"What has you so upset?" Mom asked.
"You know what has me like this." Edward gripped the back of his head.
She sat next to him and he scooted away, creating distance. "It wasn't done to upset you. He just wants to make things better."
"By taking me to court?" Edward huffed, his voice going up in pitch. He gripped the edge of the couch.
"You wouldn't talk to him or discuss this with him. He wants some rights." Her fingers flexed on her lap. Was she going to try and touch him?
Edward stood. "You know what? Fine. He can have all the rights. I don't want anything to do with him or his music." He pointed down the hallway. "You tell him I don't want any credit. See—then he has no claim on me. I did that because it was his birthday, not because I wanted to make any money off it. How was I supposed to know it would be so popular?"
"You have a gift. We both realize that—your father and I want to help you. This could make you a lot more money. It already helped you gather a down-payment for your home." She slouched and leaned toward him. Was she about to hug him?
His spine stiffened and he angled away from her. "That's fine. I'll give you all the money back." He flinched.
"No, Edward." Her eyes went wide. "That's not why he did that. It's not about the money—it's about having some claim over you as his father. It's about you recognizing him."
Edward's shoulders went back. "I told you—I did it for his birthday. Obviously I was recognizing him as my father! He wants money, or why would he be claiming rights to the song?"
"Forget it. It's clear you're still not ready to talk about this. He made money on it for you. He gave all the money to you—had Carlisle put it straight into your joint account with him. If you'd just let him, your father could market you, and you could do what you love, instead of languishing away in some medical office."
His eyes twitched and his back was on fire as he damn near shouted, "I am not languishing! I'm good at what I do! Ask Dad—my real dad, not Anthony! I don't know that man!" He was pointing down the hallway again. "And see if I ever do anything nice for him ever again!"
He stomped through the living room and toward the door.
As soon as he was in his car, tears flooded down his cheeks.
His fingers shook as he held the steering wheel and raced down the street.
"Ahhhhhh! I hate that man!" he hollered over and over again.
The minute he was inside his house, he blasted down the hallway in search of his wife.
She was napping, and Button was in his bassinet, sleeping as well.
He went to Bela's side, grabbed her into his arms and before she could speak, he was heading to the garage.
"I spoke to her like you wanted me to. Now, you're coming with me. In the car—strip, and I'll tell you what I want," he growled.
She blinked with rapidly changing emotions crossing her features—shock, elation and being turned on. All of this while she was still waking up.
"What're you . . . I mean, did you . . ."
"Shhh. I don't want to talk about that until after I've had you." He kissed her, then opened the door to the garage. "When I've had my fill, then we can talk. So no more. I want quiet in this garage. This is my space, and you're only to breathe hard and touch me where I say, when I say and how I want."
"Okay." Another set of rapid blinks and mixed emotions.
He set her down, opened the car up. "Clothes go over there, and then you go in here." He pointed at the little spot on his work station that he kept clean in case the opportunity ever arose to have her out here.
She shrugged out of her clothes while he put down the backseat of the car so it was gaping into the trunk.
His attention was riveted on her since her skin looked creamy and yummy.
Fingers flexing and aching for her.
He tore his clothes off, and instead of turning the car on for music, he pulled out his iPhone, put it on the front seat and set the song on repeat that had started this whole mess.
Her eyebrow arched up in question, and she paused.
"Yes, we're going to love each other while playing this song. I want it to make a good memory for me." He reached for her. "And stop worrying about the kids. They'll be fine. This won't take long."
Her hesitation disappeared as she slid onto his lap.
In the next breath, his lips were all over her body, and his hands dug into her hips.
"I want you under me. I want you loud. Do that, and we can talk after." He kissed her mouth.
She nodded when he broke away. "Okay, sweetheart. Whatever you need."
"I need you to follow me." He swapped spots with her, leaned her back so her face was in shadow from being in the empty trunk.
It was odd that such a small thing should make him so sore and achy for her, but it did. This was forbidden, and he knew it.
People didn't do this. But he did.
His pulse raced as he spread her legs and made love like he never had before.
The music filled the car along with her panting breaths.
His voice, his piano playing, along with his father's deep tones, morphed into something more . . . Something better.
It was his mixture of funky and serious. It was a cross between classic piano, a touch of jazz and hip hop. His father's voice sounded amazing, and Edward's was okay.
"Ohhhhhh, you sound insanely sexy," she whispered as he nipped at her neck and kept touching her.
"Shhhh . . . Just listen. Just breathe hard for me." He gripped her behind the knees and kept reveling in the feel of her.
The darkness, the steaminess of her skin and ragged breaths was too much.
"Can you get there? I need you to . . . I'm gonna . . . I have to," he stammered.
He entwined her fingers with his and locked them down by her head.
Then he realized he wasn't touching her, and she needed that.
So, he let go with his right hand, sang along to the music and brushed his fingers reverently over her swollen, sweet tissues.
With a shuddering moan and a tip of her hips, she came undone.
He released a dying groan and clutched her tightly to his chest.
As their breaths slowed and the song repeated for the third time, he could hear Meg inside calling out for them.
"I told you we'd be done before they needed us," he said, smirking.
"She's probably scared. We didn't tell her we were still here but out in the garage." She patted his back.
He was squeezing the air out of her lungs because he was holding her so tight. It was too soon to let go.
"Bella . . . If I go help her get settled, will you stay out here? I want to talk out here, not inside. I don't want the kids to hear this," he said.
"It's pretty warm out here. Why don't you set her up, and we can go talk in the bedroom. It's not like Button will know what we're talking about," she offered.
"Yeah, but he sleeps light during the day. He'll probably wake up, and I want your undivided attention."
"How about a shower? We can talk in there?"
He nodded, then got out of the car, put his clothes back on and went after Meg.
It didn't take long to help her find something to keep her busy.
He gave her a snack, had one himself, but when he went back to take a shower with his wife, she was in there with Button.
He loved showering with the baby, but this was kind of important. If he didn't take his time to discuss this, he might get all worked up and say it wrong.
"Button—you need to sleep," he told their little guy, then took him from her so she could wash up.
"Did we make a mess in the car?" she asked as she doused her head.
"I don't know. And I don't care. If we did, I'm sure Meg will cover it up with crumbs and spilled drinks. No one's gonna know." Edward rocked Button in his arms.
"All right. If you're fine with it, I guess it's not a big deal." She kept washing at her usual quick pace.
He couldn't remember the last time she was able to just relax in here.
"Slow down. I've got him. Just enjoy this. He's not fussing." He stroked the baby's back. "He loves the water."
"I know, but Meg's not known to hang out for long periods of time either, so we don't have a ton of time to talk."
He took that as his cue to begin. "Okay, fine. What should I say? That I still hate him? That he makes me crazy? That he wants to use something that was supposed to be a gift and turned it into a battle?"
"Is that what your mom said?" She shaved with quick precision, glancing at Button every few minutes like he might explode any minute.
"No. She said he was doing it to be a part of my life, because he wants some credit as my father. I don't get why he can't just enjoy it, so I told her I'd give him all the credit. He can have all the money. I don't even want it anymore."
She paused, gave him a curious look and then exhaled. "Are you sure you wanna do this?"
"Yeah. Why wouldn't I?" He kissed the top of Button's head. The little guy was squirming now.
Edward grabbed the bar of soap and lathered up the squirmer.
"You realize if you go this route, he's only going to push harder," she said, sounding exhausted.
"Why would he do that? This is what he wants. He wants to control it and make money. I'm giving it to him so he can leave me alone."
She stood straight, put the razor away and washed off the soap but kept her eyes on him. "This isn't the end of it. This is his way of asserting control, but I don't think it's totally about the money."
His throat exploded as he all but shouted, "Of course it is! He's a bad, selfish man!"
She cupped his cheeks. "No, he's a confused father. He's trying to reach out but doesn't know how."
"This isn't reaching. This is stealing. He wants money, and I'm giving it to him." He swapped spots with her and rinsed the baby off carefully. His grip tightened so the slippery wiggler wouldn't fly out of his arms.
Button made a raspberry noise. It was adorable, so Edward kissed his temple.
"Edward . . ." She took the baby so he could wash himself. "Think about it—what happens when you push our kids away even a little bit, even if it's just for a few moments?"
"Meg gets whiny, Button gets clingy. So what?"
"So, what happens if I say I don't wanna make love or pleasure you? How do you react?" She pursed her lips.
"I want it more. I get more demanding, or you say I'm a bear to deal with because then I won't stop touching you at all. So. What?" His voice was tight.
"Grownups are the same as kids. We all have needs, and if they aren't met, then things can get ugly. If you push him away, he's going to get desperate, and go after something else he knows is important to you. He's trying in his own odd way to show you he wants to be involved. You both like music, and you're both really talented. What else does he have in common with you? We haven't let him see the kids again other than briefly when you gave him that present. Did you see how his eyes lit up when you handed him the CD with the song?" She played with the few little curls at the nape of the baby's neck.
"I didn't even give him the others I made. I didn't know if he'd like it," he said, his breath catching in his throat. "What if I'd given him the rest? Would he have tried to steal those, too?"
His head was pounding, and he could feel numbers at the back of his brain.
"Breathe . . . I'm not gonna discuss the what ifs. We don't know what he would've done, so don't worry about that. Maybe you need to ask him point blank what he wants instead of assuming he's out to get you and make money off what was supposed to be a kind gesture." She rocked the baby. He was squeaking a little now with his fist pushing into his mouth.
Edward groaned. "I don't know how to talk to that man. I try, but he's . . . He confuses me. I feel like a child when I'm around him, and I don't like it. I'm a man."
"I know you are, sweetie. You're the best man." She leaned in and kissed his cheek. "The best man I've ever known. Now, show your dad that's who you are, and you're not intimidated by his presence."
A gallon of peace swept over him with the water. "You're right. Why are you always so smart and sweet? I wish I was more like you."
"I don't, but thanks for saying that." She smiled and her eyes were softer than the baby's skin.
"Why wouldn't you want me to be like you?" His eyes lifted and he ignored the water trying to get into his eyes.
"Because then you wouldn't be a man, now would you?" She smirked.
"You are silly. Sex in a the garage makes me feel better, and talking in the shower makes you silly."
She giggled. "I love you."
"I love you, but I still don't like that man."
"I know." She stroked his shoulder. "It's okay. Sometimes we love our family because we have to, but we don't always have to like them."
He shrugged. "Good, because I don't know if I'll ever like him, and it makes me feel sick about it. The only time I feel worse than when I think about him is when I guzzle down too much soda—that's how awful he makes me feel."
"Hey, Son, what's going on?" Carlisle answered the door.
Edward leaned into the door frame. "Do you have a few minutes between clients?
"Yeah, a few minutes. You look like you're not feeling well. Do you need to leave for the day?" His dad motioned for him to join him inside his office.
"I'm sick over something with Anthony. Remember I told you I was going to court because he was making me crazy?" Edward took a seat.
"I remember." His dad nodded and took a seat as well. "I didn't know what that meant, but I could tell you wanted privacy on the matter, so I didn't press. I figured you know I trust you and anytime you want to talk about anything at all, I'm there for you." Dad drummed his fingers on his desk.
"I need you to keep it to yourself, that's why I didn't tell you," Edward blurted. "I don't want Esme to know. And I didn't think it would be fair to tell you something I wanted you to keep secret from her since you love her. I love Bella, and I don't lie to her. I tell her everything. You told me that was important. So, I'm being mean by asking you to keep this from her. Are you okay with this?"
Dad nodded and his mouth dropped a little. He tensed in his seat. "I can do whatever you need."
"You're not gonna get mad at me for keeping this from her?"
Dad sighed and shook his head. "Believe it or not, you come first, Edward. Always. I do what's right for you. If you say don't tell her, unless I think it'll harm you not to, then I keep it to myself." His shoulders relaxed.
Edward took a deep breath and told his father what Anthony was doing. "I don't know what to do. I don't feel like this is something I want Esme to know. I just want her to respect me, and think I'm still progressing and doing better, but after that last bad episode . . . It feels like I'm back to where I started. Why does that man make my head so crazy?"
Dad opened the drawer to his desk. "What does Bella think?"
"She says I should ask him what he wants from me. She thinks he's trying to figure out how to connect with me, but I don't want to connect with him. I was being nice by giving him a gift. I didn't know what else to give him—not like you. I know what you like to do, and what you enjoy. I don't know that man. I only knew he liked music. I took some clips online of his voice, recording my part, mixed them and then added my own beats. I gave him a CD of it. He liked it, so I put it on YouTube. He shared it with people, and they wanted to buy it. So, you know what he did? He set up that damned website, and had you give me the money."
"Sounds like he's trying to be nice back and honor you." His dad smiled, but his eyes were grumpy at the corners.
"Then why is he bringing me to court so he has some rights to it? He wants money. That's what I think." Edward turned his face away. Tears were gathering at the edges. He blinked until it dried out.
"I don't know what to tell you. He didn't approach me about the money—your mother did. I told her you needed the money, so even though I didn't want to deal with them, I agreed. All for you. I want you happy. I wanted you to get out of that one bedroom apartment."
Edward stood up and sighed. "He should go back to not existing in my life."
"I don't think he can. Can anyone walk away from you?"
"Plenty of people do."
"Not really." His dad set a hand on his shoulder. "The second someone really knows you, they care about you. Do you know how many of our patients ask for you over me? I'm the one running this place, and I've been their doctor for years, but they like you. They ask for my apprentice, and they call you that because that's what you told them to call you." His dad chuckled.
"You're just being nice." Edward lunged at him, hugged his dad tight, and then left.
They had work to do.
"There he is! The apprentice!" one of his favorite clients yelled out.
Mrs. Foxworthy approached him, shook his hand, and Dad gave him the eyebrow that said, "See? Told ya."
Edward grinned and helped her into an examination room. "How are you today?" he asked her.
"I'm good now. I swear that smile of yours always makes me happy." Her face lit up as she took a seat.
"Well, I got this smile on my face because you're always so patient with me."
She laughed and sighed at the end. "Oh, you are too sweet. How many cavities will you give my sweet tooth today?"
He cocked his head. "I've got an extra tooth brush I can give you. It's unopened. Want me to get it and give it to you?"
She laughed harder. "Better see my dentist tomorrow." She winked.
Edward rubbed his jaw and turned away. "I don't have cavities, and I drink soda," he told himself.
She cackled. "Turn around and say that to my face. I can't believe how adorable you are."
He curled over his laptop. "Uh . . . Maybe later. Let's get your blood pressure instead."
Posted early. Couldn't resist. ;D
Just a reminder… I post teasers on my facebook group. The link's in my profile if you want to join. We sometimes have discussions over there as well about the story and the characters.
Thank you to all of you for reviewing and sharing your thoughts. I apologize I don't have time to answer a lot of reviews right now, but I do read all of them. And I'm so glad that you're willing to read the sequel for Harkham's Case. It's always fun writing this Edward because he's so different from any other character I've ever written.
I apologize if there are errors in this. I don't have a beta or pre-readers on this one, and simply don't have time to obsess over this story right now like I usually do. Just have way too much going on in my personal life and with my writing.