Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, but I own the rest.

AN: Thank you for your patience. You know my song and dance... life, bullshit, lazy, blah blah blah. I love you guys, and appreciate your kind reviews, and for you reading this mess.

Also, thank you so very much to anyone that voted for Hockeyfucker on the TLS poll this week. I was so very honored to be nom'd. You guys are my favorite.

xo


The whole morning had been awkward with my mother. After sleeping on it, I felt horrible for going off on her. I wanted to leave things between us in a good place, but there'd been so many years keeping silent and I just couldn't do it anymore.

"Here he comes, sweetheart."

I looked up and watched as Edward jogged across the street toward us. He'd dropped us off in front of the restaurant while he found a spot to park. Because he was a gentleman, and perfect.

"God damn…" I murmured.

There was no getting used to the looks of him. Everything about him was just insane. From head to toe, he was a work of art.

"He's really something special, isn't he?" my mother asked.

"You have no idea, Mom."

I still couldn't take my eyes off him, and as he got closer, the smile he gave me made me tingle all over the place.

"There's my girl." He slowed to a quick stroll once he caught up to us and stopped in front of me, kissing the end of my nose.

I heard my mother sniffle from next to us, and gave her a disgruntled look. Edward grabbed my hand, and gave it a squeeze.

"You ladies ready for the best pancakes in town?"

"I'm starving," I grumbled.

"You're always starving."

I huffed, but he was right. I liked food—sue me.

The hostess seated us near the window in the back and handed us the slick menu before disappearing to gather our drinks.

"This is so nice of you, Edward. Especially after what went on last night. I'm sorry you had to see that."

I glared at her. If she even tried to make me look bad in front of him, I was going to shank her with my fork.

"Mom, it's over. I said I was sorry, and we'll talk after Edward goes to train. I don't want to do this stupid family drama shit in front of him again. Please. Drop it."

She sighed and set the menu to her left. She was about to say something when the waitress returned with our coffee. We sat quietly as she placed the mugs in front of us and poured the coffee, but once she was gone, my mom went for it.

"Edward, I think I should explain. I'm not sure what Bella has told you about our family, and I don't want to share anything she doesn't feel is necessary, but I want you to know that I love my daughter."

She looked up at me, her eyes brimming with tears. "I've made mistakes. Tons of them." She took a deep breath and looked over at Edward. "Did she tell you I was only sixteen when she was born?"

I stiffened. Here it was. She was going to empty the closet and undress our deep, ugly family secrets in the middle of a charming coffee shop. I wanted to disappear.

I didn't have anything to hide, per se, but we hadn't been together long enough to share it all. I only had the doggy bag version of his family, and I'd given him little more than scraps. We had time, though, to get to know each other and share things. In time. I was scared shitless that he was going to run.

"No," he answered. His voice was soft, and when I felt his hand on my knee, I knew he could read my mind.

"I met her father at a party my sophomore year of high school. It was summer and we snuck out of the house. We were supposed to be staying at my friend Tina's house, at least, that's what we told our parents. Instead, we hitched a ride to First Beach, and there he was."

"Mom," I begged. "He doesn't give a shit. Please stop. Please."

She reached over and covered my hand with hers. "I'm not trying to embarrass you, Bella. I want him to understand that I am trying here. I can see the two of you growing close, and I want to be a part of that. I want to be a grandmother to your children someday, and as polite as Edward is, I can see in his eyes that he doesn't trust me. He's protective of you, and it makes me very happy to see that. I want to make amends, Bella."

Edward cleared his throat and looked out the window, uncomfortable and nervous. I don't know how my mom sensed it, but I was glad she did.

"Bella's told me enough, Mrs. Dwyer. There's also the things she doesn't tell me, but I know she's been hurt. She's mine now. You may think we're being impulsive and working off hormones and feelings, but that's not the way it is. In fact, I waited a long time for her. I feel like we've known each other for years. I've never felt this close to someone, and I might not know everything she went through as a kid, but I will. She'll tell me, if she wants to and when she's ready. I'm not concerned about your mistakes for your benefit, only Bella's because it's ultimately her that was hurt. She's still hurting. She still feels like any minute, the entire world is going to pull the carpet out from under her. It's for me to make sure she understands that I'm not going anywhere. This is the beginning for us. It's all a clean slate, and we have an entire future to build. So, you don't owe me any explanations, Mrs. Dwyer. The one you owe is your daughter, and you owe her apologies that I am sure will not come close to making up for the fact that she grew up feeling unloved."

My mother gasped.

I wasn't breathing.

Edward was seething.

I'd seen his wrath once and damn was that a good day, but now, seeing it steered toward my mother, and for my benefit. My mind couldn't even wrap around how much I loved him.

"Edward," I said softly. I put my hand over his forearm and willed him to look at me.

God, he was furious.

"She was not unloved. I love my daughter, Edward."

"Then you need to show it, not say it. She deserves better, Mrs. Dwyer, and I intend on showing her every day how much I love her."

My mother chuckled and shook her head as she stirred her coffee. "For how long, though. From what I've read about you, Mr. Hockey star, you're quite the ladies' man. What happens when you're through with my daughter?"

"Not gonna happen," he growled. "That was the past, and while I'm not proud of it, I was young. You show me an eighteen year old boy that passes up willing women, and I'll walk away right now. I won't hurt Bella. Ever. I love her, and it's not lust, and it's not a passing thing. I think I fell in love with her the first day I saw her. If you would pay attention to her, really look at her, you'd see that there aren't many women that come close to how beautiful she is. That alone is not enough, though. It's her spirit. I've never met anyone like her, and every day, something else snares me. She's silly, she's kind, she's adventurous, and she's generous. It's her, inside and out. I think it's telling that you don't see what I see."

"I do!" she cried. "You don't think I see it? She's always been a beautiful girl, but shy, and awkward. It held her back, and I tried to bring her out of her shell. She was always so angry…"

She sighed, obviously realizing where her own thoughts were taking her. "I never meant for things to turn out this way. I was a kid and stupid. I was lonely and I didn't know what to do. Her father was an alcoholic and I couldn't very well send her to live with him while I got myself together. I had no one, so I had to rely on men. I'm not proud of it, in fact, it makes me feel sick all the time. All those men, all the times I made the same mistake. I was gullible for a long time, and then one day, I figured it out. I wasn't going to fall in love anymore. The only thing was, I couldn't be alone. I just can't. It terrifies me even thinking about it. Bella's the opposite. She's always been more comfortable alone, so seeing you, seeing the two of you together, I see it all. She's going to be fine, and more than that, she's going to have everything I ever wanted for her. I only hope I can be a part of your family, Edward."

He sighed and grabbed my hand, squeezing gently. "Look, I don't want to be a dick, but I feel very protective of her. I love her, and I won't let anyone hurt her. I only want her to be happy, and she was afraid of you visiting. Do you understand how that made me feel? No one should worry about their mother the way she worries about you."

My mom brushed a tear away from her cheek. "I know. I want to make amends. I don't want her to feel that way."

I cleared my throat. "Would the two of you mind if I speak? I mean, this whole convo going back and forth like I'm not here is sort of pissing me off. Both of you are being giant assholes, and I have something to say."

Edward's back stiffened and my mother looked down, ashamed.

"I'm a big girl. I have taken care of myself for a long time, Mom. I get it-you have issues, you've had it rough, and for the most part, I understand, but I just can't deal with it anymore. I love Edward." I turned to him, grabbing his face with my hands, and looking into his eyes. "I love you. I know you love me, and I'm totally so turned on right now that you are so fierce about sticking up for me, but stop. You don't have to."

He smiled, but it was a sad smile. "You were going to walk out on me because you thought I was going to leave you, Bella. I won't deal with that. I won't let you leave."

I smiled, leaned forward and pressed my lips against his. "Good. I won't let you let me, or whatever. You're stuck with me. For good."

My mom cleared her throat and I just wanted her to disappear. I was good. I was ready to move on. While I wouldn't forget how she'd treated me, I would let it go. I just wanted a healthy, normal start with Edward. I wanted fun and silly and sexy and love. He was all of that, all plastered on the hottest man I'd ever seen in my life. He was so crazy if he thought I was letting that go.

Psh, as if I was that stupid.

"Well, this breakfast didn't go the way I thought it would," my mother complained. "I feel like I"m going in circles with you, Bella. I just want to talk with you and work on making things better."

Edward's green eyes blazed, and I could tell he was just as sick of her as I was. What could I do? I'd warned him about her crazy, and he hadn't listened.

"Why don't you two spend the day together and work things out. I want her to be happy, Renee. That's all."

My mom chuckled. "You've made that quite clear."

xxxx

I spent the rest of the day with my mom, and we ended up talking through a lot of things. I was still angry, and I knew that was my issue. My brain was full of garbage, though, and she'd tossed most of the crap in there, so she just had to deal. She was a little upset that I was leaving to spend time in Chicago with Edward and his family, but that was just too bad. I'd already made plans, and she had never thought twice about pushing me aside to do what she wanted to do.

It felt good telling her that I was moving on. I'd made a place for myself in Washington, and for the first time ever, I was truly home. Even if I hadn't met Edward, I had Rose and Em, my job, my place. I was good where I was. There was a lot about myself I still needed to learn, but she stifled me. Being with my mom was toxic, even when she was trying to be nice, there was an undercurrent of bullshit. I could smell it. It was too familiar.

I did agree to stay in the apartment with her until we left for Chicago. It was a hard decision, but who knew when I'd see her again, so I agreed.

Edward was not happy, but I was pretty sure it was his penis being pissy. We were just getting good at the sex thing, and my mother walked into our lives like a giant gorilla cockblocker from hell.

"I really want her to go home," he complained, leaning against my doorway pouting.

"Two more days and we're on the road anyway, and then we come home and we'll be together every single day. You'll be sick of me."

He reached over and grabbed a piece of my hair, winding it around his finger. "Impossible. I can't get enough of you."

I giggled. He made me. It was stupid.

"You keep talking to me like that, and I might just take my clothes off and let you take advantage of me."

"You're a little tease, you know that? My balls are aching, and you know it."

I looked down at his crotch, and giggled again. "I'm sorry."

"No, you're not. You're staying with me the night before we leave. Your mom can kiss my ass."

I pushed myself against him, wrapping my arms around his waist. "I love you, you big, adorable man. I love you."

He pushed off the door jamb and wrapped his arms around me. "You have me so twisted up, little girl. You have no idea."

"Two days," I sighed.

"Yeah, the longest two days of my life."