A/N: SM wrote Twilight. I wrote this story. Mistakes are my own and for those you have my apologies. To everyone reading and supporting my story I send my thanks, most especially for your reviews. I read and treasure every one.
I've been told I should issue a tissue warning... not because it is angsty... but I did cry as I wrote some of it so I thought you might too.
Chapter 38 but he was still hungry
My control was slipping and I knew I had to calm down. My whole body started to relax as I felt Bella's gentle touch on my arm. I looked to her for counsel and comfort. She was so strong and centred. She stepped into my embrace and her eyes softened as she looked up into my eyes. I love it when she looks up at me.
"Edward, I know you're angry and baby you have every right to be. But Kate is the one who has lied. Mr and Mrs Williams have been caring for Anthony, they don't deserve your anger. Kate does and believe me I am angry with her too."
I leaned down and put my forehead to rest with hers. She was right of course. The Williams had cared for my son when his own mother did not. I can't blame them for believing their own daughter but that lie stops here. I nodded, kissed her forehead and turned back to the Williams.
"Mr and Mrs Williams. I want to thank you for providing my son with a comfortable home and for caring for him. You are good people and I am grateful that my son has had you in his life."
They both nodded but were clearly suspicious of me, "However, you seem to be under the misconception that I did not want my son and that I rejected him even before he was born." I looked over at Kate unable to hide my hatred of her, "That isn't true." I turned back to her parents, "You have been lied to you by your daughter. No doubt she had her reasons but she lied. I had absolutely no idea about Anthony. If I had known I would've demanded my rights and assumed my responsibilities as his father from the moment he was born." My voice began to crack a little as I spoke of his birth overcome by just how much I had missed in his life.
Bella squeezed my hand which she was still holding, "Perhaps Mr and Mrs Williams we can sit over a cup of coffee or tea and Edward can give you his side of this."
They looked uncomfortable and were hesitant but then Mr Williams stood, "Yes, let's sit down around the table and talk." We moved to the dining room. At first Kate refused to join us but her father insisted she join us. She sat at the end of the table and glared at me while her mother went into the kitchen to make coffee. My sweet one followed Mrs Williams offering to help.
Kate looked at me inquisitively, "She's awfully young isn't she Edward? I mean your daughter is how old? Three?" I glared at her. "So after we broke up you jumped into bed with a fifteen year old and got her pregnant? Was she even legal when you knocked her up? Just how many children do you have around the place anyway Edward?"
I was about to leap across the table and strangle the viper when Mrs Williams came back in the room with a pot of coffee followed by my sweet one carrying a tray of coffee cups. I jumped up to take it from her. She smiled at me as I placed the tray on the table and pulled her chair out for her.
Kate pointed at Isabella, "Oh. My. God. She's pregnant isn't she? What a little gold digger."
Bella looked at Kate and I could see Boardroom Bella-in-charge was about to make an appearance.
"Mr and Mrs Williams," Bella calmly addressed Kate's parents ignoring their harpy daughter, "because I hope we are going to see each other often as Edward and I spend more and more time with his son, I would like to calm any concerns you may have."
"As your daughter has pointed out I am quite young to already have a three and half year old. Elizabeth was actually born as my sister. Our mother and her husband were killed in a horrific car crash when I was sixteen. I adopted her when she was six months old and have been the only mother she has ever known.
"Edward has formally and legally adopted Lil Bit as his daughter since he and I are soon to be married. He is a wonderful, loving father to my Lil Bit. I am also thrilled to confirm your daughter's observation that we have been blessed and will welcome a child of our own in the new year."
Bella turned to Kate and it was a shock to see a look there that was pure disgust, "So no Kate, Edward did not jump into bed and knock up a fifteen year old. As for your rather insulting accusation that I am a gold digger I can assure you that in addition to money I have in trust that I also have my own independent income. I have two very successful businesses which I run myself with no assistance from Edward."
I smiled at my beautiful girl, she's so fucking sexy when she is pissed.
"Well, um thank you Isabella for sharing that with us." Mr Williams was shifting in his chair and clearly uncomfortable with the way his daughter had spoken to Bella. "I apologise for my daughter's outburst. She obviously made some assumptions which even if they were true would be none of our business."
Bella nodded and I squeezed my girl's hand in support.
Mrs Williams offered everyone coffee and I noted that Bella had a green tea. Good girl.
As she handed me coffee Mrs Williams asked, "Now Edward can you explain to me what you mean before about not knowing about Anthony until recently? I want to understand."
I shot a withering look at Kate who rolled her eyes and looked away from the table as though this was all so boring.
"Mr and Mrs Williams, a few weeks ago I was shown a photo of Kate with her two children. One look at that little boy and I knew he was mine. That was the first time I became aware that I had a son. That was when I found out that your daughter had hidden my son from me."
"The last time I had seen Kate was in our last few weeks at Dartmouth when she broke up with me. She told me that she was in love with her spanish professor, that she'd been seeing him for months even though she was still living with and having sex with me. I was devastated. It was a complete shock to me. We'd made plans of going on to Harvard together and getting married. My heart was broken but that wasn't the worst of it was it Kate?"
I turned to her. She was still turned away from the table but I could see her swallow and she was clearly clenching her teeth.
"Will you tell them Kate or will I?"
"Tell us what? What is he talking about Kate?" her mother pushed for a response.
Kate still refused to look at me, waving her hand in the air as if to say you tell them.
"Kate told me that day that a year before we broke up that she had been pregnant with my child but that she'd had an abortion. She didn't want to be bogged down with a child and wanted to focus on her education and career. So she'd gotten rid of it without saying a word to me." I turned to her, "We were together a year after that and you never told me, Kate. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because you would never have forgiven me. I knew you Edward. You would've wanted the child and I didn't want children."
"You wanted your professor's children. You just didn't want mine, that's the truth, isn't it."
"Yes... look Edward, I didn't love you. I fell in love with Eleazar, I couldn't help it. I didn't know I was pregnant when I left you. Once Anthony was born of course I knew he was yours but if I told you about him then I would've lost my husband. So I told Eleazar that he looked like my side of the family to explain why he looked nothing like him."
As Kate's truth sank in a heavy silence enveloped the table until Mrs Williams spoke, "But Kate you told us that Edward broke up with you when you told him you were pregnant and you didn't tell Eleazar about Edward being the father because you were worried that he would leave you too."
"I lied," was all she said.
Her father looked over at her, "You had an abortion?"
"No daddy, I just told Edward that so he'd let me go and not come after me. I wanted to start my new life with Eleazar and I knew that Edward would never give me up. So I thought if he believed I did something so heinous, so horrible that even Edward would give up and I would be free to be with Eleazar."
I was in shock. I didn't know what to believe.
"That's another lie, isn't it Kate," Isabella was looking straight into Kate's eyes. "You need to tell the truth or I will do it for you."
I looked at Bella then I looked at Kate. I just didn't know what to think any more.
"Fine. Yes it is true. I had an abortion. So what. I was too young to be a mother so I got rid of it. I didn't tell Edward at the time because he would've made me keep it."
Kate's mother gasped and her father dropped his head to his chest.
"What's that got to do with anything anyway. I had Anthony didn't I? I had Sasha. For Christ's sake. It is a woman's right to choose and I chose. I was too young and I made the best choice I could. You understand that don't you Daddy, Mother?"
Mr Williams took a deep breath and squeezed his wife's hand before he spoke, "Kate. You are our daughter and we love you. We will always love you. Yes it was your right to choose and maybe you were too young to be a mother then. I won't judge you for that decision.
I shook my head, incredulous that they seemed to be okay with this.
"But Kate, it was wrong of you not to tell Edward at the time. It was wrong of you not to tell him until a year later. You took his choice away from him and you took his right to choose you away from him too. You stayed with him under false pretences.
"You deceived him and then you cheated on him with Eleazar. That, Kate, was very, very wrong."
Her mother spoke then, "I understand that you were afraid of losing Eleazar if he knew that Anthony wasn't his but when you separated from him surely you could've told Edward the truth then?"
"No I couldn't Mother. Felix believes Anthony is Eleazar's son. He doesn't know anything about Edward."
Bella leaned forward towards Kate, "But why isn't Anthony with you, your new husband and his half-sister in New York? And why haven't you visited him in months?"
"Well, miss its none of your business. Felix was upset about having a constant reminder of my previous marriage around so I told him that Eleazar got custody of Anthony in the divorce and that he is with him and his new wife in Spain."
"YOU TOLD HIM WHAT?" her father roared as he stood from the table his fists clenched.
"Daddy, you know Felix hates Eleazar and he didn't want to have a constant reminder around him. I couldn't really send Anthony with Eleazar since he knows that he isn't his real father so I left him here with you. I mean what else could I have done?" She actually had the gall to look frustrated with our questioning her.
I wanted to scream but I kept my voice as calm as I could, "What else could you have done Kate, really? You could've told me that I had a son and he could've come to live with me." Realisation sank in, "That's why you didn't fight me for custody, isn't it? How convenient for you, now your husband will never know what a lying cheating bitch you are. That's why you signed over your parental rights, isn't it?"
She looked at me with a bored expression, "Yes."
"Well Kate. I was going to insist that you keep some sort of custodial rights but I am glad that I listened to my lawyer and accepted full rights. You will never have any say in my son's life again."
I looked over at Kate's parents, "Mr and Mrs Williams, I realise you are both in shock from what your lying harpy of a daughter has admitted today but believe her or believe me whatever you like but this you can believe - I have full custodial rights and I want my son.
"I certainly don't want to steal him from you the way he was stolen from me. I cannot thank you enough for caring for my son when I wasn't here to but I am here now and I'd like to discuss how we can work together for his future happiness."
Bella was again the calm voice of reason, "Why don't we all take a little break. I'd like to check on the children and I am sure we all need time to think about what we've heard today."
We all silently agreed and each rose from the table heading in separate directions, except Bella and me. We stood together, held hands and walked to find our children.
We walked silently hand in hand towards my son's room. As we approached we slowed and came to a halt just before reaching his door. Bella put her finger to her mouth and tilted her head towards the door to indicate we should listen. As we stood there we could hear the children talking.
"What happens next Antknee?"
"On Wednesday he ate through three plums but..." Oh my god, Anthony was reading to Lil Bit.
She giggled and then they said together, "... he was still hungry."
"What now Antknee?"
"Can't you guess Elizabeth?"
He spoke so beautifully I couldn't help but smile at how sweet he was being with my little love. I looked over and Bella had one hand over her mouth and the other was holding her phone. She was filming them.
He read on, "On Thursday he ate through four strawberries but..." and then Lil Bit almost sang, "he was still hungee." Lil Bit broke out into a fit of giggles.
I couldn't stand it any longer I had to go in. Even though I heard them I wasn't prepared for the sight in front of me. They were cuddled together on the floor sitting in front of the bookcase. Anthony had the book in front of him and his arms wrapped around Lil Bit as he held the book in front of them.
Bella was madly taking photos and I was fighting off tears.
"Hello you two, you sound like you're having a lovely time. What are you reading?"
"Da vewy hungee cata piwwar."
Bella joined me on the floor with the children, "You are very kind to read to Elizabeth, Anthony."
"She asked me to," he said with a shrug of his shoulders.
"You love story books don't you Lil Bit?" I reached forward and tapped the end of her cute little nose.
"Wes Daddee. Books are my favewit. Antknee, oo look jest like Daddee and I look jest like Momma."
I held my breath as Lil Bit spoke the obvious truth so innocently.
"You have blue eyes and your Momma has brown eyes," Anthony said to her with a smile.
I decided to keep going with the topic to see where it led, "You do look just like me Anthony."
"Yes," he said quietly, looking me straight in the eyes.
I took a deep breath, fortune favors the brave, "That is probably because you are my son."
Anthony was quiet and look at me intensely for what felt like minutes but was actually only moments before he said simply, "Probably."
Huh. I decided to keep going. "I only found out a short time ago that I am your Daddy, Anthony. I am sorry I wasn't here sooner but as soon as I found out I came to see you and tell you that ... to tell you that I love you and I want to be with you."
He looked down at his book but I saw a tear trickle down his cheek. I reached my hand out and lifted his chin to look into his teary eyes. I smiled because I could feel a tear fall down my cheek too.
"I am so happy to find you Anthony. I am so happy you are my son."
Anthony leapt off the chair and into my arms with such force that I nearly fell over. "Whoa, big guy. You are pretty strong, you nearly knocked me over."
"Sorry," he said but he didn't let go.
"That's okay son," I closed my eyes and held him close to me. We sat like that for minutes before Lil Bit called out, "Me too Daddee, me too Antknee."
I chuckled and reached my other arm out to pull Lil Bit in for a hug. Anthony did the same and the three of us hugged each other and laughed together.
Slowly we pulled apart and I clambered to stand up, "So Anthony why don't you show me around your room." He jumped up, pulled on my hand to drag me over to different things in his room. He showed me his books of which there were many, he showed me his toy box which was open and full of toys.
"Which one is your favourite Anthony?"
He smiled and took me to his cupboard. He opened the door and dragged out an easel. "I like to paint."
"Tomorrow when we come back to visit maybe we can paint together?"
"You're coming back tomorrow?" He looked at me with such a serious face, I wanted to hug away the worry.
"If you want me to. I'd love to spend more time with you."
He smiled my smile at me. God the likeness is remarkable.
"Daddy. You can call me Daddy, Anthony. I am your father and you are my son. Would you like to call me Daddy or you could call me Edward?"
"Yes please... Daddy."
I laughed and gave him a hug as I looked over to Bella who was smiling at me still filming with her phone.
"Lil Bit?" I called reaching my hands out for her. "Would you like Anthony to finish your story now?"
"Wes pwease." She walked over and sat in my lap with Anthony sitting on the other side of me.
My heart felt like it was going to explode when he called me that, "Yes, Anthony."
"Will you read please?" he smiled up at me holding out the book. I smiled and took it from him and pulled him tighter to me.
I read the book and all four of us called out together laughing as we'd repeat the line 'But he was still hungry' on each page. When we finished the book, Anthony brought over a puzzle which we all played together.
Mrs Williams came to the door and invited us to stay for dinner which we gladly accepted.
Bella took Lil Bit to the bathroom and I sat with my son looking through his drawing book. He was obviously really interested in art. "Anthony, have you ever been to the Seattle Art Museum?"
He shook his head that he hadn't.
"My mother, your Nonna, she loves to go to there and look at all the paintings and sculptures. I'm sure she'd love to take you there. Would you like that?"
He smiled a huge smile and nodded enthusiastically. "Good. When you come to Seattle we'll make a list of art galleries we can visit together."
When Bella and Lil Bit came back I stood up, took Bella's hand and leaned in to whisper in her ear, "We need to talk with the Williams about arrangements, will you come with me love?" I kissed her neck just below her ear. She hummed and then kissed my cheek. "Yes baby, let's go talk with them before dinner."
"Anthony? Elizabeth? Isabella and I need to go and talk with the Williams some more. Are you happy to stay here and play together? They both nodded and went back to the tower of blocks they were building earlier.
Bella and I walked through the house to find the Williams but were again sidetracked by family photos we found along the way. Standing looking at some photos I circled her waist and drew her back to me. Her head rested back against my chest and we rocked in place. After a few delicious quiet moments I had to ask, "You haven't said much love. Are you okay with all this? It is a lot to take on. Another child. We'll have three children." My hands drifted down over her abdomen to cover where our child lay protected within her body. I was in awe of this beautiful, gracious woman.
She turned in my arms and snaked her arms up my chest before wrapping her hands around the back of my neck. She tilted her head the way she always did when she was working out how to tell me something, "Edward, baby, we have three children. There is no choice about that. It is simply a fact. When you found out about Lil Bit you accepted that she and I are the same. Loving me is loving Lil Bit and for me it is the same. Loving you is loving Anthony, you are one and the same. I could never walk away from Lil Bit and I would never want to. Could you walk away from Anthony now that you know about him?" She looked at me expectantly. I smiled and shook my head slowly. "No, love. I couldn't and I wouldn't."
She nodded decisively, "That's right. So we now have two children and we have another on the way." She grinned at me and led me down the hall. Damn, I love this woman.
We found Mr and Mrs Williams in their kitchen talking quietly as we came in, "Mr and Mrs Williams we'd like to talk to you about the future."
Mr Williams looked up at us, his eyes were red as though he'd been crying and he smelt of tobacco. I didn't know he smoked.
"Come in Isabella, Edward and I think with all we've discussed today we should be on first name basis. Please call us Bob and Carol."
Isabella stepped into the room, "Thank you ... Bob. We appreciate that. Carol? Can I help you with dinner?"
"No, that's fine dear. I've put the chicken pieces in the oven with some baked vegetables. Is that alright for you and for your daughter? I didn't think to ask, sorry."
Bella smiled softly, "Yes, of course Carol. That sounds delicious."
I needed to get through this and we didn't have much time before the children joined us. "Bob, Carol, we've told Anthony that I am his father. I thought you should know."
"Oh Edward, I wish we'd known. Was he alright? Should Bob or I go and talk with him?"
"Sorry Carol, but it was a spur of the moment thing. Lil Bit, our Elizabeth, she noticed again how alike Anthony and I look. When she mentioned it I didn't want to deny it or be coy. I didn't know about him before but I do know him now and I won't deny my relationship with him, I won't have one more day pass where he is unaware of being my son."
Bella passed them her phone, "Here watch, I think it is important you see this." Bella cued up the recording at the point where I told Anthony who I was, although I suspect the clever little man knew who I was already or suspected anyway.
"As you can see he took the news well."
We let them watch uninterrupted and watched as they both cried silently watching their grandson hug his father for the first time. They were good people. They loved my son, I could see that.
When Bella took back the phone she spent a few moments pressing buttons and typing into her phone, while I went to the cupboard to get Bob and Carol a glass of water each. Really we were both leaving them to gather their emotions. They accepted the water with a smile and I sat again opposite them taking Bella's hand in mine.
"Bob. Carol. I can see that you love my son," I ran my other hand through my hair and swallowed, "But ... I want my son to live with me... to live with us." There I had said it. "It's not my intention to take him from a loving home... it's our intention to welcome him to his own loving home."
"Please do not misunderstand, we want you to remain a big part of his life. You are his grandparents. He loves you, that is easy to see. I don't want to take from him, I want to add to his life."
They both let out heavy breaths and smiled. Clearly they were worried I was going to punish them for the wrongs of their daughter, but I would never do that.
I was about to say more when my phone starting beeping repeatedly receiving one text after another and then voicemail notifications were coming through. What the hell. I excused myself from the table and started with the texts.
'Dumpling, he is so beautiful. please bring my grandson home to me, please... Ma'
'Edward we can be there in a few hours, we are coming. I want to meet my nephew, please Ed?... Alley Cat'
'Damn it bro' that was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, watching him with you, reading that book. Can we join you? please bring him home man... Em'
'Son, your cup does indeed runneth over, as does ours. A grandson. I can't wait to meet him... Dad'
I listened to the voicemail which was from Esme; she was weeping and begging to come and meet her grandson. I couldn't control the tears they just poured over my cheeks.
Bella jumped up and grabbed my arms, "Is everything alright Edward?"
I grabbed her to me and hugged the shit out of her. I kissed her and smiled to let her know all was well.
"Bob and Carol, Bella sent the images to my family and they are desperate to meet Anthony. I don't think I'll be able to hold them back. I am going to tell them to come and join us. Tomorrow I would like to introduce them to Anthony but I don't want him to be overwhelmed, is there a nice park we can all meet in?"
"Anthony loves Whitaker Ponds Nature Park, we often go there to walk on the trails but there's a wildflower meadow there where he loves to spend time and draw. We could all meet there."
"Perfect. I'll send word to my family, thank you." I started writing a group text to my whole family when a small voice drew my attention.
"Grandma, Grandpa is it time for dinner? Lil Bit and I are hungry."
I turned to see Anthony standing in the doorway holding Lil Bit's hand. I looked over and Bella was smiling at them.
"Yes dinner's ready Anthony. You and ... Lil Bit... go and wash your hands and then come back to the dining room, there's a good boy," Carol smiled a sad sort of smile at him.
I walked over to her, "He's going to be okay Carol. I promise."
She nodded and turned back to her cooking. I finished the group text to my family and when I read their reply I called the Benson to book rooms for them for tonight since it seems they were already in Dad's car and on their way. I also sent a text to Tyler to let him know that we'd be about an hour and a half before being ready to be picked up. He texted back that he'd be there in an hour and just wait outside until we were ready.
When I joined the others at the table I noticed that the harpy Kate was nowhere to be seen. I didn't want to say anything in front of Anthony but I asked Carol when I went in the kitchen to help bring out the food, "Is Kate not joining us Carol?"
She dropped her head for a moment and then looked at me with a sad face, "She went back to New York."
"What? Did she at least say goodbye to Anthony?"
She shook her head and bit her bottom lip as she repressed a sob. Damn harpy. I put my arm around Carol's shoulders to give her a quick squeeze of comfort. No words were spoken, there was no point. Kate was a bitch but she was there only child.
I sat opposite Anthony who sat next to Lil Bit. Bella was chatting away with Bob and Carol about her bakery and her new Sweet Temptations business. They were very interested and looked at her admiringly. While I watched them all it occurred to me that our family had grown again. Not only with the addition of my beautiful boy but also with his grandparents Bob and Carol. They were good people and I hoped they would welcome their new place within my family as my son's grandparents.
Anthony and Lil Bit were eating and chatting away with each other. As I watched them he would occasionally look my way and I smiled at him. I couldn't wait for him to meet his Nonna and Poppa, his Auntie Allie and his Uncle Em. He's not only Bella's and my son, he's also now Lil Bit's brother, Emmett and Alice's nephew and Esme and Carlisle's grandson.
Kate had stolen the first four and half years of his life from me and from my family but even worse she'd stolen that time with my family from Anthony. He's missed out on Christmases and birthdays with us all but we weren't going to miss another moment. God love him because he was about to be embraced in the warmth, protection and loving of the Cullen clan.
I looked at my sweet one who smiled at me warmly. My cup runneth over.
A/N: How's everyone doing? You all okay? I love Anthony and Lil Bit together don't you? I'd love to hear from you.
Book credit: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Publisher: Philomel; 1 edition (October 15, 1981); Language: English; ISBN-10: 0399208534; ISBN-13: 978-0399208539