Because reasons. Many reasons. Sorry!
unbeta'd. AKA: All mistakes are my own.
… in which the shit hits the fan
"Oh, shit. Oh, shit, Edward! Shit! Oh, Fuck! Oh my god!"
I shift my hips so I can continue to pound into the woman underneath me. She's quivering, raising her hips to meet my thrusts.
"I can't – I – too much…"
I grunt at her words. Knowing she's close gives me new vigor. I bend down to suck on her neck, driving into her furiously. Her fingernails claw at my back, scratching deeper into my back with every thrust.
"Edward. Edward. Edward." She pants hoarsely. She grabs her right breast and moans loudly.
I bite down on her earlobe, groaning huskily into her ear, "Go ahead, baby."
"Ah!" She screams deafeningly as she reaches her climax. "Yes!"
Thrusting wildly, I follow her quickly, collapsing on top of her when I finish.
"Mmm," She smiles, wrapping her sweaty arms and legs back around my equally sweaty back. "Thanks for the wake-up call."
I laugh. "Any time." I move to lift myself off of her so I can dispose of the condom, when she pulls me back down roughly.
"Aye, careful." I look down quickly between us, hoping the condom didn't spill.
She laughs, placing rough kisses along the side of my face. I gently pull myself away, pointing down at my cock. "I gotta take care of this."
I run to the bathroom and dispose of the condom. I lean against the sink and sigh. Damn, that was good. Thank god Rose is all the way on the other side of the apartment because this girl was loud. I splash water on my face and walk back into the bedroom. The woman is spread eagle across my bed, smiling up at me.
I smirk, nudging her thigh so she'll scoot over. "I have a meeting soon. With my label." Throwing in my music career was always a good idea when trying to ask a one night stand to leave politely. It sounded important and got them to rush slightly.
"Oh yeah!" She pulls herself up quickly. "Totally. I get it." She bites her lip and looks at me leeringly. "You sure you…"
She gets on her hands and knees and crawls over to the edge of the bed where I am. She grabs my dick, rubbing it softly. "You sure you don't want a quick BJ before I hit the road?"
She licks up my chest and to my neck. I groan involuntarily and my dick jumps slightly. I may be 36 and can't bounce back like I used to, but when a gorgeous girl grabs your dick it's completely out of your control.
"Something to remember me by? So you'll call again?"
I run a hand through her hair with one hand and grab her hand off my dick with the other. "I can't." I kiss her on the mouth swiftly. "I'm already running late." She kisses me again, aggressively thrusting her tongue inside my mouth.
"Babe," I mutter against her lips, pulling away. "I gotta go."
She nods, getting up to grab her dress hanging off the lampshade. "Oh, um, actually before I go… would you mind giving this to your label maybe?" She reaches into her purse and pulls out a CD. It takes everything in me not to roll my eyes. "I just want them to listen to it. That's all."
I make a face and look to the side. I hate when the women I sleep with do this. After we have sex, I always feel slightly obligated. For some reason, even though I know I'm using them for my own sexual pleasure, knowing they're using me right back always stings slightly. She kneels down in front of me with her dress half on. "Please?"
She worries her lip and I sigh. "Please?" She begs. Sensing my rejection, she bends down quickly, and sensually licks my shaft starting from the base all the way to the head.
"Haaa," I exclaim, not expecting that. I involuntarily thrust toward her. She grabs at my balls lightly, leaning to place me in her mouth. Regrettably, I stop her with a palm to her forehead. "No, no, no. That's not necessary. I'll do it."
She smiles widely at me, jumping up. "You will?!"
"'Course." I force a smile on my face and back away, helping her find the rest of her clothes. Once she's fully clothed and near the door, she looks back at me. She drags her hand down her chest seductively.
"You gave it to me good last night, Cullen. And this morning. I'll be expecting your call."
I rub my neck. "Okay."
She runs back over to the bed where I'm sitting, straddles me quickly and fucks my mouth with her tongue. Dammit, I should've put my clothes back on. This always distracts them on their exit. She grinds down hard on my dick and now she has officially succeeded in making me hard again. Instinctively, I grab her ass, allowing her to dry hump me for a few more moments.
"You better call me."
She presses down hard and forces a groan out of me. "I'm serious." Oh shit, she might be one of the crazy ones. I made a mental note to remind the doorman to be on the lookout for her and to not let her up under any circumstances.
I nod, patting her ass as a signal to hop up. She does and winks at me as she exits my room. I fall back onto the bed with my hands over my face.
I am getting slightly tired of this routine.
Thirty minutes later I head down to the kitchen to grab something to eat. I nod at Rose who's sitting by the counter, tapping her fingers repeatedly. "Edward."
I scratch my ass and stretch out my arms. I yawn loudly. "What?"
She doesn't respond so I turn to look at her. Her hands are folded across her chest, a sour look upon her face. She looks so much like her mother I would smile but she looks so pissed that I'm afraid if I did, she'd slap me. "What's wrong?"
She huffs loudly. "Your overnight guest was extremely rude to me."
I stiffen, raising an eyebrow. "What?"
"Your overnight g-"
"I heard you." I stop her, looking at her earnestly. She looks like she's about to explode. My eyes widen slightly. I spit out, "What did she do? What did she say?"
"She wanted to know what the fuck I was doing here, Edward! She wanted to know why the fuck I was eating breakfast at your effing kitchen table. She felt fucking threatened and I – I couldn't explain who I was to you because you and mom want to keep it this huge, fucking secret and-and-and I have to lie to all these people all the time and I'm sick of it and-and-and all I wanted was some fucking breakfast and I got attacked by some whore -"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." I clench my jaw and my fists involuntarily. I frown. "What do you mean she attacked you? She hit you? Did Tri-Ma-An… did that girl hit you?"
She scoffs and tosses her hair. She hops down off the stool, pacing in front of me. "Psh, no. The bitch would've been dead if she hit me. But she said some really hurtful things and I didn't appreciate it. I didn't appreciate the way she was talking to me and it doesn't make me feel very welcome in your home when your guests speak to me the way that she spoke to me when I'm just trying to eat breakfast. It doesn't make me feel like I belong here. And, I don't know. I don't know." Her eyes tear slightly, and she runs a shaky hand through her hair. It freaks me out seeing Rose like this. I swallow nervously. She shakes her head saying, "Maybe my mother was right. Maybe this isn't – maybe I need to go to my real home."
"Hey, hey," I grab her hands, halting her pacing. My mind blanks in fury and anxiety at the sound of her leaving. My heart feels like it's going to pound out of my chest and I try to breathe slowly. Whatever that bitch had said to her had really shaken her up. It must've been pretty bad to shake up a strong girl like Rosalie. It made my face heat up in anger. I look her in the eye and say slowly, "What did she say to you?"
Rose tries to break free of my hold, turning her head so she doesn't have to look at me.
"Hey, hey." I repeat trying to get her to look at me, not letting up on my grip. "Rose, look at me." She slowly turns her head, so that her eyes can meet my gaze. "You belong here. I want this to feel like your home. I want you to feel at home here… with me. I want you here. So much. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for whatever she said. You never have to see her again. I will never bring her back here."
She shakes her head, a tear falling down her cheek. "That's not enough."
"What is enough?" My heart starts pounding loudly, afraid that I'm about to lose her. I rush out, grasping for anything to make this massive fuckup better, "Tell me. What will make this okay?" When she doesn't say anything, but shake her head, I shake her arms slightly and whisper, "This is important to me, Rose. What do I need to do?"
Frowning, she narrows her eyes at me. "You let her disrespect me. In your home. The home you told me I was supposed to treat as my own. No one should be able to disrespect you in your own home. I – "
"I didn't let her disrespect her you. I didn't know – "
She's not listening to me. "You invited some woman into your home, you let her in here and you should have fucking escorted her out after you blew your fucking load instead of letting her run rampant all over your home and walk all over me."
"No! I – I-I know – I know that you have sex, Edward. That's not the problem here. I think that's great. I enjoy sex myself. You're way too attractive not to be having sex regularly. I mean, mom used to have sex too, you know. With Mike. But at least I didn't have to get bitched at afterwards because he knew who I was to her." She huffs, pursing her lips. "I just don't – I don't – maybe, if you want to have your sleepovers, let me know and I can arrange to sleep over Emmett's or something?"
I clench my jaw and tighten my grip on her wrists. "You will sleep over Emmett's over my dead body."
"Okay, then," She looks at me and says slowly as if she's gaging my feelings as she speaks. "No sleepovers."
She clears her throat, clarifying. "No overnight guests. Do it somewhere else. Please."
She stares at me, biting her lip, gaging my reaction. I nod immediately.
"Done." If that's all it takes for her to stay, I was all in. "Yes! Of course! I'm so sorry. I won't bring another woman back over here. I am so sorry, Rose. I didn't think about how they would perceive you, how they would feel about you, how they would treat you. I'm sorry I put you in that position. This is a royal fuckup on my part. Please do not leave. Please forgive me."
"'S okay. I don't want to talk about it anymore." She gives me a quick side hug, releasing my swiftly, then moves toward the fridge. "Do you want pancakes?"
I sit down on the stool across from her, confused. Problem solved, I guess? She shifts gears way too fast for me. My thigh bounces, my nerves still on edge. Rose almost left. Rose almost left and all I'm thinking is that I didn't even realize how invested I was in this because the idea of her leaving almost broke my fucking heart. I almost ruined everything.
"Sure." I croak out, letting out a deep breath. "Sounds good."
As I walk off the elevator onto floor 15 of ARO Corp, I pass by a row of desks and point at the timid blonde to follow after me. She jumps up, running over almost tripping over her feet.
I smile at her, sifting through the large pile of files in my arms. "Liz, I need you to get Alexander Jarod on the phone as soon as you can. Aro will have my head if he doesn't have Jarod's answer by lunch."
"Okay." She scribbles it down on a notebook she produces out of nowhere while trying to keep up with our pace.
"And not Jarod's assistant, not Jarod's people, Jarod himself on the phone."
She nods. "Got it."
"And, if you could find where Laurent's paperwork is…"
"Oh, Linda has them." She looks up at me, pointing the back end of her pencil at the corner of her mouth. "Actually I haven't seen Linda all week. Where is she?"
"Fired." A run a hand through my hair and sigh loudly. "That's why I need you to find that paperwork. I pray to God that she didn't destroy it with the disastrous way Aro fired her."
Liz's eyes widen and she scribbles down on her notepad furiously. When we get to my office, which is the room outside of Aro's large office, which also doubles as a waiting room, I drop the files on my desk. When I feel Liz still standing behind me, I turn around.
"That was it."
"Oh." But, she doesn't make a move to leave. I give her a strange look, questioning why she was still in my office. Crossing my arms against my chest and leaning against my desk, I ask, "Is there something you needed?"
"Um," She points at my head with the end of her pencil. Her eyes open in that wide-surprised way of hers. "Your hair."
"Yes." I nod, inwardly rolling my eyes.
"It's - "
"Red." I answer for her.
She stutters, nodding. "Y-yes."
Self-consciously, I grab the ends of my hair. I had been nervous about coming to work with my new hair. This hair is not hair for the person that wants to blend it. It definitely stands out. And loudly. All night I paced and contemplated the idea of buying some cheap, over-the-counter hair dye from Walgreens and getting it as close to my original color as I could, but I didn't want to damage my hair so I had decided against it. Unfortunately, the cut was so modern and edgy that it forced me to have to dress differently, too. Compelling me to reach into the back of my closet for clothing slightly more aligned with a sexy librarian than an executive assistant. Alice had definitely signed me up for a nightmare.
Liz smiles at me before exiting, giving me two thumbs up. "Looks great!"
I laugh lightly, thanking her. I stand straight and move around the other side of my desk to sit down. I need to listen to all the voicemails and compose a message list before Aro comes in and bites my head off. I log in to my computer, grabbing the phone so I can listen to messages. As I'm writing them down to compile them in different piles to decide which ones Aro needs to hear and which ones he doesn't, my eyes settle on a framed photo of Rose and I on her 13th birthday. God, I miss that girl more than is probably healthy. I really hope Edward isn't fucking everything up. The blind trust I have given him makes me sick to my stomach some days.
Fifteen minutes later, Aro bursts through the door followed by his entourage, Marcus and Caius, swinging his briefcase. I hop up and walk next to his side, handing him the messages I had taken down moments before.
We walk through my office and enter his own. My eyes flickering to the two men, I state, "Your first meeting is in 30 minutes with Mr. Trent."
"Right." He nods, placing his briefcase on his desk as the two suited men take seats in the two chairs across from his desk. "When did the board say they needed that decision?"
"By the end of today at the latest."
He grunts and plops down in his chair behind his desk. He looks up at me for a brief moment, turns to look at his computer, then looks back pointedly at my hair. He turns to Marcus and Caius, "We'll have to continue this in a couple hours gentlemen. I have to get ready for this meeting."
"Yes, of course." Marcus nods as they both get up and quickly exit the room.
He pulls out his phone and begins scrolling with his finger. "Laurent's paperwork?"
I avert his eyes, clenching my teeth. "Lunch. We'll have it by lunch. I promise."
He scowls at me for a few moments and then huffs. "Fine." He grabs two files out of his briefcase and hands them to me. "Can you handle these two things for me? I wrote what I needed you to do on the front."
I grab the files, nodding and turn to exit his office.
"Sir?" I turn at the door, throwing him a questioning eyebrow.
He waves dismissively at my hair with his right hand while reading the messages I had handed him earlier. "Is this some kind of mid-life crisis thing?"
I close the file, crossing my arms and hugging the file to my chest. "I'm hardly in the middle of my life, Aro. But thank you for noticing! I like it, too."
He laughs lightly, winking at me as I exit the room.
A few hours later, I'm struggling with the copy machine when I feel someone staring at me. I look over at the door behind me and notice Ben. He works in IT downstairs and had always been generally nice to me.
"Hi, Ben. How are you?"
He smirks at me. "Great. You?"
I tilt my head back and forth slightly. "Pretty good."
"Well, you look pretty good," I look up at his blatant forwardness, eyes wide. "So, if that's any consolation…"
"Um," My face flushes. "Thanks." I turn back to the copier and start mashing buttons again.
"Here," Ben reaches around me, his chest inches away from touching my back. I stiffen, swallowing thickly. Holy shit! I swear this new hair was dangerous. People never acted like this around me before. He pushes a few buttons and then mashes the copy button. "Wa la!" He steps back smiling.
I sigh in relief as the pages start shooting out. "Oh, thank you! Thank you!" I turn to look at him, placing a hand on his forearm. "You don't even know how much you just saved my life."
He smiles warmly, joking. "Well, I know Aro. So, I guess I kind of do."
I laugh with him. "Yeah, I guess you do get it." I gather the pages and the original and place them against my chest. "Thanks so much again." I say as I sidestep him to exit the copy room.
"Um, Bella," He clears his throat. I pause, looking up at him expectantly. "You look – I like your new look. You look really… You look really… nice."
His compliment makes me blush fiercely so I turn my head slightly. "Oh, um – "
"You don't have to – you don't have to say anything. I just – " He steps closer to me. "I've always thought you were pretty and I guess your new hair just gave me an excuse to… talk to you." He bites his lip, looking down shamefully. "I know. I'm lame."
"No," I breathe out, laughing slightly. "You're not lame. That's not lame."
"No?" He takes another step closer to me.
I bite my lip, looking up at him. "No."
"Grab lunch with me today?" He asks, eyes wide and ready for rejection.
For a moment, I'm speechless. This is exactly what Alice was talking about. She suggested I try new things, jump head first into new situations, new experiences with absolutely no idea of the outcome. Dating would be exactly that. So, I agree.
He smiles widely. "Then it's a date."
Aro lets me leave work early today, so by 3PM I'm already at my apartment. Feeling slightly lonely, I decide to check in on how things are going with Rose. I dial Edward's number and wait for him to pick up. He answers quickly.
"Bella Swan," He says softly.
"H-hey," I stutter awkwardly. I slap myself on the forehead. Get it together, Swan. "What's up?"
"Not much. Just watching a movie. Rose is around here somewhere skyping a friend. They skype literally every day. Sometimes twice a day."
"Oh, that must be Jess." I say, thinking of Rose and Jess as children. It makes me mourn for her childhood years. She is growing up too fast. "They've been attached to the hip for years."
"Ah, well, they've both got some seriously foul mouths. Like, seriously. I didn't even know half of those words when we were that young."
I giggle lightly. "They really do."
He laughs, too. "I think hanging around her has actually given me a dirty mouth. I swear I didn't used to curse this much."
I smile warmly at my abrasive, strong-willed, foul-mouthed daughter. There truly was no one else like her.
"So, what's up? Why are you calling?" He gets right to the point.
"Oh, um, I just wanted to make sure everything was going okay. Rose can be quite the handful, so…"
"Ahh, yeah, well," He sighs. "We've had a few bumps, but I'm learning. We're-we're figuring it out."
This spikes my curiosity. "What happened?"
"Ah, nothing major." He's lying. I frown at being left in the dark. "Just stuff. But, we worked it out."
I stay silent for a moment, repeating to myself: I'm not going to micromanage. I'm not going to micromanage.
"Fine. Don't tell me." I roll my eyes and sit on my bed.
"So… the hair." He mocks, changing the subject.
"Hmm." I hum, trying not to laugh. I run a hand through the ends of my hair. "Yeah, there's really no saying 'no' to your sister."
He chuckles at that. "There really isn't." I laugh along with him. "Well, you look good Swan. It's nice. It's different, but it's nice."
I blush, so grateful that he can't see me. I bite my lip to calm myself down.
"So, how's Bella time? You going out on the dating scene? Enjoying 'growing up'?" He says, lightly enough so that I know he's faintly mocking me and my words to him last week, but also with a curious enough tone that it's clear he actually wants to know.
"I uh," I rest the phone on my shoulder to free up my hands. I pull up a pillow and hug it to my chest. "I actually had a date earlier today."
He pauses slightly. "Oh yeah?"
I laugh lightly, not sure at all why I was telling him this. "Yeah. It went… it went kind of okay." I say, surprised.
"Kind of okay?" He teases, laughing. "Well, obviously, he's no good. Don't ever go out with him again."
I bark out a quick laugh. "What! And why not?"
"You don't leave a girl thinking the date was just kind of okay. That's not… that's amateur hour stuff."
I roll my eyes, trying not to smile. "Amateur?"
"Oh yeah." He declares quickly. "If he was a real catch, you wouldn't be able to think about anything else. Your heart would still be racing, you'd still be feeling hot and flushed and your cheeks would be hurting because you wouldn't have been able to stop grinning."
I smile, shaking my head. "Is that so? Is that how you leave 'em?"
"Uh, yeah." Edward says, lightheartedly. "You should know better than anyone!"
I bark out another laugh. "I should?"
"You got to experience the full Edward Cullen ride before anybody else. You got all the tricks."
"The tricks?" I gasp, playfully. "You practiced tricks on me."
"Of course not." He says. I can hear the smile in his voice. "I was totally pure, totally innocent. I had absolutely zero game back then nor did I ever really have any guts to really try anything."
"Oh, please!" I chuckle, sitting down on the edge of my bed. "The first time you went to second base with me, we weren't even making out. We were just sitting under that tree in the park, you remember?"
"I remember." He murmurs softly.
"Yeah, and you just sort of grabbed them. No prelude, no preamble. Just grabbed 'em. Like you were grabbing a baseball. Totally took me by surprise."
He laughs hard at that and I quickly join in. "I was nervous! I had been thinking about touching them all day and I didn't know – I just – panicked!"
"That's okay. You don't have to be embarrassed." I fake placate him. "My breasts have their own gravitational pull. You really had no choice. These things are unstoppable. There's no controlling them."
He chuckles. "Exactly. That's how I remember it going down."
I giggle, sighing at old memories. "Our dates were always very eventful."
"See?" He says jokingly. "You didn't say 'kind of okay'. And I bet your cheeks are hurting from smiling so hard. Ha! Still the king!"
I roll my eyes, biting my lip. "I hate you." More because he was right than anything else.
"No, you don't." He says. "You're just upset that every date you have now until the end of time we'll have to come up against the amazing, spectacular time when I randomly grabbed your tits like baseballs under the oak tree."
I tease with mock enrage. "Hey! Don't call my breasts 'tits'. They're more classy than that."
"Oh, sorry, ma'am. Forgive me. Your breasts."
"You are not forgiven!" I exclaim half-heartedly. How the hell did we start talking about my breasts? This is not good ex-boyfriend conversation. I say, "And if all my dates have to compare to that then so do yours."
"I mean, yeah, they would... I just haven't really been on a date-date like that in a long while."
I smile up at the ceiling, drawing a circle around my belly button. I ask curiously, "Since when?"
"Since…" He pauses long enough to clue me in that he's thinking of me and finally finishes with a quiet, "Since a long while."
It's quiet for a few moments and I realize that we've been on the phone for almost twenty-five minutes. And we were reminiscing about old dates! I stiffen quickly. What were we doing? What was I doing?
"I have to go." I rush out, sitting up abruptly.
He doesn't say anything for a few moments, and finally lets out a small, "Okay."
"Okay." I say firmly, ending the call. I place my phone back down next to me. I throw an arm over my face, letting out a huge breath.
Pull yourself together, Swan.
"Ohhh! You look sharp! Where are you headed?" Rose questions, looking up from her laptop from her position lounging on the couch in the media room.
"I… actually have a date tonight." I bite my lip nervously and then shake my head.
She throws up an eyebrow. "A date-date or a 'let's eat dinner before we fuck' date?"
I purse my lips at her. She simply just does not understand the allure of beating around the bush.
"A date-date. I haven't been on one in a really long time and, uh, I think it's time." Also, the mention of your mother dating made me slightly jealous and I need to pull myself together. But I don't say that part.
Rose smiles widely at me. "Great. That's awesome!"
I nod, glad she thinks so, too. "Thanks. You cool here by yourself?" I contemplate telling her to invite Emmett over if she gets bored, but then decide there is no way in hell I'm letting him over here with her alone.
Rose nods as she continues typing on her laptop. "Actually, I have a date, too. I need to start getting ready."
I pause halfway out the door. Frowning, I slowly step backwards, close the door, and turn around. I stare at her, but she doesn't seem to notice. I clear my throat and say as casually as I can, "Uh, with who?"
"Oh, uh," She smacks a couple buttons on the laptop, smiles and then shuts it closed. "That guy named Royce you introduced me to the other day. The drummer from Death-something. I can never remember the name of their band. It's something like that."
"Death Squad." I blink at her. "You're going on a date with the drummer from Death Squad."
Death Squad is this new, up and coming band that played a bunch of extremely dark, extremely loud music. If you could call it music. I only knew Royce because he was a contestant on some singing competition show that I performed at once.
She snaps her fingers at me. "Yeah! That's it!"
"He's way too old for you!" I demand, crossing my arms. I felt my face become hot and my hands start shaking.
"He's, like, 20."
"That's, like," I mock in the same tone she gave me. "four years older than you, Rose!"
"That's, like, nothing, Edward. And, I'm mature for my age." She says, flippantly. "Besides he just turned 20 last week. He's only three years older than me."
"Oh, well then, that makes me feel better." I joke sarcastically.
She stands up to walk toward her room. I quickly move myself into her path. She stops and looks up at me with a raised, annoyed eyebrow.
"Hold on, hold on, hold on. Everybody just pause for a second." I murmur, trying to gather my thoughts.
She looks at me strangely. "What? What's wrong?"
"You don't wanna be going on a date with a guy like Royce. Boys like him are up to no good." I shake my head in fury thinking of the kinds of things guys like him, guys like me are up to. "No good whatsoever."
"Well, that works out perfectly 'cause neither am I." She winks at me laughing, smacking me in the stomach with the back of her hand. She walks past me and walks into her room.
I start breathing heavily thinking about Royce and how I know first hand how terrible he is with woman. She closes the door to her room and I assume she's getting dressed... for her date… her date with Royce. I start pacing back and forth in front of her room, thinking about all these worst-case scenarios. I crack my knuckles trying to figure out what to do. I don't want to be an asshole because I know she's sixteen and that she's going to date and that that is just apart of life. But, Royce? I really didn't want her dating a guy in the industry. Shit, maybe I should call her mother. No, Bella's trusting me to keep her safe and I didn't need to give her any reasons to fly out here and take Rose from me. Also, Bella really deserved some time for herself. I could handle this one. It's time to test my parenting skills. This is it. This is the moment I prove myself… to Bella and to Rose that I can do this. I can make responsible parent-like decisions.
While I'm figuring all this shit out in my mind, Rose apparently had the time to get dressed, put on make-up and walk back out of her room.
She laughs lightly at me. "I thought you'd left for your date."
"I thought you were gonna go put clothes on." I glare down at her crop-top and high waisted shorts that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination and let out another breath.
She laughs, rolling her eyes. "Funny."
She blanches, looking down at her outfit. "Edward, my outfit is almost identical to the outfit of that girl you were flirting with the other day. You didn't seem to have a problem with it then."
"I – I just – Uh – " Damn. She had me there. Shit. I was fucking this all up.
"Edward, what's wrong?" She looks at me while she's applying this bright red lipstick. "You're not pissed I'm going on a date are you?"
"No, I just, um, we – "
"Don't wait up, 'kay!" She pats my chest lightly and slides out the front door.
Shit, I had fucked that up completely.
"Bella, shit, Bella, you have to help me?"
Bella sputters out, "What, what's wrong? Is Rose okay?"
"Yeah, no. She's fine. She's just…" I sigh loudly, placing my head in my hand in frustration. "She's on a date right now."
Bella lets out a huge sigh of relief. Then mutters distractedly, "Oh yeah? With who?"
Put off by the way her distracted tone, I become slightly annoyed. "Um, I'm freaking out here Bella. I could use a little reassurance."
"Well, what do you want me to tell you, Edward? Rose is a beautiful girl. She dates a lot. She's sixteen. There's nothing we can do about that. You want her to die alone!"
"No, but Royce… he's a musician… A drummer."
"Oo, Rose definitely gets her attraction to musicians from me." Bella states, jokingly.
I start breathing heavily. Is she serious right now? "Bella, could you be serious? This guy is just… just… I can't shake this feeling."
She stays quiet for a beat. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." I say seriously.
She's silent for a moment and then says, "You're worrying. And that's okay. You're allowed to worry. Rose is going to make a lot of stupid mistakes and she has to learn for herself sometimes. And you're gonna feel like this all the time. It never stops. You can't turn it off." She sighs. "You just have to find a way to distract yourself, until she's right in front of you and you know she's okay again."
I clench my teeth and lick my lips. I don't think I can wait that long. "Dammit. This is awful."
"What is?" She says softly.
"It feels like my chest is gonna fucking explode." I clutch my chest with my other hand. "I can't even think straight. I'm supposed to be on a date right now and I can't even think about anything other than the fact that that guy might be putting his h-h-hands on Rose!"
She laughs lightly. "You're becoming a parent. This feeling comes right before the gray hairs."
I groan. "This isn't funny, Bella."
"Okay!" She giggles slightly. "I'm not laughing." She lets me sit there for a moment until my breathing returns to normal. "Edward, if you feel like this is… if it's bothering you that bad, then you gotta do what you gotta do. You gotta go with your gut, Edward. Sometimes she has to learn a lesson and sometimes you need to make an executive decision for her."
I listen to the advice she's giving me and purse my lips.
She continues, "If he's no good, you put your foot down. She's gonna be pissed. She's gonna be pissed as fucking hell, but you don't let that phase you. If it's your heart, you're worrying. If it's your gut… do what you have to do, Edward."
"Shit!" I breathe out loudly. I thump my forehead lightly on the wall.
"Which one is it?"
My foot shakes for a few beats and let out a breath. "It's my gut."
"Well." Bella states matter-of-factly.
I sigh loudly. "She's gonna hate me."
"Yeah." Bella agrees, laughing. "That's gonna happen every now and then."
"But, we get along so well. We understand each other and I really don't wanna ruin –"
"Look, Edward, if you're goal is to be her friend, then you're on the right track. And that's fine if that's all you want to be. I've been her mom and dad for the past sixteen years, I don't mind continuing if you just want to be her friend. Honestly. Either way I'm just glad you're making such an effort to be in her life." I think over her words and bite down on my lip. Bella sighs and says, "So do what you gotta do, Edward. Stay on her good side and be BFFs with Rose or… you know, be her dad. But, you can't keep crossing over. You have to pick one." Bella says sternly. "It's up to you."
It's silent for a full minute before she says,
"Look, Edward, I've got to go."
I thump my head against the wall again. "Alright. Yeah, sorry. Talk to you later."
"Okay. Don't let me down, Edward."
My chest tightens when she says that and I know from this moment on I will do anything I can so that I keep this promise. "I won't."
I know exactly where guys like Royce hang out; so it didn't take me long to find her. They're in some underground lounge and she's sitting on Royce's lap while he's giving her a shotgun of whatever he was smoking. My face flames with anger and it boils all the way through my body, through my veins. I had brought my bodyguard Seth with me and he was standing immediately to my right.
"There she is." I mutter stiffly. As we walk over, Royce is handing her his joint. Right before she takes it, I intercept it, breaking it in half and throwing it on the floor.
"Man, what the fuck!" Royce exclaims. When he looks up and registers who I am, he throws me a questioning eyebrow.
I ignore him, looking at Rose. Her mouth is wide open and her eyebrows are pushed together. "Time to go, Rose."
Rose looks at me confused and then over at Seth. "What in the hell?"
"I said time. To. Go." I say slowly, pointing to the direction of the door.
She glares at me. I can see in her face her anger steadily increasing. I try not to let it bother me. "Edward, what the hell are you doing here?"
"I'm glad I came! You're about to do drugs?" I pull her out of Royce's lap roughly. "Your mother would actually die!"
"Edward, I can handle myself." She looks over at Royce, who is throwing a lazy, confused look over at the two of us. She whispers through her teeth, "Edwrd, you're embarrassing me."
I shrug. "Tough shit. You're too young to be hanging out with this crowd. We're leaving."
She gives me a hard look and sits back down on the couch next to Royce, who immediately puts a possessive hand on his thigh. I might actually kill him. My eyes fly to his and he smirks slightly at me. Does he think this is a game? "I'm not going anywhere with you. You can't tell me what to do."
"No," She says heatedly, whining in a way that only a true teenager can. "I like Royce and he likes me. I'm staying."
"Royce, you have three seconds to remove your hands from Rosalie's thigh before I remove it for you."
"Bro," He laughs, taunting me darkly by moving his hand up and down her thigh. "What's your deal? You weren't fucking this, were you?"
I grab him by his shirt, pulling him up off the couch. "You watch how you talk about Rosalie. Do you hear me? If I hear of you coming around her again, I will end your music career faster than you can blink." I let him go, shoving him slightly. "Rose, let's go."
"Hell. No." I point at Rose and say, "Seth." He nods, picking Rose up and slinging her over his shoulder.
"The fuck!" Rose screams, pounding on his back with her fists. "You can't do this! Edward, put me down."
People are murmuring behind us as we exit the building, but they're all probably too high to care or remember what's going on. When we get to the Rolls Royce, Seth places her gently into the back seat, closes the door, and we get in the car as well. He pulls off and starts driving us back to my penthouse.
"I hate you." Rose says slowly and firmly from behind me. My face twitches and I bite my lip. "I don't ever want to speak to you again. You just royally humiliated me in front of a guy that I really like. And not just any guy – a fucking famous person! A famous person asked me, me, on a date. Now he's gonna think that I'm like 12 years old with the way you had your fucking bodyguard carry me out!"
"I'm sorry, but," I look out the window. Maybe my dramatics were a little uncalled for, but I'm new at this. "He's no good. He's not good enough for you. You cannot date him. Not under my watch."
"Don't you dare" She kicks my seat forcefully. "try to tell me what to do! You have been my father for all of five fucking minutes, so cut the shit! I don't need your advice! I don't need your fake-ass protective father bullshit! It means nothing to me! Your opinion means nothing to me. You mean nothing to me."
I cringe at her words as she starts to cry. I do my best not to give in. I didn't mean to hurt her, but I had a terrible feeling about this guy and I'd rather her be hurt by me for a moment, than have a guy like Royce fuck her over.
"I'm sorry. I don't trust him."
She lets out a shriek. "There is nothing he could do to me that I haven't done to a million other guys." I look at her in the rearview mirror and watch as she roughly swats tears from her cheek. "You only get played if you want to be played, Edward! You should know that better than anyone!"
I shrug my shoulders, looking out the window. "My gut – "
"Ah!" She gasps loudly. "Don't you bring your gut into this! You were speaking with my mother about this?! Well, you know what my gut is telling me, that you're a jerk and I never want to speak to or look at you again!"
Seth pulls into the complex and Rose flies out the car, slamming the door and runs up to the penthouse. I swallowed thickly and looked over at Seth.
Seth looks at me strangely, nodding. He shrugs, "Teenagers."
He's probably surprised as fuck that I have a daughter, but then again, so am I.
"Mom. That man had me dragged out by his hulking monster of a body guard in front of my date and all of his friends!" Rose exclaims in disbelief. "He will never call me again!"
I raise my eyebrows, shocked. I didn't realize Edward had it in him. "Well, honey, I think that was his goal."
"Mom," She says in disbelief. "You're not on his side, are you?"
I put my head in my hands. "There are no sides, Rose. Edward and I are both Team Rose. We're not against you."
"You think he should have tracked me down on my date, thrown him against the wall and had me drug out of this amazing lounge on the shoulder of his bodyguard? You think that he was justified in doing that?" She exclaims hysterically.
"I think," I let out a breath and rub at my chin. "I think he could have handled it better.
She spits out in fury. "What?"
I think over my words deliberately and decide if I'm going in then I have to go all in. "Rose, Edward knows New York. I'm not there and I have given him all my trust and all my faith in taking care of you for the summer. So, if he says no that's… from now on, that's as good if you heard it from me."
"Mom!" She sputters. I can hear the rage in her voice. "Edward is as much an adult as I am! Every guy that I've shown interest in has made him completely flip his shit! It's not fair. I'm dealing with an amateur here!"
"Rose," I say calmly, smiling to myself at Edward and at Rose. The navigation of their relationship was a tricky and painful one, but it doesn't mean it wasn't fun to watch. "That means he cares about you, honey! He's freaking out. He's been calling me the last two days going completely out of his mind. He's so fucking confused. It's cute, really. He wants to do the right thing, but he thinks you hate him now. Probably because you told him that." I can almost hear her eye roll after I said that. "He doesn't want you to get hurt. That's all this is. That's all it ever is."
She sighs, her anger melting audibly.
"Give him some time to figure it out. But in the meantime, apologize."
She scoffs loudly. "For what!"
"For whatever you said. I don't know what it was, but I know it was mean and I know it was hurtful." I laugh, walking into my bathroom to select a new color to polish my toes with. "He doesn't know how difficult it is raising a bratty teenager."
Rose groans. "Ughh, fine."
I hang up the phone and smile. Realizing how much he cares about her bringing an insane amount of joy to my heart.
I look up to see Rose entering my bedroom. Surprised, I drop what I am holding and cross my arms over my chest. She had been ignoring me all day.
She waltzes further into my room and sits down on the edge of my bed. I think this is the first time she's actually ever been in here.
I wait for her to say what she came to say and prepare myself for another vicious attack. But, instead she says,
"So, you and my mom are cool again." She doesn't say it like she's asking me, like she already knows the answer.
"Uh, yeah. I guess." I hold up two ties, a red one and a green one, and motion for her to choose between them. She points to the red one.
"You guys give me whiplash."
I throw up an eyebrow, plopping down in my desk chair. "I'm sorry?"
"It's hard to keep up with whether you guys hate each other or not. Changes daily."
I laugh slightly, nodding at her assessment. My relationship with Bella was complicated, almost as complicated as my relationship with Rose. I swing around facing my desk to turn on my computer.
Rose continues, sitting up. "It's like one day you're yelling and cussing at her and she thinks you're the spawn of Satan and then suddenly, out of like nowhere, the next day you're flirting with her over secret phone calls."
I pause what I'm doing and slowly swivel my chair back around to face Rose. I tilt my head at her, trying to figure out what she's getting at. Clearly, she overheard our phone call the other day. She's not smiling, so I know she's not joking. And she's not scowling, so I can assume she's not mad. She has a very serious expression on her face. One I've only seen her wear once before.
"I wasn't… flirting with your mother. We were just talking."
She purses her lips, rolling her eyes. "Please. I basically instruct Flirting 101 at my high school. You don't have to lie to me."
She's looking at me with clear, wide eyes and I'm at a complete loss for words. I can't tell if she's mad or happy. Not that I was flirting with Bella anyway. 'Cause I wasn't.
"Do you… like my mother, again?"
She crosses her arms across her chest as I sputter. "N-n-no. Rose, we're not even... We're never gonna…" She tilts her head and waits patiently for me to form my thoughts. I lick my lips, clearing my throat. "I've crossed that bridge, Rose."
She looks at me quietly for a moment and then squints her eyes at me. "So, just to be clear, bridge is crossed?"
"Bridge is crossed." I affirm, nodding.
"No immediate plans to cross back over for a quick ride at Bellaland?"
I scowl at her word choice. "None." I shake my head.
She nods and then stands. "Okay, well, then, this is me burning that bridge."
I scrunch up my face in confusion, throwing her a slight glare. "Excuse me?"
"I mean, if you don't need it, you won't care if I burn it." She waves her hand at me, logically. I open and shut my mouth several times. "I mean, why have a pointless bridge taking up space when you can just get rid of it and allow each other to build new bridges? You said you had no intentions of using the bridge."
I blink a few times, trying not to get lost in this metaphor. "It's-it's-it's just a lot of history. Sometimes you just need to keep the bridge just for… you know, memory purposes for, like, reminiscing and shit."
She lowers her eyebrows and looks down at me skeptically. "See the thing is I don't believe you." She says simply. "I don't believe that you've crossed that bridge. In fact, I believe you're on you're way back over. I know that things are weird between you two right now, but I know attraction when I see it. I'm not an idiot. And I know exactly how this is gonna play out because you're confused and uncertain and, understandably, hurting. So, in the meantime, you'll keep popping back over to your side and riding all the different roller coasters in Famous People Land, and my mom will be over in Bellaland broken… again. So, no. I'm burning the bridge. You are not allowed to play with her. She is finally getting her life together and I want her to find some happiness. At first, I kind of wanted you two to get back together. I mean, how exciting would that be. But now, after getting to know you… no offense or anything, but you're too much like me. And my mom deserves better than what people like us can offer her."
After her speech, I look at her quietly for a few moments. "This is because of Royce?"
"Oh, please, Edward," She scoffs, looking at me with disgust. "I am not that petty. The reason I actually came over here in the first place was to apologize for the things that I said to you. I'm still livid. I still think you were totally unjustified… but I don't… hate you. I couldn't. Even if I tried."
I cough, clearing my throat. "Thank you. That means a lot."
She smiles slightly, but since she's still mad at me she doesn't look at me when she does so. "But, let's not forget what we're talking about."
I nod my head. "Right."
She looks at me sternly. "Edward, I'm asking you to stop flirting with my mother."
"Done." I smile at her. She hops up to exit the room and I grab her hand to stop her. She pauses and looks down at me. I swallow thickly. "Rose, I just didn't want you to get hurt. I couldn't think about anything else. I just knew that you shouldn't have been there. I'm sorry if that makes you angry at me, but you've so quickly become very central to my world and I don't… I just…" I finish lamely, unable to express my emotions. "Didn't want you to get hurt."
She nods at me, letting go of my hand and heading back toward the door. At the last minute she turns, smirking. "It's kind of sweet, actually. I guess."
I raise an eyebrow. She laughs and then spits out, pointing at me, "But, don't do it again."
"Don't go out with Royce again." I throw back.
She rolls her eyes and exits the room.
"So, you'll fuck just about anyone, won't you?"
"Um," Lisa, my publicist who I hadn't been expecting to see today, especially not this early in the morning, pushes past me roughly, entering my apartment with an ugly scowl across her face. "Excuse me?"
She huffs, placing her hands on her cheeks. She says slowly, "I have done some pretty amazing shit for you, Edward Cullen. Sometimes I even impress myself with the gnarly shit that I am able to spin positively for you, but-but this..." She shakes her head disappointedly after throwing me a look of disgust. "My powers don't reach this far."
Scrunching my eyebrows together, I shake my head. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"This!" She shoves a magazine in my face, too close for me to read. "I'm talking about this!"
I yank the magazine out of my face and throw her a fierce glare. "You need to calm the fuck down." Then grumble, "It's too early in the morning for this shit."
I look down at the magazine in my hands and immediately stiffen. "Fuck." There are two pictures of Rose and I on the front cover. One of us when we were holding hands trying to run away from the paparazzi in Central Park and another from that party the other night. I have a firm hold on her forearm and it's clear that we're arguing, but from an outside viewer it could easily be perceived as a lover's quarrel. There are big, bold white words written in the center stating, "EC Likes 'Em Young!"
I cover my face with the magazine and groan out, "Shit."
"I can spin you fucking models in public places, restaurants, clubs, whatever. Married women? No problem." She spits out at me with fire, poking me in the chest. "But, you fucking around with underage girls? I-I…" She scratches her forehead. "That I cannot do. That you'll lose fans over. That can get you arrested. That - "
"Lis," I grab her shoulders, to get her attention. She's still shaking slightly from fury. "It's not what it looks like."
"That's not what the article says." She states. She takes the magazine back, opens it to a specific page and reads, "Edward Cullen was spotted hanging all around New York with a new lady companion, a younger lady companion, that is. They took a carriage ride through Central Park, laughing, taking selfies together - "
I sigh. "Lisa,"
She holds a hand out to stop me from talking. "Wait, it gets worse. 'Later that night they were spotted at Cullen's good friend Jasper Whitlock's album release party, where the couple was reported to be having a very public, very heated, and possibly drunken lover's quarrel sparked by Edward Cullen's jealousy over the unknown girl dancing with a young man closer to her age."
I rub at my eyebrow and groan. "This is bad."
"No," She laughs darkly. "This isn't bad. What's bad is that I heard TMZ has video of your little fight and they're planning on airing it in their episode tonight. You better pray to God that the party was too loud for the audio to be that great. Because if not, I can't help you."
I clench my jaw, biting on my thumbnail. We knew this was coming. Expecting it, even. There was only so long we could hide the truth. But we definitely weren't expecting it under these circumstances. This changes everything, how we deal with the public - everything.
"Oh, geez," Lisa groans, leaning back against the wall. "When twitter gets ahold of this, it's just gonna be absolute mayhem."
"Fuck," I curse, biting my lip. Twitter was ruthless.
"You know they're gonna find out who she is pretty quick. That's a national magazine. And if TMZ gets it then…" She started pacing, entering publicist mode. "You're gonna need to put out a statement first, if you want to protect her, whoever the fuck she is."
"I do." I bite my lip, sighing as I feel a headache coming on. I look at Lisa, stating firmly so that she'll understand how serious I am. "She has to protected at all costs. That's very important to me."
She frowns at me, crossing her arms over her chest. "Who is she?"
"I… She… I'm helping her with her music. She's-she's brilliant."
She narrows her eyes at me. "Edward,"
"I am!" I insist. "I promise."
She doesn't look convinced or impressed. "Who is she?"
"She's just… I'm helping her with her - "
She demands angrily. "Are you fucking her?"
My face twists up in disgust and my face flashes with heat. "No! Of course, not. You don't even know how gross that is."
"Do you even know how gross that is?"
I glare at her. "Lisa."
"Who is she!?" She stomps her foot, her voice getting louder and louder.
"What, like a name? You want a name?" I stammer out heatedly. This conversation was getting me all worked up and I was worried I'd explode soon.
She looks at me like I'm a moron, nodding sarcastically. "Yes, yes. Like a fucking name."
"Rose," I say. "Her name is Rose."
"Rose." She shifts her weight to her other foot. "Rose what, Edward?"
"It doesn't matter. I - "
"It doesn't matter?" She gasps, placing a hand on her chest. "Then why the hell did you hire me, Edward? Why the hell did you hire me to protect your image - the most impossible, hardest job in the entire fucking universe if it doesn't fucking matter? Why?"
"Okay. It matters." I placate her, holding my hands out in front of me before she decides to go all psycho and hit me. "It matters for my career. But, I can't… I can't tell you… yet. I have to - I have to speak with someone… first. Discuss with them… About… decisions. And then... I will let you know and we can figure something out."
She squints her eyes at me. "You're not making any sense. Who, but me, do you need to discuss how you handle your image with, Edward?"
"I know. I know I'm not making any sense. Everything is just complicated. Just-" I sigh loudly, covering my eyes with my palm. "Just give me 'till noon."
"Yes, noon. And then we can put out a statement."
She throws her hands up in the air. "Stating what exactly?" She stares at me angrily in disbelief. "That you promise you're not fucking a 16 year old girl? That you're only helping her with her music? There are pictures of you two passionately arguing at a goddamn party, Cullen!"
"I honestly have no fucking clue. I don't know what I'm gonna say. But, I'll let you know at noon, okay?" I place a hand on her back and try to lead her back to the front door.
She rolls her eyes, obliging. She begins walking forward. "Whate-"
"Hey Ed, what's with all the noise? It's 8 o'clock in the fucking morning! Jesus." Rose comes strolling by in her pajamas - a big t-shirt and a pair of flannel pants - plops down onto the counter stool, grabs and apple and bites into it.
I look back over at Lisa sheepishly and her eyes are as wide as saucers. She shrieks out, "She's staying here! Edward, what the f-"
I open the door and gently push her through it. "Noon, 'kay?" I close the door in her face swiftly. I know I'll pay for that one later. I lean back against the door groaning loudly. This could get me in trouble with my label. I had to fix this and quickly.
I hear Rose snicker over in the kitchen so I walk over and throw her a questioning eyebrow.
She bites into her apple. "Was that another overnight guest?"
"Overnight guest" is what Rose had taken to calling my dates. I roll my eyes and scowl at her. "No, no. I made a promise."
Rose smiles slightly at me. "Thank you."
I nod at her. "That was actually my publicist."
Rose's eyes narrow. She's too smart for her own good. "What was your publicist doing here at 8:30 in the morning?"
I slide the magazine over to her. She peeks at the front cover casually, before dropping the apple, squealing and flipping to the center of the magazine.
"Oh shit!" She reads on. "Shit! Fuck!"
"I know. I'm so sorry." I sit down next to her.
"Edward," She gasps loudly. She points to the magazine. "This is bad." She looks at me with wide, worried eyes. "People are gonna think I'm some kind of slut! This is the goddamn People magazine! People in my hometown are gonna… people here are gonna… Edward, this could ruin my music career before it even begins!"
"Hey," I grab her shoulders to calm her down. I wait until her breathing returns to normal and less like she's about to hyperventilate. "Don't worry. Hey! Don't. Worry." I rub her arms awkwardly, trying to be comforting but acknowledging that we aren't really that close yet. "I'm handling this. My publicist? She's like fucking Olivia Pope. She is on this. You don't even know some of the crazy shit that I've done, that's she's fixed for me. It's gonna be fine. You're going to be fine." I swear to her. I let go of her shoulders and sigh. "I just have to talk to your mother first and see what she wants to do."
"It's 5:30 in the morning over there. She's not up yet." Rose says, frowning down at the magazine. "She'll be getting up for work soon though."
"I know. I'll call her in a couple hours. Just um," I bite my lip, looking at her out of the corner of my eye. "Are you cool with the truth coming out about us? Because that might be the only way we can fix this."
She thinks for a moment and then nods. "Yeah, I-I guess?"
"And ignore your phone calls for a little bit. At least until we figure things out. Okay?"
She nods, swallowing visibly.
I let out a huge breath and drop my head into my hands.
"Bella, could you come in here?" Aro's voice slightly more stern than usual. Confused, I scrunch up my eyebrows. I had been meaning to make a phone call, Edward and Rose had both called me, and I had intended on returning them, but that could wait. I walk into his office and he's sitting there, arms crossed glaring at me.
"Is something wrong?"
"Yeah," Aro purses his lips. He points down at the magazine on his desk. "What's this?"
I shrug, bending down to pick it up. I look at the magazine, read the headline and freeze. Oh shit.
"That's your daughter, no?" He questions with a sarcastic manner. "The PR team just brought this to me."
"Yeah," I drawl out, trying to come up with an excuse. "It's not – "
"Do you know how this makes us look? Being connected with some… having someone who works directly under me being connected with some trollop – "
"Hey!" I throw the magazine down roughly on the desk. "I understand that you're my boss, but you watch how you talk about my daughter. I will not stand here and be disrespected."
"Your daughter's actions are disrespecting our company!" He spits out, standing. "She's drinking with a man twice her age at a party in New York. That doesn't look good!"
I scoff, but my face feels hot with anger. Fuck. This is why they were calling me. "It's a tabloid! These things are not factual. This is not true!"
"You better pray to God that this gets fixed and quickly. We cannot have any bad press right now."
I reel in the glare that I was about to throw at him and groan loudly. "I'm gonna take a personal day."
"You do that." Aro agrees.
Rose calls her mother via skype, so that all three of us can have a conversation about our next steps. Before she turns it on she looks at me seriously and says,
"You've just got to let her yell and get it out of her system. Apologize. Apologize. Apologize. That's it. Nothing else until she's finished yelling."
I nod, her morose tone scaring me.
As soon as Bella's face comes on to the screen, Rose and I exchange a look. Bella looks livid.
"Drinking!?" She exclaims, her hands balled into fists. "You two were drinking together like drinking pals at a fucking party!? She's Six. Teen."
Rose grimaces and I scratch my head.
"I know. That's what we were arguing about."
"Edward, I'm trusting you here! You are making me feel like I made a huge fucking mistake!" She spits out at me.
I gulp thickly, looking down. "I'm so sorry. It won't happen again. We talked it through."
"Oh, that's great. That's lovely. I'm glad you figure out after the fact that drinking at the party that you were supposed to be watching her at was a bad fucking idea. I'm glad you guys talked that out." Sarcasm is particularly nasty coming from Bella. She growls at us both. "Rose, I am so disappointed in you."
"I know. I'm sorry."
Bella shakes her head as if she doesn't believe it. Her eyes flicker back to me. "And what is this shit I'm reading about you making out with some girl at the same party Rose is at?"
I grimace. Shit, did I have any privacy whatsoever!
"Do you not understand what it means to be a parent? Do you have any clue what it means to set a good example? Or at least a decent one?"
"I'm sorry." I apologize.
"All I'm hearing from you two are these bullshit apologies and I don't believe any of them. I don't believe you! You two are just alike!" She yells, her eyes wide with rage. "You make these awful decisions and I'm left having to clean the shit up. I'm the one who's in danger of losing her job right now, not you! Me! I'm the one who looks like an awful mother. I'm gonna get blamed for this shit. I - "
"Mom, we're sorry." Rose says softly and sincerely. "We're figuring it out. We're gonna fuck up a little bit, but we're trying."
Bella shakes her head in anger and sighs loudly. She looks back at me and there's disgust written all over her face.
She spits out, "Have you fucked everyone?"
The way she's looking at me stings slightly. It makes my blood boil and my hands sweat. She was looking at me like I was this massive fuck-up, like I wasn't any good. And I was sick of it. I didn't care about the advice Rose had given me, I was going to speak my mind.
"Okay, you know what," I blurt out, breaking the silence of our "family meeting" skype session. Both Bella and Rose's eyes widen in surprise. I narrow my eyes at the screen. "Stop looking at me like that."
Bella scrunches up her face in confusion. "Like what?"
"Like you're disgusted with me, like you don't like the person that I am." I spit out.
She shrugs her shoulders, slowly folding her arms in front of her chest. "I am disgusted with you. And I don't like the person that you are."
"Hey, mom, come on." Rose tries to interrupt with a scowl on her face.
"That's not fair. S'not fair, Bella." I run a hand through my hair, glaring at her face on the screen. "You can't keep looking at me like I'm… like I'm… like I'm damaged goods. Like I'm beneath you or some shit."
Bella opens her mouth to speak, but I beat her to it.
"I'm a 36 year-old, single, attractive male. I don't cheat. I don't steal. I make a lot of money, and I do so legally. I don't do hard drugs. I drink socially. I like sex. I found out I had a daughter and I'm doing my best to be involved in her life. I'm gonna make some mistakes, but I'm learning. I genuinely believe that I qualify as a good guy; yet, from the minute we started talking again, the very minute you laid your eyes back on me in that music store, Bella, you have been looking at me like I'm damaged. Like I'm no good. Like I have done something wrong."
"I'm sorry, Edward." She shakes her head, pulling her hair behind her ear. The bright red of her hair sharpens her features. "I can't change how I look at you, how I feel about you… about the way you've changed. I mean, the person that you are… You're not the Edward Cullen I used to know. My Edward was -"
I let out a sharp, bitter laugh, clapping my hands sarcastically.
"Are you fucking kidding me? You don't get to judge me. For anything." I swallow thickly. I can't believe we were having this discussion over Skype with Rose in the room, but at that moment I was too angry to censor any of my thoughts. Every word that reached my tongue had to be said. Rose covers her eyes with her hand and shakes her head.
"Once upon a time, your Edward Cullen only wanted you. You. And when that was no longer an option for me, when you made it very clear that you weren't feeling the same way – lie or not – I didn't want another serious relationship, Bella. I had tried it; it didn't work for me. So, no. You are not allowed to judge me, or look at me with disgust written all over your face, for the way that I chose to move on from you. Because you gave me no choice you know… I had to move on. That's what normal people do. Are you mad at me for moving on?"
"No!" She spits out angrily, releasing her arms from across her chest.
"Then you're mad at me 'cause you didn't move on." I deduce.
She scoffs, rolling her eyes. She looks at me annoyed. "Absolutely not, Edward. I am not still hung up over you."
"Sure?" I look at her seriously and we stare at each other for a few quiet moments, completely ignoring Rosalie's presence.
Her eyes harden and she purses her lips. "Okay, I'm not the one who keeps an old engagement ring in my sock drawer."
I pull back offended. That was below the belt.
I notice Rose begin to grow uncomfortable as her eyes flick from her mother on the screen to my face. I shake my head in disbelief, meeting Bella's hardened gaze with one of my own.
"Then, you're mad because of how your life turned out. Because it was you who had to give up Juilliard and you who had to give up your freedom and options and a career and-and-and… love. And, even though you know it's not my fault and that I had no control over anything and that I would have been there, right by your side, if I had been given the chance… I think a small part of you blames me." My glare deepens as the spouting off my thoughts makes me angrier. I pat my chest roughly in outrage. "As if I did this to you! As if you were the only one who had to give things up! As if you are the only one who's hurting!"
"I… I – " She stutters for a few moments, eyes flickering to Rose. Finally, she closes her mouth and shrugs.
"Bella, regardless of how much pressure my mother put on you to lie to me, to break my heart, to keep things from me, ultimately, it was your decision. You could have chosen me. You could have chosen to fight for us, but for whatever reason you just… didn't." I sigh, licking my lips. I am so completely over this conversation, so I decide to wrap it up quickly. "Bottomline, Bella, you don't get to look at me with disapproval anymore. You don't get to look at me like I'm doing something wrong or hold it over my head like you are better than me. Because I'm not asking for forgiveness from you. I don't care how you think about me. I don't care if you think I'm a whore, a slut, a pig." I lick my lips angrily and do my best to keep from growling out of frustration at her. "You can be mad at me for screwing up with Rose, you can be mad at me for exposing her to the public in the way that I did, which I admit was asinine and juvenile and I apologized for that, it happened, I can't take it back. You're right. I'm sorry. But you are no longer allowed to be mad at me for the way that I chose to move on, for the way that I repaired myself from the condition that you left me in."
"So, yes. You're correct. I am no longer your Edward." I point at her on the screen fiercely, staring her right in the eye as I spit out, "And that's on you."
It's quiet for a full two minutes. Bella's eyes are watery and Rose looks like she wants to disappear. My chest is rising and falling from my outburst and Bella and I are staring at each other awkwardly.
"Um," Bella starts. "Edward, I am sorry that I broke your heart."
In all the time that we had known each other again, through all the bullshit and the fighting and the making up, she had not once yet apologized for what she did to me. And I hadn't realized how much I wanted to hear it until she said it and i a huge weight felt like it had been lifted off my shoulders.
I sigh and swallow. "Thank you."
Rose clears her throat, licking her lips, apparently fed up with our drama. She looks back and forth from me to Bella and back again.
"So, how are we gonna handle this?"
And because I don't want you super passionate folks badgering me about this later... Yes. This is an eventual Edward/Bella HEA. But, it's just simply unrealistic that they'd fall in love so quickly five seconds later. Lots of people were hurt. They have to heal! They have to grow! lol. I still love y'all though! ;)
If you're ever going through DOAT withdrawals, ease on over to the DOAT outtakes on my profile. I'll post drabbles/alternate POVs from time to time.
Thanks so much to my passionate reviewers! You guys are truly what keeps me going! I love each and every one of you! You make this story so much fun to write!
As per usual, reviewers get teasers!