Okay guys, there has been a month lapse with all the RL issues going on. I'm hoping that once things settle in with my promotion and the apartment that I'll hopefully be moving into in the next month that it'll be the end of the slowdown. I do have a few chapters that I'm posting today, one for each fic, and then I have two banked which will hopefully carry me through until my next chapters are done.

We also have a new member of team AGW, kdubs82 has joined as a new pre-reader on this fic, helping mizzdee to keep me in check and moving along.

Thanks to sujari6 wrote review 600 on ffn, and twi-sessed posted review 300 on twcs. Catlvr has posted a bunch of reviews on both fics on fictionpad, so thank you for showing me some love over there.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Chapter 21

My eyes were the only one to show a reaction, but as Alice got annoyed at the lack of attention, she huffed and plopped back onto the blanket. Garrett scooped her up and sat her on his hip. "Hey, munchkin, how about we go play on the carousel?"

"Yay, horsies!" Alice cheered, and thankfully Garrett was able to distract her from what was sure to be a tense conversation.

"I wish we had known you were coming, Seth, that way you could have come to stay with us. In fact, you're more than welcome to if you want to cancel your hotel stay," Edward offered, trying to be polite.

"I'm better off where I am, I wouldn't want to get in anyone's way," Seth said with an edge to his voice, before he turned to me. "So this is how you're making your living, Bella? Screwing your boss?"

"Watch your mouth, Seth. I'm not going to lie as you've obviously figured out that we're together, but any anger you might feel will be directed at me. I won't stand around and let you abuse Bella," Edward fired back.

"Okay, fine. Do you have a fancy lawyer to defend you against the sexual harassment lawsuit that could come against you?"

"First, I would never sue Edward, Seth. And for your information, I stopped working for Edward two months ago when things started to get serious," I defended us, but it did little to deter him.

"Oh, so you just pretend to be his nanny, but instead you're playing house. What about your dreams, Bella? The culinary school? Your dream of being a writer?" Seth shot off question after question and I tried to keep my voice down. So far we'd managed not to draw any attention to ourselves.

"You knew years ago I would never be working in a restaurant, but having a big family to cook for lets me have fun with my skills. And I still write at night, so that hasn't been affected by this at all. Why can't you be happy for me?" I asked.

"Because I don't think this is going to end well," he said. "I've watched you get hurt before, badly, and I don't see how this can last."

"It will last because I love her," Edward told my brother, his hand wrapping around my waist. "I didn't make this choice lightly, because of how it would change all of our lives. The secrecy that we're living in was for our own protection, so that people couldn't question whether or not we were serious. This has been five months of us falling in love and deciding that we wanted a life together. A life, not some little fling or affair.

"Your sister means the world to me, and when I get a chance to talk to my ex-wife so that she won't be shocked by the news, and we've had a little more time to enjoy ourselves before we have to face the kind of nastiness that will come of people finding out about our relationship, we will be telling everyone. I don't expect you to accept us, but I'm begging you to give us a little more time."

I watched as Seth processed what Edward had said, the look in his eyes softening a little. "I have to admit, I wasn't expecting that."

"But can you live with it, Seth? Just for a little while?" I pleaded.

"When will Charlie be getting the phone call?" he asked.

"I have a business meeting at the beginning of January, so I should be home mid-month. I would say that Bella and I will call him sometime around the fifteenth, give or take a few days," Edward told him.

"Please let me be on the ship when he does," Seth said with a shake of his head.

"So you'll be cool?" I asked him again.

"Yeah, but I want a little proof of this devotion," Seth said. "And I mean more than the fancy jewelry."

"All you have to do is watch me sit through a Ranger game with her to see that," Edward tried to joke and by Seth's laugh I could tell that it worked.

"She's still lusting after the Swede?"

"Shut up, both of you," I grumbled.

"So I'll bite my tongue until you tell Charlie, but let me warn you, Edward. Our father is a cop, my mom is on the council for our tribe, my sister's a Marine, and my brother-in-law and I are fishermen, so if you hurt her, they'll never find your body because you'll be lining the coastal waters of La Push in a hundred crab traps."

"Seth," I hissed.

"What, I had to do the protective brother thing," Seth responded, but Edward just nodded.

"Believe me, there are quite a few people here who might make me disappear long before you ever get off the plane, but there won't be a need," Edward promised.

"Why don't you call your friend and tell him the coast is clear. Then maybe you can grab some lunch and join us. I'm in town for two days, so we can have a little time together before I go," Seth said as he looked off in the direction of the Chipotle across the street.

"Do you have enough for Seth too, or should I get us all something?" Edward asked.

I was about to answer when Edward's phone rang. He spoke hurriedly on the phone; the general tone of the conversation had me a little worried. When he ended the call, he looked up to see Garrett walking over with Alice.

"I didn't know work had the equivalent of snow days, but I'll take it. Especially if I can beg a meal from my favorite little chef?" Garrett teased and I shrugged, not sure what was happening, but okay with cooking lunch for everyone.

"We can still do tacos, but it will have to be beef," I offered.

"Sounds great, and this means we can start the weekend early," he teased, making me wonder what happened at work.

"So how are you able to play hookie?" I asked.

"A transformer blew in our building so there's no power. They've got crews checking the elevators, but thankfully all of our people are accounted for. Now we will just have to make up for the work next week. Thankfully, I will be able to work from home once the power is restored and the server is back online. I just can't wait until our week off at Christmas. It will be a well earned break," Edward told us as I packed up Alice's things.

"Well, there's a surprise for you waiting at home, so why don't we head out," I said to Edward, but Seth interrupted quickly.

"If that offer to crash with you is still good, I'm going to head over to my hotel and pick up my bags. They didn't have my room ready so hopefully I can get out of any cancellation fee," Seth asked and I nodded, happy to have him around for the weekend.

We split up so Seth could get his hotel straightened out and by the time we got home Alice was asleep. I brought her upstairs so that she could nap and when I returned downstairs Edward was standing in front of the tree.

"Do you like it?" I asked.

Edward didn't answer me; instead he pulled me to him and caught me in a searing kiss. I gave in immediately, loving the fact that we were able to share this moment. When he pulled back, his eyes were glassy. "That is my mom's tree, Bella. I don't know how you did it, but there is no way you could have done a better job with it."

"It was a long day shopping but thankfully I found a store that had the full selection. I wanted it to be perfect for you," I told him.

"It is," he responded and then followed me into the kitchen.

Edward watched me make lunch, smiling at how quickly I got the prep work done. Garrett was sitting on the back terrace making a phone call, and Seth came in just as I finished the food. Everyone came over to make their plates and we sat down to eat.

Once lunch was over, Garrett headed home, inviting himself over for dinner some night soon. Seth was in the living room, playing a game on his laptop, so Edward and I slipped upstairs to spend a little quality time.

"That was definitely not how I expected my day to go," Edward said once we were settled on my couch.

"Seth is all bark and very little bite, Leah and my dad will be worse. Are you ready for that?" I asked nervously.

"You're worth all the irate family members that can be thrown our way. We've come almost all the way through this, in a month we'll be starting to share our news," Edward soothed.

We snuggled together until the front door slammed, letting us know that the kids were home. Edward took the elevator while I ran downstairs, stopping off to check on Alice who was just coming out of the bathroom.

"Hey, Sweetie, how did you sleep?" I asked as I followed her down the stairs.

"Good, where did Seth go?" she asked.

"He's downstairs," I said, just as a squeal erupted downstairs.

We entered the living room to see Lottie and Tia wrapped around Seth, Rosalie staring at him with a small smirk. It seemed that Seth had quite a few ladies who were all a little bit in love with him. Jasper hung back a little, so I decided to help Seth out and draw Jasper into the conversation.

"So, Seth, have you heard from Sam about when you might be casting off?"

"You work on a boat?" Jasper asked.

"Yeah, I'm a fisherman, our crew catches crab and Salmon," he explained and Jasper's eyes lit up.

"Like on Deadliest Catch?" Jasper nearly ran over to the couch next to him.

"Kind of, yeah."

I left the kids to listen to Seth's sea stories while I tried to choose something for dinner. Looking at everything that was in the fridge, I decided to make gumbo since Seth was here and I knew he loved it. Edward was once again sitting at the counter under the guise of working on his computer while I cooked.

He watched as I made the roux and then added all the ingredients, allowing it to simmer for a while, giving me a chance to clean all my dishes from preparing the various ingredients.

"You're so at peace when you cook," Edward commented. "If it were me I would be so tense trying to get things timed right and making sure I'd cooked it all properly, but with you it just happens."

"It's one of the things I love," I told him simply.

"What about your writing? I don't see you doing that too often," he asked. It was obvious now that he was thinking about what Seth had said in the park, and I needed to ease his mind.

"I'm researching the historical aspects of it. I can't figure out the plot until I understand the world. But I promise you that I am working on it," I reassured him.

"If you ever want me to take an afternoon and bring the kids out into the city so that you can focus, I will," he offered, but I shook my head.

"I think the quiet would distract me worse than if they were all screaming around me." Looking in the direction of the living room I smiled at the laughter that filtered through. "Besides, Alice will be going to preschool in the Fall, so I will be all alone until they get out of school."

"Don't rush my baby, it might be a while before I've got another toddler to coddle," Edward said as I looked up to meet his eyes.

"When you're ready, all you have to do is say the word, Edward," I told him.

"Don't temp me, Bella. I want to do this right this time." Edward said.

"Bella," Seth said from the hallway. "How long until dinner?"

"Another fifteen minutes, Seth, Carlisle and Esme should be here any minute."

Esme and Carlisle came in just as dinner was making its way to the table. Both were surprised to see Seth, but they welcomed him as always and then turned to discuss the day's events with everyone. I hung back from the conversation a bit, watching everyone interact with a smile on my lips. I noticed Seth's eyes on me and his matching smile gave me hope that he could see that this wasn't anything dirty or sordid, but instead something of substance and true affection.