Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.

Beta'd by HollettLA.

Higher

Chapter Twenty-Five: BBQ

While Edward put the bathroom door back on its hinge, I picked out my clothes and placed the sheets in the dryer. Then I hurried to check on Edward, who wasn't finished with his task just yet, before I decided to make some breakfast. It was late, but I was starving since I'd barely eaten my dinner last night. And I didn't want to eat like a hog at Carlisle's.

On my way back into the kitchen, I ran into Emmett.

I ignored his ass as I perused what was in the fridge.

But I felt him staring, and I suddenly wasn't hungry anymore.

I went back toward the bathroom.

"Yo…you ain't gonna say you're sorry?" Emmett asked.

I whipped around at the same time I saw Edward break his neck to see. "Sorry? But I'm not sorry," I admitted with humor in my tone. "You should be apologizing to me—bringing that skank here."

"Jealous?"

I cackled. "No fucking way. Bro, you could sleep with the whole block, I won't care. Do you, you know? It's the principle, and what the fuck was she doing in our room?" My voice was loud, and I tried to calm down. "Trust me. I'm actually angrier she saw Edward in his boxers than her disrespecting me." That was very true.

"Chill." Edward held my waist. "Door's fixed. Go get that shower."

I nodded, turning for the bathroom.

"Yo!" Emmett chuckled. "That's it? You're not gonna let me explain?"

Grinning, despite my agitation, I faced him again. "Yeah, that's it. Edward said the shower's fixed—and I listen when my man speaks." I pursed my lips. "That's my man." I pointed to his cousin.

Edward smirked. "Go…" He gave me a little nudge. "I should start calling you Barry Bonds...lethal with a bat and shit."

"Who?" I quirked a brow.

Edward waved a hand. "Nah, fuck the Pirates."

"Dude, he's with San Francisco now...the Giants." Emmett supplied. "You were locked up...They didn't let'chu watch TV?" They continued to talk about...whatever, and I turned for the bathroom.

Smiling, because I didn't even have to think about opening my mouth to speak my mind before, I closed the bathroom door.

And it was crooked, but I still managed to shut it properly.

I was still pissed as the water beat down on me, and I washed up.

He fucking invited Tanya here, and what the fuck was that bitch doing in my bedroom? I really wanted to know that.

Before I massaged the shampoo into my hair, I reached over to turn on the radio we have in here. It's always been in the bathroom—a little boom box with a tape deck.

I felt better after belting out some Mariah Carey, and…I never care who hears me.

Again, I cannot sing, but I can't listen to Mariah and not sing.

Focusing on the music, I actually left the tub with a smile on.

Drying off was a bitch because there was so much steam.

Squeezing into my bikini as it skidded across my skin, I wished I'd opened the small window. Nevertheless, I was dressed and almost ready to go.

Knowing Edward needed the shower, I grabbed all my stuff, so I could finish in our room.

"Damn!" Edward elongated the word as he passed me.

"Shut up." I was cheesing, smiling so wide my face hurt.

"Oh, baby…maybe we should stay home." He didn't really mean that and pushed his cock against my back. "Hmm?"

"No." While I was nervous, I really wanted to go—not only so I could meet everyone, but so we could be there for Carlisle.

"Gimme this." He stole the towel my hair was in and slung it over his shoulder. "I'll be right out."

My grin stayed in place while I entered our room.

After blasting my music, I put mousse in my hair, wanting it wavy before I scrunched it up into a messy bun. I put my makeup on, using only a little eyeliner and mascara with some lip-gloss.

It sounds silly, but we'll be in a pool, and I didn't want to look like some painted whore.

I knew it made me look even younger—not wearing my makeup, but I didn't care.

Being with Edward has done wonders for my self-esteem. It's not that I used to see myself as ugly or anything. I was just me, Bella, but Edward compliments me all the time. He's always got his hands on me because he can't control himself.

I dig that.

Even I got stuck, kept checking myself out in the mirror today. And I swear to Christ, I'm nothing special to look at—to cause so much trouble.

However, thinking about the trouble my appearance has caused Edward . . .

When I started to resent my tits and my ass, I looked away to put my matching shell-top Adidas on.

When I found the purple jumper last summer, I had to get a pair of kicks to match. Alice talked me into getting a matching bathing suit, too. It's a lighter shade of purple and strapless, and I never wear it—never thought I would wear it—but it was seven dollars.

In Bay Ridge, there's a store that sells clothes really cheap. They're not name brand. I'm not decked out in Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger like Edward—yes, those baggy-ass jeans cost a mint.

Most of my clothes are hand-me-downs, and the most expensive thing I wear are my sneakers.

Knowing it was too nice out; I put on my no-show socks instead of my striped tube socks that go to my knees. Usually, I'd rock those with this outfit.

Edward came in when I was placing sunblock on my legs.

"You're gonna kill me—get me arrested." He took off the towel to snap it at my ass.

I giggled. "I better not."

"Kidding." He faced his closet.

Since it was all I saw, I tiptoed to sneak up on him, creeping to palm his ass cheeks.

Edward was fast to catch me. He wore a smile and started to tickle me. "Don't sneak up on me."

"Sorry." But I really was, and I thought about something I wished I didn't. "Being in prison—you probably watched your ass—your back a lot."

You hear that "Don't drop the soap" joke all the time, and I've never known anyone who did real time...and I never thought about it until now.

He laughed, pulling his bathing suit up. "What do you wanna ask me?" he hedged, raising a brow, while tossing a wife-beater tee over his head.

"Well, you hear things." There was a lump in my throat. "Did you ever get hurt?" I whispered.

He shook his head. "Nope. Nothing like that ever happened to me. I was beat up a few times…" He shrugged. "But mostly—"

"What?" I sat on the bed.

He sighed, getting into his jeans.

"You don't have shorts?" I asked.

"Nah…" he said. "If you're bringing a bag, get a pair of boxers for me...doubt I'll go swimming, though."

"What were you going to say? Please, don't hold back." I know he hates it when I do it, and for as long as we've been together, he doesn't talk about being in prison—what it was like.

"Mostly…" He started again, sitting next to me to put his socks on. "I'd start the beatings…I'm no fag, yo. I never messed with any of that shit. That never happened to me. I knew a lot of people back then, and there were a few where I was. They had my back. I'm not sayin' that shit don't happen. It does. I just neva seen nothin' like that." Edward stood up to step into his boots, and he looked so fucking sexy—he always does.

"Oh…okay. I just wanted to make sure." I smiled. "You never—"

He placed a cigarette in his mouth, fast to light it. "Same shit I told my pops. That's in the past. I don't wanna think about it. I served my time, was a troublemaker for the hacks." He blew his smoke out. "I had a job in the library, although I wasn't that smart—I'd get chump change and do what I'd have to, to have money in my commissary, so I'd want for nothin'."

"You're smart," I disagreed. "Stop saying you're not. It bothers me."

He knelt down to ease between my thighs, hold my hips. "All right. I'm not book smart."

I giggled. "Just because you don't like to read doesn't mean anything."

He leaned forward to kiss up my neck, and I tilted my head, loving the feel of his lips. "You smell so good, baby." His breath hitting my ear sent tingles below.

I held his face, backing away to kiss his lips.

He pulled back to smile wide and stand.

Heated again, I grabbed my hoops from the dresser and placed them on.

I caught Edward checking me out through the mirror while he put deodorant on. "I'm sorry we're not going somewheres this weekend—like Jazz and Alice?"

I shook my head. "As long as we're together…doesn't matter."

He nodded as he picked out a shirt from his closet. Dressing nicely for Edward means he wears a Ralph Lauren polo instead of a regular shirt. It doesn't matter. He'll only rock his undershirt and stick the collar of the other one in his back pocket, lets it hang. And he does it so intricately that it's never really wrinkled. The collar is straight and popped when he does wear it.

I've seen plenty guys who have the same look, but no one looks as good as Edward.

"What you starin' at?" Edward started shoving things in his pockets.

"You."

The ride to Carlisle's was a quiet one. I didn't mind sitting in the back of the van. There's a small bucket seat that unfolds, and my ass fits in it, and I get to sit behind the passenger side and gawk at Edward's profile.

Not only was I in love with him, but I'm obsessed with him. I'm not sure if there's a real difference. I don't know. All I do know is that I love to stare at him.

Edward adjusted his sunglasses. "You a'ight back there?"

"Perfect," I said, placing my own shades on.

When we were close, my hair was drier, and I took it out of the bun—messing it and hoping it looked all right.

"Should we stop somewhere? Pick up dessert or something?" I asked.

"Did you want to?" Edward gave me a fleeting glance.

"I'd like to," I confessed. "Or maybe wine?"

"It's just my dad—how many times he eat ova?" Edward laughed. "And I brought two blunts."

"It's polite," Emmett added. "Yo…if my father starts his shit, I'm out."

"You'll be good, bro. Take it easy." Edward patted his back, and then I felt the van pull over. "Be right back." He hopped out, and I turned to see him enter a bakery.

"You got that boy pussy-whipped." Emmett snickered. "Good for you."

I leaned over to see him. "He loves me."

"Look—" he turned to face me "—I was sleepin'. I don't know why Tanya was in your room."

"You like her?" I asked.

'Cause in my opinion—now, I am not a man, so who knows—Tanya wasn't that great looking. And to get with both Edward and Emmett? I know Emmett doesn't have any standards, but I'd like to think Edward does or did.

Tanya has an okay body. She's taller than me, and she's thicker—not overweight at all—and she has that light, light orange, peroxide blonde dye-jobs. But she doesn't have that pretty a face, although—from what I noticed today—she does have nice, hazel eyes.

"Like her?" he laughed. "Nah…We met up a few weeks back, did whatever. Last night, I went for a walk, and we bumped into each other, started talking." Emmett shrugged. "I won't bring her by again—disrespect you. All right?"

"Okay. If she wasn't…weird, like what she did this morning, I wouldn't care." I would, but Emmett lives there, too, and I'd feel odd telling him who he can and can't have over. He has chicks over sometimes, but they're actually nice.

Again, they're girls I see around the neighborhood, but I don't know them.

"What happened to Carmen?" I smiled. "She was nice." I think he had her over last week? She had dinner with us, and then they disappeared into his bedroom. But I liked her. She was pretty and polite, and just a nice person.

"Nah, that girl's loose—"

"She was so nice!" I exclaimed. "And who cares what she did before she met you—did she sleep with Edward?" I rushed out before covering my mouth.

"Yo, Tanya's a ho, too. Especially since she gotta man now. I don't know. Maybe I need to slow down, get to know a broad before I sleep wit' her. When they give it up right away…hey, I think they're loose. But the truth is…I'mma ho." He cackled. "I usually wanna think I'm a mack, playa—"

I furrowed my brow. "He did? Didn't he? In the past sometime?"

Emmett jerked his chin. "Why don't you ask him?"

Edward hopped in with a large pastry box. "Here you go." He handed it to me. "What's that face for?"

"You slept with Carmen?" And I wasn't aware I had a "face" on.

Edward gritted his teeth and turned to punch Emmett's bicep. "What the fuck you gotta tell her shit for?"

Emmett started laughing. "I didn't, bro. You just blew up your own spot. I didn't say shit."

"He didn't," I whispered, hugging the box to my chest. "I'm not mad. I was just curious."

Edward pinched the bridge of his nose. "The reason I don't tell you or make a list—yo, why do you need to know? You neva used'ta care . . ." He pulled away from the curb, obviously upset. "Besides, yo...it all meant nothing, so that's why I don't. I also find it disrespectful, that if I see a chick I hit off, I point her out and tell you," he ranted. "Let the past go…I have. I'm 100% faithful, devoted to you, so you got nothin' to worry about."

"I trust you…I was just curious," I sighed, wishing I'd never brought it up.

"I don't tell you because I wanna keep shit from you. It just means nothing; it ain't worth bringin' up . . ."

"Okay." I wanted to get off the subject.

Edward had a different idea. "Look, we'd just moved into the apartment. It was like a month after I got out, and we had a little party at the crib—invited some broads over. Carmen was one of them."

"You didn't have to—" I started.

"I wanted to explain, but can you stop?" he shouted. "Asking me, asking Emmett and Jazz every time you see some chickenhead around the way?"

"Fine. I'm sorry." I reapplied my lip-gloss. I didn't expect Edward to huff and puff about it. "I do trust you," I repeated.

"A'ight . . ." His shoulders relaxed. "We're here."

My stomach lurched, jumped with a start.

"Ha-ha…Old school. They got the picnic table in the driveway." Emmett jerked a thumb. "Why didn't they have this shit at my parents' crib? They gotta bigger yard." He left the van.

I placed the pastry box in his vacant seat to climb into the front.

"Hey." Edward grabbed me, made me sit on his lap. "I love you, baby…Don't stress about the dumb shit I done. Okay?"

I placed my lips to his and kissed him deep. "I love you, too, and I just get curious." But he was correct; I never used to care, nor would I ever judge him, and I knew he wasn't a virgin when we met. "My mind wanders sometimes, and I wonder what you see in them vs. what you...see in me." I shrugged. "It's not really jealousy, more like…curiosity?" I paused before I winced. "Maybe a hint of insecurity?"

"You got no reason to be that way, Bella." He palmed my cheek.

"I can't help the way I think," I giggled, nervously, but my words were true, and I'm more nosy than worried about him sleeping around or something.

He nodded. "We'll work on that. Over time, some more time…We won't live in the 'hood forever. Right?"

"Wherever we go…" I squeezed his hand.

He grinned. "Maybe sometime soon we'll get a small apartment somewhere, and we'll save for a house?"

I felt like squealing because I love when he talks like this—about the future, but not only that, our future together. "I'm happy…just being with you. For that, we should stay where we are and save. I'll get a job soon—"

He cut me off with his mouth, kissing me silly once more. "Hmmm. You look fantastic, baby. I mean it." His eyes trailed up and down my body. "You're gorgeous every day, but today…" His hands started to roam, too; Edward was dripping sex again, and I pulled away.

"We should…" I tilted my head toward the house, knowing it was to my right.

"Let's do this." He left his seat, taking my hand to pull me out through his side. We walked around the van to get the pastry box and my beach tote with our crap in it from the passenger seat.

When I faced the house, I was surprised to see a few people staring at us.

Emmett was correct.

On the side of the house—in the concrete driveway—there was a round table with chairs set up. Smoke wafted into the air from the BBQ. Oldies music, like doo-wop or whatever, was playing from the radio . . . and they were just gawking.

It'd only taken me a few seconds to take in my surroundings, make my assessments and notice, but still.

"Edward…" I whispered through clenched teeth, a smile on my lips, and then I realized.

While I was sucking my boyfriend's face, all his family saw was my ass in the air—from the van.

"They'll love you." He kissed my cheek, ushering us over.

As we got closer, I saw an older couple. The man was obviously Emmett's father. They look so much alike. The woman had short red hair, and I wanted to believe she was Emmett's mom—Elizabeth's sister, Anita—since Edward almost has the same hair color, although his is shades darker.

More importantly, sitting amongst them with a little girl on her lap, must have been Esme. She was gorgeous, wearing this huge smile, and she had shoulder-length brown hair. Esme was prettier than I'd imagined.

Edward really hooked his father up!

Carlisle is a very good-looking man, and he's not old by any means. When Edward talks about his father's lack of love life, it actually always surprises me.

Like his son, who has the same panty-dropping smirk, I'd expect Carlisle to be the same.

"Hello." Carlisle kissed my cheek and hugged me tightly before embracing Edward.

"We stopped at a bakery." I held up the box.

Carlisle smiled wide. "You didn't have to do that, but thank you." He placed his arm around me and turned me toward the table. "Bella, this is Emmett Senior and Anita—Edward's aunt and uncle."

"Hi…" I reached over to shake both their hands.

"We actually call this one Junior." Carlisle nudged Emmett, the one I knew. "This is Esme..." He paused, like he wanted to give her a title, not sure.

"Hello." She lifted her baby to give me half-a-hug. "It's great to finally meet you. Carlisle's told me so much about you."

"He did?" I was surprised. Especially since Carlisle barely speaks about Esme, although I know they're happy—he's admitted that much. I just always figured he was a quiet man. "Hi…" I shook the baby's hand. She was cute with brown curly hair, and she must have been around three years old.

"This is Bianca…can you say hello to Bella?" Esme kissed her cheek, encouraging. "She can be shy, but after a while...now she talks Carlisle's ear off," she laughed.

"She's a great conversationalist," Carlisle commented, looking back to Esme. They had a small moment, made eyes at each other—the both of them were practically beaming—and it made me smile even bigger.

"Bewwa," Bianca said, and it was the cutest thing.

"Oh…" I giggled, admiring her flowered bathing suit, and I didn't know babies wore bikinis, too. "This is adorable—she's adorable." I gestured to both the baby and what she was wearing.

"She loves to swim. It's getting hotter now—the sun's out, so we might go in." Esme looked to the sky. She was so warm and she—more so than the others—had me feeling comfortable. "Bianca, this is Edward." She turned to him.

"Hey..." He bent low to give Esme's cheek a smooch. "'Sup, baby girl?" Edward tried to give Bianca a fist pound while he chuckled, and the baby shook it instead with both of her hands.

"Hi." Bianca smiled, and she leaned toward him, almost as though she wanted him to take her.

"Wanna go with Edward?" Esme asked her. "That's Carlisle's baby."

"Baby," she giggled, pointing to Edward, but she was quick to hug onto Esme—indecisive yet curious about him.

"So cute." Edward pinched her cheek.

Seeing him with the baby—just interacting—had me feeling weird, instantly flushed and turned on. It was weird.

Bianca ducked, hiding her face in Esme's neck.

Funny how I wanted to shield my blush, too.

"Burgers are almost ready," Carlisle announced, closing the lid of the barbecue. "Five minutes."

"Come wit' me." Edward stole me away. "Gotta put this shit inside." He took the dessert from me.

We walked into the side door that led us to a small hall by the kitchen.

While Edward rearranged crap in the fridge, I wandered away—knowing no one would care. Carlisle's home, which is a townhouse, was very cozy. And this was where Edward grew up, well, sort of.

"You wanna tour?" Edward wrapped his arms around my waist, digging his nose into my hair to kiss my neck.

"Yeah." I nodded.

We went farther into the living room, which had light green walls. I noticed that Carlisle had plastic covers over his furniture—the couch and love seat—but a brown, comfy- and old-looking, recliner was bare. That's probably his spot, where he watches TV. His television set that stood alone was pretty big, too.

My head whipped around for pictures, what I was more interested in seeing. Luckily, I found a few. One where Edward was a baby; he was cute with no hair. Carlisle looked crazy young and he had longer hair that was slicked back. There was another of Edward when he was around six on a bicycle, and his uneven smile made me giggle.

Edward stole that one away from me.

There were quite a few that hung on the walls, but most were of Edward when he was under the age of thirteen, and there weren't any of Elizabeth.

When I inquired about it—keeping my voice hushed, of course—Edward explained that Carlisle removed them when Esme started to come over.

Downstairs, there's a bathroom right off of the kitchen and a dining room. Upstairs, there were two bedrooms, another bathroom, and a teeny den space Carlisle uses as a home office. We didn't go into Carlisle's room, but we trailed into Edward's.

The walls were a light blue, but it didn't look like a child's room—what I expected. There was a full-sized bed and a chest of drawers, and a small TV with rabbit ears.

"Pop redid it when I was coming home." He shrugged. "It's not much…this place."

"It's great." I turned to wrap my arms around his neck. "I love it." And I truly did.

Renee always rented. We never had an actual house, nor did we always live in the spacious apartment she has now. We used to rent a one-bedroom on Third Avenue. I'd usually fall asleep on the couch waiting up for her every night, but we'd basically shared the bedroom until I was ten, until I suddenly wasn't enough for her . . .

Maybe I was never enough.

Especially since...

Well, we remember and believe what we want, and she was hardly ever home back then, too.

The location didn't matter.

When we moved, I had my own room, and Renee started having her own sleepovers . . .

"Where'd you go?" Edward whispered, and he'd started to sway us from side to side.

"Nowhere," I sighed. "I just think it's awesome—this is your home. A home, and your parents always lived here." That whole concept was cool to me, having history and whatnot.

"Someday we'll have a home of our own."

I nodded, hoping, praying, and wishing his words true. "I can't wait."

Edward bit his lip before he kicked the door closed and brought me over to the bed.

"We can't." I panicked, but he was already kissing everywhere—every inch of exposed skin.

"Look at you…I can't help it." He pushed his cock into me, biting down on my shoulder.

"Christ, Edward..." I was out of breath. "Not here."

"You can be quiet." He leaned away to run his hand up my thigh. "Right?" He scooped the crotch of my bathing suit over.

I convulsed for a second, spreading my legs. "Fuck." I breathed through it, trying not to make a sound when he started trailing his finger up and down my wet pussy. "Edward, stop."

He didn't; his eyes focused on his hand. "Lemme—" Edward bent low to flick his tongue to my clit, and then he groaned, his lips nestling deeper into me.

My eyes rolled, my hands palming his cheeks, as I swallowed my cry of pleasure.

There was a knock, which made me stiffen, and I silently berated myself—I hated myself for disrespecting this home, Carlisle's house.

Edward looked to the door. "Yo!"

"Don't yo me!" Carlisle hollered back.

Edward laughed, leaving the bed to right his clothes and wipe under his bottom lip with his thumb.

Then he sucked that thumb into his mouth.

He was trying to kill me.

"Edward..." Carlisle knocked again.

I sat up fast, crossing my legs, and hoping I looked casual.

When he opened the door, Carlisle had a brow raised. "Downstairs." He tilted his head toward the steps.

I felt uncomfortable, and I left the bed and the room.

Edward didn't look like he was moving, but I slid past him to get to the stairs.

Carlisle looked like he meant business.

"We're just chillin', no big deal," Edward explained, catching me before I got too far.

"Oh..." Carlisle nodded. "Then chill outside with your family. I wasn't born yesterday, Edward." He looked to me.

I found my sneakers interesting.

"She just wanted to see my old room." Edward looked like the cat that ate the canary, but he did find it amusing. He always does when Carlisle parents him. He only gets upset when his father makes him feel stupid.

"But you—look, I know what you guys were doing," Carlisle laughed.

"Sir, Mr. Cullen, we-we really weren't doing anything…untoward." My face blazed red.

He smirked at me. "You're cute." Carlisle placed his hand under my jaw, much like Edward does, and then he passed me to go down the stairs. "If you're not outside in two minutes—"

"We're coming," Edward laughed, taking my hand, and then we followed his father outside.

"Eh, we got caught."

"We were wrong," I whispered. "We shouldn't have..." I stopped talking when we met back up with everyone.

Edward pulled out a chair for me, and the table was set with all these side dishes.

I didn't say anything, turning to smile at his aunt and uncle.

"It's all set." Carlisle brought a tray of hot dogs and hamburgers over. "Let's eat."

No one wasted any time, piling food onto their plates. I was being polite, trying to wait until the traffic of arms, hands, and bowls being passed around subsided.

"You gotta eat," Edward said, serving me some potato salad. "I know you like these deviled egg shits, too." He nodded and gave me three of them.

I placed my hand on his thigh. "I plan to eat." He acts like I never do. "I'm actually starving."

"Good." He dropped a hamburger down for me. "You wanna hot dog?"

"No..." I giggled. "Thank you. You've given me plenty to work with."

"Just have some macaroni, too." Again, he served me and then himself. "Macaroni for that ass." He kissed my cheek.

I giggled some more.

"Bella—" Edward's aunt placed a hand on my shoulder "—how did you meet Edward?" she asked.

Speechless; I didn't know what to say. Especially when Emmett—that ass—guffawed.

"Through a friend," Edward said with a mouthful. "Why you wanna know?" He sounded more suspicious than she did, defensive.

"Just curious." Anita went back to her food.

"How old's this one?" Emmett's dad jerked a thumb to me, looking to Carlisle, like I wasn't here.

"Mind yo' neck," Edward said.

"Edward." Carlisle had a tone.

"I'm sayin' . . . it's rude to ask some broad her age." He shrugged. "They don't know my Bella—to be askin' that shit."

Carlisle actually smiled at his son and placed a hand on his forearm.

I turned to his aunt because I'm not ashamed of my age, and I know Edward isn't either. "I'm eighteen. I'll be nineteen in two weeks."

"Oh." She nodded. "You know Edward well, then? You guys have been together a couple of months now, correct?" Her eyes danced to Carlisle and then her husband, giving a brief glance to her son.

"She knows…" Emmett kept his tone hushed.

"We live together," Edward said. "She knows me."

"You're living with the boys?" Anita didn't sound happy about it, and I didn't know what the big deal was.

"We met through my cell mate—he was writing her, but I had to when I saw her picture, and she wanted me anyway. That date-a-con pen pal program?" Edward turned his whole body to face his aunt and uncle. "She loves her some thug." He hummed. "I read her my rap-sheet as foreplay."

"Edward!" I slapped his bicep. "He's kidding. We met—"

Anita chuckled. "I know he is, dear."

And the rest of the table found Edward hilarious, too.

"Oh." I settled down.

"Eat." Edward lifted my fork and placed it in my hand.

After we finished eating, I helped Carlisle clean up the table, and then I moseyed into the back. The yard was crazy small. The only thing in it was the pool, but it wasn't too bad. I could tell it was shallow. It had some width, though.

"You coming in?" Emmett lightly splashed me. "It's feels good."

I nodded. "I'm waiting for Edward." Squinting my eyes through my sunglasses, I looked up to the overcast sky. Clouds replaced the sun, and I wondered if it was going to rain.

"Youse better come in soon—" he sipped his beer, floating along "—before it starts raining."

"Do you mind if we join you?" Esme asked, approaching the pool with Bianca.

"Hey, you...cutie!" I exclaimed, excited to see Bianca. She's just too fucking adorable.

"Can you hold her while I get in?" Esme offered Bianca to Emmett or me.

"I'll take her." I opened my arms and she latched onto me.

She was heavy, but it wasn't so bad. My hips have always been on the wide side, so all I did was pop it, and Bianca had a place to sit.

Esme walked up the ladder and winced as she got in. "It's not that warm."

"Carlisle just put the water in," Emmett explained. "That would'a been awesome—if he used hot water."

I handed Esme her daughter, who actually loved the water. She didn't care if it was cold. After a few minutes of watching Emmett's big ass float around, and Esme play with Bianca, I wanted to go in.

Going back to the table, I didn't find Edward.

"Where's Edward?" I asked his aunt.

She was guzzling her longneck, too. "Inside."

I smiled about to search for him.

As I entered the side door, I heard voices—my name in particular—and I stopped the screen from slamming.

"But Mom said—before she died," Edward argued.

I stopped right outside the kitchen, as I didn't want to disturb them...and I'm too fucking nosy.

"Her engagement ring is yours. I'm just saying, not now," Carlisle replied. "It's way too soon, son. I suggest you wait a while—is she pregnant?" He rushed that last part out.

"No!" Edward kind of shouted. "I love her—I'm crazy in love with her, and I want to give her somethin'…that means somethin'. She's mine—she should have a fuckin' ring!"

I gulped, my stomach knotting up, and I couldn't help the huge smile I suddenly had.

"Watch your mouth!" Carlisle's tone shocked me. I've never heard him raise his voice before.

"Sorry," Edward mumbled, more relaxed than he was seconds prior.

"She's a kid, Edward." Carlisle sounded frustrated. "You love her? Then love her enough to give her some time. Let her grow up a little bit. You get married now and babies will be soon to follow…" He trailed off. "I know you're ready to settle down, which…I'm glad you've slowed down with the different women and whatnot. And I adore Bella. I love her, too." That made me happy. "She's great for you, and I've never seen you so happy. She's a wonderful girl, Edward. I mean that. I'm sure you two will get married someday. I'm positive that will happen, and I'll give you the ring, and my blessing—"

"You don't think I'm serious?" Edward chuckled. "Well, I am—I'm dead-ass serious, Dad. I wanna marry her, and I think she'll say yes."

"Because…she's got stars in her eyes, willing to do anything to please you. She's too young to know what truly she wants," Carlisle retorted.

I'm not too young, I thought.

Legally, I could get married. I could do a lot of things.

And there's nothing I want more than Edward.

"I'll wait…" Edward relented.

I pouted.

"I'm not sayin' we'd get married this week. Just…I wanna put a ring on her finger."

"So, get her one," Carlisle laughed. "Esme has a little sister, and she went nuts over a ring her boyfriend gave her. It had their initials in two hearts—"

"That's…" Edward didn't sound happy. "That's a no to Mom's ring then?"

"Your mother told me it was yours; she said so on her deathbed. It is yours...I'm asking you, please. Let me hold onto it for a little while...just a little while longer," Carlisle insisted, yet he was trying to bargain. "Come to me in a few months."

"Right…" Edward hissed. "How's things with this chick?"

"Esme," Carlisle corrected. "Things are well. I have no complaints, and I'm surprised Anita hasn't given me any lip."

"Why would she?" Edward asked. "Dad, Mom's been gone a long time. You should become a monk? Gimme a break. Mom—with the way she loved you—she wouldn't want that for you. Sitting home, eating popcorn in front of the TV, working all the time…lonely. She would'a wanted you to move on. The shit I did…I bet that shit had Mom rollin' ova in her grave. But you should be alone? No. Esme's nice, and you say she's wonderful. I'm happy for you."

"Your mother was the only woman…I'd ever known. Do you understand?"

Edward found that funny for some reason, and I thought it sweet. "She was your one and only until Esme? Yo, how'd that go? I bet you came mad fast."

I tried not to giggle.

"Yes, your mother was my one and only."

"That's all you're gonna gimme?" Edward asked.

I decided to square my shoulders, pushing the screen door to let it close with sound before walking ahead. "Oh! Hey." I stood there. Carlisle was washing the few dishes while Edward stood to his side. "I was looking for you."

"What's up?" Edward asked.

"I was going to go swimming, but I wanted to wait for you," I said.

"Go 'head, baby. Enjoy." Edward came over to softly kiss me. "I'll be out in a minute."

"Okay." I squeezed his hand, and God help me, I wanted to jump him.

In my gut, my heart—everywhere—I knew Edward loved me.

But to give me an engagement ring?

"I love you," I whispered.

"Love you, too." He slapped my ass. "Go before it starts to rain. I'll be out soon."

I giggled and turned for the door, a happy, giddy mess.

After grabbing my beach tote from the table, I walked into the back to place it on a lounge chair.

Carlisle had a few towels out here, and I took one to place it near my bag. Then I pulled my hair into a messy bun before I took my jumper off.

Emmett whistled like an ass, and I turned to give him the finger. "I'm sorry," I told Esme and Bianca.

Esme waved a hand, smiling.

"Yo!" Edward shouted, and when I turned, I saw him stomping his way toward me with his nostrils flared.

I backed up a step, nervous. "What?"

He took off his undershirt. "Put this on."

"Edward, that—" I didn't get the chance to finish because Edward started pulling it over my head. He even grabbed my hands to pull my arms through the sleeves.

"Don't pout." He kissed my lips. "Have fun."

I rolled my eyes. "As soon as I get this wet it's gonna be see through." Wearing this shit was useless...and his behavior was unnecessary.

"It'll hold shit in place, though. Why you don't got no straps? Hold the tits up?"

"Because there are no straps on my jumper." I shrugged. "I don't wanna swim anymore. Forget it."

"Why? 'Cause you can't show everyone your—"

"Edward!" Carlisle called him over with his finger.

"Get in the pool." He gave my ass another slap, going over to his father.

I sat in the chair and stared at the ground.

"At least he cares," Esme said. "My ex-husband…I could have walked out of the house naked. It wouldn't faze him."

I smiled. "This is just a bathing suit. I just—"

"Where's the rest of it?" Emmett asked.

I stood from the chair. "Enough outta you!" He was pissing me off. "Stay out of my relationship."

He laughed and sipped his beer.

"Youse two don't get along?" Esme looked between us.

"Eh…" I sat back down.

"Bella loves me…we're like this." Emmett crossed his fingers to show Esme. "She loves my dimples." That hit a nerve.

"I'll take a shit on your dimples!" I shouted, and then I was embarrassed. Everyone heard that, and I tried to ignore his parents who were staring at me.

"You all right?" Edward was laughing.

I narrowed my eyes at that sexy fucker who wants to marry me.

But just like he asked me to stop asking him about his past…

I should ask him to stop being a Neanderthal, the sexy brutish caveman that he is.

"I'm fine." I huffed.

"Her bathing suit's cute. Let her take off the shirt," Esme told him. "Looks like Bianca's a bit."

Edward barked out a laugh. "Your peanut doesn't have—" he made the boob gesture "—or." He just gestured to me. "My peanut…" He stared at me.

"I'm a peanut now?" I asked. "I just want you to know it's not about the shirt. It's about the way you're acting. It's too much."

"Too much?" He came to sit next to me. "It drives me insane. There. I finally said it. You're classy. You never show too much, but—"

"You want me to wear what those Muslim women do?" I snorted, knowing that might make his crazy-ass happy.

"I wouldn't go that far," he teased, kissing my lips. "Smile."

I gave him a toothy grin. "You're possessive, and it's hot, but you are insane. My clothes don't do that."

"I'm, what?" he asked, and then he tossed me over his shoulder.

I beat at his back. "Don't—"

He dropped me into the pool.

My head almost went under, but it is shallow and I was able to kick up. "Ass!"

Edward and Emmett thought it was so funny.

"You don't love me," I said, shivering and pulling my top up.

"See? If not for the shirt, your tits would have popped out. And yes, I do love you. Too much." He lit a cigarette. "Have fun. Swim." Edward walked away from the pool.

I scoffed at his retreating form.

It's weird, how I can go from loving him crazy to wanting to hurt him.

Not enough so that he's injured, but some.

Just a little . . .

Nevertheless, I didn't leave the pool.

But it's not deep, so it wasn't like I could really swim.

Esme and Bianca were having a ball with those noodle things.

Now that everything settled down, Emmett took the sun, floating on that big tube.

I pursed my lips, thinking, and then I waited until he was far enough away from the baby.

Quietly, I snuck up on Emmett, and I tried to capsize him—push him over.

"Chill!" he shouted, because I was having minor difficulty.

But I didn't chill. I didn't stop until his ass fell over.

Then I hijacked his raft at lightning speed. "Thanks, roomie." I climbed into it, bending my knees in the center.

"What?" Emmett grabbed the entire tube with me in it, and he tossed me to the other side of the pool.

I screamed, but I didn't get hurt. "Ha! It's still mine."

Emmett was about to come get me, but he stopped.

"Ha!" I yelled out again, since he's scared of Edward. "Hey…"

"Havin' fun now?" My love leaned over the edge.

I tried to pull his arm. "Come in."

He scrunched his nose. "Nah…I'm good."

I sighed. "It's no fun without you. I'll get out."

"You sure? I'll go in." He nodded. "Lemme get undressed."

"No." I knew he really didn't want to. "I wanna get out." I gave Emmet—that stupid baby—his float back and walked to the ladder.

Edward stood on the other side with a towel widened.

"Insane," I coughed, letting him wrap it around me. "Thanks, baby."

"You're cute." He kissed my cheek.

I stopped Edward from getting too far. "Thanks for…caring."

He furrowed his brow and gathered me into his arms. "You okay?"

"Yeah…" I hugged the towel closer.

"Let's get your stuff, get you changed." He had that look in his eyes.

I grinned. "I'm not doing that here," I whispered.

"Relax. I can control myself," he lied.

Tucked into his side, we grabbed our bag, and then we went to the bathroom.

My boyfriend thought he was slick.

Until Carlisle asked if I needed Edward to hold my hand.

We were cock blocked by Daddy C once again.

The rest of the afternoon truly dragged. It started to rain, and we brought the party inside to play cards.

Seriously, it seemed like we'd just had lunch, and then Carlisle was serving chicken.

I ate so much.

And I fell asleep in the van on our way home.


Thank you for reading.

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