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.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, products, 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 franchise. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: So very sorry this is late posting. Sometimes real life knocks you on your ass. Thank you all for the birthday and well wishes, they really brightened my day.
I also want to thank my team for keeping y'all updated, I don't know what I would do with out them.
Now, I know you don't want to hear this, but the posting schedule has been thrown out the window. For one, I do not have a bank of chapters already written and you have caught up to my writing. Please keep in mind that SLR was pre-written but LTLA is not. I am writing every chance I get, however, it is the end of the school year here and my daughter has so much going on.
I WILL NOT abandon this story.
I have no affiliation with the members of Lady Antebellum, Daniel Miller, Bruno Mars, or Brandon Creed. All lyrics belong to the artists and record labels. Mention of these individuals is for fiction purposes only. All lyrics belong to their respective owners.
"Downtown" - Lady Antebellum
"Treasure" - Bruno Mars
Chapter 25: Disco for the Cure
I'm in Bella's office going over the changes my mother made to the fundraiser menu when I hear Bella call for me. I'm surprised I can even hear her voice over the noise going on out in the hallway. Cassie and the pups have been chasing balls up and down the hallway for the last hour.
I walk into our bedroom and find her sitting on the floor of the closet. "Pretty girl, what are you doing down there?"
"Um, seeing what dress shoes I have," she answers as if I should know these things. "I gotta buy a new dress for the fundraiser and didn't want to buy shoes if I don't hafta.
"Can you help me up?" she asks, raising her arms a little. It still hurts her to do too much. "And can you get the suitcase down for me?"
"Come on," I direct, pulling her gently from the floor. I proceed to take the large suitcase from the top of the closet and lay it on the bed for her.
"Hey," she calls while digging in the dresser and pulling out clothes. "If the doc says it's okay, you wanna take the boat out while we're there?"
Bella, Cassie, my mother, father, and I are heading to Houston for a few days this afternoon. Bella has her two-week follow-up appointment tomorrow. She and my mother also need to pick up a few things for the fundraiser.
"Sounds good, pretty girl," I agree, kissing her temple before walking back to the office. I have to get the menu done so my mother can take it to the print shop while we're in Houston.
There are five hundred seats for dinner at the fundraiser and every one of them is filled. That doesn't include the sponsors, with the main sponsor being Larry and his wife from the Chevrolet dealership. He donated a brand new 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe to be auctioned off.
So many items have been donated for the auction that Jessica is having a hard time keeping up with the required paperwork. Therefore, Bella hired Rachel to come on full-time as the accountant for the ranch and all the charities. She jumped right in and took a huge load off Jessica.
The auction is going to be a success, especially with the theme of Disco for the Cure. After tonight, Bella will be able to expand both medical and legal services to help children in other states with Cassie's Cause.
Finally, I think to myself, taking one last look at the menu and printing it out before emailing the original to my mother. Bella purchased my mother an iPad and it's her baby. I told her she could rule the business world if she had one and she's doing just that. Nowadays, you don't see my mother without it in her hands, while she is working on one thing or another.
Just as I'm pulling the final copy off the printer, I hear Bella's frustrated voice. "Cassandra Arline, stop takin' everythin' outta the bag."
I walk down the hall to Cassie's room where Bella is sitting on the bed refolding Cassie's clothes and putting them back in her duffel bag.
"Noooo," Cassie wails, yanking the shirt Bella is folding out of her mother's hands.
"Baby girl," I chide, my voice a little louder than normal. "Give that back to your mother and come here."
Cassie's eyes go wide and she hands the shirt back to Bella. She walks over to me, and I pick her up, glancing at Bella who's just looking down at her hands, her shoulders slumped. Cassie has been testing her mother recently, and it's wearing on Bella.
I turn down the hall and go to the kitchen, setting her on the counter. "Do you want to go with us? Go shopping and ride on the boat?"
"Yeah," she whispers, looking up at me with glassy eyes.
"Then you need to be nice and quit yelling at your mother," I scold. "Now you let Momma pack your stuff and be sweet."
"Yeah," she pouts, her lip trembling. I kiss her forehead and place on her feet.
"Go tell Momma you're sorry and give her kisses," I direct, and she runs off.
"That was beautiful," Sarah states from the doorway. "That shows her how much you love her."
"I do love her," I surmise. "If I can calm the situation and make life easier for Bella, then that's what I'll do."
"Yep, perfect father." I hear her whisper as she walks off.
I just shake my head and go get our suitcase from the bedroom to load up in the SUV. When I pass Cassie's room, I see her helping her mother pack her bag, both of them smiling.
I grab the luggage and then Cassie's bag from Bella's hand. "Let's get on the road, girls."
Once we make it to the apartment and have everything unloaded, we are all starving. "Chinese," Bella and I blurt out together. I call and order the food, opting to go pick it up so we don't have to wait for them to deliver it.
The next morning, Bella and I are waiting to see Dr. Klein. She's fidgeting in her seat, nerves getting the better of her.
"Pretty girl," I whisper, placing my hand on her thigh. "Stop worrying; you're doing great."
Just as she's about to respond, the nurse calls her name. I follow her back and into the same exam room as the last time. The nurse asks Bella questions as she takes her vitals, telling her to change into a gown when she's done. She doesn't need my help as much, which is a good thing. It means she's healing and I'm alright with that.
Dr. Klein knocks twice before walking into the room. "How are you doing, Isabella?"
"Good," she answers quickly. "Still tender though. I have a hard time puttin' a lot of weight on my left arm."
"That's normal," he states, looking up from the file in his hands. "Your muscles are healing. With time and physical therapy, you'll be able to use your arm normally. What about the dizziness?"
"Gone," she blurts out. "A few days after I started takin' the iron supplement, it went away. I've been eating a high iron diet so I'm weaning myself off the supplement."
"Perfect," he states. "Let's take a look and see how you're healing. I'm going to apply some pressure, tell me if it hurts."
Bella lays back on the table and lifts her gown so the doctor can examine her incisions. He presses around her side and stomach, stopping when she flinches.
"Does that hurt?" he asks.
"It's just tender," she confesses. "Not really pain, just uncomfortable."
"Well, your incisions look good," he remarks, lowering her gown. "I still want you to take it easy. You can do a little more, but don't push it. If you start hurting, stop and rest. I want you to follow up with your regular doctor in a few weeks, but if you start having pain, call and make an appointment sooner."
"Thank you, Dr. Klein," Bella gushes, smiling. "For everything."
"No problem," he replies kindly. "Remember, no pushing your progress. I don't want you to injure yourself more."
"Sir," I cut in, and Bella narrows her eyes at me. Unfortunately, for her, that doesn't deter me. "Can she go boating, horseback riding, etcetera?"
"As long as she takes it easy and rests when she gets tired," he explains, giving Bella a pointed look. "She should be all right."
"Thank you," I state, shaking his hand.
Once he leaves, I turn to Bella with a big smile. "After the fundraiser, I want you, me, and Cassie to go to the house on Dauphin Island for a week. Just to get away and have some fun. I know the water will be cold, but there are plenty of other things to do."
"You know what?" she asks, her smile growing on her face. "That sounds perfect."
We meet Cassie and my parents for lunch. Bella and my mother are planning to run errands, therefore, my father and I decide to take Cassie to the children's museum.
"This place is awesome," I tell my father as Cassie and I run around checking everything out. I take pictures with my phone of her participating in the different activities so Bella can count it as part of her daily education objectives.
As I go to snap another picture, my phone rings. "Hey, pretty girl."
"Hello, handsome. Where are ya?" she questions.
"Um, the children's museum," I confess. "We're spending the day learning."
"Y'all almost done?" she asks. "I need to talk to you about something. Y'all wanna meet for an early dinner?"
"Sure," I agree, a little worried about why she wants to talk. "Text me directions and we'll meet you there."
"K," she concedes. "Love ya."
I echo my own love before hanging up and gathering my other girl, who's dragging my dad to the water tunnel, again.
"Come on you two," I instruct. "We need to meet Bella and Mom for dinner," I tell my dad.
We arrive at the TexMex restaurant thirty minutes later; my mother and Bella are there waiting for us. We're seated and our order taken before she starts talking.
"Today, when we went to the apartment to drop off our dresses, the building manager stopped me," she begins to explain. "Apparently, there's a doctor who wants to buy a two-bedroom apartment in the building, but there aren't any open units. He asked if I'm willin' to sell since I own one of the four two-bedroom units. Edward, he's offering twice what I paid for the place."
"Wow, that's something to consider," I state, stunned. "But you like having an apartment here and it's better for when we need to stay for Cassie's appointments or access the boat."
"I know," she smiles. "I'm thinkin' we could find a bigger place in Kemah or around there. It would only be thirty minutes to the medical center."
"Pretty girl," I sigh, wrapping my arm around the back of her chair. "I will support you in whatever you decide. If you want to sell, which sounds like a great offer, I'm with ya."
"We may have to stay longer if we're gonna be looking at places," she advises. "And it has to be an apartment or townhome in a secure, gated area. We aren't here enough, and I want it to be safe."
"There's a website that shows all the properties for sale in certain areas," my mother cuts in. "Why don't you look tonight and make a list. Then tomorrow, we can drive by them and see if the area is okay before contacting the realtors."
"Perfect," Bella and I both breathe out.
We eat our dinner before heading back to the apartment. While my parents take Cassie up to the apartment, Bella and I stop by the building office and let the manager know she's interested in the offer.
We're sitting in the living room of the apartment, looking at the website my mother mentioned, while Cassie colors at the coffee table. I'm scrolling through the same app on my iPad as Bella is looking at it on her laptop.
"Hey, pretty girl," I call, getting Bella's attention. "Would you consider a house if it's in a gated community?"
"Um … I guess," she hesitates. "That would mean owning three homes, though."
"Sweetheart," my father interrupts. "Real estate is a good investment. If you're worried about the upkeep, you could hire a caretaker like you're doing for the Dauphin Island home."
"Yeah," she concedes, "that makes sense."
After spending the next day driving around, looking at townhomes and houses, there's nothing that stands out or calls to her. Honestly, I don't like anything we see, either. Just as my girl's frustration is fixing to hit its peak, a thought occurs to me. Why none of us thought of it before is beyond me. I pull into a gas station and turn around, heading toward the marina.
"Edward," Bella sighs. "Where are ya goin'? We already looked at all the ones on the list."
"Patience," is my only response.
I pull into the marina parking lot and get out, taking Cassie from her seat and walking toward the boat slips. "Are y'all coming?" I throw over my shoulder.
They catch up to me just as I make it to the boat.
"Why do we need an apartment here?" I ask looking at the three of them. "You have a floating house right there." I point at the boat to emphasize my point.
I can see when they finally get it. "Damn," my father whispers.
Bella just shakes her head and climbs onto the boat, plopping down on the aft lounger. "I might just have to keep you, handsome."
I sit down next to her with Cassie on my lap. "Wanna go for a cruise?"
"Let's take your parents to that place Jasper found," she suggests. "What's it called?"
"The grill on the corner when you come into the bay?" I confirm and she nods her head. "I think it's Topwater or something. Let me go tell the office we're gonna be out, and we'll go for a cruise and eat."
We cruise around the bay for a few hours before docking at the Topwater Grill. Even though it's the middle of the week, the place has a decent-sized crowd. The food must be good.
"This is really great," my mother raves after a few bites of her fish taco. The woman loves her fish tacos.
"It's good food, fresh. The atmosphere is fun, too." I agree as the music plays around us. There's not a dress code as long as you're covered. People are wearing anything from bathing suits to dresses and slacks. Anyone is welcomed.
The sun is setting by the time we make it back to the marina and Cassie is asleep on the couch. I load her into Bella's SUV and we head back to the apartment for the night.
The next day, while Bella and my mother are out getting the rest of the stuff they need for the fundraiser, my father and I start packing up the apartment, with Cassie's "help" of course. Bella is going to include the furniture in the sale, so it's just her personal stuff that needs to be packed. Jake is actually on his way with a trailer so we can go ahead and move her out. She's going to let her attorney handle the sale and paperwork.
Between my dad, Jake and Emmett, who came along to help, and me, we have the apartment packed and loaded into the trailer by the time Bella gets back. She and my mother walk through the apartment, gathering up what we had forgotten. It's late in the evening by the time we're on our way back to the ranch, arriving way after Cassie's bedtime.
The following day, Bella starts swimming in the mornings at the activity center pool, since it's covered and heated. She's working with Emmett and Leah to get the strength back in her arm. One of them is always with her and will make her stop if she pushes too hard. My girl just wants to be back to normal, and I can't blame her. She'll always have the scars, but that doesn't define who she is. However, I did remind her of that fact when I worshiped her body last night.
I'm just finishing my shower when Bella walks into the bathroom. I notice her cringe a little when she takes off her shirt. "Pretty girl, I know you want to get back to your full strength, but pushing it is just gonna make it worse."
"I know," she sighs, "and you're starting to sound like your brother."
"But, I can do things that my brother can't." I whisper, kissing her neck. "Like making... breakfast."
"Ass," she giggles. "You better quit teasin' or paybacks are gonna be painful."
I leave Bella to take her shower, making my way to the kitchen to fix breakfast for everyone. With the fundraiser less than a week away, busy is an understatement. We're starting the set-up today. Jasper and his crew finished the stage yesterday. Bella has the people coming in today to install the sound system and test it out.
Since the fundraiser is in on Saturday, the tables, chairs, and bar are due to arrive tomorrow. Sarah and I hired some culinary students from the local college to help prepare the food, along with additional students to help serve at the tables and tend the bar. The ranch is a beehive of activity.
Two days before the big event, I'm sitting on the front porch watching the girls play when a town car pulls up.
"Can I help you?" I ask as a well-dressed man about my age steps out.
"I'm looking for Ms. Swan," he states, looking down at the piece of paper in his hand.
"May I ask your name?" I inquire. He seems friendly but I'm not taking any chances.
"Sorry," he greets, shaking my hand. "Daniel Miller."
I pull out my phone and call my girl. "What's up, handsome?" she greets, and I can hear her smile through the phone.
"A Daniel Miller is here at the house to see you," I relay.
"Oh, he's Lady A's manager," she rushes out. "I'll be up there in a minute."
"She'll be here in a minute," I state, turning to him. "Would you like a drink?"
"I'm good, but thanks," he replies.
"Come on, girls," I call to Cassie and Heidi. "Let's show Mr. Miller into the house."
By the time I have the girls inside, Bella and my mother pull up in one of the carts.
"Mr. Miller," Bella greets, shaking the man's hand. "I'm Bella Swan and this is Esme Cullen. What can we do for ya?"
"Actually," he starts, shaking my mother's hand, "I'm hoping I can help you out. I want to offer a few things for the auction, if it's not too late. I would also like to offer help with security?"
"Thank you," my mother responds. "Anything you can offer we're grateful for. Extra security would be a great help, and I'm sure Rachel can fit any items you have into the auction."
I kiss Bella's cheek and leave them to business while I get the girls settled and start lunch.
Saturday morning finds us all in a frenzy. The set-up is complete, but we're working on finishing the finer details. All the food has been purchased, and anything that can be prepared ahead of time has been. There's a huge enclosed tent setup in front of the pavilion where the dinner is going to be held while the pavilion is used for the concerts and dancing. Emily and Kate are here taking care of the girls so the rest of us can concentrate on getting everything together.
Garrett is meeting with the security team Mr. Miller provided while Hillary Scott, of the country group Lady Antebellum, is on the stage doing a sound check. She's one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever met and is thrilled to be a part of such a great cause.
The remaining items for the auction arrived yesterday and are now being displayed on the set-up tables or on the lawn beside the pavilion. There's just so much that's been donated: a car, trips, tickets to concerts and sporting events. Some of the people on the ranch even donated stuff including riding lessons, and my immediate family went in together and gave a trip to Las Vegas.
I direct the culinary team while Sarah instructs the waitstaff and bartenders. The food is done and in warmers until it's time to be served. I head to our bedroom to get changed into my tuxedo and stop short at the entrance, shutting the door behind me.
"You're stunning," I blurt out. Bella is putting on her earrings in the mirror and turns to smile at me. She's wearing a black, form-fitting, gauzy dress with an open V-neck.
"Thank you, hun," she states, moving in front of me and reaching up for a kiss. "Now, go get ready so we're not late for our own event." It doesn't take me long to dress, since I had already taken a shower earlier, so within fifteen minutes, I'm walking into the living room where everyone is gathered waiting on me.
"Damn, handsome," Bella boasts when I walk into the living room where everyone is gathered. "How am I supposed to concentrate tonight with you lookin' like that?"
"Y'all can do the foreplay later," Emmett exclaims. "I wanna get my dance on with my beautiful wife. We got peeps to impress."
"Really, son?" my father sighs. "Please behave tonight."
Bella and I kiss Cassie and follow the others out. The pavilion is packed full of people, so I guide Bella to the stage, hoping no one bumps into her. She's still tender and I don't want her getting hurt.
"Thank y'all for coming," she announces once on the stage, getting everyone's attention. "I wanna thank everyone for being here to support the third annual Cassie's Cause and Heart of Hope Charity Fundraiser. All proceeds raised tonight will go to help medically fragile, developmentally and physically disabled children.
"I also want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who helped make tonight possible; each of you mean so much to me. Everyone here is the reason we can continue to help children with special needs live out a fulfilling life. A life they deserve and experiences they need in order to grow and learn. In addition, it provides them with the things they need to survive.
"So, without further ado," she beams. "Here's Lady Antebellum!"
I help Bella exit the stage as Hillary, Charles, and Dave come out onto the stage.
"Are y'all ready to disco for the cure?" Hillary yells into the microphone, earning a round of applause.
They start the evening off with a rousing rendition of Downtown. Lady Antebellum goes on to play five more songs before they're done. We all, including the guests, dance around under the pavilion. There's a row of chairs set-up along the side for anyone who might want to sit down.
"Thank y'all so much for letting us be a part of such an amazing cause." Hillary states. "Don't forget to place your bids for the silent auction items tonight to help these children. I personally want that Corvette. So if you want it too, you gotta outbid me."
"Hillary always gets what she wants, right, Charles?" Dave questions, laughing at Hillary's smirk. "I say we outbid her."
"We shall see," Hillary announces. "We leave you with the lovely Ms. Swan."
"Lady A," Bella bellows. "What an amazing group! They will sign autographs before dinner, so if everyone could please make your way to the tent, dinner will be served shortly."
Tonight's meal consists of a spinach salad to start. The main course is a choice of beef tenderloin or garlic and rosemary cornish game hen with garlic and herb potatoes, or pancetta salmon kebabs with parsley vinaigrette over a bed of jasmine rice pilaf. Accompanying each dish is lemon-butter roasted asparagus and cheddar-dill biscuits. For dessert, the choices are dark chocolate torte, raspberry white chocolate mousse, or strawberry crepes with whipped-cream. A variety of drinks, including wine, is also served with dinner.
"This is awesome, Edward," Bella whispers next to me, taking another bite of her steak.
I have to say, I outdid myself with the menu and the food is wonderful.
The night continues after dinner and people start making their way over toward the bar and onto the dance floor where disco music is playing over the sound system.
Holding Bella in my arms and spinning around to the music is a feeling I'll never forget. My girl can dance and she isn't afraid to shake it. We stop and look up to the stage when the music cuts off.
"I hope everyone's enjoyin' themselves?" Billy jeers, a huge smile on his face. "I want to remind you that the silent auction ends at nine o'clock so make sure to place your bids.
"This young man is here to help us get our dance on," he announces. "Please welcome, Bruno Mars."
Everyone is clapping and screaming.
"Wow," Bruno Mars states, taking the stage. "They do say things are bigger in Texas and that is a big welcome. I'm so honored to be here tonight and for such a wonderful cause.
"Don't tell Ms. Scott, but I bid on the Corvette." We all laugh at his remark. "Now, let's get our groove on."
Bruno Mars begins to sing Treasure. He played well over an hour before calling it a night and welcomes Bella and Billy back onto the stage.
"Wow," Bella exclaims. "It's been an awesome night and I can't thank everyone enough for being here. We're gonna announce the bid winners before ending tonight's event, which y'all helped make a success. If your name is called, please make your way to the table at the back and those ladies will take care of everything," she finishes, looking toward Billy.
Billy starts announcing the items and who won them. Guests make their way over to Rachel and Jessica to handle the transaction.
"I saved this one for last," Billy discloses, smirking. "I'm sure everyone wants to know who won the battle of the 'vette. I'm happy to announce the person taking that fine ride home is … dun … dun … dun … Ms. Hillary Scott. I guess she does get what she wants."
Wow, what a night!