Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, Stephanie Meyers does. However, I do own this plot and storyline. I also own my own original characters.
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Learning to Love Again - Prologue & Chapter 1: Settlin'
As soon as Jake and the Cullens pull out of the drive, I already miss them. It's more like I feel that something is missing.
It was so nice to have a full house, and they're all such sweet and caring people. Carlisle reminds me of my own father. So much alike, those two were. No wonder they were best friends.
My mind is consumed with thoughts of Edward, and I catch myself daydreaming about him often. He is so handsome, caring, and damn, the man can cook, too.
And then the guilt sets in.
I know Mike has been gone a long time and would want me to move on-to be happy. I just have to find a way to say goodbye to him.
The days leading up to when they will be returning are busy, really busy. We have 18 mares that we're breeding. One of the stallions came down with an infection and we had to quarantine him. It doesn't seem like he's gonna get any better. Looks like I need to start lookin' for new stock.
Emmett calls me most days, keepin' me informed of what's goin' on in Seattle. Between him and Jessica checking the Washington news sites on a regular basis, I'm 'bout ready to fly up there and take care of that bitch myself.
I'm sittin' on the floor of the tack room with an inventory sheet, while Billy counts what we actually have on-hand for the ranch's tax records. Jessica comes flying into the barn yelling for us.
"What has your ass on fire?" Billy asks in annoyance.
"Stallion," is all she gets out because she is breathing so hard from running, I assume.
"And," I drawl out. "We have a few of those."
"No, the stallion," she replies, looking at Billy with wide eyes. "He went down, and Jake needs you now."
We are both up and running for the rescue barn. By the time we make it to the stallion's stall, Jake is already covering him. I have lost animals in the past, but this is the last stallion my father had purchased before his death. I just drop to my knees and cry.
Billy calls for the vet to come out and mark his papers with the death. We can't bury him because he died from an infection, so we have to have him cremated.
A few days later, I'm in the office gettin' the rest of the paperwork together for my accountant, when Billy walks in with Jessica following close behind. Both of them are lookin' nervous.
"What's up?" I ask, not really in the best of moods. With all the shit the Cullens are going through, along with losing the stallion, it's takin' a toll on my attitude.
"Jessica found a stallion I think you might be interested in," Billy remarks. "He's a six-time champion."
"Who?" I inquire, my interest peaking a little.
"Smoke N Black Hawk," Billy states, grinning at me.
"NO SHIT?" I exclaim, jumping from the chair.
Jessica visibly relaxes as she explains, "They just retired him. He's in Nevada right now." She walks over, handing me the paperwork she printed along with some pictures.
"He's even a paint," I smile, looking at Billy.
"If you want him, you better act fast," he warns. "He's not gonna last long."
I sit down and call the ranch in Nevada, immediately purchasing him. Jessica wires the funds the same day.
After calling around for a delivery service and not finding one available, I'm 'bout ready to drive to Nevada myself when Jessica decides to intervene.
"Why don't you just have Alice pick him up on their way here," she states out of the blue. "It'd be cheaper to buy a truck and trailer to haul him than paying someone you don't know."
"That's why I love you. "I laugh at her pout. "Just kiddin', but that's a great idea."
So, we get to work on finding a truck and trailer in Washington to purchase.
The next day, as I'm gettin' all the information together to send to Carlisle, I receive a call from Edward. He explains what happened with Tanya and her father, making me wanna kill the bitch. My heart breaks for the Cheneys, and I can understand them wanting to get out of Seattle. Offering them both jobs and a roof over their heads is the least I can do for them.
"Did you ask if any of them can haul a trailer?" Jessica inquires after I tell her 'bout the call I had with Edward and the Cheneys earlier.
"Nope," I blurt out. "I was too caught up in wanting to destroy that vile family that killed their son."
I pick up the phone to call Carlisle, but, for some reason, I call Edward instead.
"Hello," he answers, sounding excited.
"Hey, Edward. How ya doin'?" I ask. I'm surprised at how relieved I feel at the sound of his voice. I've been so concerned about them lately with everything that's going on in Seattle.
"I'm good. I can't wait to get to Texas though," he replies honestly. "The reporters are still relentless here. So, what can I do for you?"
"You have a favor to return," I answer, unable to hold my giggle back.
"Ah, so what kind of favor is this? Are we keeping score, now?" he questions. Is he flirting with me?
"A ranch favor actually," I respond with a giggle. "Do any of y'all know how to pull a trailer?" I ask, gettin' no response.
"Edward? Are you there?" I call out for him.
"Um, yeah, I'm here," he answers breathless.
"I asked if any of you know how to pull a trailer?" I inquire again.
"Jasper does. He even has a commercial driver's license. He had to have it in order to drive his company's trucks," he finally answers.
"OK, good. Ask your dad to call me tomorrow after he gets my package, and can you make sure Jasper and Alice are there, too?" I request.
"Yeah, we'll all be there," he tells me.
"Thanks, Edward. I'll talk to y'all tomorrow," I state before hanging up.
Jessica and I get everything together to overnight to Washington, when she hands me a credit card. I look down and notice it's an expense credit card for the ranch in Carlisle's name.
"You amaze me," I tell her, laughing. "It's a good thing that I have you, otherwise I'd have just sent them a wad of cash. If I didn't, Rebecca would kill me for messin' up the accounting."
"So that's why you love me," she snarks back, but then laughs.
"One of the many reasons," I sass her, giggling at our banter.
Once the package is sealed up, she takes it to town to ship and pick up Cassie from school.
The next day, Carlisle calls. "Good afternoon, Carlisle," I chirp happily.
"How are you, sweetheart? We received your package," he tells me.
"It's a good day. I can't complain, Carlisle. Is everyone there?" I ask.
"Yes, dear. We're all here and waiting for your instructions," he laughs out.
"Very well. First order of business, congratulations, Rose," I greet.
"Thanks, Bella! I'm so excited," Rose answers back and I can hear her smile through her voice.
"Secondly, Jasper? Ya there?" I wonder.
"Yes, ma'am. What can I do for you?" he implores, sounding happy.
"None of that ma'am stuff," I laugh out. "OK, big, big favor. Edward said you're comfortable pullin' a trailer, correct?" I clarify.
"Yeah, I have a commercial driver's license. I used to haul equipment to job sites," he explains.
"That's great, 'cause I just bought a new truck from the Chevrolet dealership in Bellevue. That's not too far from you guys, right?"
"No, it only twenty miles or so, tops." Jasper responds.
"Good. I need ya to go pick it up this week, please. The paperwork is in the envelope I shipped," I tell him, as I hear papers rustling in the background. "Once y'all are ready to leave, I need you to drive to Woodland, Washington. I purchased a new horse trailer. The address and person ya need to contact is in the envelope, as well."
"I can do that. It's on our way to Texas," he agrees.
"Good, now this is goin' to be a little out of the way, but so very important. Alice, ya there?" I inquire.
"I'm here, Bella," Alice answers.
"I acquired a stallion named Smoke. He's in Fallon, Nevada. It's just east of Reno. He's a six-time World Champion that has been retired, and I want to add him to my breedin' program. Dr. Gerandy sent ya a travel emergency kit. I need ya to purchase all the equipment you'll need to transport him. Are you comfortable securing and traveling long distance with a horse?" I explain.
"Um, yeah, I'm comfortable shipping a horse. Is the trailer air-conditioned?" she inquires.
"Yeah, I figured it'd be easier. In the paperwork I sent Jasper is his information and where to pick 'em up. Just contact the ranch manager there. He has your name and is expectin' your call," I respond. "Also, there's a list of horse-friendly places to stay. I want y'all to enjoy the trip, too. So, I sent a suggested list. There's no rush to get here, so don't try driving all night. Once you get to Nevada, stay the night in Reno before pickin' him up. Then, you can use the list and build an itinerary around that," I suggest.
"We'll take care of it, sweetheart," Carlisle remarks. "Now, what is in this last envelope, dear?"
"Oh, that's your credit card. You'll use it for all the expenses you will have. Use it for everything from Alice purchasing what she needs to transport Smoke safely, to gas and food. Anything your family or the Cheneys may need. Please do not argue with me. This is a relocation for the ranch. I need all the expenses to be put on that card or my accountant will have a fit," I command. "Now, is everyone drivin' down? Alice, do ya need me to fly someone out to help with the transport?"
"No, I think we'll be alright. I'll just prepare and purchase what is needed, and if we run into trouble, I'll let you know," she responds back confidently.
"Just let me know and either Jake or I can fly out and meet up with you. Don't push it. Load him on the driver's side and Jasper shouldn't have any problems," I explain to Alice.
"Got it. Thanks for trusting us to do this, now we don't have to stop at the Ranch Museum in Oregon," Alice laughs, and I can hear the others laughing in the background as well.
"Well, I'll see y'all soon. Call me if you need anything," I tell them before disconnecting the call.
A few days later, Esme emails me their itinerary for the trip. I ask Jessica to upgrade their stay in Vegas, wanting them to enjoy their time there.
Everyone is at my house, having lunch on Sunday, when I receive a text from Carlisle letting me know they're leaving Seattle.
"They're leaving Seattle now," I tell everyone.
"Well, I pray that they have an uneventful trip," Billy replies, as we all nod in agreement.
"We better get what rooms you want them to have ready," Sarah comments. "Are you still wanting to remodel the third floor?"
"Yeah," I drawl out. "I think it's time. Daddy didn't even go up there after Mom died."
"Honey, your parents aren't in those rooms," Sarah remarks. "They're in your heart. This is just a house. You need to make it a home again."
"I agree," I say smiling. "When Jasper gets settled, I'll have 'em draw somethin' up. I was thinking half of that floor could be a game and music room."
"That's a wonderful idea, sweetheart," Billy states.
So, two days later, Sarah, Jessica and I decide that we will put all of them on the second floor, in the five biggest bedrooms. We clean, scrub, and paint all the rooms. Leaving them as blank canvases so they can decorate them the way they want.
Wednesday, I'm in the middle of tryin' to catch a horse that I'm training, when my phone rings. I normally give it to Jessica when working in the arena, but since I know Carlisle will call if there are any problems, I keep it on me.
"Hello," I rush out, a little out of breath.
"Bella? Are you alright?" Carlisle asks, clearly concerned.
"Yeah, just chasin' a horse. What can I do for you, Carlisle? How's the trip so far?" I inquire.
"Honestly, it has been hell. One hell of an adventure, that's for sure. We're actually on the way to the outlet mall in Reno right now for shoes so that we can all go snowmobiling," he tells me, laughing a little. "Yesterday, we had a blowout that caused damage to the Suburban so we bought Esme a new Tahoe. Anyway, the true reason for this call is because Alice needs to discuss something with you."
I heard everything he said, but I'm excited about the outlet mall. "Wait, did you say you were going to the outlet mall in Reno?" I clarify, my voice filling with excitement.
"Yes, dear. We're on our way there now," he replies.
"Please, please, please go to the Converse store for me. I will text whoever a list and just use the company card I sent you to pay for everything," I beg, knowing that Jess is gonna kill me for having to separate the charges later.
"Well, it just so happens that Converse's number one fan is here with us, and he's a little too excited to go to that store. I'm sure that he wouldn't mind shopping for you, also," Emmett cuts in. Knowing Emmett, he is goading someone.
"Just text Edward what you want, and he'll buy out the rest of the store," Rose adds laughing.
"Hey, quit it. Those have gotta be the most comfortable shoes, ever. Cassie and I both love 'em," I retort, not wanting them to pick on Edward. "Now Alice, what's up?"
"Um, I talked to Dan this morning and he said Smoke needs an updated CVI health certificate and Coggins. His registration is being transferred to the ranch, but since I'm the transporter, I need the health paperwork showing my name on them. What do you suggest?"
"I'll take care of it. Jess will fax Dan a letter of authorization for you to transport and proof of your employment with the ranch. He'll have it waitin' for you, along with the updated health papers. You'd think as much as I paid for him that he could cover thirty dollars for a CVI," I snip out. "Go enjoy y'all's day and send me pics. Edward, you'll have a long text in a minute."
"Bye, dear, talk to you soon," Carlisle says, as he ends the call.
I'm both pissed and excited.
You would think after paying three hundred thousand dollars for a horse, the owner could spare thirty dollars to update the papers. Jerk.
However, learning they're goin' to the Converse store cheers me up a little. Before goin' back to the horse, I text Edward a list of shoes for Cassie and me.
Funny we like the same shoes.
I hate that they had to purchase a new vehicle, but there isn't much I can do 'bout it now.
Thursday, I'm gettin' ready for bed when Carlisle sends a text letting me know they made it to Vegas.
The next mornin', I have the guys start to prepare a quarantine stall in the stallion barn for Smoke's arrival. We need to have Dr. Gerandy check that he is healthy before turning him out with the other horses.
Later that day, I'm sittin' at the conference table with Jessica and Billy goin' over all the horses' health records when I receive a picture message. I look down and bust out laughing. There's a picture from Emmett of Edward covered from head to toe in mud, and he doesn't look too happy about it, either. I show it to the others, and they, too, laugh.
"Oh, man," Jessica says, calming down. "He looks ready to kill someone."
"I bet you fifty bucks Emmett had somethin' to do with that," Billy says, still laughing.
"Hell, no," I laugh out. "You know that is all Emmett right there." The words that accompany the picture only state, 'Golf Fun'.
Sunday, as Cassie and I are leaving church, I notice a message on my phone from Carlisle.
Thanks, sweetheart. See you soon.
Yeah, he just saw the bill for their stay in Vegas. It makes me feel good that they had a wonderful time.
Monday, Jessica and I drop Cassie off at school and then drive to College Station to have our day of pampering at the spa. We do this every few months to just get away and have a girl's day. On the way back to Hilltop Lakes, my phone rings and Jessica answers it.
I can hear the person is clearly upset. Jessica tells me to pull over, mouthing 'Carlisle'. Once I'm off the road, I take the phone from her.
"Carlisle," I rush out. "What's wrong? Is everyone okay?"
"Um, yeah," he stumbles out. "We're all right. Ben's truck caught on fire outside of Albuquerque."
"What?" I squeak out. "Are they okay? What happened? Do y'all need help?"
"Slow down, sweetheart," he comforts. "Rose got the fire out, and it looks like a highway patrol car just pulled up."
"Let me talk to him," I demand.
"I promise, we're OK," he tries to reason with me. "Not so sure about the truck though."
"Carlisle Cullen," I raise my voice, immediately regretting it. "You put that officer on the phone, right this minute," I state, my tone softer.
I whisper to Jessica to find a dealership in Albuquerque as I wait for him to give the officer his phone.
"Sir?" I ask. "Is my family really all right?"
"Yes, ma'am, they're all fine," he tells me. Jessica is showing me a name and address on her screen of the dealership she found.
"There is a Reliable Chevrolet dealership in Albuquerque," I relay to the officer. "Can you make sure that the truck gets towed there and that my family gets the horse boarded. I will take care of the rest."
"Sure, ma'am, I'll take care of it," he states.
"Thanks so much, Officer," I breathe out, relieved. "I really appreciate you doing this for me."
Hanging up, I take a deep breath.
"Oh, shit," Jessica squeals. "They have your car in stock."
"Whatcha goin' on 'bout?" I ask, as she shoves her phone in my face.
On the screen is the same car I have been searching for. I was just about to order the thing from Chevrolet directly.
We pick Cassie up from school and head back to the ranch. Jessica already contacted the dealership earlier, inquiring about the car. I call one of the managers and discuss the condition of Ben's truck along with my potential car that they have. I decide that I'll purchase the car, if they will use Ben's truck as a trade and cut him a check for the amount that I'll be overpaying. He agrees, after a bit of haggling.
I am so ready for them to just get here safely. I feel like this is where they belong.
The week turns out to be hell. Cassie has a seizure, so we end up spending all of Wednesday in Houston so that she can have another EEG done. We don't get home until late Thursday night. I keep her home from school on Friday because we're both exhausted.
Cassie and I are sittin' on the edge of the fountain playing in the water when a beautiful site pulls up to the house. The Cullens and, I assume, the Cheneys get out of the vehicles, looking tired and rung out.
"Well, ain't y'all a sight for sore eyes," I belt out. "Welcome home!"
Chapter 1: Settlin'
Dascher = Dasher
Kamerad = Friend
Warten = Watch
Schützen = Protect
Erfindung = Find
Halten = Hold
Angreifen = Attack
Stürzen = Down
"Well, ain't y'all a sight for sore eyes," Bella belts out. "Welcome home!"
"We're happy to be here," my mother counters with a long sigh. "That was a hell of a trip."
"Yes, it was," I agree. The feeling of home rushing over me. "Hello, Bella, Cassie."
"Edward," she returns. "Good to have y'all in one piece."
"Cassie," she says, turning to her daughter. "Look at our pretty car. We'll take it for a spin later."
"It's a dream to drive, sweetheart," my dad offers, giving Bella a hug. "Just don't let Es drive it."
"Carlisle," my mother warns. "You'll be sleeping in the barn, mister."
"Come on in, guys," Bella states, leading us toward the house. "Rest and I'll call the guys up. Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, I'm Bella Swan and this is my daughter, Cassie. Welcome to Texas."
"Thanks for having us," Ben answers while Angela nods in agreement. "We really appreciate you opening your home to us, and please, call us Ben and Angela."
"Not a problem," she confirms. "Come on and I'll show ya' where you'll be staying."
Bella leads us all into the living room. We take seats on the couches and chairs as she walks over to pick up the house phone, punching a few numbers. "Hey, Jake, I've got a horse in my driveway that needs tendin' to. Yep, just now. No, send 'em up to help unload." Then she hangs up, turning back to us.
"Sorry," she apologizes. "We're a little outta sorts right now."
"Is everything all right?" my father inquires. "Not trying to be rude, but you look exhausted, sweetheart."
"Cassie, Jessica, and I just got back from Houston last night," she explains. "Cassie had a seizure Tuesday. After seeing her pedi here, we went to Houston to have another EEG, which took all day and night."
"Is that why you're home from school, baby girl?" my mother asks Cassie, who just looks at her with a tired smile.
"Yeah," Bella answers for her. "We were both tired, so I kept her home."
"Well, well, well," we hear from the front door, turning to see Billy and Sarah. "Look what the cat dragged in."
"Dragged is about right," my dad answers with a smile for his friend. "That was a helluva' long trip."
"Lemme get the keys to the truck so Jake can take care of the horse and I'll be back to catch up," Billy states, turning to Jasper who is handing him the truck keys.
We're all so tired from the trip and glad to finally be on the ranch that by the time Billy returns, I'm dozing off with my head on the back of the couch. Scattered around the living room, most of my family is doing the same. Bella gets up and leads Cassie out of the room with Billy and Sarah while I go back to snoozing.
I have no idea how long I slept but when I wake, the sun is starting to set and there is voices coming from the kitchen. I look over to see Jasper and Alice still curled up on the loveseat and Emmett laid across the floor with a pillow, snoring.
I get up, cracking the crick out of my neck. It'll hurt for a little while but I feel better since resting. I head into the kitchen, finding my parents, Billy, and Ben sitting at the table while Angela, Sarah, and Bella are cooking.
"Where's baby girl?" I ask, not seeing Cassie anywhere.
"Oh," Billy says gruffly. "What are we? Only came to see baby girl?"
"Sorry," I apologize. "Hello Billy, Sarah."
"Just pulling your leg," Billy laughs out. "She and Rose are out walkin' your baby boy. We heard a whining' a few minutes ago from your bag, and low and behold, we find a little, brown fur ball in there."
"Oh, man," I rush out. "Shit, he was asleep when we got here and I didn't want to wake him. Is he okay?"
"Slow down, son," my dad calms. "He's perfectly fine. Cassie is just letting him run around outside with Dasher."
"Dasher?" I question.
It's Bella's voice that captures my attention, "Her dog. He's a german shepherd and her best friend. Don't worry, between Dasher and Rose, Lleu will be fine. He is a cute little shit though."
"Sorry I didn't ask first," I tell her. "He just stole my heart and I couldn't leave him there."
"Edward," she sighs out. "I already told ya that this is your home. However, he may not be your dog for long. Cassie has a way of just claiming all the pets 'round here as hers."
"I'm sure Cassie and I can come to an understanding," I laugh out. "We may just have to share him." They all laugh at my pout.
"Dr. Gerandy will be here Monday," Bella announces. "He's comin' to check on Smoke, but let him check Lleu to make sure he has all the vaccines he needs to be safe around the other animals and that he's all right after such a long trip. Alice should let him check Gracie, too."
"Yeah," I agree. "Charlene said he was due for some shots soon."
"Oh," Bella breaths. "We need to get him on a flea and tick preventative also. Those little buggers are gonna be bad this summer." My heart sped up at the way 'we' sounded coming from her lips.
Cassie comes running into the kitchen with Lleu and a huge dog right on her heels. He made Lleu look like a mouse next to him.
"Whoa," Bella belts out. "Why do I have a bunch of wild animals runnin' in the house?" she asks, turning to Cassie. "Are you the leader of this pack?"
"No," she answers, smiling at her mother. "Be," she says pointing at Lleu.
"I'm pretty sure that little baby is not the conspirator here," Bella replies with her hands on her small hips. Damn, Edward, get your head in the game.
"Be," Cassie says again, turning to me.
"Yep," I answer. "This little baby is all kinds of trouble, huh?"
"Yeah," she whispers. "Be."
"She calls him Be and he answers to it," Rose cuts in, shrugging her shoulders. "I think it's because we call him baby boy."
"Is Lleu a baby?" I ask Cassie.
"He Be," she answers smiling.
As I reach for Cassie to hold her hand, this giant of a dog is suddenly next to me, growling. Teeth showing and nostrils flaring.
"Dasher," Bella barks. "Kamerad."
Immediately, the dog settles down and I look to Bella.
"We speak German to him when commanding certain things that I don't want others to know I'm saying," she explains. "He is trained to protect Cassie and anyone else he needs too."
"I'm not sure I understand," I admit with a frown toward the dog in question. "He only understands German?"
"No, Edward," I hear behind me, turning to see Jasper and Alice standing in the doorway. "He's lethal, right?" Alice asks, turning to Bella.
"Um, yeah," she answers hesitantly. "Only when needed."
Alice turns to me, dumbing it down, "He's a medical alert dog who is additionally trained as a protector for Cassie and anyone around her. So, let's say Bella and Cassie are hiking and a stranger comes upon them, he will go into alert mode. Bella accesses the situation and if she feels threatened, she issues a command in German so the attacker has no time to react. Dasher follows her commands because of the language she uses at the time."
"OK," I say in understanding. "But, if you are calling him to eat, you speak English?"
"Yes," she replies. "In normal, everyday things, we speak English. Only when I'm commanding him do I use German."
"That's really cool," I surmise. "I'm going to have to get busy training this little monster," I comment, picking up the now begging Lleu.
Cassie stays close to me as I'm holding Lleu. Now I see what everyone is saying. She is going to steal him from me.
"I'M HERE," Emmett bellows, making his normal entrance. "THE PARTY CAN START!"
That's when I see Bella and Billy in action. Dasher is instantly in alert mode and he is going for Emmett. Bella grabs his collar yelling, "Stürzen!" Emmett freezes and all the color drains from his face. Billy jumps in front of Emmett and repeats the same command as Bella. Dasher finally calms down but is still growling, standing in front of Bella.
"Son," my father sighs out, "one day your boisterous attitude is going to get you in trouble."
"Sorry," he whispers but still doesn't move from the spot where he is frozen.
"Good boy," Bella praises Dasher as Emmett pouts. "Kamerad. Erfindung Cass," she commands. Damn, she is sexy when she uses that commanding tone.
I'm brought out of my thoughts as Dasher comes to sit next to Cassie and me. He sniffs Lleu and then Cassie, finally laying his head on my knee and just watching us.
"Um," Alice says, getting our attention. "Can someone tell me where Gracie is? She wasn't in her crate when I woke up."
"Oh," Bella laughs out. "She's in your room. She was whining so we fed her and set her stuff up in your room so little miss wouldn't try to put her in a doll bed."
"Thanks," Alice replies, smiling at Cassie. "She would probably be comfortable anywhere, including a doll bed," she giggles.
"Everyone, go wash up," Sarah demands. "Dinner's almost ready."
Rose and I take Cassie with us to the extra bathroom downstairs. We help her wash her hands and face since she has been playing with the animals. On our way to the dining room, I usher Lleu into his crate so he doesn't get stepped on or start begging. His training will start tomorrow, I think to myself.
"Dinner's wonderful, Sarah," I compliment, sitting back in my chair. "It's nice to eat a home-cooked meal instead of fast food."
"I bet," she agrees. "Billy and I went to Florida a few years ago. After a couple of days, I had to find a kitchen," she laughs. "I can't eat fast food very often."
We enjoy a melt-in-your-mouth pot roast with all the sides along with peach cobbler. I'm beyond full by the time I've eaten dessert. It was all comfort food and very much needed.
"Where's everyone else?" Emmett asks. My curiosity peeks. I noticed they weren't here but I didn't want to seem nosy.
"On Friday nights, they usually go into town for pizza and pool," Billy answers.
"Cool," Emmett comments. "We may have to join them one night. I can shoot a mean game of pool."
I notice Bella smile over at Billy and Sarah, who just nods at her.
"Hey, Jasper," she says, getting his attention. "After you get the dock and pit roof done, I have a pretty intense project for you."
"Sure," he answers enthusiastically. "Whatcha got?"
"The third floor," she states, clearing her throat and Sarah grabs her hand. "Um, my grandparents' and parents' rooms are up there. I think it's time I make this my home. So, I would like to remodel."
Jasper's smile dims, "Whatcha thinkin?"
"I want half to be a game/media/music room," she answers hesitantly. "I'm still not sure 'bout the other half, maybe a library. There's just no reason for the space to be wasted."
"I'll look at it and we can come up with something," he suggests. "I have a materials list for the dock and pit roof. We can go ahead and order that so I can get started next week."
"Tomorrow, if y'all are up to it," Bella starts. "I thought we could all go to College Station. Jessica, Sarah, and I stripped your rooms. I figured you could pick out the colors you want and decorate them. There's a Lowe's and Bed, Bath and Beyond there, so we can buy everything you need."
"That was so thoughtful, dear," my mother states with tears in her eyes. "It wasn't necessary, but thank you."
"I'm ready to redecorate the whole house so it's for me just as much as it's for y'all," she answers. "Plus, Cassie has outgrown her room and I want to look around for a different theme."
Angela goes to get up to start cleaning when Sarah interrupts her, "Dear, you helped cook, so you don't clean up."
"But-," Angela starts to protest.
"No buts, sit," Sarah directs gently. "We all share the chores 'round here. The boys will take care of cleaning up, except you, Edward. Since we're gonna be in town tomorrow, we need to make grocery and supply lists."
So Sarah, Bella, Angela, my mother, and I sit for over an hour making lists for different stores. The others would contribute when they thought of something they want or need.
"We're gonna need to take the utility trailer and some ice chests," Billy states. "We should probably just take the small coach and hook the trailer to it."
"Is there a clothing store there, too," I ask. "We're going to need clothes fit for a ranch."
"There is a lot of stores," Sarah answers, tapping her chin. "I think Gander Mountain and Old Navy would be best."
"Yes," Billy bursts in excitement. "Gander Mountain for sure. We need some supplies for the ranch and I need new boots."
"Right," Sarah and Bella both sigh. "You need to follow the list is what you need to do," Sarah contests.
"I'll make a list," he agrees. "Hand me that notepad."
"I don't think so, mister," Bella interjects. "You tell me what we need and I'll make the list."
We all laugh at his pouting face. He finally concedes and they start making a Gander Mountain list. By the time we're finished, there is eleven lists.
"We should call Readfield's on the way and order ten meat packs and then we can add any extras Edward and Sarah want when we get there," Billy suggests. "It'll cut our wait time in half."
"Oh yeah," Sarah replies excited. "Edward is gonna have a field day there."
"What's Readfield's?" I inquire.
"This huge meat market," Sarah answers in excitement. "But they have all kinds of local and imported stuff, too. Even fresh cheeses and seasonings."
"OK," Bella sighs. "Breakfast is at six and then we'll get on the road. Let's get y'all settled and then it's bed time."
She leads us all upstairs to our new rooms. I notice that our luggage and boxes are lined up against the walls.
"OK," she explains, laughing. "Everyone has a master bedroom and the room next to it. The post-it notes on the doors is Jessica's doing."
"Wow," Rose breathes out. "Bella, this is too much."
"Guys," she starts, "these rooms sit here untouched. Make them your new homes along with the rest of the house. You can do whatever you want with them. The bedrooms have king-size beds and your extra rooms have minimum furniture. There's plenty of extra furniture in the third floor rooms that need to be emptied and also there's some stuff in storage."
"Thanks," we all answer, grateful for what she has done.
I open one of the doors with my name and I'm amazed. The room is completely empty except for an espresso-colored sofa and a sea blue chaise lounge. They're both overstuffed and look extremely comfortable. The walls are stark white and the floor is light oak wood. Leaving the door open, I go to the room next to it with my name on the sticky note.
Again, I'm in awe of this woman. It's like she knew exactly what I would pick out. There's a king-size panel bedroom suite in espresso and plain white sheets on the bed but nothing else. She left me a blank canvas to do as I please, just like she said. Excitement boils inside of me and I stick my head out the door calling for my mother.
"What are you going on about, son?" she questions, making her way down the hall.
"Come see," I request. Once she makes it to the first room, I point inside. "See this?"
"Yeah," she states. "And?"
"Now come here," I say, grabbing her hand and leading her to the bedroom. "See this?"
"I do," she says, looking at me with questioning eyes.
"Remember when you and Dad took us to that beach house after I graduated college?" I ask, knowing she will understand.
"You want this room similar to the blue room you loved so much," she states looking at me as I nod my head. "Okay, we can do that. You need to measure those windows. I'm sure between all the furniture around here, we can find that will match to go in front of the sofa."
"Love you, Mom," I say, hugging her.
"Love you, too," she replies. "Now, come get your stuff out of the hall and stack it in the extra room for now."
"Yes, ma'am," I agree.
After getting my boxes and luggage moved, I take Lleu out and then we get ready for bed. I need to remember to get him a dog bed tomorrow. I get my iPad out and start making a list of all the things he needs that I didn't buy in Vegas. Soon, I'm dozing off, excited for tomorrow.