This is a future take to Parma High that I wrote in drabble-ish form a few years ago. I decided to publish it this time around all in one go.
"Bella, I feel badly for leaving you and the kids alone for six weeks. I didn't realize this would be a requirement when I agreed to do the program."
I cupped my husband's cheek as he lay next to me on our bed. He was leaving tomorrow for Orlando. "It will be okay, Edward. School's out and you know that Anthony, Chuckie and I will be fine. We'll keep busy. We'll miss you but it can't be helped."
He pulled me up against him and traced his lips across my forehead as I snuggled close. "I know you'll be okay. I was more worried about me being so lonely for the three of you."
"We'll write and Skype and it will be almost like we're together. When you're finished, outside of your dissertation, you'll have your academic requirements completed for your Doctorate. Then you can apply for an administrative position with the school board. Just think, you'll be Doctor Edward Cullen, Principal. That's what you've wanted from the start."
I could feel his chest heave as he sighed. "Not sure it's worth it."
"It's so worth it, Edward. You're doing it for your family."
He kissed me again and said, "What would I ever do without you?"
"Your life would be much less chaotic, that's for sure. And you'd have no worries going off to UCF this summer."
"Perhaps, but my life would be lightless, Mrs. Meteor. This is going to seem to be the longest six weeks in history."
"It will go by in a snap, you'll see. But in the meanwhile, let's take advantage of the time we have together." I slipped my leg over his hip and pressed against him. Not being a slow man to rise to the occasion, soon he was showing me just what I was going to miss in the coming weeks. After a delicious and thoroughly fulfilling love making, I lay there holding my beautiful man in my arms as he fell into a relaxed slumber. I swallowed the knot that was in my throat. Though I talked a good talk, my heart was quaking. I missed him already.
I missed him even more when, the day after he left, I learned that an old acquaintance of ours was also attending the same summer doctorate program as my husband—the ex-chief skankwhore of Parma High and my husband's former girlfriend, Tanya Whitehorse.
I was fixin' to cut a bitch.
How I discovered that Tanya Skankhorse was in Orlando with Edward—well, not actually with Edward but in his vicinity— was a fluke, really.
After the boys and I waved Edward off on his way to Orlando, all I really wanted to do was throw myself across our bed and cry. We'd never been parted before since we met, to be honest. Shoot, he moved in with me not two weeks after we actually started working together. I know you'll think that I was the skankwhore here but really I wasn't. It was evident from the very beginning that Edward and I were just meant to be. Under normal circumstances, it would have taken us longer to get to where we got to but Hurricane James blew all of that out of the water, literally and figuratively. It seemed that when your world was pared down to the bare essentials—life, death; man, woman; love, love (because there's no hate in EdwardBellaville) it was simple. We never looked back and we never regretted a thing.
Edward Anthony Cullen was my everything—along with the two little men we created together.
Which brings me back to why I actually didn't dissolve in a big bawling puddle when Edward left. Emo is a luxury not afforded the mothers of active toddlers, not unless she had a nanny or the like and we didn't have the like. Not even close.
The past two years were the perfect storm of financial troubles for us. First, Charles Edward Cullen made his unexpected appearance just two years after his older brother, Anthony Carlisle. Originally, we wanted to space our children four years apart (that way we'd only be paying for college tuitions one at a time) but one wild weekend spent celebrating our sixth anniversary in the Keys knocked that plan out of the park. Chuckie was born in March and so I took the rest of the year off which reduced our income quite a bit.
But then we discovered two child seats wouldn't fit in my truck or Edward's car and so we needed a new vehicle. There went our short term savings. But we'd make it. It would be tight but we'd planned it out so well, we thought.
Famous last words.
That July, our air conditioner decided it had had a nice long life and it was time to die, so it did. Parma plus July plus no air conditioning equals misery and with an infant and a toddler to care for, we had no choice but to replace the thing. Four thousand dollars borrowed against our house saw us comfortable again but pulling our already tight belts even tighter.
We scrimped and saved and made it through that summer but found when I went back to work, the cost of child care almost ate up my income. We struggled on until the end of that school year when our guest house tenants decided to move out. That was another financial blow.
We needed more income but the only way to get more was for one of us to get into school administration, something Edward had always wanted to do. We decided he needed to move in that direction, and that mean a Doctorate Degree. There was a Doctoral program offered through the University of Central Florida that was designed to be convenient to teachers. It consisted of on-line work throughout the school year, then "compacted academics" on campus during the summer. At the time he signed up for it, we didn't realize that would mean Edward had to live in Orlando for six weeks.
Compacted Academics also meant sitting in class from eight to five, Monday through Friday, leaving the evenings and weekends for reading, projects, studying, and maybe sleep. In six weeks, Edward would take six classes, one a week. Because of the intensity of the program it was better for Edward to go to Orlando alone because we would be a distraction. Families were meant to be, after all. Even if we tried not to, we would cause him to lose his focus. It was cheaper for us to stay at home anyway since Edward's tuition, room and board were another expense in our already over- extended budget. The Bishop County school board would refund Edward his tuition expenses but only after he successfully completed his course work. We'd get nothing for his living expenses except the opportunity to advance careerwise.
It all sounded so easy and sensible in theory but in practice it was like someone had drilled a hole in my chest, taken out my heart and left me empty and aching. Fortunately, I didn't have time for that, either.
"Maamaaa," Chuckie wailed. Anthony had taken his binky.
"Anthony, why'd you do that?" I grabbed the pacifier out of my three year old's grubby mitt and gave it back to his brother.
"Dirty, Mama." Anthony's green eyes looked up at me, a miniature imitation of his fathers', and I remembered his dad saying something similar to me just that morning but in an entirely different context.
"Dirty? What do you mean?" It was then I saw Chuckie trying to shove the binky in Groucho's maw. Groucho, I mean Poncho, would have nothing to do with it and started baring his teeth at my young son.
"Chuckie, you need to leave the dog alone. He's going to bite you one day and then you'll be sorry."
"Doggie," Chuckie chortled waving at the disgruntled mutt as I carried my son inside and holding the door open for Anthony to follow. I decided to leave Poncho out on the shady porch where he took up residence on the cushioned glider.
He ruled the roost here on Indian Hill, always had, always would. He was now about twenty years old. I was beginning to doubt he'd ever die. He was too much of a control freak to do otherwise.
The boys and I spent a quiet day and about four p.m., we got ready to go to dinner. We'd been invited over to Diane's house and it was there I found out about Skankya.
"Bella," Diane said while she was tearing up lettuce for the salad, "Do you remember Tanya Whitehorse?"
"Ugh. Not willingly."
"Hah. She was a piece of work, wasn't she?"
I didn't answer just smirked and concentrated on peeling the cucumber Diane had given me.
"Well, anyway," she went on, "I ran into Tanya's mother at Publix this morning and she told me that Tanya had returned to Florida and was living in Orlando."
Something gripped my heart in a vise when I heard that. "Orlando, eh? What's she doing up there?"
"You know, from what Mrs. Whitehorse said, I think she's in the same program as Edward."
"What?" The vise on my heart changed locations and got a good grip on my gut.
"You ought to ask Edward about it when he calls." Diane knew there had been history between Edward and Tanya before my time. I guess she didn't want me to be blindsided by the situation.
I was able to mutter, "Damn straight I will" and we dropped the subject.
Edward had called me earlier in the day to let me know he'd arrived safely in Orlando and was checking into the student housing he was being allotted for the interim. We didn't have time to talk for long as he was trying to juggle his move and I was trying to juggle his kids. He said he'd Skype with me later on in the evening after I'd wrestled the kids into bed.
Miracle of miracles, it worked out that I had a few minutes until it was time for us to Skype. Both Anthony and Chuckie had been worn out by playing in Diane's pool and so were sound asleep in their nursery. I was skulking about in our bedroom. So, I decided to get dolled up for Edward when he called. I went into my lingerie drawer looking for something sexy and in the back I found that old bra and thong set I'd worn that evening long ago when Edward and I had taken a moonlit swim off of Parma Beach. I'll never forget the look on Edward's face when he saw me for the first time stripped down to just that lacy confection. Chuckling to myself, I pulled it out deciding to wear it again for him tonight. Maybe I'd see that look again.
Damn. I didn't remember it being so hard to get on. Did it shrink in the wash? I knew my boobs had gotten a little bigger, I was nursing after all, but the bottoms shouldn't be so tight. I stood in front of the full length mirror in our bedroom and stared in horror at the sight in front of me.
I looked like the fucking Michelin man. The thong cut into my hips and the roll of fat that had seemed to blossom there without me realizing it. My boobs—well, talk about cups running over! And my stretch marks hadn't quite faded in the year since Charles was born. There was no way I was going to show this to Edward. I looked hideous. What had happened to me? Had I gained weight?
I dove into our closet and moved some shoeboxes around until I found that old bathroom scale we'd received for a wedding present (I mean, what the hell? Who gives someone a bathroom scale for a fucking wedding present?) but never really used. I pulled it out and set it on the floor. Taking a deep breath, I stepped on it and in disbelief watched the digital read out flash higher, higher, and higher until I just about passed out. THERE WAS NO FREAKING WAY I WEIGHED THAT MUCH. I felt like I could puke. How could Edward even stand me?
Just then I heard the irritating bop, bop, bing that signaled I had a call coming in on Skype. SHITOLY.
I grabbed the closest thing at hand, Edward's old DePaul sweatshirt, pulled it over my head and ran to answer the computer. There was my Edward looking intently into the computer screen. I swallowed and my heart flipped. God, I loved that man. I was determined to be the best I could be for him and I knew right now he didn't need to know I was wigging out over my excess baggage.
"Hey hon," he said. His smile lit me on the inside.
"Hi, sweetheart. You get all moved in?" I settled down on our bed and fluffed the pillows behind me.
"Pretty much. Just got in from buying some groceries."
"Yeah? What'd you get?"
"Oh. Beer and pretzels." I knew my hubby.
He laughed. "Well, yeah, but I got some bread and peanut butter, too. I figure that would last a bit. And sardines."
"I guessed since we were apart, I could get away with it."
"Yeah. Good idea. You just keep eating those sardines. Your breath will keep the hoochies away from you."
He snorted. "Hoochies? You don't have to worry about any hoochies. Speaking of which…" he stopped for a minute and studied me as though gauging my mood. "Do you remember Tanya Whitehorse?"
"Yes." I wasn't going to offer commentary but I was glad that he mentioned her without me having to bring her up. That meant something, right?
"Really?" I was trying for nonchalant but, of course, Edward could see through that. He smiled.
"Yeah. She's working towards her doctorate as well."
"I thought she lost her teaching certificate?"
"Since she left town so suddenly after James hit, the school board didn't pursue it. She's teaching in a school in Seminole County."
"Oh. Did she remember you?" I knew she would, the skankawhorasaurus.
"Oh, yeah. We chatted a bit."
"What about?" I'm sure I sounded like I was getting ready to get all stabby.
Edward said, "I told her that my life was amazing. That it's been amazing since the day I met you. That I was head over heels in love with you, and that the best day of my life was the day we got married. That you were the most beautiful and sexiest woman I'd ever known, that we had two wonderful sons, and that, while I was excited to get my Doctorate, missing you was going to be hell for me and I was counting every second until we could be together again."
I know I sat there with my eyes bugged out like Bugs Bunny when he saw a carrot but then my better sense got the best of me.
"You did not!" I knew Edward wouldn't have been half as forthcoming as all of that. Geesh. What man talks that way?
He laughed and shook his head. "No, of course I didn't say any of that. We just said hello."
I was curiously disappointed but, really, only pussies would say shit like that.
He leaned in closer to the screen, his eyes intent on mine, "But that doesn't mean that it isn't true, Bella. You're My Mrs. Meteor."
The days plowed on and I poured myself into keeping busy because that was the only way I could deal with that constant ache in my chest that Edward's absence caused. We communicated everyway we knew how, phone calls, text messages, emails, Skype, even old fashioned letters. They were sweet but they weren't enough. I wanted him. I wanted him in my bed, I wanted him with our boys. I wanted him in my days. I wanted to touch, taste, smell, and feel him and I wanted him to touch, taste, smell and feel me. I was driving myself crazy.
So, I kept myself busy during the day so I'd sleep from exhaustion through the night.
I was trying to potty train Anthony. He was almost four, for goodness sake. It was time.
But it wasn't going well.
I tried pull ups and found he was an equal opportunity pee-er. He actually pulled them up to pee in them.
I tried multiple potties throughout the house. He wore them as hats.
I tried stickers. He shrugged.
I tried M&Ms. I ended up eating the damn things.
I was moaning to Diane over the phone about it and she said, "Honey, just wait until he asks."
"Yes. As in, 'Mother, I have to go to the bathroom.'"
"He may be ten years old before that happens."
"No, honey. He'll want it soon enough. He's not ready right now. Don't force it or you'll make it something bigger than it is. I promise you, you won't have to trade in his Pampers for Depends."
Diane had always been the voice of reason in my life, so I took her advice and quietly retired the potties, pull-ups and stickers for another day. Anthony didn't even notice.
So, that was the first summer project I failed at.
The second summer project was to stop channeling the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I figured that it'd be a nice surprise for Edward to come home to find the girl he first met, so I bought carrots and celery and diet coke.
Remember the M&M's? Yeah.
Second summer project that I failed at.
I was crying into my cottage cheese one day while on the phone with Diane and she said, "Forget about that. You're beautiful. You're a woman, now, not a girl."
"You're my friend, you're supposed to say that."
She tutted then asked, "Has Edward complained about how you look?"
"No. He's not said a thing."
"Does he still look at you like he could eat you up?"
"What? Look at me how?"
"Shoot Bella, I knew the first time I saw you two together when you first came to Parma that you'd knocked poor Edward off his feet. He couldn't take his eyes off you and always wore this goofy grin. Everyone remarked on it. Poor guy, he took a lot of ribbing then. He still does."
I was blushing and glad that Diane couldn't see but she had me gob-smacked. "He still does?"
"Yes, Bella." If her tone could roll its eyes, it would. "Do you remember when you were presenting the English Awards at the assembly last month?"
"Well, I was sitting down the row from Edward. When you went up to make the presentation, I heard a couple of kids whisper when I turned to shush them I saw your Edward sitting there watching you. His eyes were glowing and the smile on
his face…it was so sweet…and it was all for you, hon. That man sees nothing wrong with you."
I sighed. How did I get so lucky?
"So, Bella, who's going to do summer conditioning with the soccer team?" Well, that was from left field but I was used to Diane's scatter-brained conversations.
"Edward was going to have his assistant coach do it but Peter just emailed him that he had to go out of town for a family emergency and didn't know when he'd be back, so I guess no one."
"Why don't you do it?"
Whaaa? Now that was so far out of left field it came from the parking lot.
"No really, Bella. You know what Edward does during conditioning and the activity would be exactly what you need. It will help you sleep at night and the endorphins will make you feel better. Do it!"
"But what will I do with my boys?"
"Bring them by here. I'll watch them for you."
"I couldn't ask you to do that."
"Sure you could. I love those little guys and you know that my hubby dotes on them. It will be perfect."
I paused and thought. I knew that Edward was fretting about his soccer team not staying fit with him not there to run summer conditioning. With Diane's help, this was a worry I could fix. I couldn't wait to tell him.
"Diane, you're the best. I'll do it!"
Edward's doctoral program required oceans of work. He had to constantly work on it or he'd figuratively drown. I could see what a toll it was taking on him when we'd Skype. He looked tired and frazzled. He even looked like he was losing weight. I almost suggested that we not have our computer date every night because it took an hour away from his studies each day but Edward said no. He told me that sometimes knowing he had our nightly session to look forward to was the only thing kept him going.
I tried to keep things upbeat and light during our chats because I didn't want him to worry and I knew that laughter sometimes was the best at beating loneliness. Sometimes, I'd keep the boys up so they could see and talk to their Daddy.
The first time, little Chuckie kept on trying to touch the computer screen to get to Edward and cried when he realized he couldn't cuddle up with him. That put some tears in Edward's eyes as well as mine, too. But we were making it. Three weeks had passed and there were only three weeks left. We were almost over the half-way mark.
I tried not to dwell too much about how much I missed Edward, so I filled my days and nights with distractions. Edward was very pleased I had taken on the conditioning program for his Soccer team and he'd frequently give me advice and pointers. I found I was looking forward to my daily work outs with the kids almost as much as my nightly computer sessions with my husband. Diane had been right, the endorphins or whatever did make me feel better. And honestly, I was a little proud of the turnout I was getting. The first afternoon, I had ten boys show up but each night after that, I'd get a few more and a few more until there were about twenty-five soccer prospects every day eager to work out and play. Edward never had so many show up when he was running them.
"I think your Soccer program has developed quite a reputation, Edward."
"So many kids are eager to play this year. I had twenty-six boys show up today."
Edward grimaced. "I don't think it's the program, I think it's the trainer."
"Me? Why do you say that?"
"What do you wear to these workouts, Bella?"
"Just athletic shorts and a tank. It's hot out there."
"And you don't wonder why all those boys are showing up?"
"What does what I wear have anything to do with it?"
"So says the woman with the most killer legs in Florida. I miss them." He gazed longingly at me.
I know I was blushing. You'd think I wouldn't do that any longer being married to him as long as I had. "I'll wear longer shorts in the future."
"You don't have to do that just show me what you've been showing those pervy boys these past couple of weeks."
I'd just gotten a load out of the dryer and my work out clothes were sitting right there waiting for me to fold them. "Well, okay. Just a sec." I moved out of the range of the camera and started to remove the dress I was wearing.
I heard a strangled cough. "Can I watch you change?"
I swallowed. This was going in a direction that was sure to lead to a frustrated cooch-ache for sure. I popped back on camera. "You sure you want to watch this, Edward?"
"Yes." His voice was gravely and growly. It'd been a long time since we last made love.
"Okay…" I stood in front of the computer and turned my back, pulled my hair to the side and then reached up and slid the zipper down the back of my dress. I looked over my shoulder and watched his expression as I slid my arms from the sleeves and let my dress drop in a heap at my feet. I turned around and let him see me standing there in my bra and panties and was struck to the heart at the look of wanton desire on my husband's face. I knew from where I was standing he could see me from about my hips up, so I quickly put on the tank top and slipped on my shorts.
"Let me step back so you can see the whole effect." I took about three steps back and asked, "Can you see me now?"
"Pull the camera down a little." I made the adjustment, stepped back and heard a low groan.
"Oh, Bella. I can tell you exactly why those boys are showing up at practice. You're fucking gorgeous." I could see his Adam's apple bob when he swallowed. I saw him move his hand.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Taking your picture."
"Yeah? What are you going to do with it?"
"I think I'll blow the damn thing up and have it laminated." He groaned.
"Maybe you could use it as a recruitment poster for the team, eh?" I chuckled at his expression as he laughed.
"Not sure how Principal Banner would take that. There's probably a rule against sexy teachers advertising for a team. Now, you gorgeous woman, I think I'd better go take a shower. I've got about three or four hours of work left to do tonight and if I stayed on here and did what I'd rather do, I know I'll never get it done."
We signed off and I was surprised to find I was grinning. No matter how much bigger I had gotten, Edward still seemed to like how I looked. He was good for my self-esteem, that's for sure.
Edward's birthday was the coming Saturday and he'd still be up in Orlando but I wasn't letting that stop me. I had decided to overnight half of his favorite meal to him and we'd celebrate with the other half at home with him on Skype. So, I prepared the lasagna, froze it, then made a salad, garlic bread, and a chocolate cake. I overnighted half of it to him in Orlando. The boys and I made homemade decorations and we picked out a half a dozen little gifts for him to open at certain times during the day with the biggest gift to be opened at dinner. I had it all planned out.
The Friday before his birthday, I made my way to the soccer pitch after dropping off Anthony and Charles at Diane's. I'd packed a few more bottles of milk because the last time I dropped Chuckie off, he had drunk all the bottles Diane had. I felt it was a good idea for her to have a few extras on hand, just in case. That little guy had quite an appetite at times.
But when I got to the field, I was wondering where all the guys were. Usually, the parking lot had half a dozen cars in it by this time. Dropping the kids off at Diane's put me behind a little. I looked at my phone to check the time, thinking that perhaps I'd misread the clock but I hadn't. I walked through the gate and was baffled. There was no one here. The stadium was completely empty. What happened?
I tried calling Ben Mallory, one of the co-captains of the team, but he didn't pick up. I left a message hoping he'd call me back and let me know if I had missed something, like the Mayan cataclysm or something. Well, I'd give them a few more minutes and so I decided to run a few laps to warm up. As I got to the end of the first lap, something, or rather, someone sitting in the stands caught my eye. That time of the day, the sun was directly behind the person and I couldn't see but there was something really familiar about him.
My heart started to pound. I wouldn't let myself hope it to be who I thought it could be. My steps faltered as he stood and I knew.
"EDWARD!" I started hauling ass towards the stands but suddenly my feet wouldn't cooperate with my brain and I stumbled, not exactly falling but stutter stepping and flailing as I fought to keep my feet. Yes, Edward you married a clutz.
I lurched as I strove not fall, thinking this was the least romantic reunion in history and if I did a really good job, Edward would end up taking me to the Emergency Room instead of to bed.
But just like nine years ago, his arms wrapped around me and I was safe. I was in my own version of paradise. I was clutched to Edward's chest and I could feel him shake as he chuckled.
"Bella, you've got to stop falling for me like this. You're gonna hurt yourself one day."
I couldn't even respond to Edward's teasing, I was so overjoyed to see him, to feel him, to taste him. The easiest way to taste him was to kiss him, so kiss him I did, and WOW. It was a good thing there was no one in the stadium besides us because our kiss soon became practically x-rated.
Edward pulled away first and in a low, rough voice said, "Let's go home."
"But…soccer conditioning?" For a moment I had forgotten about the twenty-five boys were supposed to show up to work out that afternoon.
"Cancelled." He was squeezing my ass as though testing how ripe it was, sort of like an orange.
"How?" My hands were all over him and part of my brain was already in bed with him but that old responsible part took precedence, as always.
"Diane and I conspired. Tonight, it's just you and me, Bella." He pulled my hips tightly against his and I could feel Edward, Jr. wasn't so Jr. at the moment. Evidently, he had the same idea as I did.
"Then, let's get out of here."
We couldn't bear to be apart on the short drive home, so I left our SUV in the lot and Edward drove us in his car. We'd figure a way to get my car later.
"How come you're home, baby?" I fiddled with his fingers as he drove. I could hardly believe he was here. I wasn't quite sure I wasn't dreaming.
"Our professor took pity on us and said if we had our papers ready to turn in this morning he'd give us the final early. You'd better believe I worked my ass off to get that paper done so I could take advantage of his offer. I was really lucky. Usually, I spend my weekends reading for next week and when I looked at the pre-reading, I discovered I'd already read two of the books. As a matter of fact, I needed to come home to get them and the notes I took. At least that's my excuse. I figured that I could read the third book while I'm home. It's all good."
He turned and unapologetically looked me up and down and said, "And this evening, My Mrs. Meteor,—this evening it's just you and me. Diane agreed to keep the boys for as long as we wanted, even if it was overnight."
Edward had a wicked gleam in his eye. "Yep."
"Wow." I was completely astonished. I was dreaming. I had to be.
"Yep." He said again as he pulled into our driveway and pressed the remote for the garage door.
A minute later he had swept me off my feet and had carried me into our bedroom. "As good as you look in your workout gear, I think it's a little more clothing than I want on you right now. Let's get them off."
I nodded dumbly as Edward lifted the bottom of my tank top and pulled it over my head. The rest of my clothes quickly followed and he kissed, sucked, and licked whatever skin he could reach as he peeled them off of me. I wasn't complaining.
To be honest, I was doing the same to him. He tasted a little salty and a lot Edward as he'd just spent four hours in a car on a hot summer's day driving home, air conditioning or not. He tasted better than peanut butter pie, though. Make that better than peanut butter pie topped with chocolate sauce.
I wanted to eat him up and I almost did.
"Bella, stop. I don't want to go too quickly. I want to feel you." He gently pushed my head away and I was disappointed but not for long. I loved knowing that I could make him swoon with just my lips and tongue but now he was going to make me swoon instead.
Soon, I was flat on my back with my legs slung over his shoulders and he was literally pounding away.
And. I. Was. Flying.
It was as though he couldn't get enough of me. He was consumed by me just as I was consumed by him. I dug my hands into the bed linens and gripped them tightly in my fists. Nirvanah approached.
"I can't last." He grunted out the words.
"Go," I said. "I'm right there."
"Unh. Oh, Bell…." He made a few spasmodic jerks with his hips, completely out of control and then shouted as he climaxed which was more than enough for me to follow.
Afterwards, we lay in each other's arms relishing how amazing it always was for us. I loved him with every atom of my being.
My life was good.
Before I could get completely lost in that feeling however, I sat up and said, "Shit!"
Startled, Edward said, "What's wrong?"
Looking down at him, I gasped. "Oh no! I have a lasagna dinner, complete with chocolate birthday cake being Fed Exed to you as a surprise. It's going to be a ruined mess when you get back to school."
He pulled me back down into his arms. "Don't worry, Bella. Diane told me about it. Tanya's going to look out for it for me."
You know how it sounds when someone runs their fingernails across a chalkboard? Or, when that new high-tech fire alarm goes off that allows people to "feel" the claxon? Or, how Ashley Simpson sounded before auto-tune? Well, that's exactly what hearing Tanya's name from my husband's lips did to me.
"Taaaanyaaa?" I sort of screeched.
I will let you imagine the expression on my face.
Edward knew from the first syllable out of my mouth that he was in deep, dark, stinky shit. Actually, the look of fear on his face at that moment was sort of endearing except I wasn't in any mood to appreciate it.
He sat up and managed to stutter out, "Sh-she's staying across the hall from me. She was the only one I knew who was going to be on campus this weekend. All she's going to do is to keep it in the fridge for me. I'll get it when I get back."
"Well…" I huffed. "I'd no idea that you two were hanging around together."
"We aren't—any more than I can help, anyway. She's in the same classes with me and about twenty other people and she lives on the same hall as we all do." He flopped back on the pillows and stared at the ceiling. I suddenly realized I was 'harshing his mellow,' as my step-father would say. This wouldn't do. I knew better. Edward loved me and wouldn't dream of being unfaithful.
I curled up onto his chest and ran my fingers through the sparse hair that grew there. "I just don't like her."
"I don't like her much either. She's completely self-involved to the point no one wants to work with her. I didn't notice it so much when she was at Parma but, geesh, it's obvious now."
Boy did I love hearing the disgust in his voice. "Hmmm. I guess she still looks the same."
I smiled. Heh heh. The old bag. I bet she's gotten fat. "Oh? I guess she's a victim of time like we all are." My husband, God love him, was completely clueless as to why I was asking. I wanted details of her deterioration. I felt a little guilty but not enough to stop. Edward, my sweet, sweet man, thought I was above such pettiness. Little did he know.
"Actually no, she doesn't look old. She looks different though. She's got different hair and she's bigger in places."
"Fat?" I asked hopefully.
"No, I wouldn't say that. She's not overweight but I never remember her lips being so puffy or her top taking up so much room on her chest."
Why the hell was he looking at her lips and boobs? "She's still pretty, then?"
"I don't know."
"Really, Edward." I got up on one elbow and looked down at him. "Someone's either pretty or not. I don't know isn't an answer."
He pulled me closer, his hand cupping my bare ass, and said, "Honestly, Bella, you're the only one I think about that way. I'm always looking for you or missing you. Other women are just people to me. So, while I can see that Tanya's different, she doesn't interest me. At all."
Okay. He wins.
Or, I do.
I rewarded that bit of sweetness with a kiss which soon led to a grope which led to…well, you know.
We managed to pry ourselves out of bed an hour or so later to get cleaned up. In order not to waste water, we decided to share our shower which led to another kiss, and then another grope and then, well…you certainly do know by now.
Needless to say, we defeated the purpose of trying to save water by showering together.
Afterwards and happy, grinning, sexually satiated but hungrier than bears, we got dressed and decided to get carry out for dinner but first, even though Diane offered to keep the boys, Edward wanted to pick them up. I wasn't the only one he missed and, actually, I sort of missed the little buggers, myself. So, I called Diane up and explained we were coming to get Anthony and Charles.
"You sure honey? I know you've been missing Edward terribly," Diane said.
"Don't worry Diane, we've already had private time. Now, we want family time."
My friend laughed. "Well get over here, we're just playing in the back yard. Come around when you arrive."
We first had to go get my car as it had the baby seats in it and then made the short journey to pick up the boys. Edward and I walked hand in hand around the side of the Masen's house and peeked in the back to see what our boys were up to.
Diane and her husband had out a bubble maker to the delight of our two guys. The little ones were squealing with pleasure as they chased the bubbles around the back yard. I laughed when I saw Chuckie trying to catch a bubble on his tongue but when he was finally successful, the yuck face he made was hilarious. I guess it was his first lesson in that all that looks good doesn't necessarily taste good.
Edward and I stood there grinning like fools until Anthony happened to glance in our direction and shouted, "Mommy!" and started running for me.
About two steps in to his gallop, he noticed Edward, who at first whad been partially hidden by a trellis. He stumbled to a stop, stared with wide eyes, and said in a broken little boy voice, "Daddy?"
Then he hollered, "DADDY!" and ran, hell for leather, for Edward.
Edward squatted down to scoop him up as Anthony jumped into his arms and wrapped his legs around his waist and clung to him like a spider monkey. After hugging Edward tightly, he pulled back and looked at his father adoringly. Then, his little face scrunched up as he grabbed Edwards's cheeks, and cried, "Where ya been, daddy? You been gone sooo long!" and then our poor little guy burst into tears.
We had a wonderful weekend, perfect in every way.
After taking the boys to Giuseppe's for pizza—we'd nixed the carry out; we were too hungry to wait—we went home and Edward supervised bath time and read Anthony a story, Goodnight Moon, as I nursed Chuckie to sleep.
We were fortunate in our youngest. Once he was out for the night, he was such a sound sleeper that he hardly turned over until morning. Anthony was another story. That boy slept lightly and could resist sleep as well as a pot of Seven-Eleven's midnight coffee pot. Goodnight Moon led to the Pokey Puppy, to There's a Duck in my Closet, to The Runaway Bunny, to One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and our little guy didn't even crack a yawn.
"Hey Bella, could you bring me my computer bag?" Edward asked. I had long since tucked Charles in and he was snoring away in his crib. Because of the difference in their sleeping habits, we learned early the two boys couldn't share a nursery. It was bad enough that Anthony interfered with our sleep, disturbing baby Charles' sleep was a recipe for an epidemic of Cullen Family crankiness—definitely not a pretty thing. Fortunately, we had the space for it.
I found Edward's computer bag and walked into Anthony's room to find him still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed sitting next to Edward in bed. Edward reached inside the bag and got out one of his school textbooks.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I guarantee this will work. It'll be like anesthesia for Anthony, won't it guy?" he asked the wide awake little boy.
Anthony smiled at his dad and said, "Nope." I was pleased to note my child did not pop his p. We are raising him well.
"We'll see, partner. You can help me study. I'm going to read to you about the scintillating world of school administration. Here we go." Edward opened up his book and cleared his throat.
"Educational Leadership, Part One, Leadership Epistemology: When You Understand, You Know What To Do. Chapter One…"
I left them to it. Even though I was a teacher myself, that title definitely sounded like a yawner to me. I straightened up the house and took care of some laundry. A half hour later, I peeked into Anthony's room and saw both Edward and our son were sound asleep. Evidently, the Epistemology of Leadership put Edward out, too. I put my hand on my husband's shoulder and leaned down to whisper in his ear, "Anthony's asleep, Edward. Come on. Let's go to bed."
I can't tell you how good it was to drift off to sleep once again in my husband's arms. This being apart crap was for the birds. I have no idea how Rosalie managed when Emmett was in the service. I'll tell you right now. I have a great respect for service men and their families, God Bless them. What they sacrifice for all us civilian goobers—it's humbling. I'll have to say an extra prayer on their behalf on Sunday.
But recognizing that didn't change the fact that it was going to be hell on everyone when Edward had to go back to Orlando on Sunday, especially our sons. It had broken my heart to see Anthony burst into tears this evening when he reunited with his daddy. The tears in Edward's eyes didn't escape my notice, either.
Being apart hurt us all.
The next day was Edward's thirty-third birthday. We started our day at the beach. Anthony was delighted to show his daddy how well he could swim. The boys and I had been spending a lot of time at the YMCA and the little guy was earning his Whale swimming patches two weeks at a time. He was doing quite well. He could now expertly hold his breath, duck his head under the water, kick, and use big arms with the best of them. He still paused and dog paddled while he gasped for air but I was sure rotary breathing would come, eventually. The look of pride on his father's face was enough to make my day as well as Anthony's.
I sat there on the beach, digging in the sand with Charles, and staring at my beautiful man as he held a beaming Anthony in the waves. I was filled to overflowing with happiness. God had blessed me more than I ever deserved. Edward was a wonderful husband and father.
Simply, he was a wonderful person. I wish I could be half the person he was. Here I was regretting that I didn't have the body I once did and thought less of myself because of it and, really? Would I give up a minute of what happened to me since I met Edward? Not even a second. In fact my shape now reflected the fact that I was a well loved wife and mother and my men knew I was beautiful.
I had been getting jealous over a phantom ex-girlfriend when in reality Edward couldn't stand her. He didn't even notice whether she was pretty or not because all he saw was her character. Edward picks me every time, extra curves and all, because he sees the person I am and loves me for it. He picked me for forever eight years ago.
And I picked him.
I was getting teary as realized this and watched him play with our oldest son in the surf. I began to feel ashamed of my petty suspicion and jealousy. I actually found I was beginning to feel sorry for Tanya. I doubt she could ever have the kind of relationship that Edward and I did. Unless she changed a lot, it was unlikely she'd really want someone to consider her character. Perhaps that's why she got what I assumed to be a boob job and collagen injections. They were distractions to hide the real Tanya. Unconsciously she was saying, "Pay attention to these because I don't want you to look too closely at the person that I really am."
Edward and Anthony ran up to Chuckie and me. I stood up and wrapped my arms about my husband's neck and kissed him as passionately as I could. After a surprised second, he responded me with equal fervor. In the background I heard Anthony laughing. "Mommy and Daddy are kissing, Chuckie!"
When we broke apart, gasping for breath, Edward asked, "What was that for?"
"Edward, sometimes words aren't good enough to describe how I feel about you. I don't even think the most passionate kiss could. I'm truly thankful that I'm your wife. I love you beyond measure."
He sighed and looked tenderly into my eyes with his arms gently draped around me pulling me close, curves and all. "The feeling's definitely mutual, my Mrs. Meteor."
In the middle of the night, I woke up with a brilliant idea. I jumped out of bed (actually, I slid out of bed quietly so I wouldn't wake up Edward) and nosed around on line until I found what I wanted. All of Edward's textbooks had an electronic version! We could upload them all to our Kindle which had a text to voice application and Edward could listen to his text books as he drove. This meant he could come home on the weekends; at least that's what I thought it meant. I was hoping my husband would agree.
I couldn't wait to tell Edward, so I climbed back into bed and stared at him, intensely.
He woke up after about a minute and a half.
I have powers, you see.
After he actually woke up, complained about the hour (it was three thirty in the morning), he was as excited as I was.
"I already had decided to come home every weekend from now on. It's too hard on the boys for me to be away for longer than that. It's hard for me, as well. I don't sleep well without you."
"I was thinking the same thing. Besides, we weren't made to be apart."
"No, we weren't."
I cuddled up to him and sighed. He wrapped his arm around me and pulled me close so that I could pillow my head on his shoulder.
"This is the best part of the day; cuddled up together in our bed. It's blissful."
"You like this better than sex?" My husband didn't usually have a one track mind, or at least he didn't talk about it if he did.
"In some ways but I've noticed that if we start out like this, it always ends up with the other."
"Yeah. You're insatiable." Edward chuckled.
"I'm insatiable! Well if that isn't the pot that's calling the kettle black!"
"Hi there, pot." I giggled.
"So, is that all you woke me up about?"
"Yeah. Middle of the night brain storm."
"Those are usually the best."
"So…about 'the other' thing that cuddling leads to…" He pushed his hips into my thigh and I could tell that all of him was now awake. I stroked him, reveling in how quickly he grew.
"I think it's already led," I said.
I lifted my face for him to kiss and soon, he was rolling me onto my back, my hands were in his hair, and my legs were wrapped around him. His tongue traced the inside edge of my lips as he filled me, sending sparks flying everywhere throughout my body. He was slow and smooth and electric, pushing my ass up against his thrusts until I clung to him and begged for mercy. He lifted up on me then, so that the pressure was right there, and just a few seconds later it was enough.
"Oh, unh…" I wasn't whispering.
Edward moaned right along with me as he found his own Fourth of July. Boneless, he collapsed on top of me and I luxuriated in feeling his heaviness, the solid goodness of him, of his love for me.
Out of nowhere a little voice asked, "Mommy, do you have an ouchie?"
My eyes popped open to see Edward's eyes bugged out as his head rested on the pillow next to mine. Fortunately, the sheet was covering us.
"Oh, Anthony. No, no ouchie. I'm fine," I managed to say.
Our little boy stood in our bedroom doorway, puzzledly looking at us. "Did you and daddy forget to put your pajamas on?"
Geesh. By this time Edward had rolled off of me and reached down to the floor and grabbed his boxers and my night gown. Handing my gown to me and scrambling into his boxers, he said to our son, "No, we didn't forget our pajamas. What are you doing out of bed, little man?"
"I heard momma cry and I was worried."
I had slipped my gown over my head by now. "I wasn't crying, honey. Daddy made me laugh. I guess it sounded like I was crying."
"Oh. Okay. Can I sleep with you?" He was rubbing his eyes.
"Sure, sweetie. Climb in." I lifted the covers and he cuddled up next to me. I wrapped my arms around him and Edward wrapped his arms around the both of us.
Anthony was drowsy but he still asked, "Was it a funny joke?"
"A joke?" I wasn't sure what he was talking about.
"When you laughed. Was it a funny joke?"
I chuckled. "Yeah, it was very funny."
"Was it a knock-knock joke?" he persisted.
Edward spoke up, "Yes, that's exactly what it was."
We found out later Edward was right, except it actually was a knock-up joke.
Eleanor Marie Cullen was born the following spring just in time to see her daddy wear his doctoral robes and receive the diploma that goes along with it. He was also appointed to be the Assistant Principal of Parma High in charge of Discipline and Attendance for the following year and with his increase in salary, we decided I could stay home with our children for a few years. Poncho wasn't too sure he liked having us around all the time but then, that dog didn't like anything except meal time.
So, life in Parma was good for us and I got over myself and the fact that wisdom and life experience changed me for the better, I finally believed.
I even gave Tanya a card at graduation. In turn, she took a couple of pictures of the three children and me standing with Edward in his robes. In one, Edward was looking down at me and it was plain, even for me to see, how much he loved me.
When she handed back my camera, I was half expecting her to congratulate me on nabbing such a prize as Edward, but instead she said, "Edward's a lucky man, Bella."
"Lucky?" She surprised me.
"Yeah. He's got what I always wanted and he found it in you. Maybe one day I can find it too." She seemed a little wistful.
I smiled at her, for the first time seeing beyond her ginormous boobs, her too perfect features, and her skinny waist and saw the sad, insecure look in her eye.
I put my hand on her arm and said, "I'll give you the same advice my mother gave me just before I moved to Parma all those years ago. Hold out for amazing, it's out there waiting for you."
Smiling, I turned and slipped my hand into the crook of Edward's arm and said, "Shall we go home, Dr. Cullen?"
"Sounds perfect to me, Mrs. Meteor."
And so we left, imperfect perfections all to go back to our little but amazing home.