Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephanie Meyers. I'm just having some fun with these characters.
Also, this story does have assault and rape mentioned so I want to make sure you have a warning in case this triggers trauma for someone.
"Dad, we're going to be late," Anthony called while jumping up on my bed.
"Sleeping, Ant," I mumbled into my pillow.
"If I'm late for school, Sergeant Whitlock is going to ground me for a month," he said frantically.
I rolled over and could see the fear in my son's blue eyes. No nine-year-old should be that terrified of their soon-to-be stepfather. I reached for my glasses putting them on so I could actually see him.
"Anthony," I sighed, pulling him to me for a hug.
The Sergeant thought hugs made you weak. Well, fuck that. If I wanted to hug my son I was going to hug him.
"I love you, kid, and I can guarantee you won't be grounded if we're late," I said, kissing his head.
He was quiet for a second, I felt him tracing my tattoo sleeve on my arm. "Can we just go so I can catch my bus?" he asked sadly.
I hated seeing him like this. Ever since Alice agreed to marry that asshole we've all had to suffer.
I grew up with Alice Brandon. As children we were inseparable, she was always getting us into trouble. As teenagers we sort of drifted into different social circles, Alice was a cheerleader and I was a bit of a loner that kept to myself, but she was still my best friend and there for me when I needed her most.
College was when everything changed. She used to drag me to frat parties on the weekends saying I was her bodyguard. She was so little, even at twenty, looking at her one would think Alice was still fifteen years old. Guys for some reason seemed to love that she looked so young. Alice hated that kind of unwanted attention so she would hang on my arm for the rest of the night.
One night, we arrived back at my place both completely shit-faced. I don't remember who made the first move or how it even happened, but I do remember waking up naked with her passed out on me. She must have felt me trying to shift her off me because she woke up too.
"Calm down, Edward," she murmured, easing me out of her as she lifted off me. "My God, how much did we drink last night?"
"I…uh, don't remember?" I asked, wincing a bit as she laid down beside me.
I hurried up grabbing my briefs to pull them up. I had never slept with a girl before and I definitely just slept with Alice. Fuck, I don't even remember it.
I had a panic attack a couple of minutes later. It was my first one and definitely not my last. I had one, three months after that when Alice told me she was pregnant and then another one six months after that when Anthony was born.
The moment I laid eyes on him, I felt this all-consuming love that I had never experienced before. I've never loved anyone other than my family as much as I loved my son.
Raising a newborn through grad school, and my doctorate was difficult, but I seemed to prevail, as did Alice. She launched a maternity line after we had Anthony saying, "she knew what it was like to wear awful things and wanted women to feel beautiful, because maternity clothes just weren't". That was Alice, a savvy business pixie.
My mother helped out whenever she could, which was almost all the time. She threw little hints to us that maybe we should get married, but Alice and I would fake vomit making my dad laugh. Alice was a beautiful woman don't get me wrong, but she was just Alice, and as weird as it sounds she was like a sister to me.
For the first seven years of his life, we all lived together until Alice met Sergeant Jasper Whitlock of the United States Marines. She moved out for a while to have her own apartment the first year she dated him, splitting custody with me. Now they lived together and Anthony went between our two households. Though Alice and I have very similar parenting styles, Sergeant Whitlock does not. He's too strict and demanding, I've had many conversations with Alice about this and I can see how torn she is with handling it.
Sure, she's marrying Whitlock and she wants Anthony to treat him with respect, but I am his father. Whitlock, I think, sometimes thinks he's my boss.
"Dad, I'm just going to wait with Maria and Lucy," Anthony called over to me as he headed towards the end of our street.
I watched him from the porch. Maria giggled at something he said, Alice said she suspected a crush going on between them. They were nine and she was being ridiculous.
"Hey Ed," my neighbor Emmett boomed from his driveway.
"Hi Emmett," I waved.
"Quick favor, Rose had to take Bailey to school and I got called into the hospital…" he started hesitantly, glancing back over to his front door. "Can you look out for… well my sister is staying with us, she knows I'm leaving and Rose will be back, but if she needs something can you…"
"New mom, I don't want to leave her and she told me I could go because they need me for surgery…"
I saw someone peeking out behind Emmett's curtains and I could also see the girl holding a bundle in her arms.
"Say no more, Em," I waved him off. "I'm watching Anthony get on the bus anyway."
"Go," I chuckled.
"Thanks, man, I owe you a beer," he grinned looking slightly relieved.
Emmett was a good man, he and his wife Rosalie moved here about four years ago when their daughter was born. Always being a loner, I would barely say anything to them, but Emmett wasn't having that. One day, I was trying to teach Ant soccer, and failing miserably at it. Em decided to step in to help. He was a natural-born athlete that made what I was doing look like a joke. Anthony watched his every move and mimicked what he could. My kid had to have gotten his coordination from his mother because I'm still amazed to watch him play any sport with such ease.
I sat down in one of the wooden Adirondack chairs gracing my yard. I continued to watch my son the Casanova sweet talk the young ladies of the block. I shook my head at how even some of their mothers were eating up Anthony's natural charm.
"Hey… you," I heard from Emmett's doorway along with a baby wailing.
I stood, making my way over to Em's door, but made sure I could still see Anthony from where he was standing. I soon noticed the girl's appearance as I approached. Her slight frame was engulfed in a baggy t-shirt that I could only assume was Emmett's and grey sweatpants that hung loosely on her. The thing catching most of my attention was her face. She had several stitches in her right eyebrow, a black eye, and a split lip. Her brown eyes looked panicked.
"You were talking to my brother… when he left," she paused.
"Yes, he asked me to watch out while he was gone," I explained over the wailing infant in her arms.
"Dad?" Anthony asked, coming up behind me.
"Why aren't you over there waiting for the bus?" I asked, turning to Anthony.
"I saw you walk over here," he shrugged like that was a good enough answer.
"You have a kid?" the girl asked, slightly relieved.
"I do," I nodded, turning my attention back to her.
"She won't stop crying, it was like as soon as Emmett was out the door, she started screaming her head off."
"Can I hold her?" I asked gently.
The girl's stance became defensive. I knew a mother bear when I saw one and she was definitely in mother bear mode right now.
"I'm not going to hurt you or her… I want to see if I can help. It's been a while though since I've had a baby," I nodded towards Anthony, who was hanging on my arm a little to peek around me.
"Okay," she said hesitantly. "Can you come in or something?"
"Sure," I smiled what I hoped was a reassuring smile.
We followed her into the sitting room. I've been over here many times and I knew this room was off-limits. This was Rosalie's hostess room; it was also white from ceiling to floor. The girl sat on the white sofa looking at me expectantly.
Jesus, I guess I'm going to have to focus on Rosalie's wrath later. Anthony stood in the doorway even though he knew the rules of the room.
"Um, hold your arms like me," she directed.
"I've held a baby before," I pointed out.
"Right," she nodded.
She very carefully placed the newborn in my arms. A million things raced through my mind at that moment. The baby had a bruise on its cheek. I felt an instant fury rush through me.
"She's not so loud anymore," Emmett's sister said in awe.
The little girl started nuzzling my chest.
"I'm pretty sure she's hungry," I informed her mother with a laugh.
"How can you tell?"
"Well when Ant was a baby and he would do that, it usually meant Alice needed to feed him," I explained.
"Oh," she frowned.
I went to hand her daughter back to her, but she stuck her hands out to stop me. I glanced over my shoulder, seeing my son's curious eyes watching us.
"Rose made me pump before she left… I… Charlotte and I haven't really meshed yet. I mean you would think with me being her Mom, she would just latch on, but she won't. It's like she's rejecting me or something," she rambled now wringing her hands together. "Her bottles are in the kitchen… Maybe you can help me?"
"Uh, sure?" I questioned hesitantly.
"Kid, you want to help too?" she asked Anthony nervously.
He nodded following her into Emmett's kitchen.
"I guess it's just me and you, little angel," I murmured, stroking Charlotte's cheek carefully avoiding her bruise.
It had been too long since I held a baby. This little girl was so delicate and I felt this overwhelming need to keep her safe.
"So your Mommy seems interesting," I smiled down at her, blinking eyes. "By the way my name is Edward."
More blinks passed. The more I took in her features, the thought occurred that she couldn't have been more than a few days old. Though for a newborn, she sure had a lot of hair, her raven locks were going in different directions. When Anthony was born he was bald with blonde fuzz now his hair was strawberry blonde.
"Uh, hello, Edward," Rosalie said, tapping her heel against the wooden floor of her hallway. "Mind telling me, why are you and my niece are sitting on my white couch in the hostess room."
Yeah, she was pissed.
"Hey, I think I did this right," Emmett's sister announced as she bounded into the room.
"Uh, oh," she said, freezing in place as she saw Rose.
"Hi, Mrs. Swan," Anthony chirped from behind the girl.
"Hello, Anthony," Rose's face warmed as she saw my son. "Bella?"
"Yeah?" she answered, biting her lip.
"Can we all move this to the living room?" Rose said, nodding out to the hall.
"Sure," the three of us said in unison.
"You can carry her, right? She'll be okay?" Bella asked me kind of hurriedly.
"I've got her, she's safe," I assured.
She looked relieved at my words, following Anthony out of the room. I watched her place her hands on his shoulders and shake him as they walked. He laughed at her antics. A hand stopped me from moving any farther. Rose tilted her head at me.
"How did you get Bella to let you hold her?" she murmured, looking down at her niece.
"Um… she just gave her to me so she could get her a bottle."
She took a breath.
"She hasn't let anyone hold her since Emmett went and got them. Em texted me while I dropped Bailey off and the whole time I worried about these two. He said he asked you to look out, but all I could think of was if she needed help how she would react, especially after what happened…" she trailed off.
"Hey, I need my hungry kid," Bella said peeking out the doorway at us.
She glared at Rose for a second before lightly tugging at my arm. Anthony sat on the couch with his backpack still on and I realized he missed his bus.
"Since Rose is back, I think you ladies have this under control, I need to get Ant to school," I carefully gave Charlotte back to her mother.
Bella frowned at me and then to the infant in her arms.
"Thank you, Edward, for your help," Rose smiled.
"No problem, what are neighbors for," I shrugged.
"Bye Bella and Charlie," Anthony smiled, lightly stroking the baby's hand before he moved to me. "Bye Mrs. Swan."
"Bye Anthony, tell your mom I'll stop by her store sometime this week," Rose smiled, ruffling his hair.
"Let's go kid," I wrapped my arm around him as we left the Swan house.
"Sergeant Whitlock," he started with a groan.
"Stop Ant, I'll talk to Mom and make sure it is known that we were helping out Rosalie. You will not be grounded, I promise," I said fishing my keys out of my pocket.
As I pulled out of our driveway I noticed Bella in the window watching me leave. She looked down at her daughter and then back up to me. I wish I would have got more of her story from Rose.
"Bella seemed cool," Anthony commented. "Charlie was named after her Pap. He's a cop… Chief of an entire police force, how cool is that?"
"Super cool. Did Bella tell you anything else?"
"Someone hurt her, Dad."
"Did she tell you that?"
"Do you not have eyes?" He sighed.
"I was just wondering if she said anything."
"She told me Charlie doesn't have a Dad. Just her."
I glanced at my son taking in the sad look on his face. We may not have the most conventional family dynamic, but we were always there for our son. No matter how busy Alice and I were, we dropped everything for Anthony.
"She has Emmett, Ant," I assured him.
He nodded going quiet again. Once we made it to the school I kissed Anthony's head before ruffling his hair.
"Have a great day, kiddo and I'll talk to your mom," I told him as he got out.
He sighed getting out of my truck.
I sighed as well, because I knew he'd be going to his mom's after school.
A/N: This story, I've been writing for the past few years. Please let me know your thoughts. I have been really hesitant about posting this for a while but thought I would give it a share because it might be one of my favorites to have written. I plan on posting weekly. Thanks to CoppertopJ for taking a look and editing!