AN: Hi everybody! I apologize for the wait!
Thank you to mauigirl60 for making this chapter pretty!
A household of three sick children was tiring.
Bella considered Edward to be one of the children. She'd always heard doctors were the worst patients, and it was the truth.
She balanced a tray of orange juice, crackers, coloring books and crayons on a tray and went into the family room. The cartoons on TV were way too loud. Annie and Matt were staring at Henry Huggle Monster like small zombies. Edward was playing solitaire on his laptop while hacking into tissues, which littered the floor.
It was a germ factory, which was why Bella was wearing one of Edward's surgical masks. There was no way she had time to catch their plague.
Bleary-eyed and cranky, Edward frowned as he looked at Bella. "I wanted a Coke."
"Oh, shi...shoot! That's right. I'll get that for you in a minute. Why don't you have some OJ first?" She started to put the glass down in front of him. Bella kept having to watch her language, because her temper was on a short fuse.
He whined, "I didn't want orange juice!"
It would probably be in very poor taste if she poured the juice over his head. It was tempting though; so very, very tempting.
"I thought we were having chicken noodle soup?" Annie questioned, as she coughed without covering her mouth. Bella could imagine that the germs were having a fiesta in her home.
"I only have two hands, Ann!" Bella said through clenched teeth.
Annie crinkled her little face. "I can't understand you, Mommy! Take off that mask!"
"No way!" There was so much to do. She took a deep breath. "Honey, Mommy needs to be well, so I can take care of you guys."
"Thank you, Mommy." That one little statement made Bella's heart sing.
"Straw, Momma!" Matt screamed. Then his face crumpled. "I peed!"
There were tears, as Bella took Matt to change into new pants. They were Bella's tears, because she was beyond exhausted.
School had just ended and that's when the hacking started. First, with Matt - a little cough here and there, which made Bella think pollen was the culprit. The flower garden, with blooms the colors of the rainbow, was gorgeous, but was making stuffy noses galore. That would have been the best case scenario but, unfortunately, it wasn't the reason. Next, Annie fell victim to the sniffles and then Edward succumbed quickly.
Bella returned Matt to his side of the couch so she could serve lunch. She headed toward the doorway, as Edward called out, "Did you pack my black socks?"
Bella closed her eyes and imagined the ocean. It didn't work, because her family started screeching like seagulls, and the scavenger birds filled up her relaxing happy place.
"I need to pack three dolls!"
"Mama, I want Cars Twoee!"
"I need you to pack my black belt with the...
"Be quiet!" Bella yelled, quickly covering her mask with her hand.
As if she didn't have a million other things to take care of, they were going to be flying to Texas for Alice's wedding.
"I'm getting lunch and you will all be quiet!" No one messed with Bella's bossy voice. "Watch the Huggle monster."
"It's actually Sophia the First," Annie corrected. "Look, Prince Daddy!"
"Quiet!" Bella was losing it. "I'll get lunch."
Stomping into the kitchen, Bella sighed loudly. The kitchen table was littered with lists for the trip. A list for the suitcases, a list for the carry-on bags, a list of all the doggie crap that DS was going to need, because Jasper wanted to work with her on the ranch. That man was a certifiable dog magician. He took horrible puppies and made them tolerable with a few quiet words. He should have his own television show.
Bella was still overjoyed about Alice's and Jasper's news. She was going to be matron of honor and, in true Alice fashion, was allowed to wear whatever sundress she wanted. It was going to be a simple ceremony at the little white church that the Whitlock family attended, followed by a BBQ and hoedown at the ranch. Simple and fun, Bella's favorite combination.
It was just getting there that was going to be the issue.
A knock sounded on the door and Esme came in, her hands full of supplies and snacks. "Isabella, you look like you're coming down with that bug that's taking out the town. Did Edward or the children give it to you?"
"How did you know?" Bella looked over from the soup she was ladling into bowls.
"Edward called." Esme moved Bella away from the stove and finished getting the lunch ready. She laughed, as Bella groaned. "Don't be mad at him, dear. He thought he was helping."
"His helping has been driving me mad!"
Esme grabbed the tray. "I know the feeling. I raised that boy. Emmett is worse, so count your blessings. Rest, sweet girl. There's packing to be done and we're going to have to be healthy for the trip."
"You don't want to get this crud, Esme!" Bella plopped down at the table. She was feeling tired. So very tired.
Esme watched as Bella rubbed her eyes and knew she made the right decision to butt in to her family's life. "I've had it all. Rest your feet and let me take care of you now."
Bella just smiled, because, truth be told, she was ecstatic Esme was taking over. She was tired and cranky, not to mention feeling completely overwhelmed. Placing her head on the table, Bella fell asleep.
It could have been a couple of minutes or a few hours, but a tickle on her back woke her up.
It wasn't Esme. It wasn't Edward. It was most definitively not the tiny fingers of her children.
It was Alec's face she was looking up at.
He clamped his hand over her mouth and Bella promptly bit him.
"Fucking hell, Bella! What was that for?" He clutched his hand and stumbled backward.
"What are you doing in my house?" Her whole body was shaking. "How did you know where I live?"
He shrugged. "Phone book."
"We're unlisted." She watched as Alec just smiled at her. "Keeping tabs on me, Alec?"
"You really should keep your doors locked." He leaned against the counter with that same smug smile. "I thought it would be a good idea to keep tabs on my kids."
"You haven't seen my children in months. Since you aren't in prison, I was hoping you would've fallen off the face of the earth by now!" Bella said, as she walked over to the door and opened it.
"Really nice, Bella."
Bella pointed to him and then the door. "That's me. Sugar and spice and everything nice, now get the fuck out of my house!"
"I want to see them," he stated and his fists tightened. Alec Volturi still hated being told no.
"I want a lot of things and I don't get them. I learned how to deal and so should you!"
Bella glared at him as he approached her. Maybe she could push him out the door, lock it and call her dad to get a restraining order.
"They're both sick and really don't need the stress of seeing their fair-weather father."
Alec was never one to be able to hold his temper. He grabbed her t-shirt. "You can't keep me from my fucking children, you bitch!"
"Did you learn that when you were learning to love Jesus in the big house?" Bella was not going to let him intimidate her. "How very Christian of you!"
He pulled her close. "We can be nice about this or I can play..."
Esme came into the kitchen and cried out, "Get off her!"
Alec was distracted for a moment and that was when Bella sneezed in Alec's face, a green mucous blob that went straight into his open mouth.
He screamed, "That's disgusting!"
Alec dropped Bella and flew across the room.
"Welcome to the plague, Volturi!" Bella laughed at first, but it turned into a hacking cough.
Esme rushed over and felt Bella's head. "Honey, you have a fever! To bed!"
"She wasn't lying?" Alec realized that he now had a very good chance of becoming really sick. He should have just run out the door.
Esme grabbed his ear and pulled him toward the door. "You need to leave! I would suggest investing in some orange juice and tissues."
Edward stumbled in to watch his mother physically push Alec out the door.
He had a fever and was so exhausted he thought he was hallucinating.
"Edward, your Mommy has got this," Esme said. "Help get Bella upstairs to the bedroom. I'll take out this trash and you two rest."
"The kids..." Bella began, but the coughing started up again.
"…have Nana Esme." Esme tried to shut the door on Alec. "Go away!"
"I want to talk about a custody agreement!" Alec yelled through the closing door.
Bella leaned against the drooping Edward. "They stay with me and you'll be lucky to be invited to their high school graduation!"
Esme gave one final mighty push and locked the door. "If he comes back, I'll call Charlie."
"Why was the plumber here? Did the dishwasher break?" Edward asked.
"Bed!" Esme pointed to the door. "I'll bring up Tylenol and cold drinks after I check on the babies."
Edward looked confused. "My mom wants us to get it on?"
"Sleep, Edward." Bella coughed again.
Bella helped get Edward settled into their bed and started to change into her pajamas. She looked over to see his eyes on her. "What?"
"You're so beautiful." He had a sleepy smile on his face.
She smiled, because Bella knew how lucky she was to have him. "You're sick, babe. I do appreciate that, though."
He opened up his arms. "Snuggle with me."
Bella settled into Edward's arms, which felt like a furnace. "I should call you hot stuff."
The bed was so comfy and soft, Bella's eyes shut immediately. That didn't stop her favorite pair of lips from sucking on her neck.
"Stop," Bella half-heartedly patted his arm. "Your mom!"
"Oh, God!" Edward exclaimed. "It would warp her mind if she sees us."
Bella thought she was safe, but then Edward grabbed her breast. "I know why they call these fun pillows!"
"I don't care!" Bella wanted quiet.
He squeezed again. "They're fun and they feel like pillows."
"A quickie before my mom comes up?" He was persistent, even with having the chills.
Bella sighed. "Go to sleep."
"I love you, Bells."
"I love you, too, Edward."
Then there was nothing but blissful, snot-filled sleep.