A SAFE PLACE TO STAND
My mother had always been a busy woman. I remembered even as a baby hanging on to her legs, watching people race around her. She was always careful not to step on me with her fancy shoes and never was upset if I spit up on them. I was her angel, her perfect little boy. She took me on business trips and conferences. More than once, she had run out of diapers for me and just pinned a hotel towel on my bum, until she had a chance to get more.
As I grew, she always had a place for me set up in her office. She always kept me close to her. I went from a blanket, to a playpen, to a cozy corner, to a desk of my own. Each time, it was always portable and easy to move. I never paid much attention to my mother's work, until I was ten.
She seemed more stressed than usual. I had just finished my school assignments and made my way over into her workspace. She used to not have a workspace, but when I got to that talkative stage, she made a circle around her desk and told me I had to wait to be invited in before I spoke to her.
I hated that circle, especially today. I stood stoically, waiting for her to look up from her desk. She had been snapping at a person over the phone, telling them good luck finding her and taking her down. She had slammed the phone down and started to cry. After two minute of frustration, I finally broke the rules and crossed the line, literally.
I moved to her side, touching her shoulder first, to see if it was okay, and then I gently wrapped my arms around her. She cried into my side for a moment and pulled herself together. "You love me, baby, don't you?" she asked me.
I smiled widely, "Of course, Mom, I love you the best."
She pulled me into her lap, even though I was too big for it, and I let her. She gently moved the bangs from my face. "There are so many mean people out there, baby. I don't ever want you to have to deal with them."
"Is that why I always stay with you? Why I do school at home?" I asked.
She smiled widely, "That's exactly why, baby. You're so much better than them. They don't deserve to know you."
I gave her a hug, not fully understanding what she had said at the time, and asked if I could play cars in her circle. She smiled, telling me yes, and I quickly moved under the desk at her feet. Since I had learned to crawl, I spent my best times under her desk, leaning on her legs as I played. I knew she was there, and she knew I was there, too, but we were doing our own thing, just being together.
When I was fifteen, I obviously didn't fit under the desk anymore, but that didn't stop me from sitting on the floor next to her and leaning on the side of her leg as I read the latest novel she had picked up for me. She would frequently pat my head and smile down at me, as we both worked in silence.
I was sitting behind the desk, out of sight one night, when someone came bursting into the office. I was about to get up to see who it was, when she put her hand on my head and ushered me underneath her desk, as she moved out from behind it.
"What are you doing here?" she asked in a strong angry tone. She didn't sound afraid, which made me feel safe.
"I've come to ask you why you're doing this, Elizabeth. Why must you come after and destroy everything I've worked for?"
She laughed at the man. I could tell she didn't think he was funny, though. "You're the one who told me five years ago that you would destroy MY LIFE, my business, everything! Do you remember that phone call? The one where you shouted at me! Threatened me! That was the day I decided to give up on you. That was the day I decided you'd never be good enough for us, and you needed to be taken out!" she shouted at him.
"So this is about vengeance. You're one crazy bitch, you know that? You always have been, and you'll never take away my family's business, I won't let you! You were a poor whore when I met you, and that's all you'll ever be to me!" he shouted back.
My mother started laughing again, and I heard her walk over to her little mini fridge and get herself a bottle of water. "Oh, Carlisle, you're so dense. Your 'family' business is already mine. Your grandfathers are dead, your uncle is gone, your father is senile, and I've proven that you have a drug problem and are not fit to run the business. So, as guardian of the only living heir, the business falls to me."
I tried to process what she was saying, but I didn't understand it.
"Heir? There's no heir, you crazy fucking bitch, what kind of shit have you been trying to pull?" he shouted. I heard something crash to the ground and quickly jumped up to save my mother, but she wasn't the one who needed saving. She was the one who had thrown the vase at the guy.
The man wiped the water from his face, and for the first time that evening, we got a good look at each other. I stood stunned, looking at the man before me. He had my nose, my eyes, my chin, my hair. I looked over at my mother confused.
"Carlisle, meet your son. His name is Edward, and he's the new president of your company. Now get out of my office."
The man stood slowly, looking at me stunned. His eyes narrowed for a moment at my mother. "How long have you been planning this?"
She shook her head at him, "I didn't, obviously," she said motioning to me, "But here he is, and we were content, until you got pissy about me 'stealing your business' while trying to make a few deals. I was just trying to support our son!" she snapped. "When you threatened to ruin me, you threatened my baby as well, and NO ONE messes with my son. Now get out. You brought this on yourself, you snobby, selfish, white-collared bastard. You just got owned by a backwoods waitress who you didn't give two fucks about and never looked back at. Now get out!" she shouted.
He glared at her and then shot me another confused look before he ran out.
"Mom?" I asked.
She waved her hand at me, "Just, not now, please."
I nodded, and she went back to her seat at the desk. I sat down on the floor next to her, picking up my book, as I leaned on her knee. She reached down, giving me a watery smile. "Never think that I haven't always loved having you underfoot, baby. You're the only reason I made something of myself. You made me fight to make our lives better, so don't ever for one second consider your existence a mistake," she leaned down and kissed the top of my head.
"Was that jerk my dad?" I asked.
She let out a sigh, slouching in her desk chair. "Yes, and I loved him at one time, but I was never good enough for his family, so he left, married some rich barren socialite named Esme, and never looked back. Thankfully, he left me you," she said cupping my cheek, and I knew then that it didn't matter who my father was. I would always have my mother.
At the age of eighteen, I took over my family's business. There were some very disgruntled distant cousins who were sure they would have gotten the Cullen throne, but there was no fighting direct lineage. I was the heir; the stock shares and business were mine. My mother had supported me and had been training me for this for the past eight years. So even though I felt overwhelmed at times, I still knew what I was doing. She was always there to help me through everything.
When I was twenty-three, there was a woman from the local coffee shop who always smiled at me, and just her smile made me feel good the rest of the day. My mother, being so close to me, noticed my distractedness, and I finally confessed to wanting to ask this Bella girl out.
At the age of twenty-four, my mother cried at my wedding. Bella was just a lowly coffee barista, but she made me happy, and despite the board members' protests, my mom insisted I do what made me happy, and that was marrying my girl.
At twenty-six, I became a father. I had a son, and suddenly the board didn't care that Bella wasn't a snob; she had given them an heir. She was suddenly loved by all, but most of all, me. I liked to keep her close, and I finally convinced her to work with me as my personal assistant.
She stood from her chair and walked over to the cabinet to grab a map for my latest project. My son pulled himself up on her legs, looking at me through them. I couldn't help but smile and remember my own safe place. I would give my son everything, just like my mother had given me. He would always have a person to lean on and a leg to stand with. He would always have us.