Hello my friends... yep - new story. Housekeeping items - I own nothing. Ms Meyer owns it all. Updates twice a week - one mid-week , one on the weekend. Preread by Liz and the lovely Ladyeire. My always-beta is Midnight Cougar. Always. No huge angst or drama. Rated M for the usual. I hope you join me on this next little journey.


I shut the car off and took in a deep breath. Turning, I smiled back at Jake. "Ready, kiddo?"

"Yeah, Mom, let's go!"

I nodded and got out of the car, Jake following. Reaching into the trunk, I slung the heavy bag on my shoulder, its weight almost knocking me over. Seriously, how did they expect him to skate wearing all this stuff? I'd be surprised if he could even stand. Jake reached past me and grabbed his skates; his excitement evident.

I had to smile at his enthusiasm. I hadn't seen him this buoyant since before William walked out on us. Apparently, when he said he wanted a divorce from me, what he meant was he wanted a divorce from us. William hadn't seen his son since that day. The phone calls now were sporadic at best and so filled with broken promises that both Jake and I were relieved they had basically stopped.

I trailed behind Jake who seemed to know where he was going and walked into the arena. Nervously, I looked around. Aside from sitting in the stands, I had never been part of this world. It was a father and son thing, I had been informed. William took him to practices and all the team stuff. I was expected to show up and cheer occasionally, bake vast amounts of cookies for the bake sales, and kiss and bandage any small scuffs that occurred. William was always very firm about that, as it was simply how it was done. He was all about doing things the way they should be done, but now it was just me.

After we had moved into the townhouse, Jake missed the driveway and hockey net he had outside, and as soon as he had heard about the local league, he begged me to join up again. I simply didn't have it in me to say no, so now I stood unsure where to go or what to do next. Thankfully, I spotted a registration table and awkwardly made my way toward it, trying to juggle the heavy bag, keep my eyes on Jake and not run into any of the many other boys running around. I had almost made it when I felt the small but fast moving body slam into me, knocking me off balance. I heard my gasp and felt my arms waving wildly as I lurched forward, the heavy bag pulling me over. I closed my eyes, knowing I was about to hit the hard surface of the floor.

Except it didn't happen. An arm wrapped around my waist, steadying me while I felt the weight of the bag being lifted off my shoulder as the arm dragged me into a firm chest. My hands found purchase on a set of strong shoulders and my eyes flew open meeting with a pair of concerned blue eyes.

"Are you all right? I am so sorry!" The arms righted me and the firm chest stepped away. "Em, I told you to stop! Get back here and apologize to this lady!"

My rescuer turned back to me. "Sorry, he is just so excited. First day and all. Are you okay?"

I stared up into his warm eyes, nodding silently. He looked back at me, his brow furrowed. Mentally, I shook my head. I was supposed to say something here. "I'm fine," I managed to get out. "No harm done." I smiled. "Thanks for saving me. That would have been embarrassing for Jake," I said, laying my hand on Jake's shoulder as I smiled down at him, letting him know I was fine.

Mr. Firm Chest laughed. "Embarrassing for him and painful for you. These floors are bloody hard." He stomped on the ground as if to demonstrate his point. Then he held out his hand. "I'm Edward. Edward Cullen. Leaning over, he dragged the boy standing to the side closer. "And this is my son Emmett. Em, I think you have something to say?"

"Sorry ma'am. I didn't mean to run into you."

I smiled at Emmett. "It was an accident. No problem." Then teasingly I winked at him. "Is that how you check your opponents on the ice?"

Both Edward and Emmett laughed. Shyly, I introduced myself and Jake to them. Emmett seemed pleased when he found out he and Jake were on the same team and the two of them started talking right away. I released a little sigh of relief. Already he had a friend. To my horror I felt my eyes well. Quickly I turned away not wanting Jake to see me.

"Hey, are you sure you're okay?" Edward's voice was soft and kind. Not being able to speak without showing my emotions, I simply nodded and was surprised when I felt a handkerchief being pressed into my hand. Grateful, I dabbed at my eyes then turned to Edward. "Sorry. Bit of an emotional day."

He smiled but didn't say anything. Then he turned and called to Em. "Let's go, bud. We gotta get you geared up and on the ice."

Leaning down, I grabbed the heavy bag again, planning on following him. Jake suddenly looked at me. "Mom, you can't come in the locker room."

I stared at him. "But you need help Jake. Your dad always helped you …" I trailed off.

He shook his head. "The guys won't want a ... mom in there. It'll embarrass me," he hissed. "I'll do it myself. You go sit in the stands."

I stood up, my eyes smarting again. I hadn't thought about that. I didn't want to embarrass him, but I knew he couldn't get ready by himself. "Maybe I could help you in another room? " I asked him softly. "I'll ask someone."

Edward stepped forward. "I'll help him, Bella. You go get a coffee and sit in the stands then prepare to be dazzled by the fancy footwork you see when they hit the ice."

I hesitated. I didn't really know this man. He smiled in understanding. "I'm sure lots of people would be willing to vouch for my character if that would make you feel better. Right, Mrs. Cope?" He winked at the woman sitting at the registration table watching us.

"He'll be fine, Mrs. Black. Edward is very trustworthy," she chuckled. "Well-known around here. A bit of a scamp, though, if I'm being honest."

Edward laughed and bent over kissing her downy cheek. "Only where you're concerned, Mrs. C."

"Oh, away with you," she laughed, but I noticed how her cheeks colored as she shooed him away.

I smiled at him. "Thank you." I looked down at Jake. "You behave for Mr. Cullen, Jake."

He nodded and followed Emmett. Edward leaned down and grabbed the bag. "I'll make sure he's okay, Bella. See you later."

I watched him stride away, his long legs quickly eating up the distance between us and the boys. He turned before they disappeared around a corner with a jaunty wave.

Mr. Firm Chest Cullen was tall. Not to mention, very easy on the eyes.

I looked over at Mrs. Cope.

She winked at me.

This time I blushed.


Mr. Firm Chest is in da house...

Heh.

See you mid week!