Since so many peeps were having issues reading the PDF's, finding the blog etc. I've posted "Eden" back here in clusters! It's now complete! So if you weren't having issues, the full PDF is avail now! :-) Thanks for reading and *legs humps* to Kimberly, Marita, and VC-Girl and *booby gropes* to AJasperforme for their pre-reading and beta love!
"We're doing the right thing, right?" My boyfriend, Edward Cullen, whispers from behind me—his voice is thick with emotions. "Bella, we're doing the right thing?"
More of my own tears fall as I nod and squeeze his fingers that are resting on my protruding stomach. I know, in theory, we are doing the right thing, but it doesn't make it any easier. "Yeah," I choke out. "This baby's gonna have such a good life with the Denali's. You liked them, remember?"
He nods, tightening his grip on me. "I don't get why you have to move, though. Why we have to break up."
"Don't consider this a break up," I tell him, trying to get up but struggle a little. Edward sits up, grabbing my hand to help me.
"What should I consider this then?" he asks angrily, moving off the bed to start pacing. All I could do is lay my hand on my stomach, lean back against my headboard and watch him. "I'm losing my girlfriend; I'm giving up my son—"
"Son?" I smile. "You just know it's a boy, huh?" I tease him, trying to lighten up the gloominess in the air.
He looks sheepish but a little proud as well. "Yeah, and I named him."
I frown. I don't think I want to know. So I address his question, even though we've had this talk several times before. "They live in Gainesville, that's almost four hours away. It'll be easier if I stay close to them should I go into labor and all that, and me and my mom figured even though we have a few months, it would be better if I just get situated there instead of going back and forth." I look down, trying to compose myself. This is all sounding more and more naïve, even to my sixteen year old ears, as I hear the words coming out of my mouth. "Plus, Emmett's at school there, and we wanna move closer to him, too."
"But wasn't he moving back after he graduated?" he argued. "You said yourself he said he's moving back."
"You could always visit," I offer, but I know it's not going to happen.
My mom and his parents were as understanding as they could possibly be, giving our situation. But with neither of us coming from families with a great deal of money, or stability, giving our baby up for adoption sounded like the best thing to do. It is the best thing to do. Still—I can't help feeling like it's the end of me and Edward.
Suddenly, I feel a kick against my hand. A hard one. "Edward, hurry."
"What's wrong?" He jumps on the bed, hands roaming all over me.
"It kicked. Feel." I grab his hands, placing it on the side of my stomach. I smile when I feel another thump, and I watch with a teary smile as Edward's face splits with a grin.
"Wow. Is that how it always feels?"
"No." I shake my head. "She's normally not as strong."
"He," Edward corrects softly. "Definitely a he—Eden."
"Eden? Is that the name?"
He nods, and pulling up my shirt he bends down and kisses my belly. "You are gonna have such a good life, little guy. And one day, when we meet, your mommy and I are going to tell you all about how much we wished we had better for you. Don't be mad at us okay," he coos. "When you meet us again, don't be mad. We love you so much."
And we did. We were only sixteen, but had been together for three years and known each other almost all our lives. Edward was my first kiss, my first boyfriend, my first and only everything. We loved each other and we both knew we would love the hell out of this baby—but love isn't always enough.
We were doing what we thought we had to do, we were going to let our baby go with the knowledge of the great life ahead of him or her. We didn't think we were enough. I didn't think I was enough.
But life . . . life had other plans for me.
Dutifully ignoring my rude child, I cross my ankles over the other and continue shoving large spoonful's of cereal in my mouth—brand name Cinnamon Toast Crunch, mixed with store brand Cinnamon Squares.
"Mother!" he shouts now, and I continue to ignore him. That's how it's gonna work until he gets it right.
"Oh, mother of mine," he sings now, voice sweet and sarcastic.
Better than nothing.
"Yes, my sweet son?" I sing back.
"I can't find my shorts!"
"I'm really sorry to hear that!" I shout back, then snicker into my bowl. What good is having children if you can't mess with them?
"Mom." I could practically hear him huffing in annoyance from all the way down the hall. "Seriously, I need your help. I can't find my black shorts."
Black shorts? I'm caught off guard. "Which black shorts, honey?"
"Uh . . . the ones with the stripes on them?" He lets it hang in the air like a question and if my face could, I'm sure it would resemble a question mark as well. He doesn't have black shorts with stripes on them. In fact, I really don't think he has black shorts at all.
Regardless, they—if they actually exist—can only be in a handful of places. Refusing to move from my spot on the couch, I call back out to him, "Did you check the closet?"
"Yeah! They're not there."
"Your dirty hamper?"
"Umm . . ." He pauses, and I know this to mean he hasn't looked there yet and is probably checking now. "Not there either."
"Well, did you check your dresser?"
"Of course, Mom." The eye roll, I hear it in his voice. "That's the first place I looked."
"Well, Mr. Smarty Pants—did you check all the drawers, or just the one that should only have your shorts in them? Your pajama drawer maybe?"
He's quiet for a minute before shouting, "Thanks, Mom! You're the best!"
"I know!" I smile, damn near beaming.
The smile on my face falls completely, though, when he comes running down the hall from his room.
"Eden," I sigh. "For the love of all that is good with the grey hair I'm forming, what are you wearing?"
He looks down at his 'outfit' then back at me, confused. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?"
He has on an old pair of blue and yellow Sponge Bob pajama pants—which I'm pretty sure were in a bag set aside for me to donate. They're too small for him, and look like a pair of high waters. With it, he's wearing an orange shirt and to top off the ensemble, black flip flops. In his left hand, he has a pair of shorts, in the other a towel.
What's wrong with what he's wearing, he asks?
"Everything. Go change."
"But . . ."
"I don't wanna hear it. Change or you're not going to your little girlfriend's birthday party."
"Mom!" He looks shocked and disgusted all at once. "Gigi is not my girlfriend. She's turning five. She's—she's a child."
"Oh." I raise my hands in defense, trying to maintain a straight face. "My bad . . . I didn't know eight and five were considered such a big age difference."
"I'm almost nine."
"Maybe she likes older men." I shrug, turning my attention back to the TV. "Now go change."
"Mother," he whines. "At 'after school' yesterday, Gigi said there's going to be painting and stuff. Like a paint party. And if I wear my good clothes and get 'em dirty, you're gonna get mad and then I'mmmmm," he feels the need to drag the word out for some reason, "gonna get in trouble. And last week you said, if I get in trouble, I won't be able to go laser tagging with Uncle Emmett and—"
"Jesus Christ, Eden," I snap. His voice is truly annoying as hell when he whines. "I read the invitation, thank you. And you won't get in trouble if you wear some of your play clothes. There are plenty of worn t-shirts and shorts in that room you could wear and still make it seem like you have a home and a mother. 'Cause right now—" I wave my hands at his outfit "—no. You're skinny enough as is. People are going to come after me for neglect if I let you wear that."
"Alright, alright . . . I'll go change."
"Thanks." I nod my head to the things in his hands. "What's with the extra stuff?"
"The towel's for after we get out of the pool and these—" he lifts up the shorts in his hand "—are for after for me to change into."
How insightful of him. "Okay," I concede. "Good thinking, but how 'bout you put all that in a bag, mmhh?" He looks down at everything in his hands and nods in agreement, walking back to his room. "Oh, and, sweetheart?"
"Those shorts are navy blue—not black. And those aren't stripes, not really . . . it's called plaid."
"If you say so." He smiles tightly, walking off again while muttering under his breath about how much I watch too much Fashion Police.
What a smart ass.
"Eden's outfit, take two!" he shouts, strutting into the kitchen as if he's on a runway. He looks much, much better. He's wearing a green polo shirt, with the green and black plaid cargo shorts, paired with black chucks. It brings out the green in his eyes, and the refinement of the outfit makes his unruly brown hair look even more a hot mess but still.
"That—" I point to him with a smile "—is my son. Not the crazy little boy who was running around here a minute ago."
"I know, I know," he sighs smugly, brushing his shoulders off.
The side of my face lifts up in a grimace. "No more hanging out with your uncle."
"I'm kidding." Kinda. "Relax."
"Oh. Okay, well aren't you gonna go get ready?"
How quick the roles reverse. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" I stare down at my own pajamas. "I'm not the one whose girlfriend is having a party. I'm just the chauffer, kiddo."
His face looks panicked. "But, you have to walk me in and all that."
"Yes, I'm aware. Walking you in, instead of dropping you by the curb like I want to, is going to take all of two minutes. I'm not changing for that."
I'm lying through my teeth, having had every intention of changing, but the promise of possible embarrassment is too much leverage to pass up.
Putting on my bargaining face, I level him with a stern stare. "You want me to change—you meet my terms."
I head to my room to shower, not bothering to be quick about it as it's not even noon and the party starts at one.
I change into as little as possible—jeans shorts and a red tank top—because it's scorching outside. I'm pretty sure the devil himself would be willing to give back a few souls for a cup of lemonade right now, that's how hot it is.
"Alright, little man. Ready?" I ask Eden when I walk back into the living room.
He jumps up from the couch immediately, grabbing his bag and Gigi's gift. "Yes, ma'am."
"And you're sure Gianna will like the gift you chose?"
I'm not versed on little girls—only having had the one boy. But to me, or at least what I think I know, most five-year old girls like dolls and shit. Dress up and make up. Not inflatable contraptions in the shape of sharks that float in the air.
"Yes, mom, I'm sure." His voice is impatient because this is probably the fifth time I've asked. Gianna's like his little best friend, kind of like a little sister with the way he's so protective of her—so I should trust his judgment. But I don't. He's still an eight year old boy, no matter how much he knows her. This is why I plan on sneaking a gift card into the gift pile when Eden's not looking. "Now, can we go, please? Everyone from 'after school' is going, meaning Seth too and he's gonna eat all the food."
I snicker behind my hands. "I'm sure they'll have enough food for everyone, sweetheart."
"Jesus," I grumble, after driving around aimlessly for a good ten minutes. Every time the GPS tells me to 'turn right in the next 100 ft', and I do, it immediately announces it's 'recalculating'.
"Mom, are you lost?" Eden looks over at me from the passenger seat.
"Yes." No need to lie to the boy, it's obvious we are.
"Maybe we should call and get directions?"
That would have been a great idea if I didn't leave the invitation at home, after pre-setting the address in the GPS.
We've been driving in circles and it's to the point I'm convinced we're going to find Narnia before we find this house.
"Sweetheart, I grew up in this town—I'll figure it out."
"Yeah, but didn't you say how much it's changed since you were little. Like a hundred years ago?"
"Watch it, wise guy," I warn him playfully. "It wasn't a hundred years ago. Just eight years, and things haven't changed that much."
Okay, maybe they have.
When I decided, about six months ago, I'd had enough of the 'city'—I proposed to Eden we make our way back to where 'mommy grew up'. He was all for it, not having had that many friends in his school. That always broke my heart because for as funny and outgoing as he could be, Eden didn't tend to get a long all that well with kids; which is why I'm elated about his relationship with Gigi and the other kids in his after school program.
It doesn't have the stigma it once I was coming up, I was referred to as a 'latch key' kid. So I'm thankful for it everyday.
Anyway, we've been back two months now and roads I didn't even know existed when I was younger have all kinds of stores, buildings, and houses on them.
I continue to drive up and down the street the GPS swears the house is on, and just as I'm about to give up and crush my little boy's heart, I see a balloon peeking out from behind a tree.
"Wait a minute." I circle back around and pretty much drive straight for the balloon and realize there's a hidden driveway. "Score!" I exclaim when I drive through and find a long winding pathway and cars up ahead.
As we get closer to the actual house, my mouth almost falls open. The house is a decent size but it's the scenery I'm awed by. There's a lake off to the side—that almost looks swimmable. There are acres of land, which are covered in balloons of various colors; there doesn't seem to be a real theme going. I see a large treehouse peeking from the top of the actual roof of the house and what looks like a bounce house. It's magical looking, and has me a little excited—even though I'm an adult, supposedly—to see what the inside of the house and backyard looks like.
"Well . . . I was right about one thing." I look back at Eden.
"What's that, Mom?"
"This place looks surreal—therefore we must be in Narnia."
I could see that he wants to roll his eyes, but wanting to keep them inside his head, he refrains.
"Yeah!" he shouts. "I can't wait for you to meet Seth's dad! He's really cool!"
He looks at me a little pointedly, causing me to put on the serious mom face. "Don't even think about, Eden."
"But . . ."
"No! Last time you tried to get me to 'meet your friend's dad' . . ." I shudder a little violently at the memory.
I'm not sure if his need to introduce me to all his friend's fathers is because of his desire to have them around, or if it's because he thinks I need a boyfriend. Either way, it's super embarrassing and annoying.
"What?" He gives me an innocent look. "I just think it would be nice for you to make some friends is all."
"Sweetie," I sigh, looking at him sincerely. I try and keep as honest a line of communication as possible with him. So I say, "While I truly appreciate you 'wanting me to make some friends', I don't know if you realize it makes your old mom feel a little pathetic at the blatant set ups."
"What's blatant mean?"
"Umm . . ." What does blatant mean? "Blatant is when something's really, really obvious."
"Ah, okay." He nods. "Can we go in now?"
"Sure," I laugh, reaching in the back seat to get the birthday gift.
I'm sure my little confession/plea just went in one ear and out the other.
When I walk across to other side of the car and grab Eden's hand, he tugs on it a little, making me stop short.
"You're not pathetic, Mom. And you're sure not old you're like . . . a cool mom, ya know?"
He doesn't see it coming, before I grab him in a rib breaking hug and almost give myself a freaking hernia from lifting him—and his almost sixty pounds—in the air and twirling him around.
"Mom!" he shouts in panic, struggling to get out of my arms. "Sheesh." He runs his hands through his hair when I set him down. "Just because you're kinda cool—"
"Hey! Kinda!?" I pout in mock offense.
He smiles. "Okay, pretty cool." Then his face goes back to serious. "That doesn't mean you have to go all weird on me."
"I would prefer if you use the phrase 'having a lot of character' in reference to me from now on. Thank you kindly."
He sighs, it's a little dramatic sounding, but the smile on his face is back—so I know he's not that embarrassed by me.
"Okay. Just because I love you and you're cool as far as moms go—doesn't mean you have to get all 'having lots of char-Mom!" He pulls his face away from the abrupt kiss I place on his cheek. "What's with ya, huh?"
"I love you too, kiddo," I beam. "And you're kinda cool, too."
"Well . . ." he waves his hand in front of him. "Of course."
I shake my head. I really have to stop letting him hang out with my brother so much.
As soon as I walk Eden around to the back, I immediately want to turn around and run out to my car.
There are about thirty kids or so running around. The colorful scheme of the balloons from outside are back here as well, only it looks like a circus clown exploded everywhere. It's chaos—somewhat organized chaos, but chaos all the same. I kind of feel like Eden might have been ripped off as far as fifth birthdays go compared to this madness.
All he got was a trip to the zoo with me, my mom, my brother and his then girlfriend.
"Wow this is a lot of stuff."
I look around at the bounce house, the games, the cotton candy machine—that I pray Eden doesn't have too much of because I don't need him running around my house like a possessed animal all night. There's a guy walking a pony back corner I see a very brave adult letting kids splatter paint all over a fake wall and her. There's a barbeque pit going, a slip and slide, and to my left I see behind the screened area of the lanai more kids swimming in the actual pool.
That's also where most of the adults seem to be—supervising the kids.
Crap! I didn't realize all of this was going on and requiring parent participation. That means I might get suckered into staying.
There goes my Saturday to catch up on cleaning and child-free grocery shopping.
I grab Eden's hand again, and pull him along inside. I have to introduce myself to an adult at some point, I guess. I squirm a little, though, pulling at the hem of my shorts.
Plenty of the moms seem to be dressed similar, some even in bathing suits, but for some reason I feel naked.
We stand there a couple of minutes, not sure what to do. Well, I'm not sure what to do—Eden, however, is trying desperately to rip his hands away and go play, but I'm holding on for dear life.
"Hi!" A little voice squeaks out. I whirl around then down at a little boy with the blondest hair and bluest eyes I've ever seen.
"Jazz!" Eden exclaims. "Mom, this is my friend Jazz."
I cock my head to the side a little, squinting my eyes at the familiar face. I can't place it but he looks like someone I might have gone to school with.
"Nice to meet you, ma'am." He sticks his hand out, bowing his head a little like the perfect southern gentleman.
I just wanna gobble him up.
"And nice to meet you, Jazz."
He smiles, showcasing his two front missing teeth, before beckoning to Eden that he has to show him 'the coolest thing ever'.
He looks up at me, as if to see if it's okay and I nod.
"Go ahead, sweetie. Have fun."
He runs off, laughing with his friend.
And then there was one.
I shift from foot to foot a little anxiously, feeling like I used to on the first day of school. I see some familiar faces and offer kind waves and smiles, but I don't see anyone I was particularly close to. No one I have the sudden urge to rush over and catch up on the last nine years or so of our lives.
The faces I see—much like me a minute ago—have little hands attached to them. The ones who don't, their heads and eyes are roaming around to make sure their mini-me's aren't wreaking havoc on anything.
I suppose we have that much to discuss, at least, but my feet refuse to move.
The sound of Eden's laugh has me smiling on my own and looking over to see him and his new friend 'Jazz' talking to a young girl, who's bent down talking to them. When she stands up, unblocking some of Eden's view, he notices me and with a wide smile, he waves me over.
"Mom! Come meet 'Jazz's mom!"
I grin and make my way over to him at the same time the girl they were talking to stands at full height.
I audibly gulp when I see it's not just 'any girl' it's a girl I went to school with. Hung out with. Told almost everything to. A girl that, once upon a time, was my best friend.
"Alice," I whisper, causing her to look up at me wide-eyed and mouth gaping.
"Yeah," Eden beams, "that's her name. How do you now Mrs. Alice, Mom?"
I look down at him as my throat threatens to close up. I can't find the words to tell him this is his aunt.