Love to you all.
Look How You Turned Out 80
Angela's real drug troubles came out of post-partum depression. That's what led to her dependence on the drugs and her addiction escalated to the point where she got hooked on street heroin. She ran after that rocket ship and away from Edward and Juney.
So that left Edward a little skittish about me, even though he knew I wasn't going on the same path, but he worried I'd suffer the depression like she did. He admitted this to me recently. At the time I went through it, I had no idea the depth of his worry.
I had two bad days in my second week of recovery after having Rebecca, days where everything just went south and I saw the smoky fringes of a land called, 'Despair.'
Edward took it badly. We were straddling two houses then. He stayed with me, constantly taking my emotional temperature, just holding me, like whatever edge I was on, he could keep me from going over.
Esme came. She took Juney which was a relief. I didn't want him to see me like this.
It was one bad weekend. I wanted to stay in my room. I just wanted to nurse my child and my woes in private.
So we got through that time and the dark cloud lifted. Not only my mind, but my body started to return to some semblance of what it had been before. By that I mean I could finally zip my old jeans.
And Rebecca, soft little jewel of mine…the first day we brought Rebecca home Juney surprised me and scooped her right up while I was in the bathroom. I came out and he was rocking her in the chair in my room.
I caught the, "Oh shit," before I said it. He hadn't dropped her and her spine was not snapped, and she didn't have a concussion. He hadn't turned her upside down and flipped her liver or something. He held her very nicely, cradling her head even.
"She's so little," he looked up at me and said.
I just nodded. I made myself breathe and relax. They were beautiful together, and he was so big by contrast and I realized with a fresh stab how much I'd missed with him, and how much I loved the two of them, so much I ached. I went for the camera and snapped the first home-shot of brother and sister. Welcome to our reality show.
Juney continues to be properly fascinated with Rebecca, even as he now realizes she is the great Oz behind the family curtain…running everything.
And I have my own cycles, most days reveling in the two of them and the daily challenges and changes and it's all good.
But there are days.
At my worst I'm sure I'll ruin Rebecca and am well on the way to ruining Juney.
Guilt. I have lots. Edward tells me it's a part of parenting…perpetual guilt. He reminds me of when I told him he pitied Juney. Now I'm doing it.
"Look," Edward says, "he's happy. He's fine. You're a saint in his eyes."
But I'm not. I'm no longer Juney's good friend, or overgrown peer, or big sister. I'm officially General Mom, career soldier. He has to resent that somewhere.
But he's so busy with school and his dedication to his after school work at Billy's. He has youth group and band practice, so I hold out hope that he barely notices my bitch-spells. Yet I fear if Angela shows and offers him a one-way ticket out of here he'll flee.
The big wake-up call is the game of Life. He doesn't always want to play it now, prefers the X-Box and Edward or friends. The last time we played the game I knew he wasn't really into it, but he just did it for me.
"You don't like this game anymore," I accuse him like I've caught him watching porn or something.
"No, I do," he says.
He has the roundy lying eyes. My God. He is trying to spare me.
I take it well. "Just go…play your X-Box," I say petulantly. I think I shoved the board too. Well…I did.
He can barely fit me in. Soon, he'll be in college.
"Bella," Edward says, "Juney loves you. That doesn't go away because you're busy with the baby."
"But I yelled at him," I say confessing my latest offense.
"Okay," Edward says. "Next time he makes a milkshake in the blender and forgets to put on the lid, I'll yell at him."
"He didn't mean it," I say, defending him now.
It is after the milk-shake-shake-up that I find a Twinkie on my pillow at bedtime. When I thank Edward, he admits it wasn't from him. I know Rebecca didn't put it there. I have already told Juney goodnight. "I'll be right back," I say.
"Babe," Edward says.
"Don't…don't cry on him," he says all sheepish.
"I'm not," I say defensively.
But I cross to Juney's room. He is asleep. Scrapper greets me, and I enter and sit on the chair by his bed and look at him still so young, especially like this.
He's still awake, watching me unwrap the treat. He knows how I like to do it, one bite, then I go for the goo. He always laughs and gets disgusted on this part so I play it up.
"Sorry I yelled," I say with my mouth full.
He smirks. "Hormones," he says.
I laugh now as I cram the last bite in my mouth. "What?"
"Hermoine," he says.
I suck off my thumb. "Liar. I heard what you said. That is so Charlie."
"Yeah. You've been talking about me. Went to the police. Next it's children's service."
He is grinning. "He's retired," he says.
"Yeah. He'll never retire."
He doesn't say anything.
"I know you," I say.
"What?" he says.
"You." I fold my arms. "Who you are."
"I'm Junior Cullen," he says.
"Yeah. That's your alias."
"What?" he says. Then, "Hey," and he's doing the twirtly thing by his temple.
"Cute. Doesn't change anything. Crazy people see things." I wag my unplucked eyebrows.
"What?" He's up on his elbow. He's always game.
"Seem pretty interested. Got something to hide…Junior?"
"Oh. Big guns, huh? Little Eddie."
"I like Ed."
"Really?" We're suddenly more serious.
"Yeah. I'm going by that."
"I can't go to high school and be Junior."
"Why not? And you're not anywhere near high school." But he is. Way too near.
"Two more years," he says rubbing it in.
"Two long years. Like seven hundred days." I'm serious.
He plops to his pillow and sighs. "It's Ed."
"You tell your dad?"
A pause. "Grampa."
"What he say?"
"He said Juney was a great football name."
That damn Charlie. "Football?"
He looks at me, those eyes. He has these insane lashes, like Edward.
"It's not worth it," I say staying strong. "Those knees, that back have to last a lifetime."
"I'm playing," he whispers. "Like Dad."
I lift my chin a little.
"I mean if you and Dad say so," he repairs.
Like I have any power to say no. Edward will want this. Charlie…he's eating this boy stuff up.
Edward and Juney, how many times do they go outside and throw the football, the baseball. They throw and catch things and it means something.
"Juney…Ed…I know I'm the last one to hear about this…but…if it's okay with Edward then…yeah, but I don't want to see you get hurt."
"That makes no sense," he says. "It's football."
"I know," I whisper. It makes perfect sense to me.
Looking at him…my heart is so full. I have this idea of who he is going to be. A really great Dad, like Edward, only he won't have to make Edward's mistakes because Edward will stay close to him. I know his kind heart will stay kind. He'll always have a dog. His feelings will continue on his sleeve, close at hand, but inside where the world can't see.
He'll love—big and easily. He'll trust. He'll protect. He'll be generous and he'll work hard. And smart? Don't get me started.
Scrapper steals the Twinkie wrapper out of my hand and I have to chase him all over the room while Juney laughs.
Back in our room, "He's…changing his name," I tell Edward.
"I heard. Did you cry?"
"No," I scoff, falling into bed next to him. Then he puts his arms around me and before he can kiss me I fall apart.
Edward settles us better, for the long haul.
"You can still call him Juney," he says softly. He reaches over me and grabs a Kleenex and puts this in my hand.
"I know," I say taking the hankie and wiping.
I have a family. We are puzzle pieces that can't be hammered into place. But love keeps us turning this way and that and time has gone by and a picture has formed and look….
How we've turned out.
I am back at work after a month, part time anyway. I've kept up with the books on my computer but Leah has filled in for me as far as overseeing things in the dining room. She keeps it moving like a pro and it's clean. Eat off the floor or your plate, it's all shining.
I know it's Charlie. He did the same for the department. People get better around Dad. Coy is taking cooking classes at the community college. Our food is outstanding and also cost effective as we're committed to finding local suppliers. We're busier than ever. Perkinson's hasn't slowed Charlie down. Not in his mind. He takes a class at the hospital twice a week and he exercises at home. He'll do what he can as long as he can to stay open and strong. That's my dad.
I outfit my office with a travel crib, a swing, and a bouncing seat for Rebecca. It isn't hard to keep her happy. Mostly I hold her against me in her snuggler or push her in her stroller. But I don't wait tables anymore unless we are crunched or someone gets sick. Thanks to Leah, I don't have to.
So we are starting to get back to some routine and I continue to struggle for balance. But Edward seems to know all about it…this struggle. He is never surprised at what caring for a baby entails. He is so patient with her, and she feels it. She goes right to sleep in his arms.
"I've still got the touch," he tells me.
Boy does he. I always want him, even when I don't. And sometimes I don't. I am just tired but he'll start rubbing my back, and pretty soon my legs open right up.
It's January and freaking cold outside. We thought of going somewhere to celebrate our anniversary, belatedly at that, but Esme has Juney, and even Scrapper for the weekend so we stay home so I can nurse Rebecca and we make our party there. Yeah, we are lazy and just want some uninterrupted sex. Edward does. My fantasy is sleep. But he has a way of bringing me around.
So here we are…celebrating.
"I…," I can barely speak. Edward is taking me somewhere new in this universe called our sex life. We're having adventures. A few months ago at my six week check-up I was pronounced good to go. It's been the secret raunchy sex club ever since. Just two members. He's a dog and I'm his snarling, willing bitch. That's what I tell him and he doesn't disagree.
My God, my God, my God. That's all I can think. Every time I climb the greased flag pole and grab the prize I am soaring. Right now it makes me laugh a little, and he almost stops, but I don't think he can, and if he does I'll pound my fist on his back. He's sawing away, hitting me somewhere in there that rings the bell, and I'm like a crazy person clawing at him and whimpering it's so good…what he's doing to me.
"Gawd," he says and I finally finish and I can feel myself clenching around him. So it's perfect and we surf it through together. It's incredible to be so in-sync. We mellow down at the same time. He finally laughs because lately, since we moved downstairs, he's louder than me.
He gives me a last kiss and I'm a total mess even though I started with my bra on and he tore that off soon enough and my breasts are leaking, but nursing hasn't daunted their sensitivity to his touch. They are amazing. Even I can see it and he's like hypnotized by them, by my body in general. I am adored.
And it shows. Dad just laughs. Sue really laughs. And poor Juney. We try to keep it under wraps but mutual mesmerization like we seem to work on one another…it's hard to contain.
But back to my breasts. Somewhere between Edward's mouth and his fingers I make the shift from mommy-on-call to call-girl. Every time. I'm conflicted, I do not deny. Sometimes when he's coming for me and he wants them, a protest starts inside and I think, "No, my baby needs these," and then he starts to weave his spell and I'm thinking, "No, they are his. I'm his. All his."
Now we're laughing at the state of things, our wrecked bed and our sweaty selves. Rebecca has been awake this whole time but she's in her little room and the receiver is on the nightstand beside our bed and she's just jabbering. Here is the kicker, we moved down here at Juney's request. Rebecca often kept him awake or woke him up. And he said he couldn't have friends over to spend the night with us all crammed up there.
We couldn't believe he wanted to get rid of us, especially after we had sacrificed to be up there in the first place. So I moved downstairs a little whipped, and Edward was downright gleeful about it.
We get all lazy and hazy for a few minutes. It feels so good. "Come on," my husband says taking my hand and pulling me up, grabbing the monitor and leading us into the bathroom.
"What?" I say—I whine-knowing this whole routine but not really. He's full of surprises.
He sets the speaker on the sink and leads me to the shower and turns on the spray, gets it right. "Get in," he tells me, like I don't know. We have an en-suite down here thanks to the remodel and Edward's brilliant planning.
I get in and he gets in after and he's behind me, holding me in the warm needles, and I lean against him. It feels so good. I turn my head and he's right there and he kisses me, and let me tell you there is love in this man's lips, I don't care what, he's got a way.
"I'm so happy," I tell him cause that's my deal—saying that, letting him know. I don't hold back.
"Me too," he says, and we kiss some more while that perfect water sluices over us cause he didn't go cheap on the fixtures or the pressure. He takes the head free and runs that water all over me, stopping long enough to let it pummel me a little at the point of his attack, well between my legs. I'm still tight there, actually so fit there from all the kegels, I hadn't needed to be stitched but had actually stretched very well. The thing works, it's a marvel, truly—me, not the shower head—but that works too.
And right now, Edward tells me I'm perfect. "You're perfect. Look at you, so perfect." He's saying that and his voice and the water and his hands. I'm crazy, that's what I am.
He turns us around, and my hands are on the tiled bench built in the back wall of the shower, and he's biting the back of my neck, then touching me from behind, then he's in, and oh god. "God," I say, and he's nearly out and slowly in again, and this angle, this…I slurp so I don't drool because I'm slack in the face, the lips, and my eyes are closing and opening lazily, my wet hair hanging down, I'm just feeling, and his grip on my hips, oh God.
"What?" he says, lust and amusement as he rocks my body forward and back.
Thing is I haven't said anything, I don't think, but he never wants to miss anything that comes out of my mouth, and I never want to miss anything he puts in…anywhere.
"It's good, good," I pant, delirious.
"Yeah? You like it this way baby?" His voice is full of Dr. Feel-good.
I laugh a little, but just a little cause like it? "Yeah," I say all thready.
It happens again, I let loose, come on my tiptoes, and he's letting loose at the same time, and my God, my head is down on the bench and somehow we're moving, then both on the shower floor. It's just water and breathing for a minute.
"That buckled my knees," he finally says, another laugh. He's wrapped around me, and it's heaven, it's heaven and a drain.
"Lips," he says, and these kisses, they are something, these kisses after passion and bliss. They are not sweet and not slutty, they are just these open mouthed kisses that only two people can manage who know one another all the way through, two souls singing harmony…singing in this rain.
It is early morning, first week of February and fresh snow blankets the front yard. I see Dad's lights on across the street. I know what he' s doing, sitting in his recliner sipping the first cup of coffee, half-cup only because his hands tremble before his meds kick in.
He's not alone anymore. He has Sue. I'm not alone anymore. I have Edward. Edward isn't alone anymore. He has me. Juney isn't alone anymore. He never was.
Edward has told me, in the wee hours, has tried to tell me what it means to have me. So many years alone. He's never wanted another woman the way he wants me. He knows men don't say it, but he won't be like his father and he's the age his dad was when he died, the exact age. He's brought it up a couple of times now, and I've said, "So? I'm not superstitious. Are you?"
He laughs. I pull his plug-his very serious plug.
"You're not him," I say.
I've felt it, this cloud in his mind, this worry about his death. There was a cop killed in the line of duty in Seattle, but still, it always hits hard, always. It happens. You think of the family. You relate.
"Take every precaution…and live," I say.
He squeezes me, but he's silent. Then, "We need to be prepared," he says.
"And we've been over that. I know our money. I know what you want. Beyond that…I can't prepare. Know why? I don't have to, Edward. You're alive. And you're staying alive," I say.
"We're just talking," he says. "You know how it is."
"So we talked," I say. "When it's your time…."
"Some go too soon," he says. He looks away, maybe at his own limitations.
"Hey," I say, "now you're post-partum. That's what it is my friend. Think about it. You've taken on the world in a very short time and you're overwhelmed."
He laughs a little then gets quiet again.
"Lean a little. You're not alone. You've got Charlie over there, and you've got me."
"I know," he says. Well, he knows everything.
I lie awake long enough to hear him lightly snore.
So it's the next day when Charlie comes in my office, and I know it's serious when he closes the door.
"First off," he says, "Edward is fine."
That brings me onto my feet.
"He's fine. He took a domestic this morning and the guy fired shots."
He's patting the air. "It's all right. He missed. He's in custody."
This makes me plop back to my chair and hold my chest. "Oh God."
Then I spring into action. I gather up Rebecca who is sleeping at the time, and I'm quickly headed for the door.
"Honey you need to wait here for him," Charlie says.
"I can't," I answer. I'm quickly to the Jeep loading Rebecca in her seat. A car pulls in right then, the crunch of those tires, the engine the best sounds. I know it's him before I turn.
He gets out and I shut the door and I walk to him, then I run.
His arms are around me quickly and I am buried against his jacket. I feel the hardness of his vest, his turtle shell. I called him that. I know I can't give him all I feel, not now, and I swallow hard, will it back down. So I pull back and look at him and there are no words. He's here. That's all. "I love you," I say.
He's the one who swallows now. "It's okay," he says.
I know he'll need to talk to Charlie. I know Dad paces in the kitchen.
"He's waiting," I say and we let go of one another.
But not really. Not ever.
Here's what Edward tells me later: The guy is waiting in the bushes in front of his house, and he fires off two shots at Edward as soon as he's out of the car. Edward draws his weapon and for a minute it's a stand-off.
"His wife was in there, his kids," Edward says.
He was able to talk the guy down. By the time David got there he had him cuffed.
We're both thinking it could have been today, and we're thinking about how it would be for me and our family. Instead we're sitting here together, holding hands atop the table, the dishwasher humming, Juney doing his homework in the next room while Rebecca rolls around on the floor.
"I believe in what I'm doing," he says.
So do I. One man's sacrifice for what's right benefits everyone. You make their lives better, you make yours better. That's Charlie's gospel. But it's ours too, all of us holding this line.
"The day you can't share with me," I say, "is the day we're in trouble."
He raises my hand and presses his lips against it, looking at me the whole time.
It's even sweeter that evening. He's different, helping me clear the table and giving Rebecca her bath and wrestling around with Juney which is how they pretty much hug these days.
I realize what I see on him is…gratitude. I know, I feel it too. We're held by something bigger than ourselves. We both know it.
In bed that night our love making is fast and sweet. Afterwards we hold one another and I keep running my hands over him, across his chest and down his arms.
He is doing the same to me. There is so much comfort in touching one another like this.
Edward tells me, "Charlie goes twelve years and is never shot at once and a twenty-eight year old cop buys it in Seattle on a routine traffic stop."
Yeah we just can't get this world lined out no matter how hard we try.
He clears his throat, I know he's choosing his words with care, "I've had this hanging over me…the pull to do this…and worry about you and the kids. But you were right and I can't explain it any better than that. It just wasn't my time. And it isn't…until it is."
I stay quiet, waiting.
"It's like…it's all right, you know?"
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"On the ride to the diner…the craziest thing. I couldn't get to you fast enough, but it's like I knew…it was time to let go. I had just talked Benson into it…but I couldn't do it myself."
"Surrender?" I say.
"That's about it."
Worry is a leak in the boat. I think that's what he's trying to say. When duty calls he needs to be there…all there.
"I may be sheriff, own a business, have a family, but I don't own life and death," he says. "I don't own time. I don't own the calendar. I don't even own you."
It's almost like we're floating. This is more than a eureka moment. He's had a revelation.
"So you realize that someday you'll die but you're not going to let it beat you up in the meantime? That's what I hear." I am looking at him, and there is nothing between us but the truth.
"That will do." He kisses me. "That's good."
He swallows. "You were right all along."
He holds me so tightly. He lets it out. I reach hard as I can and get him a Kleenex. For once.
After a while, we're quiet together. We're good, so good. He sighs and his arms tighten again. "There's no one like you Bella. Not for me."
Well, he's right. But I have to admit, Charlie is the one that got him on the hook. I just showed up.
Before we sleep I have to tell him one more thing. "That part about not owning me," I'm shaking my head. "You own me body and soul Edward Cullen. Just so you know."