GALAXY turned out to be a strange place across town from me. It was not somewhere I would ever have thought to try myself. The outside was dour, almost plain and if it hadn't have been for the small name plate I would have struggled to even realise it was there. As we pulled up Seth jumped out and opened Edward's door. I waited for him to open mine. It was strange how quickly you got used to that level of attention. As Seth had said smart casual, I'd gone with black pants and a lavender silk shirt. Once inside I was glad I had erred on the side of caution. Smart casual for me is boots rather than sneakers with my jeans, but here it seemed to mean you only wore half of your complete jewel collection.
"Good afternoon Mr Cullen," said a server, with a suspiciously shocked look on her face, "it's a pleasure to see you, are you joining your parents?" Before Edward could answer she put one hand to her left ear, which I presume had an earpiece in it. A stern looking older man in a grey suit materialised beside her.
"Mr Cullen," he smiled, small teeth and a crocodile smile, I'm sorry you have not yet been seated however before we take you to your table may I have a private word with you?" He motioned for Edward to go to one side.
"Excuse me a moment Isabella," he said stiffly. They only moved a few paces away and neither were able to whisper too well. It seemed that Edward's ex-wife was in the restaurant having a late lunch with his parents.
Seth had obviously clocked the problem as well and was texting madly on his phone. He glanced up into the main dining room a frown and a look of surprise fighting for dominance on his face. Following his gaze I saw a table in the corner that had four people sat at it. I recognised the two men from somewhere but the two women, one older than the other, were new to me.
"We will go over and say hello," he told the man, his voice back to its normal volume, "but we will dine at our own table, away from them." Edward straightened his posture and I saw his armour go on. The Boss was in the room.
"Wow," I said as he grabbed my hand and started to walk onto the restaurant floor. I didn't move and he stopped mid step. He turned and looked at me, his face enquiring as to why I was holding up proceedings.
"Before we go in there care to explain what the problem is?" He looked at me blankly. "You know, what sort of clusterfuck I'm walking into."
"As you no doubt heard we have managed to pick the one fucking eateries in this fucking city my parents and my ex wife are presently dining in," he sighed, I could see that his jaw was stiff. "We are going to go over and say hello and then we are going to eat before one of us passes out from hunger." Right on cue my stomach rumbled. I couldn't help but giggle, it felt terribly out of place in this nice restaurant. Edward smiled back and that small thing started to thaw the rapidly disintegrating atmosphere.
"Edward we don't have to eat here." I was hopeful that he would agree to this course of action. "We can go somewhere else. I mean, how will it look? Eating here whilst your wife is with your parents at another table?"
"Isabella I really don't give a fuck how it looks," he looked weary, but I think what he was saying was the truth. "As I've already said she is my ex wife. I was going to tell you over our meal that my divorce went through today". He tried to tug on my hand again but I stood my ground. I wasn't prepared to be dragged along in whatever he had planned.
"Have you thought I may not be ready to meet your parents or the ex wife just yet?" I took my hand out of his and crossed my arms across my chest. "Or that I would have liked some warning and time to prepare?"He turned to stand in front of me and brought both hands up to rest on my cheeks. He leaned in and kissed my forehead.
"Fuck I love being able to finally do that in public," he said as he went in to kiss me again.
"Edward, stop trying to change the subject, can we go somewhere else to eat please?"
"No Isabella," he said, resigned, "people have seen us now. In fact everyone including my parents are looking at us. We are going to walk over to their table, say hello and then go and sit at our own table and have something to eat." He took a deep breath and then kissed me on the mouth. "I'll warn you now, whatever my mother says will be direct and probably hurtful so please ignore her. If she is in any way appropriate I will deal with it at a more appropriate place and time."
"Great," I rolled my eyes, "that's just what I needed to hear."
"Isabella," he pulled my face up close so that I was looking directly into his eyes. "I'm divorced and if I have my way I will be married to you before the news of my divorce even hits the gossip columns. I have told you I want you but now is not the place to discuss our future. Meeting my mother would never have been easy, so let's get it out of the way and then we can get on with the rest of our day." He leaned over and whispered in my ear, his lips grazing my earlobe and sending a delicious shiver down my spine. "I don't know about you but I want to go back to your apartment and carry on what we have been doing all morning."
"Okay my dirty talker," I couldn't help but smile at him, "there must be a few new curse words I can coax out of you."
He took a step and looked at me. I knew that he knew that he had me. I took a huge breath in and smoothed my hair and shirt down before looking at him and nodding.
"You ready?" he asked.
"Fuck no! Let's get it over with, after all this they had better have cheesy fries on the menu or I'm going to be so pissed off."He roared with laughter as we walked towards the table and all four occupants looked startled as we got closer to them. It seems no one had seen Edward laugh before.
"Mother, Father, may I present Isabella Swan". His tone was polite, no hint of a challenge. He walked around the table and kissed his mother on her cheek.
"Good afternoon Isabella, it's a pleasure to meet you." His father stood and offered me his hand to shake. I took it and automatically dropped into business mode, this I could deal with.
"Mr Cullen, a pleasure to meet you Sir," I returned the handshake.
"This is my godfather Edward Denali," Edward gestured at the other man, "and his daughter Tanya." He waved a hand towards the blonde angry looking woman and studiously avoided eye contact.
"I am not just his daughter you shit," she spat, "I am also your wife." The rage behind the comment turned her beautifully made up face red and distorted. For one terrifying second I had a vision of the hatred inside her. It seemed she really hated Edward.
"Tanya," chided Edward's mother, "we do not ever use language like that in front of our guests. Whoever Isabella is, my son has seen fit to treat her to a meal and we will accommodate her." Mrs Cullen never once looked at me while she spoke. Her eyes were firmly fixed on our entwined hands.
"Well," said Edward with a fake smile, "it was nice to see you all but Isabella and I are hungry so ..." Before he could even finish his explanation his mother cut him off.
"You weren't at breakfast this morning Edward," her tone was petulant, almost whiney, "we waited for you and you didn't even have the decency to call me and let me know you weren't attending." Once again she neither acknowledged me nor looked at me.
"I was busy this morning mother," said Edward, a slightly icy undertone creeping into his polite delivery, "had I had the time or the inclination I would have called but as It was I had neither. My day so far has been both satisfying and extremely productive so I will not explain myself to you."
He squeezed my hand and led me to a table across the other side of the restaurant. He pulled out my chair and then playfully grabbed the intricately folded napkin, shook it out and laid it in my lap. I was sitting with my back to the room. Even though I couldn't see his family I could feel their eyes drilling into my shoulder blades. For the first time I started to see the attraction of a private room.
"Well that went well." I couldn't help the words escaping from my lips as soon as he sat down. Once again he roared with laughter. I wondered if he was putting on a show for the audience but one look at his face assured me he wasn't.
"Care to explain more about the wife becoming the ex-wife?"His laughter died as he reached across the table and left his hand palm up. He was offering me a connection and I presumed I was going to need it. I looked round to see what was happening but he stopped me.
"Isabella please don't look across there, look at me please."
I could see Seth in the bar area busy talking away on his phone while trying to eat a sandwich and sip from a cup of something. He caught my eye and smiled a genuine smile.
"I need to eat now and I need some answers so start talking Cullen." I picked up the menu and started to make my way down the list. It was a mixture of old style dishes covered in heavy sauces and pretentious style over substance meals. I groaned inwardly. I'd need a drive through stop on the way home.
"I knew they wouldn't have cheesy fries here," I muttered almost to myself.
"Isabella if that's what you want, that's what you will have. I have no doubt they will accommodate you"
I looked down the menu and saw a pasta dish that looked okay. "No it's okay I'll have the pasta." It was bad enough in here already without Edward's parents thinking I was some country hick that only ate diner food.
With the decision made I placed the menu down on the table. "Talk. "
Edward gave our orders to the hovering server before taking a sip of his ever present Scotch. I hadn't even noticed anyone put it down but I also had a glass of white wine in front of me. I took a sip.
"I went to my office last night to sign and file the divorce papers. Jasper and Alice met me there and he did whatever he needed to do make everything legal and I came out of my office a single man in the eyes of the law." He looked at me as if to gauge my reaction. I tried to keep my face bland. "The only fly in the ointment was that Tanya was there for some reason but I will deal with that tomorrow, I really don't want to think about anything today other than us."
"Us, I'm getting to quite like that word." I took a drink, it was my favourite wine, how the hell... I looked at Seth and he raised his mug at me, he had sent over the drinks presuming I'd need alcohol.
"I haven't said 'us' in that way before so it's very new for me too."Just as we both started to relax his phone rang, he looked at the screen and let out a sigh
"What do you want Emmett?" Edward barked.
"Yes I'm with her," he glanced at me, "do I have to keep reminding you her name is Isabella? Yes they are here in the restaurant." He looked away now, slightly angry.
"No ,you and Rosalie do not need to come and join us for moral support. I don't care if you are outside, Isabella and I do not need any company."
"Emmett," he looked at his phone as if he was checking the connection. As he did I heard the unmistakeable sound of Emmett as he acknowledged both Seth and the hostess.
"We are joining Mr Cullen and his guest,"
"Not fucking likely," Edward said but as he stood up to object I reached across and stopped him.
"Hey," I said, gently. He turned and fixed me with a steely gaze. He clearly wasn't used to being challenged, "It would be great to see Rosy again. I owe Emmett for coming to my rescue yesterday. Would it be so bad to sit and have a meal with them?"His face softened before returning to his Boss face.
"He is your brother first Edward, and she is going to be your sister in law."
"But I want us," his face resembled a small child who had had his toys taken away.
"We can have the rest of the day together, we are just talking about an hour, maybe an hour and a half tops."
He sat back down and started to re arrange the seating arrangements. "If I have to share our time you can at least sit next to me." He moved my wine glass from across the table so I changed places sitting next to him.
As Emmett entered the main room he walked straight over to us, with Rosalie firmly tucked under his arm. He was shielding her from the room and the look of pure terror on her face made me feel both better and sorry for her.
"Hey you two, sit down." Rosalie quickly slid into the chair opposite me, her back to the table across the room that had two women openly glaring at us.
"Belly Bean lovely as ever to see you," his warm smile was genuine as always, despite the situation, "managed to get into any more trouble so far today?"
"Emmett sit down, " Edward snapped.
"Hey calm, " I said resting my hand on his arm.
"He's attracting unwanted attention," Edward snapped."Wow," I told him levelly, "you sounded just like your mother then."
"You have met the old bat then," said Emmett with a small laugh.
"Well I wouldn't say met, I was in her presence for a few minutes," I looked over towards the table and I could tell it was very strained over there. The two men were talking but the Mrs Cullen and the ex Mrs Cullen were too busy staring at our table.
"I haven't met her, Emmy Bear keeps saying I won't like her so there isn't a need to meet her," Rosy said obviously unaware the woman in question was sat a few tables away.
"There are an awful lot of different Mrs Cullen's in the room," Emmett laughed and leaned forward kissing Rosy soundly on the lips.
Edward actually laughed at that comment and I felt him relax slightly. Just as he did my stomach growled so loudly I'm sure the staff in the kitchen heard it.
"Let's have some menus over here," Emmett shouted across the room so he could attract some attention. I could see the disgust on his mother's face.
"I'll just have whatever your having Emmy Bear," Rosalie said as the waiter brought over drinks for them.
"Can you add our meals onto their order? We will have two burgers with everything on, fries, onion rings and a side order of ribs," Emmett said without even looking at the menu.
"I wish I'd thought of that," I said, frowning, "I could really go for what you have just ordered."
I heard Edward sigh and then call over the server. He cancelled my pasta dish and asked them to add another burger on.
The three of us chatted easily. Edward held back a little but I continually tried to draw him into the conversation. It took until we were all eating that he finally spoke to Rosy, asking here if she and Emmett had met at the club. Once he actually joined him there was no stopping him, he actually spoke to his brother, not his business associate.
We were just finishing up when I saw the table across the room all stand and start to leave the dining room. Mr Cullen Snr came over to say goodbye but the others left without even acknowledging us.
So Mrs Cullen and the ex Mrs Cullen battle lines are drawn and set.