*Picks jaw up off ground* wow…that's all I can say…just thank you for everything. You guys give me butterflies…
I want you to remember that this is a work of FICTION and not everything would be the same in real life – you get me?
I don't. Stephenie does.
Edward came home shortly before one in the morning – thank God – I was going insane with all the thoughts running through my head – 'no I don't – not my real one' TELL ME WHAT THAT MEANS, COOPER! Clearly it means that Edward isn't his dad, but…oh, I'm getting myself worked up. I don't want to interfere with their business, but you can't blame someone for needing an answer to that, can you? I asked Cooper what he meant but he blanked out on me; like he had said too much and the only option was to say nothing at all.
He started crying again and asking for his daddy, but who was he asking for? Edward? Or his biological dad? Cooper has been with Edward all his life, so you would have thought he'd only know the one dad…but maybe he sees his 'real' dad from time to time? He could be like my friend back in school – she had a step-dad as well as a 'real' dad and called one 'Daddy' and the other 'Dad' – but I've heard Cooper refer to Edward as both terms – including foreign ones. So I didn't know what to think, except that Edward had to give me answers.
I switched off the television when he walked through the front door, throwing his suit jacket over the stair banister. I could tell from his heavy sigh that he felt dead on his feet, but I couldn't wait any longer. His head perked up when he noticed my presence. "Oh, hey…um, how was everything?"
"He was great…until bedtime when he got quite upset…"
Edward closed his eyes and rubbed his face with another sigh. "Ah…Bella, I'm so sorry. He's always been looked after by my family if I had to do something, and he hadn't cried for quite a while so I didn't think it would be a problem. I hope it wasn't a hassle for you."
"Um, no – I soothed him down and stayed until he fell asleep, but…" I took a deep breath, "okay, basically, he said something that's really shocked me and…" I didn't know how to complete my sentence – how to ask about his personal life without sounding too nosey.
Worry crossed Edward's face – I love how concerned he is about Cooper, especially after what I heard. "Bella, please, what happened?"
"Right…um…well, we were watching Tarzan and when he went to bed and started crying he said that he is a lot like the character because both won't ever know their parents and that…he doesn't know his real dad…"
Again Edward gripped his hair and stared at the floor with an unreadable expression – his shoulders slumped as if his body couldn't take the weight anymore. Without saying a word, he walked past me and into the living room that I just vacated. I debated what to do for a couple of minutes, but decided on following him and found Edward leaning back on the couch pinching the bridge of his nose and when his eyes opened I saw how glazed over they were.
Oh, my goodness…he's crying…
"I'm so sorry – I didn't mean to make you cry." I've always thought that it's so much harder to watch a guy cry; simply because it's an emotion most try to hide from everyone.
"No, it's – it's not your fault; I haven't heard that in so long, it was quite hard to take." He finds it hard to hear when someone mentions that Cooper isn't biologically his? He loves that boy so much… He slaps the space beside him. "Take a seat, Bella – it's only fair you know the story."
I did, but after his reaction I wasn't too sure. "Please, don't do anything that would upset you."
He smiled faintly, "I know it's been eating away at you and will only proceed to do so. Also, I think you have every right to know the truth."
I silently took the seat and wrung my hands together with nerves – I didn't know what I was about to hear, or if I wanted to anymore.
Staring at the wall in front of him, Edward began to speak…
"When I first started college in Chicago I met Tanya – we were both studying the same course and often found ourselves working together for assignments. I wasn't used to having someone who appreciated my friendship as much as she did and it was a fantastic feeling. For the first term we were inseparable – doing everything together and honestly acting like best friends in high school. She then met Garrett and, yeah, we didn't see each other as often as he had, but we still remained very close and she'd come to me for help more than anyone else…
…One day Tanya came running to my room; crying her eyes out and looking scared witless. She had just found out she was pregnant and wanted my advice in what to do. I feel sick thinking it now, but at the time I told her that if having an abortion would be the best option, then she should go along with it. But her thoughts on abortions had always stayed the same – she couldn't have gone through with it."
I loved how Edward smiled and how his eyes sparkled as he spoke. But it scared me, what he said – if Tanya had gone through with the abortion nobody would have known this fantastic little boy, and Edward and I may not have met again. His smile dropped when he spoke again.
"Unfortunately Tanya had never been the healthiest of people – she was born with a very weak heart; anything that made her heart beat too quickly could be fatal. Of course that raised concern when it came to the labour process. All the doctors and myself suggested she should have a C-Section but, and I still don't know why, Tanya was completely against that and, of course, nobody could force her to have surgery…
…Garrett (Cooper's biological father) had scarpered the second he found out about a possible child – not that I mind that at all, but I hate him for abandoning us for being 'too scared and young'. Anyway Tanya must have been getting cautious, because as she drew closer to her due date, she made me promise, with everything that I am, that I would look after Cooper if she couldn't be there to do it."
In that moment, I had never felt more adoration for anyone. He was twenty-one years old with everything laid out in front of him, yet he promised his friend that he would look after their child if they couldn't. Simply thinking about everything he has done for Cooper when he didn't have to made tears spring up again.
"My name is on his birth certificate. As we all thought, her heart couldn't deal with the stress and seconds after Cooper was born, she…um…" I saw it was hard on him to admit the obvious, but he carried on talking. "She…yeah, you understand. She told me a couple days before that she wanted my name as his father – 'you'd be adopting him anyway,' had been her words, 'I want it to read Cooper Michael Cullen and you have to promise me that you'll treat him as your own.'"
Wiping my tears, I grab Edward's hand in comfort and he covers mine. "That is, quite simply, the sweetest/strongest thing I have ever heard. Do you realise how amazing you are, Edward?"
He laughed through his nose and shrugged, "I would have looked after him anyway."
"But it's because you did that makes you so wonderful."
It was now nearing two in the morning, but I couldn't leave no matter what the time was.
As we sat in silence, getting our heads around the tale, a daunting thought popped up.
"Edward, are you ever scared that Garrett would change his mind and fight for Cooper?"
His whole body tensed. "I often have nightmares about that. I don't know how I could cope."
I did as Bella told me and woke Coop up when headed up to bed, but he was in such a deep sleep that he barely came around. Seeing him sleeping peacefully, his little cheeks flushed and arms wrapped tight around his toy bear made my heart do funny flips – he is fine, safe and in my care. Yes, it worries me every day that Garrett would change his mind, but, seriously, who's best for him to live with? Someone who knows nothing about him, or someone who has been there every single day of his life? Exactly – I need to get my worries under control.
After a night of tears, he's usually bright and cheerful the next morning, but this time it was different. Cooper wasn't running about with Flash, or making up jokes that didn't have a punch line yet he found them hilarious. He was found in his room when I went upstairs, sitting at his desk with a notepad and pen in hand.
"Hey, Coop, can I have a word with you?"
He cut off my question and began his own conversation. "I've been doing some research…" He tapped the tip of his pen against his lips.
"Okay, but this is quiet important -."
"—According to the internet, a parent spends approximately fourteen-thousand dollars on one child in one year. So that means that you have spent approximately nighty-eight-thousand since I was born."
Yep, and my bank balance has noticed it.
"That's really interesting, Coop, but we must talk about -."
Again, he cut me off and paid no notice. "—Did you know that with that money you could have bought four-thousand-nine-hundred guinea pigs or Leopard geckos; two-thousand-four-hundred-and-fifty Red Eyed Tree Frogs or four-hundred-and-ninety Golden Retriever puppies."
"Wow, that is an awful lot. But, why are you telling me this?"
Cooper spun his wheely chair around. He nibbled on his lip and wouldn't look at me – I instantly knew something was wrong. "That's a lot of money and so you shouldn't have any more spiderlings." His voice was barely audible.
"Spiderlings? Coop, we don't even have a spider…"
"Spiderlings are baby spiders and you shouldn't have any more babies."
Where the hell is this coming from?
I pulled him onto my lap and brushed his hair off his forehead. "Cooper, why is this upsetting you?"
His eyes glazed over and tears dropped onto his cheeks. "'Cause you won't be my Daddy anymore…"
I could have easily cried, but I knew it would have made him worse. "I will always be your daddy, Bud – it doesn't matter if I have one child or four."
"But…but…" He was now coughing and chocking on his sobs, "You'd be the daddy, they'd be the baby and they'd have a mommy and…and a…and a daddy and I'd….I'd just be Cooper."
I hugged him tighter to my chest, kissing the side of his head. "You know I love you, right?" He only nodded. "Then it doesn't matter if your insides don't match my insides – you will always be my son. In Tarzan he lives with monkeys, right?"
"Gorillas, okay. But his mom is still his mom, yeah? It doesn't matter that she's a monkey and he's human – she raised him and loves him and she's his mom. I raised you – and changed your stinky diapers-," He squirmed and smiled at my tickling, "I love you and you are my little boy and always will be whether I have more spiderlings or not."
I tickled him again, "and you love me too, right?"
"Yes. 'Cause we do fun things together, like playing with the animals and have Lazy Saturdays."
Cooper slipped off my lap and went to grab his jacket.
"Can we go buy a Leopard gecko friend for Georgia now? Or, no! A Python! Oh! And a friend for Flash!"
The fun and animals never ends for Cooper ;)
Want to see a picture of Cooper? Well head on over to my new Facebook group (RosieRathbone FanFiction) and check out the sneaky peeks and pictures!