Rating M: For language, situations and lemons (uh, DUH!).
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer is the sole owner of Twilight and its characters. I got to give props where props are due. I am just having some fun with her peeps.
Much thanks to my beta love amandac3, I couldn't imagine doing this without you! And to my girl Corrine who pre-read this story for me. I love you girl!
Awww, so Baby Helios is now on board … let's pick up where we left off.
Chapter 22: All of Me
"I think it's been what, two years since I've been here?" Grans asked Bella as Edward opened the door for them.
"Probably, we came here to celebrate Edward's acquittal. Remember?"
Grans rolled her eyes and Edward smirked, they were so similar in mannerisms and attitude. He could imagine Bella being like her when she was her age.
"Oh course I remember, Bells," Grans replied. "I'm old, not senile. At least not yet."
Bella grinned. "You may not be senile but you sure are feisty. Are you missing a Dodger game or something?"
"As a matter of fact I am," she said playfully. "Can you get the game on that fancy phone of yours?"
"Yes, I believe I can," Bella winked and kissed her temple.
"Bella," Alice squealed and approached them as they entered the restaurant. She kissed her cheek and then kissed Grans cheek. "I'm so glad you could be here, Grans. This wouldn't be a celebration without you."
"Well, thank you, dear, but what exactly are we celebrating?"
"That, I'm not entirely sure of," Alice said, peeking at Bella, who smiled. "But I'm sure it will be amazing or else we wouldn't be celebrating," she finished with her cheeriest smile to date.
Bella grinned as Alice led them towards the back of the restaurant, where three tables had been combined. Seth and Claire were already there. Seth looked nervous and uncomfortable in the upscale environment while Claire appeared enthralled with it all. Jasper got up when the friends came over and quickly pulled out the chair for Grans before Edward could.
"Ma'am," Jasper smiled at Grans and then winked at Edward. "I'm too fast, son."
Edward shook his head, laughing before pulling out the chair for Bella. Just as he was about to sit himself he turned towards the entrance in time to see Carlisle and Esme walk inside. Edward waved them over and then met them halfway. Esme immediately gave Edward a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"So what's this news you wouldn't tell me about on the phone?" Esme asked, getting straight to the point.
"You'll find out soon enough," he replied with a beaming smile.
"Uh huh," Esme said eyeing him suspiciously.
"Esme, lay off, he'll tell us," Carlisle insisted. He placed his hand on her lower back and walked her past him. He then glanced back at Edward and mouthed, what is it?
Edward shook his head as Carlisle gave his best pouty expression. Edward laughed again. No one was keen on secrets but he didn't want to say anything until everyone was there. He followed behind his aunt and uncle and took a seat next to Bella, draping his arm over her chair while they waited for Liam and Eleazar to arrive. Everyone began conversing with one another but avoided any talk as to why they were gathered. They ordered beverages right away and continued to wait. After fifteen minutes, Jasper started to worry. It was unlike his parents to be late for anything, let alone a celebration. When his phone buzzed, indicating an incoming text, he quickly pulled it out, frowning at the message.
"What is it?" Edward asked.
"My parents are running late and should be here in about thirty minutes. They want us to go ahead and order."
"Oh, we can wait for them," Grans suggested.
"Why don't we order a couple of appetizers to tide us over," Bella suggested, as her own hunger outweighed social courtesy.
"That sounds like an excellent idea," Alice agreed. "That will give Liam and El time to get here."
Jasper waved the waitress over. "Ma'am, could we start with the Steamed Clams, Sautéed Mushrooms, KC's Peppers," Jasper looked at Seth, "You'll like those," he then smiled at the waitress again, "and, hmmm, how about the Calamari Strips."
"Excellent choices, Mr. Whitlock. I'll put that in right now."
"Thank you," Jasper said with another smile.
"Mr. Whitlock," Seth snickered as the waitress walked away.
"Fu… forget you," Jasper corrected with a laugh.
"I wonder if them being late is related to Newton," Edward wondered aloud.
"Why would it?" Jasper asked.
"I was watching the news before we left," he paused because usually Jasper teased him about it but this time he didn't. This time he was staring at him in anticipation. "Newton and Martine were leaving this Senate Ethics Committee and Newton told the reporters that he was being set up by your dad."
"Asshole," Jasper muttered under his breath.
"Yeah, that was my thought, too," Edward concurred.
"And I said that your dad was likely prepared for that," Bella looked between them. "It's probably fine and you two are working yourself up over nothing."
Jasper didn't look convinced that everything was fine but he did drop it, not wanting to ruin Edward's announcement. He would check with his parents later. Soon the appetizers were delivered which distracted people completely. Laughter ensued as Seth attempted to eat the oysters while Bella inhaled anything that came her way. No one actually noticed when an agitated Liam and a flustered Eleazar walked into the restaurant. They were talking animatedly as they had been the entire trip over there. Neither was happy at the moment as Newton's announced meant that attention was shifted to Eleazar. He had been on the phone for the past few hours talking with partners from the firm as well as fielding calls from the media. When they approached the table they both attempted to look cheery. Liam touched Jasper's shoulder and Jasper looked up and smiled.
"Sorry for our delay," Liam stated to everyone.
"Is everything okay?" Jasper asked, looking between them.
Eleazar sighed and nodded. "It's fine."
Both men went around the table saying their hello's to everyone before taking their seats. The waitress, seeing their arrival, came back to the table and took Liam and Eleazar's drink order before removing the appetizer plates. She was back quickly to take meal orders while Liam and Eleazar perused the wine menu. There were no long discussions, unlike what they had done two years before; instead, they quickly ordered two wines. When the waitress left, everyone stared at each other, unsure what to say as the mood at the table had shifted drastically. The jovial atmosphere had diminished and was replaced by apprehension. A phone rang, disrupting the silence, and Eleazar pulled it out of his jacket pocket. He glanced at the caller I.D. with a frown.
"I'm sorry. I need to take this," Eleazar stated standing up. "It's nothing, he's deflecting," he stated angrily into the receiver as he walked past the table.
Liam watched him walk away, his brow furrowed.
"Is dad in trouble because of what Newton said?" Jasper asked.
"How do you know what Newton said?" Liam asked, shocked as Jasper never watched the news.
"Edward was telling us what he said today."
Liam nodded and continued to watch Eleazar pace. "The board trusts him but the news has been running stories on El and therefore the firm. They can't ignore it but also want to give El a chance to explain what's going on."
"I'm sorry," Edward stated, feeling somewhat responsible for all of it.
"Edward, this isn't your fault. El knew what he was doing and," he paused, unable to complete his sentence as Eleazar started walking back to the table.
"I have to leave," Eleazar said sitting down and glancing at Liam. "Can you get a ride home from Jasper?"
Liam didn't say anything, he simply nodded.
"You just got here," Jasper stated concerned.
"I know." He turned to Jasper. "I have to meet with the partners at my firm." He then turned to Bella and Edward. "I did anticipate Newton doing something like this. I just need to smooth things over with everyone. They will support me but we all need to be on the same page before this gets out of hand."
Both Bella and Edward looked down. Eleazar glanced at the faces at the table. Everyone was suddenly very somber. He hated that it was due to concerns about him. He was not troubled by Newton. He expected a reaction from him and figured that Newton would not go down easily. What he didn't expect was his firm to question the validity of Newton's claim. He would rectify that tonight. He grabbed Liam's hand under the table and gave him a reassuring smile before turning to everyone else.
"So what is this fantastic news?" He asked, smiling his trademarked courtroom smile at everyone.
Bella and Edward looked at one another. They weren't able to stop the smiles that formed on their faces. Now was as good a time as any, probably the best time as Eleazar would have to leave soon. Bella nodded just slightly at Edward, encouraging him to speak.
"Well, we actually received great news today," Edward began.
"For starters," Bella smiled at Edward who in turn gave her a small nod. "Edward is going to have several paintings in an exhibit at LACMA next month."
"And," Edward started before anyone could respond. "We're pregnant."
Esme jumped up and immediately hugged him tighter than she ever had before. She had no words to explain how overjoyed she was. Everyone expressed their congratulations across the board and after a few minutes, Eleazar left, telling the waitress to pack up his meal and send it home with Liam. He then proceeded to pay the entire cost of the meal. By the time the food came everyone was happy and jovial again.
Later that night, when Bella and Edward were holding each other, Edward allowed himself to wonder what his mom and dad would have thought about becoming grandparents. Would they have cared? Edward shook his head and held on to Bella tighter. He wouldn't give it any further thought. He wouldn't allow them to ruin what had basically been the best day of his life.
~A Bitter Cold~
One Month Later
Bella stood in front of the bathroom mirror, turning left and then right. Although she hadn't gained much weight she felt as if she were a balloon, not that one could tell in the dress she was wearing. She fiddled with the wide leather belt and smoothed out the material over her hips. Alice had found a knock off fully beaded Roberto Cavalli dress at one of the outlet stores last week. It was nearly five hundred dollars but that was still better than the exorbitant price of the original. She smiled at her exposed back knowing that Edward would be touching her all night.
"Bella, the limo is here. Please tell me you're ready."
"I'm ready." She stepped out and practically ran right into him.
"You're so beautiful," he said taking her hand and raising it above her head. He turned her around and hummed his approval.
"You look pretty good yourself, Helios," she smiled.
"What, this old thing," he said with a playful laugh.
"And you say I have a smart mouth," she grinned, reaching up to peck his lips.
"You do. I love your smart mouth," he said, kissing her softly. "We better go."
She nodded and then smiled as he took her arm in his, walking her out to the waiting limousine. The couple made a swoop of the neighborhood, first picking up Grans, and then Carlisle and Esme. On the way to Los Angeles, Bella and Grans chatted along with Esme while Carlisle interjected a word on occasion. But the ride was quiet for Edward as he struggled to contain his nerves. He had selected his four paintings with little fuss. He knew the ones that had the most meaning to him, which of course was precisely the point. If people hated them he wasn't sure how he would handle that. What does it say about me if everyone thinks it's shit, he often wondered but didn't voice.
Of course, following the news had not helped his nerves either. Things had heated up between Eleazar and Senator Newton this past month. A war of words ensued after Newton's claims that Eleazar was setting him up. Newton refused to back down and after continued scrutiny by the press, Eleazar decided to sue Newton for defamation of character, citing several instances in which the Senator had threatened his family. That had effectively switched the focus back on Newton as the claims were difficult for him to counter. This only seemed to agitate Newton further but in the end it made the Senator more suspicious looking. It had been nerve wracking for Edward to watch. At one point, Bella's trial was brought up as one of the primary reasons Newton was choosing to slander Eleazar. Luckily, Bella had pretty much ignored the media and refused to answer questions, even when pressed by local reporters. Edward had wished he could ignore it all as well but he simply couldn't.
Much to Edward's delight, only a few days ago Newton's world began crumbling before him as his strongest backers began to jump ship just as Eleazar had predicted. In fact, his own party was encouraging him to shut his mouth. All of Newton's political hopes and aspirations were quickly vanishing, especially when rumor began circulating that Senator Martine was about to cut a deal in lieu of information he had on Newton. As stressful as it had been to observe, he did enjoy watching Newton's very public fall from grace.
"Oh my god! That's so cool," Bella stated, bringing Edward out of his thoughts.
The limousine pulled up to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the three women in the car were excited by the large piece at the entrance. Since it was nighttime the exhibit, Urban Light, was lit up beautifully. Rows and rows of antique street lamps made a breathtaking display that many seemed to be admiring.
"I've heard of that," Esme stated enthusiastically, sneaking another quick look out the window. "It's called Urban Light. I don't remember the artist, Chris something."
"Burden," Edward stated calmly. "He did it back in 2008. It's made from, I think it said 200 antique street lamps." Everyone turned to him and stared. He gave a small, almost embarrassed smile. "I looked up the museum and the current exhibits."
"I guess we know who our tour guide will be," Carlisle stated with a chuckle.
Edward snorted out a small laugh but gave a genuine smile to Carlisle. Edward opened the door and breathed in deeply. This was it, one of the biggest nights of his life. Her heard movement in the car and quickly stepped back so that he could help everyone out.
"Oh wow, that really is so beautiful!" Bella said as she brought her phone out to snap a few pictures.
It was only moments later they saw another limousine park and soon Jasper and the rest of their party exited. Alice looked exquisite in a light blue dress while Claire was stunning in her cream colored ensemble. The men all looked handsome in their suits. Although, Seth was already fiddling with his tie and the buttons on his jacket. He was not used to dressing up. Once they were close to one another Alice immediately gave Bella a hug.
"This dress is perfect," Alice stated proudly.
"Yes, oh wise one."
"That's right. Always trust Alice."
Bella giggled and smiled. "I want a picture of all the men and then all us women, then coupled up." Bella started to position everyone when Seth interjected.
"Bella, I don't want my…" Seth started but stopped when he saw the look on Bella's face. He then turned to Edward for help.
"Hey, you're on your own, man. I ain't telling her no," Edward replied nonchalantly, placing his hands in his pockets.
Bella smiled when Seth begrudgingly moved to where she wanted him. After taking endless pictures they headed to the front of the museum. The spacious entrance hall was filled with large pillars, wrapped in streamers and already full with several partygoers. There were tables exquisitely set up in various places with a podium up front and a large baby grand piano to the left of it. Edward took a deep breath when he saw a table close to the podium that had a little card on it that said, MASEN.
"Guess that's ours," Carlisle said placing his hand on Edward's shoulder.
Edward nodded timidly. He couldn't believe this was actually happening. He was completely terrified. His stomach was in knots and his brain was fuzzy with indecision and doubt, something he thought he had banished but apparently was rearing its ugly head again. Bella squeezed his hand and leaned into him, just slightly. He nodded again, more profoundly this time before stepping to the table and pulling out a chair for Bella.
"Looks like you're the first of the artists to arrive," Jasper noted, having seen several other tables marked with names in the same vicinity as theirs.
"So when do we get to see the paintings?" Seth wondered aloud.
"Looks like there is dinner and entertainment and then the show," Bella said, reading the little card on her plate.
"Oh, cool, glad we get to eat first," Seth said as his eyes darted around the room.
"Oohhhh," Alice squealed. "John Legend is performing."
"Who's that?" Seth asked.
"He's a pianist," Liam stated.
Seth snickered slightly and Edward laughed. "I know what you're thinking and that's not what he said."
"I would hope not," Seth laughed.
Liam rolled his eyes and glanced at Eleazar. "El, do you remember seeing him perform?"
"We saw him?" Eleazar asked. Liam had a knack for remembering every artist they had seen together, unfortunately, he couldn't keep track of them all.
"Yes," Liam replied, slapping his leg lightly under the table.
Eleazar smiled. "Babe, I can't remember every artist we have seen."
"It was in Philadelphia. We were there for a meeting. Jasper was young." Liam turned to the table. "John was just starting out. I had heard him on Lauryn Hill's album. He played piano for her song 'Everything is Everything'," he glanced at them, waiting for recognition but they all stared blankly at him so he continued. "He was just a kid when he did that, couldn't have been more than 18 or 19 and I thought he was wonderful. A true prodigy so I kept an eye on him. We saw him a year or so later. He had made his first album independently. He's very talented."
"Always a wealth of information," Eleazar said with a smile.
"Yes, I am," Liam smirked at him before turning towards the others. "You're going to love him."
"I already love his last album," Bella added.
"Me too," Alice concurred.
"I wonder if they are expecting all these tables to be full," Edward asked, changing the subject.
"I would imagine so," Carlisle said looking around. "Hey isn't that the Mayor of Los Angeles?"
Eleazar glanced in the direction Carlisle was indicating and nodded. "Yes, that's him."
"Eleazar, its good see you here," Mayor Garcetti said while shaking his hand. He then smiled at Liam. "Liam, pleasure to see you again."
Liam shook his hand. "It's good to see you as well."
"Who's the artist?" When everyone glanced at him he smiled and motioned towards the name card on the table. "These are only for the guests of honor."
"Well, then, that would be Edward," Carlisle spoke up and motioned towards Edward.
The Mayor smiled again before walking over and shaking Edward's hand. "Congratulations. I'm looking forward to seeing your art tonight."
"Thank you," Edward replied nervously.
The Mayor taped his shoulder. "Don't worry, you'll be fine."
Before Edward could reply the Mayor was distracted by other people and excused himself. It didn't take long for more people to arrive and soon all the tables were full. His friends and family were trying their best to take Edward's mind off of everything but he wasn't really at ease. His fears about the worthiness of his work was predominating his thinking even though he knew it shouldn't. He felt a hand on his shoulder and then looked up as Carol passed his table and headed towards the podium.
"On behalf of the Art Council of The Los Angeles County Museum of Art we would like to welcome you all this evening to witness our grand opening of the 'Healing from Within' exhibit which will be on display for the next six weeks."
Everyone began clapping as Bella looked at Edward lovingly.
"This event has been years in the making and I am extremely thrilled you could all join us in celebrating all of these magnificent artists. These artists aren't household names. You will not read about them in art books," she paused and smiled. "Yet." Everyone laughed and she continued. "But they have the capacity of doing so much. From what I've seen, none have reached their full potential."
Everyone started clapping again. Bella squeezed Edward's hand while Carlisle tapped his shoulder in a fatherly manner.
"I have had the immense pleasure of working with these excellent up and coming artists over the past few years and know the struggles many have overcome to just be sitting in this room. Life was not easy for most and they all found themselves turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with their environments. Some served time in prison, some didn't. Some found a home in gangs while others chose a solitary life. Some even lived on the streets, trying desperately to survive." She paused and looked towards the fifteen artists she had worked so closely with. "Could I ask the artists to please rise."
Edward started breathing hard. His feet wouldn't move. He was frozen unable to rise. He looked at Bella who smiled and touched his face gently.
"We love you so much."
A smile spread across his face at the word, we. He knew that everyone at the table loved him but that the, we, Bella was referring to was her and their unborn child. That thought alone gave him strength. He stood up, the last one to do so. Everyone in the hall rose to their feet as the room erupted in applause but none louder than those at Edward's very table. After several minutes had passed Carol began speaking again.
"These artists are the epitome of how using art can heal the soul and mind. You may sit down," she motioned for them to sit as she continued. "As you go through the exhibit tonight you will see the healing power of art. The images you will see are raw and powerful, heaped with emotion, both sadness and despair as well as hope and joy but most importantly they reflect how each of these artists found the strength to move forward, to move passed whatever obstacles were in their way. We have asked the artists to be available to discuss their paintings with guests so please take the opportunity to visit with them as you peruse their work."
She paused again as waiters and waitresses began serving the first course.
"We will now enjoy a wonderful meal and then the brilliant John Legend will perform for us before the exhibit officially opens. Thank you, everyone."
She stepped away from the podium to another round of applause and smiled at Edward before walking over to him. Edward stood when she got to him. Without thinking he gave her a hug, something he hadn't done while he was in treatment.
"I'm so very proud of you," she whispered to him.
"Thank you for inviting me," he replied, releasing his hold.
"Now," she placed her hand on his shoulder. "It's okay to be nervous but rest assured people will love what you have done." She looked at everyone at the table. "Enjoy your evening folks."
And with that she left and went to the next table to congratulate Edward's fellow artists for the evening. The food began being served and the conversation at the table became light and carefree. There were no mentions of the past month with Senator Newton. There were no bad memories of two years ago. There was no concern for Eleazar who, to be honest, seemed to relish the battle he was having with Newton. Instead, everyone laughed and joked and enjoyed each other's company. By the time John Legend appeared before the piano, Edward was feeling on top of the world.
"I'd like to thank the Art Council for asking me to be here tonight. I am honored to play for you." He turned towards the artist tables. "Thank you for sharing a piece of your soul with us this evening." Everyone clapped once again. "I'd like to begin with a song that bears a piece of my soul. It was something I wrote for my wife Chrissy. I hope you enjoy it." He turned back to the piano and began playing.
What would I do without your smart mouth?
Drawing me in, and you kicking me out
You've got my head spinning, no kidding, I can't pin you down
What's going on in that beautiful mind
I'm on your magical mystery ride
And I'm so dizzy, don't know what hit me, but I'll be alright
My head's under water
But I'm breathing fine
You're crazy and I'm out of my mind
'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, ohoh
Edward turned to Bella who, feeling the weight of his stare, looked up at him. The love and passion displayed in his eyes captured her. She wasn't able to move. All she could do was look upon him, reflecting his love. Knowing that he was everything to her, and she him and that through their love they created a perfect little being, growing inside of her.
How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you're crying you're beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I'm around through every mood
You're my downfall, you're my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can't stop singing, it's ringing, in my head for you
My head's under water
But I'm breathing fine
You're crazy and I'm out of my mind
'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, ohoh
Edward smiled, his hand touching her face softly as John Legend continued to sing. The words were so true for them. They had been through so much together. She had been there through everything. She had given all of herself to him just as he had given all of himself to her. Even when he tried to push her away she wouldn't let him.
Give me all of you
Cards on the table, we're both showing hearts
Risking it all, though it's hard
As the song came to a close Edward leaned over and kissed her. Bella felt tears on her cheeks but didn't care. All she cared about was that moment with Edward. He rested his forehead against hers and then kissed her lightly. Soon, John Legend was playing another song but it was too late for Edward and Bella. They were already lost in their own private universe, one where no one could hurt them, one where only their love was important.
"Wow, this is pretty nice," Seth said as they approached the section where the exhibit was.
Edward pulled up the diagram of the exhibit hall. "It says mine should be to the left of that pillar over there."
Carlisle nodded and held Esme's hand as they turned the corner. Esme gasped and Edward knew they must have found it. As Edward turned the corner his heart fluttered. There was something surreal about seeing his paintings on the wall. The bright color of his work on the pristine white walls was a beautiful contrast. It was more than he could ever imagine. They had shown his work as a progression starting with Fear and Self Loathing, then Phoenix Rising, then Childhood Revisited, and finally Hope Eternal.
The first painting, Fear and Self-Loathing, was a self-portrait of sorts. It was one of the first ones he had done and he remembered that Carol had told him to paint his fears about himself. It was probably the scariest painting he had done in that when he was finished he didn't like what he saw. For the picture ended up being a reflection of his father. Edward had drawn himself in a way that was eerily familiar, with a heavy scowl on his face. He had one hand fisted tightly and the other hand holding a needle. He had told Carol that the needle kept the other side at bay, kept him calm and that without it he would have turned into his father. She had challenged him to look deeper, further, to see that the reflection was only a future if he let it be and that that calm could come from other more positive sources.
He smiled as he looked at Phoenix Rising. He still felt it was one of his most powerful paintings and remembered what it felt like to finally accept that he actually was the phoenix, able to rise above the adversities placed in his way. Every time he looked at it he remembered where he had been and how far he had come. The images represented a piece of him but he no longer felt ashamed of them. He survived, any way that he could. He couldn't change the things he did then but in a way he realized that all of the pain and suffering he had endured eventually led him to Bella which was the best thing to ever happen to him.
He stepped in front of his third painting, Childhood Revisited. It was clearly his most whimsical painting to date and portrayed a happiness he had only felt for a small glimpse of time when he was young. Carol had asked them to draw something they would have changed in their lives. So he had drawn something from his past. He and his parents were riding a carousel on Pier 39. All three of them were laughing and having a good time while the animals came to life around them. His parents were carefree and full of joy. It was before addiction and madness had taken over. It had been one of the only positive memories he had of his childhood. He had told Carol that if he could have changed anything in his life it would have been that his parents remained as they were that day. She had helped him see that even though they weren't able to be what he wanted that he could still carry it with him. Not as a means to forget all the bad but as a way to remember that there was once good there as well.
As he stepped in front of his last painting, Hope Eternal, he smiled brightly. This was his life now, his future. The images represented in it reflected all the people that meant so much to him. It reminded him of all that was not only good in the world itself but also what could come to him if he opened his heart to others. He turned around and watched as his friends and family, the people who meant so much to him hovered around the paintings, talking amongst themselves. Sometimes it amazed him how happy he was.
"Masen," a familiar voice said.
Edward turned abruptly and laughed. "McCarty."
"I couldn't believe it when Rosie showed me the brochure and it had your name in it," he said shaking Edward's hand.
"Well, I could," Rose said, drawing their attention.
"How did you hear about this?" Edward asked astonished.
"Rosie donates every year so we get advance notice of all new exhibits. There was no way I was missing this one."
"Yes, it was the first time I didn't have to drag him to one of these functions."
"I'm glad you could make it," Edward said and glanced at Seth staring in their direction. "Rose would you mind taking some pictures with us."
"Of course not," she said with a smile.
Edward waved over his family and friends as they took pictures with one of Hollywood's biggest stars. He visited with Rose and Emmett for a while and then they left to see the other paintings in the exhibit. For the next several hours Edward talked and talked with the people who came by his paintings. In fact, many came back a second or third time to visit with him. As the night progressed he felt more at ease and was excited along with everyone else. To his surprise his family and friends stayed around him most the night. They did visit other exhibits but ended up talking with patrons about what Edward had done with his art work.
"He really deserves all the accolades," Liam said to Eleazar as they watched Edward point out various pieces within his work.
"He does," Eleazar replied as they walked to the center of the room.
"I'm not happy with the Newton situation," Liam said, returning a smile to one of the patrons. He turned his eyes back to Eleazar. "I don't trust him, El."
"I don't either but it's under control. I have it under good authority that Martine is turning over evidence in New York, probably as we speak."
Liam's brows furrowed slightly and then he plastered on a smile as a man approached them. The man looked harried and seemed familiar to him. Suddenly it hit him. His name was Johnson but he couldn't remember his first name. He was another attorney. Someone Eleazar had worked with before.
"Eleazar, do you have a moment," Johnson asked urgently.
"Can't this wait until Monday? I'm with my family."
"I'm afraid it can't."
Eleazar sighed and started to say something to Liam, to let him know he would only be a minute, but he was already shaking hands with other patrons and talking animatedly. Eleazar watched him for a moment and Liam glanced his way, giving him a small smile that told him he understood. Eleazar turned back to Chad Johnson, a prosecutor for Los Angeles County. Eleazar had spoken to him earlier in the day and had been informed about Martine so he couldn't imagine what was so urgent now.
"Eleazar, he's dead," Johnson stated with a sense of panic and dread.
"Martine, I just found out. He was in a car accident."
Eleazar ran his hand up the back of his neck and looked around, trying to hide the panic he was feeling at the moment. He knew in his gut that Newton had done it. That he had somehow found out that Martine was going to turn over evidence against him and arranged for his death. My God, what have I done? Eleazar worried.
"Did he," Eleazar licked his lips, trying to focus, trying to salvage this. "Did he at least give his testimony?"
"I don't know," Johnson replied defeated. "I don't think so."
"Shit!" Eleazar muttered as he looked around again, trying to garner tabs on where everyone was.
He knew that Edward and Bella were still with his exhibit. He stepped towards pillar to be sure and could see them happily talking to a couple of people. Where is Jasper and Alice? He wondered, his eyes darting around. He also couldn't find Seth and Claire. He found Carlisle, Esme, and Bella's grandmother sitting and visiting with one another. Okay, calm, down Eleazar, problem solve this. He caught Liam's eyes and based on the look on his face he knew that Liam suspected that something wasn't right.
"Eleazar," Johnson called him.
Eleazar turned back to him quickly. "What!"
"He's dangerous. Please," he looked down and breathed in deeply. "Let it go before he does something to your family," Johnson said before walking away.
Johnson's words pierced his heart. What have I done? He swallowed thickly as he tried to come to terms with everything. He had fought with the devil and the devil was winning. Think Eleazar! He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He knew that Newton's anger was now effectively on him. He had shifted Newton's entire wrath to himself thinking he could manage it but obviously he underestimated the lengths that Newton would go to. As he thought about it, it became clear that Newton was losing touch with reality, things were unraveling for him and he was willing to take down as many people as possible before he went out.
"El, what's going on?" Liam asked, grabbing his arm and snapping him out of it.
"We need to find the kids and leave."
"Martine is dead."
Liam stared for a moment as Eleazar's words and their meaning wrapped around his mind. He immediately started looking around; trying to remember the last time he had seen Jasper and Alice. Since Seth and Claire were not around either he assumed they were all together.
"I'll go tell Bella and Edward that we have to leave. I'll say I need to get back to the office. I won't ruin his night, their night, because of this."
"Are they safe here?"
"Yes, I believe so. Newton doesn't want them. He wants me." He let out a heavy sigh and turned to Liam with sad eyes. "If anything you and Jasper are the ones in danger. He knows that's how to hurt me."
"Shhh," Alice said to Claire who had a bad case of the giggles.
"Okay, okay," she stated, muffling her mouth.
Both girls tiptoed out into the aisle and carefully moved down, trying to steer clear of Jasper and Seth. They had all wanted some fresh air and decided to hang around the Urban Light exhibit out front, at least for a little bit. The next thing they knew the girls had kicked off their heels and they were all chasing one another through the exhibit and now Seth and Jasper were hiding, somewhere.
"Got ya," Seth yelled, jumping out and grabbing Claire's waist.
Claire screamed and dropped her shoes, while Seth laughed and proceeded to tickle her. Alice grinned and tried to sneak around another light post but ran right into Jasper. He picked her up and kissed her on the cheek.
"Got ya, too," he said with a smirk.
Alice laughed and held him tightly. They had had a wonderful evening so far. She smiled and nestled her head in the crook of his neck, thinking how this would be perfect if Edward and Bella were with them at that very moment.
"I think we should go back inside and check on Edward and Bella," Jasper suggested as he set her down.
"Did you see how many people kept going back to his paintings?" Alice asked. "They loved them." She smiled. She was extremely proud of her friend.
Seth and Claire walked up to them, hand in hand. "That's 'cause everyone knows that Edward's bad ass with some serious talent," Seth stated assuredly.
Seth dropped Claire's hand so she could put her shoes back on. He was having fun but he wanted to go back inside so they could all hang with Edward and Bella. Alice also started putting her shoes back on.
"Looks like you kids are having fun?" a voice said, coming up to them.
Jasper turned abruptly, recognizing the voice. "Why the fuck are you here?"
Newton smirked. "I heard this was the place to be tonight."
"No one wants you here. Just leave." Alice interjected much to Jasper's dismay.
"I do believe I am free to do as I please."
"Not for long." Jasper said and Newton shifted his gaze to him. "I hear you're going to be locked up for a long time." Jasper smiled, feeling very cocky and self-assured. "Hey, maybe they can give you a cell next to your fucked up son."
Newton stepped up to him full of anger and malice but before he could say or do anything to Jasper, Liam was there and pushed Newton out of the away. Newton stumbled back. His lip curled up at Eleazar and then settled on Liam who looked like he was about to kill someone.
"Stay away from my son," Liam hissed.
Newton smirked evilly before he smoothed out his jacket. "And here I thought Eleazar was the man between the two of you. Guess I was wrong," Newton remarked with a loud laugh.
Liam's lip twitched and suddenly, he had swept Newton's legs and Newton was on the ground. Liam dropped down beside him, pressing his knee against the Senator's neck, cutting off his air supply. Newton's legs began flailing, trying to break free which only made Liam apply more pressure.
"Liam, let him go," Eleazar yelled as he grabbed his shoulder and pulled him off.
"Leave my family alone you piece of shit!" Liam shouted at Newton as Eleazar released his hold on him.
Newton started coughing but rose to his feet. "You just made a very big mistake, faggot."
Liam didn't hesitate and launched at the Senator, throwing a couple of punches and knocking Newton back with each one. Newton swung sloppily but Liam easily ducked out of the way and hit him several more times. Newton, unable to really defend himself tried to charge at Liam but Liam once again swept his legs and he fell to his knees. Liam went in again, ready to continue the fight Newton had started long ago, but was stopped by Eleazar who was forcefully pulling him away. Seth watched in horror as the Senator coughed several times, spitting blood onto the concrete.
"Come on," Eleazar yelled towards Seth.
Startled, Seth grabbed Claire's trembling hand as they started following Jasper and Alice towards the limousine. He had no idea what was going on but he knew it wasn't good. He also knew that Newton was bad. Not bad in the way people who get in trouble are bad but bad as in evil. There was something not right about him. He picked up speed and finally they caught up to Jasper and Alice.
"What about Edward and Bella?" Seth asked Jasper, concerned.
"My dad is calling Carlisle right now to tell them what happened so they can head out as well."
"Okay," Seth replied nervously as he turned back to see that the Senator was now on his feet again.
"This isn't done," Newton shouted towards them. "Not by a long shot," he muttered to himself as he watched Eleazar usher everyone into a waiting limousine.
A/N… OH MY! Umm, well, that was an interesting end to this chapter. Love, love, love that Liam was kicking some ass… LOL… So, back to the good stuff. I have a deep, deep, deep love for John Legend so yep, had to use that particular song. Be sure to check the blog because I have posted some pictures of LACMA as well as the video for All Of Me. Blog: www dot abittercold-lovinrob dot blogspot dot com/
Can't wait to give ya next week's chappie