Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyers owns Twilight, you know that. I just like the characters! ENJOY!
A/N: I will be posting another story as well. Only one will be continued from your opinions for now. Let me know what you think! Should I continue? Do you want more? This was beta'd by the awesome mauigirl60 and Dolphin62598.
My phone rang as I left the small airport hanger in Saint Lucia. After everything that happened in Chicago, I moved on autopilot until I was standing in this very space. Tanya, my fiancée of the past year, had been cheating on me with the CEO of the company my tech business was in the midst of merging with.
I came home; well, actually, I'd hit them with the front door of my penthouse. They were fucking where I usually set my keys in the foyer. A mere ten minutes after I'd kicked out the smug assholes, I received a call notifying me that my tech business was going under.
Like I said, I moved on autopilot and here I was, wearing the clothes I'd worn two days ago. I had my phone, wallet, and passport, but that was it.
"Hello?" my voice cracked.
"Edward, Jesus Christ… what happened?" my brother Carlisle sighed into the phone. "Dad's losing it, where are you?"
"I needed to leave," I mumbled.
"You needed to leave?" he asked carefully.
"What do you know?"
"Things aren't looking good for you, bro. That's what I know. Tan moved all her shit out of the penthouse. Es tried talking some sense into her. Did you two have a fight? Is this because of what happened with Masen?"
"So you know what happened with Masen?"
"It's all over CNN and CNBC. I'm a doctor, Ed. I only know a little about the business stuff that you, Em and Dad talk about. It doesn't sound too good."
"James fucked me over royally…" was all I could get out. I couldn't mention he fucked Tanya literally.
"Man, where are you?"
"Carlisle… I can't be in Chicago right now…"
"I need you to talk to Dad, see if he or Emmett could step in at Masen."
"Edward!" he panicked.
"I'll email a letter of resignation and declare Emmett the new CFO."
"Edward, you can't do something like that," he laughed humorlessly. "Let me and Emmett come get you. Where are you, little brother?"
I hung up, throwing and smashing my phone against the brick of the airport wall. I sat down on the curb of the passenger loading and unloading zone and closed my eyes, taking a deep breath. What the fuck was I doing? And why couldn't I find a way to care? I felt numb… empty.
I heard an infectious giggle of a little girl to my right. I slowly opened my eyes and there was a little wisp of a girl standing in front of me. She had curly brown hair and eyes, and freckles covering her nose. She smiled widely at me, revealing two missing front teeth. I couldn't help but smile back at her. Her head turned quickly, looking at the door. I noticed the Mariners baseball cap sitting backward on her head. It contradicted the yellow sundress and gold sandals on her feet.
"Are you okay?" she asked, tilting her head at me.
"I'm okay," I answered her.
"You have no bags?"
I shook my head.
"Oh," she giggled. "Mama's getting our bags 'cause we flew on the plane. Did you fly on the plane?"
I nodded slowly.
"Wasn't it fun? Did you come from Seattle too?"
"No, Chicago," I told her.
"I don't know where that's at. My pappy lives in Forks, Mama took me to see him 'cause it's been forever since we see'd him. Guess what?" she said, just about squealing.
"What?" I smiled.
"Pappy took me on his boat and we caught fishies!" she grinned.
"That sounds like fun."
"Emma?" I heard a soft voice call from the doors of the baggage claim.
"I'm over here, Mama," she hollered over her shoulder.
A petite woman made her way over to us. The closer she got, the more I could see how breathtakingly beautiful she was. Her daughter was the spitting image of her, though the woman's curls were wilder and her nose and lips were different from that of her child's. She had more of a button nose and plumper lips.
"Uh, who's your new friend, baby?" she said, smiling down at her daughter and me.
If this was Chicago, I was pretty sure she'd be yelling at me and dragging her daughter away from the creepy stranger.
"Oh, what's your name?"
"Edward," I said, as I let out a breath.
"You look a little worse for wear, Edward," the beauty said, smiling. "I'm Bella and that chatterbox is Emma."
"Hi," I said quietly, feeling my exhaustion catching up with me.
"Edward, are you waiting for a cab?" Bella asked soothingly.
I froze because I hadn't thought that far yet. I'd gotten on the plane, but didn't know what to do now. If I went to one of the resorts, my family would trace my accounts back to here. I'd used the company plane and paid Peter, my pilot, handsomely not to tell anyone my location.
"I, uh…" I sputtered.
Emma giggled at me, looking up at her mother. "He's silly, Mama!" She laughed again.
"I think you might be right, Ems," she said, picking up the little girl. "Mr. Edward, would you like to come home and have dinner with us?"
I gaped at her.
"You don't know me," I protested.
"But you look hungry," she pointed out. "And I'm hungry. Aren't you hungry, Ems?"
"I'm very hungry, Mama," Emma said, giving a nod. "Mr. Edward, Mama makes the best dinners, I promise."
"The very best," Bella agreed, nuzzling her nose against her daughter's.
"I… it's very hard to deny the both of you," I mumbled, looking up at their sweet faces.
"Funny thing, my dad said that all week," she snorted. "Come on, Mr. Edward, my Jeep is parked in the lot."
She went for her luggage, but I stood up and took it from her. "It's the least I can do," I told her, cutting off her protests.
Bella shrugged, walking in front of me as she carried Emma. Emma rested her chin on her mother's shoulder, watching me as I followed them. Her eyes were so trusting and I couldn't get over the insane fact that they were taking me home with them. I helped Bella get everything settled in her Jeep before making my way to the passenger seat.
"Aren't ya so excited?"
I glanced at Bella and she shot me a beaming smile as she started the vehicle.
"Very," I answered.
We rode quietly through town; it was becoming very clear to me that Bella and Emma were locals. I deduced this from the way Bella drove. She only seemed to take back roads and shortcuts. I hadn't seen a resort or tourist trap yet. When we started up a winding road, I noticed it seemed more like a private driveway than a road.
"Is this your home?" I asked, as she pulled into the driveway.
At the top of the hill and overlooking the ocean, sat this amazing glass house. I'd been to this island many times, but had never seen a house with this type of architecture. It was exquisite.
"Do ya like my house Edward?" Emma asked, unbuckling her booster seat.
She climbed forward a bit so she could see my face. The expectant look on hers told me she was waiting for my answer.
"It's very beautiful," I said, nodding.
"Baby, why don't you go inside and check on Rocco?"
"But he's at Uncle Jake's!" Emma told her.
"Uncle Jake brought him back this morning when we boarded the plane. Now, go; I know he's missed you sooooo much," Bella said enthusiastically.
"I missed him soooo much!" she squealed.
Bella hopped out of the car, letting Emma out before she came to stand by my door. I opened the door letting my sigh escape. "You don't know me. Why would you bring a stranger here? Endanger your child?"
"Can I be honest, Edward?" she asked, peering up at me.
For the first time, I realized how small this woman was. I'd be surprised if she wasn't over five feet two inches.
"By all means." I waved my hand at her.
"Honesty is always the best policy," she recited. "Sorry, my dad's a cop; he's kind of ingrained that concept into my head."
"You wanted to be honest," I reminded her, feeling amused.
"Right," she nodded. "I invited you here because you look like you needed help. I mean, you don't even have any luggage. The honesty part is that I saw your picture on CNN during our layover in Atlanta."
"So, what is it that you want? Money? Fame?" I snapped, feeling anger hit me.
"Look at where I live. Do you think I need money?" she snorted, shaking her head. "Fame? My stepfather is the owner of the Mariners. If I wanted fame, I could be a socialite in Seattle, getting out of cars with no panties on."
"Then why did you help me?"
"Emma," was all she said.
"Emma? What does your daughter have to do with this?" I scoffed.
"She has this fantastic judge of character," she said simply.
"That little girl can't be more than five years old. How do you trust her judgment? I could be a psychopath or pedophile," I spat.
I was fuming at the fact that she'd endanger both her and her daughter's life. I felt her hand touch my arm. Her big brown and trusting eyes met mine. The same eyes her daughter had inherited. The same eyes which dug me out of my catatonic state, even for a brief moment.
"I knew just by looking at you that you wouldn't hurt us," she murmured, letting her thumb rub my arm. "Plus, CNN has painted you as the next Mother Theresa."
I scowled and she giggled. "Lighten up, you're in paradise!"
"If you watched CNN, then you should know the shambles my life is in."
"You obviously wanted an escape, Edward," she said, tugging on my arm. "What are you running from?"
"I walked in on my fiancée fucking the man my multi-billion dollar company is merging with - at least I thought was merging with. My company - which started out as a business plan for my grad school entrepreneurship class - has now lost three major clients. My shares are going under and quite rapidly, at that. I have absolutely nothing now. James has everything that was mine," I choked out.
Bella pulled me into a tight embrace, as my arms hung awkwardly at my sides. My tears gave way from the exhaustion and betrayal I felt at the moment. I never let anyone in, not even Tanya. Maybe in the back of my mind I'd known she'd do this. She was just as cold as I was. Emmett had more than once joked that he didn't understand the mechanics of robots fucking.
"You're safe here," Bella murmured, rubbing my back soothingly.
At that, I let my arms wrap around her as I cried. Not once had I seen that kind of compassion aimed toward me. I remained distant from my family with the exception of Carlisle's meddling. I grew up with two older brothers and a younger sister who all just seemed to fit in well together. Our mother had died after Alice was born and our father couldn't bear to look at us, especially her. All three were quite jovial, whereas I was the serious one. I'd always set goals for myself to succeed, and had many ambitions.
"You okay?" she asked, pulling back to survey me.
"I'm getting there," I sniffed, wiping my eyes.
"Let's go inside and we'll talk while I make dinner," she offered, taking my hand in hers.
I stared at her small dainty hand in mine. This woman was unbelievably warm and kind. As we walked through the front door, we were met with giggles and yipping. My eyes widened at the small ball of fluff at my feet.
"Rocco likes you, Mr. Edward!" Emma gushed.
"What is that?" I whispered to Bella.
"That's my baby, Rocco," she cooed, picking the dog up. "He's a teacup Shih Tzu."
"He's just a ball of black fur." I stared at him. "I was expecting a beast."
"He's our baby," Emma told me, holding her arms out to her mother.
Bella carefully placed him in Emma's arms, giving them both a kiss. "Scoot baby, we're going to make some dinner."
"I puts my movie in," Emma informed her, disappearing into the huge room down the hall.
Bella kicked her sandals off and padded barefoot into her kitchen. I followed, taking in the masterpiece that was this house.
"How old is Emma?" I asked.
"She just turned five, that was actually why we went on our trip," Bella explained, opening a fully-stocked fridge. "Jake," she mumbled.
"Yeah, he's the dope who bought all these groceries," she sighed, shaking her head.
I didn't know what to say to that so I remained quiet. Bella pulled her hair into a messy bun on top of her head before pulling things out of her fridge.
"So, you went to Seattle for Emma's birthday?"
"Forks," she corrected, getting out a couple of pots from the cabinet. "It's this small country town in Washington. My dad lives there and he always comes here to see us…it was finally our time to go back."
I didn't want to intrude any more in their lives than I already had, so I didn't ask any questions.
"Emma's sperm donor lives there," she said matter-of-factly, just as if she was telling me the weather report.
"Sperm donor?" I coughed.
"We all have stories, Edward. Histories, if you will."
"And you're going to tell me your history?"
She shrugged. "I have nothing to hide," she said, pointing the big spoon in her hand at me.
"Okay," I said slowly.
"My parents met in college, got married, had me and divorced when I was a year old. My mom was an artist by heart and an architect by profession," she explained, pouring water into the smaller pot.
"Is a Renee Dwyer original," Bella nodded.
"Renee Dwyer? She designed the Masen building in Chicago," I said, amazed, but then frowned.
Renee Dwyer had passed away five years ago. Bella's mom passed away five years ago. Bella looked up from her task of boiling water and cocked her head at me.
"My mom and I stayed in Seattle after the divorce. Charlie moved back to his hometown four hours away. I'd spend my summers there as a kid. My mom married Phil when I was four and, suddenly, I had two dads. They were cool with each other, though. When I was ten, Mom got offered a resort job here and we sort of stayed. Phil would go back for baseball season and my dad would take his vacations here."
"So, she built this house for all of you?"
"Yup," she smiled, getting the marinara sauce out.
"Mom got sick when I was seventeen. I'd gone to Washington to spend a few weeks with my dad. I was a brat and acted out any way I could. I'd always been pretty laid back, but I was taking the whole cancer thing pretty hard. I mean, she was my mom - all of a sudden, she was dying," she sighed, shaking her head in disbelief.
I got up and moved toward Bella, leaning against the counter. I squeezed her hand, trying to give her some sort of comfort. I knew what it was like to lose a mother.
"I'm good," she smiled weakly up at me. "I met Mike one night at the tavern. I was so stupid and so unbelievably drunk. The bartender didn't question my fake ID. Mike was drunk too. It was such a mess. I sneaked out of his apartment the next morning. A few days later, my dad took me into Newton's Outfitters to get some stuff for his fishing trip. Mike's family owned the sporting goods store. There he was, with his mom and new bride. Jessica had just gotten back into town after trying to get their house in Seattle set up. They were expanding the business out in the city."
I let out a breath, feeling Bella's shame and guilt rolling off her. This time, she squeezed my hand, giving me a slight nod.
"I came home a few days later. My little wild streak in Forks straightened me up real quick. I'd slept with a married man. It was a few months later when I was getting sick alongside my mom that she began to worry. I took a test and found out I was pregnant. I told my mom everything and then I told Charlie. I seriously think my dad was going to go to Seattle to hunt Mike down. Apparently, Mrs. Newton told him a few days before that Jessica was in her third trimester. He wanted to go on the warpath," she said, rolling her eyes.
"Your dad sounds scary," I supplied.
"He's a big, grouchy teddy bear," Bella grinned, nudging my side. "He has such a seventies pornstache, it's hysterical."
"He's a real ladies man, huh?" I joked.
"Definitely, before he met my stepmom," she laughed.
"So Emma has a…"
"Half–sister, technically. She's an only child. I was seven months pregnant when my mom died. So there I was - this eighteen-year-old soon-to-be mother living on an island. My dad took a sabbatical and he and my stepmom stayed down here with me and Phil until after Em was born," she explained. "Phil and I were a mess, and Sue and my dad were our rocks. I can't even begin to think about what we'd have gone through if we didn't have them."
"Emma's father wasn't here for her birth?"
"She doesn't have a father," Bella stressed. "That square on her birth certificate is left blank. I said I didn't know who the father was. My dad was disappointed in me for that, I think, but I was saving Emma from that piece of shit."
"He doesn't know about her, then?"
Bella bit her lip looking like I was about to scold her. "Uh, now he does," she sighed.
"Uh-oh," I said, leaning back against the counter.
"We were at the park near my dad's house and all these adorable little nuggets were running around. Emma was building a princess castle in the sandbox when this blonde little girl asked to play with her. I was reading my book so I thought nothing of it. I didn't see the child's face, only her blonde hair up in pigtails. I would say she was a tomboy because she was wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt under her overalls. My child wears dresses all the time because she's obsessed with them…" Bella rambled on, seemingly getting caught up in her memories.
"Emma got up and waved at me; I blew her a kiss and she giggled. She walked over to the swings with the little girl. Genetics are such a weird thing because their noses and smiles made me hurt. I could see right then who this little girl was. He did, too, because I didn't even notice him sitting next to me until he was grabbing my arm. The girls couldn't see him and, for that, I was happy. I told him to fuck off and he threatened me with a DNA test. I reminded him then that Jessica would have to be made aware of what had occurred for that to happen. He demanded rights to my daughter, but was sickened at the reminder of his infidelity to his wife."
"That was it?"
"I might have punched him where it counted because he wouldn't let go of me. Then I scooped Em up and went back to my dad's house. My dad told me Mike's dad had a heart attack and that's why he was in town. He helped us move our flight up so we could come back. When we had our layover in Atlanta, my dad said Mike had showed up at the house demanding to talk to me."
"Aren't you afraid he might come here?"
"He doesn't know where we live. This house is in Phil's name for that very reason. The residents of Forks knowme as Chief Swan's daughter. I don't have Facebook; hell, we don't even have Internet up here," she said, shaking her head.
"No internet?" I asked, slightly horrified.
"This place was my mom's safe haven. She wanted peace and relaxation. The only connection to the outside world is our landline. We have no cable TV or internet. Emma has a million DVDs of things to watch. I want her to grow up like any other kid."
"What about storms or emergencies?"
"My stepsister and brother-in-law let me know. They moved to the island two years ago. It's nice to have family close by. So, you see, Mr. Edward, this is the perfect place for you to stay."
"No outside world," I muttered in relief.
Could it be possible to stay here without any worries from Chicago? Could I just disappear from my past for a while; from my family and friends? Or the people who acted as if they were my friends?
"Mama? Is my food ready?" Emma pouted, padding into the room in her bare feet.
I guess I was about to find out.