Stephenie owns all these things.
Thanks to EJSantry and killerlashes for reading/beta-ing.
This is a little side-shot from Pulling Heaven Down, hope you enjoy!
Seeking Heaven Out
"Is this place okay?" he asked as he ran a hand through his sandy brown hair.
I smiled and patted his arm lightly. "It's fine. Trust me. The fanciest place I get to go to is the little pizza place on Cherry. Have you been there?"
"No, is it nice?"
With a laugh, I shook my head. "No, and they have this horrible little faux-mariachi band that serenades the tables while you eat. My daughter loves that, though."
We paused while the waiter took our drink orders, and I took a moment to wipe my sweaty palms on the napkin in my lap.
"How old is your daughter?" Garrett asked, his curious hazel eyes meeting mine.
"She's almost six," I told him, gratefully taking the wine that had been set in front of me.
"So, she's in kindergarten?"
"Yes, she loves everything about it. But mostly the boys," I laughed.
"They're all so cute at that age," he said with a small smile, and I gave him a dubious look. "Don't look at me like that, Bella."
I grinned. "Like what?"
"Like I'm just saying that kids are cute because I like you and want to impress you."
"Oh, so you aren't doing that?"
"No! I have a niece in kindergarten, so I know what little monsters they are, but I do like you." He smiled, and I felt my face heat up. Thankfully, we were in a dimly lit part of the restaurant and my pale skin couldn't give me away.
"Well, that's very good then, isn't it?"
"Only if you think so."
I blushed again and picked up my menu, determined to not get flustered on my first date in…well, in forever.
"Have you been here before? Do you know what's good?"
"Oh, yeah. I bring all my dates here," he muttered to his own menu. I aimed a kick at him under the table.
"Ow!" Garrett half-laughed and glared at me.
"Sorry. My foot slipped. Muscle spasm."
"Well, you accidentally have great aim."
"Thank you," I replied smugly.
"I was kidding, by the way," he said, before reaching across the table and taking my hand. "Little kids aren't always monsters. I hope you don't think I was insulting your daughter." His thumb rubbed over my knuckles and my skin tingled.
"Oh, the jury's still out on my kid. Some days, the things she does remind me that nature makes babies cute so their own parents won't strangle them. I'm just…I'm so nervous about this date already," I admitted, flushing red again, before pulling my hand away. Somewhere, Jacob was laughing. He'd always taken great satisfaction in making me blush.
"Okay. Let's get out of here then." Garrett shrugged easily before he waved the waiter over to pay for our drinks. A few moments later we were back on the streets, and in the balmy air.
I took a deep breath and turned to him. "I'm sorry," I apologized.
"Bella, you have nothing to be sorry about," he said softly. "You want to go for a walk?"
"I'd like that." I nodded and let him lead me down the street. The sidewalks downtown were busy with people milling about, but Garrett seemed to be completely at ease. He walked with a kind of quiet confidence like Edward did, but there was something more to him, something brighter and less brooding. He was less shy than Edward, but not as extroverted as Jacob.
Of course, I'd never met anyone like Jacob.
"Do you like pie?" A loud voice interrupted my studying.
"Excuse me?" I asked, trying not to glare at the good-looking Native kid who'd appeared at my table and torn me from my math homework.
"Pie? I'd really like some, but I wanted to see if you wanted any, too."
"I'm not really interested, but thanks."
He grinned, not put off in the slightest."Oh, but you will be."
I turned to see Garrett looking at me expectantly, and I felt my face flush again.
"I'm sorry; I was lost for a moment. What did you say?"
"I asked what your daughter's name was. I don't think Rose mentioned it to me before she gave me your number."
"Willow. Her name is Willow."
"Is she as pretty as you?" He gave me a self-deprecating grin, and I rolled my eyes.
"Impossible," he murmured as he took a step closer to me and caught a lock of my hair around his finger.
"You're impossible." I shook my head, but smiled. "I thought we were walking…?"
"Walking. You're right. So, where is Willow tonight?"
"She's with my friend Edward and his girlfriend," I explained while we made our way toward the pier.
"Rose's brother-in-law?" he asked, and I nodded.
"Yeah, Edward and I have been friends since high school. His girlfriend, Leah, has a little boy that Willow adores."
"So, she's in good hands tonight?"
"And I can keep you out as late as I want? No Chief Swan ready to haul me off to jail if you miss curfew?"
I laughed and linked my arm through his, feeling a little more relaxed after talking about Willow. It was tough to leave her, even though she was in the best place she could be. I knew she would have fun with Edward and Leah, but I was worried still. I didn't want her to think that just because I was going out that she was less important to me, or that I had forgotten about her dad- especially that.
I never wanted her to feel that way.
"Oh, I wouldn't take it that far," I teased. "Waiting by the door with his service revolver, maybe."
"Phew," he sighed, faking relief, and patted my hand. "No worries, Bella. We'll take it slow."
"I like the sound of that."
"What the slow part?"
"No, the 'taking it' part."
I saw him smile out of the corner of my eye, and felt my heart flutter for the first time in a long time. My eyes closed as we leaned against the railing of the pier and people bustled past us.
"I know this isn't going to be easy for you, Bella," he said after a moment.
"So, Rose has told you my life story, huh?"
"No." Garrett smiled and turned to me. "She didn't really mention anything."
"Oh. Okay," I muttered, and tried to turn away from his gaze.
"But if you want to tell me, I'd be more than happy to listen. As a friend or…as more."
I nodded and leaned forward, resting my head on his shoulder and breathing deeply. He smelled faintly of cologne and laundry detergent, nothing too strong.
Jacob liked to use my shampoo. He always smelled like strawberries.
I sighed against Garrett's shoulder and pulled away, searching his face for some sort of sign telling me that what I was doing was wrong.
God, I didn't want to be wrong.
As much as I loved Jacob, I needed to move on- for Willow's sake. We needed to be able to live our lives as our own, even though it hurt. I knew we would never forget him or leave him behind. Jacob hadn't wanted me to pine forever- had specifically ordered me not to, in fact- and he would always be a part of me, of us. But if I'd learned anything from Edward and Leah, it was to not be afraid to take chances on something new…on someone new.
He moved slowly, seemingly tired of me staring at him, and gently brushed his lips against mine.
"Is that okay?" he asked after he'd pulled away.
"More than okay," I replied.
"I'm going to take you home now."
"That's not okay," I whispered and he laughed.
"Not home with me. Just home. You know, the 'slowly' part?"
"Oh, right. Home it is then." I laughed and hugged him tightly before he took my hand and we started the walk back to his car. Garrett drove me home, just as he said he would, and kissed me softly at my front door. I watched him drive away before getting into my own car and driving across town to pick up my daughter.
Leah answered the door and led me inside to where Willow and Edward were cuddled up on the couch watching Cinderella.
"Aw, this is the best part!" she cried when she saw me, and Edward laughed.
"Yeah, it's the 'happily ever after'!" He grinned while I glared at him.
"True, but it's way past your bedtime, kiddo. Tell Edward and Leah goodbye and thank you."
I watched as she hugged them both, making Leah promise to give Harry a hug and kiss from her, and then I quickly ushered her out before they could ask any questions. Not that I didn't want to share things with them, I just didn't want to do it yet.
"Mommy?" Willow yawned as I helped her slip on her pajamas. "Do you think everyone gets a 'happily every after' like Cinderella did?"
I smiled as I tucked her into bed, thinking that I'd already had my happily ever after with Jacob. I was grateful for the time we got to spend together, and for the love we shared- the daughter we'd created. Part of me thought that maybe that was it for me, but the other part, the part that was a hopeful dreamer like my little girl, wished for more.
"Yeah, baby. I think they do."