Worth the Weight

Worth the weight

 

After what was supposed to be a routine heath check, Bella finds herself at a crossroads. Change her habits or face the consequences. Her decisions leads her to meet Edward, a nice guys who just wanted to help her. But when he wants more, will Bella be her own worst enemy? HEA as always. CC Rated M for a reason. All human.

 

 

 

Chapter 1

BPOV

“Rose, is it sad that we only watch the first and last episode of “The Biggest Loser?”

“No, what is sad is that we watch them both while eating Ben and Jerry’s.”

Rose and I are step sisters. My dad married her mother after they each went through nasty divorces. Lucky for us, we got along from day one. Once we graduated high school, we decided to find an apartment together and that’s how it’s been the last few years.

“See they make it look so easy, like all you have to do is work out until you puke and then eat bird seed and the weight falls off and you have a model’s body.”

I don’t know why we watch this show. I always felt really good watching the first episode because most of the contestants were much bigger than me. However, when they revealed what they look like today, it always made me mad at myself.

Rose looked over at me cocking her eyebrow, “Hey, I could so lose weight like these guys if I had someone who cooked my food and a personal trainer. However, I have a real job to pay my real bills.”

Rose was right. We both had jobs that we were expected to show up to every day. And let’s face it; with what the county was paying us, a personal trainer wasn’t in the budget. Our dad was the currently elected sheriff here in Port Angeles and our Uncle Marcus was the chief of police.

Rose worked in the garage as the head mechanic and I worked in the evidence room, making sure the evidence for cases stayed with the correct case numbers. Everyone knew who our dad and uncle were, so no one messed with us and if they said anything about our weight it never made it back to us. We both really loved what we did. Rose was a natural at cars and I loved not having to face people every day.

“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, Dr. Banner’s office called to remind you of your appointment tomorrow.” Rose had been after me to have my yearly exam.

It had been several years since I had been to the doctor. With no boyfriend or the prospect of one, the need for STD testing and birth control wasn’t an issue. When my mother found out that I had been having headaches and feeling very tired, she questioned when the last time I had seen the doctor. Let’s just say that my ass still hurts from the ass chewing I got from both of our mothers.

My mother and Rose’s mother were actually best friends. They had been since they were in grade school. They refused to let some man come between them.

When I called Dr. Grundy’s office, the lady informed me that Dr. Grundy had retired and a Dr. Banner had taken over for him; thus, leaving me to have an appointment with Dr. Banner.

WTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWTWT WTWTW

I hated going to the doctor’s office. The first thing they do is make you stand on the scale and see how fat you really are. I didn’t need this skinny ass nurse tell me what I already knew.

“Dr. Banner will be in shortly,” the nurse said as she left me sitting on this paper covered table in nothing but paper cloths that didn’t cover nearly as much as I would have liked. I watched as my feet swung back and forth. I wasn’t one for polished toe nails; I mean who will see them anyway. Still they looked like I took a hack saw to them with their broken edges and unkempt cuticles. The knock on the door caused me to sit up straight and pull the paper gown closer to my chest.

“Good morning, I’m Dr. Banner.” A middle aged man with silver rimmed glasses and dark hair. His shirt and tie were gray and his pants black. His white lab coat hung to his knees and the lettering on his left pocket spelled out his name and then several letters that I had no idea what they meant.

“I see here that you prefer to be called Bella is that correct?

“Yes.” I nodded.

“Alright then, Bella, good to meet you.” He stuck out his hand for me to shake.

“It’s been a while since you have been in. What specifically brought you to us today?”

When I called to make my appointment, the lady that answered the phone told me that based on my symptoms the nurse felt we should have some labs drawn. I had gone that day and had my blood drawn; that was an experience I liked to forget.

“Well I’ve been having these headaches on and off for a while, but mostly I’m really tired all of the time.”

Dr. Banner wrote a few things in my chart and then placed it on the desk and crossed his arms.

“Bella, since this is the first time I’m visiting with you, I have to find out what kind of person you are.”

I gave him a questioning look.

“What I mean by this is, are you the type of person who needs to have your hand held while I tell you that the world is a happy place full of rainbows and unicorns, or are you the type that wants the short version, regardless of the words I use?”

I laughed as he finished his statement. I knew exactly what he was talking about. My best friend, besides Rose was the type who needed her hand held.

“I’m a shoot-from-the-hip-kind-of-gal Dr. Banner.”

He lowered his arms and smiled at me as he spoke. “Fine….Your blood work shows me that your cholesterol is up and your urine is positive for sugar….Your blood pressure today is quite elevated and I don’t have to tell you that your weight is at an obese level.”

I didn’t respond only because I was now scared. Why would there be sugar in my urine?

“Now the elevation in your blood pressure would certainly explain the headaches and the sugar in your urine tells me that we need to test you for possible diabetes.”

I could feel my heart taking up residence in my throat, diabetes? That would mean shots and needles and we don’t get along. At all.

“Bella, I can order every test in the world and tell you that you are killing yourself by keeping this weight on. But that will do nothing to fix the problem if you aren’t willing to do your part.”

I lowered my head and began to shake it back and forth.

“Talk to me Bella, tell me what you’re thinking.”

I closed my eyes taking in a deep breath, and then I raised my head back up. “I thought I was only coming here to get a pap smear and have you tell me to get glasses, maybe tell me to increase my iron intake.” I began to laugh as I listen to my own voice.

“What’s so funny Bella?”

“The funny part is that I don’t have a boyfriend to have to worry about having a pap smear. I thought this visit was going to be a huge waste of time.” Dr. Banner removed his stethoscope from his pocket and moved toward me.

“Not having a current boyfriend isn’t a free pass from having a pap smear; some STDs can take a while to show up….”

“Not if you’re still a virgin.” My words cutting him off.

“No, you’re correct there, so no pap smear today. But we can deal with the real issues right now.”

So as I made my way out of his office with the information he had given me swirling around in my head, I nearly missed the bright pink flyer that was sitting under my wiper blade of my car.

Real time fitness

Under new management

For a limit time, new patrons receive 90 days free and consult with a personal trainer.

I tossed the flyer on the coffee table as I flopped down beside Rose. She was watching our favorite after work show, “Maury”. Today’s topic, cheating boyfriends…

“If I ever caught Royce cheating on me, I would never take him on this show. I’d cut off his balls and feed them to him.”

Royce was Rose’s longtime boyfriend. He was several years older than her, but she didn’t seem to care. His looks left something to be desired, with his beer belly and his receding hair line. They weren’t your typical couple as they would go weeks without seeing each other. As far as I knew they had never slept together as he had never stayed over here. And since he still lived with his mother, I doubt that anything ever happened at his house.

“You know what sounds really good for dinner?” Rose questioned as she muted the television. I turned to her, waiting for her to tell me.

“McDonalds.” Was her single word answer. “But in order to have it, I would have to get off this couch and I’m just not willing to do that, so pizza or Chinese? Cause they deliver.”

I looked at Rose and listened carefully to her words. I had said the very same thing time and time again. I looked around the house and truly noticed how we had eight different two liter bottles of soda on the kitchen counter. Four boxes of doughnuts on the top of the refrigerator and I knew we had just filled the freezer with Ben and Jerry’s that was on sale for buy one get one. Dr. Banner was right. I had to change this, so I told Rose what he had told me about my test results.

“Diabetes?….Bella?…wh-what are you gonna do?”

I turned my entire body to face hers and took her hand in mine. “I’m going to start taking better care of myself.” I grabbed the flyer and handed it to her. “I’m going to go down there tomorrow and try it out for the ninety days. Dr. Banner gave me two weeks to lose five pounds. He said if I showed him that I was trying he would hold off on giving me medication.”

I looked her directly in the eye. “Rose, I realized today that I have things I want to do. Places I want to visit….Hell, I even want to wear a sexy little dress at your wedding to Royce.” I laughed as I spoke the latter while Rose only rolled her eyes.

“The point I am trying to make is I want to be in complete control of my life, not ruled by what I eat and do.”

I stood up and made my way to the kitchen, standing in the middle of it I held out my arms, “Rose we have lived here for more than five years and we have yet to use that stove and the only thing that goes in the refrigerator is the left over take out we buy.”

Rose walked over to where I was. I watched as she looked around the kitchen, the wheels clearly turning inside her head. She opened the freezer and then looked back at me.

“Your right Bella, we have seventeen tubs of ice-cream in here.”

I watched as she looked in the cabinets that were full of chips and crackers. “How much weight do you have to lose Bella?” She didn’t take her eyes off the bags of cool ranch Doritos as she questioned me.

I quickly swallowed and then took a deep breath before I answered her. “I was two hundred and eight pounds in Dr. Banner’s office today.”

Rose spun on her feet, her eyes wide as she looked at me. Then she ran into the bathroom and slammed the door behind her. I slowly walked down the hall to see if she was alright. As I approached the door, she suddenly flung the door open her shirt still being pulled over her head. She rushed past me and headed back into the kitchen. I watched as she pulled a trash bag from under the sink and began to toss the chips and crackers into it.

“Rose what are you doing?”

She dropped the bag and faced me. “That scale said I was two hundred and forty seven pounds Bella.” She resumed tossing the chips into the trash bag.

“Rose talk to me, what is going on with you?”

She paused, “Bella, there is a chance that I have the same issues as you do….And even if I am perfectly healthy, I refuse to let you be this hot little number standing beside me at my wedding.”

She wrapped me in a hug as she continued. “I need to make changes too Bella…. Real changes and you have just given me the inspiration to make those changes. Starting with what I put inside of my body.”

She released me and resumed her work with the chips.

“First, I am going to get every crumb of junk food out of this house and give it to the homeless shelter. Then we are going down to that gym and sign up. We are going to come home and make a healthy dinner on the stove that we pay for every month. Finally, to get us both inspired, we are heading over to Target and getting some clothes to work out in, because I know I don’t have anything in my closet that will work.”

I smiled at her and then joined her in removing the junk food that was in our kitchen. “We are really doing this?”

“Yes sis, we are really doing this….together.” She held out her pinky finger.

We have always had a promise between each other that when something was important, we sealed it with a pinky swear.

“Together.” I replied hooking my pinky with hers.

A/N

So there is the first chapter. At this point in time I don’t have a posting schedule as my betais trying to finish up her school work. I would love to get a chapter out twice per week, but there are no guarantees. Don’t forget to come by my face book page and see the wonderful work that Holly does for us.

. / groups/434894866569951/ (remove the dash)

2. Chapter 2

Chapter 2

BPOV

The folks at the homeless shelter were very thankful for our donation. It wasn’t often they received goodies as they called them. After we left, we headed over to the gym the flier advertised.

“Oh gosh, Royce told me about this place, said it was full of muscle-bound-short-necked guys. He said the gym was dirty and smelled bad.”

As we sat in the car looking at the building, I began to giggle.

“What?” Rose questioned from the driver’s seat.

“You said Royce told you this place was filthy?”

“Yeah?”

“Rose when has Royce ever lifted anything other than his butt cheek to fart?”

We looked at each other and began to giggle. Royce wasn’t interested in looking good for anyone, not even himself. He had no inspiration to do anything. He worked part time at the local pawn shop and spent much of his time there playing video games. Rose told me that she found out by accident that his tribal tattoo was one of the rub on types when she accidently touched him with too much hand lotion on her hands. He wanted everyone to believe that he was some sort of gangster as he dressed in low hung jean shorts and untied tennis shoes. Rose didn’t have the heart to tell him that the “run DMC” look was way out.

As we opened the door to the gym, the sound of music could be heard. It wasn’t so loud that it hurt your ears, but enough that you could hear it over the sounds of the machines.

“Hello, welcome to Real Time, how can I help you?”

The voice came from the left and it was then I noticed the counter that housed what looked to be a check in desk. The man behind the counter began to walk around it and toward Rose and me.

“Well I see you have one of our flyers, my name is Jasper Whitlock and I am the new owner.”

Jasper was a tall man with dark blond hair. He had enough hair that he had it pulled into a short pony tail at the back of his head. The lower half was shaved and his ears were both pierced. However, the thing I noticed the most was the size of his biceps, they were huge. I looked back at his face before I could embarrass myself.

“Hello Jasper, I’m Rosalie and this is Bella. We are interested in seeing what you offer here.”

“Well alright, can I ask you pretty ladies what you want to accomplish here?”

I looked to Rose then back to Jasper.

It was Rose who spoke first, “Listen Jasper, I know that you may think you have to give us empty compliments, but we both live in the real world. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why we are here. My ass alone has its own zip code.”

I waited for Jasper to laugh but it never came. I watched as his face contorted as he replied.

“Well Ms. Rosalie, you will find that my compliments are never empty My Ma would tan my behind if I ever did that. As far as your rear having its own zip code, I hope you will rethink that and see what we can do to help you.”

“Alright, what can you offer us? I mean do you have some sort of portfolio?”

I didn’t want to say anything, but I was thinking the same thing. How can you prove that your gym is better than the next for helping people reach their goals?

“I have something a little better come with me.”

He had us follow him to an area on the side where the tread mills were located. There were two girls standing beside them taking drinks of water.

“Angela, Alice, I want you to meet Rosalie and Bella. They are interested in what we can offer them.”

The taller girl who I think was name Angela walked over to us first. The shorter one I assumed was Alice; she took a little longer to get to us. Once she reached us, she wrapped her arms around Jasper. This surprised me because she was about the same size as me. Jasper was a very handsome man with muscle and looks to spare.

Angela spoke first. “Well ladies, when I first came into this gym, it was at the begging of my mother. She had battled with her weight all of her life and had many health problems to show for it. She told me she didn’t want that for me. So she found Jasper here and he has been there to encourage me to work hard and not give up. I have lost forty pounds and have thirty more to go.”

Alice took that as her cue to tell her story. “When I first started here, it was at the suggestion of my therapist. I had just ended a really bad relationship and she felt that a little exercise could help in my recovery. That was a year ago and fifty pounds as well. Jasper helped me get started on an exercise plan that worked for me but not before asking me out on a date.”

Alice giggled and Jasper smirked, “I told him no at first, I was still healing, but he kept helping me and I fell in love with him. He asked me to marry him two month ago.”

I was still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Jasper actually wanted to be with Alice considering her size. I would never even attempt to catch the eye of a man such as Jasper.

“Now, I’m not going to try and tell you that you will find the man of your dreams in here, but it did happen to both Alice and Angela. What I can promise, is a trainer who will give you one hundred percent of his attention during your sessions and a clean and safe environment to work out in.”

Rose thanked Alice and Angela as Jasper gave us the rest of the tour. Not that I know anything about gym equipment, but the machines looked brand new and it was very clean and organized. He had Alice show us the locker room for the ladies and where the various exercise classes would be held. The back of the gym had a lap pool and a nice sized room with a hot tub and sauna. Jasper explained how the water was treated with these special minerals to help in detoxing your skin.

Rose asked several questions as she was blessed with a great complexion. When the tour was over, we both decided to give the gym the full ninety days and see what happens. Jasper had us fill out several forms then weighed and measured us. The last thing he did was to stand us against the wall and take our picture. I couldn’t figure out why having a picture of us looking like this was necessary until he showed us Angela and Alice’s before pictures. Alice didn’t even look like the same girl and Angela blew me out of the water. She was so big that she didn’t seem to have a neck. I was sold. I swore to myself that I would do everything Jasper told me to do. I would work my ass off and get as far away from needles and pills as possible.

“Thank you so much Jasper, we are really looking forward to working with you.” It was the most I had said since I walked into the room.

“Yes thank you so much, now we are off to Target to get some clothes to sweat in.” Rose added as she took her keys out of her purse.

Alice shook her head, “Oh honey, don’t waste your money on new clothes right now. Believe me you are going to drop some weight working out at this gym. Head over to Louise’s consignment shop two blocks over. She has a large assortment of workout clothes designed for us big girls.”

Rose hugged her and they exchanged phone numbers. Angela was busy on one of the weight machines, sweat was pouring from her forehead, and a very impressive man was giving her instruction. His dark hair and massive muscle was just as built as Jasper.

“That’s one of our substitute trainers, Ben Cheney. He fills in when one of the regulars needs a day off.” Jasper said looking over their way too.

I looked harder at Ben. I had to hand it to Angela as she was really concentrating on what she was doing. I, on the other hand, would be ogling him.

“He is also Angela’s boyfriend.” Alice chirped in.

My head snapped back so quickly that I nearly fainted. First Alice is engaged to the…oh-so-fine Jasper and Angela is dating Mr. Tall-dark-and-muscles-to-spare Ben Chaney? I felt like I was stuck in an episode of the twilight zone; this was going to be an interesting ninety days.

Alice had been right. Louise’s consignment shop did have several different pieces. With the most expensive thing costing only five dollars, so it was easy to get three pairs of shorts and some t-shirts. I wasn’t ready to buy any of the cute razor back tops, but Louise did talk me into a sports bra. She told me to just wear it under my t-shirt. Rose did the same thing and then we headed to the grocery store.

Jasper had given us a tip that if you shop for your groceries using only the outside wall of the store and avoid the isles, you will eat much healthier. So, with that advice, we bought several packs of chicken, fish, lots of fresh veggies and fruit. Then we made our way back home.

That night was the first night ever that we cooked at home. We sat at the table and turned off the television. Jasper had given us many tips to help us reach our goal. Tomorrow we would begin to drink the amount of water he said we needed. Rose and I both had to be at work by eight so we decided to go to the gym after work.

When my alarm went off the next morning, I was able to actually get up and not hit the snooze several times. Rose was already in the kitchen packing our lunch for the day. Jasper had recommended we avoid eating out for a few weeks. This meant no Taco Bell for lunch for either of us.

It was a little after two when one of the rookie cops came into the evidence room. He was talking to his partner about the screaming match that was going on in the garage earlier. Once he left I tried to call Rose, but she told me she would tell me the whole story when we got to the gym tonight.

I pulled up to the gym and noticed that Rose’s car was already in the parking lot. I walked in and looked around for her. It took a few minutes but I finally found her punching the hell out of a long bag hanging from the ceiling. Her blonde hair was a hot mess with several strands dangling around her face. The guy that stood holding the bag was telling her to “come on, your hitting like a little girl.” Her face was red and you could tell she was pissed.

“Hello Bella.”

I turned to see Angela standing beside me.

“Oh, hello Angela, how are you?” Her smile was infectious and I couldn’t help but to return it.

“I’m so glad you decided to give this a try, you are going to feel so much better.”

“I was just watching Rose and her trainer; I’m surprised at how he is just having her dive right in.”

“Oh, that isn’t her trainer. That is Emmett McCarty; he works with my Ben over at the fire station a few blocks over. He walked in with her and he started a conversation with her, she had told him she was having a bad day so he took her over there.”

I continued to watch Rose punch away at the bag. Emmett just stood there holding that bag like it was nothing. His large muscles ranked right up there with Jasper and Ben. I decided to just find a tread mill and take a walk. As I pressed different buttons, I notice that there were several girls standing around one the machines Jasper called an elliptical.

A very pretty blonde was currently standing on the petals as her friends were on either side of her. They were all wearing the shortest shorts I have ever seen and the tops they had on barely cover their breasts. As I looked closer, I noticed that they all had full makeup and their hair was perfect. Why would you dress up to come workout? It wasn’t until one of her friends moved a piece of her hair and the light caused something on her shoulder to sparkle. They each had glitter on their shoulders and chest. Now I had truly seen everything.

I looked down and noticed that my left shoe was about to come untied so I place my feet on the side rails to bend down and tie it. When I rose back up, Jasper was waiting for me.

“Hi Bella, you ready to really work out?”

3. Chapter 3

Chapter 3

BPOV

Waking the next morning proved to be a new chapter in pure torture. I hurt everywhere. Slowly and painfully I rose out of bed and forced myself to get up and get into the shower. Setting on the toilet was by far the hardest as the pain brought tears to my eyes. This day looked to be so wonderful if I could actually get up and down very well.

As I stood in the shower, letting the hot water fall down my body, I remember in detail how Jasper walked me through his stretching exercises. He wanted to start out slow so that I wouldn’t get discouraged. By the time he was finished with the warm up, I questioned if he was a drill sergeant in the army.

“No, but my great great granddaddy was a major in the confederate army.”

A real comedian that one.

He explained how the treadmill worked and wanted me to have a brisk walk for thirty minutes. Just as he walked away, a very sweaty and red face Rose came over and hopped on the treadmill beside me.

“Well hello Rocky.” I jokingly called out to her as Emmett helped her to choose a program.

“Not today Swan.” Her voice clipped with tension, only one person ever made her this mad.

“Sorry…Hale.” I clipped back.

She was silent for several minutes as she stared into the television that hung from the ceiling. The pretty news caster smiling as she shared the doom and gloom of the day. Could I ever look as pretty as she did? Her eyes perfect with the makeup she wore. Not a single hair out of place and her teeth straight and white. Her clothing matching her clear skin perfectly.

“I broke up with Royce.”

My head immediately turned in her direction; my eyes wide and unbelieving.

“What?…When?…Why?”

Rose continued to look at the reporter, her pace never faltering as she told me how Royce had sealed his own fate.

“He said that I was wasting my time with going to the gym. That I would just go home and eat my body weight in Ben and Jerry’s.”

Her face wasn’t sad or unhappy. She was angry, the angriest I have ever seen her.

“He said that I should just give up and save the money for new clothes or something.”

I honestly didn’t really understand why she was angry. I mean this was Royce we were talking about. He never supported her in anything that didn’t benefit him. He didn’t encourage her when she wanted to open her own car repair shop, told her she was crazy if a man would ever let a woman fix his car. She had listened to him then and I feared she might be doing the same today.

“Bella, he has no drive, no ambition, except to win a wing eating contest. Or have a guest roll on that show, Man verses food. He would win those challenges for sure.” Her words came out as if she was exasperated. Maybe this time it was for real.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the big guy Rose had just been punching the bag with. He was now helping a guy that was lying on a bench lifting a long bar that had circular objects on the end. I could see his tan calf’s that tightened every time he lifted the bar. His hands that wrapped around the bar were covered with black gloves. You could see the strain on his face as he lifted the bar and then brought it back to his chest. His arms were quite big, although not as large as the guy helping him. As he extended the bar once more, he stopped and placed it in the holder that sat above his head. He slowly sat up and took the towel he had draped across his stomach and wiped the sweat from his face and neck. It was then that I got a look at his face. His hair was a darker brown, but I knew it was a lighter shade since it was wet. His face flushed from his workout. However, it was his eyes that held my attention; they were as green as the grass in the summer.

“He would rather sit at home and watch reality television, instead of going out and living life.”

I was able to hear everything she was telling me, although, I was also unable to remove my eyes from the very handsome man across the way.

“I just can’t do that anymore Bella. I want to change the person I have become. I want to travel and go to parties not sit around and watch life happen. I want to strap in and go for a ride.”

I had to smile at her choice of words. However, I couldn’t agree more. Life was far too short and it was time to live it.

“So, I told him to get out of my garage. To go home to his mother and watch some reruns of his favorite television. Have her cook for him and listen to him complain about his stomach hurting.” Her arms waved in the air as she ranted.

“He thought he would try and bully me into changing my mind, however, he had already pushed my buttons when he basically called me a failure. That is when I lost it on his fat ass.”

This had to be the incident they had been talking about earlier in the day. I was a little bummed I had missed Rose kicking some Royce ass.

“In the end, I told him never to darken my front door again and that we were finished.” I watched as she smacked the hand rail with her palm.

“Damn it Bella! Why did I wait so long to cut him off? Do you have any idea how liberating I feel now that I don’t have him to think about? I won’t have to cover my mouth and nose every time he lifts his leg and farts while we watch television!”

It wasn’t a question, defiantly a statement. I only smiled as she increased her walk speed.

“When I came in here Emmett was just signing in. He looked at me and asked me if everything was alright.” Rose had her eyes glued to Emmett who was now on the bench and lifting the bar.

“Can you believe that? A complete stranger asks me if I’m alright and my own boyfriend of far too many years is still completely clueless when it comes to me and what is important to me.”

I glanced a look over at Emmett who was now watching Rose; he smiled and gave her a small wave. I also noticed that Mr. Green Eyes was looking this way as well.

“He is so sweet Bella. He didn’t let me even tell him why I was pissed, he just took my hand and helped me into the boxing gloves. He showed me how to punch and then told me to take out my anger in a healthy way.”

I was firmly impressed with Emmett that was a really nice thing to do. I watched as Emmett and Mr. Green Eyes began laughing at something Emmett had just said. A part of me prayed it wasn’t something negative about Rose.

“He even asked for my phone number.” She spoke with a giggly voice

I nearly tripped over my own feet, “Are you serious Rose?”

She tossed me a look that clearly asked if I had lost my mind.

“Why would I joke about that Bella? Are you just like Royce in thinking I couldn’t get a guy like Emmett’s attention?”

That thought never entered my mind. Rose may be overweight, but she was still beautiful.

“No Rose, I just…well…”

I didn’t have to answer her. Rose knew me better than anyone.

“I know Bella….Just because I might go out with him doesn’t mean I’m going to jump into another relationship. I mean, I haven’t been single an entire day yet.”

I smiled and began to concentrate on my own workout. Jasper returned when I had three minutes left on the treadmill. It was then that my life flashed before me.

He took me to a mat in the back of the room and began to show me how to do some additional stretches, which he called crunches. I called them pure torture.

When he was finished turning me into a pretzel, he told me he wanted me to have a routine of doing thirty minutes of cardio on the treadmill followed by the stretches and then do a circuit of the free machines. I quickly found out that the free in the free machines had nothing to do with cost.

The water had started to turn cool when Rose began to pound on my bathroom door.

“Quit jilling off in there and get your ass ready to go!”

I turned off the water and dried myself off. The soreness was only slightly better; I could at least lift my arms up a little now. I opened the door to find a fully dressed Rose cleaning the living room. She was running around as if her muscles were perfectly fine.

“What the….?”

Rose looked up from the stack of magazines she was throwing away. Her makeup was perfect this morning, something she never did when she went to work in the garage. Royce had always made fun of her when she did.

“Well, good morning beautiful.” Even in her county issued, dark blue work uniform, she was still a vision.

“How are you even moving this morning?” I questioned her as I moved to get a cup of coffee.

“You will feel better too once your endorphins kick in.” She continued to toss the magazines into the trash. Wiping the table once it was clear. The house had never looked cleaner since she broke things off with Royce. She even convinced me we needed a new couch; one that didn’t have Royce germs on it.

“What endorphins? My muscles are planning a revolt. They have banded together and decided they hate me.”

I reached for the box of granola bars we had recently purchased only to have my hand quickly slapped.

“Don’t you dare eat that! Emmett says to have a hand full of nuts in the morning. The protein will get you going.”

I took a handful of nuts and began to chew them one at a time. “Will the nuts give me these endorphins you speak about?”

She spun around and began to laugh at me, “Bella, endorphins are released when you climax.”

I nearly choked on one of the nuts I had just chewed on, “You really thought I was masturbating in the shower?” I shouted.

She only laughed harder as she began to pat me on my back, “Well don’t you or do you save it for the comfort of your bed?”

I grabbed a bottle of water and tried to wash down the cough that was still coming, “No Rose, I don’t do that period.”

“Bullshit Bella! Everyone masturbates,” She said off handedly.

“Well, hate to break it to you, but I don’t.”

She looked at me with a glint in her eye, “Well maybe that is your problem, you should really try it.”

My dad paid me a visit at work that day. He wanted to see how my first day at the gym had gone and to make sure I didn’t need anything. Most everyone in my department knew I was the bosses’ daughter and were not surprised when he would stop by. This time however, we had a new girl starting in the department. She had been up in personnel all day filling out all the crazy forms and had not been down stairs yet. I knew that her name was Kate and that she had worked in the records department in New York City. She had recently gotten a divorce and had moved here to be close to family.

“We want to have you and Rose over for a cookout soon. We know how important eating healthy is to you two now and we want to show our support for what you are doing.”

I hugged my dad as tight as I could. Listening to how supportive he was being made me feel even more like I could do this. In the end, we agreed to go to their house next weekend.

After lunch Kate finally showed up. She was a very nice girl about my age with dark hair, a little lighter than mine and the prettiest blue eyes you have ever seen. Like me, she was a little on the heavy side, but not to the extent that I was.

“Hello, I’m Bella Swan, we are going to be working together,” I extended my hand out for her to shake.

“Hi Bella, I’m Kate Meyer and can I just say that, thank god you aren’t shaped like a stick? My last job I worked with all super skinny women who complained about their weight.”

I smiled and showed her to her desk across from mine.

“I hear you are from New York, is that correct?”

“Yes, and I’m sure you heard that I am newly divorced, no children and old car that just died this morning.”

I thought she was being a bitch at first, her tone was so gruff. However, seconds later she began to laugh. “Sorry, I just feel like a really sad country song right now. Husband left me, car died and I’m supposed to be blue.”

I looked at her and tilted my head. She had a good since of humor; a fine quality to have. Although, sometimes people used laughter as a mask as they were really crying inside.

“My husband was a jerk. He tried to get me pregnant for years. When we found out I needed a little help in the fertility department, he took me to a quack physician who prescribed me medication that did nothing for my ovaries and everything to increase the size of my butt. When I reached a size 16 pants, he decided to fool around with one of my skinny coworkers. They now have an apartment they can’t afford and a prescription for penicillin to treat the gonorrhea she gave him.”

I just blinked my eyes several times. “When he told me about the affair, I told him that the good thing is that I can diet and lose my big butt. He will always be a big jerk and I was glad to be rid of him.”

She was so cavalier about her situation. She was like Rose, happy to be comfortable in her own skin.

“As for my car, it caught fire in the intersection that just happened to house a fire station. The handsome firemen came out and quickly extinguished the fire. One of them named Garrett, gave me his number and said to call him when I had a free evening.”

My eyes were huge now, what are the chances of her being right in front of a fire station when her car catches on fire? Not to mention getting a phone number of one of the heroes.

“My insurance that I had in New York just happens to expire at the end of the month, but I sent them pictures of the car and the guy at the insurance company is certain that it’s a total loss and said I should get a nice little check as soon as the fire report is finished.”

She had begun to unpack the box that she had with her, placing different picture frames around her desk, her pens in the pen holder.

“So, now that I live within walking distance of my job, I won’t be buying a new car anytime soon.”

I was amazed; she was completely calm about the entire situation. Instead of panicking about the situation, she had picked up all of the positive. Kate was someone I wanted to get to know better. Maybe some of her optimism would rub off on me.

“Oh god, have mercy on my soul.”

I chanted quietly as I approached the doors to the gym. I pulled the glass door open to see Emmett and Mr. Green Eyes standing there. Both had on identical blue uniforms. I turned my eyes quickly as I didn’t want to appear as if I was staring. I made my way to the locker room and quickly changed my clothes. Jasper was just finishing up with another client as I exited the door. Alice came over and gave me a huge hug.

“Welcome back Bella, how are you feeling today?”

“Like I pissed off my body.” I grumbled.

“Don’t worry, it gets better. Soon you will only feel like that when you try something new.”

“Well that’s encouraging.” My sarcastic side was rearing its ugly head.

She laughed and wrapped her arms around my shoulder.

“Jasper wants you to take it easy today. No cardio, just try stretching, it will help with the soreness. When you are good and warmed up, try doing a few of the free machines.”

I nodded my head and walked back to the mat just like yesterday. I sat on the floor and did as she had instructed. It hurt like hell, but she was right, it did feel a little better. I walked over to one of the free machines and noticed that the long pin that told you how much weight you were lifting was set at over two hundred.

I tried to pull it out, but it wouldn’t budge. I looked around and noticed all of the staff was still busy. I tried again but to no avail. Just when I was about to completely give up on this machine, a velvet voice rang out from my left.

“I always find it sticks for me too, you just have to know the trick.”

I turned to the voice as I felt warm fingers covering mine that were still attached to the pin.

It was Mr. Green Eyes himself. His amazing eyes were like beacons in the night. His eyelashes were so thick; it made his eyes stand out even more, if that was possible. His eyebrows thick but shaped very well. There was a dusting of freckles across his nose and cheek. For lack of better words, he was beautiful.

The gasp that came out of my throat was involuntary and embarrassing. I tried with all of my might to look away from his face, but it was useless.

“I’m sorry; you must think I am some creepy guy who uses bad pickup lines to get girls to notice him.”

Just as I had no control of the gasp, I had even less control of the laugh that burst forward. His smile was huge as he laughed along with me.

Finally removing his warm hand from mine, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Pleasure to meet you, I’m Edward Cullen.”

4. Chapter 4

Chapter 4

BPOV

“Hello…um…I can’t get this to move.” I stuttered, feeling so flustered.

Why yes, of all the words in the English language, that is the best response I have for him.

His smile remained on his face as he pushed in the pin then twisted it. He quickly pulled it out and handed it to me.

“There now you know the trick too.”

I stared at the pin that rested between his fingers, the glistening of the metal reflected from the lights overhead. I took the pin from him and my eyes traveled from his hand to the white muscle shirt that was wet with sweat around his neck and chest. My eyes lingered at the tattoos that graced his left arm up to his shoulder. His smile was still warming his face and his eyes showed the same emotion.

“Do you need any help using the machine? I’m not a trainer, but I do use this gym nearly every day.”

Edward, this delicious man, was a really nice guy. He clearly had no alternative motive to offering me help. I returned his smile as I placed the pin into the correct weight slot and then returned to talking to him.

“Edward, thank you for the tip. I actually know how to use this machine, but thank you anyway for the offer.”

His smile faltered slightly, but I didn’t give it much merit, “I’m Bella by the way.” I stuck my hand out to shake his. It was his turn to stare at my hand and then slowly place his in mine. He didn’t shake it though, which struck me as very odd. I shook his quickly before pulling my hand away.

“Yes…um…good to meet you as well. Um….” His hands went to his hair and his eyes dropped to the floor. Before either of us could say a word, a loud booming voice entered our little bubble.

“Cullen, quit hogging all the hot girls!”

My head whipped up to the quite large man that stood beside Edward. His hand on his back as he had just given one of those manly back slaps. The human wall as he can only be described, had an equally large smile on his face. You could tell by his facial expressions he was a fun loving guy.

“Hey Emmett, this is Bella.”

Emmett quickly stuck his hand out for me to shake, “Your Rosie’s sister right?”

I nodded and smiled at hearing her name. He had helped her out the other day and seem to give her the push she needed to get her life on track.

“Yes, I noticed you helping her out the other day, thank you for that. Royce had always held her back from so many things. Maybe now she will follow her dreams.”

Now that Royce was out of the picture, maybe Rose would open that shop she always talked about.

“Yeah, she was upset and I just have a hard time seeing beautiful women being anything but happy.” He was seriously cute. His dimpled cheeks made me smile.

“Say Bella…can you put in a good word for me? I plan on asking Rosie out later today, now that she had dumped the douche bag.”

I couldn’t help but smile wider. Rose was beautiful no matter what her scale said. I can only imagine what kind of attention she would receive when she met her goal weight.

“I don’t think that will be necessary; she was singing your praises this morning as we got ready for work.”

“Well, I just wanted to make sure Cullen here wasn’t making a fool out of himself, he tends to do that when he is talking to beautiful women.”

Emmett nudged Edward’s shoulder. They gave each other a look that was clearly a guy thing. Edward then looked to the ground like he was trying to find the words to make his escape. I was never one to allow people to feel uncomfortable around me so I spoke quickly.

“Well then you can rest happy, he was only showing me how to be smarter than the pin here.”

I gestured toward the stack of weights and the properly placed pin.

“Emmett, it was a pleasure to meet you. Edward, thank you again for the help, but if you will excuse me I have a work out to get to before Major Whitlock chews me a new one.”

I didn’t wait for them to say anything. I pushed my ear plugs into my ears and then took a seat on the machine. I closed my eyes letting my mind wonder off, listening to the beat of the song as I pushed the bar away from me.

I actually felt really good when I finished the machines. My muscles still hurt, but this time, it was a different kind of pain. The kind you welcome, not the kind you take Advil for. I wiped off the last machine and headed for the locker room. I needed to stop by the grocery store on my way home and I didn’t want to smell bad while I did it.

I had just opened my locker when the door to the locker room opened suddenly and the glitter girls came walking in. I knew by the look in their eyes that they had an issue with me. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of them, just couldn’t figure out what I had done to piss them off.

“Your new here right?” The bleach blond spoke as she looked me up and down, clearly in disdain of what she saw.

“Yes.” I didn’t move as they came closer. The blonde still in the lead and her two glitter sisters on either side of her.

“Good, since you’re new here, I’m going to do you a favor and give you a warning.”

My interest was piqued; glitter queen had a warning for me. If this had anything to do with my weight, I would not be held responsible for my reaction.

“We saw you flirting with Edward and Emmett and you need to know that they belong to us.”

I couldn’t believe my ears; they belonged to them? What were they men or puppies?

“So, do yourself a favor and keep away from our men.”

I wanted to laugh, because here stood work-out Barbie and her two clones. Each had slender perfect bodies that I highly doubted they ate anything other than sugar free gum. Their hair was over processed, yet not a hair out of place. Make-up that a drag queen would be proud of and they were worried about me talking to Edward and Emmett? I couldn’t help myself, I started to laugh.

The glitter queen placed her hands on her hips as she watched me giggle. “What’s so funny, fat ass?

I chose to ignore the fat comment. It was the truth. I have no issue with the truth. I finally got my laughter under control and turned my body toward her.

“I’m laughing because you are warning me to stay away from “your men” as you call them.” I did the lame ass air quotes; I know eye roll.

“When, look at the three of you.” I waved my hand in their direction.

“Clearly there is no reason for you to worry whether or not I am talking to your men. You all are flawless, where I am…as you said, a fat ass.”

I turned my attention back to getting my clothes out of the locker, the shower forgotten as I now wanted to get out of this room. I may have humor on my side, but I still have feelings. I didn’t even look at the Barbie brigade as I left the locker room.

Edward was sitting on a bench again, his arms resting on his thighs as he spoke with Emmett who mirrored his position. I quickly looked away as I made my way to the front of the building.

Jasper was standing by the entrance as I tried to leave, “Bella, I watched you work out today. You did good, princess.”

I smiled at him. I needed to hear that; hear that I did something good today. “Thanks drill sergeant.” I saluted him as I reached for the door.

“Be ready tomorrow young lady, your butt is gonna work.”

I used to enjoy grocery shopping. It was easy, you hit the frozen food isle and you’re out quick. Now however, I was forced to smell melons and select ripe vegetables. I know that my confrontation with the glitter girls was the reason I was now standing directly in front of the ice-cream section.

Ben and Jerry stood there proudly, promising to make the hurt go away. They never judged me or told me I had a fat ass. They only made me moan around my spoon and forget for a little while that I wanted more in my life. I could see my reflection in the glass doors. My grey sweat pants and oversize shirt. I placed my hands on the glass, the cold feeling a welcomed sensation. It would be so easy to open the door and take a few friends home.

“No Bella.” I said in a hushed voice to myself. “You may be fat, but that can change; there will always be bitter bitches.”

~~WTW~~ WTW ~~WTW

It had been two weeks since my first doctor’s appointment. Two weeks of Jasper’s boot camp and two weeks of avoiding the glam squad. There had been little in the way of avoiding Edward and Emmett.

Edward hadn’t been there and Emmett spent his time on the phone with Rose. He asked her out for a date and they agreed to go as soon as he returned from some training he had to attend. Turns out Edward and Emmett were local firemen. The annual county picnic was scheduled next weekend and I wondered if they would be able to attend.

“Isabella Swan?” I look up to see the nurse dressed in white holding a chart against her chest. Her smile was warm and genuine, a quality you don’t find often these days.

“Hello.” I smiled back at her, it was forced and fake as a three dollar bill.

“How have you been Isabella?” Maria was my doctor’s nurse. She was thin and had that whole Latin goddess thing working for her.

“I’m nervous.” I admitted.

I knew if I hadn’t lost any weight, he was going to insist that I go on medication for diabetes.

“Well, let’s see how well you did.” Maria motioned for me to step on the scale. I did, but with my eyes closed and holding my breath.

“200 even.”

My eyes flew open in surprise. I looked at the scale myself and sure enough, the read out clearly read 200 in big black numbers.

“Holy shit!” I slapped my hand over my mouth as my eyes went wider.

“Congratulations, Bella.” Maria’s words were as genuine as her smile and took me by surprise by hugging me.

She ushered me into the exam room and had me sit on the table. Dr. Brenner came in with his silver glasses resting on his nose.

“Well, well, well…you have done very well Bella.”

This time my smile was for real. Dr. Brenner didn’t give me the all clear just yet. He wanted to see me in two more weeks and if I lost another five pounds he would wait and see me once a month.

“Bella, I want you to understand that this weight loss isn’t just a quick fix. Once you are down to a healthy weight, you will need to keep working hard to keep it off.”

I fiddled with my fingers as I responded, not making eye contact with him.

“I actually enjoy working out and the change in eating isn’t really all that bad, not that I don’t miss ice-cream, it’s just not as bad as I thought.”

He placed his hand in mine as he gently squeezed.

“Everything in moderation, everything in moderation.”

Since Kate was still new, I had to go into the office that day. Kate was an amazing girl and I really liked her attitude.

“Hey girl, did the rabbit die?” Kate was again full of humor. She had teased me all last week when I told her about having an appointment with my doctor, that I was pregnant.

“You know you have to be exposed to get pregnant right?”

She rolled her eyes as she continued to type on the computer, “Right like you don’t have guys lined up around here.”

I tossed my purse into my desk drawer and logged into my computer to sort my email.

“Kate haven’t you ever heard the phrase, ‘never shit where you eat?'”

She slapped her hands on the desk, “Bella, I’m not saying you are a whore. I just notice that guys seem to gravitate toward you.”

I stopped reading the email I had just opened and gaped at her, “Kate, they only talk to me for two reasons; one is that they need a box of evidence or they are hoping I will give a good word to my dad for them.”

Kate didn’t try to argue. She only looked at me with narrowed eyes and crinkled face. Kate had been talking about going to the gym with us, but our schedules never seemed to mesh. With her recent move, her free time was filled with unpacking and shopping for stuff for her home.

“Hey, are you going to the annual picnic?” Kate quickly changed the subject.

“I always go. My dad expects both Rose and I to be there.”

“Do you mind if I hang out with you guys? I really don’t know anyone yet and I met this guy, but it’s too soon to ask him to something like this.”

“Of course, Rose and I sit with our parents. However, Rose may have a date this year, so I’m sure she will be sitting with him.”

Kate was quickly around my desk and sitting with her legs dangling off, “Do spill. I know she broke things off with her boyfriend, but I hadn’t heard about a new guy.”

I leaned back in my chair, “She met him at the gym we go to. She was having a bad day and he saw her, he wanted to make her feel better so he took her over to the punching bag.”

I told Kate about how Emmett asked me to put in a good word for him and that he had been away for training.

“You say he is a fireman?”

“Yeah, he works at the one on Government Street.”

Kate’s eyes got huge, “What does this guy look like?”

I looked at her questionably, but described Emmett anyway. I watched her face contort in some weird way, “What’s with the face?”

“Well, you remember the guy I met when my car caught fire?” I nodded.

“I have been seeing him a lot lately and I had to take him something to work the other day. He introduced me to a few of his coworkers and they all seemed really nice. They were having this discussion about how one of the guys is head over heels for this girl at his gym, but he hasn’t had the courage to ask her out yet. I know that he had been away on training, but they never said his name.”

I smiled at Kate, “Well if they were talking about Emmett, he finally got the courage to ask her.”

So with plans to hang out with Kate at the picnic, I finished out my day and headed home. The second I opened the door I could smell chicken cooking. Rose was dancing around in the kitchen while she sang into the spatula.

Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in

So shame on me now

Flew me to places I’d never been

Till you put me down oh

I knew you were trouble when you walked in

So shame on me now

Flew me to places I’d never been

Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground

Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble

Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble

I smiled at her as I tossed my shoes on the shoe rack, “Taylor Swift would be so happy to hear you singing her song.”

She began to laugh and motioned for me to come in the kitchen.

“Hey, how was your day?” She questioned as she turned the volume down on her radio.

“It was great actually; I lost eight pounds so I get to hold off for another two weeks on starting medication.”

She raised her hand so that I could give her a high five.

“I don’t have to ask how your day was.”

Rose was all smiles, her happiness oozing out of her pores.

“It was the best! I went to the doctor and I lost 6 pounds and Emmett sent me flowers with a card that said he missed me.”

My mouth dropped open at her news. I had no idea she was going to the doctor.

“Why didn’t you tell me you had an appointment?”

Rose suddenly became shy, her eyes now looking anywhere but at me.

“Well see, I know that being with Emmett will be different than being with Royce. Emmett has already told me what my curves do to him.”

We both sat on the couch; the sparkle was back in her eyes just talking about Emmett. It was refreshing to see her this happy and motivated.

“Rose, guys are guys. They have all the same body parts, just different attitudes.”

Rose began to laugh at me, “Bella you have just confirmed that you still have your v-card.”

I smacked her arm and tried to get up from the couch.

“Oh sis, please stay, I was only kidding with you. But you are so wrong.”

I turned back to her with a questionable look on my face, “What do you mean?”

She rolled her eyes and then stood to walk back into the kitchen, “Guys may have the same body parts, but they are different as night and day.”

I followed her into the kitchen where she had strips of chicken atop beds of lettuce. She handed me my plate and grabbed a knife and fork.

“Take Royce for example; He was lazy, unmotivated and had no libido.”

Pulling out her chair she quickly sat down and took a bite of food.

“Now Emmett, he is hard working, loves getting out and doing things and from what I have felt against my hip, very well endowed.”

I began to choke on the sip of water I just took. She reached over and began to pat my back.

“But you and Royce had sex right?” I questioned when I recovered.

“If you call fingering and hand jobs sex then yes. He lives with his mom remember? Besides, he was large enough that he couldn’t see his dick, unless he raised up his belly.”

I started coughing again. The thought of a naked Royce standing, trying to find his buried dick had me cackling.

“On a different note, Emmett told me that Edward asked how you were.”

This confused me and intrigued me at the same time. Why would he ask about me? We really didn’t know about each other.

“Really?”

Rose finished her bite of food and then wiped her face with her napkin.

“Why does this surprise you? Emmett told me that you and Edward were talking.”

“Yes Rose talking, he was being nice and wanted to try and help me with a weight machine I wanted to use. He saw me struggling with it and told me how to move the pin. It was completely innocent, he was just helping me.” I shrugged at a loss.

Rose shook her head, but said nothing. We cleaned up the dishes and then went to our separate bedrooms. I was reading a new book I found when Rose knocked on my door.

“Come in.”

She opened the door and had her cell phone to her ear, “Hey, Emmett wants to know if you wouldn’t mind him and Edward having your cell number.”

I looked at her with agitation.

“That’s fine.” I shrugged, not like they are going to use it anyway.

She rattled it off to Emmett and then blew me a kiss. Picking my book back up, I was getting to a very smutty part when my cell vibrated. Since no one ever calls me besides Rose, I didn’t rush to look at it.

Not even two minutes later it vibrated again. Tossing my book to the end of the bed, I picked up my phone and slide my thumb across the screen.

Will you be at the gym tomorrow?

It was from a number I didn’t recognize, so I decided to ignore it and go to the next message.

Sorry, you must think I’m an idiot. This is Edward; Rose said you were fine with me calling.

I sat stunned for a minute. He was really a nice guy to be texting me to see if I was still working out. I shook my head as I typed a reply.

I will be, but your groupies will be upset if I talk to you.

I was about to sit my phone on my night stand when it started to ring.

“Hello?”

“What groupies do I have?

“Oh… Edward….Well, I don’t know their names, but they always have their perfect makeup and hair done.”

The line was silent for a while.

“Edward?” I questioned into the phone.

“Oh sorry…I was just trying to get my thoughts together. Did they say anything to you?”

So I told him the locker room story. How the glitter queen cornered me and told me to stay away from him. He laughed at the name I gave them, but agreed it was perfect for them.

“Bella, they are a group of girls who never grew up. I have no room for girls like that in my life.”

“So…you and rainbow bright aren’t an item?”

“No, Tanya, that’s her name by the way, is not the type of girl you take home to your mother if you know what I mean.”

He really was a nice guy, even when he was talking about someone he did it in a fashion that wasn’t rude or crass.

“I do know what you mean.”

“Um…I wanted to know if you have plans after your workout tomorrow. Would you like to grab a drink with me?”

I pulled the phone from my ear and checked to make sure I hadn’t switched calls.

“Uh…”

“It’s cool if you’re busy; I know this is last minute. I would ask you out for this weekend, but I have to work.”

“Oh, I’m busy this weekend anyway. I have a company picnic to attend.”

“Emmett is going, that’s why I’m working. I’m covering his shift. So, what do you say about getting coffee or water or whatever?”

Edward seemed to be a great guy. He had helped me and was again being nice to me.

“Sure Edward, that sounds great. Can I meet you somewhere?” I wonder if he could hear the smile in my voice.

He chuckled into the phone as he responded, “What kind of guy would I be if I made you drive yourself to our first date? We will leave from the gym and I will drive you myself.”

We said a quick goodbye after he asked if he could call and text me tomorrow. I agreed and set my phone on the end table then turning out my light. Closing my eyes, I began to think about how he looked in his sweaty workout clothes.

And then it hit me…..I was going on a date with a guy. Not just any guy, a real one….with great teeth and potential to be anything he wanted to be.

The question I couldn’t get out of my head was, why would he want me?

5. Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Bella POV

Every year my father and uncle host a picnic for all of the county employees. For as long as I can remember we have attended. This year, my uncle wanted to invite the city police and fire. He and my father couldn’t explain why they had never been invited in prior years, but they swore they would be in the future. Rose was excited until she found out that Emmett had to work that day.

“Bella, I hear that your shadow will be there this year.”

I finished applying the sunscreen to my arms and gave her a puzzled look. I had no idea what she meant by her words.

“Oh, don’t think just because we don’t work in the same building that I don’t hear the gossip. Newton has been after you for a while now.”

Tossing the bottle back in the cabinet, I gave her a pointed eye look.

“Mike Newton is not my shadow and he has never shown any interest in me. He is just a coworker, a deputy sheriff, nothing else.”

Rose finished placing the hair tie in her hair before looking at me again, her left hand resting on the edge of the sink, while her right pressed firmly to her hip.

“Bella, you have guys notice you all the time, your just too clueless to see it.”

I wasn’t comfortable with her words, I didn’t like being noticed.

“Doesn’t matter if he or any of the other deputies notice me, I don’t want anything to do with them. They all have a reputation for making the rounds.” I spit the latter out as if it was poison on my tongue. It was no secret that the county deputies all considered themselves ladies men. I wouldn’t touch a single one of them with a ten foot pole.

I was supposed to have met with Edward for a drink after the gym yesterday, however he was called away at the last minute. He assured me that we would be rescheduling as soon as his work rotation let him. I didn’t want to admit to myself that a large part of me questioned if he really had to work or if he had changed his mind.

Once we arrived at the city park, the festivities were well underway. I immediately noticed Mike and several of his friends sitting at one of the tables. They each had a bottle of beer in their hands and were laughing at something. I quickly turned my attention back to looking for my father and uncle.

Shelly, one of the dispatchers had always had a soft spot for Rose and me. She always had toffee candy at her desk when we would visit when we were little. She still has a piece for each of us when she sees us.

“There are my girls!” Shelly shouted from her seat in a lawn chair under a tree. Her husband waved from his seat beside her, his black socks with white tennis shoes always made me smile. His big brimmed straw hat was sitting proudly on his head. He had a star adorning the middle of the leather band that wrapped around it. He swore it belonged to Wyatt Earp.

“Look at the two of you! It’s been too long since these old eyes have seen you.” Shelly gave us each a big hug and kiss. Her husband was his usual jovial self when he announced his model girlfriends were here.

“Come sit beside me and tell me what you two have been up to.” Shelly always smelled like sugar cookies and roses.

“Not much really, just trying to stay out of trouble.” I said, winking at Bernie, Shelly’s husband.

“Your father says you are trying to lose some weight.” She was never one to beat around the bush about things; that was why she was so good at her job.

“Now don’t you go getting crazy about being skinny. A good man loves a little meat around the bones.” She said as she winked at Bernie.

“No, Shelly, nothing like that. I just need to be more in control of what I eat and I need to keep myself healthy.” I looked to my hands as I replied. I really didn’t want everyone to know I was dieting.

“Well, nothing wrong with that, although you might have Newton to contend with as he has been sweet on you since you started.”

She was the second person to mention Mike Newton. He was an alright kind of guy looks wise. But his reputation for being a man-whore wasn’t something I wanted to get involved with. He wasn’t someone I could imagine getting close to.

“I told her the same thing Shelly; she doesn’t see how guys follow her around.” Rose said while nodding at me.

“You know I don’t want anything to do with Newton, Shelly.”

“Oh, but I’m pretty certain he wants a little slice of Bella.” Rose leaned into Shelly’s side as they both had an evil look about their faces.

“Bella? Rose?” The sound of my father’s voice saved me from any further humiliation in the Newton area.

My father was walking toward us with a very tall handsome man beside him. I had no idea who he was as I had never seen him before.

“Hey daddy.” I smiled as I hugged him tight around his neck. I kissed his cheek as I let Rose have her turn.

“Girls, I want you to meet a friend of mine, Jacob Black. Jacob, my girls Rose and Bella.”

Jacob had tan skin with short dark hair. His smile was perfect, thanks to crest and its line of whiting strips, they were almost too white. His chest was broad and it was then I noticed his blue shirt with The PAFD embossed on the left side. Jacob was a firefighter.

Jacob extended his hand out to me first, “Bella, do you happen to work out at Real Time?”

I smiled as I shook his hand, “Yes, I just started.”

“Yeah, our girls are trying to get into shape. I’m very proud of them and I hope they continue.” My dad always made me blush. My lack of self-confidence was never from his lack of trying. He told me I was beautiful for as long as I could remember.

“Then you must be Emmett’s Rose?” Jacob turned to my sister. I watched as dad turned up an eyebrow.

“Emmett McCarty?” My father questioned.

“Yes, daddy…Emmett McCarty. Don’t go scaring him either, he’s…important.” Rose stated sternly.

“Then that has to make you the girl that Cullen was talking about?”

I laughed, “Yeah, I’m the poor girl who isn’t smarter than a piece of metal.” My father looked at me and I relented as I told him the whole story.

“Well then, it sounds like this…wait Edward Cullen?” My father stopped short.

“Yes, daddy.” I sighed. “He helped me…he was very polite.”

I watched my father’s face as he looked at his phone. Was there something about Edward that he didn’t like? His eyes found mine again.

“Yes, Bella, that’s the story I got as well.”

I was about to question him when my father’s secretary came running over with an issue he needed to handle. He promised to come find us later and then joined her.

“Let’s go find a chair and get out of this sun.” Rose suggested.

Rose was always an avoider of the sun; she read one time that people who tan too often develop deep wrinkles. She argued that if you look at old construction workers, you see their skin all in wrinkles. I just followed her because I was so pale that I could burn going to the mail box.

I noticed Kate was sitting under a large oak tree. She was holding hands with a very handsome guy and they were both smiling and laughing. Rose and I began to walk toward them when Kate looked up and began to wave us over.

“Hey girl!” Kate said as she patted the blanket beside her.

“Hey Kate, this is my sister, Rose. Rose this is my coworker Kate. I’m sorry; I don’t know your name.” I said to the very handsome man. His eyes a blue grey and a smile that would melt cement. He also had the PDFD logo on his shirt.

He quickly stood and held out his hand to me. “Sorry, I’m Garrett, Kate’s boyfriend.”

I quickly looked to Kate, this was new. She had told me they had met, but I didn’t realize they were in a relationship.

“I’ve seen you before, you go to the gym I use.” Rose stated as she sat beside Garrett.

“Yes, I saw you working with McCarty the other day. I’ve been trying to get Kate to come along, but she keeps getting out of it.”

Kate playfully swatted his arm, “He just wants to see me in tiny shorts.” Kate giggled as she leaned into his side.

“Hey Bella, when did you get here?” It was the voice I had hoped to avoid today, Mike Newton.

I turned slowly and looked up into his blue eyes. He had his sunglasses on top of his head, but it wasn’t working for him. It had to be all the product he had in it to keep the spikes he had going on in the front.

“Hey Mike, we’ve been here for a few minutes.”

Mike looked over at Garrett, “Hey man, Deputy Newton, Fourth Street.” Introducing himself as he outstretched his hand.

“Nice to meet you, Garrett Jones, station twelve.”

“Oh, you work with Black?”

“Yes, Black is in my duty rotation. He’s running around here somewhere.” Garrett motioned with his head.

“Yeah, I’ve talked to him already. He was trying to impress the Sherriff. He was on the police department on the reservation he grew up on. I guess he wants to go back to that.”

“Nothing wrong with rubbing a few elbows.” Garrett replied.

“Hey Bella, I was going to tell you that I’ve noticed you have dropped a few pounds, you’re looking good girl, you hitting the gym?”

I smiled the best smile that I could muster, “It really isn’t that much. I got a trial membership at Real Time…Just trying to get healthy.” I shrugged trying not to make it a big deal.

“Oh yeah? I’ve got a couple of friends who work out over there. Matter of fact, I’m surprised Tanya hasn’t shown up yet.”

I looked to Rose who was trying not to vomit. She rolled her eyes and then took a drink of her water.

“Speak of the devil.” Mike quickly announced as he looked off into the distance. I turned and followed his gaze.

There walking along the sidewalk was glitter Barbie and her two sidekicks. Tanya had on a pair of heels that were at least six inches tall. They were gold and wrapped around her ankle and up to her mid-calf. Her red shorts were so tight you could see her lack of underwear and her black tank top said, “Hot” in sequins across her boobs. Twiddle dee and twiddle dumb had matching outfits only their shirts were white with black sequins. I listened to Rose giggle as she chastised them.

“Plu-lease,” Rose drawled, “being matchy- matchy is for cheerleaders and square dancers.”

Even Kate and Garrett busted out laughing.

“At the station, we call them lot lizards. Tanya, the one Newton is dragging his tongue about, has been trying to get into most of the guy’s pants for years. Her current target is Cullen. Although, everyone knows it’s a complete waste of time.”

I turned to Garrett and before I could catch myself, I blurted out the question that popped in my head, “Why is that?”

Garrett turned to me and gave me a quizzical look, “He has his sights on someone else.”

His words for whatever reason hurt to hear. Edward the super-hot, polite, nice guy had his eye on a very lucky girl.

Whoever she was, I hated her on principle…. Lucky bitch.

This confirmed my earlier suspicion that he had changed his mind. This only motivated me to visit the gym for the second time that day. I was proud of myself for turning to a healthy release, instead of my standard life time movie and empty calories. This wasn’t about getting a date with a hot fireman, it was about me living for myself and taking charge of my body. Even with my inner voice cheering me on, it still stung just a little when I looked over at the empty weight bench that Edward usually occupied during my regular work outs.

A/N I have been terrible at informing you that there is a Facebook page for this fiction. Also, be on the look out for a new fiction starting soon from me, Truth about Lies.

6. Chapter 6

I have been a major idiot and not posted a disclaimer in a long time.

I do not own Twilight or its characters. The great SM has that luck. I do own eight of the twilight collector dolls, including Alice. Hey don’t judge, she is worth some coin. I also own this plot. No reproduction of this fiction may be made without my expressed written permission. All characters are fictional and do not reflect anyone in real life.

Chapter 6

Bella POV

“Bella, you are doing amazing.”

“Thanks.” I panted out as my feet continued pounding on the treadmill. Jasper had forbidden me to decrease the incline this time. I was covered in sweat as he stood in front of me, hands on his hips, watching me.

“You learn your lesson, Bella?”

I couldn’t respond; I was barely hanging on at this point. I was never so grateful as Jasper reached around and lowered the incline to zero and my speed to two.

Jasper was none too happy when he found me at the gym the other night. I attempted to tell him that I was just burning off some steam, but he ordered me off the treadmill and told me to take my butt home. I tried to argue, but he told me that if I had extra energy then he would increase my normal workouts. I knew without a doubt, Jasper was a soulless monster.

“Cool down for a few minutes and then have a great evening.”

I didn’t even look at him only nodding my head. I could feel the muscles in my side and lungs screaming for me to stop. As the treadmill announced that my workout was over, I grabbed my water bottle and began to drink in earnest. My legs felt unsteady and almost numb as I crossed the room and headed for the showers.

Alice was using one of the elliptical machines and gave me a quick wave. She had mentioned getting together for a drink and I had told her I would check with Rose first. She thought it would be cool if we went out as a group date.

As I closed the door to the shower stall, I began to remove my wet, sweaty clothes. I was still feeling rather numb so I sat on the bench as I removed my socks. The feeling of the cold tile on my hot feet felt so good and I leaned back resting my head against the wall. I closed my eyes and enjoyed my bottle of water. I didn’t have to be anywhere so I allowed myself to day dream.

“Did you see how tired he was?”

Oh god, shoot me now. It’s the glitter squad. Maybe if I’m very quiet they will go away like the monsters under the bed.

“That bitches, is because of me. I fucked him so hard last night. He just kept begging for more.”

I rolled my eyes and tried not to vomit in my mouth.

“Tan, I am so jealous. You finally got him to let you stay over. Was he huge? I just picture him being the size of a horse or something.”

“Jessica, a lady never discusses such things.”

I nearly snorted at her statement.

“Since when have you ever acted as a lady?’

The sound of giggles filled the room. I could only describe it as the sound of many cats in heat.

“Listen bitches, Edward is huge. I thought he was going to rip me in two and don’t get me started on his talented tongue. I swear to god, he was writing a letter to Santa when he went down on me.”

My attention now fully in the conversation. How things seemed to change from what his coworkers said at the picnic. Clearly he was at least interested in getting off with her. Could Tanya be the girl he was really interested in?

“And for the record, we were at my house. I had to practically kick him out this morning.”

“Oh god, did Mike stay over this weekend?”

“Ugh, no that troll. He’s one step below my vibrator for Christ sake.”

“I know, but he can be beneficial at times.”

“Sure, I mean if I mention that I have something I need, he runs out and gets it for me. But he is not talented in the bedroom what so ever. I need a man that can make me forget my name. And that ladies, is Edward. As a matter of fact, we are having dinner at his house tonight.”

I couldn’t listen to anymore. I turned on the water and began to scrub not only the sweat but also the filth I now felt from hearing the conversation. I didn’t understand how she could be so chalice about having sex. More so that she used sex with men to get items she wanted. In my opinion, it made her sound like prostitute.

When I finished and dressed, I was so relieved to find the bathroom empty. I tossed my bag over my shoulder and headed out. I wasn’t hungry after what I had heard and planned to just go home and do some laundry. Anything to get that conversation out of my mind.

I had just pulled my car keys out of my purse when I heard my name being called. I looked back over my left shoulder to find a very sweaty Edward heading in my direction.

“Hey Bella, I was hoping I would run into you today.”

I must have had a strange look on my face as his smile faltered. “Something wrong Bella?”

Pulling myself away from the visual I had of him and glitter queen, I smiled and turned my body in his direction.

“No, everything is fine; perfect in fact.”

“Oh good, well I was wondering if you were available to grab a cup of coffee with me? I mean I know its last minute and everything.”

He was so cute, pulling at his hair and staring at his shoes. I wondered if he was this shy with Tanya?

Speaking of Tanya, I knew they had plans for tonight.

“I’m sorry Edward, but I happen to know that you have a date with Tanya later and I’m not comfortable with being in the middle of whatever it is the two of you have going on.”

His eyes met mine in an instant. The look on his face was of confusion with a touch of irritation.

“Wait, who said I have plans with Tanya?”

I let out a huge breath as I moved closer to him. I didn’t want his business spread all over the gym. Not that Tanya seemed to care.

“I’m sorry, it’s really not any of my business, but your girlfriend has a big mouth and told her friends what the two of you did last night and into the morning. I was in the locker room and heard the entire thing.”

I watched as his eye searched the room, landing on the front desk. I turned to see what he was looking at when I noticed two men talking with Jasper.

“Hey Mason!” He called out to one of the men.

The guy turned in our direction and a big smile grew on his face. He quickly closed the distance and was now standing beside Edward.

“Hey Cullen, what’s up? Who is this beautiful lady?”

He was just as big as Edward and Emmett. I then noticed the PAFD emblem on his shirt; clearly he was a fellow firefighter.

“Hey, can you tell Bella here where I was all last night?”

Mason gave a puzzled look and then his eye darted between my face and Edward’s.

“You were in the same place that I was, fighting a brush fire that had gotten out of control. It took us sixteen hours to get it under control. Why?”

Edward tapped him on the shoulder several times with the back of his hand.

“Get this Mason, Tanya is spreading it around that she and I were together last night.”

Mason began to laugh as the remaining men came to stand around us.

“What’s so funny?” One of the older guys asked.

“Chief, get this. Tanya is spreading a rumor that she and Cullen are slapping uglies.”

The guy they called Chief, snickered and then looked at me. “She is in need of mental help. She gets something in her mind and in her world it is true. It’s a good thing we have the log books to prove where you really were last night.”

I was embarrassed. I hadn’t realized the extent of deception Tanya was capable of.

“I’m sorry, I’m Chief Embry.”

I shook the hand that was extended to me. His grip was firm yet gentle. “Hello, I’m Bella Swan.”

His eyes flashed big for just a moment and his smile increased as he looked back to Edward.

“So, this is the sheriff’s daughter?” Edward’s smile faltered as I looked between the two men.

“Yes, the sheriff is my dad, how did you know?” I was clearly confused.

Before Chief could answer, Edward spoke out surprising me and himself, “Thanks guys, I just wanted Bella to know I was telling her the truth.”

The looks that were exchanged between the men left me with no doubt that there was much more to the story. I chose not to question; some things are better left unsaid.

“So to answer your question Bella, no I don’t have plans with Tanya tonight. And I certainly wasn’t with her last night. As you heard, I was fighting a fire that kept us out until just before shift change. I am now certain Tanya overheard Emmett and I talking in the parking lot when we came in.”

Edward looked over my shoulder long enough to see Tanya and the twinkle girls staring at us. I made to leave as I just didn’t need any drama in my life. Tanya clearly had her eyes on Edward.

“Hey, would you have coffee with me? I mean since you know I’m not involved with her.”

I looked back to Rainbow bright and then back to Edward.

“Listen, I need some major caffeine right now. I just want some company.”

I gently smiled at him. He wanted to be my friend; my original description of him was correct. He was a really nice guy who was helpful to a fault.

“Sure, I mean what are friends for if not for IV caffeine consumption.”

I agreed to meet Edward at a small diner that sat in a strip mall a few blocks from the gym. I arrived first and got a table. I knew if I had a cup of coffee, I would never sleep tonight. I opted for a cup of tea. The waitress, Jane, as her name tag read, was pure entertainment. She was kidding around with some of the men that sat at the counter.

When she sat my cup of tea down, she shouted to the rest of the restaurant, “Now don’t let me catch any of you lolley gaggers harassing this beautiful girl, we need to keep her coming back.”

Jane winked at me as she walked back around the counter slapping one of the men as they tried to touch her apron strings.

“That doesn’t look like coffee to me.”

I looked up to see a still tired Edward standing beside the table. His smile was real and a welcomed sign as he slide in the booth seat opposite me.

“Your right, I opted for less caffeine. I have to be up early tomorrow and coffee will keep me awake all night.”

Jane had placed a cup of black coffee on the table next to Edward without a sound.

“Thanks Jane.” He responded to her not taking his eyes off mine.

“I can’t blame you for that. I would be doing the same except I haven’t slept in nearly forty hours.”

My eyes went huge and I quickly took the cup of coffee away from his hands.

“What the hell Edward? You should be home in bed and not sitting here talking to me.”

Even as tired as I knew he should be, he was able to quickly stop me from stealing his cup. His eyes pleaded with mine as his warm hand rested atop mine.

“Bella, I swear I will go straight to bed, but I wanted to talk with you first.”

I slowly removed my hand from his as I nodded my head for him to continue. Edward took several sips of his coffee, his eyes never leaving mine.

“I’m glad you agreed to meet with me; I really didn’t think you would.” His smile was warm, but his eyes told a different story.

“Why would you think that?”

I watched as he began to play with the handle of the cup; his fingers making continuous figure eights.

“Um…”

I settled back into the seat. My eyes watched his fingers as they continued to make circles.

“I don’t know how much Emmett or Rose has told you about me.”

His eyes still fixed on his fingers; his question surprised me as this was certainly news to me.

“Rose doesn’t talk about you to me. She is quite secretive about Emmett as well. As for Emmett, I never really see him outside of the gym.”

It was after my admission that his fingers completely stopped and his eyes flashed back to mine.

“That is…surprising.”

I looked at him and furrowed my brow, “Why is that?”

“Did you know that Emmett was a first round draft pick for Jacksonville and he turned it down to be a firefighter?” His question caught me off guard and I stumbled to get my brain caught up.

“When we were little, where ever he was, I wasn’t far behind. So, it was no surprise to our parents when I decided to try out for the fire department that Emmett followed right behind me.”

I smiled as I thought of how Rose and I were somewhat the same.

“There was like two hundred guys vialing for five spots. Emmett and I just knew we would make the cut. We turned it into a competition between the two of us as we usually do.”

A content smile came across his face; his memories of that time had to be flashing in his mind.

“Emmett told me that when Rose walked in that day, he just had to go over and talk with her, find out who took her smile away.”

Jane quietly filled his coffee and gave me a new pot of hot water. I smiled and quickly thanked her.

“I’m glad she met Emmett. He has turned her into the person she used to be before she was with Royce. I like having the old Rose back.” I shrugged.

“What about you Bella? Rose says you have guys at work notice you all of the time. Who inspires you to work hard?”

It was my turn to look at my fingers. “Rose says that guys look at me, but what she refuses to understand is the men I work with want to stay in my dad and uncle’s good graces. They may pay attention to me, but it is only so they can tell my father that they have noticed me.”

I noticed Edward’s hands move toward my fumbling ones and I quickly placed them into my lap so that I could look him in the face.

“So, you aren’t involved with anyone right now?”

I began to laugh at his question, “Clearly not.” I quickly answered as if it was the most ridiculous question I had ever heard.

“Really, that is…wow.”

I couldn’t figure out if he was making fun of me or if he was just really tired. I chose to go with the latter.

“Yes, I am the infamous cat lady in the making.” I chuckled.

He smiled along with me, “So, if I asked you out for dinner this weekend you would be completely free?”

I must have been just as tired as he was because my answer was way too quick and confident. “Sure, I’m free.”

He leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his broad chest. His smiled, if at all possible, was impossibly brighter.

“Alright…seven thirty… Saturday. I’ll pick you up and dress nice. I know just the place to take you.”

By the time I got home, my mind was still trying to wrap around the fact that I had agreed to go out with Edward. I laid across my bed with my arms covering my face. Had that all been a dream? Could this have been some kind of joke?

“No Bella, not every guy out there is evil.” I said aloud to myself.

My cell indicated I had a text message and I rolled over to get my phone from my gym bag.

Goodnight sweet girl, see you tomorrow XO ~E

I smiled as I responded,

Good night Edward and please catch up on you rest. ~B

Flippingbackover on my back, I began to flail my body back and forth and kick my feet against my bed.

I, Bella Swan, had a date with one very wonderful Edward Cullen.

7. Chapter 7

Chapter 7

BPOV

“Why would anyone want to go out with a guy like that?”

Kate and I were having lunch together in the staff break room. One of the office clerks was currently stuffing her face with way too many fries and watching Jerry Springer. Clearly the show was out of ideas as today’s topic was men who hide their girlfriends.

“As crazy as it seems, I am certain there are guys out there that treat women like this.” I responded not looking away from the television.

“Still if Garrett ever tried this shit with me, he would be on his ass in a millisecond.”

We continued to watch the show as five men confessed that they deliberately dated women who they purposely kept hidden from their friends and family. The first guy went on to tell that he sought out women who met a certain criteria. When the audience booed him, he made a point of shouting to the audience that all men have a type they prefer. He had me in his corner until he admitted that the women he sought out for being seen in public with were the perfect hard body type. He laughed as he admitted that big girls were more than willing to do whatever he wanted as long as he showed them attention behind closed doors.

The last guy caused me to throw away the rest of my sandwich as he told the story of how he used the same line each and every time he met a girl. He would ask them to dinner and then call them the morning of with a change of venue. He would make up some elaborate story of how he wanted them all to himself and not have other guys looking at his girl. He stated that when you call them “your girl” you have them hook, line, and sinker.

I went back to my desk; I wanted to kill those guys for doing that to women. Kate stayed behind because she wanted to see the girls that the guys had pulled this on. I opened my email to find my best friend Irina had sent me a message. Irina and I had been friends since the third grade when Jimmy Hunter pushed me down on the play ground. She was new to the country and most of the kids avoided her because she had a strong accent. We clicked immediately and have been friends ever since. A few months ago, she received a call from her aunt that her grandmother wasn’t doing very well and wanted to see her. She took a leave of absence and flew back to Russia.

Bella,

I will be back in the states in two weeks. I miss you guys terribly and can’t wait to see you. I have a huge surprise to show you.

Love, Irina’

I quickly forwarded the email to Rose who would be just as excited to see her as I was.

“They were all fat Bella.” I was so startled by Kate as she tossed her empty food container on her desk, that I screamed just a little.

“What are you shouting about? You scared me to death.” I scolded her, my hand clutching my chest.

“Ugh…. Those douche bags on the television. Every single girl was a really big girl. They sought them out to play their macho games with.”

I had to think a minute what she was talking about.

“God, why are some men so callous to think they are…. sooo fabulous that they can treat women like that? Someone should put something in their drink to make their dicks shrivel up.”

Kate was on a rant and in the short time I have known her, I have found that it is best to just let her get it all out.

“Do they not consider that for one single second they are potentially destroying the very core of the girl they are playing with? How would they like it if the girl reversed it on them, refused to meet in secret anymore? Then what would they do when the only date they could get was their left hand?”

That night after my session with Jasper, I went home and really thought about what Kate had said. Rose came rushing home and went right into her bedroom slamming the door in her wake. She surfaced twenty minutes later hopping down the hallway trying to put her shoes on.

“Hey Rose, can I ask you something?”

She rounded the couch and began to change her earrings. “Sorry, I’m in such a rush. I had to fix a starter on a car that came in last minute and I refuse to miss my workout so I’m running late for my date with Emmett.”

“Speaking of Emmett, does he take you to public places when you two go out or does he take you to his house?”

Rose looked at me bewildered as she sat down beside me. “Well, we usually go grab dinner at a little place near his house, only because he knows I am watching what I eat; but then we go to the movies or his friend’s house. We have ended up at his house a few times. Why do you ask?”

I let out a silent breath. He wasn’t trying to hide her from his friends, Emmett was a good guy.

“Just wondering what you guys do, that’s all.”

I was pardoned from any further questions as the doorbell rang indicating Emmett’s arrival.

“That’s Emmett, don’t wait up.” She smiled and then winked at me.

As I crawled into bed that night, I tried to rid myself of the memory of the terrible talk show. I was lying on my left side looking at the numbers on my alarm clock when my cell indicated I had a text message.

Good night sweet girl, thinking of you. ~ XO E

I battled over whether to respond or not. In the end, I typed a quick message back.

Good night Edward, sweet dreams. ~ B

I had just turned the lamp off when it dinged again. His words made my heart flutter just a little.

They always are, because they are of you. ~ E

Rose ended up staying at Emmett’s house Thursday and Friday night. She texted me that she wanted to spend time with him because he had a weekend shift coming up. I chose to set on the couch and watch classic movies. By doing this by myself, it was probably the most moronic thing I have ever done.

I started with The Princess Bride. I became frustrated when I noticed that the main character was blonde and beautiful. She had two men that wanted her attention. I removed the DVD and put in another one. The Notebook, again a beautiful blonde with a killer body with two men who wanted her. I tried watching the regular movie channels, but it was the same thing over and over. Beautiful girl has two admirers, one clearly right for her, the other doing everything in his power to break her down. However, not one girl had issues with appearance or self-confidence.

I was about to give up when I landed on a move titled Baby cakes. It starred Rikki Lake and told the story of a young woman who worked for a funeral home. She was overweight and saw a man in the subway one day. She became obsessed with him and decided to pursue him. In one particular scene, she decided to change the way she dressed; gone from long baggy dresses to tight miniskirts and full makeup. She managed to get the attention of the guy from the subway, only to have him call her a friend of his kid sister’s when they were in front of his friends. I had enough at that point.

I switched off the television and crawled into bed. I tossed and turned as I compared the men on the talk show to the men in the movies I had watched. Was dating this huge game that people played with each other? Did I really want to play this game?

I was up before the sun on Saturday. I hit the gym when I knew it would be empty. I was still tossing ideas around in my mind. I stopped by the grocery store on my way home and then cleaned our apartment from top to bottom. Just after ten, my cell phone began to ring. Picking it up, I noticed it was Edward calling. I braced myself for him to have an excuse to cancel our date.

“Hello?”

“Good morning Bella, its Edward, how are you this morning?” I was surprised by his chipperness this morning; it did nothing to calm the large lump I had in my throat.

“I’m good, thanks for asking.” I replied. I hoped he couldn’t detect the shakiness in my voice. If he did, he never let on that he did.

“Hey….I was just out grocery shopping and I came across a really great deal on prawns and I was hoping you would be open to having dinner at my house instead of going out tonight. I have some mad cooking skills that I want to impress you with. I’m hoping you aren’t allergic to shellfish”

His voice was clear without a hint of ulterior motive; however the pictures in my mind of the men who had bragged about playing games wouldn’t leave my mind. I closed my eyes and willed the lump to go away as I backed away into the well-built shell I had built over the past twenty four hours.

“Oh, well actually…I was planning on calling you a little later…. I knew you had duty last night and I wanted to give you time to get rested. I um….I had something happen last night that I have to take care of and so I need to cancel. I hope you haven’t already purchased the seafood.”

I bit my bottom lip as I waited to hear if he had already spent money. I would find a way to reimburse him for the prawns.

“No, I’m actually standing at the sea food counter at the store. Is there anything I can help you with, I mean the thing you have to take care of tonight?”

I rationalized that I wasn’t really lying to him as something did come up last night; my over active brain.

“No…thanks for offering, but this is something I will have to fix.” Again not lying…technically.

“Well, if you happen to fix it before tonight comes give me a call and I can whip up something simple and we can watch a movie or something.”

Something told me I wasn’t reading this the wrong way. I knew that if Edward treated me like a princess behind closed doors and then like a friend of his kid sister’s with his friends, I would certainly dive back into my bad eating habits. The thing I learned during this change is that food doesn’t judge you; it welcomes you with open arms wrapping you in a blanket of false security. Leaving you bruised and bleeding when the container is empty. I had enough bruises and I didn’t care for the sight or smell of blood.

Rose came home just after lunch; she had this blissful look about her. No one needed to guess why she was so happy. She sat down beside me and I could feel the happiness radiating from her.

“Do you want help getting ready for your date tonight?” No matter how much happy vibes she was spreading, nothing could help with the guilty feeling I was having in the pit of my stomach.

“No, we had to reschedule.” I tried to keep the emotion out of my voice, but I knew I was failing miserably.

Rose turned her body to mine and with her best mother impression she gave me the look and said, “Spill it. I mean everything. Do not leave out one piece of information.”

I knew that I couldn’t hide anything from her, just as she couldn’t hide anything from me. So I told her everything, each and every crazy detail. When I was finished, she leaned back into the sofa cushions and blinked several times. I waited while she absorbed the ramblings I had just fed her.

“Ok, I can totally see why you would think that about Edward. I can fully admit that he is quite attractive and based on what you have seen lately, I can somewhat see your prospective, but….”

There is always a but. It’s the death sentence after the praise.

“Bella, you are not a stupid girl. You know that the majority of the topics on those shows are hyped up to boost ratings. You also know that Hollywood has played that same story line as long as they have been able to produce movies, but all that stuff is fiction.”

She was right. I knew that everything she said was factual. I was just having a hard time getting my brain and heart to communicate at the same time.

“So, you think I should call Edward and go over to his house?”

Rose looked out the window for a few moments, the look of concentration on her face.

“No, you have worked yourself into a position that will require solid proof that Edward isn’t a douche. He needs to prove this to you without knowing he is doing it. That is the only way you are going to be able to get past this. I have an idea though.”

I was all ears at this point. I didn’t want to go through life fearing men and the potential threat they posed.

“Didn’t you say that Alice and Jasper wanted to get together with us as a group?” I nodded my head as I waited for her to continue.

“Let’s set this up where we all go out somewhere as a group. If things don’t feel comfortable for you, you can signal me and we can get out of there. That way you can see how he treats you around his friends and out in public.”

She did have a good idea. If we were all together I could see how he acted and if he seemed truly interested.

“I can see the wheels turning, but don’t worry. I’ll set the whole thing up, although you have to promise me you will call or text Edward in the morning and let him know you are alright. I know he really likes you and he is a great guy.”

I followed her advice and texted Edward when I got out of bed. He asked if there was anything he could do for me and of course I told him no.

Monday at the gym, Kate came along and met Alice and Angela. She decided to give the gym a try and Garrett volunteered to get her started. As we were all leaving, Alice stopped us and made sure we were all aware of the date we would be having this weekend.

“Hey Bella,” Edward’s velvety voice caught me off guard as I was about to answer Alice.

I quickly turned to find him dressed in his uniform with his gym bag slung over his shoulder. The dark blue made his strong features stand out and I found myself tripping over my own tongue.

“H-Hi Edward, just getting off work?” Could I be anymore lame? He was in his uniform, of course he was.

“I was just confirming with Bella here about our group date on Friday.” Rose had to have told Alice about our conversation. She was way too pushy with this group date.

“Uh…yeah, Emmett mentioned that everyone wanted to get together and do a group thing.”

I looked to his face and tried to read it. His eyes flashed to mine as he addressed his next question to me.

“You’re going to be there? I mean, you are coming with Rose right?…. I mean, of course not with Rose, but with her in the same car and not with someone else?”

He was fumbling with his words more than I was. Could he be just as nervous as I am about this?

“Yes Edward, I’m planning to be there. I am excited actually to get a chance to hang out. Have a little fun you know?”

I hadn’t even realized Emmett had joined the group until I heard him snicker at Edward’s nervousness.

The smile on his face was enough to get Emmett to slug him in the shoulder with an “I told you so,” whatever that meant.

Friday arrived and with it the group date. Rose and Emmett made reservations at a place around the block from Emmett’s apartment. Bugsy’s was a bar and grill known for their hamburgers. Rose tried to talk me into a salon visit for a hair style but I firmly stood on our plan of seeing how he acted around his friends, no enhancements allowed.

By the time we arrived, Kate and Garrett were dancing to an old sixties song, Run around Sue. They were laughing more than they were dancing, it was clear he cared for her by the look on his face. Alice and Jasper were sitting so close you couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began. Emmett was out of his chair and beside Rose faster than humanly possible.

Rose began to giggle as Emmett showered her face and neck with kisses.

“Bella!” Alice shouted over the music of the juke box.

I smiled as I turned my attention back to the table. Alice was out of her seat as Jasper’s hand trailed down her side hanging on for the last possible moment he could touch her.

“Oh my god! Am I ever glad you are here. The band that was going to be playing had to cancel due to an accident and the band they have now is terrible. We ordered appetizers and drinks but everyone is ready to leave before the band starts back up.”

She didn’t give me a second to answer her as she clamped my hand in hers and dragged me to the table. Edward was standing beside his chair running his hands along the back of it. As I approached, his smile got bigger and bigger. When I was standing directly beside the table, he pulled a chair out for me and then shocked me by placing a kiss to my cheek before pushing in my chair.

“I’m so glad you made it. I was beginning to worry you had changed your mind.”

I looked at my watch to see we were a few minutes late, but nothing that should have warranted his concern.

“Are you kidding? I have looked forward to this all week.” I smiled as Garrett and Emmett took their seats.

Conversation flowed quite easily. The band was still getting ready to play when we had finished our meal. Jasper was telling a funny story about an older client that he had back in Texas that wanted an exercise to increase his penis size. By the time he was finished, I was laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes. I had leaned forward in my attempts to get my laughing under control and when I rested my back against the chair, Edward’s arm was now lying across the top of my chair, his finger tip grazing my shoulder.

Although I hadn’t expected this, it wasn’t completely unwanted. I chose to continue enjoying the conversation even when his fingers began to rub my arm. Once the band began to play, there was no question that they were terrible. When the first song was finished, Emmett suggested we all head over to Edward’s apartment and play some pool.

“Do you mind riding with Edward, Bella? I want to talk to Emmett about something.”

Inside I was flipping her off, but on the outside I only smiled as I turned to Edward, “Is that alright with you?… I mean if you would rather me ride with someone else or if you only want the guys to come over.”

I gave him every option I could think of, every chance to tell me he had enough of my company tonight; more importantly that he didn’t want to be alone with me in his car.

“I actually prefer you ride with me, Bella. Give us a chance to talk before everyone gets there.”

With what I knew of Edward, I had totally pegged him as a truck guy. A great big king cab with all the bells and whistles included. Imagine my surprise when he opened the passenger door to a dark colored two door sports car. Once I was inside and buckled in, I used the opportunity that the map light gave me to check out the interior. The football colored leather seats felt like soft butter, the wood grain dash board was slick and very polished, but the best part was the combination of new car smell and fine grade leather. When he turned on the engine, I could feel the power of the car vibrate through my seat. He pulled into traffic and did a fishtail move that made me giggle. I noticed that out of the corner of my eye, he was laughing too.

“Honestly Bella, I was hoping for a minute alone with you. I wanted to make sure you were doing alright.”

I watched as he drove around cars like they were nothing; weaving in and out of traffic.

“I’m great actually. My best friend is headed home from Russia soon, so I’m excited to see her again.”

“That’s awesome, has she been on vacation?”

“No, she was taking care of her grandmother. They are a very close family and Irina went to nursing school so the family insisted she return home to care for her.”

“Wow….that’s a long way to travel from here isn’t it?”

“Yeah, with the time change, I haven’t been able to talk to her other than an occasional email. I can’t wait until she gets back.”

“Rose told me a little about why you guys joined the gym. I wanted to tell you that you are an inspiration and if you ever need a cheerleader, I am always available to you.”

I didn’t really know how to respond to that, so I stayed silent.

He clicked a button that rested above his rear-view mirror, the metal gate rising up that surrounded the brick building. He quickly parked into an empty slot and turned off the engine.

When I was standing in the parking garage, I noticed several other cars parked in line with his. His neighbors must have money by the names of the cars that were parked there. You didn’t spend any time around Rose and not know a few things about cars.

“The elevator is right over here,” Edward gestured as his hand slid into the middle of my lower back.

Edward took out a key and twisted it into the key hole on the elevator. I found it strange that there were no numbers only a key hole.

The ride up was so smooth that I didn’t even feel the elevator move, only the feel of his fingertips as he played with one of my belt loops. I followed his directions as the elevator door opened and the lights in the room began to turn on. The doors closed and Edward made his way down the long hall. I could hear the sound of laughter as the door opened again and the rest of the guys emptied off the elevator.

“Can I get you something to drink?” Edward was now standing behind a bar that sat against a wall in the large room at the end of the hall. Behind the bar was a huge mirror that had CULLEN in big green letters.

“Water is fine, thank you.”

I turned to look around the room but quickly stopped when I saw not one but two pool tables in the center of the room. On the far side of the room, the wall was covered in shelves that housed hundreds and hundreds of trophy’s and ribbons. While the guys were getting fresh beers, I walked over to look at the wall. The gold plates that sat at the bottom of each trophy had Edward’s name engraved. They listed different pool leagues and national titles.

“It’s amazing what you learn from a person when you actually take time to talk with them.”

I turned to give Rose an up close eye roll.

“You’re such a bitch some times.” I laughed at her.

“True, but I’m also correct.”

Emmett announced that he was ready to take on the King of the Pool Room. Edward smiled and took a drink of his beer turning his back to Emmett.

“Emmett has wanted to play pool against Edward for years. Do me a favor and ask Edward to play him, trust me please.” Rose whispered in my ear.

I watched Emmett hang his head slightly as Edward turned him down with his actions. I took in a quick breath as I looked in Edward’s direction.

“Edward, I would love to see you and Emmett play a game of pool.”

The room suddenly became very quiet as everyone looked between me and Edward. He looked at me and gave me a shy smile.

“Sure Bella, we can play for you.”

I didn’t understand why Rose wanted me to ask this of Edward. I would certainly remember to ask her later.

Edward pulled a bar stool and had me set near the bar. I thanked him and took a drink of my water. It only took a few minutes for Edward to clear the table. He even let Emmett break and sink three balls. Edward never missed and I watched in amazement as he made the game look so simple. When he called the final shot, Emmett could only laugh as he placed his cue stick back in its holder on the wall.

“All these years of begging you to play a game with me, and the first pretty girl who asks you, and you wipe the floor with me.”

The next pair got up and began playing a new game. Edward came to stand beside me as I watched Angela and Kate play each other.

“Care to share how you were able to do that?”

Edward smiled as he leaned over closer to my ear.

“When I was little, my parents would go all the time and play pool. That’s how they met actually. When I got a little older, my parents began to teach me how to play. We started competing when I was in junior high and it became a family thing.”

My eyes widened, “So you’re a professional pool player, like on those Las Vegas shows?”

“Not exactly, I have earned enough points to be considered a professional and I refuse to play against anyone in a bar for money.”

“So you do this for fun?”

“You could say that. Do you like watching?”

I looked back at the game that was more of two girls being provocative for their boyfriends then really playing.

“Well, if I could understand the rules, maybe it would be more exciting for me, but yes, I do like watching…you.”

Edward smiled, “Would you consider going with me to a competition tomorrow in Seattle? My parents will also be there. One of us would always be beside you and could explain what is happening.”

I thought about it and decided that since his parents would be there, it wouldn’t really be a date. It seemed he was fine being around me when we were in a group.

“I would love that Edward.”

Thank you to my beta Kim Edwards. I have thrown so much at her in the past few days and she has worked her tail off to get them back to me.

Don’t forget to hop over and read my other fiction, Truth about lies. Its getting good over there….

Thank you to all of you who are reading and reviewing. I love reading what you have to say. Next chapter we might get to hear from our favorite Poolward….

8. Chapter 8

Chapter 8

EPOV

“Tell me you finally got her number.”

It was the first time I had gathered enough courage to actually talk to her, instead of my usual stalker staring. Emmett is my brother from another mother. He saw her the first day she came into the gym. He got my attention and I was hopelessly in love with her from the first look.

“No thanks to you, did you see how quickly she shut me down?”

“I still don’t get what the issue is; walk over to her and ask her out.”

I rolled my eyes as I picked up a set of weights, “Because I’m not like you, I can’t just walk up and say, ‘hey Babe, wanna go out?'”

Emmett grabbed my arm stopping me from raising the weight any further, “First of all, I don’t say anything that lame, and if I ever heard you say it I would rip your tongue out.”

I had an amazing group of friends. Emmett and I had been friends since we were both in diapers. I met Jasper while working out in a gym in Fort Worth Texas. I was so impressed with him that I kept in contact with him. He called me up about a year ago after a bad breakup with his longtime girlfriend and asked if I was willing to invest in a gym he wanted to open. I told him about a place that was perfect if he wanted to move to Washington. He jumped at the chance and I helped him to open Real Time.

I was helping him put some equipment together when the front doors opened and in walked this very short, sad looking young girl. She introduced herself to Jasper and told him her therapist wanted her to start working out a few days a week. Poor Jasper didn’t stand a chance against Alice’s sad eyes. He helped her to get over a lot of bad things that were going on in her life, moved her out of her boyfriend’s house once he started noticing bruises on her body. She was broken for so long and he brought her back. He told us he never thought for one minute he wouldn’t marry her.

Rose….What a fire cracker that girl is. The minute Emmett saw her, he told everyone that would listen that she was going to be the mother of his children. Emmett’s dad is a private investigator, and he had him get as much information on Rose as he could. When Emmett found out that her current boyfriend worked at the pawn shop over on Main, he had me go with him to pay him a little visit. One look at Royce King and we both shook our heads and left the shop. He was on the phone to his mother crying to her, because the kid that worked at the check cashing store had beaten him in an online game of World of WarCraft. The man had actual tears running down his face.

Emmett sat back and waited for the guy to mess up. It took a single day for Rose to storm in the gym and Emmett was more than ready when she did. He had her number and a date before she left that day.

Emmett’s dad, Matt, also had a look into Bella for me as well. When I found out she was the Sheriff’s daughter, I made an appointment with him. He was a busy man and it would be after the county picnic before I would get my chance. My parents raised me to be respectful; introducing yourself to a girl’s father was a must. My mother would take me over her knee if she found out I had disrespected a man in that way.

Garret joined the department the same time Emmett and I did. The entire crew knew how I felt about Bella, but they also couldn’t understand my issues with just asking her out already. Garrett even tried to help me out when he attended the county picnic. He told me he hinted to Bella that I was interested in her. I later found out from Rose that he never mentioned her name, only that I had my eyes on someone.

Emmett and the guys felt that I was taking too long getting my balls out of my throat and asking for a date with Bella. So, Emmett did the one thing that was certain to light a fire under my ass. He called my dad. My father came over and made me look at the situation from an angle I had never thought of.

“What would happen if the next time you saw her, she was hanging off the arm of another man?”

My heart sunk at the thought.

“I can tell by your face that this would not be a good thing. Ask her to coffee Edward; coffee is innocent. Hell, you may not even like her once you have a conversation with her.”

I took my father’s advice and asked her out for coffee. Chief Embry reminded me that I had to be careful with Tanya Denali. She was a loose cannon that could go off at any time. He was right; she had nearly cost me my chance with Bella. The biggest thing I learned about Bella during our coffee date was the girl has character. She is loyal and honest and the type of girl you take home to your mother.

Rose had taken me aside one night when she brought Emmett dinner. She told me I had to be very patient and try not to read anything into Bella cancelling on me. I flat out asked Rose if Bella had changed her mind about me and she said that it was Bella’s story to tell, but not to laugh too hard when she finally told me.

Last night when I watched Bella walk into that bar, I nearly lost my breath. I have seen her several times in her workout clothes, but Bella in blue jeans and a simple top is something to behold. Her hair called to me as we sat and had dinner. I couldn’t help myself as I laid my arm over the back of her chair letting my fingertip get lost in the soft strands of hair that rested over her shoulder. I gave Bella the highlights of my pool playing, but when she asked me to play a game against Emmett my mind screamed for me to say no. Although, my desire to make her smile won out and I did something I swore to myself I wouldn’t do; beat Emmett when his girl was watching.

My dad, Carlisle, grew up very poor. He wanted to be a doctor, but his family had no money. His uncle had taught him how to play pool from an early age, so he decided to hustle money by playing in pool tournaments. It took him a while but he finally saved enough money to pay for college. During one of his summers, he was at a tournament when he met my mother. They have always said it was love at first sight. She was there with a friend and he asked if she would let him buy her dinner. By the third date, he asked her to marry him.

Now mom comes from money. Let’s just say that my grandfather made sure that my father finished medical school before he let my mother walk down that isle. My father never gave up playing pool and most of the dates he took my mother on were to pool halls. She paid attention and now she has won the National women’s grand championship three years in a row.

When Bella agreed to go to Seattle with me, I called my mother the second she left. My mom assured me that she would make Bella feel very welcome and would explain the game to her. My dad was concerned that I would lose my concentration if I had Bella there. I told him that only time will tell.

So, I loaded my jeep with all of my equipment and headed for Bella’s apartment. When Bella opened the door, my breath was again taken away. Her face was so soft that I wanted to cup it in my hands as I kissed her pink lips.

“Good morning,” she giggled. Her joy was contagious and I responded with a, “Good morning to you too, beautiful.”

“Oh Mr. Cullen, an optometrist visit is in your future.”

“I will have you know I just had a full eye exam and I have perfect vision.”

Her smile was still on her face as she shook her head.

“Hey where is your car from last night?” She questioned as I held open the door to the jeep.

“Well, as much as I love that car, I like to have a four wheel drive in case I get into a rough area.”

A few years ago, the hotel that the pool tournament was being held in burned the night before. The organizers found a warehouse that they quickly moved all the tables to. However, the road to get there was full of mud and pot holes. I had to be towed out of that parking lot when I bent the frame on my car.

“That makes since, but when you say a rough area you’re not talking about the ghetto are you?”

I wanted to laugh at her nervousness.

“No, not the ghetto by any means. Sometimes there is a quick change of venue, but it’s always in a safe area.”

I wanted to reach over and take her hand in mine and show her how much I wanted to be a couple with her, but when I saw her tuck her hands between her thighs I had to put that thought away.

“So, we have a few hours before we get there. Tell me something about you that no one else knows.”

Her face flashed to mine and I alternated between looking at her and the road ahead.

“Well….when I was eleven, I took a package of jolly ranchers from the grocery store. I was so scared my mother would find out that I ate the entire package and made myself sick. The next time I went to the store, I placed the money in the cripple children’s collection bucket.”

I smiled at her, even as a child she was honest.

“Your turn, Edward.”

I thought for just a moment before I admitted the single thing no one knew about me.

“When I applied to college, my father wanted me to be a doctor like him. I did as well, to a point. I wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives. I was visiting a friend of the family in New York and I watched a fireman save a little girl from a burning building. I watched as he just ran right into the building that had smoke pouring out of it, and a few minutes later he was climbing down a ladder with the limp girl hung over his shoulder. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

The very next day, I went down to city hall and tried to join the New York City fire department. When I found out that I didn’t have half of the qualifications, I started shopping around for schools that I could get the qualifications from. It was then I started hitting the gym and working out very hard. Emmett found out and decided that his football career was going nowhere so he joined me. When my father asked us why we were changing, Emmett told him it was because of 9/11. Although it is a good reason, it wasn’t my reason. I just never admitted it to anyone…until now.”

I watched as Bella’s eyes looked out the front windshield and then back to me. She reached out and took my hand. “Thank you for sharing that.”

I smiled and then linked our hands together. Now that I had that hand of hers, I wasn’t giving it up.

When we arrived at the hotel, I noticed my parents were just getting out of their car. I pulled in alongside of them as my father was pulling his equipment out of the trunk. I rushed around and opened the door for Bella. Even if my mother hadn’t been standing there watching, I still would have done the gentlemanly thing.

“Bella, I want to introduce you to my parents.”

I watched as her eyes grew in size slightly as I again took her hand in mine and walked around the car. My mother stood beside my father. He had just placed his arm around her and they were making their way towards us.

“Edward love, how are you?” My mother may be a full figured lady, but she could move when she wanted to. She had noticed my hand holding Bella’s and the usual sweet smile my mother carried was turned up full blast.

“Hi mom, I want you to meet someone. Bella this is my mother Esme, Mom this is Bella.”

I didn’t want to call Bella my friend, because she was so much more than a friend to me. I had plans for us and they included a minister and a white dress. However, I couldn’t spook Bella by calling her the girl I wanted to have children with.

“Bella, it is truly a pleasure to meet you. Edward has told me quite a bit about you, although you didn’t tell me she was so beautiful.”

My mom didn’t give Bella a second to even answer her as she wrapped her arms around her and hugged her tightly.

“Esme, let the poor girl breathe,” My father spoke as he nudged his way between the two.

“Hello, I’m Carlisle, Edwards’s father. As you can see, I am the reason he is so good looking.”

My father’s second job was a standup comedian….not.

Bella didn’t help the situation when she shamelessly laughed at his attempted humor.

“Come on Bella…let’s get you a good seat.” I was about to take Bella’s hand in mine when my parents surrounded her.

“Not so fast my favorite son, you have had her for the past few hours; it’s our time now.”

My mouth fell open at my parent’s words. They were going to kidnap her from me. We weren’t even a real couple yet and they were ready to adopt her.

I quickly wrapped my arm around my mother and pulled her into my side.

“Just be careful what you tell her about me. Remember, I am the one who will choose what kind of nursing home you live in.” Everyone laughed and my parents let go of Bella only to join hands.

I smiled at her as she whispered, “I love them Edward.”

I held Bella’s hand as we stood in line for registration. I saw several of the regulars that seem to follow the circuit. When it was my turn, I took out the white envelope that I had placed in my stick case. The entry fee for this tournament was fifteen hundred dollars with a grand prize of ten thousand dollars. The scantily clad red head opened the envelope and quickly counted the one hundred dollar bills inside.

“Alright Mr. Cullen, everything seems to be in order. Here is the lineup and your VIP tickets you requested.”

Last night after Bella agreed to come and watch us compete, I called my dad and he arranged for us to have VIP tickets. I wanted Bella to be comfortable and also not be bothered by any of my competitors. I knew she was beautiful and I also knew she would be hit on by several men here tonight. I didn’t want that to happen.

My first game was going to start in twenty minutes. Normally, I used this time to get my mind focused and my muscles loose. However, today I escorted the most beautiful woman to a plush chair with a clear view of the entire room.

“Bella, my first game is at table five.” I pointed to the pool table that was across the room.

“If you want a better view of the table, you can watch it on the monitor.” I pointed to the flat screen on the wall.

“My mom will be here to explain what is happening and if you have any questions please ask her. Depending on who I am up against it could take up to an hour.” I smiled at her and then turned to the concierge.

“Make sure these beautiful ladies have anything they want.” I slipped two hundred dollars into his hand.

“Of course, sir.” He nodded.

I made my way over to the judge’s table and checked in for my game. I had never heard of the guy I was playing against, but it didn’t matter; I had a girl to impress. He didn’t stand a chance.

“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the National Billiards Challenge!” The announcer stood in the center of the room dressed in a tuxedo; it reminded me of a boxing match.

“Tonight’s event is a double elimination game. Competitors have been chosen at random and will play until they have lost two games. Once we have our final two competitors, it will be a single elimination match.”

The first guy was named Marty Lipinski. He was a little older than me, but was no taller than Alice. He had platforms on his shoes, but they did nothing to help him with his game. It took me less than seven minutes to win my first match.

My next game was due to start in just a few minutes and I didn’t have enough time to go over and talk to Bella. I did chance a look at her and found her laughing with my parents. My father was making wide circles with his hands, while my mom was turning red with embarrassment.

Mark Malone was my next opponent. He was all flashy with his diamond rings on his hands and his slick hair combed straight back. “You ready to lose there, pretty boy?”

He jeered as he laughed while chalking the tip of his cue stick. My father taught me a long time ago that men like Mark try to get into your head, take your focus off the game and on to them. I learned early not to fall for those kinds of tricks.

I waited patiently while he broke and then proceeded to sink two solid balls.

“Thought I’d give you a little playing time; something to tell your buddies back home about.”

I was done listening to the shit coming out of his mouth. I cleared the table and won the game. Mark tried to get a rematch stating I somehow cheated. The officials reviewed the tapes and found my game to be clean.

I headed over to the VIP section. I wanted to see Bella, make sure she was still talking to me after all this time with my parents.

“Edward, oh my gosh, that was so much fun to watch!” Her eyes were bright with excitement. I look to my mom who mouthed, “I love her” to me. I smiled and then winked at her.

“Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying this.”

Bella turned in her chair facing me, “I really am. Can you show me how to play some time? I mean not like you do, I could never play like that…just…you know, how to shoot straight?”

Her face told me she was honest in her desire to learn how to play. I was more than willing to spend hours teaching her everything I knew.

“Absolutely, you name the time and the place and I will be there.” I smiled as I took a bottle of water from the concierge. I never drank alcohol when I was playing in tournaments.

“Edward, you have those beautiful tables at your house. Why don’t you show her a few things when you get back tonight?” My mother, the ever clever one added.

“Oh…I couldn’t ask that of him. I mean the last thing he would want to do later is…”

She had no idea how wrong she was. I loved to play and the thought of teaching my passion to her was more than a dream come true.

“Later would be perfect. We can order in and I can show you some very basic steps. We can even visit one of the venders in the hall and get you a cue stick of your own.”

Thankfully, my name was being paged overhead before she could protest. I snagged one of the venders and asked them to bring several sticks up to the VIP section. My dad would be there to help pick out a good stick.

I played six more games before I lost one on a technicality. I could have kicked myself for forgetting to call the pocket on my last shot. My father only shook his head at me as I took a seat beside him.

“Never forget the basics.” He didn’t have to say anything, I was completely able to kick my own ass for being so stupid.

Since I lost, I had to wait until everyone who was still winning played. Once that was finished, my name was called and I made my way back to the tables.

Patrick Cleary, a smart assed Irish fuck who was one of the few men who could get under my skin. He had never beaten me in all the times we had played together, but that didn’t keep him from flapping his gums at me.

“Well, if it isn’t Edward Cullen.”

I chose to avoid eye contact hoping he would get tired and move on.

“I see you got yourself a girl.”

Nope…no such luck.

“Patrick, glad to see you crawled out from whatever hole you dug for yourself.”

Patrick was much like me, in that he had been playing since he was very little. The difference was he had no issues with cheating.

“Now don’t you be worried about where I came from, worry about what your girl will look like following me back home.”

I jumped to my feet ready to break his nose. He was smaller than me and it would be so easy. I looked over his shoulder to see my father standing with his arms crossed shaking his head. I had crossed a line letting Patrick get under my skin. Instead of saying anything to him, I chose to turn around and get my focus back.

I was able to reign in my temper and focus on the next four games for the win. I was in the semifinals. My dad came over to join me as I waited to see who my next opponent was.

“Well, your mother has a new best friend.”

I turned to face him, his face trying to hold in his laughter.

“This may be none of my business, but how is the date going?”

My dad was the kind of guy who could separate himself into whatever role you needed.

“Well, it’s obvious that I like her a lot. I definitely want more than just friendship with her, and I can clearly see a forever with her.”

“But….” My father was also very good at reading people.

“Well…she…she makes me nervous.”

My father began to laugh and not just a chuckle, but tilts the head back and laugh.

“Oh son, that’s a good thing; shows you care more than just getting into her panties.”

Oh, and he is a blunt son-of- a- bitch too.

My name was called again before we could continue. I was playing against Patrick’s brother, Frankie. Frankie or Francis as his mother calls him is a decent player. He’s nothing like his brother and appreciated a fair game. However, right before we could even shake hands, he tripped over what seemed like thin air and broke his wrist. He had to forfeit which advanced me to the finals.

I waited to see who I would be playing against. I watched as Patrick lost miserably to a very quiet guy who was really good, but no one seemed to know anything about.

Laurent French defeated Patrick and would play me for the championship. The rules for the finals were explained in detail. Mom and Bella decided to come down and stand beside my father. I heard Bella question if this would be alright, so I turned to her and grabbed her hand pulling her close.

“I want you here, be my good luck charm.”

Her smile was shy this time; however, her eyes told me the real story. She stood on her tippy toes and kissed my cheek.

Even if I lost to this guy by having Bella kiss me I was already a winner.

During the final game, the players who had lost during the day were allowed to sit around the table and watch. They were allowed to rile us as well. When my father started teaching me to play in these tournaments he also taught me how to play while he called me names and made fun of me. This part of the game never bothered me.

Laurent was a really good player; he was ahead of me as I took my turn.

“Hey Cullen, wait until your girl gets a look at my stick…she will beg me to take her home.”

I sunk two balls and then replied, “Patrick the last time a girl touched your dick was when your mother changed your diaper.”

My eyes didn’t leave the table as the crowd roared with laughter. The judges called a time out when the camera that was monitoring malfunctioned. I looked over toward Bella to find her hiding behind a metal column.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” I questioned as I cleared the space between us.

“That man was making disgusting motions with his tongue at me.”

I turned around to see who she was talking about. Patrick was staring in our direction, his hand on his junk.

“I’ve got it Edward, go win this game.” My father said before I could do anything.

“You ok?” I questioned my thumb on her chin.

“Yeah, go do as your father said and win this game.”

I smiled as I leaned down and whispered in her ear, “This one is for you.”

With the monitor repaired, I resumed my position at the table. I noticed that Laurent had begun drinking during the break, so I would use this mistake to my advantage.

Laurent was up and I noticed he had over looked one of his balls as he aimed for the eight ball.

“Corner pocket,” he called.

I watched as he completely missed the shot.

I lined up and took care of the last three balls I had on the table. When I lined up my final shot, I looked to Bella who was standing with her hands tucked under her chin.

I blew her a kiss and gave her a wink as I called out the pocket and sank the eight ball.

9. Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Still don’t own the right to twilight. I did, however, obtain a beautiful charm bracelet from the UK; it covers all of the books and I love it. Also, I do own this plot and if you don’t have my permission you can’t use it. Thank you goes to everyone who is still strapped in and riding this ride with me. Cocktails will be served at the end of the chapter; don’t forget to tip your waiter.

BPOV

When Edward first invited me to watch his pool tournament, I was expecting to see a few “good ole boys” standing around drinking beer and playing a game. I never expected to walk into one of the upscale hotels in Seattle, be surrounded with ladies dressed in cocktail dresses and see so much money floating around like it was water.

Watching Edward move around that pool table was like watching a feral cat play with its food. He was calculated and skilled. He made each move look like child’s play. And as much as I wanted to deny it, he was sexy as hell. To watch his fingers as they wrapped around the stick, gliding it back and forth until the exact moment when he would release the force, only to start again.

“You know when Edward was little we began teaching him so that he and his father would have something to do together when the weather was bad.”

That was another thing that shocked me was Esme. She was one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, Rose included. Her caramel colored hair, wavy and perfect, like the starlets of the thirties and forties. Her skin flawless, considering she was an older woman, I mean Edward had to be in his mid-twenties so she had to be over forty I would think. But what nearly landed me on my ass was the fact she was a big girl. Her clothing was tasteful with her over sized shirt covering her backside and stomach, her tailored pants with tiny rhinestones at the bottom, and her sheer jacket with matching rhinestones; she was perfect.

Carlisle on the other hand….. All I can say about him is… move over Sean Connery, there’s a new Scotsman in town. If Edward looked a tenth as good as his father when he is his age, his wife will be one lucky lady.

“Edward told me that his father played to earn money for school.”

Esme smiled, her green eyes never leaving her son, “He has always been a determined man. So is Edward, although Edward has always been a lot on the shy side.”

I quickly turned to her, “Shy?”

Her smile was as warm as her hand that held mine, “Yes, my son is very shy. It took a lot of courage for him to ask you here today. He doesn’t share much with me, but I am the mom of the firehouse and I can tell you he talks about you all the time.”

I couldn’t swallow and I’m pretty certain I stopped breathing. Garrett’s words coming back to me.

“He has his eyes on someone else”

I’m the girl he talks about; he’s interested in. I repeated it over and over in my mind, trying it on for size.

“Esme you have raised an amazing man,” I said to her as I squeezed her hand.

She was so patient with me. She took so much time in explaining why a player would do a certain move and not another. How the man that Edward was currently playing was a man to be avoided.

“He likes to use people; take them for what he can and then discard them.”

I watched as the man taunted Edward, nothing serious, just words. Edward never flinched as he defeated him.

“If he ever corners you scream for security, not that I believe Edward will let you out of his sight.” She winked at me.”

Esme was right, I was never alone. When the final game was about to start, I watched as Carlisle made his way to Edward’s side. The man that Esme warned me about was back to talking trash.

“Bella, it’s tradition for us to head over there. If you feel better staying back here it will be fine.”

“No Esme, I want to go over so he knows I am behind him.”

Esme never let go of my hand as we walked past many men and women. They stepped to the side as if she was a queen or something. I would have to ask Edward later about that. Once we were a few feet from Carlisle and Edward, I heard the words that man was saying about me; so, I moved to stand behind one of the support beams. The last thing I wanted was to have Edward embarrassed because of me. Instead of letting me hide, he moved his body to protect me. The warm feeling I had radiated inside my stomach and chest.

Watching Edward standing on that platform accepting his prize was such a moment for me. I couldn’t stop smiling at him. Even when the barely dressed girl hung a blue ribbon around his neck and then kissed his cheek, I couldn’t find it in myself to be upset. It was a moment that I will never forget as long as I live, even if friendship is all that I ever share with him.

I couldn’t shut up on the drive back to Port Angeles. I asked him about everything from how he knew what angle to use to what he thought about as he was playing. He laughed and was so nice to answer each and every one of my questions.

“So, are you really serious about showing me how to play? I mean not like you, but just for fun; something to do when Rose and Emmett are around.”

The smile didn’t leave his face either as we talked or even when he asked me questions about my work and how my workouts were going. We avoided the Tanya subject and I for one was not going to head down that road.

“So….what’s your poison? Curry chicken or sweet and sour?” Edward had said he was craving Chinese food as we came into town. It was late, but he knew a place that delivered.

“Neither, steamed vegetables; I drank too much today.”

Edward’s eyes met mine and he placed the menu on the kitchen island. He walked around the corner and placed himself touching my side. Gently he lifted my face with his hands. No words were said as he just looked into my eyes and I could feel the wall that I had so carefully constructed crumble in a heap on his beautiful wood floor.

“Bella, I don’t want any other girl to make me feel like this.” His voice just above a whisper, the feel of his warm breath as it caressed my cheek. “I really don’t want any other guy this close to you.”

I searched his eyes, looking for even a hint of ulterior motive and found none.

We were having such a great time. Edward had shared his curry chicken with me while he stole most of my steamed vegetables. We shared more stories of when we were little and what we planned to do in the future. But the best part was when he attempted to teach me how to play. I was just so happy that I couldn’t quit giggling. Finally, after several hours of his attempt to show me the simple beginner stuff, I glanced at the clock and noticed it was now nearly three in the morning.

“Do I dare ask if you want to stay the night, I mean technically you have already.” His arms wrapped tightly around me as I tried to put away the sticks we were using. I slowly turned around to find his face so soft and caring.

“Do you work tomorrow?” I asked softly, my eyes darting between his.

“I have to go in for a few hours, but I should be done by dinner time.”

“Then maybe it’s better if I go home tonight, I can call a cab.”

Edward, bringing his face to mine, he looked me in the eye and said, “I will take you home if that is what you want. I have no ulterior motive for wanting you to stay the rest of the night. I am certain you are tired and I want you to be safe. The choice is yours.”

And just when I thought he could get anymore wonderful, he says something like that. I agreed to sleep in his guest room. He motioned for me to walk up the stairs ahead of him. It was then that I noticed a large window on the landing between the flights of stairs. I stopped and took a look outside, the city was quiet, not a single car moving. Had I taken a minute to look harder, I would have seen the red convertible that sat across the street, the top up and the driver seething with anger.

“I’ll see you tonight, Emmett is cooking and he is a master on the grill.”

Edward had woken me up in plenty of time to have a light breakfast with him. He offered to let me shower, but I told him I had plans of hitting the gym this morning.

“Yeah, I actually got a text from Rose about it. It seems he is pretty excited to be cooking for the guys.”

I watched Edward’s face as he looked down. It was as if he wanted to say something, but didn’t know how to start.

“Thank you for yesterday, it was one of the best days I have had in a long time.” It was my turn to shy away from looking at him.

“For me as well, I’m glad you came, although I’m still willing to teach you the basics.”

This caused us both to break into giggles and chuckles as we had the night prior. With a final good bye, I closed the door and headed to the guest bedroom to change. Since I started working out, I have found that I’m able to clear my mind while I exercise.

I greeted Jasper as I entered the building.

“Hello gorgeous!” He called to me, placing a kiss on my cheek.

“Just want to do some cardio and then I plan to take advantage of that huge Jacuzzi I hear so much about.”

“You do that, forty five minute fast walk and then a few minutes to cool down. I have to run out for a while, will you be ok? I have Ben here if you need some training.”

I gave him a one arm hug, “No, I’ll be fine, the treadmill and I have become good friends.”

It was true. I called her she devil. She was the third treadmill from the end. I liked her because she was close to the water cooler and the fan that hung from the ceiling.

“Alright Bella, I hope to be back before you leave. I want to hear about your date with Edward.”

I smiled and told him I would see him later. I was happy to see that she devil was open and waiting for me. I placed my towel over the digital read out once I plugged in my workout choice. It was torture for me to watch the clock slowly tick by on the machine. It was better for me to put my head phones in and lose myself in my music and thoughts.

Yesterday when Esme and I were talking, she asked me why I had joined the gym. I was more than willing to tell her my story. She questioned if I was going to become one of those stick people. I laughed along with her as she told me her reasons behind her decision not to lose weight.

“When I was younger, I was bone thin. I was always teased about having the body of a six year old boy. When I went off to college, I took the freshmen fifteen to a whole new level and for the first time in my life, I felt good in my skin. Carlisle met me after the weight was on and he admitted he preferred a full figured woman. I keep a check on my health and I do watch what I eat and if my health was ever compromised, I would be right beside you in that gym; but for now, I am happy with all my curves and rolls.”

God, how I wanted that type of self-assurance. To be able to stand proud for what you do and how you look. To have the love of a man who looked at the real you, not the nice pretty illusion you created with lotions and powders.

Everything pointed me in the direction that Edward wanted to have more than a friendship with me, however, there was this little part of me who just couldn’t wrap around the thought it could all be real. He could be mine and I could be his.

I remember hearing the treadmill beeping that my time was almost up. It was time for my cool down. I started to take my towel down from the monitor when the side of my face was hit hard by something. I was completely disoriented as flashes of the room whirled around me. I could feel the sting of the treadmill on my knees as the belt continued to roll.

“I TOLD YOU TO STAY AWAY!”

The shrill of the voice in my ear did nothing but make me more disoriented. I think I was now on the floor, but I couldn’t be certain as my back and side was in so much pain.

“EDWARD IS MY MAN! I SAW YOU LAST NIGHT! I TOLD YOU TO STAY AWAY!”

I could now feel something hitting me in the back of my head and the middle of my back, sides and shin.

“TOUCH HIM AGAIN AND I WILL END YOU!”

It was then I felt something scalding hot hit my face followed by searing pain in my chest and left arm.

“GET THE FUCK OFF ME!” I knew it was Tanya’s voice. I had no idea why she was doing this. I tried to move my hair that was blocking my vision, but when I looked at my hands they were covered in blood. I laid my head back on the floor as I could now hear a male voice calling my name. My voice wouldn’t work as I tried to answer.

The last thing I heard was, “We need an ambulance to Real Time fitness, code 1. It’s the Sheriff’s daughter.” Then my world went black.

“Bella?”

“Bella, please open your eyes.” I could hear my father’s voice clearly now. The tears began to fall as I wanted to run to him; to make this pain go away.

“That’s it pumpkin, open those eyes, I’m here.”

The light was bright, too bright and the repetitive beeps were enough to make me go back into the quiet of the darkness.

“D-Daddy?”

“Yes baby, I’m right here.”

I could feel his hand wrapped around mine. The tears running like a river now.

“Shh…shh… it’s alright, your safe now.”

Someone was listening to my thoughts, because the bright lights went away and the calm of sleep took over again.

“Leg shackles, do you understand? I want that psychopath in leg shackles.”

My father’s voice was again bringing me out of my rest. His tone was one I could remember when Rose was caught sneaking out of her window when we were junior in high school. He grounded her for a month after that.

“Charge her with everything you can think of! I want her put under the damn jail house!”

Daddy had always been this protective of Rose and me. During our senior year, a boy tried to get carried away with Rose after she said no. My dad caught wind of it and he went over to the school and dragged him out by his ear giving him two months of community service. The boy never even looked at Rose again.

“Daddy?” my voice was grainy and hoarse.

“Gotta go, she’s awake.”

He was beside my bed faster than humanly possible and looking into his eyes, I could see the terror that lay there.

“Daddy?…Tell me it was a dream.”

He began to brush his fingers across my forehead. “I wish I could, sweetheart. I wish I could.”

Dr. Cullen came in and dad explained that once Edward was told, he insisted his dad check on me. He further told me Edward hadn’t left the hospital since he got here.

“How long was I out?” I questioned my father, looking out the windows in my room and seeing that it was completely dark outside.

“About ten hours give or take. Dr. Cullen said, your body had shut down and just needed time to reboot. He gave you eleven stitches near your temple. The x-rays showed no broken bones, although you did suffer some nasty burns on your arm and chest.”

It wasn’t until he said something that I actually felt the sting.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

Dad sat back in his chair as his hand went into his hair. He had a habit of doing that when he didn’t want to talk about something.

“Well, from the video footage and eye witnesses, it seems that a woman by the name of Tanya Denali decided that she wasn’t impressed by your choice of dates yesterday. She admitted to following you to Seattle and then back to Edwards’s apartment last night.”

I tried to sit up, but it just hurt too much. Dad was quick to try and help me, keeping his distance from my burned arm and chest.

“According to the people in the gym, Tanya had been waiting for you for several hours. She counted on you being tired from your workout so that you couldn’t fight back. What she didn’t count on was Edwards’s station chief and another of his coworkers lifting weights not far from you. His chief was able to remove her from you before she could use the knife she had on her. She did enough damage just hitting you causing you to stumble off the treadmill, the belt doing a number on your knees before tossing you backwards and into a cabinet and then ultimately crashing into another weight machine. Somehow she managed to get a pot of coffee and break it over your head, causing the glass to cut your head and the coffee to burn you. She also used a dumb bell to hit you several times in the head, back and legs.”

It was real. How someone could be so evil to do that to another person is beyond me. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had turned Edward down would I be in this hospital.

“It’s an open and shut case. It was premeditated and your uncle and I are demanding that they go for attempted murder.”

It was quiet after that. I knew she was in jail. I knew I was the safest I could ever be with the Sheriff sitting in my room, but it didn’t make me feel any more secure. Dad let me have time with my thoughts for several minutes before he spoke again.

“Bella, do you remember that morning at the picnic when you first mentioned Edward’s name?”

I didn’t bother to look at him, just nodded my head.

“I knew that name and when I check the calendar on my phone, I remembered why.”

It was pointless to have this conversation. Once this blew over, I’m sure Edward and I would think of this as the huge bullet we dodged.

“He came to my office the next afternoon wanting to introduce himself to me. He explained that he was interested in asking my daughter out to dinner. He wanted my permission to do so.”

That’s when the tears returned. Why did he have to bring up what could have been?

“Bella, I have always wanted the best for my girls. Edward Cullen is a good man. If you think that he will let some psychopath get in his way of being together with you, then you don’t know how determined men work.”

He leaned over and placed a kiss to my forehead.

“Bella, everyone is asleep in the waiting room. I want you to go back to sleep and in the morning, I am going to let Edward in this room. He deserves to see you.”

I watched as my dad crossed the room to the door. Once outside, he spoke quietly to the two uniformed police officers that were guarding my door. He patted one on the back as he turned and left.

Sleep avoided me for a while, my father’s words on repeat inside my mind. When I finally did fall asleep, it was fitful and I felt very tired. Just as the sun began to rise, Rose came in with a large bag in her hand. Her face was free of any makeup and her hair pulled back.

“Oh sissy, I’m so glad you’re alright.” And just like that my focus was back.

Rose helped me get into the shower, keeping my chest away from the hot water. She washed my hair and we saw several more pieces of glass fall down the drain. Just having clean clothes and a clean body made me more alert and did help with the terrible muscle pain I had.

“She won’t get away with this. Her cronies have been singing all day. They have even turned over the photos she took of you guys at the tournament. She really is a very sick bitch.”

When I didn’t respond, Rose made me look at her. “I know what you’re thinking and its crap! He doesn’t give a shit about that crazy bitch. He has been trying to find a way to make you see him for who he really is and right now he is out there in that waiting room worried that at any moment you’re going to ask him to leave.”

She helped me put my socks on, but as soon as I stood up my lounge pants started to fall. “Good lord girl, your clothes don’t fit very well anymore.” She tightened up the drawstring and helped me into a very soft t-shirt.

“Now, let me go and get him before they have to call security on him.”

Rose didn’t give me a second to argue with her. I sat on the edge of the hospital bed tense and uncertain. She was back in a flash with a very worried looking Edward in tow. Once he laid eyes on me, he cleared the distance resting on his knees at my feet and circled my body gently with his arms.

“I’m so sorry.” he kept repeating over and over.

“Edward….what do you have to be sorry about?”

“If I would have known she was watching….”

And there it was the confirmation to my thoughts. “Edward, she is clearly a sick individual. She would have done this to just about anyone.”

“Yes, but she did it to you, Bella…. You don’t deserve this.”

His words rang true. I didn’t deserve any of this. Tanya’s attack, my family being so worried, but most of all I didn’t deserve the man who held me in his arms. Friends were all we could ever be; at least it’s still a relationship.

This chapter has been cleansed by Kimmie41 (Kim Roland-Edwards)

A/N

STOP! Don’t go getting all up in my grill about this. Bella is going through a lot right now. She was just attacked by a Mattel toy. She has to have time to digest this, remember there have been no declarations made. Shy Edward hasn’t really told her he wants to be with her, only confessed a few things to her. Don’t fret; we have plans for these two. Edward will eventually get his act together and Bella will heal emotionally. Til next time…..I just want to wring her neck for thinking all they could ever have is a friendship. Just a thought from your wonderful beta.

10. Chapter 10

No, your not seeing things and FF hasn’t screwed up. I posted a chapter that was in reality, utter shit. The following is the chapter that I wrote a while back and simply forgot about it. The crap chapter you red was written while I was sick. Sorry to anyone who is now confused. The Bella that I created in Worth the weight is not some sad wimpy cry baby. She is struggling with her weight and winning. Along the way she meets an amazing man and they develop a relationship. The chapter that was posted was all over the place and had too much going on. It had Bella acting like an idiot and Edward being forward. So please forgive me and try and enjoy this chapter.

Chapter 10-New Chapter

Bella’s POV

In the days following the attack at the gym, I had plenty of time to over analyze the situation. Dad had told me not to even think about coming into work and I was never so happy to have a father in the position that he was. Jasper and Alice came over to see me, it was then that Jasper informed me that Tanya had been barred from the gym. His attorney had informed her attorney that if her car even ran out of gas on the same block, she would be arrested. It was a comforting thought, but did little to ease the internal battle I waged with myself when it came to Edward.

The completely foolish part of me believed that if I hadn’t been with him that night Tanya would have left me alone. I wouldn’t be covered in bruises and wouldn’t have required the multitude of stitches. The logical side of me knew that Tanya was a mentally disturbed individual. She would have done what she did regardless of the path I chose. She needed mental help and I hope that she could now get that help.

Edward’s parents had sent flowers and his mother made chicken soup for me that she said would cure anything. However, I had begun to push Edward away. I rationalized with myself that it was only things I didn’t let other people do and so denying Edward wasn’t pulling away. It was utter bullshit and I knew it, but he let me set the pace and figure out things for myself.

I had received an email from Irina yesterday. Rose, the big mouth, told her the entire story. She informed me that she was returning to the states and wanted to take me to lunch. I know this was Irina’s way of not letting me shut myself off from the world. I would worry about her later. First order of business today was a follow up with my doctor. The appointment had already been set up, but with the Tanya attack, I figured I could be checked for both issues.

“Bella.” Maria, Dr. Banner’s nurse was as beautiful as ever. I have never seen her without a smile on her face. The best part of her is that she can be professional when she needs to be, but she can also talk to you like one of your friends. She motioned for me to stand on the scale.

“Let’s see what the truth machine has to say today.”

I had confided in her the nick name I had given the scale; she laughed and asked if she could use that term in the future.

I watched the numbers flash zero and then had to open and close my eyes several times.

“Look at you girl! Down 25 pounds.”

I stepped off the scale and insisted something was wrong.

“Let me try that again. That can’t be right.”

Three tries later, it was official, I was down 25 pounds and for a brief time I forgot about the bruises and stitches. My clothes were definitely loose on me and I could feel a difference in my activity level, but twenty five pounds? I was so lost in thought that I didn’t even hear Dr. Banner come in the room.

“Good morning skinny lady.”

I couldn’t help but smile. I never thought it would feel this good when the pounds came off. This was better than any spoon full of ice cream or hand full of potato chips. This was something I did, something to make me better.

“Congratulations are in order, but first I want to hear about this accident you had.”

Even retelling the story to him didn’t sting quite as bad. Tanya couldn’t take away my feeling of pride in myself. She couldn’t destroy all of my hard work. She had no power over me when it came to my weight.

He checked out my stitches and then instructed me to return at the first of the week and Maria would remove them. I offered my hand out to him as I always did at the end of my exam, however he gently took me into his arms in a very warm hug.

“You did good kid, your inspiring me to drop a few pounds.”

I made an appointment for another month as he reminded me that we still had work to do. I smiled and thanked everyone as I left the office and made my way to the deli on Fifth Street. It was Irina’s favorite and she would meet Rose and me at noon. As I entered the deli, I could hear Irina’s distinctive laugh. I followed the laughter to find Irina, Rose and Emmett sitting at a large table. A very large dark haired man sat next to Irina with his arm wrapped around her shoulders. He was sipping a glass of ice tea as he watched the conversation around him. I crossed the room, catching the eye of Emmett who stood and pulled out a chair for me, leaning over and kissing my cheek.

“Oh my god!…Bella look at you!” Irina squealed as she rose from her chair and ran quickly around the table. Irina was always a beautiful girl, however today she had almost an angelic glow about her. Her hug was bone crushing and I winced as she hugged me.

“Oh shit, I’m sorry. I was just so happy to see you.”

I smiled and then kissed her cheek. “Rena it’s no big deal. I haven’t seen you in months, how are you?”

Something big had to have happened, her smile was electric and she had almost a bounce to her posture. Completely unlike her.

Irina had dark hair, deep blue eyes and the palest skin I had ever seen. Hell, she made me look like I had a good tan. She once told me that her grandmother used to make her bath in milk to keep her skin as pale as it was. She believed that the color of your skin was the true measure of your heart. Her family insisted she be pure. The milk baths ended shortly after she became a citizen.

“Well, Bella…I would like you to meet Ivan, my husband.”

I turned to see the man that was sitting beside her, who was also very handsome. He was smiling like he had just won the lottery and by the look of Irina’s ring, I was pretty sure he spent the whole thing on it.

Ivan hadn’t stopped smiling the entire time he slowly placed a gentle kiss on her upper cheek and then said something into her ear. I had to look away, I felt like a voyeur, stealing a moment from a young and in love couple. He then cleared his throat and I glanced back to see him holding out his hand toward me.

“Pleasure to meet you, Bella. Irina talks about you nonstop.”

I looked at Irina and gave her a questionable look. She looked lovingly into Ivan’s eyes as she nudged his shoulder.

“Don’t worry; some things will go to the grave with me.” We both began to giggle at that.

“Ivan it is a pleasure to meet you as well, only I’m slightly pissed that I didn’t get an invite to the wedding.”

Poor Ivan, his face fell and he quickly looked at Irina.

“I told you they would be mad if we married without your friends there.”

He was so cute, he was so much bigger than her, but you could see that she could bring him to his knees. He would do anything for her.

“Ivan, its fine. I know how I rank with her. She will tell me about your children when they graduate from high school.”

Everyone was laughing now and even Ivan cracked a smile.

“So at least tell me how you met this human wall.” Ivan was a very big guy, even sitting, he was several inches taller than Emmett.

“Well you remember how my aunt called saying that my grandmother was ill and I had to come quickly?” I nodded my head as I did remember her scurrying around her apartment packing in near tears.

“Well, his grandmother and my grandmother are friends. They made up this huge lie that they were both sick and had to have us there to take care of them. They just knew we would be perfect for each other and when I laid eyes on him I didn’t want to leave his side.”

“So, when we found out about their little match making scheme, we contracted a plan to make them think we hated each other.”

Ivan chuckled as he again took a sip of his ice tea.

“You should have seen the two of them. The more we pretended to hate each other, the more detailed the grandmothers became.”

“Yes, but the meetings in secret were nice.” Ivan winked at Irina as he added to the conversation.

Irina admitted that they decided to get married just prior to leaving. He asked her to marry him only a few weeks into knowing each other.

“I just knew she was the one for me.”

Turns out, Ivan is a pediatrician in Seattle, and Irina will be working with him at his office until she becomes pregnant.

“I can’t wait for her to be carrying my baby.”

And there it was, the Hollywood moment that brings tears to every girl’s eyes as she watches the big screen.

“Rose was telling me about this big hunk of man she has managed to snag. Bella tell me about the new man in your life?”

I took in a deep breath and chose to be honest. There has never been a discussion of our relationship between Edward and I. Going to Seattle and playing pool with him didn’t constitute a relationship other than friendship.

“I have met a very nice guy, his name is Edward, and he is a lot of fun to be around.”

There truthful and to the point. However, Irina was never one for sedulity. She had no issue ever telling you just exactly how things were.

“Yes, Bella, but how is he in the sack?”

I gave her a go-to-hell look as I responded, “you know I don’t fuck my friends.”

The statement held more than just a sexual meaning. Several years ago, another one of our friends went behind Irina’s back and slept with her boyfriend at the time. Rose caught them and let’s just say the girl was arrested for indecent exposure when she was found running down the street naked after Rose threw them both out.

“But he isn’t a friend; at least that’s how I understood it.”

Rose and Irina exchanged a look. They had been discussing things behind my back. Rose for one knew I hated that. She would hear about it later as I wouldn’t start anything in the restaurant.

“He is a friend Irina; we went out as a group and to a pool tournament in Seattle with his parents.”

Thankfully, the food arrived and the subject of Edward and I was dropped. We spoke about the house that Irina and Ivan were buying and how his family wanted to throw a huge party to celebrate.

“Mom, however, won’t let it go that we weren’t married in the church, so she refuses to acknowledge that we are married. Ivan said for me to just plan one and then everyone would be happy.”

The conversation shifted to wedding planning and how they would have a huge affair due to the size of each of their families.

“So, Rose, you said something about a possible change for you?”

Irina was eating her salad. She held the forkful of lettuce just outside of her mouth while she addressed Rose. My appetite was still very low and I was mostly pushing things around my plate.

“Um…well…yeah….as a matter of fact, Emmett and I have made a decision.”

I looked to Rose who was looking at Emmett. I could tell by the flexing of his muscles in his arm that he was squeezing her hand under the table. I didn’t like the look on her face. She turned back to face me, her face sad with apprehension.

“Bella….we wanted to talk with you first, but with what just happened, we decided to wait until you were better.”

I sat my fork down on my plate and waited the news she had to share with me.

“Emmett has asked me to move in with him, but I won’t do it if you are….”

Rose was quick to jump in with her sympathy for me. Emmett made her happy and just like Tanya by not taking away how I feel about myself, I won’t let her keep these two apart.

“Rose, you know I’m a big girl and can take care of myself. Go live in sin with your human wall.” I had always used humor as a way to hide my true feelings. I didn’t want to be alone. I had never really considered Rose and I wouldn’t live together. We had been a team for so long, but the reality is that she has moved on. She met a great guy and she needs to write her perfect fairy tale story with him.

“I know you can handle life on your own, but I feel like I have to choose between the two of you.”

Her admission made me angry. “Why do you have to choose? I’m still going to be your sister, nothing will change that. I don’t mind Emmett; he’s good for getting things off the top shelf and lifting furniture so I can vacuum under it.”

The table was laughing, except for Rose. She knew that the funnier I got, the more upset I was inside. I could see the tears begin to form.

“Rose, Emmett makes you happy. He loves you and wants to see your ugly face every morning. Go and have a great life with him. Really, I’m so happy for you. Besides, I will have an entire apartment to myself; I may convert your bedroom to a theater.”

I smiled at her and reached across the table to take her hand. I tried to make her understand that this was the way it’s supposed to happen. We grow and things change. It’s just how life is. Irina and Rose had scooted their chairs together to talk about weddings. Rose had her wedding planned since she was three and Irina was the same, so I knew they could handle things. I watched out the deli window at the cars that drove by. I wondered how many of them were headed to work, to school, or off to see a secret lover.

“Can I ask you something?” Emmett’s husky voice interrupted my pairng of a couple that was currently standing outside the window arguing. In my mind, she had found out about his secret crush on her brother.

“Sure.” I responded not taking my eyes from the arguing couple.

“Edward told me about how you had to cancel on him a few weeks ago.”

The mention of his name gained my attention and the couple forgotten. Emmett had placed his arms on the table, his upper body only a few inches from mine; leaning toward me.

“Rose said there was more to it, but she wouldn’t tell me and that it was your story to tell.”

I looked back out the window, the couple now replaced by an elderly lady walking her tiny dog. With Rose moving out, maybe I should find a dog. They love you unconditionally and only want to be fed and taken to the bathroom.

“And you want me to tell you?” My eyes now back on his face.

“Yes,” his answer was straight and to the point; no “only if you’re comfortable,” just yes.

“What if I don’t want to tell you?”

“Then I’ll make up my own version; you won’t look good in it, trust me.”

Emmett could play word battle just as well as I could. No point in dragging it out.

“I found out that men can play this game where they have girls they take out to be seen with and girls they take back to their apartment and have for their sexual benefit with no concern for the girl involved.”

“And….” His voice showed no emotion for what I had just said.

“The story is they make these amazing plans to take the girl to a nice restaurant. Then at the last minute, they make the girl think that by changing the plans to going to his apartment it’s to be alone with her. In reality, it’s to hide her from his friends. ”

“And you think because Edward wanted to take you to his house instead of a nice restaurant, that he is hiding you?”

“Yes.”

Emmett leaned forward and it scared me slightly.

“Bella, you know when a guy meets a girl’s friends for the first time he always gets the ‘if you hurt her, I will kill you’ speech?”

I nodded acknowledging that I did know about this.

“Well then, you need to understand something, Edward doesn’t play games, unless it’s pool. He doesn’t have a hidden agenda when it comes to you. Everyone knows how he feels about you, so your theory about him is absolute bullshit. The day you cancelled on him, he called me to find out what kind of trouble you were in. He was ready to do anything possible to make sure you were alright. ”

My heart was now in my stomach. I could feel the tears starting and I swallowed hard to keep them at bay.

“Rose had to tell us it was nothing serious and that you had to work it out by yourself. Hearing now what the truth was, I’m not so certain I want you and Edward together. He deserves someone who can be honest with him, not someone who assumes that based on some douchebag actions, that every guy is scum.”

His words cut me like a knife. I had no doubt he would run back to Edward and tell him the sorted tale. With a final swallow of my drink, I leaned into Emmett and responded, “Then I guess it’s a good thing Edward is only friend material for me, but then again you may not feel I’m good enough for that either.”

I stood smiling at Rose and Irina, tossing money on the table before telling the girls I would see them later. I made it back to my apartment before the tears started.

Bright and early that Saturday, our apartment was full of firemen in muscle shirts and shorts. It was a sight for certain. I avoided Emmett. Rose had been happy for days as she packed up her things, and I didn’t want to be the reason for the smile coming off her face. With as many men as they had recruited it didn’t take them long at all. They had all of Rose’s belongings packed up and in the back of several pickup trucks.

“Edward volunteered to stay at the station so Emmett could help Rose.”

Garret had been making jokes with me while he carried box after box out of the house. I was glad for his friendship, since Emmett was now in charge of who I could and could not befriend.

“I hear he is a great guy. It just confirms the rumors.” I joked as the last box was loaded.

“Bella, don’t let Emmett get to you. He and Edward have been friends forever; he’s just concerned.”

Sweeping the kitchen floor, I stopped and looked up at Garrett, “Yes….well, he had no reason to be; I’m not the one who attacked a girl over him.”

Garrett said nothing while shaking his head. I was really getting sick of this drama that was being caused by Emmett. In the future, I would just ask Rose out for coffee or something if I wanted to see her. Emmett has no reason to ever darken my doorstep in the future.

After everyone left, I lit some candles and laid down with a book I had been waiting to read. I had just opened the cover when the door bell rang. I considered for a second not answering it, but then decided against it. I walked slowly over to the door and peeked through the peep hole. There standing, still in his uniform, was Edward. I unlocked the door and slowly opened it, my best “friend” face in place.

“Hey Edward, you just missed Emmett and the guys. I’m sure they will need your help over at his house.” I stepped back waiting for him to thank me and then head over but he didn’t.

Staring in my eyes he said, “I’m not here for Em, I’m here to talk with you.”

I blinked several times, not able to open my mouth to invite him in. He took the initiative and walked past me. Closing the door, I questioned if I should have just kept reading my book.

“So….how are things?” Yes, my lame ass attempt to clear the uncomfortable tension in the room. It’s sad how events can change the way two people interact with each other.

“I didn’t come here to talk about the weather Bella.” His tone was pissy and I debated asking him to leave. Dealing with Emmett and his man period was enough for a lifetime.

“Then please tell me why you are here then?” My tone just as clipped, but I didn’t care.

I moved behind the kitchen counter, I had to put some distance between us, maybe diffuse the tension.

“Garrett called me. He said I needed to know what Emmett had been up to. So I called Em and asked him what was going on. He told me about your conversation the other day. He gave me some song and dance about you not being able to handle some things in my world.”

Now I was puzzled and pissed off. Who the hell did he think he was trying to decide my life for me?

“So, I called him out on it. We’ve been friends long enough that he knows when to butt the hell out. I still can’t figure out why he felt the need to say what he did to you.”

Not wanting to continue this game of telephone they seemed to be playing, I walked back over to the door and opened it.

“Edward, it wasn’t Garret’s place to call you about what happened between myself and Emmett. God, I thought girls were bad about gossiping, but men take the flipping crown.”

I turned back to find Edward now sitting on my sofa with his feet propped up on the coffee table.

“Your right, it wasn’t their place, but it was your place to tell me when Emmett said what he did.”

I walked heavily over to the sofa with the intent on putting a quick end to this game.

“What he said to me is between Emmett and myself. This isn’t third grade and we aren’t all on the playground telling one another who we can talk to and who we can’t. Emmett has a right to his opinion and I have a right to mine. If he feels that I wouldn’t fit in because of things you do, then whatever.”

He removed his feet from the table, his face flushed and his eyes dilated.

“He doesn’t have the right to go run his mouth about you and me. He doesn’t get to choose who my friends are. He can’t keep up with things in his own life and until he does, he needs to shut the fuck up about mine.”

His words didn’t get past me. Something was going on with Emmett, that meant something to do with Rose and that was completely my business.

“What is going on with him?’

Edward hung his head as he responded, “I’m not sure yet, but I will tell you when I have proof.”

“Then tell me what you suspect?” I demanded.

He slumped back on the couch, closing his eyes as his head hit the pillow.

“Don’t you think it’s weird that he asked her to move in this quick?”

I rolled my eyes. Edward was worried about losing his bro-mance with Emmett.

“Edward, no one can put a time clock on love. Back in the day, people met on Sunday and got married on Wednesday. I find nothing suspicious about them wanting to be together.”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong. I know he loves her, I’m just questioning the rush.”

I had to try and get him to understand that he was worried for nothing.

“Edward, if you had met the girl of your dreams, wouldn’t you want to wake up with her every morning?”

He looked at me with a tortured face. His was hiding something.

“I would do the right thing and marry her first.”

I couldn’t help myself as I began to laugh, “You are a lost breed, Edward. No living in sin for you?”

He smiled, but it didn’t reach his face, “I was born a gentleman, Bella.”

And just like that, the tension was gone.

“So…can I ask you something?”

“You just did.” I said, keeping a straight face.

“Can we start over?”

I just stared at him kind of speechless. He wanted to start what over?

“Huh?

He sat up and I followed him.

“What I mean is, can we start our relationship over again, minus the Tanya and Emmett drama?”

I was all about the lack of drama in my world. “Sure.”

Edward suddenly stood tall and held out his hand, “Hello, I’m Edward Cullen. I’d like to take you out sometime.”

And cue the tension. With his hand still outstretched, he looked at me and tilted his head.

“Edward, we are friends right?”

He took his hand back and sat down beside me.

“Yes, why?”

I couldn’t look at him this time. I wanted to send him a letter and admit this one or anything instead of telling him in person.

“Ok…so, you remember the day that you called me from the seafood counter about the prawns?”

His bewildered face worsened. The scared little girl that lived deep inside me was begging me to keep it from him. Embarrassment was something to avoid. Instead, I dug in deep and took a breath and told him the entire story. When I was finished he sat very still looking at my blank television screen. He face turned from confusion to anger and I waited for him to start shouting at me.

“Bella, you want to know what makes me angry the most?”

I closed my eyes responding, “That I lied to you technically.”

He chuckled and turned to fully face me, “No, that a guy that acts like an ass gives the rest of us good guys a bad reputation.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was not expecting this at all.

“I don’t want you to ever think I am embarrassed to be with you. I have talked about you with my parents, my friends, my coworkers. They all know everything about you.”

His eyes told me everything, he was being truthful.

“So, now that you know where I stand, can we start over?”

I smiled as I nodded, “I would like that.”

“Good, there is a concert in the park this Saturday, I’ll pick you up at three and we can listen to the bands and then have dinner there or wherever you decide.”

I could feel the happiness begin to bubble inside my chest.

“Oh no, you bragged about having mad cooking skills, I want prawns.”

“Prawns it is then.”

*Beta note-any errors you might see are mine and not Cayce’s. I don’t think there are though. I enjoyed this chapter better than the depressing previous one. Thanks Cayce.* Kim Roland-Edwards (Kimmie41)

11. Chapter 11

Chapter 11

BPOV

“So you didn’t kick Emmett’s ass?” Kate questioned from behind her tabloid magazine.

“No, he is fucking huge, how am I supposed to do that?”

Kate tossed the magazine at me and then called me a smart ass. With Rose living in sin with the human wall, I had become better friends with Kate. She and Garrett were taking things slow; although she did admit he had very talented fingers.

I swallowed thickly at the thought of any man touching me in such a manner. I worked around enough men to know how their minds worked when it came to sex. The majority only wanted a quick romp with no strings attached. I just didn’t think I could ever do that, allowing someone to see me at my most vulnerable and then just casually see them in passing. No, I was the type who would need to have some sort of commitment before I let some guy see me completely naked.

“So, Garrett said that Edward was all smiles yesterday at work.”

I hadn’t told anyone including Rose how my conversation with Edward had gone yesterday. I was still trying to wrap my head around everything and figure out what had really happened.

“Just promise me that you will give him a chance. I know with everything that has happened that the easiest thing is to move on, but I really feel that the chemistry that I can see between you two can really lead to something amazing.”

Kate’s words stuck with me over the remainder of the week. Edward called me several times when he was free just to say hello. He was so sweet when he would question if I was alright and ask if I needed anything. I couldn’t remember a time where anyone had taken such an interest in my well-being.

The annual concert in the park was a huge event here in Port Angeles. Every year the planning committee would work hard on getting performers not only currently popular, but also from decades past. People would come from miles around just to listen to the all day concert. This year, I read that a mystery performer was scheduled on Saturday afternoon. It would be a very shot performance, but no name was being revealed.

Edward and I agreed to walk around the craft show that was going on this year. He said that the wives and girlfriends had a booth down there and he wanted to stop by. As we drove to the fire station which was only three blocks from the park, he commented on how good I looked and how he could see a huge change in the way my clothes fit.

“I didn’t really notice it at first, not until Rose brought me clothes to wear home from the hospital.”

He smiled as he shifted gears and turned into the parking lot, which was enclosed in a chain link fence. Edward pressed a button on his sun visor and the gate began to open.

“Well, this will make parking easier.” I teased.

He returned my laughter as we began to walk the few blocks to the park. The day was sunny and I took in the houses that sat on each side of the street. Several were tall Victorians with great wood detail and paint schemes.

“You know, I almost bought a house on this street.”

Edward admitted as we rounded the final corner before arriving at the park. I felt his hand settle on the lower part of my back as we crossed the street.

“What happened, why didn’t you?”

Edward stopped when we reached the other side of the street. Turning to face me, he confessed his reason.

“Because, they are homes you raise children in. When it’s time for me to buy a house for my family, I want my wife to have the home of her dreams. I only want the best for the people I love the most.”

His words should have scared me, but they didn’t. They gave me hope that someday I would have someone by my side that loved me that much. I didn’t get the opportunity to respond when he motioned for us to keep walking. The area set aside for crafts and food was busy with activity. You could smell the deep fried aroma of corn dogs and funnel cakes. The sugar from the cotton candy was driving me crazy.

“Care for something Bella?” Edward questioned as he noticed me enjoying the aromas.

“No thanks, I’ll pass for now.”

We continued to walk past the different venders. We did stop to get lemonade from the local girl scouts and Edward bought the biggest chocolate chip cookie I have ever seen.

“You sure you don’t want a bite?”

I had to laugh at him as he had chocolate on his bottom lip and he spilled crumbs as he spoke. I couldn’t help myself as I reached up and removed the chocolate from his warm lip.

“CULLEN!” a man’s voice shouted from across the way. I looked over to see the booth that Edward had talked about. Several very pretty women stood behind tables covered with homemade pies and candy. Several men dressed in the same uniform that Edward wore stood to the side eating. We quickly made our way over to where they stood and I suddenly became nervous. These were Edward’s friends and I wasn’t certain how they would take me.

“Hey beautiful, how are you today?”

Edward kissed the cheek of a very beautiful woman who stood at the first table. She was thin and so pretty that I wondered why Edward hadn’t invited her instead.

“Bella, I want you to meet my Chief’s wife, Heidi. Heidi this is Bella.”

All of my worries faded away when he said wife. I don’t think I have ever smiled so big in my life as she walked around the table and pulled me into a hug.

“This is the Bella?”

I pulled away to see her looking directly at Edward. Clearly there was more to the story. Part of me worried that I should question what was meant by that statement, but the scared little girl in me chose to keep my mouth shut.

“It’s great to meet you.” I said instead.

“Oh honey, I thought this day would never happen. This young man had me worried he was going to die a bachelor, and what a waste that would be. It’s easy to see the beautiful children the two of you will have.”

My breath completely left me and I could do nothing but stand there like an idiot as she continued to talk.

“…but I told my husband that if things were meant to be then it would happen.”

I took a glance at Edward who was smiling like he had just won the lottery. Obviously, there had been many conversations about me at the fire station and I was suddenly a lot pissed that no one bothered to tell me what was going on.

“Here Edward, take this basket and blanket; it has everything you asked for.”

I smiled politely at Heidi who was just as happy as Edward seemed to be.

“Oh Bella, before I forget, I’d like to be able to count on your help with the face painting booth during the heritage festival?”

The heritage festival was held every year after this concert. In two weeks, the entire downtown would be converted into one huge party. There was a 5k fun run and a beauty pageant. Rose and I had always come down during the week, but we never attended any of the events. I knew this year would be different.

“I would love to help out.” I said with the best smile I could come up with.

“Great! I’ll have a t-shirt waiting for you when you get there; just be at the fire station by ten on Saturday.”

She hugged me again as we said our goodbyes. I walked slightly ahead of Edward trying my best to calm down. We walked past the remainder of the craft booths in silence. Edward was a smart man and could tell I was pissed. As we got closer to the area where the band had begun playing, I felt Edward’s hand on the small of my back; however for reasons that elude me, I didn’t stop him.

Again a loud “CULLEN” was shouted and I noticed a large group of people sitting under a massive oak tree. Off to the side, sat a very happy Rose with Emmett wrapped around her body. Edward led me over to a spot directly at the base of the massive tree and I gave a wave to Rose and the “man wall”.

“He knows we are both still upset so he won’t say a word to us.”

Edward whispered into my ear as he sat the basket down on the grass. I only nodded to let him know I had heard him. Sitting on the blanket he spread out, I took a look around at all of the people around us recognizing several faces and I made it a point to wave and smile. However, it was Kate’s smiling face that made me nearly jump out of my skin. She locked eyes with me and came over to where I sat.

“Take a walk with me.” She said and I knew it wasn’t a request.

We walked toward the port a potty’s, neither one of us saying a word. Finally we stopped behind one of the bouncy houses they had set up for the kids and she spun around and took me by the shoulders.

“Let it out.” Her words were all the permission I needed as I let out a horrific angry growl. The motor of the bouncy house drowned out my voice and no one was the wiser.

Staring at me, she released my shoulders, “Better?” She questioned.

I shook my head no as I balled up my fists and gave another angry yell. I had to take several cleansing breaths as I let go of the frustration that was like a pressure cooker inside my chest. In the past, I would have found the first grocery store and bought the largest container of Ben and Jerry’s, although this felt so much better.

“Better.” I said in an exasperated breath.

We walked away from the loud noise of the motor to where the concert was.

“Want to talk about it?” She quietly asked. I shook my head no because I knew talking about it would only bring tears and I didn’t want to explain why I had been crying.

“Tomorrow. Breakfast at fifth street diner.” Again her instructions were not a request and I knew my behind would be sitting in that diner tomorrow morning.

I sat under the oak tree listening to the songs that were popular before I was even born and watched Edward talk with his friends. He did bring me into several conversations, but again and again as a new person arrived and I was introduced, I was referred to as “the Bella”. What did that mean? Was I a new circus act he was creating? Did he make up funny stories and tell the guys about me?

“Hey.”

Rose’s voice interrupted me and my mental anguish. I turned to her as she sat down beside me and wrapped her arms around me.

“I’m not saying what he did was right. I was just going to ask you to be nice to him for me.”

Her voice was full of emotion and it was so foreign to me. Rose was such a strong and confident woman and in the last few weeks she had changed so very much.

“I am being nice, I’m not saying anything.”

I noticed that Edward got up and left the blanket. He walked over and sat beside a now very sad looking Emmett.

“Bella, not saying anything got us in this mess in the first place. Have you learned nothing about letting things out and not bottling them up with food.”

She was right and I knew it.

“I can tell you are ready to spit nails and I know it isn’t just about Emmett. Bella, you have been my sister for forever and I know when you are about to shut down. Let it out, scream at him if you have to. Hell, I’m pretty certain he would let you take a swing at him. We want you to be a part of our lives.”

I watched as a tear began to slide down her face; this wasn’t the Rose that I grew up with.

“I could say the same about you Rose. You aren’t being truthful with me. You’re hiding something, bottling something up.”

She began to cry more and quickly turned her body to mine.

“Your right….but not here. Come to dinner and let’s talk about everything.”

I could never say no to something my sister needed. Clearly this was something bigger than just Emmett running his mouth.

“Tell me when and I will be there.”

Rose asked me to have dinner with her tomorrow night at their house. I got the feeling that something big was about to happen. Rose and I exchanged hugs and she left to go back and sit with Emmett. Walking back over to our blanket I could see Edward’s face was etched with frustration. It was clear he and Emmett had talked and it wasn’t good.

“Hey, everything alright?” He questioned as he resumed his seat beside me. My anger with him had leveled off and I allowed him to sit close to me.

“It will be Edward….Rose and I just have to iron some things out.”

He nodded his head taking my hand in his. I could tell by the look on his face that he knew whatever Rose had to tell me, he already knew. I didn’t push. I wanted Rose to be the one to tell me.

The sun quickly disappeared behind the trees as the music began to get more familiar. The surprise guest turned out to be Jon Bon Jovi because he was a good friend of the director. I had grown up listening to his music in the car with my parents.

I stood up with the rest of the crowd while he sang, “It’s my Life,” and I took a minute to really listen to the words. It was my decision how I lived my life, who I chose to be in it and who I chose to stay away from. Edward stood behind me the entire time, his hands on my hips. He was another issue I was going to have to deal with. What did he want from me and what had he been telling people about me?

After the last band of the evening began to play, Edward asked if I liked them. It was very clear that he didn’t and honestly I didn’t either. I looked around and a number of people were packing up sleepy children and leaving as well. Seems the only people who enjoyed this particular band were the selected few who had gathered along the front of the stage.

The walk back to the fire station was again silent as was the drive back to my apartment. Edward parked the car and like a true gentleman, he opened my car door and helped me out.

“Thanks for asking me today, I had a lot of fun.”

It wasn’t a lie. I did have fun talking with the wives and listening to the different bands.

Edward didn’t say anything while standing in my door way. This was awkward and I didn’t know what else to say so I chose the easy way out.

“Goodnight, Edward.”

I whispered as I began to close the door. It felt so wrong, like I was not only closing the door to my apartment, but to a path I was destined to travel down. I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath. I was startled when something hit the door. I looked up to see Edward’s fingers around the edge of it. I quickly stepped back as he pushed the door back open.

“W…what?”

The look on his face had changed from sad and regretful to one of determination. I had no time to react as he walked with purpose into the room and shut the door with his foot.

“Slap me, punch me in the jaw, but please quick shutting me out.”

I wasn’t able to respond to his request before his lips were one me. My body was trapped in the cage he had created, his warmth welcomed against the shivers I began to have. His fingers moved across my face as he switched angles. His hands on either side of my face locked in my hair. His palms holding me in perfect alignment as his leg rested between mine.

My mind finally caught up to my body when I realized this was real. Edward was standing here in my home, telling me exactly what he wanted from me. Taking any doubt I had about what he wanted from me. I took a stand for the second time in my life and moved my hands to the nape of his neck, pulling the soft hair that rested there just enough to get a deep hungry moan from Edward.

Both of us were panting while we stood with our foreheads against each other. I had been so captured by his kiss that I failed to realize he had me pinned against the wall.

“Was that a clear enough picture of what I want from you or do I need to continue?”

Edward pulled back slightly looking into my eyes, his face flushed from kissing me.

“I think you are trying to say you wanted to kiss me.” Seriously Bella that is the best you have?

“Yes and no, I wanted to kiss you quite badly and for a long time. But, I only want to kiss you if you are willing to be my girlfriend.”

I diverted my eyes to look at the v of his shirt collar. “That depends on if you tell me the truth about what happened today.”

Edward led me over to my sofa never letting go of my hand. He quickly sat and began to tell me about the remarks I had heard today.

Seems Emmett was the first one who tried to get Edward to come over and talk with me. He admitted he had always been really shy when it came to girls. For a while, he just assumed that I understood that about him- acting the way he did; that I should know that we were together.

“Edward….I realize this isn’t third grade and you don’t have to pass me a note, but on what planet do I assume we are in a relationship based on you being nice to me?”

I watched as he looked like a fish out of water, he was trying to find the words to express what he was thinking.

“I…I never really thought of it that way.”

I began to laugh as he could now see my side of things.

“So, tell me why Heidi thinks we are together?”

Edward took a deep breath while explaining that Heidi was like the big sister to all of the guys. She was always bringing over food and baked goods and making sure they were all taken care of. He admitted to having many conversations with her about his feelings for a Bella. Heidi told him countless times that he needed to grow a pair and ask her out. He just assumed that having the date in Seattle did just that.

“But Tanya happened and I watched you crawl into the shell you had been in when I first laid eyes on you, and then Emmett had to get involved and really chase you away.”

It seemed we had both failed miserably at communicating. A mistake I wasn’t willing to continue.

“So, let me get this straight you talked to other women about your feelings for me?”

He nodded his head, not meeting my eyes.

“I gave up on you because of a girl who had feelings for you that you didn’t return.”

We both stayed quiet for several seconds staring at each other until we erupted in a fit of giggles.

“Oh, my god Edward, we are so perfect for each other.”

Edward quickly pulled me into his lap as he wrapped his arms around me.

“Finally, something we can both agree on.”

He resumed his attack on my lips from earlier, this time I reciprocated from the beginning. After such a bad day, this was an ending I could live with. Edward was my boyfriend and I was about to clear the air with Rose. My life was definitely looking up.

Edward said goodbye several times that night, saying that he just wanted one more kiss before he would really leave. He was having dinner with his parents the next night and he promised to wait and call me after I finished dinner with Rose and Emmett.

“You know what she has to tell me don’t you?” I said snuggling into his chest.

“Yes, but Emmett said Rose wants to tell you herself.”

Sunday morning found me sitting in the fifth street diner with Kate. She was late due to her having a hard time getting Garrett to let her out of bed. I told her everything; every sorted detail of the past few weeks. She sat quietly and listened while I cried and then laughed at certain parts.

“But you’re together now, right?

I smiled again and nodded my head while she squealed like a three year old and then hugged the life out of me.

My back was still sore as I stood outside Emmett and Rose’s house later that night. Edward had asked if I wanted him to cancel with his parents and come with me. I assured him I was a big girl and could do this on my own.

I learned from Rose that the house she and Emmett shared belonged to his great grandmother and she willed it to him when she passed. He had gone in and completely gutted it making everything very modern. Rose answered the door with her hair pulled back and an apron tied around her waist, it suited her.

“Come in, come in,” she ushered me as she closed the door behind me.

“I’m so glad you agreed to come, and I swear Emmett will be on his best behavior.”

I quickly followed her down a long hall to where I found Emmett stirring a boiling pot on the stove. A glass of tea sat at one of the chairs that faced the kitchen and Rose told me to have a seat. The room was very modern with polished stainless steel and granite.

“Bella, it’s good to see you.”

Emmett came around the island to give me a hug. Since Rose was so happy with him, I put my differences aside and hugged him back.

“Thank you for inviting me, you house is very nice.”

Rose never liked the modern look. Whenever we would look at magazines, she would always pick out the kitchens with the white cabinets and the farmhouse sinks. She believed the kitchen was the heart of the house and should reflect the love that lived there. This looked to be a show place kitchen, photographed but never touched.

“Bella, I want to clear this tension between us. Your sister is very important to me and anything that she loves, I love as well. I want you to know how sorry I am about the things I said. I was angry because I thought you were playing games with Edward and I didn’t want him getting involved with someone who wasn’t going to treat him the way he deserved.”

I could respect that. Emmett was only looking out for Edward, just like I was looking out for Rose.

“Thank you Emmett, I accept your apology.”

Rose began to cry while watching our exchange. I looked at her and got the strangest feeling. I wanted answers from her and I wanted them now.

“Rose….” my tone was stern.

“Oh Bella, things are just….”

“The truth Rose, I know something is up and it seems as if I’m the only one who doesn’t know what the hell is going on.”

She took a deep breath and tried to stop the tears. Emmett wrapped her in his arms quietly shushing her.

“Bella…”

“No Emmett, I want to hear it from her.” I quickly snapped. I didn’t want to hear this from him.

Rose took several drinks from a glass of water that rested on the counter. I waited patiently for her to compose herself before she tried speaking again, “I’m pregnant.”

At first I thought I was hearing things, Rose and Emmett had just met. There was no way she could be pregnant already.

“I’m sorry, I must be hallucinating. Did you just say you were pregnant?”

She only nodded her head as she began to bite her lower lip.

“How…I…I don’t…when?”

I was so confused. Things had moved too fast with them, Edward’s words now fresh in my memory.

“I would have done the right thing….Bella, please listen.” Rose sobbed.

“I’m happy, I’m so happy that we are having a baby. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time.”

I knew this was true. She had her wedding planned since she was little….wait wedding.

“Rose, did you run off to Vegas and get married?” I questioned angrily.

Her eyes went very big as she quickly shook her head no.

“No, no we are going to the court house this week and have the judge marry us.”

It was then that I began to see red. Rose had given up on many things when she was little. Hell, we both thought she had given up on having a good relationship when she stayed with Royce. But she always firmly believed that she would have the wedding of her dreams.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I shouted at Emmett as I slammed my open hand on the counter top.

“Do you know nothing about her? How she had every last detail planned for her wedding? How she spent hours upon hours when we were little getting just the right shades of her favorite color for her bridesmaid’s dresses? And now all because you couldn’t take the time to slap a condom on she has to give up her perfect wedding?”

Rose said nothing while Emmett ducked his head down.

“Are you seriously that ashamed of her that you would scurry around and marry her in a judge’s office instead of in a church with her family there to celebrate with her?”

Emmett whipped his head up and slammed his fist on the counter this time. “Fuck you Bella! I’m not ashamed of her, I love her to death. I just don’t want people talking about her behind her back.”

I was so angry that I could feel the tears prickling behind my eyes.

“And you think for one second that marrying her in secret isn’t going to have people talking? Emmett, are you seriously that fucking stupid?”

I looked to Rose who was full on crying. “Rose, is this what you want? Do you want to sneak off and get married or do you want a wedding?”

She didn’t have to answer me, her face said everything.

“If she really wanted….” Emmett started to ramble.

“Did you ask her? Did you ask our father? Did you go to our father and ask him for his daughter’s hand?”

Emmett didn’t respond hanging his head again while Rose continued to cry.

“Rose…what do you want?”

Even with her mascara running down her face and her nose and eyes red from crying, she was still beautiful.

“I want my wedding.”

I went to tell her we would be doing just that when she continued.

“But we can’t Bella, I don’t want to be showing in my wedding photos.”

I began to laugh at her.

“See Bella, there just isn’t enough time.”

I was really sick of Emmett’s excises.

“Emmett.” I said very calmly.

“Answer me one thing.”

The room was quiet sans the sounds of water boiling and rose sniffling.

“Is your ass jealous of the shit that is coming out of your mouth?”

Taking a large drink of the iced tea, I never took my eyes off his face.

“Once we tell my mother and Rose’s mother that she is getting married and that it needs to be really quick; I can guan-damn-tee you that she will have most everything she wants.”

He didn’t say anything to me only looking at a somber Rose.

“Is this what you want? To be married in a church?”

The tears started again as she shook her head yes, confirming what I already knew. Emmett walked over and held my sister tight as he said words that were meant for her ears only.

“Thank you, Bella.” Emmett spoke while never taking his eyes off Rose.

I chuckled as I responded, “Don’t thank me yet, you still have to tell Charlie.”

**Beta Note** The part above where Bon Jovi is mentioned and his song. If I didn’t correct it right, I apologize. Sometimes it is confusing when to underline, italicize, or place quotation marks on certain titles whether it is a book, article or even a song. Thank you and hope you enjoy….This was a long one Cayce, I think Edward needs to talk?…Kimmie41

12. Chapter 12

Chapter 12

BPOV

I was six when my parents took me to my first carnival; at least that is the first one I remember. Standing beside the carousel, I watched the wooden horses go around and around, the tiny children nestled safely on their backs, dad’s holding on to them as they laughed and screamed. The smell of sugar filling the air around me again. I had a few minutes to kill before I had to head over to the tent that housed the face painting. Edward had asked to drive me in early so we could have only one car to worry about, but I declined. I wanted to be able to leave if I needed to or if Edward was called away on an emergency. He had agreed, but insisted on me parking in the station parking lot. I again refused telling him I didn’t want special treatment.

“Bella, the tent is this way.”

I heard a female voice shout at me from my left. I turned and found the face of a very pretty girl about my age. Her smile was big and she was wearing a PAFD t-shirt that had been cut practically in half and was tied just under her breast. She continued to smile as she motioned for me to follow her. As she turned, I noticed “Crawley” sprawled against her back in big yellow letters. I quickened my pace so that I could catch up with her.

“Hey, I was just taking in the sights.” I explained as I reached her. Why I felt the need to explain my actions to her, I had no clue.

“No problem. It’s just that our tent is hugely popular and I know there is already a line. I’m glad Heidi asked you to help, we can really use it.”

The blonde, who I found out, was one of the wives named Maria. Heidi had an edge to her voice she let me know, in no uncertain terms, she did not care for Maria or the way she carried herself.

“I mean look at her Bella, she is a mother of three and you would think she would want to do something to hide that muffin top, not show it to the world.”

Maria did have a very large amount of skin that hung over her short shorts. I immediately looked down to make certain I had all my fat rolls covered as Heidi handed me a t-shit.

“You can go to the bathroom and change or wear it over what you have on.” I decided to just place it over my head and add the extra measures of camouflage. I turned the shirt over noticing the bright yellow letters like Maria’s on the back of the shirt. I froze when I saw the word; Cullen.

“Something wrong Bella?” Heidi questioned.

There were a number of ways I could play this. One, I could smile and say no, then put the shirt on and jump in and help with the line that was getting longer by the minute. Or, I could argue that this wasn’t my name and Edward was barely a boyfriend at this point.

“Don’t freak out Bella, we all wear one of the guy’s names on our backs, it’s a huge deal to work this particular booth. Trust me; you will be the envy of half the females who show up today.”

Taking a deep breath, I put the t-shirt on. This was a small battle that I just didn’t feel like fighting. Heidi must have thought I was bigger than I really am as the shirt was very big on me.

The girls were so wrong when they told me it would be busy; I have never seen so many people in my life. I must have painted the same butterfly on at least one hundred little girls. The line never seemed to have an end. Before I knew it, it was after three and the new set of volunteers had arrived. Heidi was so excited when she announced that they had made twice as much as last year by this time in the day.

“Heidi, where does all the money collected go?”

Everyone looked at her as she smiled and replied, “This year we are donating all the money we raise from this booth and the fireman competition to the new cancer wing at the hospital. ”

I quirked an eyebrow at her, she smiled and then proceeded to explain that the fireman competition was like a triathlon for the guys and that departments from all over the state came to compete. They had to run obstacles and do training drills.

“Trust me Bella, you will want to stay and watch that one.”

I made my way to the bathroom and was currently standing in line. Edward had texted me and asked me to go to the station with Heidi. He wanted me to sit with the wives.

“Excuse me?”

A tiny voice called from behind me. I slowly turned to see three very pretty girls looking up at me.

“Are you wearing Edward’s shirt?” The red head in the center questioned.

“Um…yes, I’m wearing Cullen’s shirt.”

“See, I told you it was his.” The dark haired girl hissed, slapping the red head’s arm.

“Owwwa…Tiff…that hurt.” The red head said as she rubbed her arm.

I turned back around and noticed an open stall. I quickly shut the door behind me and took care of business. When I opened the door, the three girls had some how multiplied to about fifteen. I smiled and walked around two of them attempting to wash my hands.

“So, are you like, his girlfriend or something?” I didn’t notice who asked because I was reaching for the faucet.

“Don’t be stupid, Casey. Look at her.”

I briefly stopped washing my hands and glanced up in the mirror. I scanned the faces of the girls determined to find Tanya, however came up empty.

“Excuse me.” I said while looking fondly at the floor.

Once I was back in the open, I lowered my sunglasses and noticed Heidi standing with the group that had been working the tent. I began to walk with purpose in their direction.

“Hey, are you really dating Cullen?”

I didn’t stop to acknowledge the question. I needed to get out of here and out of this stupid t-shirt. I was severally starting to regret agreeing to help out.

“Who wants to know?” Maria shouted as I passed her. She reached out and grabbed my arm effectively stopping me from leaving. I turned and was surprised to see all of the wives now surrounding me, facing the group of young girls from the bathroom.

“Told you they would be jealous.” Heidi giggled beside me.

“They aren’t jealous, Heidi.” My words laced with pain. “They are laughing at the thought that Edward would be dating someone like me.”

“Oh, good lord, Bella! Get off the cross, someone needs the wood.” Someone shouted from the crowd of wives in the back.

“You think because you are thick in the middle that Edward can’t possibly be with you? Look around sweetheart, none of us are super skinny and we all crawl beside a fuck-hot firefighter every night.”

The pudgy girl who had “Yorkie” on her back came around and stood in front of me. She was the first grown woman who I had ever been several inches taller than.

“Cullen is like all of the other guys on the team; he has taste. He wants more than a body to get a release from, he wants to hold an actual conversation that doesn’t have the word, “like” repeated after every word. He wants someone who knows the difference between Dillon and Dylan.”

Maria was nodding her head and throwing in a few “hell yeahs”.

“That is why you are wearing the shirt and those girls only get to bid on them after the game is over.”

My brows shot up as I looked to Heidi, “Did I forget to tell you about that part?”

Everyone in the group began to laugh and I noticed the group of girls from the bathroom had already left. Heidi placed her arm around me and began to tell me how by the end of the night, I wouldn’t be wearing Edward’s name anymore. However, I wouldn’t want the shirt anyway.

When we arrived at the station, we walked over to a large overhang that had a line of chairs under it. Several of the firefighters were already sitting in the chairs and in the center was my sister. Emmett didn’t want her to get over heated or tired or…well anything. Rose was eating up this possessiveness of his. I was about to walk over to her when I felt my entire body being lifted up and subsequently spun around. Large sweaty arms were now wrapped tightly around me as my feet dangled high above the ground.

“Hi baby, I missed you.”

When I was settled back on my feet, I chanced a look into the very excited face of Edward. He gently held my face with his hands and placed a soft kiss to my lips.

“Oh god, get a room you two!” One of his friends shouted from behind us. I was so shocked at his excitement that I didn’t respond. This wasn’t the Edward I knew. The shy reserved man was long gone, replaced by this very bold and oh-so-sexy man.

“Come on, let’s get you settled.” Taking my hand in his, he led me over to the seat next to Rose.

“Hey girl!” Rose called out from around the straw of her drink.

“Hey, what are you drinking?” I questioned her.

“A peanut butter shake. Emmett makes me drink one twice a day.”

I looked to Emmett who was talking to a guy I assumed was Maria’s husband. He was a very tall and muscular looking man.

“He is so good to me Bella.” She sighed.

Rose had called me after she and Emmett had broken the news to dad. Charlie took Emmett outside and when they returned, Emmett had several red marks around his neck and face. Emmett refused to tell Rose what had happened and we could only suspect things got physical.

“I’m certain dad has something to do with that.”

Once our mothers heard the news, you had to close your eyes to avoid getting dust in them as they moved so fast. I mentioned the conversation to Edward while he was talking with his mother and she insisted on getting my mother’s telephone number. The three of them already have about seventy percent of the wedding complete.

“No, it’s not just dad, it’s just the way he is. I woke up the other night and he was talking to my stomach.”

Rose had set her drink down and was looking fondly at Emmett.

“He was talking to the baby, telling him or her that he would be the best dad in the world and how lucky he was that he had me.”

The sounds of a microphone being turned on interrupted me from commenting on Emmett’s cuteness.

“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen!” The people around us began to clap and whistle.

“Hey babe, I need my shirt.”

I looked up to see Edward standing there in a white tank top.

“Huh?” was my brilliant answer.

Edward only smirked as he tugged at the sleeve of my t-shirt. “I need to use my t-shirt.” Suddenly Heidi’s words came rushing back to me.

“After the games, the guy’s auction off the shirts we wear. They use them to wipe off sweat and dirt they get during the game. By the time most of them are done with them, they are a wet smelly mess. That doesn’t seem to deter the women from bidding big money on them.”

“Oh…um…right.” I quickly pulled off the shirt and handed it to him.

I watched as he ran the shirt over his chest and around his neck. My eyes locked on the tattoo that colored his rib cage. “Never forget” was written in elegant script along with 9/11 scrolled on the shield of a fireman’s helmet. I couldn’t help myself as my fingers traced the number one and then the elegant lettering. I remembered Edward’s story as to why he chose becoming a fireman. I looked up to see Edward watching me.

“I’m so sorry.” I jerked my hand back as if it was on fire. I wanted to crawl into a hole at that particular moment. Touching him like that was highly inappropriate.

“That…that was…I..I.”

“Was completely welcomed and wanted.” His voice was like melted chocolate causing me to stop my rambling and look deep into his eyes.

“You have every right to touch me where ever and whenever you want, and I do mean wherever.”

I didn’t get to reply before his lips found mine. I’ve read in my romance novels how the lover’s kiss was so intense that the main character would say such lines like, having her womanhood crumble or how her core would heat and begin to pool. I had always snickered at that scene when I read it. However, in this moment, I knew exactly how those characters felt. The intensity of his body pressed to mine in combination with the fact that I found him to be so very attractive was just too much.

“I gotta go, hold this for me please?” He said as he placed his Saint Christopher pendant in my hands then placing a quick kiss to my temple.

Nothing in this world could have prepared me for the things that I saw that day. I watched as big hunky men dressed in turn out gear with muscles bulging and sweat in the sexiest places. Anyone who tries to tell me that men covered in filth and sweat isn’t a huge turn on, needs to stand in my shoes for a single second and I swear it will change your mind.

The last competition was a tug of war match. At first, I thought it would be just a bunch of men struggling against each other with a long rope. The truth was so much better. The rope was actually a hose that had holes in it. Each time a hand would move on the rope, it would cause the pressure to change and water to flow out. Suddenly, shirts were wet and completely see through.

Muscles were now highlighted with the reflection of the sun and the water. I was so thankful I was wearing dark jeans, because I just knew I was a damp mess. I tried to remain in my chair but the momentum of the game and the excitement of the girls around me was just too much and I found myself jumping up and down. The match was a tough one and the red flag attached in the middle of the rope moved to the left and then the right so many times that I could hardly keep up.

Finally the water had caused so much mud and muck that the anchor on the opposing team fell on his ass and our guys won. I watched as Edward was so happy for the win that he joined the rest of the guys in tearing off the wet t-shirts and high fiving each other. Most of the wives had already began rushing over and hugging their husbands. Even Rose was well on her way to Emmett’s arms. But, I tried to remain composed myself and stayed close to my chair. I watched as Edward began searching the crowd looking for what I prayed was my face. I knew the second our eyes met that this was for real.

Edward and Emmett started walking toward me and Rose stayed where she was waiting for Emmett to come to her. In a moment more common in a movie than real life, Edward stood tall, his devilish smile giving away what his mind was thinking. His confidence radiating in every step he took. He didn’t say anything when he took me into his arms and kissed me without abandon. His kiss wasn’t gentle as the one prior. It was full of need and joy and above all passion. His hand holding me firmly against his wet body and for the moment I could not care. My hands found the back of his neck and I held on for dear life when his tongue slid past my lips and captured mine. I could faintly hear the sounds of cat calling and I felt Edward begin to chuckle against my lips. He pulled me against him tighter as he turned and called someone behind him a douche.

Heidi was correct when she said women would pay big money for the guy’s old nasty t-shirts. Emmett’s went for nearly one hundred and fifty dollars, while Edward’s was battled over between two of the bathroom girls before a nameless lady paid four hundred for it.

“I can’t believe they would pay money for a dirty t-shirt.” I said to Heidi while we ate dinner. Edward had insisted that everyone head over to his condo and hang out. Several couples declined but about ten of them decided to come.

“I know. Can you imagine what kind of money they would pay for a date with these guys?”

I laughed at her humor, but her words got me to thinking. How hard would it be to turn his head? Would he want me now that the hunt was over? What would happen when the newness of our relationship wore off?

“I know what you’re thinking.” Heidi whispered in my ear.

“Nice try, but I have been caught by that line from my sister too many times.”

Heidi wrapped her arm around me and moved us to the landing between the sets of steps. I tried not to think about the last time I stood here; Tanya sitting in a car on the street.

“He talks about you all of the time. He was so happy when he came by the house the other day and said you guys finally worked everything out. He is yours, Bella. Believe me when I tell you that one hundred naked women could march through that front door right now and he would throw all of their asses out.”

I rolled my eyes and started to disagree with her, tell her she was crazy and didn’t know what she was talking about.

“Stop looking for trouble where there isn’t any. Enjoy having a man who clearly adores you. Do you have any idea how many women out there right now wish they had a man who cared for them half as much as Edward does for you?”

I turned and looked out the window. I had never thought of it like that. I could sit back and enjoy my time with Edward. There are really no guarantees in life, but right now in this moment, I chose to believe Heidi and just enjoy this amazing feeling.

**Beta Note** Any mistakes are mine and not Cayce’s unless she comes in and adds stuff. Now, Cayce, what’s next? Hmmmm….Bella can stop being insecure, she has a hunk of a man. Later Taters…Kimmie41

13. Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Bella POV

I decided to take Heidi’s advice. Stop looking for an issue where there isn’t one. I had also decided to return to the gym despite the events that happened there. Jasper swore to Edward that he would protect me.

Edward was another story; gone was his shyness and reserve. He had no issue with touching me and kissing me. He spoke from his heart and had no issue with telling me exactly what he wanted form me. It both thrilled me and scared the living shit out of me.

“Bella, have you ever thought of having a family of your own?”

Edward’s favorite thing to do as of late was to watch a movie and play with my hair, making out would quickly follow and then me putting the brakes on his exploring of my bare skin.

That was something I was nowhere near ready for yet. I wondered if I would ever just love the skin I’m in.

“Honestly, no. I never had a reason to.”

I was being honest with him. With no significant other, the possibility of having a family was dramatically decreased. Why think about something that wasn’t a possibility.

“Would you be open to discussion about having a family in the future?”

His voice was like melted chocolate when he wanted something. He knew exactly how to touch me in a way that made me forget my name.

“Well…that depends.”

I turned my attention back to the movie that played on the television. Edward wasn’t detoured so easily muted the television and made me look at him.

“On.” He encouraged as his eyes locked on mine.

I took a deep breath considering the words I wanted to use. If I said the wrong thing, I feared it would somehow pop this bubble we were currently in. Would my admission cause him to withdraw completely? Only one way to find out.

“I would only consider having a family if the situation was right. Meaning, I would have to be in love and happily married.”

I wasn’t against premarital sex per say, I just didn’t want to go around having sex just to have it. To bring a child or children into a relationship that wasn’t established didn’t appeal to me.

“I can see that. You would want to be in love with the …guy first and a name change before a pregnancy test.”

He emphasized the word guy, clearly avoiding referring to himself. I wondered if I had shared too much.

“Something like that.” I mumbled.

“Ok…but would you consider practicing for children before the name change?”

His question kind of irritated me and I turned so that I was full on facing him; my legs separating us.

“If you’re asking me if I would have sex with you outside of marriage, then my answer is yes; but I have conditions.”

Edward’s face broke out into a smile as he moved my legs out of the way and pushed me back onto the couch. He began to kiss me with this new found passion, then slowed as he gave two quick swipes with his lips pulling back he looked at me intently and it took my breath away as he said.

“I have a condition of my own; you have to love me half as much as I love you before we make love.”

He didn’t give me an opportunity to respond as he kissed me hard again. I tried to stop him, talk with him about his admission, but he only shifted his kissing from my lips to my neck, cutting off any rational thought I may have had.

“I don’t want you to say it back to me tonight. I can see it in your eyes that you’re surprised and I want to hear the words when you’re not completely surprised.”

I agreed and he pulled me up and into our previous seating position.

“I have a tournament in Las Vegas next month, any chance you can tag along?” He resumed his combing of my hair with his fingers while taking a drink with his free hand. He went from tonsil diving and telling me he loved me to talking about a weekend trip.

“Um…”

“Oh, brilliant one Bella, very cool.” I thought to myself.

“Check your schedule, I can get you a room to yourself or you can bunk with me.”

And just like that, the subject officially changed. While I watched the actors on the screen, I began to question his admission of love. After he left my apartment, I sat down and stared at the blank screen of the television. Would I ever truly just live in the moment? Let a man like Edward love me and care for me? I picked up my phone and hit my speed dial. I needed to talk to someone about this. My mom picked up on the fourth ring, her voice raspy with sleep.

“Hello?”

“Mom?” My voice sounded small and vulnerable.

“Bella?” She sounded alarmed, guessing something was wrong.

“I’m sorry I woke you, I just need to talk.”

I could hear the sheets move as she assured me it was alright.

“You never have to worry about what time it is when you call me. What’s wrong my love?”

Hearing the gentleness in my mother’s voice sent me into emotional sobs.

“Oh sweetheart, what’s wrong. Did you have a fight with Edward?”

My parents loved Edward. By him going to my father and asking his blessing to date me, placed him on this unattainable pedestal that I wasn’t even aware existed. My mom hadn’t even met him and she still loved him.

“No, we didn’t fight…it’s just…”

“Tell me all about it, Bella.”

So I did. I told her how I didn’t feel at home in my skin, how he confessed he loved me and I was internally questioning it. How I feared I would never like the person I had become, that no matter how many pounds I lost, or what size I was that I would never like myself. How in the hell was I to expect a guy like Edward to care for me, when I couldn’t even love myself.

“Why mom, why does he love me?”

There was silence on her end of the line. I could hear her sniffles and I instantly felt bad for calling her and making her cry.

“Bella, you are going about this the wrong way.”

Even though she couldn’t see me over the phone, I gave her a questionable look.

“How do you figure?” I clipped.

“Because my darling, you shouldn’t be asking yourself why me? You should be asking why not me?”

When I was little, my mom was a master at kissing my scrapes making them feel instantly better. I once believed she had magical powers that she used to make me feel better. Hearing her words only confirmed my childhood belief.

“Thanks mom.”

I ended the call and went to wash my face. I knew what I had to do and I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow to do it. I slipped my coat on over my pajamas that I seemed to live in when I was at home and grabbed my keys. The streets were deserted this time of night and I made it to Edward’s condo in minutes. All of the lights were off and I worried for a second he would be angry for waking him. I chose to risk it; I had to talk to him. To assure myself that my choice to love him was the right one.

I rang the doorbell several times like a child who got permission from their parents. I wanted to make sure he would wake up. I was about to pull out my cell and call him when the door opened to reveal a very sleepy eyed Edward. Sleep pants resting low on his hips, a white tank top covering the tattoos that I knew rested on his upper body.

“Bella?” He questioned looking concerned. It was nearly one in the morning and I knew he would be concerned.

“I’m sorry. I just had to come and tell you something before I allowed the vices I have to ruin what should have been a perfect moment.”

He pulled me into the condo and locked the door behind us. With his arms around me, we stood in his foyer while he waited for me to explain why I was here.

“Earlier when you asked me about sex, you didn’t let me give you my condition.”

This was posing harder than I thought. I felt the overwhelming need to look at my feet. Edward’s face contorted to one of mild amusement and tilted his to the side.

“Babe,” He chuckled. “I don’t care what your condition is. I will meet it and exceed it, regardless of what it is.”

He tried to pull me in closer, but I needed to say this.

“No Edward, my condition was to be hopeless in love with the person I chose to have sex with. You wouldn’t let me say it back to you earlier because you thought I was surprised, and maybe, just maybe you were right. But that doesn’t take away the fact that I do love you.”

I took the initiative this time and pulled him down for a kiss. I kissed him with everything I had in me, remembering the memories of the first time he said hello to me, the trip to Seattle for the park and the concert and every single moment he has enriched my world.

“I love you Edward….And I want to go to Vegas with you and not to a separate room. I want to stay with you.”

I let the words float in the air around us; he could read whatever he wanted to into them. What ever happened in Vegas…well you know the slogan.

“Not that I’m complaining, but what brought this on. I mean this is something we could have discussed at lunch or even over the phone, why the urgency?”

I refused to let my vice read anything into his statement. He wasn’t complaining, he was trying to understand me.

“Because, I was asking myself why a guy like you would want a girl like me, when I should have been asking why not. I called my mother and she…well, she has always had a way with things and she knows me better than even Rose at times. She is completely team Edward by the way.”

Edward chuckled turning me slightly directing me to his bedroom.

“Remind me to send you mother a really big thank you gift.”

Edward insisted that I spend the night with him, he rationalized that it was simply too late and that he would feel better if I stayed.

“You remember which room is the guest room correct?”

I looked at him with disbelief on my face. “Mr. Mason, we just confessed our love for one another and have solid plans for Vegas and you expected me to sleep in your guest room?”

He shook his head opening the door to his bedroom wider. I crossed the room to his massive bed, questioning if I would make this a routine visit. I climbed under the covers and felt Edward wrap around me. I closed my eyes and for the first time in a long time, I felt good about where I was and who I am.

“Bella, you should know that I plan to spend the rest of my life telling you every day how amazingly beautiful you are. I don’t ever want you to question why I am with you.”

I didn’t say anything back. I only silently prayed he would always be a man of his word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~WTW~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Over the next few weeks, Edward did keep his word and reminded me several times a day that he loved me. We spent many nights at each other’s houses but we never took that next step. What was first thought to be a quiet weekend getaway turned into a three ringed circus when Edward informed me that when his friends found out about Vegas, several of them decided to come and cheer him on. When I asked for time off work, my father got wind of it and decided to tag along. That snowballed into Rose and Emmett coming and Jasper picking up the rear.

All of that was a cake walk compared to what happened to my weight loss, I hit a plateau. I have changed my work outs and changed my diet, but nothing, not a single pound will come off. Jasper had been my biggest cheerleader and reminded me that this was normal and that when my body was ready it would again shed the weight.

Edward had to work the days leading up to our Vegas departure. I missed him at night and found myself on more than one occasion staring hopelessly at my empty freezer, Ben and Jerry being evicted months ago.

With the madness that was the amount of people going to Vegas, Edward wanted to take me somewhere before things got really crazy. So, we took a late night flight and arrived close to dawn. Once we collected our luggage and Edward secured our rental car, we headed out of the city. He swore to me that we could do the hotel tours when his tournament was finished on Sunday.

While driving, he held my hand and talked about the competition he was up against. I nearly choked when he told me the purse this time was one hundred thousand dollars. It wasn’t a subject we openly discussed but I knew Edward had money. He never rubbed it in my face or made me feel bad, but it was clear he had lots of it. I only smiled, not really knowing what to say.

Nearly an hour later when the sun was trying to make its appearance, we pulled into a parking lot beside the Hoover dam. I had always wanted to see it in person, but I had never had the opportunity, until now. Edward was so excited while he pulled me out of the car and practically ran down the walkway toward the massive bridge. Near the center of the bridge, Edward suddenly stopped and turned me to face him.

“When I was a little boy, my parents were always encouraging me to test boundaries. Not to get into trouble, but to question the world around me. When I was ten, my uncle made a comment that you can’t be in two places at once. My father argued and brought us to this very spot. I learned that it is indeed possible to be in two places at once.”

With his face lit up in excitement, he had me place my left foot on one side of a joint in the side walk and my right on the other. He stood behind me and wrapped himself around me. The moment was perfect despite the chill in the desert air as the sun began to crest the horizon.

“Bella, right now your left foot is in Nevada and your right is in Arizona, but your soul is in my heart.”

Suddenly, the excitement he had built about the two states and the glory of the sunrise didn’t matter anymore. I tried to turn around to face him but he kept me locked in his arms. When the sky became brighter and brighter, the words that Edward spoke that day will forever be burned in my memory.

“I want my forever with you. If today happens to be my last day on this earth, I want it to be spent with you. You are my whole world, Bella.”

He finally let his hold on me slip and I spun around in his arms, latching my lips to his in a kiss that would make any Hollywood kiss scene look like child’s play.

The pool tournament was being held in one of the larger hotels in Vegas. The MGM Grand had a well know reputation for holding many well-known events. At being a mile wide, it was certainly big. Esme and Carlisle had left us a message that they would meet us in one of the restaurants near the entrance to MGM Grand. Edward said they frequented this particular restaurant each time they came. There was so much to see inside the hotel that I felt like a little kid being dragged by their parents when Edward pulled me toward the restaurant.

Esme and Carlisle had a table in the back, a pitcher of mimosas on the table.

“Oh, hello my loves!” Esme called out, her reading glasses resting atop her nose, a paper back in her left hand.

We settled in our chairs and Edward and Carlisle immediately began discussing strategy.

“Ignore them, Bella. We’ll have our own fun. There is a plethora of shopping to do here in Vegas.”

I smiled and nodded my head drinking some of my mimosa. I would certainly follow Esme around and enjoy the sights, but shopping wasn’t something I would be doing. With Rose living with Emmett and all the expenses of the house now on my shoulders, money had become tight. I would never admit this to anyone, even my parents. I loved being on my own.

Edward and Carlisle finally quit talking about pool sticks and leader boards and joined our conversation.

“I read that Saks opened a new store just down the walk and I purposely didn’t pack anything for the final day of play.”

I looked to Esme with a questionable look.

“Did Edward not tell you about the final day of play?” It wasn’t really a question, but a statement. I watched Esme give Edward a look that no son should ever get from his mother. I quickly interjected before Esme could release her wrath.

“Esme, not to worry, I have it covered.”

It wasn’t a complete lie. Just by Esme’s admission of going to Saks, I knew this final play thing was a dressy occasion. I had no dress and no funds to buy a dress. I would fake ill and stay in my room…see completely covered. Edward would never know I wasn’t there because I would beg Esme to cover for me. Certainly Esme wouldn’t want to jeopardize her son’s chance at winning.

“Oh, well at least you came prepared.”

Esme looked away a little too quickly to give me an easy feeling about all of this. Edward and Carlisle excused themselves to head over and make certain everything was ready for the game later. Edward wanted to insure they had received his entrance fee.

I admitted to Esme that I was really tired and sleepy and wanted to get a quick nap in before the rest of the mob arrived. She hugged me tight and said she would meet me later for some exploring.

I walked toward the elevator and noticed a couple of very well dressed women waiting for it to arrive. The up arrow had already been selected so I waited patiently.

“Did you see who made it again this year?” The long haired girl spoke.

“I did, but rumor has it, he brought a girl this year.”

“Yes I heard the same, but maybe it’s his cousin or something.”

“Not a chance, mother said when she talked with Esme recently she was overjoyed with his choice in the girl.”

“Well, that is something. Esme never approves of anyone Edward has been seen with.”

“Oh yes, apparently she already has the Biltmore on alert.”

I lowered my head as their conversation continued. I knew without a doubt who they were discussing. My plan of faking sick was slowly going up in flames. If Esme was so happy with me being Edward’s choice, I didn’t want to give her a reason to doubt that. I had to figure something out. The sounds of the casino gave me the answer I needed.

I had played several casino games…online that is. How different could the real thing be? I made my way quickly to a row of slot machines and began placing money into the slot. One hundred dollars later I was frustrated and out of cash. I was walking toward the ATM and a husky voice caught my attention.

“Excuse me miss?”

I turned to find a slightly older man standing next to a craps table. His clothes looked like he had been wearing them all night, his bow tie undone and his eyes tired.

“Can I ask a favor of you?”

I looked behind me thinking he must be talking to someone else only to find the space behind me empty.

“Me?” I questioned as I pointed at my chest.

“Yes, you.”

“Okkaay?”

“I need you to blow on these dice for me.”

I looked from his hand to the table. I didn’t understand the game of craps but I knew people did this from watching too many movies.

“Please, I give you half of what I win.”

I didn’t really have anything to lose, so I leaned over and blew a quick breath across the dice. I watched as he tossed the dice down and they rolled across the line at the end of the table.

I entered the elevator twenty minutes later, a smile on my face and fifteen hundred dollars in my pocket. I would find Esme and join her in shopping for a dress at Saks. I would never give her a reason to doubt her confidence in me.

14. Chapter 14

Chapter 14

**Please read Author/Beta note at the bottom…Enjoy!**

Bella POV

My nap was short lived as Esme woke me an hour later. It seemed that the rest of the group had arrived and the ladies wanted to go shopping while the guys headed over for the first round of the pool tournament.

My dad was tossing Edward questions left and right about what would be happening today. Edward took it in stride buttoning up his shirt, answering each question with a smile. I had assumed I would be heading over to the tournament with them, but Carlisle explained, the ladies would join them later for dinner due to the first day being the “weeding out” day. Anyone could enter the tournament, however only the best of the best went in to play tomorrow. That is when Edward wanted me there. He explained that only the seriously skilled players would be left at the end of the day and he wanted me to be spared the dramatics that went along with today’s event.

“You go and find a dress that will make you even more beautiful than you are right now.” His lips brushed against mine. “Treat yourself to anything you want and charge it to the room, don’t worry about price tags today.”

The sound of my father’s throat clearing caused me to giggle and pull away from his arms that were wrapped around me.

“Thanks for the offer, but I have money to buy what I need.”

The slight fall of his bright smile made me nearly retract my words.

The streets of Vegas were crawling with people. It seemed there wasn’t an inch of sidewalk not being used. The bright sunlight was shining down on everyone while they snapped pictures and watched the street performers. My mother was quick to grab my arm and pull me in the direction of the black SUV that waited by the sidewalk. I sat beside the window and completely ignored the conversations about shoes and the need for spa treatments while I lost myself in people watching. I wondered where they were from and why they came to Vegas. How the older ladies seemed to huddle together with their large brimmed hats and dark sunglasses or how everyone seemed to be looking up instead of forward where they were walking.

“Bella, I had Susan pull a few dresses with you in mind. She will have a dressing room waiting for you.”

Esme was always so calm even as she typed quickly into her smart phone, her voice never wavering. The SUV pulled up to a large parking area where two people in dark dress clothing stood waiting. The woman, very petite with dark hair that was pulled up in a French twist, had her hands firmly clasped in front of her. The man who stood several inches taller than her, looked as if he had spent too much time in the sun, with his deep tan and over processed hair. He reminded me of a very young and skinny Guy Fietti.

The driver was quick to circle the parked car and held out his hand to Esme who thanked him and referred to him as Carl.

“Susan, this is Edward’s Bella.”

Susan shook my hand as if my life depended on it. “You were right Esme, she is stunning!”

I smiled at her and voiced a small hello as I summed up that she had to work on commission with the way she gave compliments. The Guy Fietti look-alike took Esme into a big hug. I found out seconds later that his name was actually Jorge…..not George as my mother tried to say when she greeted him.

We were taken down a long hallway, classical music softly played overhead. Susan took out a card from her pocket and swiped it along a key pad revealing a tropical paradise. Along the far wall, there was a row of Palm trees that stood proudly and I could have sworn I heard the sound of birds chirping. In the center was a stone fountain allowing water to flow freely down a statue of a woman; her hand was extended and the water was trickling from her fingers.

“Ms Bella, I have several dresses from the fall line of Marc Jacobs. We just got them in and I kept them off the floor just for you.”

I’ve never been a big fashion girl. I’ve always worn what was comfortable and let’s be honest, fits. So, when I didn’t get excited when she threw what I imagined a big name at me, Esme was quick to get excited for me.

“Bella, I can’t wait to see what she has in store.”

I quietly followed Susan toward an area that was surrounded by white linen drapes hanging from tiny cables suspended from the ceiling. When we approached, the cable automatically pulled back to reveal a huge area surrounded with mirrors.

“Now Bella, take your time and let me know if you need any help.” Susan had a pleasant voice and a nice smile.

I thanked her and walked over to the five dresses hanging from individual hangers. The first was a strapless turquoise with crystal beading that covered it. It wasn’t something I would ever wear no matter what size I managed to squeeze into. The second was a deep purple, one shoulder with black beading along the hem line. Again not a color I would wear and showed much too much skin for my liking. The third was a pale blue with what I could only call a Cinderella skirt. It was covered in layers and layers of tulle; it reminded me of a giant tutu. That was so not happening. The final dress was a gold bandage dress. The sleeves were short and the neckline was decent. However, the thirty five thousand dollar price tag caused me to jump back.

“Susan?” I called.

Her pretty face appeared then immediately morphed into a scowl.

“Susan, all of these I’m certain are going to be sought after, but honestly, I don’t like any of them. Can you just point me in the direction of the regular sales floor?”

“Of course.” Shock was evident in her voice that I did not like the dresses.

My mother was sitting and drinking what I can only assume was champagne. Her face dropped when she noticed I wasn’t wearing anything for her to see.

“Honey, where is your dress?” She questioned setting her glass down.

“Mom, the dresses she had for me was not something I could stand proud in.”

My mother knew what I meant when I said that. She had always encouraged me to be comfortable in my own skin.

“Well then, let’s find you something that will.”

With my mother by my side, we exited through the back which came out directly inside the dress department. I have never in my life seen so many dresses in my life. I noticed a group of ladies circling around a display and began to walk over to see what they were looking at.

The circular clothing rack was crammed full of dresses. Some so long that they drug the floor. A very small sign advertised “clearance”. Before I could begin to look, my mother grabbed my arm trying to get me to look at the dresses that lined the long wall.

“Bella, over here.”

I tugged back letting her know I wanted to look at the clearance rack first. Her face contorted with disbelief.

“Oh honey, why look there when Edward has basically opened his wallet for you?”

You could have hit me with a tire iron and I would have recovered quicker than when I heard those words fall from my mother’s lips. I stood with my mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water.

“Mom, why…why would you say that?” My voice trembled with disbelief.

“Oh Bella, grow up.” My mother responded. “I mean his money will soon be yours anyway, so why not get used to spending a little.”

I couldn’t grasp where this was coming from. My mother had always encouraged me to be independent and take care of myself.

“I can take care of myself.” I huffed between clinched teeth turning back towards the rack.

“Yes honey, but soon he will take care of you.”

I spun on my heels looking at her as if she was speaking Russian.

“What?” I questioned throwing my hands up in the air.

“Oh please Bella, a trip to Vegas? He invites all of your friends and family? You can quit the act; your secret isn’t a big secret anymore.” She was looking at me like she knew I was keeping something from her.

“Well then, please tell me what the secret is, because I have no clue what you’re referring to.”

She smiled coyly at me then moved to be close enough to whisper.

“Well it’s no secret that you have stopped working out and you and Edward have been together for a while.”

I motioned with my hands for her to continue, get to the punch line so that I could laugh along with her.

“At least you’re getting married before you start to show.” She leaned closer whispering in my ear.

I instantly began to choke on the small amount of saliva that was left in my mouth. Oh my god, my mother thought I was pregnant?

“Are you alright?” She almost shouted while she helped me to sit down. Suddenly, there was a bottle of water in my blurry line of vision. I took it and began to drink with earnest. I would be hitting the hotel bar as soon as I was done with shopping.

“Do I need to phone someone?” Jorge was standing in front of me helping me hold the water.

“No sir…” I coughed. “Thank you.”

Jorge smiled, nodded and walked back toward the clothing. I took several more deep swallows trying to steady my breathing.

“Mom….not that this is any of your business, but I am not pregnant. I know this because Edward and I have not had sex. Hell, we haven’t even explored yet.”

I continued to drink the cold water and I could feel the flush finally leave my face.

“Furthermore, I am very much still a virgin.”

Now my mother’s face was contorting, her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water.

“But…you’re…but…really?”

I smiled pulling her in for a hug. “Sorry to disappoint, but we just haven’t gotten there yet.”

She kissed my cheek and patted my thigh. “I like the sound of that one better.”

“Sorry to interrupt,” Jorge’s voice sounded from beside me.

I turned to find him holding two dresses; both had the same cut, but were two different colors.

“I couldn’t decide if the black or the red would look better on you.”

The dress was really pretty. It had three quartered sleeves and a deep v-neckline. The skirt was a very slight a-line with a little shimmer to the fabric. I reached out to touch it and noticed that the inside of the dress had what I suspected was spandex material.

“My momma was a full figured lady her entire life. She told me every day that a little lycra goes a long way.” He said winking at me.

Jorge led me back to the dressing room with the rest of our group. He hung the dress and then stepped away. I quickly pulled off my clothes and placed the red dress on first. The spandex was just enough to give you a slight lift and to iron out any fat rolls that tried to show themselves. I loved it. The deep red color made my eyes pop and I felt very pretty in it. I reached down and grabbed the tag to see what this dress cost. I closed my eyes and said a small prayer.

“Let me help you check out Ms. Bella. You can use my employee discount.” Jorge whispered in my direction.

The original price of the dress was eleven hundred dollars, however today the red letters that were hand written made me smile. It was marked down to four hundred and seventy five dollars.

“I found you a pair of low heeled shoes that matches that fabric perfectly.” Jorge said as he adjusted the zipper in the back.

In the end, the shoes were more expensive than the dress and thanks to Jorge’s discount I managed to walk away with two hundred dollars left in my pocket. I was excited for Edward to see me and be seen with me in this dress. The spandex under liner hugged my curves and allowed the actual dress to lie smoothly as it was designed to do. By the time everyone had their fill of shopping it was time to meet the men. As we headed back into the hotel, I heard my father calling my name from one of the bars. There in the corner sat our men. Carlisle had an amber colored liquid in his glass with his arm around Edward. When Edward turned his attention to me, his face lit up and he moved away from the table to come and greet me.

“Kiss a winner baby!” He announced to the room.

“Hi.” I giggled while he continued to place chaste kisses across my face.

“I managed to beat my dad today.” Edward beamed proudly and Carlisle only shook his head.

“Beginners luck you little shit.” Carlisle slurred.

Esme was quick to step in to usher the drunken Carlisle upstairs while Edward paid the tab, then we followed to dress for dinner. In the elevator, Edward kept trying to open my garment bag and have a peak at what I bought. But I kept slapping his hand and laughing like a school girl.

“You know you should be nicer to me considering my delicate condition.” I tossed at him.

Edward eyes met mine in a perplexed look, “What condition?”

I smiled as I took his face in my hands and kissed his chin.

“My mother thought I was pregnant and this trip was our secret shot gun wedding.”

Edward began to smile as he leaned his lips toward my ear.

“Trust me, when I do get you pregnant, I won’t hesitate to tell the entire planet. There will be no secret involved.”

All I could concentrate on was his words…when.

I took my time in the shower. Edward had showered after his first round of play. He said that the match against his father was the last one of the day.

“It was so different playing him; he knows my weakness and I know his. A part of me wanted to just give up, but I saw the look in his eyes and I gave it all I had.”

Edward also talked about a guy that also moved to the final round, Manny Potter. He clearly didn’t care for Manny due to him calling him several colorful names.

“He is this bad breathed, nose haired, pot belly pig,” was the nicest thing he said about him.

“He is a player, or he was in his youth. Now he’s just a sad excuse for a rumpled old man.”

I tried very hard to keep my laughter in at his words. Edward was clearly very passionate about his feelings toward this man.

“Oh….and he would go after a beautiful girl like you. That would be a deal breaker for me, Bella. If you ever had any dealings with this man…I wouldn’t give you a second look.”

I took Edward’s words as just that, words spilled out of frustration, with no real merit or intention.

“Well then, it’s a good thing I met you first.” I spoke softly as I kissed his lips.

The look on Edward’s face was worth all the headaches this morning. I have never seen him look at me with such admiration and for lack of better words, want.

“My god Bella, better tell me now how much that cost me, I’m numb to the shock.”

I smiled while I placed my earring into my ear. I felt so beautiful and like I actually fit beside this incredible man who wanted to be with me. I could smile while walking around and speaking with his competitors. I would hold my head up high and just enjoy being with him.

“It didn’t cost you anything.” I smiled and spoke softly. Edward pushed my hair behind my shoulder as he placed soft open mouth kisses on my shoulder.

He pulled back and looked at me in the mirror as I placed the opposite earring in.

“You didn’t steal it did you?” His face was serious and I was almost angry…almost.

“No goof ball, I have a job and the ability to take care of myself, you know?”

He looked to the ground then back to me. “Yes, I know you can, but I also know that my mother has expensive taste. She doesn’t shop in the low end stores. I wanted to buy this for you.”

His voice became softer as he said the latter.

“Edward, you bought my ticket here and you paid for the hotel. I think you’ve done enough.” I tried to get him to see that I was grateful for what he had already given me.

“I can never do enough. You mean the world to me.” His voice was so full of emotion I expected there to be tears in his eyes, but they were still clear- sad- but still clear.

“Well, let’s get to this dinner we need to attend and you can buy me a drink or two.”

The smile returned to his face as we joined our family for dinner.

The ballroom where the dinner was being held was way over the top. This year the organizers decided on a Mardi Gras theme and everywhere you looked there was the bright purple, green and gold colors. Edward kept his hand on me the entire time we walked through the massive crowd of people. This tournament was huge with bets being placed around the world. Edward was a two to one favorite to win since Carlisle was out. Everyone was very welcoming and my face began to hurt from smiling so much.

Dinner was about to be served when I noticed the guy from the craps table standing beside a very beautiful lady. His eyes found mine and he lifted his drink as a way of saying hello. I raised my hand to wave when I heard Edward from behind me.

“How do you know Manny?” His voice was laden with venom. He was angry; very angry.

I look from the man back to Edward and I wasn’t certain what he meant.

“I asked you how you knew Manny?”

“Eddie, back off the girl, you have her scared to death.” The man from the craps table was suddenly at my side.

“I didn’t ask you, did I?”

For the first time ever, I was really afraid of Edward. I had to look away from him and began looking for my father instead.

“I met your girl in the casino; she gave me luck when she blew on the dice. Theresa wasn’t around, so I asked your pretty lady here to help me out. Don’t worry, I was a gentleman and gave her half of what I won.”

The tone in Manny’s voice was an indicant of more than just the money that changed hands. He was trying to get Edward riled.

“You took money from this guy?”

Edward was really mad now, but what he said next was uncalled for and hurtful.

“Like a common whore, you took money from this guy?”

I couldn’t decide whether to be angry or to cry, either way my eyes quickly filled with tears. I finally caught sight of my father and I quickly pushed past the three of them and ran into his arms.

“Bella?” My father was clearly concerned and confused but wrapped me in his arms anyway.

“Daddy, I didn’t know.” I was full on sobbing now. I couldn’t turn off the waterworks if I tried.

Soon everyone was standing around me except for Edward. I could hear Esme calling for him, but he must have ignored her because she began to ask me what was wrong. My dad put his around me and ushered me outside the ballroom. He found a sofa off to the side, guided me there, and sat me down, never letting go of me. He rocked me and let me cry, just holding me and kissing the top of my head.

“I can’t fix it if I don’t know what’s wrong, baby.”

I just buried my face further into his neck, my voice breaking, “I’m not a whore daddy.”

I felt my father’s body go ridged. I increased my hold on him, desperate to keep his warmth close and the pain away.

“Who said you were a whore?”

I could hear my mother gasp and Emmett mumbled something about killing the fucker.

“E…Ed..ward”

My father pulled back and held my gaze. “Edward called you a whore.”

It wasn’t a question; he was only repeating what I had just said. However, it was loud enough that Emmett also heard and he dashed off with Carlisle in tow. Esme and my mother knelt down holding onto my knees and asked me to tell them the entire story. It took a while but I managed to get everything out.

“I just didn’t want to embarrass him. I wanted him to be able to stand in that room and be proud of how I looked.”

My dad insisted that I stay in his room. He wanted to have a word or two with Carlisle and Emmett before he called it a night. I stood in the bathroom just looking at my dress in the mirror. It seemed like ages ago that I was looking forward to wearing it. I reached back gently and unzipped the zipper, tugging the fabric down my body and then kicking it into the corner of the room. I wondered if Saks had a return policy. I ran my fingers through my hair and then tied it up in a ponytail. My mother was sitting on one of the beds when I came out of the bathroom. She motioned for me to join her but I shook my head. Crawling under the cold sheets and pulling the covers to my chin, I closed my eyes and tried not to think of what had just happened.

“You know Bella, men…”

“For the love of god mother, do not make an excuse for him.”

I listened as she turned and left the room, the click of the door a strange comfort. There was no excuse for his actions. Nothing short of me dropping to my knees and giving that Manny guy a blowjob in front of the entire room could justify what he did. I was nearly asleep when I heard the doorknob jiggle and then a soft knock.

“Bella?” My dad’s voice called out.

“Yeah,” I answered, not bothering to open my eyes.

“Sweetheart, I have Carlisle here and he wants to have a quick word with you, if that’s ok?”

I let out a huff and adjusted myself in the bed. Turning on the bedside lamp and keeping the blanket pulled up was not an easy feat.

Carlisle stood at the end of the bed, his shirt rumpled with a line of what appeared to be blood. I gasped at the sight, Carlisle raised his hand to stop whatever words that I was about to utter.

“Yes, it’s his blood….he is alright, physically, but I need to talk with you.”

Carlisle came around the side of the bed and sat down slowly.

“Bella, I need to tell you the story of Manny.”

A/N:

Not really a cliffhanger. I just had to end it there because it was getting too long. Thank you to everyone who is hanging in there and waiting patiently for me to update. I cannot even begin to describe the amount of things going on in my world.

Yes, Edward is an ass for calling Bella a whore. I personally have forgiven my husband for doing that very thing several years ago. Bella is stronger than we give her credit for and I think you will all be proud of how she handles this in the end. Thank you Kim for your hard work, I know your real life is a complete zoo as well.

Beta Note: I, too, want to thank all you lovely ladies for patiently waiting. I have busy weeks and not so busy weeks. September was extremely busy with 3 birthdays-mine and both my sons, and for some odd reason my professors wanted all these papers and assignments due in 1 week. What were they thinking? Now that that’s over and midterms are over, hopefully things will slow down for just a bit. I have the next 2 chapters of WTW, but I’m starting the next chapter of TAL before them. Edward is an Ass, Cayce. I hope he is suffering for what he did and grovels to Bella. I haven’t looked at the next chapters so I have no idea what happens. After this though, I hope there is no more drama between the two. They haven’t had the chance to have a decent relationship yet. YES, ladies, I bitch too. LOL…

15. Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Bella POV

Did I really want to hear this right now? I’m angry, hurt, and I should just let a night of sleep clear my head, but Carlisle looks so tired and he has always been so good to me.

“Alright.”

I pulled one of the pillows from the empty side of the bed and hugged it tight. I wasn’t certain if I was prepared to hear what Carlisle had to say.

“I know Edward has shared with you why he chose to become a firefighter.”

I nodded my head, but remained silent.

“He has always been the type of person who wanted to help people. I wish I could take credit for that, but I believe it’s something that we are born with and not something you strive to do.”

I couldn’t argue with that. Some people have no issue walking past a hurt person just so it doesn’t interrupt their day.

“When Edward was younger I would bring him along to these events, because it was a way for us to spend time together and I wasn’t missing out on his life. He just thought it was fun and I was good at it, but I also knew that he had a real talent for playing pool. He had this strange ability to almost be able to read his opponent’s mind; to know his next move before it was even taken.”

This didn’t surprise me about Edward.

“It was right after he graduated out of the academy that he went on his first run. It was said to be a condemned house that the city was going to demolish. Edward’s captain gave him firm warnings that things aren’t always as they appear and to be very cautious. Once they were on scene, Edward noticed a man standing across the street eating a bag of popcorn. He thought it was very odd and told one of the police officers that were on the scene with him. I mean who stands and eats popcorn as a house is going up in flames?”

He had a point.

“Once the fire was out, the investigators came in and immediately ruled it as arson. The cop that Edward told about the guy failed to follow up and so the mystery popcorn guy remained just that, a mystery. For the next six months random buildings and houses were destroyed.”

I remember this. My dad had to involve other counties in the investigation. I also remember the guy they caught was found innocent.

“Edward got a call again regarding a trailer that was on fire and when he arrived, he again noticed the guy standing across the street. This time, however, Edward came up behind him and tackled him to the ground. The guy had been seen at nearly every fire where arson was suspected but no one had been able to find him. Edward held him until the police could take him in for questioning.”

I could picture Edward doing just that. Running like he was playing football and then tackling him like a defensive lineman.

“Manny was charged with arson, but he was able to get one of the country’s top lawyers and he was found not guilty. Turns out, Manny loved nothing more than to watch something burn. However, now that his picture was spread all over the news, he couldn’t watch fires anymore due to being recognized. He did his homework and found out everything he could about my son and then started showing up at the tournaments. Hell, he even played in a few. He does this just to taunt Edward.”

I was having a hard time with this one. I had watched as Edward played with ease when guys watching were taunting him and it never fazed him.

“Bella, the last trailer that Manny torched had a homeless girl sleeping in it.”

“Oh no!”

My heart sank now that I understood his hatred. Edward valued human life above all else. Manny may not have intentionally killed the girl, but he was responsible none the less if he started that fire.

“Yes, and now Edward has, as he quoted, “ruined his life with you.” He’s ready to pull out of the tournament. He is certain that you are leaving on the first plane out.”

I rolled my eyes at Edward’s dramatics. I was mad and a lot hurt, but I wasn’t running from him. I wanted to strangle him for what he said, but I knew we could work passed this.

“Manny confessed that he saw the two of you checking into the hotel together. He knew by the look on Edward’s face that you were important. He decided to use you this time to get at Edward.”

Now I was just flat angry. I was so worried about looking bad to Edward I let myself be used by someone. In the end, I hurt the situation more than if I would have just told Edward I didn’t have any money.

“Let me get dressed and I’ll go talk some sense into him.”

Carlisle smiled as he patted my leg.

“Make him work for it, because words hurt just as much as fists.”

I grasped his hand that was resting on his lap.

“Thank you for telling me this, but can I ask another question?”

He returned my smile and squeezed my hand, “of course.”

“The blood on your shirt, you said it’s his…is he?”

Inhaling a deep sigh, you could see the pain written across his face.

“Emmett got to him first after we heard what he called you. He was shoving Manny into a table. Security pulled Edward and Emmett apart; I rushed in and got the two of them out of the room. Emmett got in a few punches telling Edward if he acted like a punk he would be treated as such. I had to put a few stitches in the both of them.”

The suite was quiet when I entered it. I knew instantly that the balcony door was open due to the increased humidity in the room. Sure enough, there on the open balcony, stood one very defeated Edward leaning against the rail. He didn’t turn when I closed the door, I knew he was aware of my presence; he never flinched or even turned around. I placed my shoes and purse on the bed as I headed toward the balcony where the lights of the strip were shining brightly and the sounds of the street carrying up.

“I called the airline for you. You can take any flight you want, it’s all arranged.” His voice was gravely sad and pained.

I wasn’t going to allow him to wallow. We would either see the sunrise or an end to this drama.

“Well, I plan to take the one you do in a few days.” My voice sounded confident.

His body never moved, his face remained fixed on the hotel across the street.

“You don’t have to do that. I caused this…your completely in the right and I have no defense.”

I stood beside him by the rail mirroring his stance and reaching out I placed my hand on his jaw attempting to turn his face toward me.

“You know it’s rude not to look at a person while you speak to them.”

He tugged his chin out of my hand and continued to stare across the way.

“Edward, I’m not going to badger you to talk to me. I am perfectly able to sit right here on this balcony until you get over yourself and talk to me.”

I turned and walked over to one of the chairs I had eyed earlier in the day. I could be just as stubborn as Edward if I had to be.

“You should go with your father Bella…. I’m no good for you.”

Even on his best day, Edward would be no match for me when it came to being strong willed.

“Oh, good god Edward! You called me a name; granted it was a horrible name, but it was in anger and I get it. Now sit your ass down so we can talk about this.”

He remained silent, so I leaned my head back waiting him out. I focused on the sounds of the street and it surprised me how bright it was here on the strip; all the lights from the casinos and shops caused it to be like twilight instead of near midnight.

“I can’t take it back.” His voice was soft, but I heard him clearly.

“I know… but I’m not asking you to.”

The silence resumed and I started to watch the lights of the helicopters that gave tours of the town. One in particular was hovering over the Bellagio during the fountain show.

“Why are you here?”

“You invited me, remember.”

It was with my snarky remark that he finally turned and joined me in the empty chair. His face was paler than usual and I could see the bandage area above his left eye. The remnants of a bloody nose caked on his face.

“I can’t take it back! The word I called you or the fight or your tears. I can’t fix any of it!” He snapped as he leaned his forearms on his thighs.”

I remained in my chair, even though I wanted to wrap myself around him and comfort him.

“Your right, you can’t take it back, but you’re wrong when you say you can’t fix it.”

His head snapped up and he looked directly at me; his green eyes so intense.

“Yes, Edward, you said I took money like a common whore; but it isn’t true.”

He opened his mouth to protest, but I held up my hand demanding he listen.

“I took money from someone who used who I am to you as leverage. Not one time during the transaction did I ever perform a sexual act of any kind. However, I used him just as much as he used me.”

He tried to interrupt again, but the hand came back up.

“When your mother first mentioned that she was headed to Saks to get a dress for the dinner, I was afraid. With Rose not paying half of the rent, it has gotten harder to pay my bills. I’m not starving by any means, but affording a dress that would be appropriate wasn’t going to come cheap. I was in that casino trying to win money so I could stand proud beside you, so you could know that I fit into your world. I was simply walking by the craps table when he asked for my help. I didn’t really expect him to win. I didn’t expect him to actually give me half. But when he did, I was so excited to be able to buy a dress.”

Edward leaned back into his chair.

“He knew you were important to me.”

“I know, your dad told me everything. Listen, am I pissed and hurt that you did what you did? Yes, without a doubt, I am really pissed.”

“You should be, you should just toss me off this fucking balcony and be done with me.”

“But….then Manny wins again.” I said reaching out to grasp his hand.

Edward’s eyes showed such sadness, it made my heart sink.

“Edward, listen to me.” I pulled my chair closer to his when he didn’t try and pull away from me; I gripped his hand harder.

“Do you want me to leave?”

The look on his face was enough of an answer for me, but I let him have his time.

“I never want you to leave.”

I knew he was referring to much more than just tonight.

“Do you think of me as a whore?”

I nearly fell over when he pulled me closer to him.

“I could never think of you as a whore. Your…”

He didn’t finish the sentence instead showing it to me. With my feet dangling, Edward’s lips kissed me with such passion and desire; desire that was only available when love was behind it.

“You’re everything Bella…. I’m so sorry….”

“Please don’t say it.” I pulled back to look at him, confusion clear on his face.

“I don’t want to hear that you’re sorry. I want to see it in the way you are when we’re together. I want to feel what I mean to you.”

His response was holding me tighter against his chest and kissing me again. We stayed for a while on the balcony. Not a single word was ever said, only touches and mutual assurances. Edward was far from forgiven, but I wasn’t ready to give up on him, or on us. If this was the hardest obstacle we have to maneuver around, we would be together for a long time.

“I want you to win big tomorrow.” I whispered into the darkness.

“I already did.” He whispered back.

The next morning at breakfast it was uncomfortably quiet. My father was justifiably upset with Edward and Edward was still mad at himself. My mother watched me while I took several big sips of my Bloody Mary that I insisted on having for breakfast. I chucked when she finally got the hint that I wasn’t pregnant.

Carlisle started talking to Edward about one of the competitors and once they were finished it was time to head out.

“Daddy, I want a word with you.” I said once Edward and Carlisle left the table.

Esme and the rest of our group remained at the table. I had no issue with them hearing what I had to say to my father.

“Listen, I know it seems like I just tossed out what happened and I’m ignoring it. But for the first time since I decided to get healthy, I found something worth fighting for. I believe in Edward and I know we can get passed this and be a stronger, better couple because of it. I don’t expect you to be on team Edward, but I do expect you to honor my wishes. I’m not letting Edward off for what happened, I’ve given him my demands and he has agreed to them.”

My father’s eyes never left mine as he spoke, “That boy gave me his word he would protect you. He only gets this one chance and if he screws that up, I won’t hold back on ending his world.”

I rounded the table and hugged my father. “Daddy, I’m pretty certain that his world would end if he lost me in the future.”

Esme led the way as we took our seats for the final day of play. Edward was dressed in dark grey dress pants and a black button down. He waved as we passed when he saw my father, but when he saw me he placed his hand over his heart and tapped it three times. I couldn’t help but smile back at him and wink.

I took my seat noticing that none other than Manny was sitting three tables to our left. I wasn’t the only one who noticed as Esme slide a white envelope in front of me.

“I was hoping he would show his miserable face.”

I took the envelope and slid the contents out slightly. The bright green of the one hundred dollar bills was like an oasis in the desert.

“You give him back every penny he gave you.”

I didn’t care where the money came from and I hoped like hell Edward was watching when I did this. I slowly scooted my chair back and graciously walked across the floor. I quickly glanced in Edward’s direction and confirmed that he was indeed watching me. I quickened my pace taking the bills out of the envelope; I didn’t want to take a chance on him trying to give me back the money. I would throw it in his face if I had to. Manny was sitting smug with his arm around a different girl then the night before; she was giggling at whatever he was whispering in her ear.

I slammed the money on the table causing the both of them to startle and look up at me while I stood blocking his exit.

“You can’t buy me like a common whore!” I chose to use the words Edward had to show him I was serious.

“Oh sugar, why would you want to do that?”

He tried placing his hand over mine, but I quickly removed it before any of his germs jump ship onto my hand.

“You’re a murderer, nothing more than a common thug, and I want nothing from you. I won’t let you poison my family any longer.”

I turned to the giggling girl who was sitting wide-eyed. “If I were you, I would run as fast and as far from this vial creature as I possibly could.”

Manny took the opportunity, while I was distracted with his date, to grab my hand and wrap my fingers around the cash.

“Listen here you little bitch!”

The next thing I knew, security was pulling Manny up from his chair and my father had me caged in his arms. I was getting dizzy from all the commotion. My father being the great man he was, called a buddy from the Las Vegas PD. It turns out Manny had a federal warrant for his arrest; he had violated his parole by even being in the state of Nevada. Like I said, nothing but a common thug.

Once the police took Manny out of the room in hand cuffs, Edward was able to come over and check on me.

“God baby, are you alright?”

I was in such a state of shock I couldn’t reply at first.

“What the hell?” Was my brilliant comeback.

“I swear this has been the most bizarre vacation I have ever been on.”

Edward held me tight until the announcer instructed the players to take their places. Looking into his eyes I knew we would be ok.

“Thank you.” He whispered against my lips.

Pulling back slightly I said, “For what?

He smiled his famous crooked smile; the one he says is just for me.

“For saving me from myself.”

Holding his face in my hands, I quickly kissed his lips. “Anytime, now go win this bitch.”

Beta Note-Thank you ladies for being patient while I comb through Cayce’s chapters. Any grammar mistakes are mine…Sorry….It is 1:00 am on Sat. morning and I’m about cross-eyed. Enjoy! In my opinion, Bella handled everything with grace, just like a woman should.

16. Chapter 16

Chapter 16

Bella POV

Pound

Pound

Pound

The sound of the soles of my shoes hitting the tread of the treadmill was music to my ears since returning from Vegas. It’s been two weeks and four pounds; the plateau apparently over. I started exercising twice a day as soon as the plane landed in Seattle. It’s amazing how a simple hello between alleged friends can change and motivate you.

It was the final game of the tournament and Edward was up three balls. His opponent, a very young kid from the UK, was starting to struggle. Edward was very respectful and completely backed away from the table when the guy was playing. In all honesty, it was a win-win situation as the second place finish was a nice chunk of change. But when the kid managed to sink one of Edward’s balls, the game was over and Edward was the victor.

I was so happy for Edward I cheered loudly with the rest of the room while he cleared the table and shook the young man’s hand. I didn’t wait for the rest of our table as I quickly made my way over to where he was being congratulated. I stood aside and waited quietly while he finished with the director of the tournament. He was then led over to the judge’s table where he was again congratulated.

The man who had performed the starting ceremonies was standing at the podium again with his microphone in hand. I was so fixated on Edward and his father I missed most of what the announcer was saying. He called Edward’s name and the crowd went wild. I smiled and clapped as loud and quick as I could my palms stung from the action.

“I want to thank first Henry Moore. I have to say you had me worried; you played a very good game. I would love to play against you again in the future.” Edward was all smiles and his words were honest and sincere while he spoke of his competitor.

The director stood beside him handing him an envelope. Edward shook the guy’s hand, took the envelope with a still beaming smile on his face. I was about to make my way over to the side of the platform when Edward took the microphone and started to speak again. It was then I noticed her; a very slender, dark haired girl, standing beside Edward with her hand on his shoulder.

“When I decided to enter this tournament, I made a promise to myself that I would donate any winnings to the Make a Wish foundation. I’m keeping that promise along with the help of my friend Darcy.” He looked to his left at the girl I had noticed. He smiled and I seen he had his arm around her. He hugged her quickly handing her the envelope. I watched in horror as he kissed her on her cheek and she beamed up at him kissing his back.

“I swear Darcy gets more lovely every time I see her,” Esme spoke from my right where I hadn’t even realized she was until now.

“Who?” I questioned.

She nodded her head toward the platform where Edward and Darcy still stood looking at each other and talking.

“They dated for three years. She was offered the position she has now and was required to move across the country. They decided a long distance relationship wasn’t something they wanted, but have remained friends. She has visited him several times over the years.”

Esme resumed her clapping just as happy for her son as I was.

“Excuse me.” I warned as I made my way out of the room.

If I looked at Edward and Darcy for a second longer, I was going to be sick. They had dated, not casually, but for a long time. He had to have told her he loved her. Perhaps he still does, love doesn’t just stop when the relationship does. I scrambled my way to the ladies room in the massive hallway.

I locked the shiny stainless steel door quickly. Placing my face against the cold surface, I closed my eyes and just concentrated on breathing. I wouldn’t cry, not here at least. Esme had planned a celebration dinner at the Bellagio. I had been excited to sit and watch the fountain show while we dined. Would Darcy be there?

I heard the door open and then the voice of my sister. “Bella, are you alright?”

I opened my eyes, took a deep breath and smiled trying hard to fake happiness.

“Yeah, just had to pee really bad, I held it so I wouldn’t miss his game.” Surprisingly it worked. I sounded happy.

“Oh, just wait until you’re pregnant. You won’t be able to hold it that long.” She chuckled as I heard the water turn on.

I placed my back to the door, staring at the toilet. I wanted to be sick, prayed for it really. Maybe I could throw up all of the pain and hurt I had in my chest. With a deep breath, I flushed the toilet and opened the door. Crying would have to wait.

Alice stood beside Rose she washed her hands. She was applying her lips gloss and I smiled at her. She smiled back and resumed the application. I quickly washed my hands and then checked my hair in the mirror. The last time I looked at myself, I was certain I was on the path to having Edward forever. Now that confidence was gone, replaced with sad eyes that bedded to be allowed to cry; a face I didn’t recognize. Edward had changed me, now I would have to see if he planned even more changes in my future. I tossed the used paper towels into the waste basket and pushed the heavy door open. Darcy and Edward stood in a circle with Esme and Carlisle. I noticed my father talking on his phone near the entrance. I crossed the carpet to join the circled group.

“Oh Darcy, this is Bella.”

Just Bella, not my Bella or my girlfriend, or even the love of my life.

“Bella, this is Darcy.”

I fought like hell for the smile on my face, the pain in my chest threatening to explode at any second.

“It’s nice to meet you.” My voice was non-committed as I extended my hand out to shake hers.

She returned the smile and I could tell it was as forced as mine. Taking my fingers in hers as if I had just touch a dirty trash can. I pulled my hand back quickly; two could play at that game.

“Edward, we should get going the reservations are in ten minutes.” Darcy commented as she turned back to face him.

She was dressed in a Tiffany blue silk shirt with a skin tight black pencil skirt. Her mile high heels made me nervous just to look at them. I silently prayed she would trip, but then thought better of it. She had no panty lines and more than likely no panties. Wouldn’t want everyone to see her crotch, then again Edward probably has. That thought cause the burn in my chest to intensify.

“Are you ready?” Edward questioned me.

I looked into his very happy green eyes and nodded. I needed a drink and a strong one. The group began to make our way to the entrance and closer to my father.

“About ready?” He quickly questioned me, taking his arm and wrapping it around my shoulders as he had last night.

I only nodded and tried to smile, the pain in my chest pushing those tears closer to the surface. I was shaking I was so upset. Dad noticed and held me closer.

“Guys, Bella and I are going to walk to the Bellagio. I have something to discuss with her.”

Edward looked to me and then to my father. Darcy pulled at his sleeve as she climbed into the back of the limo.

“I’ll be fine, I have my dad. I’ll meet you there.”

He only nodded his head then disappeared into the black limo. I watched from the sidewalk as the red lights of the car rounded the corner.

“Take a walk with me little one.”

I reached out for his arm as I took that first step, not certain if I had the strength to do it myself. He held me firm as we took slow and deliberate steps.

“Do we need to stop somewhere?”

I shook my head no.

“Take the time and get your breath.”

My father knew exactly what I needed…time to regroup.

“I won’t lie Bella, she is beautiful and I hear she has a job with a nonprofit, so she has her own money; but she also isn’t you.”

I knew this, didn’t help the pain any.

“I don’t like the way she carries herself. She has an agenda and your Edward is at the top of it.”

My dad had been a cop most of his adult life and I would always trust his judgment. He could read most people like an open book. I stopped walking and turned to face him, burying my face in his chest and wrapping my arms around him.

“Dad, I shouldn’t have to fight her for him. He should want me for me.”

My dad huffed, “Never said anything about him wanting her now did I?”

Dad was right I would have to see what direction he took.

The room at the Bellagio was very inviting with the lights turned way down and the glow from the candles on the tables illuminated the room. Just beyond the window were the famous fountains. I had waited to see this and now I couldn’t have cared less. Once inside, I noticed that only two chairs remained open at our table, one beside Rose and one beside Esme. I chose the one beside Rose, hoping some of her pregnancy hormones would rub off on me and I could get mad.

My father helped me with my chair as Edward was stuck in the corner between Darcy and a man I had never seen. However, he never really looked away from the man’s face as I sat down.

“Miss, what can I get you to drink?

“Jack Daniels straight.” I requested as my eyes never left Edward. The waiter hurried away from the table as Jasper leaned on his elbows across the table.

“You know alcohol isn’t going to help you with your weight goal.”

The smug bastard. He didn’t have his life crashing as a result of a pretty skirt.

“It won’t help that, but it’s going to help me get through tonight. I’ll worry about my weight when the sun comes back up.”

Jasper cocked his head waiting for me to continue, but the cackling sounds that Darcy was omitting would make a deaf man cringe.

“Oh Ed, do you remember the time we went to New York and the taxi driver kept hitting on you?”

This is how the rest of my night went. Listening to Darcy cackle and hearing all the ‘remember when’ stories. Nothing was mentioned about his win or how good of him to donate all that money. I was three glasses of Jack down when Edward finally came over and wrapped himself around me. I jumped in my chair I was so startled.

“Hey, sweet girl, I miss you.” He hummed into my ear as he kissed my cheek.

“Oh? I think your just fine with your current company.”

I didn’t even turn to look at him as I answered. I just continued to stare at the melting ice cubes in the bottom of my now empty glass.

“Ed, lets head over to Portraits and dance like we used to.” Darcy interrupted before Edward could say anything.

I had just about all the Darcy and Edward time I could stand at this point, so I pushed my chair back standing quickly, the Jack Daniels in my system causing me to stumble slightly. I checked the people around me and no one seemed to notice. I walked around Darcy and stood at the large windows that overlooked the fountain area. Glancing up I noticed the helicopters hovering around and I was taken back to the conversation that happened just last night. He obviously knew that Darcy would be here tonight. He had tried to give me a solid out of our relationship, but I had convinced him that we were solid and that I could forgive him for his harsh words. Was it all a plan to make me hate him so that I would leave him giving him an opportunity? There was only one way to find out.

“Sorry Darcy, but I have to be on the first flight out in the morning. I have to be at the station by three tomorrow afternoon, but I’m sure we’ll have time in the future.”

“Oh come on Ed, you can sleep when you’re dead.” The man, who was sitting beside Edward spoke. During the evening, I learned he was Darcy’s brother. He kept giving Rose looks until Emmett stepped in and they left.

“No guys, I’m starting to feel my day and I have to get some rest so I can be at my peak at work tomorrow.”

I turned my attention back away from them. Darcy was now pouting because Edward wanted to leave.

“Remember Bella, no one can make you feel anything you don’t give them permission to.” My father spoke in a hushed voice into my ear. I turned and hugged him tight. Everyone decided to call it a night and so we all headed toward the car. I felt bad having Esme pay for my drinks and so I took out one of the hundred dollar bills left from when we first arrived and placed it under my empty glass. Darcy and her brother walked with our group to the limo. I didn’t want to watch them saying good bye, so I quickly followed Esme into the seat.

“You ok Love?”

The pain was coming back despite the alcohol and the tears were threatening.

“Just really tired.” I spoke. Tired of this whole night, tired of holding in my emotions and tired of the pain in my chest.

It seemed that everyone was just as tired as the ride back to the hotel was completely silent. Edward did sit beside me this time, but I could tell he had a lot on his mind. We said our goodnights in the elevator. It would be me and Edward on the early flight, everyone else had another day still. He slid the key card in, opened the door, and removed his jacket as he walked in. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he started to remove his shoes. I decided it was now or never. I would have my answer to his plans for me. I kicked off my shoes and crawled on the bed behind him and started rubbing his shoulders.

“I bet you have no idea how incredible you look when you’re playing, do you?”

Placing open mouth kisses on his neck, I knew that no man would ever turn down sex unless they were on death’s door.

“Bella…” his voice sounded as a warning.

“Hmm?” I continued my assault on his neck while my hands traveled down his chest headed for the promise land.

“Not tonight babe.” He said in a husky voice removing my hands from around him.

“I need a shower. Make sure you’re packed; we have to leave in five hours.”

I watched in disbelief as he shut the door behind him. I couldn’t stop the tears this time. I heard the shower turn on and I let my sobs overtake me. He was probably jerking off to memories of her in the shower. Grabbing my clothes from the closet and dresser, I tossed everything in my suitcase, not caring what shape it was in. I crawled under the covers and let my sobs take over once again. A few minutes later, he came back into the room and I pretended to be asleep. I listened as he packed his bags and then climbed into bed. He curled his warm body around mine and I waited until I heard his breathing change before I let the tears flow freely.

I stared at the numbers on the alarm clock as I listened to Edward’s soft snores. I had my answers; no man would ever turn down sex from a girl he was attracted to. I thought about our disagreement and how he seemed to look lost. Clearly it was all an act. Why would he want my whale blubber of a body when he could have Miss Girls gone wild, spring break addition. At the sound of the alarm, I shot out of bed and got into the shower. I wanted nothing more than to get his smell off me, to wash away the hurt and the shame. I was so happy that the steam from the shower had fogged the mirror so I couldn’t bring myself to look at my horrible body.

I brushed my teeth and then tossed my tooth brush in the waste basket. I wished I could do that with the memory of this trip. I dressed back into the clothes I had flown here in and made my way out of the room. Edward had the morning news on and was standing shirtless watching it. The once passion evoking appearance of his bare chest was clouded with memories of last night. He had a cup of coffee in one hand and his phone in the other. No doubt sending or reading a text from Darcy.

“Good morning.” He turned in my direction when I sat my suit case on the floor.

“Morning.” Was my clipped response.

“Sorry you’re tired; you can sleep on the plane.” He tried to smile at me but all I wanted to do was slap the taste out of his mouth.

I took my suit case by the handle and walked with purpose to the door. When I turned the handle, I felt Edward’s hand catch the door. I let the door go and headed toward the elevator. I placed my head phones in on the drive to the airport and I refused to let Edward pay for my baggage fee. Once on the airplane, I again pretended to be asleep until I was confident Edward really was.

“I have to work the next three days baby, but I’ll still call you and text you.”

We had driven separate cars to the airport due to him having to be at the station and I didn’t want him rushing because he had to run me home.

“Be safe.” I told him as he kissed me softly goodbye.

I pulled my car out of the parking lot. I wanted nothing more than to head to the nearest drive thru and load up on sugar and salt.

“Don’t be an idiot!.” I shouted to myself as I hit the steering wheel.

With a new destination in mind, I stepped on the gas and headed for the gym.

For the first few days, my appetite was non-existent. I would work through lunch and even stay late; anything to keep my mind off talking to Edward. I would wake up and go to the gym and then head back the right after work was over. Edward had called me several times and I always had a reason to hang up. He had picked up several extra shifts so seeing him hadn’t been an issue. I also started running and found that if I ran during my workout, I would drop in my bed at night and sleep soundly. So every night after work, I was pounding away on the treadmill.

“Hey, Bella!” Emmett’s voice startled me.

“Hey, Em.” I smiled my now perfected fake smile.

“You gotta sec?” He questioned looking around the gym

“Um…”

“Just a quick second I swear. I need to talk with you about something. I mean you’re going to be my sister-n-law really soon.”

Emmett was right. If I didn’t have time for family…

“Sure, is everything alright with my sister and the baby?”

He smiled and assured me everything was great with them.

“No, I need to talk with you about Edward.”

I took a deep breath crossing my arms over my chest. I wondered if Edward was going to be using Emmett to do his dirty work. Tell me Edward had changed his mind about us.

“And….”

Looking at me he cocked his head.

“See, I find myself in the middle of this whether I want to be or not. On one hand, I have you, killing yourself here in the gym every day and night. Then I have him working around the fucking clock so that he is too busy to sit down and talk with you. He is too chicken shit to ask you what has crawled up your ass, but I’m sick of it. I see the both of you suffering and no one is willing to just open their mouths and say something.”

I could feel my skin turning red with anger. How fucking dare he do this!

“Emmett, since coming back from Vegas, I had time to really think about things. The biggest thing I learned was that I can’t control what Edward does. If he breaks things off with me then that is his decision and I have to accept it. But working out, changing what I do for me is my choice. I chose to work hard so that I can look myself in the mirror and feel good about myself. I can control this. So, if he sent you here to do his dirty work, then you can turn the fuck around and tell him I said to fuck off!”

“Hold the phone Bella, Edward has no clue I’m even here.”

Emmett looked about as angry as me now. I was taken aback by his admission.

“Then….”

He held up his hand, wordlessly asking me to listen to him.

“Tell me what happened. I mean I get that he called you a whore, but I know for certain that you grew a set and made him see the error of his ways on that one. Did you change your mind? I mean I watched you at dinner that last night. You were trying very hard to numb some pain with the way you were drinking. What happened in 12 hours?”

I dropped my arms in defeat, I really didn’t want to hash this shit out.

“Emmett, I really don’t…”

“No…you’re going to figure this shit out or you’re going to march over to the station and put my best friend out of his misery.”

“Oh, I doubt very seriously he is in any type of misery. He’s just trying to find a humane way of breaking things off with me.”

Emmett’s eyes widened. He shook his head and crossed his arms across his massive chest.

“Explain.” he demanded.

I huffed out a breath and wiped the sweat off my neck. Maybe this was a better avenue for this. If I admit to Emmett I knew about Darcy then he would run and blab to Edward. We could end this charade once and for all.

“Darcy.” My voice clipped and angry.

“Yes?… and?”

“Oh Jesus fuck, Emmett! I know they have a history; a long one. One that more than likely housed an exchange of I love you’s and body fluids. Things he won’t share with me!”

I snapped my towel as I said the latter. The more I thought about his rejection of me, the more pissed and hurt I became.

“You’re gonna have to be more specific, Bella. I’m lost. What does having a history with a girl have to do with why you’re pissed right now?”

“Oh good god, Emmett! Darcy and Edward dated for a long time. They were close, still are apparently. You don’t have a long relationship and not tell the person you love them or have sex together. Edward is a very attractive man and Darcy….well she’s hot. He would be an idiot to turn her down for sex. But….”

“Stop…. You’re pissed because he was nice to an ex-girlfriend?”

I squeezed my eyes closed tilting my head back slightly.

“No Em, I’m not pissed because he talked with an ex-girlfriend. I’m pissed because the second she swayed her hips in his face, he forgot all about me. Then when I practically threw myself at him in our hotel room, he turned me down. A perfectly healthy man turned down sex from a willing female…that just doesn’t happen, not in my world.”

Emmett didn’t even blink his eyes as I told my side of things. When I finished, a small grin took form on his face.

“Clearly you have some misconceptions about how men work. First, you need to know some things about Edward and Darcy that not a lot of people know. For one they broke up when Edward found out she was cheating on him. He found a prescription for some antibiotics in her purse and when he questioned her, she actually told him the truth. Second, I’m pretty certain that the reason he turned you down was because you had too much to drink and he didn’t want your first time to be a drunken mistake.”

I wanted to laugh at his words. Was he kidding? Men didn’t turn down sex…ever!

“Emmett, you are so full of shit! No man would turn down a piece of ass because she had a few drinks, hell you guys would most likely find it easier to get the panties off.”

“Hey… don’t categorize every man in the same group. Sure, there are men who would do just what you think they would. But some of us, me included, find that having their partner in complete control of their mind and bodies makes things so much better. Besides, I know what Edward has planned…or rather had planned for the two of you.”

“She cheated on him? But…”

“Oh yeah, she admitted to cheating on him nearly the entire time they dated. How the hell do you think she got her position she has now fresh out of college?” He snickered.

“But…she…they… I know they see each other regularly.”

Emmett scoffed. Dropping his arms and stepping closer to me, he placed his hands on my shoulders.

“If you’re in reference to the visits she makes to have meetings with him to discuss donations he makes a couple times a year then yeah…I guess.”

I couldn’t look away from Emmett, but not trusting my mouth to say the correct thing.

“He is different with you. You guys are each other’s halves.”

I didn’t know what to say. Listening to Emmett did make perfect since.

“You know what you have to do now Bella.”

I nodded my head slowly; still stunned.

“Good, he’s at the station; I know you know the way.”

I smiled and turned to leave.

“Thanks Emmett.” I said over my shoulder.

“Don’t mention it. You’ll owe me babysitting once the baby comes.”

Time to swallow my pride and straighten this all out.

A/N

Ok! Before you start building the fire to burn me at the stake, just remember…

Bella is in a fragile state. She’s trying to drop this massive amount of weight. Her sister has left to go live with a “stinky boy.” She has just met the ex- girlfriend who is absolutely perfect. And let’s face it, Edward is exercising his right to be a complete douche. I can attest that my very own personal knight in shining armor can be a royal douche bag. I’ve forgiven him for many inconsiderate things in our life together…including calling me a whore. Yep… got a very nice diamond necklace from that one. My point is, Bella had to get in a mindset that she could rationally listen to Edward. Now that she understands what happened, she can have the conversation that needs to happen. Will everything be roses? You will have to read and find out.

Beta Note: Whew! Is it over Cayce?…The Drama? I wanted to slap those two…Enjoy the chapter! Now, I have the next chapter ready to be betaed, but I need a few days before I get started. Got some stuff to do for school and a test Tuesday….But you have this…Kimmie43 (Kim Roland-Edwards)

17. Chapter 17

Chapter 17

BPOV

I should have showered and changed, I thought while waiting on the red light to change. He hasn’t seen me in two weeks and I was going to show up smelling like a yeti. Looking at the clock on my dash, it was nearly nine at night. If I went home to shower, I knew I wouldn’t have the courage to get back out. I tapped my fingers impatiently on my steering wheel thinking that would will the light to turn faster, when finally the twin green beacons welcomed me to proceed forward into the intersection. The color always made me think of Edward. Pressing on the gas pedal, I glanced to my left then right like I’ve always done since I learned how to drive. I was nearly through the intersection when a blinding light caught my attention, head lights…big and bright.

I felt myself being tossed in a million directions, the glass shattering around me, the crunching sound of metal giving way. I squeezed my eyes shut because the motion of the car was making me nauseous. When I felt the car finally come to a stop, I opened my eyes and discovered I was resting on my side; actually my entire car was resting on my left side. Trying not to move very much, I lifted my hands making certain I still had function then I wiggled my toes. My seat belt had me pinned firmly against the seat. I wouldn’t touch it unless I smelled gas or saw flames. I could see that my wind shield was completely gone. I could hear sizzling noises coming from my slightly smoking engine; the hood of my car crumbled and thrown haphazardly off to the side. I could also hear emergency sirens in the distance and I sighed in relief that help was on its way.

“Ma’am can you hear me?” A voice called from the front of my car. A young man, his face turned sideways, with a cell phone to his ear.

“I think so.”

I watched him as he spoke into the phone, then he stood and started pacing in front of the car.

“The ambulance is on its way, just hold on ok?”

EPOV

“Cullen!”

I raised my head to see my captain standing in the doorway.

“Sir?”

“My office, now.”

I closed my eyes, stood and walked as if I was going to the electric chair. Being called into the Chief’s office was either a really good thing or a very bad thing. Since I know I hadn’t done anything outstanding, I knew I was in trouble.

“Have a seat.”

He closed the door and then rounded his desk, his eyes held nothing of his intentions.

“Cullen, I make it a habit not to get involved in my men’s personal lives, unless it involves their work performance.”

I rested my forearms on my thighs, my eyes remaining on his face. Chief was a fair man, if he had an issue with me, it was valid.

“What’s going on with you?”

I opened my mouth to answer but stopped when he raised his eyebrow halting my explanation.

“Charlie Swan and I go back more years than I can remember. I understand Vegas was a bigger loss than a win.”

I nodded my head then lowering it to stare at the floor.

“I called her a whore.”

The room fell silent, the voices from the kitchen coming through the air vents clearly.

“Did she rip off your balls for that one?”

I sat up straight, “I wish she had. She told me to basically get over myself, that she knew my words weren’t true.”

Chief began to laugh. “She’s a smart girl, but that’s far from all that happened isn’t it?”

So I began to explain to him everything that had happened. How I completely messed things up with Bella by trying to protect her.

“Why do you feel you needed to protect her from Darcy?”

“Because….I knew the second I handed the check to her that she was on a mission. Darcy doesn’t want me, but she doesn’t want anyone else to have me either. She’s fine when I’m single, but the second she found out about Bella, she made it a point to come to Vegas.”

I took a deep breath remembering the looks on Bella’s face that night.

“She would have told Bella lies about us. Lies that would have caused Bella to go running away screaming from me to never speak to her again.”

Chief interrupted my mental ramblings, “But you managed to do that yourself.”

I could only nod my head at that one.

“How long since you’ve slept?”

I shrugged my shoulder. I had no idea when the last time I slept through the night was. I remembered the last night in Vegas, after I turned Bella down when she wanted to have sex, I wrapped myself around her like she was a life preserver. I knew she was going to bolt the second we got off the plane…and I let her.

“Why did you turn her down?”

My eyes shot up to Chief’s face, he was seriously asking me that question?

“I mean you’re a healthy man and she is a very pretty girl, what’s the problem?”

I opened my mouth to tell him the truth when the raised brow appeared again.

“Cullen, I don’t care why you did, but I’m certain she has no clue and is asking the same question I just did.”

Like a massive wrecking ball, the point he was trying to get across to me, hit me square in the chest.

Beep

Beep

Beep

“Squad 51, Engine 17, Emergency 1…Two vehicle collision; corner of 6th and Harris; one female trapped in vehicle; unknown second driver; time out 2102.”

I jumped to my feet and bolted to the engine bay. Regardless how Bella felt this second, I had a job to do. With my turnouts in place, I jumped into my seat in the truck. Car accidents were a big part of the job. It didn’t matter if it was just a fender bender or a complete head on, we were called out. I hoped it was something very minor that we would be called off of. I needed to talk with Bella and make certain she knew that I did want her, needed her.

As we pulled up to the scene I noticed the vehicles, the first was a large truck with the driver slumped over the steering wheel. The paramedics were placing a sheet over his body. The second was a much smaller car; I could only see the under carriage so I couldn’t tell what it was. I snatched the K2 saw just in case we needed to cut the guy out. Considering how the car was resting, it would be a miracle if the driver made it. I rounded the front of the car and my breath left me when I saw it was Bella’s car.

“Baby!” I shouted, dropping the saw and tossing off my helmet.

“CULLEN!”

Chief shouted, but I ignored him and dropped to my knees reaching through the missing windshield. Bella was secured against her seat, her seatbelt doing its job. Two lines of bright red blood ran down her face crossing the bridge of her nose.

“Bella…baby, can…” Her quivering voice stopped mine. I reached out and placed my hand over hers that was gripping the steering wheel tightly.

“I’m ok; please just get me out of here.”

I turned my eyes to the guy standing next to me. “Get her out now!” I roared.

Looking back at her bleeding face there were now small pools of unshed tears making their appearance.

“Cover her head!” A voice shouted beside me as a blanket was shoved into my shoulder. Taking the blanket I quickly opened it and crawled over her dashboard covering both of us.

“I’m sorry.” Bella’s voice trembled as the tears finally gave way.

“Shh….shh….you’re going to be fine, we’ll get you out and to the hospital. I won’t let anything happen. I promise.”

I wanted to wrap my entire body around hers, but I knew that was a bad idea. I held her hand tight as the K12 saw roared to life, the sparks from the contact with the metal flying around the edge of the blanket.

“Just hold on a second more, they are really fast with the saw.” I kissed her cheek for assurance.

In an instant the blanket was ripped away to reveal the top of the car folded back against the pavement. I pulled back and took the knife I kept in my pocket and cut her seat belt away, freeing her to be released from the car.

“Edward, please don’t leave me.” She cried as the paramedics lifted her and placed her on a back board. Her tiny hand was reaching for me.

“Not a chance baby.”

I grabbed her outstretched hand and walked quickly with the paramedics to the waiting ambulance. No one questioned me being there. Everyone knew how important Bella was to me. When we secured her into the rig, I felt the forward motion hearing the sirens come alive. I watched while the paramedic placed a bandage over the gash on her forehead.

“I’m sorry Edward. I shouldn’t have assumed anything. I should have….”

I gripped her hand tighter.

“No Bella, you did nothing wrong. I should have told you everything about her. I thought I was protecting you.”

The conversation was cut short when the doors to the ambulance were swung open and two men in green scrubs and white lab coats stood waiting. I noticed Charlie standing beside my father and I signed a breath of relief. Carlisle loved Bella almost as much as I did. He would let nothing happen to her. Charlie was across the walk and to Bella’s side quicker than humanly possible.

“Bella?”

I watched the tears now fall freely down her beautiful face.

“Daddy!” She exclaimed.

The paramedics quickly pulled the stretcher out and rolled her into the emergency room doors. I followed never letting go of her hand.

“Bella, hang in there kid, Dr. Cullen is going to take care of you.”

With her father on her right and me firmly planted on her left, we wheeled her into one of the rooms and the doctors began examining her. My father rattled off different tests he wanted and I recognized he wanted a chest x-ray.

“Ms. Swan, any chance your pregnant?” One of the medical team asked her while adjusting the huge machine over her chest.

“Pfft…no.”

Even with everything going on, Bella was clearly still hurt over my rejection of her. Once I knew she was safe, I would clear the air on that one first. Chief had made me see that my actions left too many questions unanswered.

“Take a deep breath and hold it.” They instructed her and I found myself following the instructions too.

They took several x-rays and started an IV on her. I noticed she was shivering due to having her clothes cut away. Her neck was still housed in the c-collar and my dad was asking her questions so it could be removed. Once he was satisfied that her neck was fine, he removed the collar.

“I have to look at the x rays, but I think you were very lucky.”

I squeezed her hand while my father placed his hand firmly on my shoulder and giving it a squeeze too. I gave him a quick thank you moving closer to her head. I dipped my head placing my lips on her forehead. I could see broken glass in her hair and I wanted to pull it out to keep it from cutting her any further. However, a nurse came around and began cleaning her starting with the glass.

“You scared me.” I whispered into her ear.

She gave me a half smile. “I was on my way to talk with you.”

I looked longingly into her brown eyes. The red rims reminded me of her fear; I needed to make it all go away.

“I need to tell you something and I want you to promise me you’ll hear me out.”

She nodded her head placing her free hand on my cheek. I kissed her forehead again before I started.

“When I was a junior in high school I met Darcy. She was a real pest at times always showing up at places I was. She even started to bug my friends. After a while, I just accepted that she wanted to be around and just let it go.”

I had made the varsity football team that year. My dad was so happy and my mom went crazy with all the buttons and mom shirts she wore.

“It was homecoming and I was a shoe in for king. Darcy went all out and convinced everyone to elect her queen, it worked and I had to kiss her on the football field during half time. The kiss was quick on my part, but Darcy pulled me in and gave the crowd a show. After that she spread it around that we were dating.”

Bella’s face remained stoic keeping her eyes on mine.

“She just made herself at home with our group. When it came time for prom, I didn’t want to go. But she told her mother, who called my mother, and long story short we went to prom together. That summer, I begged my parents to let me stay with my grandparents in Jacksonville. I figured she would forget all about me while I was away. However, one morning my grandmother came into the garage where I was helping my granddad and informed me I had a visitor.

Darcy had got on a greyhound bus and traveled all the way to Jacksonville. My grandmother made her breakfast and I called her parents. They were under the impression that my grandparents had invited her down. Since I was due to return home at the end of the week, they let her stay. The last night we were in Florida, she snuck into my room, crawled into my bed and began to give me a blowjob.”

I really hated telling Bella about this. No man wants to discuss his past sexual encounters with the woman he is currently with.

“By the time I was fully woken up, she was finished and had this look on her face. She told me she loved me then went back to her room. My parents insisted that she ride on the same flight I did, so that I could make certain she was safe getting home. She was grounded when we first got back, so for the first several weeks of my senior year, I only saw her in school. But she still managed to spread it around the school that we had this super romantic beach make out session that ended in sex.”

I hadn’t told anyone about this part, not even my parents.

“So, being the hormonally controlled seventeen year old I was, I did nothing to dispel the rumors. I figured she might really be willing to have sex at some point.”

It was a lame excuse, even to my own ears, but it was the truth and Bella deserved nothing more.

“It was at homecoming that she planned this huge romantic thing and I fell for it. I was smart enough to use a condom, but I let those hormones steer me into a relationship that I never wanted. Sex with Darcy was a regular thing and she always told me she loved me.”

I could see the sadness wash over Bella.

“Bella, I never once told her I loved her.”

Then I waited, watching the fear slowly leave at my words.

Taking a deep breath before I continued, “We were about to graduate and I had decided that enough was enough. I was ending the relationship and concentrate on studying. I went over to her house and she opened the door half naked. She pulled me into her parent’s living room and tried to seduce me into having sex. I wasn’t in the mood to do that anymore with her and with my focus on ending it I stopped her.”

“Her cell phone started ringing from her purse and she moved to take it out. I seen a prescription bottle fall out and I bent over to pick it up. I noticed it was an antibiotic, but I also knew from one of my father’s many lectures on safe sex, that taking some medications can render birth control ineffective. Once she finished her call, I questioned her on what was wrong with her.”

I remember Darcy sitting on the couch and telling me the truth about her and the many guys I played football with.

“She admitted to having cheated on me for most of the time we were together. She even admitted she was taking the antibiotic because she contracted an STD from one of the other guys. I went to the free clinic; I was too embarrassed to tell my dad what was going on. I had them test me for everything and thank god it was all clear. I never told my friends or my parents the real reason I broke things off with her, well except for Emmett, because he thought I was crazy for dumping a girl who was more than willing to put out for me at any time I wanted.”

Emmett actually looked at his junk when I admitted what was going on. He swore he wasn’t one of the guys and I believed him. He questioned if I was going to kick any ass over this, which I answered no, because I was just happy to have her gone.

“I didn’t see her for a long time. My mother would ask me about her, Darcy made my mother fall in love with her, not like she loves you though.”

I smiled at her and for the first time in weeks, she smiled back.

“Edward, why did you reject me? Did you change your mind about Darcy?”

Her voice was broken and full of hurt. I had the power to fix this, make her fears go away and I was damn sure going to do it.

“Bella, I want to make your…our first time something that Hollywood awes over. I want you to have only pleasant memories of being loved by a man who would do anything in his power to make you happy, not some drunkin’ fumbling that you want to forget ever happened.”

The nurse had finished cleaning the glass out of her hair and I had forgotten she was even in the room.

“Good news Bella,” my father’s voice called from behind me.

“Oh my god, where is my baby?”

The sound of my mother yelling in the hallway had my father stepping back out to let her in the room.

“Oh my Isabella!” She gasped as she rounded the room and took a long look at Bella.

“Carlisle did you give her something for pain? Did you check out everything? When can I take her home?” I watched as hurricane Esme began to order my father around. Poor Bella was more frightened of my mom than the entire accident.

“Esme, calm down hon….”

My mother shot my father a glare that was so intense it made me want to crawl in a hole.

“Don’t you dare tell me to calm down, this is my baby sitting in a hospital bed after being cut out of a car. Don’t you for one second tell me to do anything!”

The room grew silent while Carlisle reached down to the floor, grabbed his balls and put them back in his pants.

“Esme, I was just going to tell Bella that everything seemed fine. She managed to escape that car crash with only the cut on her forehead that has already stopped bleeding and won’t need any stitches.”

My mother didn’t miss a beat. “Good, then write up her discharge papers so I can take her back home with me.”

I hadn’t noticed Bella’s parents standing in the room as well. Looking over at Charlie, he looked as frightened for my father as I’m certain I did.

“Charlie, you can stop by her house and get her some clothing. Edward, call her insurance company and get them started on replacing that car of hers.” She never stopped running her fingers through Bella’s hair as she barked out orders.

“Esme….” Bella’s voice silenced her rant.

“Oh, sweetheart, how are you feeling? Do you need something, a drink or something for pain? Her eyes went back to my father, I’m sure expecting him to anticipate her questions and make a move to carry out her unspoken orders.

“I’m fine, really….I just need…”

Everyone was looking at Bella. I was ready to knock down walls to get her whatever she needed. No doubt my mother would have led the charge.

She started to chuckle and we all looked at each other then back to her.

“When I was sitting at the light, I thought to myself how I really needed a shower. Now I’m glad I didn’t, I would have taken one for nothing.”

My mom being…well my mom had the nurses eating out of her hand. She arranged for Alice to bring Bella a change of clothes and a hot shower in the staff locker room. I waited, not so patiently, in the waiting area along with the rest of my crew and her family.

“Cullen, I expect you to take her wherever it is she’s going tonight and I don’t want to see you until Monday morning.”

My chief was awesome. He always put family above everything else and he knew how important Bella was to me.

“I want to hear about any changes in her, do I make myself clear?” Charlie told me, pointing his finger in the center of my chest.

“Yes, sir.”

My father released Bella only because he knew she would be staying at his house. I stood at the end of the hall waiting and watching as an older nurse pushed a now smiling Bella down the hall towards the exit. Her hair was still damp from her shower and a fresh bandage placed on her forehead. My mother’s car was already parked and idling when we exited the hospital.

I held my hand out to Bella while the nurse placed the brakes on the wheelchair. Her smile was worth everything when I placed her seat belt across her and buckled her in. I insisted on driving us to my parent’s house, I wanted to make certain the two most important women in my life got home safe tonight. When I pulled into the garage, I wondered what it would be like when I brought not only Bella home from the hospital, but our first born child. Yes, I was way ahead of myself, but I was more certain than ever that I wanted everything with her.

Mom had me carry Bella upstairs and place her in the guest room at the top. I laid her down causing her to laugh then wince from the aches and pains from the accident finally show themselves.

“I’m just going to grab a quick shower, don’t give my spot away.”

Her eyes were now bright and happy.

“Never.” She replied as she kissed me quickly.

With the hot water pouring over my body, I had a moment to reflect on tonight’s events. Fate was on her side tonight; she could have been seriously injured or even killed. We had wasted so much time being angry with one another instead of spending everyday with each other. I swore to myself I would change that. Not a day in the future would pass without her knowing how important she was to me.

When I got out of the shower, I threw on some clothes that my mother had clearly left me. My father’s Harvard t-shirt and a pair of his sweats. The shirt was really tight, maybe Bella wouldn’t notice. I turned off the bathroom light and walked back into the room to find a tray covered in food at the end of the guest bed. Bella had a piece of apple up to her lips about to take a bite. I couldn’t resist so I crossed the room quickly and placed my lips around the end of the fruit that wasn’t in her mouth. My lips brushed her as I bit down on the sweet and crunchy apple.

“Thank you.” I kissed her quickly while she chewed and giggled. This is how she should always be; happy, safe, warm and above all loved.

“Tonight got me thinking.” I started.

“Should I call for help?” She teased.

I kissed her sweet mouth again and picked up another slice of apple.

“You were very lucky and things could have been so much worse. I might not have gotten a chance to tell you how important you are to me. How I want nothing more than to make you smile every day for the rest of your life.”

I adjusted myself so that we were facing each other.

“Bella, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but loving you isn’t one of them….I love you so much.”

Her arms were around my neck and her lips planted firmly on mine. I tried not to hold her too tightly, being cautious of her joints that had to be sore by now.

“Edward, I have been just as stupid as you have been. After tonight, I saw what I could have lost in the blink of an eye. I promise not to fight this anymore…. I love you too.”

A/N:

This was not the way this chapter was supposed to go. I had it planned out that they would reconcile at the wedding. But as I drove to work, I had this scene playing out. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing. Next chapter is the wedding.

Beta Note:

No Cayce, I’m glad they reconciled now. They need to time together, don’t put them off anymore. Because we need some luvin’ soon…Hope you ladies enjoy the chapter and for more Edward POV…

18. Chapter 18

Chapter 18

EPOV

“Marriage is an institute that should not be entered into lightly.”

The church was covered in every pink rose this side of Texas. Bella had commented how it reminded her of the wedding scene from Steele Magnolias. I smiled as her beautiful brown eyes began to shine with unshed tears.

It had been a month since her car accident. For the first four days she stayed with my mother. No one dared to question it, not even her own mom. But on the fifth day, I pulled my mom aside and respectfully informed her that I would be taking Bella to my home. I was now more determined than ever that she was it for me. I would never be able to love another woman in the way I love my Bella.

The first night we spent in my condo is one I will never forget, not for the reason you may be thinking, but because of the way she asserted herself late that night. Bella had just gotten out of the shower and was wearing one of my old high school football jerseys. It was massive on her, covering her luscious butt cheeks and ending mid-thigh. I had ordered take out and had just converted the couch into the largest overstuffed mattress you have ever seen. We planned to watch some television while eating dinner. When the doorbell rang, Bella was less than two feet away from the door.

“I’ll get it.” She called turning around and heading opposite of my direction.

I grabbed my wallet knowing she couldn’t possibly have any money on her, only to find Bella standing face to face with a very confused and pissed off Darcy.

“Edward, why is she still here?” Darcy pointed at my beautiful girl.

“Not that’s it any of your business, but she lives here.”

Bella and I had never discussed her living with me, but it was something I wasn’t willing to compromise on. She may not agree with me, but she would have a key and the option before I left for work in the morning.

“What?…Oh, I get it, you got a live in maid. That’s sweet really….” Darcy began to walk around me heading in the direction of the kitchen. One arm bent, holding the strap of her purse in the crook and wildly flaying the other.

“Hold on Barbie.” Bella spoke before I could even open my mouth.

Darcy spun on her ridiculously high heels and looked completely shocked.

“This is a private residence and I am certain you were not invited in.” Bella challenged as she opened the door wider, inviting her silently to leave.

Darcy began to chuckle walking closer to Bella.

“Oh honey, I’m always invited to my man’s apartment.” Her gaze was now on me and my bare chest.

What happened next both shocked me and turned me completely on.

“You know, I always assumed that beautiful, skinny women had not a care in the world. I always assumed that they simply snapped their fingers and men fell at their feet.” Bella snapped her fingers for emphasis.

“But the truth is you’re just as frightened and worried about the things that larger girls like me are.”

Darcy opened her mouth to try and speak but Bella quickly cut her off.

“I’m sorry; did I take a breath and make you think I was finished?”

“You must have imagined that Edward would open this door and pull you inside, kissing your face off and proclaiming his love for you. However, when his half naked girlfriend opened the door instead, you had to go to plan B.”

Bella opened the door wider and then made her way over to my side, wrapping her warm arms around me.

“The one where you cause a scene by making said girlfriend doubt the validity of the relationship. Make her think less of herself and doubt her place beside him.”

Bella look up at me, her stare was intense and determined.

“The biggest flaw in your plan is that you didn’t account for that girlfriend to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her boyfriend would do anything, go anywhere and be anyone she needed him to be.”

Bella quickly patted my back and moved closer to where Darcy was standing still looking like she was in shock.

“I always assumed that beautiful women had it all. That you woke up each morning with rainbows shooting out of your ass and the world laid out at your feet.”

Darcy looked to the ground, embarrassment written on her face, which was a first.

“But that’s not true is it? Even women who have seemingly everything still worry if the cute guy likes them or not.”

Bella began to chuckle when we both noticed the confused delivery guy standing in the door way.

“Well let me give you a clue, he doesn’t, and it’s time you found someone who does.”

Bella shocked me further when she tossed money at the skinny delivery guy, snatched the plastic bags from his hands and pushed Darcy out the door, slamming it with such a force that the window above it rattled.

I didn’t give Bella a second to say a single word when I swept her off her feet, dropping the bag of food on the floor and locking my lips to hers. I quickly carried her to my bedroom not letting up on my assault on her surprised lips. I didn’t bother to kick the bedroom door closed while I not so gently laid her on my bed. Her display of self-assurance that just occurred in my entry way ignited a fire that only being with her could extinguish.

I left her lips only to take purchase on her beautiful neck, the sounds of ecstasy coming from deep within her chest. No words needed to be spoken as it was clear from my actions what I wanted. I would stop if she asked me to, no matter the difficulty it would require. But there was no mistaking my intentions. I raised her off the bed and removed my mouth from her body long enough to pull my jersey off her. I loved seeing the letters of my last name splayed across her back and it did wonderful things to my sense of pride. Now I wanted to see her in the clothing that she was born with.

Bella pulled my face back, her brown eyes searching mine as she began to remove my t-shirt as well.

“Tell me to stop and I swear to god I will.” My voice was foreign even to my own ears.

“Not yet.” Was her breathy response as she crashed her lips back to mine.

Laying her back down gently, my lips and teeth enjoyed the pale skin that housed her breast. My tongue made circles around her hardened nipple and the shivers she couldn’t control as my hand now joined my lips.

As I began to kiss her lower, I glanced up to see if Bella would give me any indication of wanting me to stop, however, her eyes were closed and her mouth was slightly opened as she gasped for breath, so I continued my decent. Paying amish to her perfect belly button and hips, how her recent trips to the gym had begun to shape these pillars of life.

Bella raised her left leg then slowly her right while I placed my thumbs under the lace that covered the promise land. Without removing my lips from her skin, I quickly pulled the delicate lace down her legs as she moved her feet to rest on the bed.

Glancing down at her glistening lower lips, I gently blew a quick breath and then ran my tongue alone the opening.

“ahhh” Bella cried out as she quickly gripped my hair.

Her actions caused my hard cock to become almost painful. Using my left hand, I glided my finger inside her warm center and with my knee bent my right hand grabbed my aching cock.

I went slowly at first, swirling my tongue around her now swollen clit as I stroked myself in the same rhythm.

Between her hands in my hair tugging roughly and the sounds she was making, I wasn’t going to last long. Increasing my strokes of my tongue and the stroke of my hand, I was about to cum and cum hard. Bella shocked the fuck out of me when her finger suddenly began competing with my tongue for a place on her clit. Not being one to share, I wrapped my lips around it and sucked as I nibbled. Bella arched her back off the bed as I came all over the sheets and the back of her thighs.

“I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Emmett McCarty.” The voice of the minister pulled me from the memory I had slipped into.

Looking over at Bella, she winked and smiled like she knew what I was thinking about. As Rose and Emmett made their way down the aisle, I extended my arm to Bella. Emmett made it perfectly clear that it was my duty as best man to hook up with the maid of honor. I had every intention of doing just that.

Bella and I hadn’t gone any further that night. After I cleaned myself and her legs up, I settled in the bed beside her. We cuddled for over an hour after, not saying a single word, just touching and caressing. Soon the sound of my stomach made us both giggle and we got up and reheated the take out.

“Any chance we can skip the dinner and just get some desert?”

I nearly choked as Bella voiced her request while we followed the bride and groom to the back of the church.

“Won’t Rose be pissed?” I questioned with a chuckle. More surprised that the request came from her.

“Don’t care, but our mothers’ would be.” She responded.

Her face showed nothing but honesty and a little humor. I pulled her into my side passing the receiving line.

“Ok… so we eat some dry chicken, dance the required dance and then we head to our room for desert.”

Her smile was all I needed as I helped her into the waiting limo.

A/N

Yes, I am aware that this is really short, but I had to get something out. I can’t just not write. Next chapter… well I think I will surprise you.

Beta Note: I’m sorry for the wait ladies. It’s been so freakin’ busy. I have had a great deal going on at home the past couple of weeks. My stepdad has been placed in Hospice, so it has been crazy with the home nurse coming out, getting his hospital bed and all that goes with it. We had family in and out. School has been crazy, because semester is almost over and everything is due. So I’m sorry for the wait.

19. Chapter 19

Chapter 19

EPOV

“Edward, this isn’t a reaction from the accident is it?”

Looking into Charlie’s eyes at this moment was more nerve wracking then when I sat in front of the board when I applied to be a firefighter.

“No, Charlie. I love her so much. The accident only cleared a few things for me, reminded me that life is too short to waste even a single day.”

I wanted to marry Bella, have her by my side for the rest of my life, wake up to her smiling face and wild hair, and raise children and burn dinner with her.

“I know you do.”

As I look at that very face and rat’s nest of hair, I snuggled in further to my fiance.

Once I had her father’s permission, I began to plan how I would ask her to marry me. I was only going to get married once and I wanted it to be something that we smiled about for the rest of our lives. I contacted the manager of the hotel where Rose and Emmett’s reception was being held. Bella had informed me that they had reserved several rooms for the wedding guests in the event they had too many drinks. He was more than willing to help me with my plans. I had Bella thinking that it was going to be the first time we would have sex. However, it was going to be a night that would change her life.

As we exited the elevator, I spun her around and latched onto her lips. I had watched her dance all night with her sister and friends. She had lost so much weight that her dress she bought was quite loose, yet allowed me and all of the other men in the room to see how sexy she really was. After I had to smack the back of two of my co-worker’s heads I called it a night.

I used every ounce of control I had to remove my lips from her I wasn’t going to take her here in the hall.

“Baby, we have to take this into our room.”

My breathing was labored and I had to bite my lips to help reel myself in.

I could feel her body vibrating with want for me, want that I completely shared. I couldn’t wait for her to see what awaited her behind that wooden door.

Bella gripped my tie and began to walk backwards toward room 1918. She knew the room number, but not the fact it was the honeymoon suite. I had the manager remove the sign that labeled it as such. With Bella’s back against the door I dove in for one more toe curling kiss. With the click and low chime of the door, I continued to kiss her as the door closed behind us.

Bella broke the kiss as she leaned back with the most beautiful glow illuminating her face.

“Give me just two…”

Her words were cut off when she turned around and saw the candles that covered nearly every surface. The flowers adorned every corner and the bed already turned down with a bottle of champagne chilling on the night stand.

“Edward, I think we are in the wrong room.” She spun back around her left hand laying against her chest in surprise.

Walking towards her, I held her in my arms and kissed each of her fingers as they rested against her slightly blushed skin.

“Um….uh…” I mumbled into her skin.

“B-but…”

“Shh…” I quieted her as my lips found hers again.

I kissed her, gently stroking her tongue with mine while my hands touched her luscious backside and thighs. I didn’t want to stop, everything in me demanded that I consume her, mark her as mine. It felt as if a beast had awoken inside me and it craved her, wanted to drain her until she was a part of me.

I pulled back shaking my head hoping to clear it to focus on the primary reason for all of this pomp and circumstance.

Taking her hand in mine, I led her over to the fireplace that was crackling away. Earlier in the day, I had placed her ring behind a vase that rested on the mantel. I didn’t want to risk her finding the box by accident.

“Bella, do you remember the first day we met?”

She lowered her head, but I seen a small smile spread on her face. “I do,” her voice was whisper soft. “I remember I told Rose that you were only being nice to me by talking to me.”

I smiled as I wasn’t in the least bit surprised.

“I remember looking at you and telling myself there was no way you didn’t have a boyfriend or husband.”

Lifting her left hand I kissed her ring finger and silently sent a prayer that she will say yes.

“And do you remember our first date?” Reaching over I pulled a pin that was holding her hair in a twist.

“I remember that you offered to teach me how to play pool.” The flames of the fire were glistening in her eyes.

“I remember you bending over to give Emmett his drink and wanting nothing more than to take a bite out of your amazing ass.”

I watched as her hair fell softly over her shoulders.

“I still owe you some lessons.” I whispered as I kissed where her dress met the delicate skin of her neck. The vibration I felt from her in the hall increased. Her breathing was coming out in quick and shallow pants.

“Ed…Edward.” Her words were a breathy moan.

“I love you Bella.” I vowed as I took her completely in my arms surrounding her in my love and devotion.

“And what do you remember most about today?” I asked as I continued to explore her long neck taking tiny bites and then soothing them with my lips and tongue.

“That Rose had never looked so happy in her life.”

I had no control as I weaved my hand into her hair placing it firmly against her neck and head. I wanted to kiss her so hard that she would have no other thought but to say yes to me.

“Want to know what I will remember?”

She pulled away from me and smiled the smile that she had just for me.

“What?” Her voice sounded full of joy.

I lowered myself down to the floor resting on my knees at her feet. I knew she was confused by my actions and it clearly showed on her beautiful face.

I took both her hands into mine and said, “I will remember the look on your face when I ask you to make me complete by agreeing to marry me.”

Time stood still as her eyes searched my face, looking for the punch line or the court jester to come tumbling across the room indicating this was all a joke.

“I think I have loved you since that first day in the gym. I want nothing more than to be able to share the days we each have remaining making each other happy.”

Bella slid her body down to the floor taking my face in her hands and her body leaned into mine.

“Yes Edward! Yes, yes, yes!” her voice full of giggles and her smile so big it was over shining the candles. Laying her on her back I slipped on the ring I had made just for her. She didn’t even look at it as she pulled me atop her.

Even being under me, she took complete control by exploring my mouth with her sweet tongue, removing my jacket and shirt as she made it her mission to touch every centimeter of my overheated skin. Being owned by her, marked as the lucky son-of-a-bitch who gets to enjoy the love this perfect creature has to give, I wanted this to be everything she deserved.

“Let me love you.” I asked of her as I began to worship her. I rose up off her, took her by the hand and carefully guided her to the bed. I wanted her to be resting on a pillow of comfort as I took from her the gift she could only give once.

Once her dress was discarded, she lay on the bed covered with rose petals, her naked body stretched out for me and me alone. I took my time kissing and caressing her as I wanted her completely ready for me. When I aligned myself at her entrance, I looked into her eyes asking the million dollar question.

“I always thought I would be terrified when this time came.” Her face telling me she was anything but. “I want this Edward.”

I kissed her as I slowly slid into her. I vowed to myself that this would be the only time I ever caused her pain and as I felt her barrier break and the muscles in her body constrict, I knew I would go to my grave keeping that promise.

She moaned and whimpered as I slid in and out keeping a steady pace all the while I kept control on not slamming into her. Those times would come in the future I’m sure, but this was for Bella and I wanted it to be slow and loving.

She wrapped her legs around my waist and I was able to go deeper. Groaning myself, I couldn’t help but pick up my pace. Minutes passed and we continued to kiss, nip, lick and move against each other.

“More Edward….Please.” Bella’s breathy groan spurred me on and I increased my movements. I desperately tried to prolong my orgasm, but she felt so good. Suddenly, Bella froze and whimpered out my name. Her legs tightened around me and I could feel every pulse and flutter inside her. Overwhelmed with the sensations I didn’t even bother stopping and with a few more harsh thrusts I finally gave in to the euphoria.

After a few minutes, we were still holding each other until our breathing calmed. I regretfully pulled out of her and rolled over onto my back. I pulled her up against me. She kissed then nuzzled my chest.

“Thank you Edward.” She whispered then yawned adorably.

I kissed her forehead, “No Bella, thank you…I love you baby.”

I’ve watched her sleeping for hours now. The rise and fall of her chest, the slight muscle twitches on her face as she dreamed. It’s a new day and a promise of hope, of new things to come and memories to be made. I carefully pulled down the sheet from around her shoulders as I plan to give her a memory of the first morning she woke up as the future Ms. Cullen,

20. Chapter 20

Chapter 20

Bella POV

“Emmett, I swear to god if you ever even think about touching me, I will rip every short hair you have on your body out.”

Rose had been in labor for just over seven hours. She was all giggles at first, however, when the doctor ordered an IV be started, her face and disposition changed. She began dropping f bombs about forty five minutes ago.

“Babe, I love you so much and you’re doing so…”

“Motherfucking…cocksucking… bastard! If you tell me that shit one more motherfucking time.”

“Rosalie Lillian McCarty!” The stern voice that resonated across the room could only belong to one person. Rose’s mother.

“I do not care what the circumstances are, I did not raise a bar back, hell raiser. You better watch that tongue.”

Everyone in the room went silent as all eyes turned to see a very polished Lillian Swan walk into the room. She walked as if gliding on air and sat her oversized black bag on the bed beside Rose.

“Rose honey, your makeup is a mess and I won’t have you scaring my new grandbaby with that mess you call hair.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or get her a brush when Lillian began removing different boxes from her bag. She looked up briefly and noticed a very scared Emmett cowering in the corner.

“Em, how lovely to see you. Don’t let this scared little kitten get to you.”

It was then I noticed my mom and dad were standing just as shell shocked as the rest of us. I stood up and kissed my dad’s cheek, then grabbed Edward and told him to come with me. Once outside the room, we both erupted in giggles.

Edward and I wasted no time in calling the family to announce our engagement. We agreed we didn’t want a huge affair, yet we did want to enjoy our time being engaged.

“Can I expect the same when you’re having our baby?” Edward was so cute when he was being funny.

“Oh trust me, when I’m in labor I will have every drug known to man at the ready.”

Once the doors of the elevator closed, Edward wrapped himself around me from behind.

“Can we get started working on that yet?” His voice was deep and it caused me to have instant tingles between my legs.

“Edward.” My voice sounded breathy, desperate and to be honest I was. Since having him after Rose’s wedding, I couldn’t get enough of him. It was all I could think about.

“What do you need baby?”

I spun around and captured his lips with mine, physically telling him exactly what I needed from him. Completely forgetting we were in a public elevator, I cried out as his fingers slide inside me.

“That’s it baby, come for me.”

His mouth was everywhere, on my mouth, the top of my breast, my neck. I craved his touch, his dominance over me. With the sensation of his teeth nipping at my ear, I whimpered as I came all over his fingers. I held on to his broad shoulders to get my barrings again. I had just turned around when the doors opened and in walked an older couple. I smiled noticing the older gentleman was holding her hand.

“Oh Edward, that is so cute to see them in love at their age.”

Edward only grinned as he leaned down and whispered, “He’s the one who gave me the idea to get you off in an elevator.”

Brooklyn Desire McCarty was born six hours later. Rose did an amazing job considering she refused all pain medication. Emmett began texting her picture to everyone on his contact list. He admitted that he did get some strange text in return as to who the hell would willingly sleep with him. It was a good laugh, but I knew this was only the beginning for them. I kissed my sister and niece goodbye promising to return after my doctor’s appointment the next day.

“Isabella Swan?”

My name was finally called and as I stood to follow the nurse, I smiled at the thought that hopefully the next time I’m in this office, I would be Isabella Masen.

“Hey, skinny girl!” Maria gushed while I walked past her.

“Please, I have not been watching what I put in my mouth lately, I’m sure I gained most of my weight back.”

It was true. Edward was an amazing cook and took every opportunity to shove his latest creation into my mouth…well you know what I mean.

“Let’s see what the truth machine has to say about that one.”

I still remember the first time I came into this office because I was having headaches. I hadn’t had one of those in what feels like forever. Standing on the scale, I held my breath, as if the numbers flashing held the key to my happiness.

“Alright, you can step down.”

Maria wrote the results in my chart then instructed me to follow her into an exam room. Knowing the routing by now, I hopped up on the table so she could take my blood pressure. She smiled as she pumped up the bulb and then watched the needle move around the dial.

“Looks good Bella, he will be with you in a minute.”

I thanked her and settled in. The thought of how Edward woke me up this morning with his magic tongue made me squirm. He had been at the station last night and I missed him curled around me in bed. It had been an unspoken change that I was living with him. I had come home from the gym one afternoon to find my apartment had been packed up and moved to his condo. I didn’t want to burst the bubble my accident had created, so I smiled and kissed him.

“Hello, Ms. Swan. I see we are doing very well today.”

I smiled holding out my hand to shake his. I had grown to really like him and hoped he would be around to help me bring my babies into the world.

“I feel good.”

“I bet you do. When you first came in, your blood pressure was at stroke level. Your weight was morbidly obese. Today your blood pressure is very much in a normal range and you’re down to 130 pounds.”

I didn’t hear much of what was said after he told me my weight. I couldn’t believe I had done it.

“So, unless you have any illness, this is the last time we need to see each other for this.”

For the first time in nearly a year, I didn’t make a future appointment. I bid everyone a great weekend and walked out of the office. Waiting on the elevator, I pulled out my phone to call Edward, but when the doors opened my dad walked out.

“Oh…Bells. Hey, just the girl I wanted to see.” He pulled me into a hug and I welcomed his fatherly smell.

“Is everything alright?” I was suddenly nervous something was wrong.

“No baby, everything is perfect. I just wanted a minute with my baby girl.”

Dad asked if I had plans for lunch and I admitted that I didn’t

“Well then, do your poor old man a favor and be his lunch date.”

He tucked me under his arm as we made our way to the parking garage. His car was parked fairly close to mine. We agreed to meet at a deli that was just a few miles away. Dad was already settled in a booth when I finally got inside.

“I took the liberty and ordered you a triple scoop hot fudge sundae.”

I smacked his arm as the waitress deposited my glass of water with lemon.

“Actually I remember you talking about their spinach salad that Rose brought you once from here. I hope that is ok.”

I smiled and nodded my head. This place had an amazing salad selection.

“I hope you ordered one for yourself. Have to stick around for Brooklyn now.”

Taking a sip from my water, I winked at my dad.

“Yes, Brooklyn is definitely an inspiration, but I will be just as excited to see what you and Edward have.”

I was a little embarrassed talking about sex with my father, but I refused to let him know this. I decided to quickly change the subject.

“Dad, have you ever sat and questioned your happiness?”

A slow smile spread across his face as he took a sip from his cup of coffee.

“I know what you’re doing Bella. Don’t worry, the last thing I want to discuss is my daughter having sex with a young man, but yes, I have questioned being happy many times. Why? Something going on with the two of you?”

My dad always had a way of making me feel better even if it was only changing the subject.

“No daddy, I just got really good news from my doctor and Edward has asked me to marry him. Rose is married to the man of her dreams and has the most beautiful baby in the world. I’m just wondering when the bottom will fall out.”

My father leaned forward taking my hand in his.

“Bella, you have the world at your feet. You have a man that I can honestly say is somewhat deserving of you. You look amazing and I know you worked hard to get there. Please, for me, enjoy it. Live in this moment, and don’t worry about the next.”

I took my father’s advice while I pulled back into traffic. I had planned to go directly to the hospital but I had an idea. Instead of going to the hospital, I decided to pay Victoria Secret a little visit. It was high time I enjoyed this body that I worked so hard to achieve.

21. Chapter 21

Chapter 21

EPOV

No one was surprised when I told them I didn’t want a traditional bachelor party. I had no call for strippers or getting face down drunk. So Emmett managed to get chief to let us have the party at the station. Bella was no better as she said they were going to have dinner and then head to the hotel for a night. She wouldn’t tell me what they had planned at the hotel, but I had my suspicion that it would definitely benefit me. The guys had set up the off duty room with video games and we even had a pool tournament. I chose to be a judge since no one played to my caliber.

Emmett’s house was ground central for the guys to get ready. Rose had put the fear of god in everyone that if any unidentifiable stains showed up on her carpet that Emmett would be cut off for a week. Several of the guys snickered and made a comment that Rose had Emmett by the balls. I was quick to stand up for my friend and every one hollered with laughter.

“Yes, but at least he has a beautiful woman holding them and not his own hand.”

Bella had chosen fall colors for our wedding and standing in the groom’s room at the side of the church, I noticed how perfectly they fit with the church itself and its surroundings. I had driven Carlisle and Emmett crazy with my constant worry that she had changed her mind about marrying me.

“Edward, she’s here.”

I felt the weight of the world instantly lift off my shoulders as I heard those few words. On the other side of this church was my entire world. I don’t know what I did, but I was grateful someone was paying attention when I did it.

“Come on son, it’s time.”

Bella POV

Edward was so cute as he reassured me that his party was going to be stripper-less, honestly I think he worried more about it than I did. I’m enough of a realist that I know he appreciates the beauty of other women. Some may say that if their man ever chose to act on their attractions, they would kill them dead. I, however, disagree. If he ever wanted someone else, I would let him go. It would kill me, but I never want to question if he’s in this because he loves me or because he’s afraid of the divorce attorney.

Alice had planned this wild bar hopping, male dancer, bachelorette party that I firmly made her cancel. Instead, she offered dinner and a night at a local hotel. Had I known what she had planned at the hotel, I would have cancelled that as well. Once we got our key to the suite, we were introduced to Madame Carman. Madame Carmen was just that…a sex export you can say. Alice and Rose felt it important that I not be nervous during my wedding night, if they only knew.

Madam Carmen showed us how to not only relax our throat muscles but the fine art of massage. She showed us that is was perfectly natural to want to experience pleasure as we gave it. That instruction turned into a “pleasure party” and I received several interesting gifts.

Rose quickly popped the bottle of champagne as we headed down the highway toward the church. My father had insisted on giving me everything I wanted in regards to this day. At first, I only wanted a simple backyard wedding, but then I took a second look and decided I wanted all of my friends and family to have an amazing celebration standing alongside of me.

“My baby sister is getting married!” Rose whooped as she filled everyone’s glass.

I expected to be a nervous wreck today, but on a whim, I went to the gym at the hotel and felt grounded. Now my only worry was that Edward had been kidnapped by his friends and they have him trapped in a mountain cabin somewhere or that he got so drunk that he went to Vegas with the stripper and got married.

My mother was beyond ecstatic when I chose fall colors for the wedding. She said they would not only photograph well, they would make my skin glow. I didn’t’t really care about all of that, only how they made the green of Edward’s eyes pop. As my father placed my hand in Edward’s, he kissed my cheek and told Edward, “Just remember son, I loved her first.”

The look on his face reminded me of the day I agreed to go out with him. How I could fathom someone as beautiful as him having any interest in someone like me. Never once did Edward ever comment about my weight back then. He told me all the time how beautiful he thinks I am and I know by the look in those green eyes that he is telling me the complete truth.

Looking back over the past year, I have learned so much from people around me. How to love without judgment. How to see passed what your eyes are telling you. How the pain you drowned in a bottle comes back with a head ache. How just because your life seems perfect on the outside, you can have big cracks on the inside. But mostly…if you believe and I mean truly believe, you can have your happy ever after.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss your bride.”

Our kiss would never go down in the history books or win an academy award. But that’s alright, because at the end of the day, I know….it was worth the wait.

22. Chapter 22

Epilogue

EPOV

Four years later

“Edward are you sure about this?”

I had called Chief and requested a meeting. Bella and I had discussed my decision at great lengths. We agreed this was what was best for our family.

“Completely sir, I have given this a great deal of thought.”

Bella and I had tried for years to get pregnant. We had seen specialist after specialist and they all told us the same thing….Bella was not producing any eggs. You would have thought she would have dived into a heavy depression, but instead she turned all her frustration into something positive. She sat down with Jasper and designed a total fitness program. Bella explained that losing weight is so much more than watching what you put into your mouth. Many people hide behind food and the weight that it brings. She admitted she had used her weight as a shield against people.

She wanted to treat the entire body and not just be a cheerleader for quick fix diets. She was very passionate when certain commercials would come on the television promising instant results with no exercising or meal modification involved. She wanted to give people the real truth when it came to their bodies. She searched around and found a nutritionist that would come to the gym three times per week. She also found a few counselors who would also stop by on an as needed bases and help clients get to the root of their food addictions. She was the happiest I ever seen her.

We had started the adoption process when Bella had starting feeling light headed. She brushed it off, but when she nearly fell off the treadmill, she was rushed to the ER where we found out we were expecting. I called one of the dozens of specialists we had seen and told them about Bella’s pregnancy. He called us in and sitting in his chair just shook his head.

“I still stand on my findings that she should not be pregnant. I do agree that all her hormone levels were normal to produce the eggs, they simply weren’t coming.” He wanted to make her a case study and do further testing, but Bella held her hand up, smiled, and looked from the doctor to me. “Doctor, Edward, I don’t care why I’m pregnant, only that I am.”

We left the office with a slacked jaw doctor and huge smiles on our faces.

Our joy was multiplied the following week when at her OB appointment, the ultrasound tech discovered two heart beats. During her fourth month, Bella’s blood pressure had begun to climb and her doctor ordered her on complete bed rest. I waited to hear the complaining, but was shocked when she said she would gladly stand on her head for the remaining months if it meant we had healthy babies. Pregnancy seemed to be floating in the water as both Alice and Rose became pregnant when Bella was in her last few weeks.

Charlie had entered a golf tournament and insisted that his “sons” play alongside of him. Bella practically tossed me out of the door to go play. She reminded me that I had a perfectly good cell phone that she would call if anything happened. Just as I was about to tee off on the tenth hole, Charlie’s cell began to ring.

“Edward, its time. Her water just broke.”

Hitting the ball at the exact same time, I looked to Charlie who was watching my ball sail through the air and soundly drop into the hole…hole in one and I missed it.

“I would tell you to finish the game, but I know my wife would have my balls, not to mention your wife and your mother.”

So we packed it in and headed to the hospital. Four hours later, we welcomed to the world, Meadow Elisabeth and Mason Charles. Each baby pink and perfect. I had always thought that simply having Bella and a successful career was all I ever needed, but the moment I looked into the eyes of my children, I knew there was a whole new purpose in the world.

I silently vowed that I would teach them everything I knew about being a good and decent human being. I would protect them with my life and give them everything they needed. Bella was amazing with our little miracles and I couldn’t have picked a better wife and mother. At six weeks, Bella had her woman checkup and the doctor told her all systems were a go. A few days later, she finally agreed to let me touch her. She insisted that the lights be off and our bodies completely covered.

However, I made a grand jester and told her how beautiful she was and that each one of her stretch marks were a scar of courage and that I treasure each and every one of them. We took precautions as Bella didn’t feel right using anything chemical in her body while she was nursing. Although, two months later, we learned that if fate wants you pregnant, then you can wear a hundred condoms and it won’t help. Now we are expecting again and we have decided that I’m leaving the squad and taking care of my family.

I recently read in the newspaper that Darcy was a current guest in a county jail. Seems she was skimming off the top when it came to donations. Bella chuckled as she read it. A few days later I got a call from her, wanting me to be a friend and hire her an attorney. Bella took the phone from me and promptly hung up.

I hugged her as she tossed my phone to the couch, she had grown into her skin and I was so proud of her. I know had that call happened when we first met, Bella would have ran. Now, she stands for what is hers. I can’t wait to see how she instills that confidence in Meadow and the new baby, Mackenzie.

Looking at Bella, I know she isn’t the same person I watched from across the room all those years ago. She’s older, smarter, sexier and very confident. I once thought if I could only have one date with her, it would be enough. However, knowing what having her in my world is like, I never want to face a day without her. She was definitely worth the wait.

AN

So this is it guys. The end of Worth the Weight. If your wondering what is next for me and in turn for you. Well I have to tidy up Soul 2 Soul and then let you enjoy the ending. Then I have two, yes two more fictions in the works. One is another Mafia story, completely different from Shamrocks. And the second is a heavy weight boxing story…both are HEA and cannon. However there are a few twists as Im famous for. I have no immediate publish date as I have instructed my beta Kim not to return the betad chapters until I send her the epilogue.

Thank you so much for all of your opinions and encouragements. I love doing this and plan to keep doing it until my fingers cant type anymore.