I wasn't actually worried about Charlie shooting me. For one thing - although I couldn't be one hundred percent positive - I was fairly sure, Chief Swan wasn't packing. Plus, I knew without a doubt, the man was intelligent enough not commit a murder in front of so many witnesses. However the most reassuring comfort I had was the slight laughter coming from Bella.
“Dad! Knock it off, your scaring Edward!”
“That's the point” The gruff scowl in my direction causing me to swallow the lump in my throat while he asked “And just when did this little revelation get decided?”
“It makes sense Dad...” the diplomatic explanation was rudely interrupted by my sister “Bella already stays here all the time”
Turning the full force of my stare at Alice – she wasn't fucking helping – all I saw was a slight grin of satisfaction on her face while Bella squared her jaw and agreed “That's right I do.”
Shifting her eyes Bella's glare at my sister turned softer as she spoke to her father in a steady voice.
“There were reasons why Edward opened his home to me and I will admit it was only intended to be a temporary basis. But that was before, things are different now our relationship has grown and frankly when Edward brought up the possibility of me staying indefinitely, it never really dawned on me to that I would have leave and return home.”
Hearing Bella use the word 'home,' in reference to anyplace else but where she was living, was an exercise in restraint. I had to literally bite my tongue to keep from saying 'you're already home' and forced myself to focus not only on her words but also the person she was talking to – her father.
“Edward pointed out that it wasn't a good idea to leave my house unoccupied and I don't feel completely comfortable with selling it...” Bella shrugged “...you never know though, in another six months I might change my mind. In the mean time he suggested the possibility of renting it out for student housing.”
“And just how does that work? Cause you don't know anything about being a landlord.” Bella sighed heavily at Charlie's remark making me smirk at her with a raised eyebrow.
The little tease knew exactly what I meant and stuck her tongue out at me before giggling.
Oh she was totally going to pay for that shit.
I had been keeping a running tally of all the transgressions she was going to have to answer for along with spilling her guts about what Pappy found so damn amusing. All he asked was what she liked about me and whatever it was had him rolling with laughter. Neither of them would enlighten me, in fact Bella practically challenged me to make her tell. Then lets not forget the finger gesture she made in front of everyone while telling me to 'Snap to It.'
Now she's sticking her tongue out
Nodding my head I gave her an evil grin and kept the running tally fresh in my mind while Bella composed herself to say “I know dad, that's why I need to talk to the college.”
Mom interjected “If UW handles it the same way as Dartmouth then whole transaction is handled through the Housing Office. They become the liaison between the renter and homeowner, Think of it like a situation where the college is signing the lease and then subletting to the students. The maintenance department takes care of basic repairs and the grounds crew sees to mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. Their blanket insurance covers against damages, break ins or accidents to the property or residents.”
“How do you know so much about this Esme?” Billy asked while reaching for the jar of Laub
It was dad who answered “Since Emmett and Edward returned from Dartmouth, the housing market slumped. Esme and I decided to wait out the recession, yet as Bella said, leaving a home unoccupied isn't a very good idea. Since the house is on the other side of the country, we couldn't very well have a traditional leasing agreement. A friend of ours suggested this arrangement and so far...” giving a Bella a small smile, he added “...it's been working out fine.”
“Uh...” Charlie huffed while Bella wondered “I thought... I mean...I guess I just figured from what Edward said, that you rented a house for them...”
I hadn't truly clarified, only saying while attending Dartmouth I lived in a private home with Emmett, then again, Bella never really asked either.
“No...” dad shook his head “...that wouldn't have been financially sound. Leasing would have been nothing more then throwing money away. Purchasing a home was a more lucrative venture, in the end if and when we decide to sell, then we'll see a return in the form of a healthy profit”
“You just bought a house?” the idea seemed foreign to Seth.
Giving a nod my father also gave the young man a bit of advise “Real Estate, is always a sound investment”
“Huh...” Charlie's disgruntled huff had me wondering what the man was thinking and a moment later he voiced it by asking my mother “And you'd be okay with Bella moving in here with your son?”
It was hard to tell if his motives for asking was due to doubt or hopefulness.
Mom gave him a distant smile that made me believe she was going to answer in the affirmative, however once again it was my father who answered “Edward is a grown man, who makes his own living and has his own home. Who he chooses to have in it, for whatever reason or however long is not for his mother or I to say”
Charlie's eyes narrowed and once again that uncertain 'humf' made itself known. “I guess that's the difference between having a son and a daughter.” Giving Bella his full attention the man spoke his mind “Didn't raise you to be shacking up...”
“Dad!” Bella's annoyance coming out loud and clear while Sue simultaneously hissed out a warning “Charles”
Not one to be admonished, he addressed his wife “Well I didn't. Maybe I might not have put as much effort into churching Bella as my mother did me, but that doesn't mean I can overlook everything she brought me up to believe.”
“What are you talking about Charlie? You didn't say anything when Leah moved in with Jake for two years”
Leaning back in his chair, the man stubbornly crossed his arms over his chest “That was different.”
Shock crossed his features as he seemed to think about his daughters question, then shifted his eyes between Bella and I before settling his gaze on our still entwined hands resting on the table. “Well, for one, I knew Jake since he was a baby, and knew damn well he wasn't just taking the milk with no intentions of buying the cow”
“Are you calling me a cow Charlie?”
Keeping her eyes on her father Bella answered Leah's question “No I think he's calling me one”
“You know Charlie...” the causal tone of Billy's voice breaking up some of the tension “...this isn't the nineteenth century anymore.”
Cutting off Billy's rebuttal, Charlie tried to make a point “My mother...” Only to be interrupted once again by his friend.
“Your mother was born in a time when everything was right and wrong and raised by devout Christians who thought unless it was biblical it was demonic. Now Mrs Swan was a nice lady, who had you at an older age and was set in her ways. Everything with her was black and white with no gray allowed. She could quote the bible in her sleep and yet she had not an ounce of Christian love for her own daughter-in-law.” Pointing a finger Billy accused “And you know it to be true, she treated Renee like a leaper.”
“Now hold on there...”
Holding up his hand Billy said “No...you hold on there and think about what your doing and then stop before you make the same mistakes as your mother by being so hypocritical”
Not giving Charlie a chance to respond to his oldest friend, Bella crossed her arms over her chest in stubborn retaliation “Yeah, hypocritical”
“Charles Swan, you can't very well say it was alright for one of the girls and then pitch a fit over the other. Especially considering Bella is almost six years older then Leah was and is a grown woman...a divorced grown woman at that.” Shaking her head Sue concluded “Who need I remind you, doesn't need your permission.”
“So you keep telling me.”
Charlie's exasperated tone did nothing to deter his wife. “Bella didn't even have to inform you. So maybe instead of acting all pious...”
“Hypocritical” Bella threw the word out there again with all the ire of a pouty child while Sue went on “...you should count yourself lucky to have heard it from Bella, before the fact”
Bella and her father had a stare down and I could see it in his eyes – the understanding. Sue's words had hit a soft spot. Years ago, his daughter had shut him out, kept him at arms length, and completely devoid of any information. Due to the goals I had her set, she had made the decision to change that situation and was incorporating her father back into her life.
With a resigned sigh Charlie's eyes shifted to my grandmother. Maybe he just wanted to break the tension, or maybe he assumed because of her age, he'd have an ally. Either way he gave an almost wounded expression when he said “Do you see how they gang up on me? Always spoiling her”
Before gran could reply I finally got my voice, releasing her hand I wrapped my arm over Bella's shoulder, tucking her close to me “Well, now, I get to do that”
“Yeah I know what you wanna do”
Charlie's low grumble brought about another exasperated 'Dad' from Bella and loud snickering guffaw from Emmett. Sue admonished her husband but truly, I had been quiet long enough. I didn't need others to fight my battles and it seemed to me Charlie's main point of contention was his lack of not knowing the depth of the respect I had for not only his daughter but him as well. I figured it was time to set the man's mind at ease.
“Charlie, I'm guessing by your reaction, we went about this the wrong way. Perhaps instead of springing our intentions on you as a passing comment, it might have been more prudent for us to have privately included you in our plans. It's just that at times I find it difficult to associate the woman I love with the same person you see as your little girl. When you say you know what I want to do with her, I figure it might be good thing for you know exactly what that is.”
I didn't just want – as Charlie so wittingly suggested – free milk from the cow. My desire was much more imposing. My intentions, though noble, tended to lean in a more thorough objective – I wasn't just after the cow, I endeavored to take dominion over the whole damn farm. Of course it wasn't the time or the place to inform him of the diamond engagement ring on order, and I certainly wasn't going to spout out words of ownership or possession.
Shifting my gaze to look down into Bella's wide browns eyes, I saw everything I could ever ask for. Holding her attention, I spoke my words for all to hear
“What I want to do, the only thing that matters to me, is to be here, for Bella, however long and in whatever capacity, she will have me.”
Bella's nose wrinkled and her eyes glassed over as she said “I love you Edward Cullen”
I didn't answer, instead offered a wink and glanced across the table to catch the smiling faces on my parent's, Billy and Sue, however it was Charlie's expectant gaze that had my full attention
“I love your daughter. If it was up to me, Bella would have already put her house on the market. But that's not my decision to make. And believe it or not, I respect her for being diligent about protecting her assets. I've lived alone for a long time and once someone...” Shaking my head I corrected
“...No, not just anyone. Once Bella came into my life, I realized, there was no way I could let her go. And miraculously, she feels the same way. For now, we're going to leave it at that” then I offered him a promise “I will assure you though, in the future, you will have first hand knowledge of any prospective plans.”
Giving Charlie a curt nod I hoped he was perceptive enough to read between the lines.
“See Charlie, they love each other”
“Yeah...Yeah, everybody loves each other”
The halfhearted grumbling at Billy's comment was cut off by my mothers happy voice “ I have to say, that Edward isn't the only one who is taken with Bella. Carlisle and I just adore her, in fact she fits in so perfectly, we already consider her part of the family”
Sensing movement in my peripheral my eyes shifted to watch Alice whisper in Jasper's ear but I was more concerned with Charlie's reply “Well that's nice to know Esme...but what happens if this little arrangement...” alternating a pointed finger between Bella and I “...doesn't work out so well?”
“There's no guarantees in life Charlie”
Nodding her head at my words, Bella tried a different tactic “That's why I'm not selling my house dad.”
A loud exaggerated sigh came from the lower end of the table however I couldn't focus on Alice once Charlie said in accusation “So I guess you got it all figured out then”
“Not completely” it was true, we didn't. We hadn't even discussed what to do with all her belongs and I could only assume a storage unit rental would be happening sometime in the immediate future. But rubbing my hand over the smooth skin of Bella's upper arm I told him the one thing I believed with all my heart “we'll face it as it comes...together”
My words seemed to nullify his worries, yet I couldn't help but to wonder if the man was truly angry. There was no way in hell I would willingly give up my Bella, however having my future father-in-law thinking me to be a man of low moral perpetuate wasn't exactly the best prospect either. The worst part was I didn't know Charlie well enough to come up with a solution, so I was glad Bella did
“Edward, he's not really upset”
“How do you know?”
Laughing at her father's disgruntled tone, Bella spoke to me “When he's truly mad, he has this vein in his forehead...” tapping a finger above her right eye “...that kind of pulsates. Remember when I told you how I thought he was going to have an aneurism, when he caught Leah and me riding the motorcycles”
Vaguely recollecting the story, I nodded and Leah groaned “Ohhh...why'd you have to bring that up?”
“I think that was most angry I ever seen him” Bella laughed at the memory.
“Well who could blame me?” Charlie taking on a defensive tone as he reminisced.
“There I am, on my way to Susie's, driving along minding my own business and through the rain...” transferring his full attention to me Charlie's face became more animated and he used his hands to emphasize “...I don't mean the regular kind everyday rain we get...I mean, pouring down sheets of rain so hard that you couldn't make hide-nor-hare out of anything. And through the swishing of the windshield wipers I can barely make out this motorcycle sailing through the muddy grass. I thought what kind of a dumbass is stupid enough to be riding a bike in that kind of weather?”
“Charles...” Sue reprimanded, while nodding her head down towards the end of the table“...little ears”
Looking rather ashamed Charlie corrected himself “Sorry bout that but my dander was up.”
“Don't worry about it Charlie, they hear much worse from their uncle Emmett” Dad assured him then prompted “So you seen Bella riding a bike...”
“No...” Charlie shook his head “...it wasn't Bella, it was Leah.”
The two sisters shared a quiet giggle while the man went on with his story “I get out of my truck to put the bike into the back and was just ready to start telling her how confounded stupid she was...when all of a sudden along comes another nitwit. This one was even worse. Speeding around the bend so fast, I thought for sure they were going to roll it in the mud. Only to find out...” his whole face got red and Bella was right, that vein started pulsating “...that nitwit...was my daughter.”
Beside me, Bella was in near hysterics, hiding her face behind her hands and shaking in a fit of laughter.
“Oh my word...” Leah was unable to form a coherent sentence around her own fit of giggles “...he was so mad...I thought...his head...was going to pop off”
Laughing so hard I could barely understand her, Bella agreed with her sister “I swear...I saw...smoke...coming out ...of his ears”
This time everyone was laughing except Charlie, who glared at his daughter “Darn straight I was mad!”
As if needing reinforcements Charlie shifted his attention to my parents and explained his reaction “The two of em, fifteen years old...soaking wet...full of mud...riding through the storm on these old beat up bikes...with bald tires...neither of them with any safety gear on...and not even a permit to operate a vehicle between em...Mad?” He questioned with a pause “UH! I nearly blew a gasket...they were just lucky all they got was grounded!”
As he growled out the last word my mother shook her head in disapproval while dad nodded in understanding but for the most part the rest of the table were all snickering at the story. Wiping her eyes with the back of one hand Bella used the other to point at her father and spoke though the fit of giggles “See what I mean about the vein?”
“Who's bikes were they?”
Wiping the tears from her eyes Leah answered my mother “Bella's”
“Didn't you know she had them?”
Charlie's face wrinkled in disgust at Gran”s question “Heck no! I had no idea. They...” sweeping a pointed finger at the members of his family “...kept it a big secret because they knew I would have taken a sledgehammer to those darn things and burned every last piece.”
Leaning forward so she could see past Emmett and I, Rose wondered “How did you get them Bella?”
However it was Charlie who answered with a high pitched bewildered tone “She found them in the garbage!”
Nodding her head Bella laughed and kept repeating “I did...I did...in … the garbage.” Composing herself she explained “They were just thrown in the junk pile...John helped me bring them home...”
Bella answered her father as if it should be obvious “John Schwartz”
“You mean to tell me you roped that little pervert into helping you...”
“I didn't rope him into anything Dad. I was standing there in front of the Mark's house wondering how I was going to push both bikes and John came around the corner ...”
“Yeah I bet he just happened to come around the corner...the peeping tom was probably following you”
Bella laughed him off “He was not following me and he wasn't a peeping tom”
“The heck he wasn't. I caught him several times trying to peer up into your window”
“Well maybe he was trying to get a peek at Leah”
“Hey!” her sister yelled “I wasn't even living there yet”
Emmett asked the question I wanted to “Who's John Schwartz”
“A kid who lived two houses down, he was a year or two older then Bella and always staring.”
Charlie's explanation didn't do much for me. Other then the people from LaPush, there were only a hand full of Forks residents who I actually spoke to. Trying to remember if we had been introduced, I was even more confounded when Jacob assured me “Edward you met John.”
Turning my head in his direction he elaborated “When we were at Casey's...”
That would explain my lack of memory, that day at the bar was one fiasco after another. Starting with meeting the illustrious Jared, the emergence of an ex-husband and calumniating into Bella's hand meeting said ex-husbands face. All of which lead Bella and I to the motel where we spent a few hours on some maintenance.
“He was the one who had Bells trapped by the bathroom...you had to go rescue her”
“Ah...yeah” I nodded “I remember now. He seemed harmless”
“He is. John's a nice guy”
“Bells listen to your old man and believe me when I say...That boy had a thing for you. And if he helped you with moving those bikes he more then likely had a reason for doing it.”
“Dad...” Bella's protest was cut off by my sister “So after Bella used this kid...”
My glare in Alice's direction was was interrupted by Bella's harsh voice “I didn't use him.”
However she just continued talking as if it was of little matter “...how did the bikes get fixed?”
Switching her head to the other direction Bella smiled fondly “Jake's a miracle worker...” giggling she added “He's like the bike whisperer”
“You know I always wondered who took them out to the rez? None of you kids drove, and I know no matter how much you...” still glaring at his daughter “... smiled and con Johnny Schwartz. That boy wouldn't have been dumb enough to push them all that way. So how did they get to Billy's house?”
“Ummm....” trying to look at anybody else except her father Bella avoided the question “...yeah...somebody must have done that...”
Bella's attempt at a poker face was too comical and her mock innocence was just to fucking cute I couldn't help but to place my lips against her head.
Charlie was another matter all together, the man was either immune to Bella's charms or he really wanted an answer because his eyes narrowed as he stared down his daughter “Is that somebody here at the table?”
After putting the question out there, Charlie cast a glance at Billy who shook his head in denial “It wasn't me”
“Well it had to be somebody, because I know darn well my daughter didn't carry them fifteen miles on her back”
The glare didn't let up until Sue admitted “Alright... I did it”
“Susie!” Charlie exclaimed in surprise.
“Well how was I suppose to know Jake was actually going to get them running. I figured he'd start working on them, find out it was harder then he thought and give up”
“Sue? You doubted my abilities”
Telling her son-in-law in all sincerity “As a matter of fact, Yes, I did...” Sue shrugged “..but I figured it best to at least let you try. Believe me...” Grasping her hand to her chest “...No one was more shocked then me to find out they actually worked.” She once again turned to her husband “So what was I suppose to do?”
“What were you suppose to do?”
“Yeah...I mean...what would you have had me do?”
“Anything...anything would have been better then letting the two of them on those death traps.”
“But...” Sue sighed in defeat “Jake put so much work into them, and all those trips we made to the junk yard for parts. Scouring the place looking for this kind of ignition and that kind muffler...” imploring her husband to understand “...I had to let the kids ride em.”
“You know it was all your fault Charlie caught us that day Bella...if you would have listened to me when I said we had to leave. But noooo...somebody was too busy getting felt up.”
OK, that got my attention, along with every one else at the table.
“Wh..wh..wh” was all poor Charlie could get out while Emmett practically salivated “Now this is getting good, come on Leah, tell us some more”
Yeah, I wanted to hear this part of the story myself.
Avoiding my face Bella leaned forward to confront her sister “I was not!”
“Oh yes you were. I was there...I remember”
“Well you remember wrong”
“No I don't, we were all up by the cliff and it started raining really hard. I told you we had to go because Charlie was going to be coming soon and you and Jared were sucking face...”
Seth chimed in from the other end of the table “Bella you dated Jared too?”
“No!” the one word answer from Bella was over shadowed by Jacob's question “What do you mean too?”
“I heard he went out with Kim for a while and I know he hooked up with Claire”
“How do you know that?”
Shrugging at Jacob's question, Seth answered plainly “I went to Sam's one afternoon and walked in on them”
My brothers boisterous laughter rang out as he said “This is better then a soap opera”
That seemed to put a new perspective on things at least in Charlie's mind as he glared at Bella “I thought you never dated Jared”
“We didn't date...” her eyes shifted from me “...and I wasn't getting felt up” then settled on Leah as she declared “...we were talking”
“Yeah right...talking...his right hand was holding a conversation with your chest and his other one was communicating with your butt”
“That's not true...we were just talking”
“Well that's one heck of a trick since you were swallowing his tongue”
Bella gasped “I was not”
True to form, my girl was going to stick to her story until the bitter end, however the blush warming her face was not exactly conveying truthfulness. Which gave me something else to get out of her...later, when we were alone...hopefully in the playroom.
“You let that happen?” This time Charlie's accusing tone was turned on Jacob who held his hands up in surrender “I wasn't there that day”
“No you weren't” Leah assured him “Which is probably why Jared was brave enough to make his move and take Bella for a walk into the caverns.”
“What did yous do in the caverns...alone?”
Agitation clouded Bella's tone “We were walking and talking and looking at the cave drawings”
“Cave drawings? Good one little Bells”
The glare at Emmett didn't exactly gain the response Bella might have hoped for, instead of remaining quiet he only stirred the pot “You know Charlie I bet there are lots of things little Bella did, that you never knew about.”
“I'm beginning to wonder...” tilting his head he drew in a deep breath and spoke through a tight jaw “...like earlier today. I was on my way to the store when two motorcycles went past with someone on the back of one of them that bore a striking resemblance to my daughter. But that couldn't be the case because I was assured that she would never drive one of them again. So imagine my surprise when I pulled your car into the garage and there's the very same bike as the one I saw that girl on.” Seating back he folded his arms across his chest “Now isn't that a strange coincidence”
“Yeah... strange” glancing at me, her lips twitched in an effort not to laugh “I wonder who that could have been?”
She really is a horrible lair
I couldn't hold back the chuckle, however her father didn't find it funny “Isabella...you promised”
“I told you I'd never drive one, and technically I didn't...drive it... I was merely hanging on for the ride”
Ah...that's my queen of linguistics.
“Yeah you should have seen her earlier when she was hanging on the back while Mr Dare Devil here...” Emmett thumbed over his shoulder in my direction “...was popping wheelies”
Inclining himself over the table Charlie took on a stern expression “Do you know how many people I have personally scraped off the highway after they crashed one of those things”
Not sure if I was being asked or told, mom added her opinion “I know how you feel Charlie, Oh...” dramatically covering her heart “...it scares me to death, and Rosie is still riding...”
“In your condition?” Charlie questioned her sanity then Emmett's “What's the matter with you boy? Putting your pregnant wife on the back of one those death traps. You come see the pictures I have from accident scenes and you'll never get on one again”
“I'm not a fan of motorcycles either Charlie. Being an ER and Trauma doctor, I've seen my fair share of accident victims.”
As morbid as it was, the two of them started swapping stories until it turned into a lecture about the dangers of riding. It might have been my twenty eighth birthday yet there was still no choice but to listen to the ghastly lecture about road rash and splattered brain matter. The detailed description of a guy being decapitated was a bit graphic for casual table conversation. Wanting to get our fathers over their grisly bonding experience I gave the Chief something else to consider
“You know Charlie, as dangerous as a motorcycle could be, I would think you'd be more upset about Bella''s cliff diving expedition”
I could feel the heat of my girls stare burning into my face however it was her father's reaction I found the most fascinating. His eyes grew three times bigger while his mouth open and closed several time before any sound actually came out and when it did, damn that man was loud.
“When did you go Cliff Diving! Do you have some kind of a death wish? Or are you just trying to kill me?”
“Oh Charlie...” the nonchalance in Billy's voice had a calming effect on his friend “...every kid jumps off that cliff, its a right of passage” Winking at my girl “And I'd be willing to bet, at the time, Bella had a whole lot more clothes on then you did”
“Hey now!” Charlie's rebuttal was over shadowed by Bella's “Chief Swan! I'm shocked!”
The man's face was still beet red, however it was no longer anger and it just got redder when Bella laid on the mock indigence “You went naked cliff diving?”
Beside me my brother laughed “Now there's a T-shirt I'd like to have”
Jacob told him they sell them in the store on the Reservation while Bella wasn't finished with her father. Laying it on thick by grasping her forehead “Oh the shame...what would grandma Helen have said?” making me chuckle when she cross herself.
“Don't you be worrying about me, young lady”
It wasn't worry, it was humor at her fathers expense that kept Bella going, shaking her head and clicking her tongue until Charlie admitted “It was your mother's fault”
“You took my mother...Your brand new wife...”
“We weren't married yet”
Charlie's words confused Bella and as she sat up straighter the hold I had on her shoulder was released. Placing my hand on the small of her back, my thumb rubbed absently against her exposed bare skin while she wondered “But you and mom got married...like...right away...when would the two of you been able to...unless...”
Her father's eyes grew three times their normal size and I could tell by the anxiety radiating off him exactly where Bella got her inability to lie from. “It doesn't matter”
“When did you...”
“It was the night they met”
“Susan!” the man practically growled “Woman, I swear...”
While others chuckled at his reaction, Sue flipped her hand in his direction “Oh Charlie what does it matter. It was a long time ago and you were both so young...”
Beside me my brother chuckled “Did you take her to see the cave drawings too Charlie?”
“As a matter of fact...I did” there wasn't a hint of embarrassment on the mans face, in fact Charlie looked rather...smug. Bella on the other hand seemed a bit shocked as she questioned “my mother?”
“Well, how do you think you got here dear?” Grans tone was silky sweet as she patted Bella's hand.
“Renee...” Sue interjected reverently “...was like a breath of spring air. She just...had a way of making everyone feel...warm and happy. That day her and her friends arrived...” smiling fondly at the memory, Sue shook her head and went on. “The three of them made quite an impression...but Charlie only had eyes for Renee.”
“Love at first sight?” Rose commented however Billy had a more pliable answer “It was more like Lust”
“Hey now” Charlie's rebuttal was interrupted by his friends laugh “Just telling it like it is Mr Church Boy”
Avoiding Bella's face, Charlie zeroed in on the person sitting next to her – my grandmother
“My mother was older when she had me. In fact, after over thirty years of marriage without never having a child, she had given up hope when the change of life set in. Little did she know, that change was me. She often likened her situation to Sarah...”
“From the bible” Gran surmised
“Yes. And she made it her life ambition to raise me in the fear and admiration of the Lord. She made sure everything I did was within a proper frame work. There were church camps, church meetings, church socials...well you get the idea. As I grew she thought it her duty to make sure I married a good Christian girl and was always setting me up with the same one”
“Who?” Bella asked as if she had never heard this story before. Then again she probably hadn't. However Sue must have, because she answered. “Katherine Williams”
Smiling she told Bella “You would know her as Kathy Kohn”
Both our heads turned to look into each others eyes as we simultaneously stated our thoughts - Mine was questioning “Karen Kohn?”
While Bella's “Victoria's mother” was more analytical and even though we said a different name we were still talking about the same person.
Our moment of clarity was broken by Charlie's infallible “Yes. I didn't want to disobey my mother and she wouldn't listen when I said how Kathy wasn't right for me.”
“You didn't get along?”
Shaking his head Charlie clarified “No...that wasn't exactly it Carlisle...” wrinkling his brow “There was something about her...I mean even as a young girl...I just knew there were...” tapping his forehead “...a few bubbles not popping right”
“So instead of fighting with grandma Helen, you decided to run away and marry mom?”
Eying his daughter as if her words offended him “No...of course not. Marriage is a big step, I might have been impulsive but that doesn't mean it wasn't real.”
“Billy said it was lust...so you married mom so you could...bed her”
“Huh!” he huffed “I didn't need to marry her for that”
I could literally hear Bella's mouth pop open and the anger exuding through her tone “Are you saying my mother was a...”
“No...of course not. Sue said it best...Renee was like a breath of spring air. Something new, different, and sweet. And well...she was a city girl” saying the last part as if his words should explain everything.
Unfortunately he was the only one who understood because Bella wondered “City Girl? What is that suppose to mean?”
Wrinkling his face, Charlie seemed to think of the best way to explain before finally saying “City girls have more...experiences”
I was too busy listening to Charlie's brilliant explanation to see what Bella was doing, however it must not have been anything good because the man raised his hands “Now hold on there, before you go getting yourself in an uproar”
Glancing at Bella it was clear uproar wasn't exactly what I would call it, my girl was fuming mad “Uproar! You just insinuated that my mother was some sort of...” searching for the right word she came up with a PG version “...easy lay.”
“Watch yourself! I never said that. It's just that...well, you know yourself, when your from a small town, everyone knows everyone else. From the time I started high school my mother set her mind on one day me and Kathy getting hitched. I knew that wasn't going to happen, but we were still always thrown together I certainly wasn't about to do anything that would give her the wrong idea. So although I wouldn't say I was a country bumkin, I still wasn't prepared for meeting Renee. And well...that girl...knew things...” Charlie's face turned bright red “...things I had never...up to that point I was.”
Oh my god
I knew where this was going and so did Bella as she begged under her breath “Dad please...please don't say...”
To late – he said it “...pure.”
There were several different reactions to Charlie's statement. My grandmother nodded in understanding, my mother actually blushed while my father said something about it being understandable, and while Bella dropped her head into her hands my brother chuckled “She rocked your world uh chief?”
“Oh good god” Bella groaned.
“So how did you end up married? I mean, just because you...” I could hear the smile in Emmett's tone “...got the milk...”
As Emmett trailed off Charlie said “I'm an honorable man, besides, I wasn't ready for Renee to leave.”
So basically what Charlie meant was he busted a nut for the first time, saw fucking stars and wanted to keep getting his dick wet. He wasn't willing to be with Kathy just for purpose of getting off and had he started actively dating someone else, his mother would have been very upset. Which left him with two choices. go back to no pussy at all or keep the girl who 'rocked his world'. And suffice to say, when push comes to shove, a young, inexperience guy, will always think with his dick. I just didn't see why they were in such a hurry to marry, at least not until Charlie explained.
“So when her friends went on their way, they took all their camping equipment them and Renee had no place to stay. We came up with the idea that if we got married, then we'd me able to live together. That night she stayed with Harry and Sue, the next day, we got n the car and headed to Vegas. Had a few day there, came home married and everyone was happy”
“Not everyone” Billy put in while handing the jar of Lahb to Bella who silently thanked him before taking a big gulp and Charlie agreed “No, not everyone”
“Your mother?” Mom guessed and while Charlie nodded in agreement Sue added “Kathy wasn't exactly thrilled either”
“No...she wasn't. While Kathy wasn't exactly friendly to Renee, she at least was easy to avoid. Mother on the other hand” looking grim “...she was a different story. My mother was not only rude she was done right cruel to Renee. Always harping about how she couldn't do anything right. Accused her of seducing me with her sinfulness to lure me into marriage so Renee could have a legitimate family.”
by how she tricked me into marring her, and how she wasn't good enough. Mom actually went so far as to accuse her of casting some kind of spell over me. She had the minster come over to bless and purify the house in an attempt to ward off the evilness. The whole town ostracized Renee, and because of some things from her past she felt even more alone and self-esteem started slipping. I asked mother to back off, but like Billy said earlier, she really did treat Renee terribly. Part of that might have been her disappointment, but most of it had to do with the dementia setting in. Then once Bella was born, instead of being happy to be a grandma, she just found more fault. I wondered if maybe mom was jealous of my attentions to my wife. And unlike mom, Renee had no problems conceiving. Since I was a new officer, the lowest man on the totem pole, that meant long work hours with the worst shifts. So Renee was home alone with mom.”
“Where was your father?”
Looking to gran Charlie answered “He had passed from a heart attack when I was sixteen”
“So your mother lived with you?”
“Yes. She sold my childhood home, and moved in with us. It seemed the perfect arrangement. Mom could no longer be on her own and since Renee was there, she would be able to help out. But it didn't work out. Having two women in the same house is not an easy feat. Especially when one thinks she has the right to undermine everything the other does. Renee was young and it didn't matter if she was scrubbing the floor or painting the cabinets, everything was criticized. If it wasn't a comment about using a mop instead of getting down on her hands and knees it was nagging about how bad the color choice was, or Renee's terrible cooking skills, always one thing after another. I'd come home tired from long twelve hour night shifts and have to deal with a judgmental mother and a crying wife, It was all very stressful.”
“I can imagine” Gran sympathized “Marriage is hard enough and since you barely knew each other you had even more obstetrical to overcome. Add into the picture a meddling parent...” shaking her head gran tisked “...the first thing you learn in mother-in-law one-o-one is, unless someone is getting hurt, you keep your mouth shut. Sometimes, even when you're asked for an opinion, you don't say anything. You're daughter-in-law wants to paint the bathroom black. You smile and say 'what an interesting idea' and figure as long as your son can live with it, then its none of your business”
“That's right” mom agreed “As long as my son is happy, nothing else matters.”
“I was fortunate in that regard” Sue added “Harry's mother was wonderful, helpful when needed, and butted out when not. And of course Mrs Swan was already gone...”
“Renee practically begged me put mom in a home...I just...I made a promise to my father and was going to stick to it. In hind sight, I should have put my wife first, and that's a mistake I will never make again.”
“Kathy was glad Renee left”
“OH My Lord...” Sue rolled her eyes at Billy's statement “...that woman is something else.”
“She married Alfred?” Bella's words sounded more like a question which she clarified “I mean Victoria is a few months older then me sooooo...”
“So what.” Sue wasn't asking “It certainly didn't concern Kathy that her and Alfred married that fall, and she didn't care one iota about Vickie being born...” giving my mother a conspiratorial smile “seven months later. Oh...” Sue's eyes rose in mock understanding “Kathy swore she was born early.” Clasping her hand to her chest, the cynicism was clear “Now I'm not no doctor ...and stranger things have happened ...but I never heard of a six week premee weighing nearly eight pounds”
The woman shared a knowing giggle and Billy added “When Renee left, Kathy was at Charlie's door.”
“What did she want?”
Billy smiled at Seth “She was warm for his form”
That brought out a round of chuckles from everyone except Charlie who smugly leaned back in his chair “Yeah...I'm a real ladies man.”
“It must be the uniform dad”
“You do look handsome all dressed up” my sister commented from where she stood wiping down Mia's face.
“Why thank you Alice. But how would know? Did I ever arrest you for something?”
“No...” Alice giggled then stammered “well...ummm...”
While Alice was uncommonly stuck for words Rose blurted “We checked you out on the internet.”
“It was really my fault Charlie” Mom sounded apologetic “The first time I met Bella, it was so clear to me how taken Edward was with her...” glancing at my girl, mom smiled “...so naturally as his mother I wanted to know more about her. Alice told me Bella grew up in Forks and that you were the police chief.” shrugging nonchalantly “on a whim, I had Rose look it up on the internet and ,..there you were”
“What my wife is so graciously trying to say is...” dad's arm tighten across moms back “... she and the girls were being a bunch nosy women”
His comment earned a swift jab in the ribs from mom's elbow while she smiled warmly at Charlie “OK, I'm willing to admit that maybe...” stretching out the word “...we were just a tiny bit curious. But I must say, the Forks Municipal Page has a rather flattering picture of you. All dressed up, with your official hat on. No wonder that Kathy woman was so intent on ...remaining your friend”
The words coming out more like question rather then an actual statement, however as disconcerted as mom sounded, Sue was all the more composed “OH...she wanted to remain his friend alright.”
“She was also very married”
Addressing Bella's observation Sue assured her “I told you...Kathy didn't care. The day after Renee left with you for Phoenix...” stressing the point by repeating “The Very Next Day...she shows up at your father's front door”
“What did she want?”
Sue's raised eyes brows should have been enough to tell Bella the answer yet Charlie vocalized “Kathy thought she could help me with my....grief. She brought Victoria with her and sat next to my mother talking about how the house needed a true woman's touch. The tow of them started making plans for repainting, new curtains and all kinds of ridiculous things that at the time just didn't concern me. I mean really...my wife had just left me and taken my daughter away. Besides I didn't see what business it was of Kathy's. It wasn't her house...she had her own place, with a husband, a child and another baby on the way. I wasn't interested in having her come around...”
“What did you say to her?”
Charlie narrowed his eyes at his daughter “What do you think I said?”
While Bella remained quiet, Charlie told her “I told her in no uncertain terms yet as gently as possible that she needed to return to her own home and leave mine to me. She wasn't too happy about my saying that it was my hope for my wife to return. Kathy had a few unsavory comments about Renee that unfortunately my mother only fed into. Well I wasn't going to stand for any of that and asked her to leave. The next time Kathy showed up...”
At Bella's indignant tone, Sue commented “Kathy was like a dog on the trail, always sniffing around, looking for scraps”
“Yeah, it seemed like, there for a while, every time I turned around, there she was. The next year when mom passed, I'd come home to fine casseroles waiting for me on the porch with little notes attached to them. Then she'd stop by a day or two later in order to retreeve the dish. Whenever I'd stop by the grocery store, there Kathy would be...wanting to help me. When new packages of briefs showed up on the front seat of my car...well...that was enough of that. I had a talk with Alfred and...those kinds of things stopped for a while.” Charlie paused yet it was clear the story hadn't reach it's conclusion, with a sigh he went on “The next time she came around was after Renee's accident. She was at my door real early...she offered to keep you after school and on weekends while I worked. But she had three of her own little ones and was expecting the forth. Besides I knew what kinds of craziness went on in that house. So I told her as nicely as I could, 'thanks but no thanks' I had already made arrangements with Sue and Sarah. Kathy wasn't none to happy about that either.” Saying the last part as if it were a piece of vital information. “She huffed away, stomping her way down the steps and towards the car, slamming the door...” shaking his head “...I could see her yelling at the three little girls in the car and glaring at me through the window...”
“Maybe that's why Vickie hates you Bella”
It was truly the first words Tracy had said during the whole meal. Yet for some reason it seemed to be the most significant thing I heard all day.
“Vickie doesn't hate me...at least I don't think she does” as Bella questioned her own words, she turned to her sister “...does she?”
Leah shrugged “What do you care? Besides even if she does, she still did you the biggest favor in the world”
“She was boinking your husband for you” Leah's laughter did nothing to alleviate the tension her words caused in me.
I hated the thought of James being with Bella in any capacity, especially one where he was anywhere near or inside of her body. He had no right to it and it pissed me off just knowing that he had the ability to recall the glory of her charms. The jealousy was irrationally sanctimonious on my part, especially since my own past hadn't exactly been subdued. Let's face it, there were enough women out there who have known the feel of my intimate touch to fill a large classroom. That doesn't mean I want to be reminded of Bella's previous liaisons. It was bad enough to hear about innocent exploration with Jared, making out, and getting felt up. The kind of activities Bella would deny having occurred until her dying breath. Which made me all the more curious as to the truth. I could even take mentioning James by name, it was expected to happen. After all, for several years he was an intricate part of their lives and because Forks is such a small town, no matter how much I may want it to happen, his falling away into oblivion is an absurd notion.
In fact, maybe that could be my birthday wish.
Yeah, right before blowing out the candles I would wish for James to be a non-entity.
Perhaps it will work out in my favor and I'll never again have to hear Leah or anyone else use a sentence that contains the nouns Bella and James as the subjects centered around the verb 'boinking,' ever again. My automatic response was to say something, yet even though my mouth opened, I just couldn't come up with a reply. Which irritated the crap out of me as I felt the need to defend my girls honor along with my claim on her.
Bella's hand touching my own had a calming effect which was made stronger when her fingers entwined with mine and she gave a small squeeze while candidly saying “Someone had to. Better her then me”
“He was unfaithful to you Bella?” Dad's voice sounded as if it was a personal insult to him and while Bella shrugged in response, Leah had a more tangible answer.
“Rumor has it, between the wedding and the reception, Vickie Domed him in the bathroom”
“What!” Emmett was outraged and even Jasper had an opinion “You got to be kidding me?” while gran questioned “What's Domed?”
“I was wondering that myself” mom muttered with a crinkled brow and Rose informed her “It's a hummer Esme”
“Ah...that's what I thought” then without missing a beat she cup her hand to the side of her mouth as if to block the view from the kids at the end of the table, leaned as far across the table towards my grandmother as possible and with the most serious expression I had ever seen on my mother, whispered “it's a blow job”
“Ohhhhh....” gran nodded in understanding “...see, you learn something new everyday”