Disclaimer: Does it really need to be said… huff… fine, I don't own this nor do I make any money.
"He might get to go home today," Bella murmurs, brushing some of Mantle's hair out of his eyes as he continues to sleep on, peacefully.
"That's good," I say softly. Bella nods and grins tightly, trying to mask her emotions, but I'm not ignorant to her pain and I don't plan to be. The past week, I have pulled more strings than I ever have, and called in every favor I could think of with my connections throughout the city. Phil was safely locked down in solitary in the infirmary. He was beaten after word had gotten out in county of his alleged crimes against a child. I grab her hand and squeeze it. I'm a little surprised when she stands and wraps her arms around me.
"I talked to Reggie today, and he likes his foster parents. Thank you for whatever you did to keep him in the same school," Bella says, and her gratitude is written across her face. I nod somberly, bristling with slow burning anger every time she reminds me of just how unfamiliar she is to someone fighting for her, caring for her. "We get to spend tomorrow afternoon with him, Saturday's, I've been granted permission."
"Have you called your father?" I ask. I have spent a little time everyday trying to give her the push she needs. "He needs to hear it from you, before, in case things become public. I'm doing my best to keep this out of the press, but you're dating me officially and publicly. We've been in the tabloids and Phil was announced weeks ago as the new short-stop for the Mariners."
She sighs loudly, "I know you're trying, and I didn't ask you to do that, but what am I supposed to do? Should I call him up and say 'Hello, Dad, I know you haven't heard from me in years, but congratulations, you're a Grandpa?" she scuffs, sarcastically.
I roll my eyes, knowing she isn't meaning to be rude, that it's the stress of everything overwhelming her. "Then let law and a counselor tell him. I'm just saying maybe it would be best to let someone with the proper training handle this," I reason and she nods. Her forehead relaxes and her frown lightens. I wrap my arms around her, letting my suggestion settle.
"That's probably best," she whispers, "I want to see him, I do, but I'm terrified," she admits, into my shoulder.
"We'll make sure the police know, you can see each other when you're both ready," I assure her, and we break apart when Mantle's doctor walks into the room.
"Dr. Hoffman," Bella greets as the doctor glances at Mantle's charts and vitals, before listening to his lungs.
"You sound much better, Bud." He grins and ruffles Mantle's hair, who's grinning proudly, before turning to Bella. "I'll begin his discharge papers and instructions, you'll be able to leave by three, after his next course of treatments," he says. "I'll want to see you guys, Tuesday, for a check-up," he instructs, noting something on his iPad.
"We'll be there," Bella promises, as he heads for the door. Finally, after a week of half worried smiles, she grins wholeheartedly as she picks up a fussing Nolan from his pack-n-play.
"Do you want me to come pick you guys up?" I offer, already reworking my schedule in my head.
She shakes her head negatively, "No, isn't that when you have that big meeting you've been working on for the past few weeks?"
"It is," I confirm and she gives me a beautiful smile.
"No, don't miss it," she says, "Alice and I can handle this." She pauses, like she wants to ask something, she shakes her head, bites her lip, and then speaks cautiously. "Do you want to come over tonight?" she asks softly. The invitation is a big one, she's letting me in.
I smile at her. "I wouldn't miss it for the world, take out?" I ask.
"No, I'll cook," she laughs and leans over and kisses me softly. "Chicken fettuccine casserole," she states.
"Sounds delicious," I say, and I mean it. "I better go," I say.
"Ooh man," Mantle whines, "you just got here Ward," he states, taking a bite out of one of the donuts I had smuggled in for him.
"And I'll see you tonight," I promise, and he grins in return.
"Have a good day," she blesses, walking me to Mantle's door.
"You're late, Mr. Cullen," Sam says as I slip into the Suburban. "I just informed both your assistant and brother that you're on your way."
I nod briskly, pulling out my phone, and shooting off a quick e-mail to my housekeeper, informing her that Isabella would be home tonight and to make sure that her house was welcoming and refrigerator was cleaned out and restocked.
"Sam, did you deliver my offer to Renee Brown?" I request, looking up from the paperwork I was finishing organizing in my briefcase.
"Yesterday evening, she was alone as requested," he states, turning onto the freeway. "You should expect a call sometime today."
"Very good." I smile grimly. "The sooner this is handled, the better."
"Indeed, sir," he nods. "Have a good day, Mr. Cullen," he says as he pulls to a stop in front of Cullen, Inc.
I walk in and make my way towards my office.
"Edward, you're late," Emmett chides, and I snort at his admonishment. This coming from the man that is late more than on-time to anything. "That makes twice in one week and over two hours today," he states, raising a curious eyebrow.
"And yet, every single one of my projects have been on-time if not ahead of schedule," I state, taking a seat in my chair and starting up my computer. "What do you need Emmett?" I finally ask, when I notice he hasn't taken leave of my office.
"I need a copy of your files, from the Davenport meeting," he states, sipping his coffee. "Also, a word of warning, Dad stopped by to talk to you. He actually waited forty-five minutes." He smirks. "You might want to give our ol' man a call."
"I'll pencil that in and send Timothy down with paperwork in an hour," I say, scratching that on a sticky note and placing it on my computer screen. "Three o'clock Emmett, and for heaven sake, put a proper suit on," I say, dismissing him.
I work throughout the morning and lunch, catching up and getting ahead, so I can leave as soon as the Volturi meeting is over.
At one my personal line rings, "Mr. Cullen speaking," I bark into the phone.
And I hear someone take a collecting breath. "This is Renee Brown, Isabella Swan's mother," the woman identifies herself calmly, detachedly. I stand and close my office door, along with the blinds, so it's clear to everyone on the floor that I don't want to be disturbed. "I know by now you've been made aware of your son's current situation," I say coldly, knowing she had been informed four days before. "And yet you still haven't made a decision?" I taunt, pulling out the file of everything Sam and his team had dug up on Isabella's mother.
"It's not an easy decision to make, Mr. Cullen." She bluffs, I know why she's called, she wants more than I'm offering, greedy bitch.
"Now, now, Mrs. Brown," I tut into the phone. "You don't want to play games with me." I breath coldly into the phone. "Now, the investigation is just beginning, it won't be long before charges start piling up at your feet," I state, calmly.
"This is blackmail," she shrieks, and something slams down in the background.
"No," I deny, "think about all the wrongs you have committed," I say nonchalantly. "With the lawyer team I'm offering to fund, I'm sure you can walk away without even a black stain on your name. I just want you to do the right thing. Let Reggie, be with his mother."
"And I'm just supposed to let that little harlot raise my baby boy?" She scoffs, and I snarl.
I force myself to tamper my temper down, and I frown. "You've done it once before," I state. "Or, I can pull my promise of helping you and watch the pretty little life you have with your doctor crumble and burn at your feet. Does the good doctor even know of your other children?" I question, triumphantly.
She sputters, spewing a long line of vile words, and hangs up with a sharp slam, and a "fuck," before the call ended, displays across my cell.
'We're home!' and I smile as I see picture of Mantle and her in her kitchen, Bella texts as I take a chair in the meeting hall and it's followed by another as the room quickly fills up with chatter around me. 'Good luck! Xoxo,' I'm not surprised she remembered my meeting.
'Thanks, see you in a bit.' I text back, underneath the table, unprofessionally. It sends a jolt of happiness and eagerness to get this meeting over with.
I zone in and out. I feel like slapping Emmett as he stumbles over the presentation I had carefully crafted for him. Aro chuckles and says his company will take our offer into consideration. I remain in the conference room as everyone filters out.
"My offer still stands," Aro says in parting. "We'd love to have you." He smiles and shakes my hand tightly.
I nod and smirk, straightening my shoulders. "I'm still considering," I state coolly, Carlisle and Emmett are watching us with calculating eyes.
"You should let me take you to dinner and discuss my offer, more thoroughly," he offers.
I shake my head, I already had plans. "Not tonight," I decline, with a soft frown. "I can pencil in a brunch tomorrow, will you still be in town?" I inquire, making it seem like I want to speak with him.
"Until Monday," he chuckles, as if in good fortune, "ten o'clock at the little cafe down the street from my hotel? I've wanted to try it since spotting it yesterday, I'll have my assistant e-mail you the details," he states and I nod in agreement.
"See you then," I say, once again shaking his hand, and departing from the conference room. I retreat back into my office to finish up the last bit of paperwork that takes about twenty minutes and I text Sam, letting him know I'm on my way down.
"Are you heading out, early?" Timothy squeaks, standing from his desk outside of my office in surprise.
"I am, and call it an early night yourself, Tim," I offer. "Get a jump on those weekend plans." He stares at me dumbfounded for a moment, before nodding slowly.
"Yes, boss," he laughs shakily. It occurs to me that we had ever left on a Friday night before ten pm in the past year and half he's work for me. "Have a good weekend," he calls after me, happily.
I slip into the Suburban with a sigh, and I close my eyes and let my head lull against the headrest. It only takes about ten minutes before Sam pulls up to the Mason Estate. I quickly move through the house as I turn to go up to my room, Carla comes bounding out of the seating room. "Mr. Edward," she calls softly, stopping me from continuing up the stairs.
"What is it? I thought I gave you the evening off." It comes out a little harsher than I intended, but I was in a hurry to get down to Isabella's.
"Your family, Mr. Edward, they're here," she says in a rush and I can tell she's completely flustered. "I couldn't just leave them alone and they wouldn't leave, I told them you had other arrangements for the night, but their insisting they speak with you."
I sigh guttedly, "five minutes, I'll be down in five." I clip, and move up to my room and change and down a double scotch before making my way down to the sitting room. I pull the double doors open and everyone stops talking and stares.
Carlisle straightens himself up, and my mother frowns, Jasper shrugs, and Emmett mouths, "pissed," and his wife just smiles smugly in my direction.
"Edward Anthony Cullen," I cringe suddenly feeling seven-years-old again. "You have blown off every single phone call your mother and I have tried to make this week," he states, coldly, disapproval written across his face. "We don't know what has gotten into you, young man," he starts, "getting arrested. Do you know how much trouble your mother and I have gone through to keep that scandal out of the presses hands. Not to mention a very large donation, of your money, thrown at the children's hospital," he scolds. "Late to work, absent minded, short-tempered...if this is about that girl your seeing..."
"Enough," I bark, surprising everyone at the coldness in my tone.
"Edward, don't speak to your father," Esme starts to say and I growl cutting her off.
"I am thirty-five years old," I declare to the now quiet room. "I can speak to my father any way I please," I say firmly. "I didn't ask you to keep that 'scandal' out of the paper. I don't care if the world finds out that I beat that fucking child-molester to a bloody pulp," I state in a quiet rage. "It's my money, my very hard earned money, I can do what I like with it as I please, and if that involves fitting the bill and giving every cent to a child I care a lot about, then so be it," I carry on as no one makes a sound to stop me. "Yes I've been late to work, but right now Isabella and I are going through a difficult and private matter." I end my rant by pouring myself another scotch.
"I don't think Isabella is the sort of girl you should be so invested in," Carlisle sniffs. "She's very young, troubled, and has children of her own." I stiffen, because I know that my father had hired his own private investigator to look into her.
Rosalie butts in before I can say anything. "We're just very worried about you Edward, you have a heart of gold and Esme, Carlisle, and Emmett well they're just concerned that she's using you."
I grit my teeth and force myself to breath. "She isn't." It comes out hot and angry and my pulse quickens.
"I told them they're all wrong about Bella," Jasper defends her, before he goes back to staring out the window. I can tell by his posture he's uncomfortable even being dragged into this mess.
"Jasper's right, she isn't tricking me, nor is she pulling the wool over my eyes," I reason. "I've been the one to pursue the relationship, she's never lead me astray. I will admit that when we started, I didn't know she was a mother and she didn't tell me, not until our relationship started to get serious," I inform them. "She's protective, and she's a good mother, regardless of her age."
"Edward," Carlisle starts and I shake my head.
"No, I love her," I declare, boldly. "I knew that months ago, even knowing that she's troubled." I take a deep breath and collect myself. "I did what you asked, I found a life and, honestly, do what you will, make your threats and stipulations, but I won't be acknowledging them." Carlisle appears to look as if I had slapped him, I finally let his power cards fall. "Mum never tricked you, never used you," I state, leveling my father with a steady gaze, we both knew what I was alluding too.
My mother rushes forward and wraps her arms around me tightly. "Things are going to become very public at some point," I state to the room breaking out of her hug. "Isabella, she's good, she didn't ask for any of the things that have happened to her, but she made the most of a horrible situation. It's not my place to discuss those things. But she is a mother to three lucky boys, Reggie is her half-brother, who you all saw at the Barbeque a week back, but she's raising him as her son. She has two other little boys, Mantle and Nolan. I expect every single one of you to get over your judgments and support us." It get nods of agreement from Jasper, Emmett, and my mother, it's only Rosalie and Carlisle that remain suspicious. "Now, if you don't mind, I have places I need to be," I say, nodding towards the door.
"Sorry about that man," Jasper says, giving my shoulder a tight squeeze and leaves. "Rosalie's just spinning them all up." I nod grimly. "Call me." I nod again and he leaves, following Emmett and Rosalie out.
"I'm sorry we ambushed you like this baby boy," my mother says softly, giving me another sweet hug and I return it.
"Edward," Dad says. "I'll want more answers, later."
I stare blankly at him, unsure if he'll get the answers he'll want.
The minutes tick by after the time Edward told me to expect him, and Angela had left to go out with Ben for the evening.
"Mom, where's Reg?" Mantle asks as I place him into his table chair, causing my heart to pang.
"He's staying somewhere else for a few days," I say simply, not knowing exactly how to explain the situation to Mantle. "He'll be home soon," I promise as I place Nolan in his highchair at the table.
"Where's Ward?" He goes on to question, he had kept one eye on the widow the entire afternoon that we've been home, looking for his brother and new friend.
"He'll be here," I say, a little unsurely, being he was already a half hour late.
"Is he going to eat with us lots?" Mantle probes, reaching for his milk.
"Maybe, would that be all right?" I ask, as I twist the lid on Nolan's sippy cup and place it on his tray.
He laughs. "I like Ward, he's nice," he mutters around his dinosaur cup rim, giving Edward his seal of approval, and I go about cutting up Mantle's bites and blending Nolan's casserole so he can eat it. I jump as someone knocks on the door.
Mantle's up and out of his chair and opening the front door. "Yous here," he cries, and pulls the older man into the house with a loud laugh. "Come on, Mom's made your plate." He tugs, pulling him towards the table.
"Hello," I breathe, lifting Mantle away from him and placing him back into his chair.
He chuckles. "Hello, smells good," he states, sniffing the air. "Does it matter where I sit?" He asks politely.
I shrug. "No, pick a spot," I laugh and as he picks and quickly sits down. I promptly dish out our portions of Chicken Fettuccine Casserole, garlic bread, and peas.
We eat slowly, matching the boys. "How was your day?" I ask, after Mantle finally takes a breath and digs into his food again.
"It was good, I think the Volturi meeting couldn't of gone any better, well besides Emmett's fumbling through two paragraphs," I chuckle.
A timer dings, and I check my phone to make sure the ringer is turned on loud. "Reggie should call soon," I explain. Edward nods in understanding.
"I'm working on it, trying to get him home as soon as I can make it happen," he says, giving my hand a squeeze. I nod, appreciatively, because I know without him, everything could take months instead of the fast pace he seems to be making things go.
I clean up Mantle and Nolan and place them in the living room with their toys and a movie. Edward helps me clear off the table and clean up. It's mildly amusing, because I know he probably hasn't done it since he was a child.
My phone rings. "Hello super-star," I say.
"Mom," Reggie says, "I miss you."
"I miss you too, bud, but I'll see you tomorrow," I state. My heart is heavy and at the bottom of my stomach as I listen to him jabber on about his day, his friends, and his foster family.
"I've got to go, Mom," he whispers, sadly, when our fifteen minutes are up.
"Love you, Reggie," I say. "Sleep well and I'll see you after lunch tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay, love you, Mom," he says, before ending the call.
"Are you all right?" Edward questions, after coming in from the living room and wrapping his arms around me.
I nod, sniffling. "It hurts," I admit.
He kisses the side of my head and hugs me a little closer. "Come on, let's go play with the boys," I say, as we step back into the living room.
I relax a little, forgetting all the troubles for a little bit, believing in Edward as he keeps telling me everything is going to be all right. Edward sits on the opposite side of the living room, our feet connecting, and we gently help Nolan toddle back and forth on his feet between us, as Mantle does his nightly medications as he watches Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
It's a simple quiet night. Edward doesn't balk at the domesticity of it all, bathing, teeth brushing battles, pajama struggles. Finally after what seems like forever, I have both boys tucked in for the night.
"I'd ask you to stay, but I don't think the boys are ready for that," I whisper against his lips, as I straddle his lap.
"They're not, so I'll go before morning," He promises, understanding in his eyes as he winds one hand around the nape of my neck and pulls me in for a long kiss. For a long time we're like teenagers, necking on the sofa, until Angela stumbles in around midnight, giggling quietly to herself.
"Oh..." she laughs as she catches us making out, with my shirt on the floor, and blushes. "I'll just go to my room," she declares, and flees towards her bedroom.
I pull on my shirt as Edward chuckles. "I better go," he states against my neck.
"I know," I say, walking him to the door. I'm debating asking him to join us tomorrow, and decide what the hell. "Do you want to go to the aquarium tomorrow afternoon?" It's the first time I've ever suggested a date.
"Sure, yeah, I've never been there," he agrees, and we separate. I watch him walk back up to his Estate, before closing the door and heading to bed.
Pre-Reader - TeamAllTwilight
Thanks Beta - teamedwardforever1998
Realistically 54% of rape victims never speak up and 97% of rapist will never spend a day in jail. This isn't an easy topic to approach but I'm writing this from my realistic point of view but no Phil won't be getting away with anything.
Now go on go REVIEW!