There Goes My Life

Chapter Two

"Edward, we're going to be late," Bella announced, as she knocked on his hotel door.

He opened the door to his room, his toothbrush clamped between his teeth, as she looked him over, "we're friends, right?" She asked, stepping into his suite.

He nodded, then frowned a little wondering if she was placing him in the ever dreaded friend zone. "Right, good," she grinned as she flipped open his suitcase. His eyes widened slightly. Obviously, this friendship was going to invade some of his personal boundaries. "You're not wearing that suit," she declared, rummaging through his clothes.

He lifted an eyebrow at her as he took his toothbrush from his mouth. "You're not going to meet your siblings looking like their principal," she explained as she pulled out a pair of expensive dark jeans. "Listen, you can keep your shirt and tie on, just put this V-neck sweater over it. Casual but sophisticated."

She handed him the clothes, "now hurry, our Uber will be here in a minute." She made herself at home as she curled up in the chair by the window while he disappeared into the bathroom. "Speaking of Uber, did you hear about that driver who stopped a girl from being forced into child prostitution in Elk Grove?" She called to him through the wall.

"I believe I read an article about that on my phone." He paused as he zipped up his jeans, "didn't the driver talk about how the conversation in the car felt wrong and the child was dressed way too inappropriately? So, he called the police after he dropped them off at the hotel."

"Yeah, I wonder if Uber rewarded him for his good deed and all the positive publicity it brought for their company." She mused aloud as he stepped out of his bathroom, "you look more approachable, and I'm glad you abandoned the tie."

He placed his wallet in his pocket and checked himself in the mirror as Bella pulled on her heavy winter coat, "ready?" She asked.

"Sure," he gave her a crooked smile. He picked up his briefcase that held his personal information. He wasn't sure what information the social worker would need, but he was sure it was in there.

"I spoke with Alice this morning," Bella stated as the car turned onto a brick paved street. "Don't worry, I told her you flew to New York on business and that you'd call her back at your earliest convenience." She shrugged as Edward leveled her with a look, "What? You know how your sister gets."

"After this, we need to go to the funeral home," Edward stated, glancing down at the expensive cup of coffee he had been sipping all morning. He wanted to turn back to the hotel and forget this whole mess. He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. As Bella paid for their fare, she climbed out of the car and held the door open for him, "c'mon Edward, you won't start to feel better until you have answers."

She held out her hand, giving him a reassuring smile as he reached out, curled his hand around hers, and stepped out of the vehicle. "You can handle this, you're Edward Cullen for goodness sakes," she said, her brown eyes filled with warmth as she tried to give him a boost of confidence.

He swallowed down the hard lump in his throat as he followed her into the Family Service's Office in downtown Ithaca, New York.

Mark Goldberg was a large, gray-haired man with a compassionate grin. Edward's shoulders loosened as he was reminded of his late Grandfather Cullen. "Come in, come in, take a seat," Mark greeted them with a gentle handshake before he held open the door to his office. The room smelled of old books and peppermints, and his desk was cluttered with files. "I'm happy you made it here so quickly, Mr. Cullen."

"Call me, Edward," he said, taking a seat after Bella.

"I hope your travels went smoothly," Mark stated politely as he quickly organized his desk and sat a case folder aside. "I'm sure this is a very difficult time for you, you probably have a lot of mixed emotions, and I'm sorry for your loss." His gaze settling on Edward who nodded slowly, "now, I'm sure you have many questions, and I'll do my best to answer them."

"I do, you said I have a brother or sister, what's going to happen to them?"

"Okay, well," Mark paused to put his glasses on, he cleared his throat, "you have four siblings, three brothers and a sister," he reached across the desk and held out a photograph of the four young children. "I can start arranging for their transfer into your care, so long as you meet the necessary requirements ... if that is what you wish."

"Four?" Edward murmured to himself, he felt cold and clammy underneath his oxford shirt. His heart thundered in his ears as the words washed over him, leaving him hollow as he stared down at the photo. "What the hell?" He whispered, his green eyes darkening as his chest tightened and his stomach twisted painfully.

No one dared to speak, nor made any move to break the silence the room had fallen into. Edward stood abruptly, nearly knocking over the chair he had been sitting in, startling Bella, "I'm gonna be sick."

"Breathe," Bella instructed. She ignored the weak glare he shot her, smiled encouragingly as he followed her directions, and sucked in a deep breath, releasing it slowly, then repeating the process a few more time until his stomach settled, and the shock started to edge away.

Mark placed a cool glass of water into his hand. Edward took a few sips before speaking, "I'm sorry," he apologized to both of them as he retook his seat.

Mark nodded, he sat down his coffee mug, "I know this is overwhelming. But there are options. You can always say no. This is a huge decision; the lives, and the futures of four children, your brothers, and sister. It's a lot of responsibility."

"And if I say no? What will happen to them?"

"They'll stay in the foster care system and be placed up for adoption. In all likelihood, they'll end up in different homes. I can't guarantee they'll all find forever homes."

Edward swallowed hard and glanced back down at the photo. He remembered those horrible months of drifting from house to house until the Cullens welcomed him into their home forever.

"He looks like you," Bella said, touching the image of the eldest boy, who Edward guessed couldn't be older than seven. His wide, charismatic grin showed he still had all his baby teeth. He frowned softly at Bella, 'way to point out the genetic resemblance,' he thought a bit resentfully.

"What of their father, or fathers?" He asked faintly, his voice sounded far away, even to his own ears.

Mark shuffled through the folder and held out four birth certificates to Edward, "all listed as unknown."

He snorted, his mouth twisted into a bitter grin, "well, I'm glad Elizabeth kept some things consistent."

"Asher James Mason, born on May 10, he's five." Edward moved onto to the next, "Mia Grace Mason, February 15, she's almost three." He rubbed his mouth, then squeezed the back of his neck as Bella took the last two certificates, "Braxton Thomas and Holden William Mason born on January 3rd, seven minutes apart. They're three weeks old."

Edward shut his eyes. What the hell was he going to do? Peeling them open, his gaze drifted back down to the picture, each face now had a name. Mia's large hazel eyes stared back at him. He let out a deep sigh.

"You don't have to decide right now, how about I arrange a meeting this afternoon. Give you and your wife some time to think." He looked over his schedule, Bella and Edward traded looks, but before either of them could speak and correct him, Mark continued, "I'll have their foster family bring them here at four."

"That's a good idea, let's do that," Bella agreed for a quiet Edward.

Edward followed her outside. He moved out of the walkway and leaned against the brick building, "I need some Tums," he finally muttered, his voice thick with discomfort.

Bella glanced up from her phone, nodded once before her eyes darted back to her phone as she swiped and tapped on the screen for a moment, "there's a corner pharmacy a few blocks down the street, a short walk from here."

She watched him push off the wall, his lips were pinched together, and his complexion was still a bit pale. She didn't try to start a conversation as they walked down to the pharmacy. "Get what you need; I'll wait out here for our ride."

"Where are we headed?" Edward asked as he climbed into the cab, his breath smelled of mint.

"Enterprise, the rental car is ready. I figured we could pick up the vehicle, grab a bite to eat before we head over to the funeral home," she said, putting her phone into her purse.

He smirked, all he wanted to do was run away and hide from his problems, but she kept him on track. She was somehow walking the narrow line of trying to be both his friend and his assistant. He knew he'd never be able to repay her for the support she had been providing him all morning.

Bella grimaced; her face flushed as she ducked her head as Edward let out a sigh of frustration. He quietly snarked at the rental clerk, "what the hell do you mean you don't have the car? I have the confirmation number right here?" He flung the piece of paper down on the counter. His green eyes were wild. She knew his outburst had very little to do with the delay at the dealership.

"I'm sorry, Sir. There must have been a mix-up earlier," the rental clerk explained with an apologetic shrug, clicking away on the computer in front of him.

"Sorry, you're sorry. Just fix it." He demanded.

Bella reached out and squeezed his arm, "go take a breather, I'll handle this." She requested, her brown eyes pleading with him.


She smiled and turned back to the clerk once he stepped outside to calm down, "I'm sorry about that. He's not normally such a grouch. We're in town for his mother funeral." She explained quietly.

He nodded and tapped away on his keyboard for a few minutes, "we don't have the car he requested, but we do have a Tahoe available."

"We'll take it." She agreed with a smile, taking the set of keys.

Edward was quiet as he signed the paperwork. He slipped the young man a twenty-dollar tip. "I'm sorry for how I acted," he apologized before climbing into the SUV and pulling out of the rental dealership.

"Where to for lunch? I'm thinking comfort foods, Pizza, Chinese, Italian." He asked as he kept his eye on the traffic signal waiting for it to turn green.

"Hold on, give me a sec," Bella said as she pulled her phone out of her purse. She unlocked the screen and opened her TripAdvisor app, "Ciao. It's a wood-fired pizza and pasta place." She decided after scanning through the list of restaurants.

"Sounds fine," he agreed as she entered the address into Google Maps.

He pushed the last few bites of his lasagna around his plate, "Four Isabella! Babies." He exclaimed, "I was expecting, prepared for a teenager, possibly two teenagers, not little ones, not babies." He pushed his plate away and ran his hand through his hair.

"And what were you going to do with teenagers?" She inquired.

"I was going to enroll them in a boarding school that would suit their needs, get them into a good counseling program and help them build their futures. I wanted to give them a chance at a better life. Some of the same opportunities that my parents gave me."

"And now?"

"I don't know." He admitted. "I don't know anything about children, about infants."

"The commitment is completely different." She agreed, finishing her manicotti.

"Yeah," he admitted. "I wasn't prepared for that." He paid for their meal although he hadn't finished or really even enjoyed anything he put in his mouth. It was all bland and tasteless.

Edward stared up at the funeral home, "place looks like it belongs in a movie," he mused quietly. Bella nodded in agreement, as she took in the large Victorian home, painted a soft blue with white trim.

He led Bella into the inside. "I'm here for my twelve-thirty appointment, I'm the son of Elizabeth Mason, Edward Cullen."

"Yes, Hello, I'm Kenneth Wilson, one of the sons of Wilson and Sons Funeral Home, we spoke on the phone." He greeted them with a smile as he shook their hands. "This way," he directed them into a private planning room.

"I'm sorry for your loss, Edward, can I call you Edward?" he asked politely. "Take a seat, make yourself comfortable."

Edward nodded as he took a seat on the sofa, he rubbed his hands together. Maybe he should've called his dad.

Kenneth spoke, breaking him out of his inner musing. "The death of a family member is one of the most traumatic and overwhelming events in anyone's life. In the blink of an eye, your world has been turned upside down." Edward let out a small bitter snort; Bella reached out and squeezed his hands gently. The funeral director continued. "No one can take away that pain and sense of loss, but we'd like to help by making everything a little easier for you."

Edward nodded again, "here are her personal belongs," Kenneth handed him a bag.

"Thank you." He looked inside. It contained her purse, phone, keys and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. He swallowed and handed it off to Bella who tucked it next to her.

"Now before we begin with the arrangements, would you like to see her?"

Elizabeth looked older; her face held more wrinkles than Edward remembered her having. She appeared as if she was only sleeping, but he could tell she was gone, that her body was merely a shell. He swallowed down the lump that formed in his throat and wiped away a tear.

He frowned and shook his head, trying to push away the memories seeing her stirred in his mind. He could almost hear her laughter ring in his ears. "Hey Crocodile," he whispered thickly, brushing her bangs off her forehead. A rush of love and anger burned through him as he started down at her peaceful face.

Why the hell did she have to die?

"Do you know how she passed away?" Edward asked, looking up once he composed himself.

"Postpartum infection. By the time she sought treatment, her heart was too weak to fight it."

"Thank you."

Bella gave him a soft smile when they returned and put Elizabeth's phone back into the bag.

"Now were you thinking, cremation or burial?" Kenneth asked.

He took a deep breath. His father's voice rang in his ears, "Edward, taking the low road will make you feel good now, but will you like the man who looks back at you in the mirror tomorrow. It's never a good thing, in the long run, Son. We don't hurt those who hurt us. We forgive. We're Cullens."

"She may have a burial plot out at one of the cemeteries next to her parents." He held out his credit card.

"We'll call around and find out," Kenneth promised.

He flipped through a book of headstones, "what do you think of this one?" He asked his voice seemed flat to Bella's ears as he showed her the slant granite headstone that was reddish in color and had roses engraved into it.

"It's very nice, Edward." She approved.

"This one then." He handed the book back to Kenneth. "Name. Date of her Birth and Death."

"Would you like to add a quote?"

He rubbed a hand over his mouth, he caught Bella's gaze then turned back to Kenneth and wrote exactly what he wanted on a slip of paper.

Afterwhile Crocodile

Love, Edward, Asher, Mia, Braxton, and Holden.

Edward sat in the driver's seat and rubbed at his chest for a minute with his eyes closed as Bella entered the hotel address into the navigation system. He opened his eyes and watched her and relaxed as a bit of warmth spread through his limbs, eating away at the hollowness in his chest.

"That was very sweet of you, Edward." Bella murmured, giving him a small grin that unnerved him. He grunted and turned onto the highway driving them back to the hotel safely.

Author Note...

Thank you, Sunflower Fran, for Beta'ing.

I do not have an updating schedule. I can't make any sweet promises of fast or frequent updates. I really, really, really would love too but I can't, am I going to try, hell yeah. But my real life revolves around my eighty-nine-year-old Grandpa, my Husband, my anxious but brilliant eight-year-old and my five-year-old who has PIDD.

Thank you for reading and Please, Review.