HTPAH Chapter 25- 2
I pulled into the hospital parking lot and turned off the radio. A thick tension started to build, an uneasiness. The silence was deafening. It's like the fun and spontaneity had been sucked out through the speakers. Karaoke time was over.
I turned to Edward who was readjusting the bloody napkins on his face, and put my hand on his knee. "Let's just get this over with," I said, giving his knee a squeeze.
Edward's eyes trailed slowly over to mine. "Ok," he said with a weak smile, but there was dread in his eyes, there was fear. There was also a giant bleeding gash on his face...
I slapped Edward's knee once, like Charlie would, silently telling him to get the show on the road. "Ok," I said with a resolute nod, making the first move and pushing out of my door first. I had to lead. If it were up to Edward, we would have never left the truck.
So I helped him out of his door, draping an arm under his back as we started in. But instead of looking forward and watching where he was going like I wanted him to, he was looking up at the sky, at the increasingly darkening sky. The air was a bit warmer too, balmy even... definitely above freezing.
"Perfect," he sort of groaned, seeing what I was seeing.
I took a deep breath of the moist heavy air, letting it pour into my lungs. "I love rain," I said with a smile, because just the thought of a Forks rainstorm put a smile on my face. It made me feel so at home, so nostalgic for something that I didn't even know I missed. Rain in Florida was violent and windy. Forks rain was lulling and peaceful.
But Edward didn't seem to agree. The dread in his eyes only deepened. "I never cleaned the ice out of the gutters," he said, grabbing for my hand and pulling me through a set of automatic doors into the breezeway.
"That's ok," I said as Edward stopped us there.
He shook his head. "The basement will flood if it rains."
I looked up at his face, at his bloody-napkin'd worried face and got up on my toes. "Our basement always floods," I said against his ear. "That's what happens when you live in the wettest climate in the continental US," I laughed, brushing his cheek with a kiss.
Edward let out a frustrated breath. "But it wasn't supposed to happen today. Today the gutters were supposed to be clear..."
I dropped back onto flat feet. "It hasn't yet," I said, gripping into his black pea coat, searching through the napkins for his eyes. "And the sooner we get out of here, the sooner you can get to the gutters, ok?"
Then Edward smiled for real, a beautiful genuine smile. "Ok," he said. "You're right."
I tugged him closer by his coat. "I'm always right," I said.
Edward laughed. "That is a completely false statement..."
"Is it?" I asked, getting back up on my toes to kiss him, because I just had to...
When we finally made it through the second set of automatic doors, Edward took a seat in the waiting area while I shuffled up to the front desk to sign him in. When I got there, big boobed Mrs. Stanley was eating something that smelled like onions and flipping through a gossip magazine, totally off somewhere on another planet.
"Mrs. Stanley?" I asked.
She dropped her sandwich in a plastic container and shut her magazine. "Oh, Bella!" she said, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. "Jessica told me you were home," she said with a smile, sitting up a bit in her chair. "What can I do for you, honey?"
I wagged my head over to a slouching hiding Edward. "Edward cut his cheek," I said. "I think he needs stitches."
Mrs. Stanley's brow furrowed. "Cut it?" She asked skeptically, probably all too familiar with teenage boy brawls.
I shrugged a shoulder. "Yep," I said. "He cut it."
Then Mrs. Stanley let out a heavy sigh. "I'll tell Doctor Cullen he's here," she said, reaching out with her French nails and hitting a button on her phone.
I held a hand out to her. "Is there anyone else that can look at him?" I asked.
Mrs. Stanley hit the cancel button. "I'm afraid not," she said. "And I wouldn't want anyone else stitching up that beautiful face if I were you. Doctor Cullen is the best," she said pointedly, glancing over the counter at Edward, who even swollen and covered in bloody napkins and a Ziplock full of melting ice was absolutely beautiful.
I nodded. "Ok," I said, not taking any chances with Edward's face. "Thanks.
Then Mrs. Stanley winked at me. "It should only be a couple minutes."
"Thanks," I said again, turning for the waiting area and Edward.
I slid into the chair next to him, hovering a bit in his direction. "You have to see your dad," I said softly, sliding my fingers into his hair. "He's the best."
"So I've heard," Edward said, rolling his eyes, tipping his head back a bit so that I could have better access to his hair.
I scratched at his scalp. "I'll go in with you," I said. "If you want..."
Then Edward's eyes closed with my touch. "Thanks," he said, snaking his arm around me and pulling me into him, hugging me to him as I stroked and played with his hair.
It was one of those moments. One of those moments where it really started to feel official that I was Edward's actual girlfriend. Like it was a real life thing, like I wasn't hallucinating it or dreaming it while asleep on the beach in Jacksonville. I mean, I was playing with his hair in a waiting room, in front of my friend's mother, in front of a woman that I had grown up around... who knew me since I was a baby. It was one of those moments where I didn't feel like a little girl anymore. I was older...
"My son? Where?" But that thought left me instantly as Doctor Cullen came barreling into the waiting room. As soon as I heard his voice, I felt like a gangly insecure fifteen year old again... scared of my own shadow.
Edward's eyes shot open as I snatched my hand out of his hair. "Here we go," he groaned.
Doctor Cullen ran towards us in his navy scrubs and lab coat. "Edward, what─?"
Edward stood up, sort of stopping Doctor Cullen in his tracks. "It's not a big deal. I just need some stitches," he said. "Can we just do this?" he asked coolly, like urging his father with a steely voice not to make it any more difficult than it had to be.
And seemingly taking in Edward's icy tone, Doctor Cullen's expression flattened. "Alright then," he said with a nod. "Fine."
"Thank you," Edward said, before reaching his hand behind him for mine, like he was serious about me coming in with him.
I smiled and took it, standing up on sturdy legs. The gesture returned me to my sixteen year old body instantly. Because I was Edward's girlfriend. It wasn't a game, or a hallucination. He needed me.
Doctor Cullen stared at our entwined fingers for a beat before pointing towards an exam room door. "Right this way," he said, ushering us inside. "Have a seat."
When we got in, Edward dropped my hand and hopped up onto the exam table. "Let's do this," he said, exhaling loudly. But his right leg was beginning to chatter and quake, rustling the white paper below him. His cool act was starting to break a bit under the glaring lights of the exam room...
Doctor Cullen looked at Edward's leg, and then, surprisingly, at me. "You can sit beside him," he said softly, looking at me over his glasses.
I stared at Doctor Cullen for a beat, and then my eyes shot directly to the floor. "Ok," I said with a gulp, using the stool and getting up onto the table with Edward, easing into his side a bit to stop his shaking, to stop my own shaking.
And when we were situated, Doctor Cullen came over and eyed the mess of ice and napkins covering Edward's face. "May I?" He asked, asking to remove them so that he could see the damage.
Edward continued to feign indifference, even though his nerves were obvious. "Knock yourself out," he said.
"Alright," Doctor Cullen said, prying Edward's fingers away from the bloody wad, and exposing the cut. It was gross, but Doctor Cullen didn't even flinch, and threw the mess into a biohazard bin.
I wanted to yack everywhere. The back of my throat was starting to flood...
"Are you alright, Bella?" Doctor Cullen asked me, giving me what appeared to be a little smile as he put on some surgical gloves.
I swallowed back whatever was threatening to come up. "Yeah," I said.
Then Doctor Cullen went over to Edward. "Look up," he said clinically, taking Edward's chin between his fingers and tipping it upwards. "Now turn right..." His eyes were so focused, and his voice was so soft, and his fingers on Edward's chin were so ginger and delicate, just like when Edward bandaged my hand. It's like he learned it from his father, like he was imitating his father. Edward would deny it, but they were a lot alike in some ways.
Then Doctor Cullen looked at Edward, raising a brow to him. "For strictly medicinal purposes only, would you care to tell me what happened?" He asked.
Edward stared at the floor. "Emmett McCarty punched me in the face," he said. "With a ring on."
Doctor Cullen nodded once. "I see," he said, and I could tell he wanted to know more, but he resisted. "Well, you'll definitely need a few stitches," he said, taking some betadine and pouring it onto Edward's face, catching the liquid in a kidney shaped dish, then wiping the excess with some gauze.
I looked at Doctor Cullen. "Is it bad? Will it scar?" I asked.
Doctor Cullen smiled up at me over his glasses while he threaded a needle. "I'll do my best," he said with a little laugh, so much like Edward... so similar.
"Ok," I breathed, knowing Edward was in the best hands, even if he hated it.
Then Doctor Cullen took the threaded needle and brought it up to Edward's face. "This may hurt," he said. "Look away, Bella," he said to me, never taking his eyes off of Edward.
"Ok," I said, grabbing for Edward's hand and pulling it into both of mine, holding onto him for his sake, and for mine.
And then it was really quiet for a few minutes... and dark because I had my eyes closed. I could only hear breathing, and the radiator, and what sounded like rain starting to fall on the roof, and Mrs. Stanley's cackling laugh...
And before long, it was all over.
"Ok, that should do it," Doctor Cullen said, seemingly satisfied.
I opened my eyes and turned to see Edward's wound replaced with about ten black stitches. "How do I look?" He asked, smiling at me, looking swollen and scarred, and a little yellow from the betadine... but also very adorable.
I smiled at him, finally able to see both of his beautiful green eyes again, and not feel on the verge of vomiting. "Very handsome," I said, pulling Edward's hand up to my mouth to kiss his knuckles.
Edward's eyes bugged a bit as I did it, reminding me of where we were, and who we were with.
I turned to see Doctor Cullen's soft smile harden a bit, and his clinical coolness come back. "I'll have the nurse get some proper ice-packs for you. And you know how to care for stitches," he said to Edward, writing some things down on a chart. "I'll take care of the billing and insurance stuff."
Edward lifted his chin to his father. "Thanks," he said.
Doctor Cullen shrugged. "Of course," he said, dropping his pen and slapping a piece of gauze over Edward's stitches. "Change this often," he said, grabbing for a roll of tape and placing it against Edward's skin quickly, so quickly it was like he could do it in his sleep.
"Got it," Edward said.
Then once the last piece of tape was secure, Doctor Cullen took a step back. "Ok, you're free to go," he said.
"Great," Edward said, hopping down from the table, then taking me by the waist and helping me down too. "Let's go," he said, pulling me towards the door... like we were really leaving without another word to Doctor Cullen.
"Ok," I said, feeling my face twist in hesitation. I wanted to thank Doctor Cullen properly... really thank him for helping Edward. But Edward was looking at me like we were getting the hell out of there pronto. No pleasantries. No bridge building. We were out...
But before we could get away, Doctor Cullen stopped us. "Edward?" He asked, and it wasn't clinical and doctor like. He sounded like a person, like a father.
Edward's posture stiffened as he turned around. "What?" He asked.
"Are you coming home?"
"Your mother doesn't deserve this," Doctor Cullen said.
Then Edward paused, his brow furrowing deeply as his posture got even stiffer, even tenser. "Did you tell her that you called Garrett road kill?" He asked.
Doctor Cullen bowed his head. "No," he said, looking at the floor.
"And how about what you said about Bella?" Edward pressed.
Doctor Cullen looked up. "No, I didn't tell her that either," he said.
Then Edward sniffed with a bitter laugh. "Later, Dad," he said, turning for the door.
But again, Doctor Cullen didn't let us go. "Just, wait!" He sort of stuttered out.
"No!" Edward spat with a growl. "No!" he growled again, and I could almost see the annoyed shiver run up his spine. "I have to clean some gutters for Chief Swan, and Bella has homework..."
Doctor Cullen closed in on us. "I'm sorry for saying those things," he said frantically. "Just tell me what I need to do to get you to come home to your mother."
And then Edward paused, like letting the shiver pass. And once it had, he looked calmly at his father. "Just stop resenting me, Dad," he said.
"I don't resent you. That's ridiculous."
"You do resent me," Edward said coolly. "You do. And I'm just really tired of trying to figure out why," he sort of laughed to himself, like something was funny. Then his eyes returned squarely to his father's. "I did everything you wanted," he said. "I got into Dartmouth. I made the team. And you still treat me like a fuck up. That scene yesterday at the batting cages made me feel about this big," he said, holding his thumb and index finger out to his father, spaced about a centimeter apart. "You don't respect me at all," he said. "You resent me."
And then the room went quiet. Dead, quiet. I was expecting Doctor Cullen to rebuff it, to rebuff what Edward said. But he just stood there and stared as the silence and tension built, like looking for words, but not coming up with any. He didn't deny what Edward was saying. He didn't deny any of it.
Then Edward broke his father's stare and looked down at me, entwining his fingers with mine and sort of pulling my hand closer to his heart. "Ready?" He asked me, plastering on a smile, like he couldn't be upset by his father anymore, like that ship had sailed. He was over it.
I shook my head. "Yeah," I said, no longer feeling any desire to thank Doctor Cullen.
And with that... we left.
The downpour started when we were about halfway home. The rain started out light and soothing, but by the time I pulled the truck onto my street the old windshield wipers were working overtime. It was a gully washer, and if the gutters were clogged with ice, the basement was sooo going to flood. And that really upset Edward.
As soon as I put the truck into park, he was out the door. "Shit!" He cried, seeing the water cascading off of the roof and onto the ground below. "Shit!"
The rain was soaking his face... soaking his bandage. I didn't know the stitches protocol, but I was pretty sure that you weren't supposed to get them wet ten minutes after you got them done... and with dirty rainwater to boot.
I pushed out of my door with a sigh, pulling my coat up over my head a little bit. "Edward, you're getting your stitches wet!" I shouted to him, but he was already heading for the shed.
"Help me get the ladder!" He cried, waving me towards the shed to help him.
I shook my head at him, feeling the cold and the damp soaking into my shoes. "This is crazy! Just forget it!" I just wanted to go inside. I just wanted a nice cup of cocoa and maybe some making out. I didn't care about the basement. I had seen it flood a thousand times.
Then Edward came running towards me, his whole head completely soaked by the pouring rain. "We have to try!" He shouted, gripping my shoulders. "I told him I would!" In his eyes I could see that he really wanted to make the effort, for Charlie.
I rolled my eyes. "Fine," I said with a huff. "What do you want me to do?"
Edward smiled at me, starting to jog in place to stay warm. "Help me with the ladder," he said, grabbing my hand and yanking me towards the shed.
"You are so getting an infection..."
Edward pulled the barn doors open, and I stumbled in on absolutely frozen legs. But I didn't focus on how cold I was for long, because I was hit so hard by the smell inside the shed. Gasoline, grass clippings, paint thinner...It was like it had been vacuum sealed from the summer. It felt like a time capsule, like a portal to the past. My bike was there with two flat tires. Leftover cans of white paint were sitting on the tool bench beside the wasp spray. The lawnmower... Charlie's bike... an empty Slurpee cup with a red stain nearby on the concrete floor...
It was all there. All of it...
"Let's go, Bella!" Edward called, pulling me from my reverie. "Help me with this ladder!" He was trying to free the ladder from a dungeon of tarps and hoses, totally frantic.
I went over to him, and put a hand on his shoulder. "Charlie wouldn't want you doing this in the rain," I said, squeezing his shoulder. "He'll understand," I said, knowing Charlie wouldn't be mad if Edward decided not to go up on a ladder in a rainstorm. Charlie broke his leg falling from a ladder on a clear day. He'd get it.
Edward's head whipped over his shoulder to look at me. "I can do it!" He cried with fiery eyes, veins popping out of his forehead as he tried to free the ladder.
And then the wind started to shake the shed, and a well timed howling noise picked up in the background. That was the last straw for me. "No!" I cried right back to him. "It's too windy. Forget it!"
Then Edward dropped the ladder, giving up on it and slamming it back into the shed floor angrily.
I put my hands on my hips. "What is your problem?" I asked in a shout, seeing there was a lot more to Edward's mood than a flooded basement.
Edward turned to me, breathing heavily, his bandaged face twisted and upset. Really upset.
"Huh?" I asked, totally perplexed.
Then Edward fell back onto an overturned bucket, dropping his head into his hands, his chest heaving in and out as he tried to catch his breath. "How am I going to explain to him what happened to my face?" He asked me, tipping his chin up to look at me, his voice breaking, his eyes anguished. "How?"
I took a step towards him. "What?" I asked. "Who?"
"Charlie," Edward whispered. "How am I going to explain this to Charlie?"
Edward shook his head with a growl. "No, the fucking gash in my face! The one that Emmett McCarty put there because I fooled around with his girlfriend!"
I didn't know what to say. I was so worried about what Doctor Cullen would think that it never even occurred to me to worry about Charlie. But Edward had. Edward had been itching to get home and clean out the gutters so that Charlie would pat him on the back and call him a good man again. He didn't want to lose that respect. He didn't want Charlie to know what had happened to his face and why. And he definitely didn't want to let his basement flood...
I walked over to him and ran my hand over the back of his tense neck. "You don't have to tell him," I said. "You could tell him a baseball hit you─"
"Lie?" Edward asked.
"Or tell the truth," I said with a shrug, wrapping my arm around him and sitting down on his lap. "I'll still love you," I said.
Edward nodded, like yielding a bit to what I said. Then he dropped his head onto my shoulder. "I don't want your dad thinking I'm a scumbag, Bella," he said. "I want him to trust me with you. I don't want him thinking I'm a scumbag..."
"He won't," I said.
Edward let out a deep sigh. "Only if we lie to him. If we tell him the truth..."
I curled up into Edward more, for warmth, for comfort...to comfort him. I didn't want him to feel like a scumbag. His father already made him feel like a disappointment that day, and I didn't want him to think that mine would too. Because Edward wasn't a scumbag. He was imperfect, sure, and did imperfect things... but he wasn't a scumbag. And being there, in the shed, in the rain... it just reminded me of so many reasons why he wasn't. Being there in the shed just reminded me of why I loved him so much in the first place. And because we were sort of stuck there, waiting out the downpour, I felt like reminding him too...
I scrubbed out Edward's hair and kissed his cheek, and then got out of his lap and walked over to the tool bench.
"What are you doing?" Edward asked, as I grabbed for one the paint cans and a screwdriver to pry it open with.
"Just humor me," I said, prying a can open and bringing it over to Edward. "Smell," I said, putting the open unstirred paint up to his nose.
He looked at me suspiciously. "Why?"
I smiled. "Just do it," I said.
Then Edward shook his head at me in confusion, but did at I said. He closed his eyes and put his nose up to the rim and sniffed.
"Remember?" I asked softly, dying to put my nose in there too, because this calm washed over his face...this peace.
He smiled. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah, I remember."
"You really helped Charlie out..."
"He paid me."
"Not to grocery shop, and take him to his checkups, and to cut the grass..."
Edward opened his eyes and looked at me. "I only did that stuff so that I could spend time with you."
I smiled at him, pulling the can away from his nose. "Charlie doesn't know that," I said, turning back to the tool bench.
I grabbed the can of wasp spray and turned to Edward. "Do you remember this day?" I asked.
Edward shook his head. "Yeah," he breathed. "I remember that day..."
"You saved me from the wasps," I said, smiling, remembering how Edward put on Charlie's fishing waders and killed the nest.
But Edward disagreed. "You remember it wrong," he said, standing from the overturned bucket and joining me by the tool bench. "You saved me," he said, taking the can from my hand and sidling up close to me, looking down at me with leveling soft eyes.
I bent down and picked up the Slurpee cup near my feet. "And on this day, you told me that I was pretty, and you let me win at Scrabble," I said, standing to meet Edward's eyes again, to show him the old cup.
Edward took the cup from my hands and put it down on the bench near the wasp spray. "I didn't let you win," he said, hovering over me, his breath and his lips getting closer. "And you're fucking beautiful," he whispered, sliding his fingers into my hair, pulling my face closer to his.
I slid my hand down his chest to his coat pocket and pulled out his car keys. "On this day, you kissed me," I said, separating his Swiss Army Knife from the rest of his key-chain... the knife that we carved our initials into my house with right before he gave me my first kiss.
Edward took the keys. "I did," he said, leaning in for my lips, leaning in for a kiss, his lip pulling up in one corner as I dodged his attempts...
I wasn't ready to kiss him just yet. I had more to say.
I got up on my toes and stroked his good cheek. "And you never let me up on the ladder," I said into his ear. "And you always set me up to paint out of the sun..."
"I didn't want you to get sunburned," Edward said, easing into my touch.
I moved my hand down. "And you fixed my hand," I said, holding it out so that he could see. "See? No scar," I said.
Like everything else, Edward took my hand... and he kissed it softly, right on my palm, right where my cut had been.
"You held my hair when I was drunk," I continued. "And you pulled me out of the water when I almost drowned..."
Edward left another kiss on my palm, and I could feel it radiate throughout my entire body. Then he looked at me with curious eyes. "Bella, what are you doing?" He asked.
I took my hand from his mouth and moved it to his face. "You're not a scumbag, Edward," I said. "You're not a scumbag," I said again, pulling his face to mine, pulling him in for a long overdue kiss. "And that's the truth," I said as my lips finally pressed down onto his...
We started out kissing. Like really kissing. For first time in my life I had a make out session. Like a session─ a significant block of time where we just kissed, and kissed, and kissed, and kissed some more because we couldn't stop. It would hurt to stop. It would ache and burn and pull at my insides to stop. Open mouths, tongues, hands, lips... It was like a wet blur. It was like every pass of Edward's tongue against mine made the burn in my stomach deeper, more intense. So we just kept kissing until the burn felt more like a fire, a fire that was pleading for more kindling... but also for relief, for water. I wanted the fire to keep building and be put out at the same time.
I was tingling, I was throbbing, I was feeling warmth and urgency and need, and I was no longer someone that didn't know how that could be remedied. I knew. I knew full well. And in that moment, I wanted Edward so badly. Being in the shed, in the rain, with the smell of our summer together fighting for position with Edward for my senses... I just wanted to have him again. I just wanted his kisses all over me again. I just wanted more.
But Edward was definitely letting the fire build. Instead of ripping off my clothes right there in the shed and putting it out, he was throwing kindling on it. He was kissing me in ways that I didn't even know I could be kissed. His hands were pulling at my hair, and his tongue was like feeding my hungry mouth, and I was totally lost in it. I didn't even know I could get that worked up, that turned on, that completely disturbed in my underwear. And he just kept going. He just kept kissing me, pressing me up against the tool bench, then pulling me onto his lap so that I was straddling him down in the corner on top of some tarps.
I could feel him underneath me as I straddled too. I could feel it. And instead of being freaked out, I was using it. I was rubbing against it because it felt good. I was moving my hips around as I consumed Edward's face with my mouth, and it was remarkable. Full on making out was so much more than I expected. Getting so horny and worked up that it felt like I was going to pass out was an amazing sensation.
Edward pushed my coat from my shoulders for better access to my neck.
I jutted my chest out, like asking him to grab it. I wanted his hands on me. I needed his hands on me. "Please?" I moaned, begging for him to touch my boobs.
Edward let out a groan as his mouth made lunch of my neck, then his cold hand slipped up under my shirt under my bra... touching me like I wanted him to.
But it wasn't enough. The fire was out of control. It needed to be contained.
I stopped my rocking against his crotch, and tore my neck away from his mouth, and then put on my big girl pants and reached for the buttons on his jeans.
"What are you doing?" Edward asked in a breathy whisper.
I got the last button undone and reached inside, grasping his hard penis in my hand. "Show me," I said, looking into his hooded hungry eyes, while both of our chests just heaved in and out... Edward's hand still lodged inside my bra.
"Dry?" Edward asked.
I didn't even know what that meant...
Then my already racing heart took off even more. "I'm asking you to show me," I said. "What do you mean by dry?" I sort of screeched, just wanting him to take the lead. My big girl panties only got me so far.
Then Edward laughed, his eyes softening with an adorable smile. "Never mind," he said, stroking my face with his free hand. "Don't worry about it."
"Do you mean, like, lube?" I asked, knowing that lubricant was a part of the whole sex thing.
Then Edward's smile grew even bigger. "Or lotion," he sort of laughed. "Yeah."
I didn't have any lotion. The closest thing in the shed was WD40, and that seemed a little risky.
And then, Edward's hand was in his pants too, pulling mine out.
"No!" I cried, trying to keep my grasp on him. "I want to do this," I said.
But, of course, Edward won. He freaking took his other hand out of my shirt, and pried my hand from his penis. "You have homework to do," he said. "You promised Charlie."
But I wasn't that easily defeated. I threw my hands around his neck and repositioned myself over his crotch. "I don't care. I'll take F's," I said, dipping my head back for his mouth, really not in the mood to do homework.
And for a minute, I was winning. Edward met my mouth with his tongue, kissing me deeply a few times, thrusting up into me a little bit, getting the make out session extraordinaire back on track...
But then he stopped. "Fuck!" He sort of mumbled into my mouth, his kisses stopping, as well as his hands.
I pushed back on his shoulders. "What's wrong?" I asked. "Do you need me to do something? I will," I said, wondering if we could just go inside to get the lotion.
But the look in Edward's eyes told me that I was definitely not going inside for lotion. "You can't take F's, Bella," he said seriously, totally harshing on my horniness.
I latched down onto his neck. "Yes, I can," I said in the most seductive voice that I could muster, mimicking my mom when she was drunk and trying to get the waiter at TGI Fridays to give us free dessert. "Believe me, I can," I said.
And then Edward was pushing back on my shoulders. "Not if you're coming to Dartmouth with me," he said, totally serious, totally sincere... like pleading.
Holy Swear Word...
I gulped. "What?" I asked, totally gob smacked. Because every time I thought of our future together, like Edward coming in to visit me over Spring Break, Edward was one step ahead of me. He was thinking college...
And then I felt a little sick. "I'm not smart enough for Dartmouth," I said, knowing the real reason why it never occurred to me that we could go to college together...
But Edward didn't agree. "Bullshit," he said. "That's bullshit."
I shook my head. "Charlie can't afford it," I said, slipping off of his lap and pulling my knees to my chest on the damp concrete floor.
Edward crawled towards me, grabbing my downturned chin in his hand and raising it. "He will find a way if you get in," he said, searching earnestly for my eyes.
"He'll starve," I protested. "I can't do that to him."
Then Edward gripped my face in both hands, stopping my shaking head. "Then you take out student loans and we pay them off later," he said, his green eyes just searing into mine, totally serious.
I looked at him. "We?" I asked.
"Yeah, we," Edward said with an uneasy smile. "You can go to college wherever you want, but this is my official plea for you to consider going with me," he said. "But you can't get another B, Bella... let alone F's..."
And then a giant cheek tearing smile just exploded onto my face as happy tears filled my eyes. "Then I guess I'd better study," I said...
A few hours later, after we had squeegee-d about a quarter inch of water down the basement drain, Edward and I were at the kitchen table in sweats and socks, immersed in my trigonometry homework...
"The tangent is the opposite divided by the adjacent," Edward said, taking a pencil and pointing to an equation that I had written on my notebook.
My eyes rolled for about the fiftieth time that hour. "I know that," I said firmly.
Edward's pencil flipped to the eraser end. "No you don't," he said, starting to rub out my hard work. "You did it wrong," he said.
I pushed his pencil aside and clasped my notebook. "Tang... op, div, adj. Got it," I said, feeling a little intimidated... math always made me feel that way.
"Memorizing the formula only gets you through the test," Edward said, really close to my neck, like hovering, sounding like a know it all. "It's better if you learn it," he said.
"I am learning it," I said, annoyed.
Edward shook his head. "No, you're memorizing formulas that mean absolutely nothing to you, and you have no idea why you're using them," he lectured. "That's not learning."
I scooted away from him, my chair dragging against the linoleum floor. "You're annoying," I groaned. "And stop breathing so close to my neck," I spat, bugging my eyes at him.
Edward held his hands out defensively, his amusement in me showing in his crooked smile. "Um... ouch," he said with a little laugh. "And, FYI, you stink at math, Bella. I didn't know this two hours ago when I told you that I would help pay off your loans to go to Dartmouth..."
I shoved his shoulder. "I don't stink," I hissed. "You're making me nervous! Just shut up!"
Somewhere mid shove, Charlie came in through the kitchen door, slamming it behind him like he always did.
He shook the rain off of his coat and stomped his feet on the mat. "Well, this is what I'm talking about," he said, sounding pleased. "Homework. Hands where I can see them. General looks of annoyance and discontent," he said with a smile, his eyes narrowing a bit when he noticed Edward's face. "What in the hell happened to your face?" He asked, coming in closer for an inspection.
Edward had taken the gauze off after it got wet, and he never redressed it. The whole thing was just out there for Charlie to see... betadine yellow and black stitches.
"He got hit with a baseball," I said quickly, instinctively, covering for Edward.
But Charlie just cocked his head and looked closer.
"I got punched," Edward said flatly, without much hesitation, telling Charlie the truth.
Charlie took a step back, narrowing his eyes at Edward even more. "Do I even want to know?" He asked, like in this guy way, like in a language that I didn't speak. He was giving Edward the option to tell him...
Edward shook his head slowly. "Just that I deserved it," he said. "And that it won't happen again." Edward looked Charlie square in the eye, earnest and sincere...
And Charlie bought it. "Fair enough," he said, shaking it off almost instantly and going to the fridge for a beer. "So, trout? Or do you kids want to go out to The Diner instead?" He asked, coming up and twisting the cap off and taking a swig. "I have a hankering for a milkshake," he said, his cheeks puckering at the bitterness of the first sip.
Edward perked up, the relief of Charlie not making a big deal out of his face evident. "I could go out," he said with an excited nod, a smile returning to his face.
I smiled too. "Yeah, The Diner sounds good," I said, relieved that Edward's voice was no longer like nails on a chalkboard. He was once again adorable and irresistible.
When we got to The Diner, after Charlie humiliated me by running the siren for Edward almost the whole way there... Claire, the sweet dirty blonde waitress greeted us.
She pulled three menus from the holder. "Hey there, guys," she said. "Table for three?" She asked Charlie, who was staring at her like a deer in headlights.
He cleared his throat. "Uh. Yeah," he said in this deep baritone voice that I had never heard him use before. "Thanks."
Beside me, Edward almost choked trying to contain a laugh at my father's expense. Charlie wasn't quite as smooth with the ladies as Lady Killer McGee.
I elbowed Edward hard in the stomach. "Shut up," I hissed in a whisper, as Claire escorted us to our booth.
Edward grabbed his stomach. "Violent," he mouthed, rubbing out the spot where I slugged him.
"Here you are," Claire said as she placed our menus on the table. "Can I start you off with some drinks?" she asked.
Charlie, again, cleared his throat. "Uh, I think I'd like, uh..."
"Three vanilla milkshakes and some water," I said, trying to save my father from complete humiliation. I could feel his pain. We were cut from the exact same cloth, and I found nothing about his struggle funny. It was like déjà- vu.
When Claire was gone, Edward eyed Charlie over his menu. "You should ask her out," he said, and the minute he said it my elbow was back in his kidney.
Charlie played it casual. "Who, Claire?" He asked, looking at his menu upside down.
Edward nodded. "I think she likes you," he said, and I seriously wanted to kill him. The adorable and irresistible thing had worn off again... completely. I knew Claire liked my dad; I had known it for years. All the women in Forks looked at him like he was a mustached Cop Brad Pitt. But the thing about Claire was that Charlie liked her too... and that added a completely awkward other layer for me. I didn't even want to think about it. I wanted it to go away, and for Edward to shut the hell up.
But Edward's suggestion made Charlie blush, and smile, and light up in a way that I had rarely seen him do. "Oh," he said, waving a hand out to Edward. "Nah. She's just friendly with everyone," he said, beaming with a bashful smile.
Edward turned the page to his menu. "She likes you. Trust me," he said in his cocky way, like cool and macho, like at 18 he had any clue about adult relationships and could give advice to a 40 year old divorcee.
But Charlie was eating it up. "You think so?" He asked, hopeful and excited.
Edward shook his head. "Oh, yeah," he said. "There's no doubt about it."
And then Charlie was looking at me from across the booth. "What do you think, kiddo?" He asked, like he was really going to do it and he needed my opinion, or my approval...
And then, Edward's elbow was in my kidney, and his eyes were bugging at me...
"I think it's a great idea," I said with a forced smile. "You should definitely do it."
And having my approval only made Charlie's blush deepen and his smile grow wider. "Ok, I think I will," he said with a nod, sitting up taller than I had seen him sit in years...
It's like Charlie was just waiting for the confidence boost, for the push to really move on with his life. And of all people, Edward was the one to give it to him. And seeing how happy and excited he looked, I couldn't help but warm up to the idea too, and get on board.
I grabbed Edward's hand under the booth and gave it a squeeze, dropping my head onto his shoulder, nudging him, silently thanking him for giving my father a push in the right direction...
Edward squeezed my hand back and smiled down at me, then he wagged his head towards the counter. "Here she comes," he said, as Claire came up to our table with our milkshakes.
Charlie took a deep breath. "Well, here goes nothing," he said, exhaling loudly.
"You can do this," Edward said to him, showing the utmost confidence.
"Here you are," Claire said in that distracted waitress way as she placed our milkshakes down...
"Uh, Claire?" Charlie asked, right off the bat, no hesitation.
Claire placed the last milkshake in front of Edward, then gave her full attention to Charlie...no longer distracted.
Charlie looked up into her eyes, and she looked down at his...and I could see it. The spark, the attraction, the affection... It was all there. "Do you need something, Charlie?" She asked.
Charlie kept his eyes on her. "How about a date tomorrow night?" He asked, his mustache pulling up with a smile.
But Claire's smile was bigger. "Well, Charlie Swan," she said, totally surprised and flustered. "I'd love to."
"How about I pick you up tomorrow night after your shift? There's line dancing at The Lodge. Beer's are only two dollars," Charlie said, like he had been planning their perfect first date for years.
"That sounds perfect," Claire said.
"Then it's a date," Charlie said, his overwhelming happiness making my happy tears threaten to come back again right there in The Diner. It was like watching a huge milestone go down in my father's life, maybe the hugest, because I could just see how right they were for each other...
Claire bit down on her lip. "Eight o'clock," she said.
"Huh?" Charlie asked.
"My shift ends at eight o'clock," she said, smiling affectionately at my father.
"Oh... Right," Charlie said with a laugh. "Eight o'clock then."
And then Claire turned on her heel, floating back to the kitchen without taking our order. I tried to empathize with her, but I was really really hungry.
And when she was gone, Charlie finally flipped his menu right side up. "I got myself a date tomorrow night," he said with a satisfied grin, almost mimicking Edward's cocky swagger.
Then Edward looked over his menu at Charlie. "No funny business now," he said, mimicking Charlie right back...
Then Charlie, buoyant and playful, reached over the table and smacked Edward in the back of the head. "Smartass," he said, and the two of them were like a thing... like buddies... yucking it up and enjoying each other's company.
"Ah hem." And that was all the more evident when Doctor Cullen cleared his throat, arms crossed in his trench coat and hat over the booth.
Charlie sat back in his seat. "Hello, Doc. What can we do for you?" He asked, as the wind just got taken from all of our sails.
"I'd like to speak to Edward outside," Doctor Cullen said.
"Go away, Dad," Edward said. "Why are you even here?"
"Please?" Doctor Cullen asked.
Edward shook his head. "Whatever you have to say to me, you can say in front of them," he said.
"I'd really like to do this alone," Doctor Cullen said.
Edward turned the page to his menu. "Well, I'd really like for you to not be here right now, so..."
"Fine," Doctor Cullen said. "Bring Bella," he said, and there was a little venom in his voice when he said my name, and that really perked Charlie's ear.
Charlie reached for his coat on the hook by the booth. "I think we should all go," Charlie said coolly, standing up and getting eyelevel with Doctor Cullen, no longer the fumbling lovesick loser, but a hardened cop, and a protective father.
Doctor Cullen took a step back. "Very well," he said, making way for us.
Edward looked at me. "I'm sorry," he said.
I shrugged, holding tightly to his hand. "It's fine," I said. "Charlie's got this."
Charlie threw some money down on the counter for Claire, and we all made our way outside to an alley a block or so away. It was getting cold again, and the rain was threatening to turn back into snow.
Edward spoke first. "What do you want, Dad?" he asked, holding onto me as Charlie stood protectively behind us.
Doctor Cullen bowed his head in the lamplight, his expensive leather shoe twisting in a puddle, before he raised his eyes back to Edward. "I resent you," he said. "I do."
Doctor Cullen cut Edward off. "I resent you because I love you too much to lose you to something as stupid and careless as what you and Garrett did," he said.
Edward's eyes rolled back. "Oh, here we go," he said, shaking his head.
"No!" Doctor Cullen sort of spat, taking a step closer, holding Edward's eyes seriously. "Until you love someone more than you love yourself, you will never understand how angry it can make you when that person is careless with their very fragile and very precious life," he said, his voice just seething with emotion, with pain...
"Dad─" Edward started.
But Doctor Cullen just kept going. "When we got the call at the hospital, the EMT said that two boys, Cullen and Clarke were struck, and that one of them was DOA. One of them was already deceased," he said. "I ran down six flights of steps and down eight hallways not knowing which one. It was only about three minutes, but they were the longest three minutes of my entire life," he said, as tears just unexpectedly started flooding his blue eyes.
Edward dropped my hand, just dropped it, and went to his father. "I know it was stupid, but I can't blame myself for it anymore, Dad," he said, reaching his hand out and stopping short of touching Doctor Cullen. "I just can't," he said, his voice breaking a little. "I'll go crazy."
"I don't want you to blame yourself, Edward," Doctor Cullen said.
"Then what do you want?" Edward asked, confused, pleading. "What do you want from me?"
Doctor Cullen took off his hat, wiping his tears away with his sleeve, then putting the hat back on. "I just wanted to help you," he said, sniffing and straightening himself up a bit. "I just wanted to ensure that your life stayed on track."
"But, I couldn't breathe!" Edward cried. "I did everything right! You have to let it go, Dad! You have to forgive me!"
"I don't blame you, Edward. I don't," Doctor Cullen said, shaking his head.
"Yes, you do!" Edward shouted.
"I blame myself!" Doctor Cullen cried, cutting him off, his voice booming off of the brick walls in the alley. "It was my liquor cabinet. It was my baseball bat. It was my home that the Clarke's entrusted their son's safety in. I blame myself!"
Doctor Cullen's tears broke loose again. "I wasn't there," he sort of whimpered. "And neither was your mother. We never were. I blame myself, Son. You're my baby boy, and I didn't protect you─"
Doctor Cullen was a sobbing mess, and Edward sort of just stood there watching him. If it were Charlie, I would have run to comfort him. But Edward sort of stared at him blankly, until he broke the silence with a statement that I was not at all expecting...
"I think I want to live with Chief Swan for a while," Edward said, just spitting it out, just putting it out there.
Doctor Cullen raised his tearful eyes. "What?" He asked, seemingly taken aback by the sudden shift. "Why?"
Edward shrugged. "Because you and Mom need to go back to Chicago," he said. "You don't belong here. You're miserable. She's miserable," he said. "It's better this way."
"I'll finish high school, and then spend the summer here with Bella. Then I'm going to Dartmouth to go pre-med and play baseball," Edward said with a hopeful smile. "Because that's what I want. Still, despite everything, I still want that," he said.
"I'm trying to apologize here," Doctor Cullen said. "What is this about?"
Edward laughed his bitter laugh. "It's not about anything, Dad," he said. "It's just the right thing right now."
"Yes," Edward said, totally cool, like he had been planning his move in with Charlie for a while. "We can't live this way anymore. Something has to change. What happened was too sad, and too hard on us as a family. I think this is for the best," he said to Doctor Cullen, and then peeked over his shoulder to Charlie. "Chief?" He asked, asking Charlie if he could move in with him.
I couldn't even think straight. It was all happening so fast. Edward had really pulled a fast one, on all of us.
Except for Charlie, because Charlie was completely cool. "If you pull your weight, and buy your own groceries, I think that'll be just fine," he said, agreeing to the arrangement without hesitation.
Doctor Cullen shook his head. "I can't ask you to do that, he said to Charlie.
Charlie looked at Doctor Cullen. "You didn't," he said. "Edward did."
And then Doctor Cullen straightened up again, sniffing back his tears and wiping out his eyes. "Very well," he said, seeming disappointed, or maybe just sad. "If that's what you want."
"It is," Edward said.
Doctor Cullen paused for a beat before returning his eyes to Edward. "I'm sorry that it had to come to this," he said. "I'm sorry that I couldn't be there for you in the way that you needed me to."
"It's ok," Edward said. "I forgive you."
And then Doctor Cullen looked at me. "I'm sorry, Bella," he said. "I felt him slipping away, and I blamed you. I'm sorry. I misjudged you. I misjudged just how much you mean to him."
I bowed my head, accepting his apology. "It's ok," I said. "I understand."
Then Charlie's chest shook with a laugh. "I didn't even know it was happening, so you had me beat there, Doc," he said, lightening the dreary mood, forcing a smile from all of us.
Then Edward walked up and put a hand down on Doctor Cullen's shoulder, standing a few inches taller than his father, and making it all the more obvious that he wasn't a child anymore. "It's gonna be ok, Dad," Edward said, patting Doctor Cullen's shoulder. "I'm gonna be ok now," he said.
And I think we all believed in that moment that Edward was going to be ok. Finally, it felt like what had happened to him on that icy February night was being put behind him, and he was coming out on the other side, and he was ok...
And Doctor Cullen seemingly took that revelation as his cue to leave. He tipped his hat. "Well, I don't want to keep you folks," he said. "I better get home and tell your mom that we're going back to Chicago."
Edward nodded. "I'll come by tomorrow and pack," he said.
"Bring Bella," Doctor Cullen said, smiling kindly at me. "I think she'd like to meet the girl that put a smile on your face after all of this time," he said to Edward, but really to me. He said it to me.
"Ok," Edward agreed.
"Ok," Doctor Cullen said.
"Dad?" Edward asked.
"I love you," Edward said with a smile, and it was like he was telling him that maybe someday, sometime in the future, things would be really ok with them again.
And that made Doctor Cullen smile. "I love you too, Edward. I love you too, Son," he said, smiling at Edward one more time before tipping his hat to Charlie and me again, then taking off down the dark alley, walking off into the darkness with his head down, his leather soled shoes clicking on the pavement.
Edward turned back to us as soon as his father was out of sight, and Charlie walked up to him and gripped his shoulder with his confident encouraging grip. "Let's go eat," he said, pulling Edward under his wing. "Then we'll talk chores..."
But Edward just smiled at Charlie before walking over to me, sort of leaving Charlie in the dust as he made a b-line for my arms.
And I held them out for Edward to fall into... not caring a bit that Charlie was watching. "Come here," I said. "It's ok..."
Charlie sighed as Edward clung to me and I peppered his face with kisses. "Heavy," Charlie said.
AN- Sorry for the wait. But, like I've said before, I'm finishing this thing, and I'm not going back on that. So, whenever it takes me a minute to update, just know that I'm going to finish. No need for panic. Hope you liked the chapter, and thanks to the readers that are sticking in. I appreciate it.