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 angeldolphin01 for posting review 400 and debslmac writing review 450 on ffn, and lanigirl96003 posted review 175, janell wrote #200, and troberts submitted review 225 on twcs. Catlvr has posted a bunch of reviews on both fics on fictionpad, so thank you for showing me some love over there. I've now caught up on my shout outs for now, so thank you for all of your love and support on this fic.
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.
Chicago at Christmas was beautiful, but I could tell that New York was magical at this time of year.
It was obvious that this was something that Bella lived for, so when she asked me early Tuesday morning about how she should decorate the house for Christmas, I wasn't surprised. We didn't have a lot of ornaments, only the few that my mom had bought for the kids, as the rest of our decorations had been Tanya's. I didn't know much about what she should buy, but if I could have anything, it would be my childhood tree.
"My mom had these ornaments; they were from when she was a kid in the fifties and sixties. They were painted glass and were really beautiful, very similar to the ornaments she bought the kids. I always loved them, but somehow when my mom went to get her things from the house, they weren't there. We searched high and low but my dad said they must have been in one of the storage spaces they'd used when they redid the basement. We came to find out that he moved his stuff out of the spaces and then stopped paying for them, so the place took ownership of everything in them, including my mom's antique ornaments." It still pissed me off that my dad was that much of a bastard, and it seemed to upset Bella too.
"That's awful. But do you know what they looked like if we looked online to see what the style was?" she asked and I agreed. Bella got her iPad and after some looking for a few minutes she showed me a website. There were several styles, but as we scrolled down, I saw a blast from my past.
"Those are what my mom had," I said.
"Okay, finding ones like that shouldn't be too hard, and the ones she got for the kids are Christopher Radko, so what if I mixed the two, got both types and made a tree like the one that you remember?" she asked.
"That would be amazing, but what about your decorations?" I questioned, not wanting her to be left out.
"I have a five foot artificial tree that I'll set up in my room with my ornaments from my mom. She had all of these doll ornaments and after she died I moved them up with me. It made me miss her a little less to have them to put out every year," she said.
"All right, as long as you are sure about not bringing it down into the living space. Now how do we get the tree?"
"There's a company that Esme always orders from, I'll order the tree and garlands and wreath from them and they will install it and everything so we have it set up properly. I can do that this afternoon, if you want," she offered.
"Use your card to buy them and the ornaments," I told her. "I loaded it with extra money, knowing you were going shopping for decorations at some point, so you should have plenty to cover it, and if you don't, I'll add more."
"Okay, I will try to get the tree delivered tomorrow." The unmistakable sounds of little feet interrupted the conversation as I stood up from the table.
"I better get to the office," I told her. "Have fun shopping for ornaments, and please take the car so you won't be fighting crowds on the subway with shopping bags and the stroller."
"I will, have a good day," she said.
I headed into the living room where I had my briefcase waiting and set out for the office. It wasn't a long walk to work, and the brisk air was nice on the late November morning. Eleazar had asked for a meeting with me first thing, so I was a little confused about what could be the reason.
I entered the office and was happy to see Gianna sitting at her new desk.
"Starting a little early, aren't we?" I asked, expecting one last day on my own before she was mine again.
"I was officially supposed to start tomorrow, but I wanted to give Maria the chance to do the job on her own and be able to call me with problems before it's all on her. Plus, you need a guard dog outside your office."
"It'll be good to have you back," I told her. "If Bella comes in, please let her in."
"Of course, Edward," Gianna said as she turned back to her computer.
I settled in, knowing I would soon have to sit in with Eleazar. I hoped it was just a formality of the new position and nothing more, but I wouldn't know for another twenty minutes.
Not much got done in the interim, so I made my way to our CEO's office and was let in by Bree, getting the meeting started.
"Edward, you look well rested after your holiday weekend." Eleazar greeted with a smile.
"It was a nice little getaway, but I'm assuming that my Thanksgiving was not the reason for this meeting," I commented, wanting to know why I was here.
"You're right about that," he said. "I wanted to talk to you about some personnel issues that I'm already seeing since you've been chosen to take over for Marcus."
"Eleazar, I'm trying to make this transition easy for everyone, but there are certain executives that aren't too keen on listening to the person who took the promotion they felt they deserved," I pled my case.
"Edward, I know you're trying, and I'm not upset with you, but it seems that Heidi and Riley are more than willing to flout your new authority. Is there something else behind that animosity?" Eleazar's question worried me, because I knew what Heidi felt she had on me, and Eleazar's reaction to the news could cause me problems at work.
"Riley is following Heidi because he thinks if she is in a position of power, she will use it to his benefit. Now, Heidi made a rather unfortunate attempt to start a romantic relationship with me, which I immediately shot down. She was pissed that I didn't want her so she told me that I'd regret it."
"Why didn't you say anything?" Eleazar asked.
"It felt like an idle threat at the time, but then-"
"Then what?" he urged.
"She found out about the person I'm seeing and she seems to think it will ruin me," I told him.
"Professionally? Why would we care who you're dating, Edward?"
Deciding to confide in him, I came out with it. "The young woman I'm seeing started out as my nanny."
"Did you pay her using your company account?" he asked. Eleazar continued to question me before I could answer. "How about carrying on in the office during work hours? And I'm assuming since she was your nanny that she is legally an adult?"
Shocked by his questions, I blurted out the answers. "No, I paid her out of my own money and she's only ever visited me when it pertained to my kids or something she was doing at the house. And as for her age, she's twenty-five."
"Then there's no problem here, Edward. You can't help who you fall in love with, and you've done nothing as far as the company is concerned. Now, how you've handled Heidi so far is good. Just continue to document her infractions and if the time comes for more serious action, we will be protected in case she tries to make a big fuss."
"Thank you, Eleazar, for being behind me," I said.
"My second wife is twelve years younger than I am, and we've had a happy life with our three boys. I'm assuming the fact that she thought it would hurt you means that you haven't gone public with the relationship?"
"At first, we wanted to make sure we were solid before telling everyone, and now we have plans set to tell people after the first of the year. And that date is mainly because Bella wants to warn her family that she's seeing someone before we tell them that it's me, and I need to tell my ex-wife before too many more people know."
"That's smart, Edward, and I'm sure it will all work out. If you ever need to talk, I'm here."
With that settled, we talked a few more minutes about work before I returned to my desk. It was a huge weight off my shoulders and now that it was done, the day seemed to move quickly.
Bella was coy about the ornaments she bought, saying that I'd see them on the tree Friday. That led to an explanation that real trees should sit for a day before decorating them, so I left it in her capable hands. I'd have enough to do with my shopping list.
Wednesday was my big day as the official VP of Creative, and after the staff meeting, I fell into work as usual. After work, I walked up to the house to see the garlands and wreath outside, giving it a homey feel. The tree inside was impressive, and I was excited to see how it would be decorated.
On top of Christmas, we had Carlisle's birthday coming up this month, which meant that I was going to spend some time in my office trying to get my shopping under control.
Alice loved princesses and everything Disney, so I found a collection of little Sofia the First dolls as well as a larger doll. There was a dress up set where it matched the doll exactly, so I bought that as well, wondering what else she might like. As if she knew what I was doing, a message from Tanya popped up on my gmail account.
We need to confer on Christmas gifts. Esme is asking about the kids.
Looking at my shopping cart, I answered back, I'm getting Alice a bunch of Sofia the First toys, I would say go with other Disney things. That new movie is a big favorite of hers.
Which one? Tanya asked.
The one with the sisters and the snow storm…you know I'm awful with the names for these movies.
Oh, Frozen, sure, I'll pass that on to Esme since they can get the dolls or something. And Bella texted to say she got her an Ariel doll, so that won't conflict. Is there anything else she's gotten into recently?
Thinking for a minute, another idea came to me. She's playing doctor a lot, I don't know if it's a little kid thing, or there's a specific show, but she's fixing boo boo's on all of her stuffed toys.
Perfect, there's some big Doc McStuffin's checkup thing I saw, I'll get her that and then the different toys to compliment it. And don't worry, I'll pay for them to be shipped gift wrapped so they don't look like a tornado hit them. Tanya was the first to admit that her wrapping skills left everything to be desired.
Thanks. Jasper's really into sports these days thanks to Bella's obsession with hockey and her step father's former connections with the MLB. So if you want to get him something to do with that, I'm sure he'd love it. I was also wondering if you wanted to get him a kindle from the both of us since he does so much reading.
I love that idea, and for the sports, what teams? she asked.
The Mets and the Rangers. Pick one and let me know, because I want to get him a jersey from the other team. And I'll order the kindle.
I'll get him the baseball jersey, because at least then I might be able to see a game with him and have a chance of following it. Hockey moves too fast for me, it's like tennis; I would get dizzy searching for the puck.
I'm sure he'd love to go see a game in Chicago. I told her. Rosalie is usually your territory, so I will let you handle that.
That works. I told Bella a couple of items of makeup to get her, hopefully that will help smooth things over with them too. Is it still tense?
Yes, but the doors are surviving, so that's a miracle I will accept.
Okay, Edward, I'm gonna head off to do some more shopping. I'll have everything delivered soon.
Thank you, Tanya. Have a good night.
Bye. She sent before signing off.
Now knowing that I wanted to get Jasper a Rangers jersey, I went to their official store and ordered that before returning to Amazon. I ordered Jasper's kindle and then set the order, remembering something I'd seen for Rosalie the other day and pulling up the site that sold gold necklaces with city names on them so I could get her a Chicago one. I decided that was enough for the night, knowing I still had to get Bella, Tanya, and Carlisle's family.
Thursday was another day of meetings, but I did a bit more damage, getting gifts for Carlisle's girls and Esme. Carlisle was impossible to shop for, so I texted him quickly to give me a clue since I needed birthday and Christmas from both me and the kids.
Friday, I got to work and was working on some campaigns when Garrett poked his head in. "Want to go out for lunch today?"
"Sure, what are you in the mood for?" I asked, not really caring.
"You should text your girl so we know what's in the area she'll be in," he commented and I smiled. Garrett was always a willing accomplice when it came to sneaking time with Bella, even though he enjoyed teasing me afterwards, it was always worth it.
"I'll let you know when you come back where we're headed."
I decided to wait until it was closer to lunch to text Bella getting the answer that she was right at Bryant Park when I did.
Garrett and I headed out a little while later, walking over to the park first to see if they'd eaten before running over to Chipotle. As we got closer, I noticed a muscular man sitting there with my girls, neither of the adults noticing us before Alice called out to me.
"If we're interrupting something, then we can just grab lunch and head back to the office, Bella," I said as we reached them, staring at this young punk the entire time.
"Don't be silly, guys; this is my brother, Seth Swan. Seth, this is Edward Cullen, my boss, and his co-worker, Garrett." Bella's explanation eased my mind, but it didn't soften his glare. I had a feeling we were in trouble.
"It's nice to meet you, Seth," Garrett said, jumping in to defuse the situation. "I definitely wasn't expecting Bella to tell us you were her brother when we walked up."
"I'm her step-brother. Her dad adopted my sister and I after our parents got married, so that's why we don't look alike." Seth only acknowledged Garrett for a minute before his eyes found mine again. "I told you that I'd get my answers, Bella."
Bella paled at his statement and I immediately knew that the shit had hit the fan.