A/N: We should be done by the end of this month, or the beginning of next. :)

Betad by the wonderful Michelle Renker Rhodes

Most characters belong to S. Meyer.


Chapter 29 – Cheney and The Force

BPOV

Ben Cheney seems like a nice guy - maybe a little too nice.

I mean, he sounded really sweet over the phone when I called him: very eager to see me. I should be grateful, especially since he's the first talent agent who's actually given me the time of day since I left Felix's group. Yet his ready willingness has me a bit wary. It was pretty easy to set up this meeting tonight when I just called him yesterday. Plus, it's only two days 'til Thanksgiving. What kind of self-respecting agent is still meeting potential new clients two days before Thanksgiving? Usually, you've got to jump through hoops to meet with agents: listen to hours and hours of their assistants' reminders of how precious their time is, how one should thank their lucky stars that they've even had their call returned, much less actually granted a meeting. And call backs around the holidays…that's just laughable.

But I called, and Ben's assistant had him on the phone within twenty seconds, so the deal is one or the other: Either Ben Cheney is extremely wonderful – or he's so desperate for clients that he'll meet with anyone.

Or perhaps this business is already turning me into a cynical bitch, and I haven't even gotten anywhere close to Prima Ballerina status yet to warrant said bitchy attitude.

Ben's office is in Downtown Brooklyn in the basement of an old brownstone a few blocks from Barclays Center.

Felix's office is in Midtown Manhattan on the twentieth floor of a shiny skyscraper on Fifth Avenue, across the street from Bryant Park.

As Edward and I descend the small steps to the basement and ring the old-fashioned doorbell, I remember how I felt the first time I went to see Felix: excited, exhilarated and honored. Eli was with me that day, and I remember thinking how lucky I'd been to have such a great choreographer at my side, to have garnered not only his attention, but his affection. Back then, Eli personified all that I thought I loved about the dance world: talent, style, an intangible, surreal feeling I couldn't quite explain, like when we danced, we owned the world.

While we wait for the door to open, I look up at Edward, at that virility and reserved strength that simply exudes from him, and with that one quick glance, I see everything I failed to see when Eli stood next to me that day long ago. Things I was either too stupid, naïve or blind to realize had been missing. Edward is talented in so many ways; his hands create beauty out of the most basic materials, but it's his soul that's retained its ability to love despite all his hardships that awes me the most. His ruggedly masculine, straightforward style is the sexiest thing I've ever seen. I mean Edward in his work clothes…man, there's nothing like it. As for that surreal feeling…no, that surreal feeling isn't here right now. Those surreal feelings are reserved for when I'm in the middle of a dance so pure and so mine that I lose myself in it, or for when Edward makes love to me, and I'm lost and floating in his arms in total bliss. And that's how it should be because having Edward next to me now feels as real and substantial and tangible as anything I could've ever imagined.

Eli brought me to Felix for the glory so that if I ever succeeded, he could say he was the one who discovered me.

Edward is here shoulders rigid and square jaw set tightly because this world of dance and auditions and agents is new to him, but he came for the same reason that I'm going to join him at his AA meeting tomorrow evening - support.

OOOOOOOOOO

Ben's office is an eclectic mixture of dance posters, pictures of who I assume are his few clients framed on the walls, and various pieces of Star Wars memorabilia scattered all about.

I stare up at the giant, dark poster of Darth Vader locked in an epic light saber battle with…what's his name - Luke Skygrazer or something - while he looks over my portfolio and asks me questions, pushing his glasses up his nose every few seconds, clearing his throat nervously. His curly, brown hair flops down over his forehead, covering his glasses, and he continuously blows it away, which in turn fogs up the glasses. He's fidgety, and his obvious unease in turn makes me extremely hesitant because this is the man who's supposed to get me auditions, speak on my behalf, and get me out there. Felix may have been an asshole, but when he spoke, everyone listened. His voice commanded attention; his expensive suits and well-kept appearance demanded notice. Ben isn't bad to look at; he's pretty tall and lean, and he's wearing a nice pair of blue dress pants…with dirty, white Converse on his feet. His white dress shirt is creased and untucked, and the collar is open at the top. His hair is a wild mess over his head, and whereas Edward's hair is often wild, it makes him look incredibly sexy, like the wind was just playing in his hair or more likely a pair of eager hands were. Ben looks like he's been having a hard day and just didn't have the time or patience to bother.

Edward and I sit together on a worn but comfy two seater couch. I look over at him while Ben stares at the paper in front of him and recites his own resume and limited experience. I'm wearing a dress, and Edward's got one hand on my knee, tracing small, discreet circles in a pattern over my knee bone. His other hand is knitted around mine. When he feels my gaze on him, he looks over and quirks a brow at me before jerking his chin to a round, Lego model sitting on the corner of Ben's paper-and-picture-littered desk. I cock my head sideways, narrowing my eyes and studying what looks to be a large, circular planet with a round crater close to the center.

When I look back at Edward, his eyes are amused. I think he mouths, "Death Star," but I'm not sure, and I have no idea what the hell a Death Star may be, so I roll my eyes a la Mel, and Edward stifles a laugh, disguising it by clearing his throat.

Ben looks up and halts mid-sentence.

"I'm sorry; I'm rambling. Do either of you have any questions so far?"

"No, no," I respond, shaking my head.

Ben keeps his eyes on me, and after a few seconds, he sighs deeply and sets down my portfolio on top of his messy desk. I silently muse to myself regarding the chances of him ever finding it again.

"Isabella," he begins.

"Please call me Bella," I smile. Though I don't think much will be coming out of this meeting, he does seem like a genuinely nice guy.

"Bella." His ensuing smile is much more relaxed. I can't help noting that when he smiles and relaxes, he's a lot more charming as well as disarming. If he were this composed all the time, I might be able to almost see him as someone I may have wanted as my agent.

"You were previously represented by Felix Arroyo. I can only imagine the differences you're seeing right now between him and me."

My face flames. Next to me, I feel Edward stiffen. The circles he was drawing on my knee come to a quick halt.

Ben continues before I can say anything. "Felix is…quite an agent. He's got almost twenty years of experience, handles some really great talent as well as a pretty impressive list of up and comers. To be represented by Felix is quite a feat; to be the one who dropped him…" He trails off.

I swallow hard. "We had…artistic differences."

He stares at me unflinchingly, and suddenly he doesn't seem so much like the timid, mousy, overgrown trekkie or Vader-y or whatever the fuck that he seemed like just a few seconds ago. He looks like a man who knows exactly what he wants to say, but knows enough to take a few seconds to figure out how to put it into the correct words. And I wonder how much he knows, how much Felix has allowed to get out about the things that happened…

I shut my eyes tight and stand up. Edward stands up with me.

"Ben, thanks for your time, but I don't think this-"

"Bella, please don't leave. Just give me a chance here."

"Look, I'm sure you're a great person, but-"

He looks to Edward desperately. "Edward, would you mind giving Bella and me a few minutes?"

"Yeah, I would," Edward responds with a sharp edge to his tone, gripping my hand tightly. "Are you ready?" he asks. I nod, and with his other hand on the small of my back, he guides us towards the door.
Ben swears quietly behind us while Edward opens the door for me. But when I take a step through it, he yells,

"Felix Arroyo is an asshole, who doesn't deserve an ounce of the fucking name he's made for himself - alright, maybe an ounce, but that's about it."

I whip around.

Ben's hands are in anxious fists at his sides. His glasses are askew, hanging low over his nose; his pale complexion is flushed bright red, and his lean chest is heaving.

"He's blacklisted you - well not so much blacklisted because this is the year 2014, and we're not in post World War Two Hollywood, but in pre-apocalypse New York, but that's a different matter altogether – let's just say he's made it vaguely clear to a few of the…important names out there that you're not to be worked with."

For what feels like forever, I simply stand there. My usually strong legs feel like jelly. I'm so grateful Edward is here with me because I'm practically leaning my entire weight on him while he wraps his hands around my waist so that I don't fall to a heap over the stained carpet.

"What?" I finally manage to ask on a breath.

"Look, I have no idea what happened between Felix and you or those others he's deemed unworthy, and I'm not going to ask; that's not part of my job. My job, if you decide to let me represent you, is to get you out there, to get you auditions so that you can get yourself hired and to put my fucking all in making sure that your talent is appreciated for what it's worth," he hisses, and he's suddenly a completely different person from the one whom I saw when we walked in. "But I think you deserve to know what you're up against, whether we work together or not."

I hold his sincere gaze and then look at Edward. His nostrils are flaring, but he doesn't say anything; he doesn't yell or curse the way the Edward I first met would've done. Oh, I can see in his eyes that he's itching to howl, and I'm so grateful for the restraint he's showing because I need to get to the bottom of this, and I won't be able to do that if Edward loses it now.

"Do you want to wait for me outside?" I ask lowly.

He draws in a deep breath. "Bella, unless you want me to wait outside, I'm staying here with you."

I smile faintly and squeeze his hand, and with a big sigh, I guide us back to the couch. Ben watches us sit.

"What do I do?" I finally ask.

Ben leans against his desk and crosses his feet casually at the ankles, digging his hands deep into his pockets.

"Well, first things first. The audition you went on this weekend: it's Tuesday evening now, and I know for a fact that production is behind schedule and that they're looking for a quick turn-around in choosing their talent."

"They probably picked someone else," I say, my heart sinking to my feet because although it wasn't a big production, I really thought I had it.

"No, they haven't," Ben responds. "After you called me yesterday, I made a few phone calls and found out that they're 'still weighing their options'" he smirks, making air quotes before returning his hands to his pockets.

"You made phone calls on my behalf even before we'd met?"

"Bella, I just wanted a better picture of what kind of talent I'd be taking on if you decided to go with me. Please don't feel obligated in any way. If you want to walk out without partnering with me, then I'll simply tell them to contact you directly or to contact whoever's name you give me when they call me back."

"They said they'd call you back?"

He takes his hands out of his pockets and crosses his arms against his chest; he then re-crosses his ankles.

"I may not be working out of a glitzy office in Manhattan, but I'm not totally without my own connections, Bella. I'm waiting for a call-back as we speak."

I sit there stunned speechless. I can feel Edward's eyes on me, the firm grip of his hand around mine, lending me his strength.

"Look," Ben says, his tone switching from cool and in control back to the anxiousness he displayed when Edward and I first arrived, "you don't have to decide what you want to do right now. In the meantime, I know someone who worked at the try-outs who's agreed to send me a copy of your audition, just so I can have a clearer picture of what we're talking about. Based on whatever they say when they call me back, you and I can talk again. But whether you get the part or not, Bella, again please don't feel obligated. In order for this relationship to work," he signals between he and I and then looks warily at Edward before moving his eyes back to me, "there has to be a mutual trust and desire to work together. I have to trust that you want to work with me, and you have to trust that I'll do my damnedest for you."

I nod. "Ben…if you don't mind my asking, how many clients do you currently represent?"

He swallows. "You would be my fourth."

I bite my lip and nod slowly again. "You mentioned…others like me, who have been blacklisted by Felix." I scowl and hear Edward's sharp exhalation next to me, feel his warm breath against my cheek.

"I can't tell you who they are, Bella. You wouldn't want your name to come up in such a conversation, would you?"

I drop my head and shake it. "No, I wouldn't," I agree.

Suddenly, Ben takes a couple of steps and kneels in front of Edward and me. I look up and into soft, blue eyes that are kind and this up close, much more intelligent than I first gave them credit for.

"Hey, don't let this discourage you, Bella. Yes, Felix is big, but it's all just a matter of convincing one or two of the right people to give you a chance. Once we get you out there, it won't matter what the great Felix Arroyo has to say," he sneers. "You will rise above it!" he grins. "The force is with you!" he exclaims with a sudden burst of energy. "Think of Arroyo as Emperor Palpatine and the blacklist as the Death Star, and the three of us are the Rebel Alliance that's gonna blow that Death Star to smithereens and take down the dark side!"

I stare blankly at him; then I look at Edward.

He smirks and jerks his head to the round, Lego planet again. "Death Star."

OOOOOOOOOO

"You're really quiet," I point out to Edward on the ten minute drive back to the Studio where Mel is hanging out with Angie.

When he's quiet this way, I know he's thinking deep thoughts.

He sighs, his eyes trained on the windshield while he maneuvers the steering wheel with one hand and holds my hand in his grip with the other.

"I'm formulating my own blacklist in my head." A cold grin lifts up the corners of his mouth.

"Edward."

He chuckles, but there's absolutely no humor in it.

"I'm glad you can at least pretend to joke about it," I tell him. "I'm really not that surprised, Edward. I had a feeling…the last couple of auditions…something felt off. At least now I know what's going on, and you know what? I believe Ben when he says we can get past this. Felix has clout, but he doesn't control absolutely everything."

And even as I say it, I really believe it because what would be the worst that could happen? No matter what, I'd still have Edward and Mel.

And my studio.

Yes, I have my studio with my kids who look up at me as if I've already performed on every major stage in the world, my kids who put their heart and soul into every move, even when those moves are jerky and not quite so graceful. But they're real.

And I'm starting to realize how much better real is than-

Edward puts the truck in park and angles sideways towards me. I'd been so lost in thought I hadn't realized we'd arrived.

His green eyes are dark and blazing.

"I'm not going to pretend that if I ever see that motherfucker Felix it won't be a struggle to keep from putting him through a wall, but he's still not the one at the top of my list." He snarls, nostrils flaring. When he looks away for a second, he has to take a deep breath before returning his burning eyes to me. "That other one, he's the one who claimed to care about you, who should've been protecting you and making sure that bastards like Felix never lay a finger-" He cuts himself off and looks away again and then abruptly pulls me into his arms, burying his face into the crook of my neck. Half a minute later, I feel him relax, his shoulders slacken and he breathes me in, brushing soft kisses against my cheek.

"Better?" I ask.

He snorts. "You know how I get."

"I know, Edward. But if he shows up at the work site…or at the studio, just ignore him, Babe, okay?" I pull back and meet his gaze. "He's in the past. He doesn't matter. You've only got about a month left on those lofts, and then you and Emmett will be moving on to that other job you told me about and then hopefully the office building. He is nothing in the grand scheme of things, okay?"

He holds my gaze, but doesn't respond.

OOOOOOOOOO

Angie and I are sitting up front while I fill her in on everything. Edward is hanging plastic tarp over the back two rooms of the studio, the ones he's going to be working on. Mel is in Studio A with the music up full blast practicing the steps we went over yesterday. We're starting to get into the routines for recitals in May. Between the recitals and competitions starting in March, the spring season is extremely hectic. And if by some miracle, I happen to get the part I auditioned for…

I sigh while I stare at Edward working, the muscles in his arms flexing while he hammers hard, working off his frustration. His shirt rises as he stretches the plastic tarp, exposing his lower back and the dark ink there…

"Pero que hijo e la fohkeen madre que le pario' ese Felix!" Angie seethes next to me. "I don't know how you're sitting here right now, Nena, cuz if it was me, I would've hopped the next train into the City, stalked into that building, up that elevator," – the entire time she speaks, she rotates her head and her index finger smoothly from side to side – "stormed into that crika's office and shoved my foot up that ass!" She finishes with a flourished jerk of her head and forefinger.

"Shh," I frown, trying to quiet her down. "Edward's agitated enough as it is, and Mel doesn't need to know about any of this."

"Chica, ya me imagino. Papi Chulo's got to be majorly pissed off! What's he waitin' for to meterle una gasnata' a ese come mierda de Eli?"

"Shh! Angela, pero por favor! Don't put any more ideas in his head! You didn't see how pissed off he was this weekend when I told him everything!"

"Ay, Bellita, of course he's upset! No man wants to hear that some asshole, pendejo, maricon hurt his woman! Eli deserves to get his ass kicked! I've been wanting to do it myself for a while now. Maybe now that Edward knows everything, he and I can both-"

"Angie, enough," I say firmly. "We're not kids anymore. Edward acting out his anger would only get him in trouble."

I haven't told Angie about Edward's alcoholism, and I don't plan to do so unless Edward says it's okay. And I know that Angie doesn't really think that Edward should beat the shit out of Eli. I mean, in theory yes, but not in reality. She's just talking out of her own anger; unfortunately she doesn't realize what a tightrope Edward walks with his temper and alcoholism.

In the research I've done, I've read that alcoholism aggravates one's temper, and that's probably why Edward tends to have such a short fuse. The fact that he's been sober for less than a year still has his system in somewhat of an uproar, so it's harder for him to keep his cool. I'm anxious to start going to a few meetings with him and to meet Carlisle tomorrow during Edward's Wednesday night AA meeting. I want to learn as much as I can about Edward's disease, and yes, I understand that at the end of the day, most of the work is on him, but I want to help as much as possible.

Unfortunately, with all these fucking issues, I'm starting to feel like I'm more of a detriment than a support to Edward's well-being.

"Alright, Bellita, I'll drop it," Angie pouts. But then with more enthusiasm, "So tell me more about this weekend – the yummy parts," she giggles heartily. "Was it as good as you thought it'd be?"

She makes me laugh, the way she can switch from one topic to another with such ease.

But I purse my lips, narrowing my eyes at her because she's being nosey.

"God, yes! Better! A thousand times better than I could've ever imagined!"

Angie chortles so loudly that Edward turns around and looks at us. I smile at him and blow him a kiss. Then Angie starts blowing kisses at him wildly with both hands, like an opera singer thanking her audience. Edward shakes his head, smirking and turns back to his work.

"Dime, dime, dime! Detalles, mi amor!" she demands, bouncing in her seat and stretching out 'gimme gimme' hands.

"Vete p'al carajo! I'm not getting into details!"

"You're kidding me, right?" She bounces angrily. "You're not gonna tell me that I've been waitin' for months to get the 4-1-1 when you two finally got down and dirty, and now you won't spill? What kind of a best friend are you?" She shoves me hard, and I chuckle.

"First of all, it wasn't getting down and dirty," I scowl, "it was making love. Second, no I'm not spilling."

"Making love," she snorts with a cynical smirk. But then the smirk dies away. She stares at me, a slow grin forming on her full, red lips. "Making love? Making love? Bellita, you and Papi Chulo are in love? Like, real love?"

I grin widely.

She squeals and throws her arms around me, laughing hysterically. "Oh my God, you're in love!" she yells. "You're in love!"

Edward stops again and looks at us.

"Papi Chulo, you and my Bellita are in looove!"

I shove her, and she shoves me back, and Edward stares at us. With a low chuckle, he shakes his head and returns to his work.

OOOOOOOOOO

After a few minutes, Angie and I join Mel in Studio One. The three of us start dancing together, practicing what we've taught so far of the routine. I'm in the middle of showing Mel how the rest of it is going to go when the door to the room opens, and Edward walks in followed by Ben.

"Ben, what's up?" I ask, walking over to him quickly. My heart starts racing because this can only be very good news or very bad news.

He puts his hands out, palms up. "Before you get upset or excited, I haven't heard anything concrete yet. I just wanted to let you know what I have heard so far."

"Oh. Okay." Out of my periphery, I see Angie and Mel on either side of me, so I perform hasty intros, anxious to get to Ben's news.

Ben smiles at Mel, and then I think he smiles at Angie too, but his face contorts into this strange expression that's sort of like a smile but twitchy, so I'm not sure what he's doing.

"Are you, uh…are you a…dancer too?" he asks her, pushing his glasses up his nose. Those curls cover his eyes again, and my hand itches to push 'em off his face 'cuz really, how can the guy even see?

"Sort of, Papi, but I don't do the professional thing. I just teach here." She shrugs, crossing her arms against her chest. I catch the way Ben's eyes dip for a second before he lifts them quickly, pushing those glasses up.

"Oh. Because uhm…uhm…if you needed a rep…you know…I could-"

"Yes, yes, he could represent you," I finish for him all bitch-like, but come on, I'm dying here. "So what's the word, Ben?"

He stares at Angie for a few more seconds before pushing his glasses up once more and shoving his hands in his pockets, blinking his attention back to me. Edward appears at my side and gently nudges Mel to the front so that he can stand next to me and slide his arm around my shoulder.

"So I received the copy of your audition that my contact was going to send me. It is…by far…one of the best auditions I've ever seen," he breathes.

His expression makes me smile while Edward kisses my temple and breathes, "Of course it was."

Mel nods vehemently.

"Damn skippy it is!" Angie says.

Ben looks at Angie.

I clear my throat.

"Oh. Alright, so I put in another call to the board because I honestly don't see what the hold up is at this point. They said they're making final determinations, but Bella, I swear to you, if you don't get this part, they're going to have to seriously deal with me whether you take me on as your agent or not." He looks sincerely steamed up.

"Thanks so much, Ben," I grin genuinely because yeah, I do feel comfortable with this sweet, slightly nerdy guy representing me. "I think…I can honestly say that no matter how this turns out, I'd be proud to have you as my agent."

His ensuing grin lights up his entire face. He sighs, blows his hair out of his eyes and pushes up his glasses once more.

When he leaves, Angie turns to me. "Coño, Nena, why didn't you tell me that your new agent was a total hottie?"

"Who, Ben Cheney?" I snort.

"Did you see those sweet curls hanging over his forehead? And how cute he looked when he got all pissed off? Like an adorable, flustered little lion." She makes baby lion sounds and claws at empty air. "And every time he pushed up his glasses? Man, I would've helped him push those glasses off his face…with my tongue."

"Ben Cheney?" I repeat.

"Hey, he may not be no Papi Chulo," she smirks, palms up and jerking her chin towards Edward, "but you know what they say about nerds."

I lift a brow, waiting.

"They carry their twelve-inch 'rulers' with them everywhere."

Then she breaks out into fits of laughter before shaking her ass on her way out.

OOOOOOOOOO

"Ball-tap, Back-front, Ball-tap, Back-front."

After Angie has left, and Edward is packing up his tools, Mel and I practice alone.

She suddenly stops mid ball-tap, hands on hips and looks at me.

"Bella, what's going on with your ex-boyfriend and your old agent?"

The heel of my right foot freezes mid tap.

My first instinct is to tell her that it's nothing, that she doesn't need to worry about it and that people like Felix and Eli don't affect her life.

But someday – and probably sooner than I can imagine – Mel will start meeting boys…boys who will eventually turn into men…and when she does, I'd like to know that she has the confidence to stand up for herself and follow her heart no matter what they say.

"Come on," I tell her, smiling and nodding my head towards the mirrored wall. I walk over and slide down to the floor, my back against the cool mirror, and Mel follows suit. I bend up my legs and wrap my arms around them, enjoying the softness of my leg-warmers against the skin of my arms. Mel does the same, watching me expectantly.

With a long sigh, I dive in. "A few years ago when I first met Eli and my old agent, I did some things I'm not proud of. I allowed myself to be convinced that certain things were okay with me, even fun, when deep in my heart that's not what I felt. Now while I was young, I can't blame it all on them, but at the same time, they took advantage of their positions then and are still doing so now."

"So you made mistakes," she shrugs.

"Yes, I did."

"Mom used to tell me that everyone makes mistakes. That no one is perfect. That what matters is how people try to fix those mistakes."

"Your mom was right," I smile. "Unfortunately, sometimes it takes us a while before we even begin to try to fix our mistakes."

"Like Uncle Edward with his drinking."

I draw in a shaky breath, studying this beautiful child who knows so much more than we give her credit for. No, she shouldn't be treated like a small child anymore, but at the same time, I feel like it's my responsibility to help preserve some of that innocence because I know only too well that when you completely lose your innocence, you never truly get it back.

"Yes, like your Uncle with his drinking. But your uncle is trying now; he's giving it his all, and that's what matters."

"I know he is," she nods thoughtfully. "He doesn't even touch the bottle under the sink anymore."

"What bottle under the sink?"

"He used to keep a bottle under the bathroom sink," she whispers, her eyes shifting to the closed door before moving back to me. "Used to hide it in the Drano box, but I used to measure it every night to make sure he never drank it."

I want to cry. Not because I'm disappointed in Edward, but because I realize how little I know about his struggle, how difficult it must be if he had or has a bottle hidden under the bathroom sink.

And oh God, Mel measuring that damn bottle night after night.

I close my eyes and try to breathe through narrowed lips, my legs shaking so badly I have to circle them tightly so it won't be so obvious.

"Don't be mad at him," Mel pleads quietly. "I swear, he hasn't even touched it in a while. I can tell when it's been moved, and he hasn't touched it! Please don't be mad at him. I shouldn't have said anything."

I open my eyes and swallow the lump in my throat, reaching out and wrapping her in my arms.

"Shh, I'm not mad at him," I say shakily. "I'm proud of him for never having drank from it."

"Me too," she breathes. And then she draws in a long, deep breath, filling her lungs. She exhales so fully that her shoulders slacken and fall, and I can tell how difficult it's been for her to keep her uncle's secret.

My heart breaks all over again for a young girl who's never quite sure what she should say and a man who's still learning how to deal.

I cradle her face in my hands and hold her gaze. "Mel, I don't ever want you to feel like there's no one you can talk to about things. Always give your uncle the respect he deserves, and the benefit of the doubt, but if there's something you don't feel comfortable speaking to him about or to your Aunt Rose, you can always, always come to me."

She nods, her bottom lip trembling.

"Listen to me. Your uncle will always do his best to be there for you; I know he will. And so will I."

"You sound like my mom sometimes," she smiles faintly, making me chuckle.

I squeeze her warm hand. "I'm not your mom, and I would never try to take her place in any way…but I would love for you to think of me as someone you can talk to and trust - maybe like a big sister."

She pulls away and looks at me like I've just said the most disgusting thing she's ever heard.

"Eew, you can't be my big sister! You're hooking up with my uncle! If you were my big sister then Uncle Edward would be your uncle too and that would just be gross!"

I break out into loud fits of laughter, shoving my face between my knees to try to stop.

"How 'bout my aunt?" Mel suddenly asks.

I stop laughing and look up at her. She's grinning mischievously. "You'll be Aunt Bella when you marry Uncle Edward anyway."

"Mel," I hiss, just thinking how Edward doesn't need this additional pressure, "don't even think of saying that in front of-"

Edward opens the door and walks in. "You girls ready to go?"

Mel's grin widens as she looks from me to Edward.

"Mel!"

"What are you two talking about?" Edward asks, eyes narrowed.

Mel smirks. "Nothing, Uncle Ed. It's just girl-talk. MYOB."

"Mel," both Edward and I scold her together.

She rolls her eyes. "Sorry, sorry."


A/N: Thoughts?

***The kiddies will be home from school for Spring Break next week, so updates MAY POSSIBLY be delayed. We shall see how it goes.*** :)

Translations: (aka Spanish curses a la Angie):

Pero que hijo e la fohkeen madre que le pario' ese Felix!What a son of the fucking mother that birthed him.

Crika - pussy

Chica, ya me imaginoGirl, I can imagine

meterle una gasnata' a ese come mierda de EliGive that shit eater Eli a beat down

pendejo, mariconidiot, asshole

Dime, dime, dime! Detalles, mi amor! – Tell me, tell me, tell me! Details my love!

Vete p'al carajo!go to hell

Twitter: PattyRosa817

Link to 'Stories by PattyRose' is on my profile page.

Have a great weekend!