I watched Edward walk around the condo with Charlie strapped to him. The realtor was going over the specifics of the place. I probably should have been paying attention but all I could do was watch him and my daughter.
I think he was slightly put out when I mentioned that I wanted to find a place for us about a week after Alice's wedding. If I could move in with him I would, but with the upcoming trial, it didn't seem plausible. We needed a building with a doorman and security. I didn't want the media circus to interrupt his or Anthony's lives so this seemed like my best option.
"The doorman only lets people up if they are on the list?" he asked.
"Well security does that," she said with a smile. "They also do ID checks."
"What if she needs help getting something up here and can't juggle everything with the baby, does the doorman help? If he does, does that mean he leaves his post?"
"Mr. Cullen, I assure you we have two people at the desk at all times," she explained sweetly. She had been flirty with him since we stepped foot in this place.
He opened his mouth to ask something else. "Edward," I said, cutting him off. "We'll be fine."
He frowned but kept his mouth shut, walking into the bedroom that would be Charlie's.
"You guys must be great at co-parenting. He seems like he's a great Dad," she cooed.
"Um, we're not co-parents but he is my boyfriend," I told her awkwardly.
"I'm sorry?" she frowned.
"Can we have uh… a minute so we can discuss everything?" I asked dismissing her.
She posted a fake smile and nodded. "I'll be down at the front desk."
I went in the direction Edward just did and stopped as he talked to Charlie while they faced the window. "Your mom is so stubborn," he murmured to her. "She knows you both are welcome at my house if she doesn't want to stay with my parents."
"Edward," I sighed.
He turned to me with a frown on his handsome face. His hands rested on Charlie's back.
I shook my head at him. "Can I please do this without you making me feel guilty about it?"
"I'm not trying to make you feel guilty," he said defeated.
My fingers went to the necklace he got me for my birthday. He got it from a site called Awe Inspired. It was of Kali the Hindu Goddess of Time, Creation, Destruction, and Power.
He told me that four of her hands are very significant. Two hands symbolize destruction and demolition of evil and the other two symbolizes pure, eternal love toward mankind.
It might sound odd but the necklace calmed me, gave me hope.
"This isn't our forever home," I try to explain again. "I need to know I can do this on my own with her. I'm twenty years old and have never lived on my own. That was taken from me, I probably would have been living off-campus by now.
I have a car and a job. I can provide for Charlie on my own. You have become a great partner but I need to know that I can do this on my own and not feel like a burden."
"First, you are not a burden and never will be. What if a reporter tracks you down or worse someone from La Push?" he asked.
"You saw that this building is secure when we came in. We had to give our IDs and the realtor even confirmed it," I insisted. "Please let me do this without doubting me."
He gave Charlie a squeeze before agreeing to be more supportive. I walked over to him pulling him down for a kiss. "I think this is the one."
Edward made sure that he co-signed on the lease with me. Initially, Emmett was going to, but Edward was adamant that he would be here when he didn't have Anthony. The building's realtor toned down her flirting when he signed.
It was a week later that my brother and the Cullens moved Charlie and me into our new condo. Carlisle and Esme were lingering after the last box was brought up.
"I hope that you know no matter where you live you are welcome at our house anytime. Need a babysitter? I'm your guy," Carlisle said, pulling me in for a hug.
"I know," I sniffled, hugging him tightly.
"The movers will bring the furniture from storage Monday," Esme informed me when it was her turn.
I was surprised when she offered me the furniture from her last remodel. She explained that she usually kept their older furniture for Hunter House. At first, I declined but Esme insisted I take it.
After Carlisle and Esme left I joined Edward on the floor with Chinese food he ordered surrounding him. "Thanks for helping out today," I said, watching him closely.
He nodded with a strained smile. Still brooding. Edward was an enigma in every sense of the word. He was attentive but sometimes his actions puzzled me. For example, the sex was odd, we got off but it was...colder than what I expected. He seemed distracted.
He had heard in detail what Jacob had done to me so I understood he was trying to stay within my limits or what he thought those limits were. The fooling around was quick then would turn into something rougher, but then we were done.
I felt like most of the time he was overthinking what he was trying to give me.
I had seen Dr. Denali and knew before me he had some kind of friends with benefits agreement with her. She was a beautiful woman and I found it hard to believe that if Edward was that way with her that she'd just keep coming back.
Don't get me wrong, it could be Edward himself that she was coming back for because he was nearly perfect. He was a great father and let's be honest just an overall great guy… but he knew what felt good.
"Want some of my orange chicken?" I asked, offering my fork.
He wordlessly leaned in taking a bite then he held out his beef to me. I knew he wasn't one to hold a grudge, but he was one to let things fester.
My phone beeped then his, he glanced at me before reaching for his phone. Both our phones started going off like crazy. My dad was calling.
"Hey," I answered, watching as Edward picked up his phone.
"Where are you?" he asked urgently.
"My apartment, why?"
"Edward with you?"
"There are photos of you from Alice's wedding. All the news outlets know you're in California and linked to renowned artist Edward Cullen," he huffed.
"Tell me how they got the goddamn photos, Alice," Edward roared.
I stiffened, but when Charlie started crying from the other room I started to move.
"Dad, I need to go."
"Who was yelling?"
"Edward is on the phone with Alice. I assume she is telling him what you just told me. Charlie heard him and now she is reacting so I need to go. I'll call you back," I said, hanging up.
Charlie was sitting up, her dark eyes locked on me. She let out another wail, her little hands reaching for me as I approached.
"Shhhhh, Mommy has you," I murmured to her.
She sniffled into my neck as I rubbed her back. I could hear Edward getting louder so I shut her door.
I sat in the glider with her. Thank God we were able to move Charlie's furniture in today. When he calms down and can explain to me what happened, I hope he apologizes to Alice for yelling at her.
I was willing to bet it was either the photographer or one of her staff. I'd say it was the latter. Alice and Jasper had them sign non-disclosures due to their parents pressing, so whoever thought the payday was worth it would have court costs.
Edward was being loud, but luckily it was muffled, which was better as my kid babbled pulling away from me.
"Are you good now?" I asked her.
She gave me a toothless grin. She was a beautiful baby, almost doll-like. Her eyes were so dark… soulful. Maybe what I went through to get her, made her wiser or more understanding with me. Obviously, she was a baby but something about the way she watched us and carried herself, told me she got this life she was dropped into.
Bailey was such a happy baby, light. There was definitely something different about my baby or maybe I was crazy and it was just her personality.
"Mommy thinks you're more complicated than what you are," I told her.
She shrieked, going for my hair.
The door creaked open to a remorseful Edward. I kept my eyes on the kid.
"Hey," he tried.
"Are you pissed at me?"
"You did just wake my kid up," I mused.
He glared at me. Pretty sure we were about to have our first fight.
"I'm sorry for trying to find out who sold you out," he said with his quiet gruffness.
"I'm all for finding out who gave those pictures to the media, but preferred you held the temper," I expressed calmly.
Charlie tried twisting and turning her reach to seek out Edward. I decided if he was what she wanted he could finish trying to get her back to sleep. "Wake her again, you will be the one staying up with her," I said, handing him the baby.
He took her and replaced me in the glider as I left her room. I started cleaning up the takeout hoping he'd be in there a while.
An hour later he was in my room. I was laying on the air mattress I had just blown up facing the window. I was pissed that my privacy has been once again violated. I was annoyed with him for being attentive, but not seeing past the assault I suffered to truly satisfy me.
"I feel like you're mad at me for more than just yelling and startling Charlotte," he said sitting on the air mattress but still maintaining his distance.
I looked over my shoulder at him. "You're the one that's been off with me for over a month," I accused.
"Is this about me questioning this move?"
"It's more than that," I say, turning back around.
He moved so he was sitting in front of me. "What's more?"
"You know you're damn near perfect," I started.
"Bella," he huffed out.
"No, let me finish. We work well together because it's as easy as breathing. We don't have any expectations and have fallen into this little family dynamic. You love quietly. It's not over the top but it surrounds me in the way I need it.
When it comes to intimacy, you're not with me. You make me feel good but I wonder if you are enjoying it yourself," I finished quietly.
He sighed, running his hand through his hair then his elbows rested on knees. His head turned to me slightly and he looked defeated. "I don't know what to say," he murmured.
"Am I right?"
"It's… I don't want to hurt you. After everything you told Kate I don't want to do something that makes you think of him."
"I appreciate that but in a way, he is still taking from us if you are constantly thinking about your every move. We've talked about this, I loved sex before any of that happened. This will not be one more thing he takes from me. As much as I know that his defense will try to use that against me, I will not let them take it away from me.
I am not a whore and I did nothing wrong. The thing I need from you is to just let go. Edward, you are good… but I can tell you're not with me and I need you with me."
He nodded, pulling me into a tight hug. I squeezed him back. "Now to our next issue," I sighed into his neck.
"The photographer's intern sold the negatives once she realized who you were. She's a journalism major at Berkeley," he explained.
"So why yell at Alice this isn't her fault."
"I apologized," he mumbled. "They're putting Whitlock's lawyers in touch with Kate so they can team up on the girl."
"Is it bad that I don't want to destroy her life?"
"It's up to you if you don't want to get involved but Alice had the photographer and her staff sign contracts due to a deal she had with one of the local wedding publications. The intern broke the agreement she signed. This would also be a lesson learned for her not to do this again if she wanted any kind of career," he explained rationally.
"So what do we do now?"
"Senna is working with my publicist on a statement and Kate is figuring out her next steps."
"So we're stuck here?"
"I think we're good to lay low for now. If anything my house is now being swarmed and I'm not there. Ant will be staying with Alice. His face was blurred since he's a minor."
Thinking about Tony and what this could do to him made my tears flow. Edward held me as I cried trying to reassure me that Tony and Charlie would be fine.
A/N: So I talked to my beta about this and I am on the fence about putting this on hiatus. The first few chapters took me years to fine-tune. There are a lot of factors that come into play for this decision, I might give it a chapter or two to see if these factors change. These factors do involve the readers. When I write a fic I usually write the end with the first chapter and I did it with this one.
I have started something new. I might post it as I write this one or if I'm not feeling Long Roads then just stick with the new one. I guess we'll see.
As always I want to thank my beta CoppertopJ for her help and advice.