I have occasional business trips. Most of my work is from home, but every now and then, I have training or seminars that take me away.
Bella travels less; only once a year, really. For one week, The Pack hangs out. Mandatory girl time. This year, they're spending their time in Phoenix at Carmen and Elliot's place. Carmen had their third daughter three weeks ago, so she isn't really up for travelling this time.
Next year, they'll probably come to Seattle since we'll be the ones with a baby by then. I let my hand move to rub her belly. The baby kicks, a sharp jab against my palm. "Good morning, Two."
Another jab and then a flurry of kicks.
"Ugh. I need to get up and shower, but I don't want to move," Bella says, placing her hand on my cheek. "I want to stay like this."
She leans in for a kiss before pulling away to climb out of bed. I follow her into the shower but finish long before she's even done washing her hair.
"I'll start breakfast," I tell her as I step out.
"I'll be out in a few."
She's lying. Hot water is her happy place when she's pregnant. It soothes her muscles and helps relax her. Sometimes, I think she'd live in the shower if she could.
"No rush. We still have plenty of time." Four hours isn't plenty of time, but I'm trying not to be a brat about my wife leaving me. I want her to go and have fun with her girls.
Scrambled eggs and chocolate chip pancakes are my "go to" breakfast. The apartment will smell like syrup and chocolate all day, but it's not like that's a bad thing.
I turn off all the burners and move everything to the heating pads on the counter. When that's all settled, I turn to face him.
"Good morning, little man." He runs and tackles my legs, hugging me tightly.
"I smell pancakes. Is it Saturday again?"
"Nope. It's Monday, and we're taking Mommy to the airport today."
"S'not fair. I want to fly on a plane."
I grab him by the waist and flip him in the air before resting him on my shoulder. His arms spread out in a V and I can't feel his legs against my back, so he must be in Superman position. He "flies" to the kitchen table, albeit with my assistance.
"We'll go on a trip soon and take you on an airplane."
Bella and I have discussed flying to the Port this year for Christmas instead of making the drive with a four-year-old and a newborn. She hates commuter flights, but I'm going to keep begging until she gives in. It will save us time and hassle.
"I smell pancakes," Bella says as she joins us in the kitchen.
"Lucky ate them all."
"I did not," he says. "Daddy did."
She juts her bottom lip out in a playful pout. "I can't believe my boys didn't save me any pancakes."
"We's just kidding, Mommy." He pats the chair next to his. "Sit by me."
She helps Lucky with the syrup before digging into her own pancakes and moaning. "These are so good."
After breakfast, she checks and re-checks her suitcase at least fifteen times. Then, she goes over the notes she's made on the calendar on the fridge. Last, she pulls me aside and offers to cancel her trip.
Every year, she has a last minute freak out and a moment of wanting to cancel. Every year, she comes home a week later… happy that she didn't.
We leave early and traffic is good, so we have time to kill at the airport. She checks in, gets a boarding pass, and checks her suitcase. Since we can't go with her past security, we stay in the lobby for a while, enjoying a few last moments together.
"I don't want to go," she says, holding me tightly.
"It's just one week. We'll miss you like crazy, but we'll be okay."
Her grip loosens, and she leans back to look at me. "I'll miss you, too."
I lower myself into the seat next to Lucky's and pull her close so I can kiss her shirt covered belly. "Be good for Mommy, Two. Try not to give her a hard time." There's a noticeable nudge against my hand when I rest it on her bump.
"I swear this kid recognizes your voice and touch," she laughs.
"Of course." She moves her hands from my shoulders to my scalp, running her fingers through my hair.
Her phone chimes, so she moves away to check the text.
"Leah's flight just landed. She's going to meet me at the gate."
Lucky and I walk to the checkpoint with her. He doesn't cry, and thankfully, neither does Bella.
"I love you," she says, squeezing us both tightly.
"Love you, Mommy."
"I love you back. And it's just a week."
She nods, brushing her lips across my neck.
Lucky asks to sit on my shoulders, so he can watch her go through security. I explain the x-ray machines and metal detectors, and he claps happily when a business man sets off the metal detector, earning a pat down and hand wand.
Bella waves when she's through, hefts her backpack over her shoulder, and turns to make her way to the gate.
"Okay, little man." I flip him over my shoulder before setting him on his feet, earning a fit of giggles. "Now, it's just you and me. What do you want to do?"
"Mommy thinks that movie might be a little scary for you."
"Pleeeeeease, Daddy. It's Scooby-Doo."
His pout is a lot like Bella's, which makes it doubly hard to say no to him. The first Scooby-Doo movie caused one bad dream. Worst case scenario? He ends up sleeping with me tonight.
"Can we get popcorn? And some candy?"
"Sounds like a plan."
He skips next to me in the parking lot on the way to the car. "This is going to be awesome."
He laughs through most of the movie, munching popcorn and sipping Sprite. Naptime is only as long as the drive back to the apartment. Then he's wired and ready to "whoop" me in Candyland.
And he does. Four out of five games. He's just like his mom.
He eats all of his dinner and soaks me and most of the bathroom floor during his bath. By the time I tuck him in, he's having trouble staying awake.
Bella calls to say goodnight, and we talk for a few minutes. It's familiar but also strange, because our entire bedroom smells like her but she's not here. It doesn't hit me until I'm trying to fall asleep that this reminds me of when we were kids.
I don't like it one bit. But I'll never tell her that, because I know how much the girls mean to her. I'll survive.
Lucky wakes me up jumping on Bella's side of the bed at 8:00 sharp. "It's Library Day, Daddy!"
"I'm up. I'm up."
I turn on the Disney channel for him and let him cuddle in our bed while I catch a quick shower. He rushes me through a bowl of Cheerios, telling me to hurry.
Family Story Time is from 10:30 to 11:15. By the time it ends, he should be hungry. We'll do lunch, and then I'll get some work done while he takes a nap.
We make it to the children's section with plenty of time to spare. He chooses a spot on the carpet close enough to see the librarian but not in the front row.
Bella calls him a "blender." He likes getting lost in the crowd the same way she does.
When the story ends, he comes rushing over to me. My phone vibrates, ringing in my pocket.
"Can I get some books?" he asks at the same moment I glance at the screen.
In the ten years Bella and I have been together, Jeanette has never called me.
"Daddy, how many?"
The phone buzzes again in my hand. Lucky stares, waiting for something, but all I can think of is Bella. If Jeanette is calling me, it's because Charlie can't.
"Five, little man. You can pick five."
He's off like a shot, running his fingers over the spines of the books on the shelves.
"Edward…" She's crying.
Oh, God. Oh, fuck.
Thank fuck there's a chair nearby. I grip the back of it to keep standing. "What's wrong? Charlie?"
"He walked out to get the paper… Tristan said he bent over to pick it up and went face first into the grass. I think it may have been a heart attack."
"Is he…?" Fuck. I can't even say it.
"We got here a few minutes after the ambulance, but Missy told me he was still unconscious when they took him back. They're still trying to stabilize him."
"Tristan is with you?"
Jesus. I can't believe Bella's little brother watched it happen.
"Yes. There was no one for me to leave him with. We just got in the car. I wasn't thinking. I almost called Bella, but the baby…"
"I'm going to get in touch with Alice. We'll tell Bella. You take care of Tristan, and I'll be there with Bella as soon as possible."
"Okay. I'll call you when I know more."
Lucky pulls a third book from one of the displays, adding it to his stack, completely unaware that his grandpa is fighting for his life in Forks. "Jeanette, Lucky is with me today, so it might be better to text unless it's… urgent."
"You're right. Tristan is petrified. I don't want to upset Lucky, too."
"I'll do the same. As soon as I have details, I'll send them to you."
We end the call and I stare at my phone for a moment, trying to figure out how I'm going to tell Bella.
"Daddy, I found five. You wanna see?" Lucky tugs on my t-shirt to get my attention.
What am I going to tell him?
"Of course I want to see." I crouch next to him, letting him use my forearm as a seat while he shows me his selections. "Those are all great choices." He nods with a satisfied smile on his face. "I need to make one quick call, and then we'll check out, okay?"
"Can I have one more?" he asks, holding up his pointer finger and giving me a tiny pout.
He takes off again to the opposite side of the section. It gives me a chance to send a text to Alice.
Are you with Bella? Can you step away and call me?
My phone rings less than a minute later.
"What's wrong?" she asks.
"Where's Bella? Is she okay?"
"Jesus, Edward. She and Carmen are having their toenails painted. What's going on?"
"Oh, my God," she says quietly.
"No! Christ, I'm sorry. It's just… Lucky is with me, and I don't want to scare him. Hang on." He's sitting at one of the tiny tables in the center of the children's section, holding One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish in his hands and studying the pages. I sneak away, keeping him in sight and my voice low. "Your mom said it's probably a heart attack. She called once she got to the hospital."
"Fuck. What about Tristan?"
"He's there with her. I need to tell Bella. I just want her to be calm and with you guys when I do it. How long will it take to get her back to Carmen's, pack her things, and get to the airport?"
"They're almost done here. I'll text you when we're in the car. That would be a good time to call."
As much as I need to hear Bella's voice right now, I have to agree that telling her in the middle of a day spa isn't the best idea. "Okay. I need to call the airline and get her return flights changed."
"How is my mom? How did she sound?"
"She's pretty torn up, Alice. Please don't freak out. And for God's sake, please help me keep Bella calm." Bella had blood pressure troubles when she was pregnant with Lucky. It hasn't been a problem with Two so far, and I'm hoping it won't be.
"I will. I promise."
We say goodbye, and I make my way back across the room.
"Okay, Lucky. Time to go."
"Do we gots to?"
"Yeah, we do." He frowns, so I lean down until I'm eye level. "We'll come back soon."
"Promise?" His pinkie hangs in the air, waiting for mine. He's so much like Bella, with her hair color and eyes, and when he does things like this, showing me little pieces of things she shares with him, it makes me so fucking thankful for my family.
"I promise." We hook and shake, and then he follows me quietly to the escalators. He rides down in my arms, clutching his books to his chest.
I call US Air the moment we walk outside and wait on hold for seven minutes only to have a rude customer service rep tell me that all of today's flights from Phoenix to Seattle are sold out. I explain the situation quietly, and she apologizes several times but still can't help me other than adding Bella's name to the waitlist on the next one out.
I'm more frustrated when I end the call than I was before I made it. So much for customer service.
Then the text from Alice comes, making me feel even more helpless.
We're in the car.
I bring up Bella's number, let my thumb hover over it for few moments, and hit send. One ring. She's probably fishing her phone out of her purse. Two rings. By now, she's cursing under her breath. Three rings.
"Hey." She sounds happy and relaxed.
"How was the library?"
"It was good. How was the spa?"
"Fantastic. The maternity massage was the most amazing thing ever. I'm going to need another one of those before Two escapes." She laughs, and I want to laugh with her. I want to so much. But I can't.
"Bella, I need to tell you something, but I need you to promise me you'll try not to freak out, okay?"
Her laughter stops immediately. "Is Lucky alright?"
"Lucky is fine. It's your dad."
"My dad," she says slowly.
"Jeanette called. Charlie is in the hospital. They think it may have been a heart attack."
"Is he okay now?" Her voice is oddly calm, and it's scaring the shit out of me.
"He's unconscious, and they're working on him. That's all Jeanette knows."
Dead silence. Then sniffling.
Fuck. She's crying.
"Bella, talk to me."
"I have no idea what to say. How did this happen? Was he at work?"
"He went out to get the paper. Tristan told Jeanette he went down when he leaned over."
It's been a long time since I haven't been there for her when she's cried. It's killing me now. "I'm so sorry, baby. If you can get packed and get to the airport, there's a flight leaving in an hour and a half. It's full, but I've already got you on the waitlist."
"Okay. Okay, I can do that. I haven't really had time to unpack, so I just need to grab my stuff and I can be on the way."
That's my girl. She always does better with a plan. It's the control freak in her. Nothing scares her more than feeling like things are beyond her control. And right now, they are.
Moments later, Jeanette calls Alice. Bella lets me go, hoping to get more information on what's going on with Charlie. Instead of driving home, I call Sam and drive toward the airport.
"Sup, man?" he answers.
There are things I never imagined myself doing. This is one of them. "I need a favor…"
"What kind of favor?"
"Does Riley still work for US Air?"
Sam confirms what I've already pieced together from mutual friends on MySpace over the last year. Riley is a supervisor stationed in Seattle. He's been back for a couple of years now, according to Sam. He's not sure what his hours are, so he offers to text me Riley's number.
I'd rather try my luck in person.
"Why are we back at the airport, Daddy?"
I find a spot and park before answering. "Unbuckle and come here for a second."
He loves any excuse to be in the front seat. It gives him a chance to play with the stereo knobs and turn all the vents. He settles in my lap with his hands on the wheel, turning it left to right and back again.
"Pop is… sick. He's at the hospital. Mommy needs to come home early, so she can see him."
"Does he got the coughs?"
"Do you remember when we went to the Children's Museum and saw the parts of the body?" He nods, reaching up to tilt the rearview mirror. "Pop's heart is sick."
"When Mommy gets here, she can give him some medicine and he'll be all better. Is she coming now?"
"Not yet. I need to go inside and try to take care of something, so she can come home. When she gets here, we'll all fly to Port Angeles."
He looks back at me. "I'm going to fly?"
I'm so glad he has no clue how serious all of this is. "Yes."
He cheers and fist pumps when his feet hit the ground. His celebration continues during the short walk over to the terminal.
We wait in line for a few minutes, and when we finally make it to the ticket counter, I'm met with the same problem I encountered over the phone.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Cullen. Your wife is already on the waitlist." The agent smiles sweetly at Lucky, offering a Dum Dum from a jar on her desk. He thanks her and takes it, immediately trying to bite it instead of savoring it slowly.
I exhale slowly, giving myself one last chance to change my mind and walk out the door. "I'd like to speak to a supervisor. Is Riley Biers working?"
"He's downstairs at baggage service. I'll call him for you if you'd like to wait."
We move to a row of seats in the center of the lobby. Lucky climbs onto the closest one and stands with arms outstretched, flying away for some great adventure in his mind. It looks like he's going to get to fly sooner than any of us had expected.
Riley arrives by way of the escalator from baggage claim with a walkie-talkie in his left hand and a clipboard in his right. He walks to the counter, speaks to the agent that called him on my behalf, and turns to look at me when she points in our direction.
At first, he's confused, and I'm not sure if he even recognizes me.
"Come here, little man." Lucky jumps from the hard plastic chair into my arms. In the time it takes us to walk across the room, Riley's memory has kicked in.
I've spoken to him twice in my life. Neither were particularly positive conversations. The first time was Renee's wedding. The second was at Sam's New Year's Eve party right after Bella dumped him.
He blamed me. Then he told me just how badly I'd fucked Bella up. It's been ten years, but I've never forgotten his words.
"You have no idea what it's like to know your girlfriend feels lonely when she's sitting right next you. I've seen her at parties surrounded by people but still fucking alone."
He looks less than thrilled to see me now. That's fine. He can hate me all he wants. But I know he loved Bella once, and I'm hoping it was enough.
"How can I help you, Mr. Cullen?" he asks, keeping his voice neutral.
After a deep, calming breath, I answer. "My father-in-law had a heart attack this morning. My wife… Bella is in Phoenix visiting a friend. It's touch and go right now. They're trying to stabilize him, so they can take him in for surgery."
"Amy checked. Our flights are sold out."
"I know. The agent on the phone said the same thing. I came here to ask you…" I shift Lucky to my hip, giving him a squeeze. "Please. She's pregnant. He's…"
Fuck. Crying in front of this man is the last fucking thing I want. I blink a few times, and he turns his back to me. He punches a code on an alarm pad next to the ticket counter and then opens a small swinging gate.
I'm getting the silent treatment, but he waves me to the station at the end of the counter. The same agent as before walks over and hands Lucky another sucker after glancing at me for permission.
I lift him up, letting him sit on the counter and take the sucker from her himself.
"Thank you," he says, waving and smiling shyly.
"What's your name?" Riley asks him.
"I'm Lucky." In one of the proudest moments of my life to date, my tiny son holds up his hand for a high five. "Edward Felix Cullen. But my daddy's name's Edward, too, so everybody calls me Lucky."
Riley smacks his hand, smiling a little. "Because you're lucky?"
"Because Felix means lucky." He looks up at me. "Daddy, I'm thirsty."
"We'll get something to drink soon. I promise." Riley still hasn't said if he can help me.
"We have a water cooler and a soda machine in our break room. Amy could take him to get a drink." From his tone, I'm guessing Riley would like a word in private.
"It's just around the corner, Mr. Cullen. We'll be right back," the girl says.
"Please, Daddy. I never seen a broken room before."
Riley laughs, staring at the computer and typing. "He'll be fine. I guarantee it."
"Okay, little man." Lucky wiggles off the counter with my hands on his waist, helping him down.
Riley waits until they've walked away to speak. "Her old man hated me. Did you know he threatened to cut her off financially if she moved to Philly with me?"
"He wouldn't have." Charlie is protective when it comes to Bella – no one knows it better than I do – but he wouldn't have gone that far.
"No, he wouldn't have." He turns his back to pull something from the printer behind him. When he turns to me again, he places it in my hand. "She's on the flight. I checked Alaska's schedule. Their last flight to Port Angeles leaves an hour after she gets back to Seattle. There are seats open, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting three."
"Thank you. I don't know how to thank you enough for this."
"Is she happy?"
This man could have had my life. I fucked up the thing most precious to me by being a stupid kid and gave him the opportunity to fall in love with her.
When things get tough, I think of this man. I remember being eighteen years old and thinking he was going to be her forever.
"She's not today. But she has a very happy life." I make sure of it. It isn't perfect. We fight. We hurt each other's feelings. We also make each other laugh. We say we're sorry. We kiss and make up. And there's nothing in the world more important to me than her and Lucky. And Two. We learned to be happy without being perfect a long time ago.
Lucky barrels into the back of my legs, giving me a good excuse to wrap this up. I need to call Bella. "Thanks again. I've got to call her to let her know and get home, so I can pack."
Bella is already on the way to the airport when I call to give her the flight details. "I thought it was sold out? You said I'd have to stand by."
"I know. I'll explain when you get here."
"We're at the airport now." I can hear car doors slamming and muffled voices in the background. "I just got off the phone with Jeanette. They're airlifting him to Port Angeles for surgery." Fuuuuck. "Will you keep your phone close? I'll be on the plane, and I'll have to turn mine off."
"Breathe, Bella. Calm down." She sounds like she's about to cry again. "I won't miss any calls. I promise. Lucky and I are going to walk over to the Alaska counter to get tickets to the Port. We're going to go home and pack, and then we'll be here waiting for you." She sniffles quietly. "Please stay calm. I know it's hard right now, but I need you to try. I need you and Two to be okay."
"I'm sorry." More crying.
"Don't be sorry. I'll just feel better when you're here and I can see you, know you're okay."
"So am I."
"How is Lucky?"
I can't help but glance down at him. He's holding my hand but craning his neck to take in everything in sight. "He's enjoying this extra trip to the airport."
"Tell him I love him."
First, I shake his hand to get his attention. Any other day I'd hand him the phone and let her tell him, but she's hanging onto her composure by a thread. "Mommy says she loves you, little man."
"Is she calling from the airplane? They gots phones on airplanes?"
Bella's soft laughter is a relief.
We'll be okay.
Whatever else happens, we'll get through it.
"Mommy's not on her plane, yet."
"I have to go," she says. "I've got to get a boarding pass and get through security. I can't miss this flight."
"Go. I'll see you in a few hours."
Three one-way tickets and one ice cream cone later, Lucky and I finally make it back to the car. He falls asleep before we get out of the parking garage. His nap lasts through a phone conversation with Dad during the drive home and the time it takes to pack suitcases for both of us.
"Daddy, I'm hungry" are his first words when he wakes. Jesus. I never fed him lunch today. Bella's been gone one day, and I've already forgotten a meal. Always easy to please, he accepts a PB & J with a side of Doritos.
While he's occupied, I hunt down the charger for his Leapster video game and pack a carry-on bag with a few things to keep him busy during the flight and in the waiting room.
Jake sends a text letting me know that he and Billy are at the hospital.
I get a similar text from my mom during the drive to the airport.
For the third time in two days, we park at SeaTac, only this time in the long term section. I have no idea when we'll be back. I've got my laptop and everything I'll need for work with me.
Riley is standing a few feet away from the Alaska ticket counter when we arrive to check in.
"Is Bella's flight okay?" I ask.
"It's fine," he says. "I'm going to make sure you and Lucky get through the TSA without any trouble. My buddy works on the airport police force. He's going to meet you at the gate with his golf cart after she lands to give you guys a ride over to the Alaska terminal."
I can't argue with that. I want to make this as easy as possible for Bella. I know she's strong. I know it. But she's my wife and that's our baby, and I can't help but worry.
We make it through security without much hassle.
"Good luck," Riley says.
Until this moment, part of me suspected he would find a way to be at the gate to see her. If I were in his shoes, I'm not sure I'd be able to resist.
He squats in front of Lucky with his fist closed. He turns it over and opens it, and Lucky smiles when he sees plastic pilot's wings with the US Air logo on them. "See ya around, Lucky."
"Awesome," Lucky grins. "Thank you." Riley is gone by the time I have it pinned to his shirt.
We stand at the window at Bella's gate, watching red and yellow lights blink in the distance and waiting for her plane. He waves when it pulls in and stops, not realizing that only the pilot and co-pilot would be able to see him at this angle.
She's third in line when the passengers emerge. Her hair is pulled back into a messy bun, and I can tell she's been crying.
"Mommy!" Lucky wiggles away from me and rushes straight to Bella, hugging her and resting his head against Two. "I missed you."
It's only been a day, but I missed her, too. I hate that this is fucking happening to my family, but I can't help being happy to see her.
"Anything?" she asks, reaching for me.
"Not yet." I hold her as tightly as I can with Two and Lucky in the way. "It could take a while. Dad said between three and five hours in the operating room." I leave out the rest of my dad's words. As long as there are no complications. My hand moves to her belly, and like always, Two punches the shit out of it. "No news is good news right now."
"Alice bought a ticket. She'll be here tomorrow morning."
"My parents, Jake, and Billy are at the hospital with Jeanette and Tristan."
"Who's watching the girls?"
"They're with Leah's mom."
"Good. That's good. I'm glad Jeanette isn't alone. I can't believe Tristan saw it happen…" She seems dazed. I understand why. This has been a very long, stressful day.
A golf cart with flashing blue lights slows to a stop right outside the gate area. "Um, that's for us." I take her hand, pulling her toward the vehicle. We still have a flight to catch.
"Okay, Edward. What is going on?" she asks once we're seated. "First, I get on a sold out flight with a complimentary first class upgrade, and now we have wheels in the airport?"
"I asked Riley for help. He's a supervisor now… here in Seattle."
"Is that a good 'oh' or a bad 'oh'?"
She glances at Lucky, making sure he's sitting still in his spot on the front seat. When she looks back at me, she frowns. "That couldn't have been easy for you."
"It wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done." That was watching her walk away with him the night of her mom's wedding. Today was a piece of cake in comparison.
We arrive at our gate, thank the officer, and get Bella's boarding pass with plenty of time to spare. Her stomach growls before the agents start boarding our flight, so I leave her and Lucky in search of snacks.
Blueberry muffins from Starbucks are the most practical snacks in this terminal. "I didn't have time to eat lunch today," Bella says before biting into hers.
"I didn't, either. Lucky had a late lunch after a mid-morning ice cream cone."
"That sounds so good right now."
"We'll eat when we get to the Port," I promise.
Lucky is over two, so we had to buy a seat for him. After takeoff, I leave my seat to join him and Bella. She pushes up the armrest and scoots to the seat next to the window. I take the aisle seat, and Lucky settles on my lap with his feet resting on Bella's thigh.
She leans against my shoulder and slips her hand over mine, entwining our fingers. "Thank you."
"I'd do anything for you. You should know that by now."
We don't talk for the rest of the flight. Lucky falls asleep, and Bella clings to my hand. The moment we land, she turns on her phone.
There's a text from Jeanette.
Double bypass. He's in recovery.
She brushes away a few tears as the plane rolls to a stop near the gate. "I'm sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me."
"You're pregnant, and your dad just had a heart attack. It's okay to not be okay right now."
"I know. I just… Ugh." She swipes at her cheeks again. "I hate this. I can't lose my dad, Edward. I just can't. He's going to start eating salads, so help me God. And Cheerios."
"I want some Cheerios," Lucky says, blinking slowly and turning to cuddle against my chest.
Bella's fingers fly over the keypad of her phone. It buzzes in her hand a few seconds after she's done. "Jeanette says we have time to stop for dinner. It will be a while before anyone can see him."
She and Lucky have to make a pit stop, and we agree to meet down at baggage claim.
Emmett is waiting next to the luggage carousel, pacing back and forth with his hands in his pockets. He rushes over when he sees me, holding out his hand. We shake, and I pull him in for a hug. "I see you got my message."
"Dude. I couldn't believe it when Carlisle called me. How is Bella?"
"Freaking the fuck out under the surface."
"Can't blame her."
"No, I can't. I'm doing the same thing."
I hear Lucky before I see him. "Waaaaz up, Emmett?"
"Waaaaz up, lil' dude?" Em scoops him off the ground, tosses him in the air, and catches him before Bella has a chance to yell at him.
"I flew on an airplane! And look!" He tugs his shirt, making sure his wings are on display. "I'm a pilot, now."
"That is awesome." After spending enough time being impressed, he passes Lucky to me. Then he slips an arm around Bella. "I'm sorry about your dad."
"Me, too. It sucks."
Emmett helps me with our luggage, and Bella follows us to the parking lot with Lucky in tow. We arrange the suitcases in the trunk of his car, and she asks if we can stop at Pam's for dinner since we're starving.
He sends a message for Rosalie to meet us there before he opens the car door for Bella. "She was going to order pizza anyway," he grins.
"Thank you for being here, Em." She gives him a little smile before ducking into the back seat.
Rosalie and their son, Conner, are already waiting in the extra large booth in the corner when we get to Pam's. Lucky scrambles and crawls on his knees all the way around the bench to sit next to Conner. They may only get to see each other during the holidays and one week out of every summer, but they're buddies, like me and Emmett.
"How's your Dad?" she asks.
"He's out of surgery and in recovery now. I feel horrible stopping to eat, but Lucky needs dinner and I'm starving. So is the monster." She rests her hand on her belly.
"Are you guys staying with Renee and Phil? Or your parents?" Emmett asks me.
I've been so focused on getting here that I haven't really thought about what comes next. We have open invitations at both.
"It might be better if we stay at Mom and Phil's," Bella says. "They offered to let Jeanette, Alice, and Tristan stay there until Dad gets out of the hospital. I feel like I should be there with them."
"We could take Lucky and Tristan home with us since things are crazy right now. The boys could have a sleepover," Rosalie offers.
Bella's brother has been through absolute hell today. Getting him away from the hospital would probably be a good idea.
"You wouldn't mind?" Bella glances at Lucky and Conner. "Tristan is older. He's seven. He's also kind of shy. I'm not sure…"
"Well, if he's seven, he should get along well with Emmett."
Emmett gives his wife a dirty look, and Bella laughs softly. "We'll see." She taps Lucky on the shoulder. "Do you want to spend the night with Conner tonight?"
It's a silly question. The boys high five and start making plans to stay up all night. They'll both be knocked out before ten, but it's fun to listen to them talk smack.
The conversation ends when the food arrives. We eat quickly and don't linger after the meal. Emmett tosses me the keys to his car in the parking lot. "I'll roll the Jeep for a few days."
He gets into her Honda Pilot, and they follow us over to the hospital.
The waiting room is large, and more than half of it is our family. Renee and mom are comforting Jeanette, Jake and Phil are talking baseball with Tristan, and my dad and Billy are playing poker. They all stop to stare when we walk in.
"How is he?" Bella asks.
They all start talking with the exception of Tristan. He runs across the room and tackle hugs her. All the women (and Emmett) start crying. "There's been a lot of crying today. Just a warning," Phil says quietly when he leans in to shake my hand.
"Tell me about it." I've never been a fan of Bella's tears.
"She's okay, though, right?" He gives her a once over before the moms completely surround her and Lucky. "Everything is good with the baby?"
"So far, so good."
"Renee said the baby wouldn't cooperate during the ultrasound."
"It's driving Bella nuts not knowing," I laugh. "She can't stand it. I mean, we're set if it's another boy. But if it's a girl…"
She's scared to buy girl things. Forget talking about possible girl names. She doesn't want to jinx anything. I know deep down it doesn't matter, and she already insanely loves this baby, regardless of gender. But I've seen her with Hannah. I know part of her wants a daughter.
Part of me does, too. The other part of me doesn't know if I can handle it.
"Renee has already bought a few dresses."
"Don't tell Bella that."
"She also bought a few boy outfits."
"Well, at least Two will have something to wear other than white onesies."
"You're naming the baby Two?"
"Just until the big reveal. We don't know the gender, and I hate the word 'it' when it comes to babies. We'll pick a real name when the time comes."
A nurse enters the room and walks over to Jeanette. Everyone stops talking. She explains that Charlie is being moved to ICU. He can have two visitors at a time once he's settled. We're told the surgery went well, the doctors are happy, and he likely won't wake until sometime tomorrow.
After she walks away, Bella quietly tells Jeanette about Rosalie's offer to take the boys for the night. Tristan is too young to visit ICU. Watching his mom and Bella go without him would probably gut him, especially after the day the poor kid has had.
Jeanette agrees that a sleepover would be best for him. She and Bella take a short walk down the hall with him. After a few minutes, Jeanette comes back without them.
"Bella is giving him a pep talk." She puts her hand on her forehead. "I don't even have a change of clothes for him. I didn't have time…"
"He'll be okay for tonight. I could take him to Forks in the morning to change clothes and pack an overnight bag," I offer.
He looks much better when he and Bella walk through the waiting room door. He still looks scared and tired, but he's smiling now. We introduce him to Emmett, and Bella tells her brother that she's known Emmett since she was his age. She also points out that Emmett is my cousin and hers by marriage, so in a weird way, he's family, too.
It's Lucky's cheering that finally convinces him. It isn't often that my son gets a sleepover with his bestie cousin or his uncle. Tonight is a grand occasion for him.
Bella and I walk them out to the parking lot, and she kisses the boys goodbye while I dig Lucky's Buzz Lightyear suitcase out of the trunk of Emmett's car. I move Tristan's booster seat into Rosalie's SUV while Emmett gets the booster from his car for Lucky.
"Thank you for doing this," Bella says to Rosalie after she closes the back door of the Pilot.
"You'd do the same for us." Rosalie steps up to her, and the two of them share an awkward first hug.
Bella and I stand outside for a few minutes, watching until her taillights disappear after making a left at the light. "You okay?" I ask.
"I'll be better after they let me see him."
Those are nice words, but she's only a little better when she comes down from ICU a couple of hours later. Charlie is still knocked out cold, so Jeanette is sending us home for the night. With Tristan taken care of, she's free to stay with him, and she's worried about Bella and the baby.
So am I. It's after eleven, and I know she's been through the wringer today.
Jake makes us swear to text if there's any change in Charlie's condition. My mom gives me the same instructions when she hugs me in the parking lot.
On the way to Renee and Phil's house, Rosalie texts Bella to let her know the boys fell asleep watching Toy Story 2. Bella thanks her and then sends a text to Alice, updating her on everything that has happened tonight.
Renee tries to offer us a midnight snack, but Bella is beat. All she wants is a bed. She hugs them both and turns for the stairs. I follow behind her with the luggage, and it kills me when she pauses at her grandfather's old bedroom to touch the closed door for a moment.
He's been gone for almost three years now, but she still tears up whenever she thinks about him.
When we get to our room, she drops her backpack on the floor and sits down on the corner of the bed. "There were incisions on his chest and his leg." She looks so tired and lost. "He's forty-seven years old. We're supposed to be old when this happens."
I kneel down next to her and loosen the laces of her Vans. She lets me take them off and then scoots back until she reaches the mountain of decorative pillows Renee keeps in here. One by one, she tosses them into the corner.
Then she sheds her jeans and bra before slipping under the bedding. I'm too tired to bother unpacking and finding pajama pants, so I strip down to my boxers and join her. She turns on her side, snuggling her back against my chest.
"I wish I could fix this and make it go away." I don't know what else to say, because she's right. And wrong. We didn't expect this to happen for years. Many years. Our parents are barely grandparents.
But people younger than Charlie die every day.
"You saved me today. You know that?" She grips my hand in hers, slipping our linked fingers under her shirt to rest on Two. "Just hearing your voice helped. And the rest… I love you. I've only ever loved you."
"Hey." I sit up on my elbow, so I can see her. "I know. Please don't worry about me, Bella. It wasn't as bad as you think. I promise."
She turns her head to look up at me. "You take such good care of me. You always have."
But she gave me a clean slate when she let me back into her life. I'm a lucky son of a bitch. "You take care of me, too." I lean down to brush my lips over her cheek. "Try to get some sleep."
It takes a while, but slowly, she relaxes and her breathing evens out a few minutes later. Two taps against my hand every now and then, and when I finally fall asleep, I dream about a long ago fishing trip with Charlie.
Bella wakes me up at seven, and we scarf doughnuts courtesy of Phil before we leave for the hospital. I walk her all the way to ICU, wishing I could go back to Charlie's room with her even though I know it's not possible.
"I'll text if anything changes," she says, digging through her purse. She pulls out her keys and points out the key to her dad's house. "Alice's flight lands at ten."
"Got it. I'll pick up the boys first, then Alice. I'll drag her with me to Forks so she can pack a bag for Jeanette."
"You're the best."
"Remember that when you're in labor and want to rip my balls off."
She smiles, and I can't resist wrapping her in my arms for a goodbye hug. It's so damn good to see a smile.
The boys have already eaten breakfast and are playing with Legos in the center of Emmett's den when I arrive to pick them up. Rosalie offers to let them come back any time, and Conner begs them to do it soon.
We talk about baseball on the way to the airport. Charlie says Tristan is good, one of the best on his team. This was Lucky's first year playing, and it's funny listening to his uncle give him little league advice.
Tristan tackles Alice the same way he did Bella last night. She hugs him tightly and then chastises him for growing so much since she was here during the holidays. Lucky waits impatiently, tapping his foot while waiting for her to notice him.
She kisses Tristan's head, releases him, and swoops down to pick up Lucky. He giggles when she tells him he gets cuter every time she lays eyes on him.
We make our way to Forks and straight to Charlie's house. Tristan asks permission to take a shower before we leave, and I want to shoot myself in the foot for not suggesting it.
"Take as long as you want, buddy," I say, sitting down on the couch and reaching for the remote.
Lucky crawls up onto my lap and falls asleep during an episode of Jimmy Neutron. I don't mean to, but I nod off, too. My phone vibrates, waking me up a few minutes later.
The doc just left. He said everything looks good. We're getting Dad a treadmill for Christmas.
This sounds like my Bella. I think I'm going to get more smiles from her today.
I'll tell Alice and Tristan.
They're both happy when I give them the good news, especially Tristan. They're also hungry, so we stop at the diner for a quick lunch. People come over to ask about Charlie, and Alice shares everything we know.
I'm not sure if it's being around Alice or eating shitty chili cheese fries that makes me think of Jasper, but it hits me that I haven't even let him know we're in town. I remedy that with a quick text.
I'm not sure what the hours are at his shop in Port Angeles. Regardless, it's noon. He should be up soon. If he has time, it'd be cool to have a beer and catch up.
Lucky falls asleep during the drive back to PA. Instead of going straight to the hospital, I make a detour past Phil's house. They're home, so I stop. Renee is more than happy to take Lucky for the afternoon, even though he's still out cold when I drop him off.
He'll have more fun with her than he would at the hospital. They'll be able to keep him busy when he wakes up. I try to convince Tristan to hang out here with them, but he really wants to see Jeanette.
Alice sends their mother a text as soon as we get to the hospital. She comes down and meets us in the lobby. "Go on up," she says to me with a tired smile. "I need some time with Tristan."
"How is he?"
"He's still out cold, but I know Bella would love to see you." I nod and take a few steps toward the elevator. "And Edward?" She waits for me to turn around. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. I'm just glad he's okay."
The television is on in Charlie's room, but the volume is turned low. Bella notices the moment I step through the open sliding glass door. I'm thankful the thick, brown curtains are pulled because she meets me halfway, kissing me hello and running her fingers into my hair.
She rests her head against my chest for a few moments after a quiet hello. "What's wrong?"
"I'm just glad to see you."
Since they're keeping Charlie sedated for now, Bella and Jeanette agree to leave for the night. If everything goes well, he'll wake up tomorrow and be moved to a regular room in a couple of days.
Renee orders enough Chinese food to last for days, and after dinner, the exhaustion catches up with all of us. We call it a night before ten.
Bella and Jeanette are gone by the time I wake up. Alice is helping the boys with cereal, and Phil is starting a pot of coffee when I make my way into the kitchen. "Eggs?" he asks.
Mom calls during Sesame Street, giving me a chance to sneak away from Lucky to fill her in on Charlie. She's off for the day and dying for some time with her grandson. Honestly, I'm in need of some mom time, so I decide to tag along.
She spoils us both with brownies and hugs.
Bella texts mid-afternoon.
He's awake. Groggy, but awake. Hopefully out of ICU tomorrow. Alice is going to take Jeanette to Forks to pick up a few things for him.
Lucky is busy helping Mom make a batch of brownies to send to Phil and Renee's with us later for snacks.
Want some company?
Her response is quick.
Jeanette has left, and Charlie is sleeping soundly by the time I make it to the hospital. We sit next to his bed for a while, quietly watching Jeopardy. She kills the music category, nailing every single question without hesitation. Then she bombs art history.
Our laughter wakes Charlie, and she apologizes several times.
"Sit down before you give me another heart attack," he grumbles, pulling the blanket up to his chest.
"Not funny, Dad."
"Not trying to be. You flew across the country twice in two days and you've spent all week here, worrying over me. It can't be good for the baby."
"Oh, no you don't. You're not going to turn this around. And Arizona is hardly across the country."
"Stop worrying. I'm fine."
She sits down, crossing her arms over her chest. "Stubborn."
"Hello, Edward. Where's Lucky?" Charlie ignores her.
"He's spending some time with my mom."
"I'd kill for one of her brownies right about now."
"What? I'm starving. They said I can't eat yet. If I'm lucky, I'll get broth and Jell-O tomorrow."
"He asked them for a BLT," she says, shaking her head. "Can you believe that?"
"I'm not going to live on figs and berries, Bella. I'm going to improve my diet, but I had a near death experience. Is it so wrong that I'd like to have some bacon to celebrate being alive?"
"In this case, yes."
"Jeanette already said it's going to be turkey bacon from now on."
"Yes, dear. Cheerios and turkey bacon. Doesn't that sound delicious?" he asks me.
"It's not that bad, Charlie."
"Et tu, kid?"
"It's okay. I'll forgive you if you get her out of here tonight." He looks at Bella. "I love you and I'm glad you're here, but I'm fine. You need to get out for a little while. Let Alice spend some time with Tristan, and you go relax. Please."
"I'm not kidding. I feel bad enough that I messed up your trip. I'm not going to have you cooped up in this hospital morning, noon, and night. Take a break. I'll be here when you come back tomorrow morning."
"You'd better be," she says, gathering her book, iPod, and a container of Tums. She tosses it all into her backpack. "I love you, Dad."
He grabs her hand before she can walk away. "I love you, too, kid. I'm sorry I scared you."
I take her backpack and walk to the door, giving her a chance to hug him and say goodbye in private. The smile on her face when she meets me in the hall is a forced one. She doesn't want to leave. I can understand that. But Charlie knows her as well as I do, and she needs to get this off of her mind, even if it's only for a little while.
Jasper texts during the drive to my parents' house. Bella steals my phone from the console and makes plans to meet him at Taco Shack after we've picked up Lucky. His last appointment for the night cancelled, and his partner said he'd cover the walk-ins.
My dad is on his hands and knees letting Lucky ride on his back when we show up to get him. Mom is walking behind them, arms out, ready to catch him. It's ridiculous, but Bella laughs and so does Lucky. He refuses to leave until we promise him more Grandma and Grandpa time tomorrow.
Jasper has already snagged a table outside by the time we finally get to Taco Shack. He puts out his cigarette before we make it to the table. It's Bella he reaches for first, holding her tightly and then stepping back to look her over.
"Pregnancy looks good on you, B."
"He's right," I agree.
Next, he fistbumps Lucky. "I found the perfect tat for you, dude." He pulls a Scooby-Doo temporary tattoo from his back pocket. He dips a few napkins into the glass of water sitting next to his Corona and carefully applies the tattoo to Lucky's shoulder.
Bella rolls up the sleeves of Lucky's shirt, so he can show it off. "Awesome," he says. "Can I get one of those now?" He points to Jasper's eyebrow rings.
"No way, kid." Bella shakes her head. "Not for a long, long time."
Jasper laughs, and we all sit down. Bella's phone buzzes after the waitress takes our order. She nudges my leg under the table, tilting her phone so I can see the message from Alice asking if she and Tristan can meet us for dinner.
"What's going on?" Jasper asks. "You two are doing that weird talking-without-talking thing you do."
"Alice is asking what we're doing for dinner. I'll tell her we'll meet them later," Bella says.
"She has my – I mean our – little brother with her."
"Well, it's been what? Ten years now?" He lifts his beer for a quick pull. "Tell her where we are."
Alice has been divorced for two years. As far as I know, Jasper isn't dating anyone. At least he wasn't when we were in town for the holidays last year. This could get interesting. Or not, considering her zip code is still in Jackson, Mississippi.
Bella looks at him like he has two heads, but he doesn't waver.
He tries to act uninterested when they arrive and Alice steps out of Jeanette's car. He's looking, though. She waits for Tristan to climb out of the backseat. His hand grips the pack of Camels sitting on the table in front of him. Then he glances at Bella and Lucky and pushes them away.
When she finally turns to face us, she stares.
"Shit, man," he says. "What should I do?"
"Try talking to her," I answer. "Hello is a good start."
In his excitement, Tristan leaves her standing in the parking lot. It takes her a second to move, but she's all smiles and confidence when she does.
"Well, well." She eyes the double sleeves Jasper is sporting these days. He stands, and the hug they share in front of us might just beat the one between Bella and Rosalie on the awkward scale.
"You look great," he says, releasing her and pulling out the chair next to his.
"Look, Tristan." Lucky points to his arm. "I gots a tattoo."
"Aw, man. That's cool."
Jasper reaches into his pocket again. "I was saving this one for me," he says, holding up another temporary tat. It's a bright red heart with a dagger through it. "This is very eighties, dude. Very Guns 'N Roses."
"What's that?" Tristan asks, rolling up his sleeve.
"Is he… He's kidding, right?" Jasper looks at Alice, Bella, and then me.
"Jasper, he's seven," Bella says with narrowed eyes.
"Come find me when you're thirteen, dude. I'll burn some CDs for you." Jasper applies the tattoo on Tristan's arm in the spot that matches Lucky's.
The boys run around inside the gated, outdoor section while we catch up. Jasper laughs his ass off when Alice tells him that Carmen has three kids now. "Never saw that coming. Not in a million years." He orders a pitcher of beer, and the kids come back to our table the moment the waitress puts down the chips and cheese dip. "What about Jake and Leah? How many do they have?"
"Hannah and Abby. Two girls," Bella says. She pulls her camera from that huge bag she calls a purse. After switching out the memory card, she brings up pictures from last Christmas. Abby is… headstrong for a toddler. The only time she was still all afternoon was when Lucky held her. Bella managed to get a picture before she demonstrated how bad the terrible twos can be. Hannah is in a few of the pictures, too, but always shying away from the camera.
She switches the cards again and brings up the dozen pictures she managed to take during the 24 hours she was in Phoenix. The new baby, Phoebe, looks exactly like Elliot down to the cleft in her chin.
"My God. You guys have a lot of kids."
"They look scary, but they're cool," Alice says.
"And you?" he asks.
"None for me. Just a sweet, old dog."
He used to ask about her every now and then, especially when he was between girlfriends. That stopped five years ago when he found out she'd gotten married.
"The husband doesn't want kids?"
Bella kicks me under the table like it's my fault this is going down. I didn't tell him she got a divorce, because he was just opening the shop here in PA. He had a girlfriend. Why the hell would I tell him?
The food arrives, and Alice waits until both boys are munching on chicken fingers to answer. "He didn't. That's why he's not my husband anymore."
"I'm sorry," he says. "I didn't mean–"
"It's fine. It's been a couple of years. Besides, I have these two munchkins to spoil." She points to Lucky and Tristan.
He keeps his big mouth shut through the rest of the meal. Jake calls, and Bella steps away so she can hear him.
"I'm guessing all is forgiven there?" Jasper asks, fighting a smile. "I seem to remember a falling out a few years ago…"
"If you mean Edward being a protective jackass and putting his fist on Jake's jaw, then yes. There was a small falling out," Alice says, keeping her voice down.
"It was Lucky's first Christmas, and he made Bella cry," I shrug. Maria had shown up on his doorstep two days before, saying her father was dead and she wanted to be part of Hannah's life. Jake wigged, cursed at her, and told her to get the hell away from his house. She begged him not to make her get a lawyer before he slammed the door in her face.
He told me and Bella about it on Charlie's back porch after Christmas dinner. Bella pissed him off by suggesting that he should at least listen to what she had to say. They got into a huge argument. Everything was fine until he told her to shut up and mind her own business. She cried, I overreacted, and Jeanette stepped in and ended up being the one to talk sense into him.
She reminded him why Alice was in Mississippi. She made a good point. Jake could stop it. But for how long?
Then he cried and apologized. I couldn't stay angry with him. Neither could Bella. Neither of us could imagine someone trying to take Lucky away from us. She called Leah, who had just started working at her Uncle Jason's firm. She agreed to help Jake. The rest is history. Weird ass history.
"But yeah, we're cool now," I say.
Bella comes back to the table. "Sorry. He was checking on Charlie. Billy is frustrated that they can't visit until he's in a normal room."
"It sucks," Tristan says.
"The doctors think he might be ready tomorrow or the next day." Bella brushes her hand through his shaggy, brown hair. "Would some ice cream cheer you up?"
Of course it would. What kid doesn't want ice cream? My guess is that she's craving a sundae. The boys jump out of their seats. "Sorry, Alice. We'll take them. You stay here and finish your beer. Meet us back at Mom's whenever."
Alice doesn't argue. She pulls one of Jasper's smokes from his pack. "I'll be there soon."
The closest ice cream shop is only a couple of blocks away, but to get there, we have to pass our old music store. Bella sighs. "I still can't believe it folded." The owners tried everything to stay open, even adding comic books to their wares. In the end, the internet and iTunes won.
I was wrong. Instead of a sundae, Bella orders two scoops of vanilla.
"I've never seen you order vanilla. Are you feeling okay?" I slip my hands under her shirt, splaying them on the underside of her belly. Two kicks and turns against my hand as she leans back against my chest.
"I'm craving vanilla. It's weird. I kind of want to cry, because I'm in an ice cream shop and I don't want any chocolate."
The boys eat at their own table, across from ours. "Do you think leaving Jasper and Alice alone together was good idea?"
"Hell no," she laughs. "They're going to end up fucking or fighting. I've got ten on fucking."
"I'm not taking that bet." I'm not an idiot.
She grins, happy for a moment, but then it turns sad. "It was weird seeing them together."
"Don't get your hopes up." I reach for her free hand and give it a squeeze. As much as she denies it, Bella is a romantic at heart.
"I know." She nods. "But maybe they can be friends. That wouldn't be a bad thing."
"No, it wouldn't."
We take the boys back to Renee's. Phil entertains Tristan while Bella catches Renee up on Charlie and I help Lucky with his bath. He's hyped and begging for a movie. When they're both in pajamas and ready for bed, the boys pull out the three movies I packed in Lucky's carry-on bag. Alice arrives in time to catch the beginning of Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster with us.
She and Bella whisper for a couple of minutes. Neither looks upset, so I'm assuming there was no fighting. That's good.
Both boys fall asleep during the movie. I take Tristan upstairs, following Alice and Bella. They turn down the bed in the guest room next to ours. Phil follows with Lucky, laying him down on the other side. We tuck them in, leaving the lamp on and the door cracked in case either of them gets scared during the night.
We let Phil and Alice go down without us. Bella looks tired, and the last two days have been insane.
"They're going to meet for coffee tomorrow morning," Bella says after shutting the bedroom door behind her. "They talked and drank beer, and now they're going for coffee. What does that mean? Fucking I would understand. Coffee is confusing."
"Let them worry about it." I pull her closer, turning her and walking us closer to the bed. "I missed you." I also want her to rest.
"I missed you, too." She kisses my neck and tugs on the hem of my shirt.
"Maybe you should rest…"
"I'm horny, not sleepy."
I let her undress me, and then I take her clothes off slowly, kissing her and holding her, because I really did miss her. And her being horny makes me want to take care of her. So I do something I haven't done in a long time. Once she's laid out in front of me, I trail my fingers up her leg.
Her lips part when I let the pad of my thumb brush over her clit. Instead of teasing, I give her two to start. She pulls my face down to hers with her hand cupping my neck. She tastes like ice cream, and at first, her kisses are soft and sweet. She adds her teeth, nibbling and driving me crazy while she moves against my hand.
I know she's close when she breaks away to pant against my neck.
"God, get inside me already," she moans.
"I want to feel you on my fingers first." That does it. She lifts her hips, pushing and grinding against my hand until she finally lets go. Watching her come is still my favorite thing in the world. Her head pushes back into the pillow, she tugs her bottom lip between her teeth, and she still tries like hell to be quiet.
I still try like hell to make that impossible.
I slow my pace and move my lips to her nipple. She gasps and then sighs, relaxing her legs and letting me work her up all over again while I nibble and suck. I'm really going to miss her tits after Two is born, so I'm trying to give them extra attention now while I still can.
"Fuck," she whispers. "I'm going to die if you don't fuck me soon."
She and my cock are on the same wavelength. "Roll over onto your side."
She grins and complies. Doggy is already uncomfortable for her, and we still have three months to go. I settle behind her, sliding my arm under her neck, so I can hold her. Before I can even lift her leg, she's taking the tip.
She keeps going, and I bring her leg over mine. I'm trying not to thrust like an asshole, but she's making it hard. "Mmmmm," she says, leaning forward slightly to take me deeper.
"Is this okay?" I ask. She feels amazing, but I don't want to hurt her.
"No. It's way better than okay."
She moves with me, and I have to pull her closer to put my lips on her tattoo. "Fuck. I love it when you do that," she says.
"I know." I smile and kiss it again, letting my left hand wander over her hip and down to her pussy. "I know everything you love."
Slow circles until she's breathless…
Harder and faster when her fingernails dig into my forearm…
My teeth on her tattoo when we're coming…
I'll never get enough of this.
We lie in silence, catching our breath. Two kicks my hand over and over, always busier and more awake when the sun is down.
"Thank you. I needed that."
"I always need that."
She laughs. "You jackass."
"You love me."
We share a hot shower and finally settle in for bed close to midnight. She's restless, tossing and turning for a few minutes before she finally speaks. "Do you ever think about moving home? Back here?"
"Sometimes." I scoot in behind her again, this time with pajamas between us. Lucky walking in on us naked once was one time too many.
"My dad, your dad, Phil, our moms… They've never seen Lucky play, not in a real game, anyway. And a house would be nice. We're both giving up office space for Two's bedroom in our apartment. Something big with a yard, so Lucky can finally have a puppy. He'd be closer to Tristan and Conner… our parents."
So would we.
I've been expecting this conversation for a while.
This isn't the first time we've rushed home. The first was during our senior year of college. Felix had been leaving The Crocodile after a show one night in Seattle, and a drunk driver came out of nowhere. They said he was dead before he hit the ground. Knowing that didn't make it any easier for any of us to bury someone that should've lived to be eighty. Or at least long enough to have a wife and a family someday.
Lucky's middle name was a no-brainer for us. He knows he's named after our friend, and when he's older, we'll explain why. And give him a talk about never ever drinking and driving.
The second middle of the night phone call came when her Grandpa went into congestive heart failure. We were new parents in Seattle by then. We packed and hit the road, making it to PA around daybreak. He held on until just after midnight three days later. She had the chance to say goodbye, even if he didn't.
Our parents are getting older. We're getting older.
"Our lease is up in December."
"Two is due late November," she says, resting our hands on her belly. "We could pay the penalty for an early out."
"The tenants in the PA house have a contract through next May."
"The PA house isn't much bigger than our apartment. Both of us mostly work from home. We need space. Jeanette mentioned a house for sale near theirs. It's huge and a bit of a fixer-upper, but I think we'd have help."
"You want to move to Forks?"
"Yeah. I think I do," she laughs, and I pull her closer. She looks over her shoulder at me. "What about you? What do you want?"
"You're my where," I tell her. "I'll be happy as long as I'm with you."
Florida. Seattle. Forks. It doesn't matter to me. It never has.
I'd follow her anywhere.
A/N – Thank you for letting me tell you a story about a wild bunch of kids who were hell bent on breaking their own hearts. Thank you for rec'ing TGAG to your friends. Thank you for the RTs and the sweet words on Twitter and on Facebook. I've met a lot of wonderful people in this fandom because of this story.
Big thanks to Iris for making it pretty and to M, Nic, Randi, and Rachel for pre-reading and testing the waters for me. Also, thank you, Nat, for an awesome, gorgeous banner.
For those who asked about Down Home futuretakes… Yes, there will be a 2 part epilogue sometime early next year. One of you sweethearts out there nominated DH in 3 categories for The Fandom Choice Awards, including Best Edward and Best Bella. I knew you guys liked Mississippiward, but the nods to him AND Bella made me cry a little. I'm amazed and humbled at the love you guys have for those country kids. Thank you! If you'd like to vote for them, voting is open until Jan 3.
If you're waiting on Rest My Soul… I know. Believe me I know. My kids have had eleventy billion school things going on and the holidays… Well, things are insane. I'm so sorry. It's coming. Slowly. But it is.
Thanks for reading.
B Sides Soundtrack:
"Patience" – Guns N' Roses
"Boys Don't Cry" – The Cure
"Cold Shot" – Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
"You" – Candlebox
"Call Me a Dog" – Temple Of The Dog
"Wish You Were Here" – Pink Floyd
"Black" – Pearl Jam
"I've Got Dreams to Remember" – Otis Redding