90 per cent of the reviews are saying how much everyone loves Cooper. Aaah…I love that.
I don't. Stephenie does.
"Thank you, Alice – I really appreciate this." I had my phone held up by my shoulder as I shook off my white lab coat.
"No problem, we'll see you when you get here."
"Yep, I'll be no longer than an hour."
"Honestly Edward, its fine." I ended the conversation with my older sister and shoved everything into my messenger bag. I was meant to finish work at two, but things got busy and my shift dragged on and on which meant Alice had to pick up Cooper from school because I wouldn't have been there in time. I know that Cooper would prefer to go straight home after a long day learning his times tables and how to spell, but he likes going to his Aunt and Uncles and playing Guitar Hero with his Fantastic Uncle Jasper. I still feel a bit bad though.
Just as I unlocked my car, I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and saw my co-worker, Victoria, running across the lot. "I'm glad I caught you," she started, "are you still down for checking on the horses with me tomorrow?"
Oh, God, how could I forget? "That's fine, Vic. I start at nine-thirty tomorrow, so we could head off at ten-ish?" For the past two months we've been trying to get this mare pregnant, but nothing is working, so we've recently come across a new tactic, which should hopefully work. I love these horses and the stallion is beautiful, but travelling for an hour to get there, with Victoria, is not so pleasant. But I chose this task, so I must live with my consequences.
"Excellent! So what are your plans now? I know a few of us are going for drinks later if you want to join?"
Sniff sniff, what's that I smell? Oh yeah, bullshit.
I would have been asked already if people were going for drinks, and I haven't been, so this is her subtle way to get into my pants.
"Aw I'm sorry, Vic, I'd love too but I have to get home to my son."
No chance in Hell, bitch.
"Oh yeah! Carter, right? How's he doing?"
"Cooper. And he's doing fine, thanks." She could at least get his name right. I mean, it's not difficult. "Talking about Coop, I need to go and save my sister from him. See you tomorrow, Vic."
I got out of there as quickly as possible.
"Coop, Dad's here!"
"Wait! It's my go!" His little voice travelled from the living room where all you could hear were the loud chords of a guitar. Alice rolled her eyes and led me through. Fantastic Uncle Jasper was sitting back on a large chair and Cooper was standing before the TV with a black, plastic guitar hanging on his front and his whole 'bounced' to the rhythm of the music as his left hand controlled the coloured buttons. I didn't recognise the song he was playing.
The calculation totalled on screen once the song was over and Fantastic Uncle Jasper ended up losing by just nine points. "Yus! Ha-ha Uncle Jasper, I won!" Cooper did a victory dance, pointing to my brother-in-law with both hands, shaking his butt and sticking his tongue out.
"I let you win, dude. But you won't be so lucky next time."
"We'll see about that…" Cooper handed back the guitar and leaped over to me. "Hi, Daddy!"
"Heya, bud. How was school?"
"Fine. You know my friend Jamie Pearson?"
Nope. "Er, yeah I think so."
"Well his mom bought him two hamsters on Saturday and I want some so can we have some?"
"What about Gary and Paul the guinea pigs? Hamsters are pretty much the same, only smaller."
"Yeah…but hamsters can run around in a little wheel and Jamie said…Jamie said that he got a ball for them to run in but it's a car, so it looks like their driving a car!" Cooper broke out in a fit of giggles.
"That does sound very funny, but we can't get any hamsters at the moment, okay? Now, say 'thank you' to Auntie Alice and Uncle Jasper; it's time to go home."
"Daddy, what are we having for dinner?"
We had started our ten minute drive home when I was asked this. "I was thinking homemade burgers and fries?"
"Yus! Can we have it at seven o'clock, please?"
"Oooh, that's a bit late, Coop."
"Fine, I'll have mine early and you have yours at seven?"
I'm not stupid; he's up to something, I just couldn't figure out what. "No, we'll just have it together. Why are you so keen to have it at seven?"
"I just want to!" He fussed.
"How about we get your work sheets done and have a bath and hair wash before dinner – then you can still get to bed for eight-thirty. Deal?"
"Okay! What time is it now, Dad?"
I checked the time on the car radio. "It's almost ten minutes to five." I said.
"Great, we still have time!"
I didn't know what he was up, and part of me was scared to find out.
"Daddy, you can't wear that!"
I took a peek at my dark wash jeans and red polo shirt, "what's wrong with my clothes?"
"Okay fine, wear them. But don't blame me if you regret it later." The hell has my son been sniffing? He never acts like this.
"Cooper, what is up with you today?"
"Nothing! I just -," as he spoke, the doorbell rang. Cooper perked up and clapped his hands to his chest. I gave him that 'I-still-know-you're-up-to-something' look and went to answer the door.
I had imagined hundreds of people who could have been standing on my front porch, and knew that whoever it was would have been the reason for Coop's odd behaviour, but I never thought I'd see who I did. Bella looked just as beautiful as she had ten years ago in high school and her outfit made up of black, skinny jeans, a white blouse and a black jacket only made my imagination grow - especially the blouse and its ability to enhance her developed chest. And I thought she looked stunning yesterday straight after teaching my son how to swim! God, I suddenly felt like a very, very lucky man.
But that still didn't help me figure out why she was here.
"Bella...what a…hi?" Well, I sure messed that one up. Try again. "Sorry. May I just say how lovely you look, but…er…can I help you?"
A look of realisation dawned on her face, she closed her eyes and her body slumped as she sighed audibly. "Cooper, uh, invited me 'round for dinner…?"
Excited giggling was heard coming from behind me; Cooper jumped so that he stood to the side of Bella and I. He was showing off all his teeth as he smiled, but I skipped past his happiness and shot straight into asking for an explanation. "Coop?"
On hearing my clearly-not-impressed tone he lost his pleased grin and his bottom lip started to wobble as tears welled in his eyes. Before I had the chance to talk to him, he stomped one foot hard on the ground and ran away up the stairs, sobbing as he did so.
"Edward I'm so sorry - I didn't know that you…didn't know… I think it is best that I leave…"
I didn't know what the best solution would have been. I wasn't against Bella coming over for dinner (I practically crave her attention), and maybe if Coop hadn't kept it a secret from me then we would have had a lovely evening. But her arrival was so sudden, and now my son is a crying mess upstairs.
"You have nothing to be sorry for. In fact, I should be the one apologising. By all means you can stay if you would like to."
Obvious nerves over-took; Bella played with her hair and then rubbed her hands together nervously. "No, I…I should go and you should look after Cooper…and please tell him that I'm sorry." With a small smile and a timid wave, she turned on her feet and walked back to her car. I closed the door with a heavy sigh.
Before heading upstairs I went to the kitchen and brought the nearly-burnt fries out from the oven, setting them on the stove next to the burgers and shoved the bag of frozen peas back into the freezer. Next I had to face my toughest challenge.
Cooper cries like all little kids do, but it's seldom that he cries after something that I do wrong. I hated knowing that it was my reaction which caused him to run and hide under his bed covers. I heard his sniffles and whines and it broke my stinking heart.
Pulling a chair over to his bed, I took a seat and tried to coax him from his hideaway. "C'mon, buddy…there's no need to cry."
"I just…I-I…I just…" He coughed and cried some more. "I just wanted you to be happy…"
Ahh, shit… If I didn't already feel terrible.
"Aw, buddy. I am happy – I'm really happy, in fact. Do you know why?" He shook his head. "Because I have you; you make me so happy, Coop."
"But…but Bella is your friend and…and…and I only wanted you to be happy with your friend."
Bless him – he had done so much to organise this. He'd asked Bella over, clearly told her where we live etc. and had even made sure I made a lovely dinner for the time that she arrived. Hell, he even commented on what I was wearing!
"Yes, I knew her from high school, but we hadn't seen each other in so long that you're more of my friend than she is. I actually want to thank you, Coop – I want to thank you for everything that you did, on your own, to make me feel happy. You are such a kind and warm-hearted little boy and I'm so proud of you. But maybe next time you should tell me when you invite people over, okay?"
I could tell he was about to start another outburst of tears. "Hey, hey, hey…no more crying. C'mon, gimme a hug." I rocked the curled up boy on my lap, humming the song that has always soothed him.
"Mommy's song…" When Tanya was expecting Coop, I often found her hugging her bulging stomach and singing this song, and when she passed away and Coop was a baby I would take over Tanya's role and hush him back to sleep using this song as well. "Can you sing it for me?"
I would have done anything for him at that moment; it was the least I could have done. "…But I feel warmth on my skin…The stars have all aligned…The wind has blown by now I know…That tomorrow will be kinder…Tomorrow will be kinder…"
After vising the horses with Victoria (the trip was fine by the way – she only tried to touch my junk twice; new record!) and because I was kept on longer yesterday, I managed to get away earlier than normal and had a whole hour to spare before collecting Cooper from school. I could do so much in that hour…but there was only one thing I wanted to do.
"Edward! You didn't stay away for long."
"Nope. Is, er…is Bella here today?" What I found quite amusing was that Angela never battered an eye-lid at me through school, but now she's all over me like a fly on a shit. I mean, I know I cut my hair and my skin cleared up, but that's the only thing that has changed.
"Sure she is! I'll just go get her."
I was hanging around the reception desk for approximately five minutes until Bella appeared with Angela. Just like on Sunday she was only wearing track pants and a vest top with flip-flops, but she still looked stunning. Our greetings were awkward, but once we both had a cup of coffee to distract our hands with, things got better.
"Did Cooper settle okay?" Bella had only known him for, what, two days? It really touched me that she felt so affectionate towards him.
"Yeah he was fine – he wanted me to be happy which was why he invited you behind my back…" We both laughed at the rolling of my eyes.
"That is so sweet, Edward. He's a lovely little boy."
"Yeah, he's amazing. But I was thinking last night that I'm sure it would have been a lovely evening had I been told about your invitation and so, um…do you want to…try again?"
A heated blush spread out over her cheeks, Bella took a sip from her coffee and smiled bashfully, "I'd love too…"
"So…this Friday at eight?"
Aw yeah…I've still got it…
I didn't know he ever had it…anyway, see you next week for their proper date!
Cooper's Song: Tomorrow Will Be Kinder by, The Secret Sisters (The Hunger Games soundtrack)