Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer & Little Brown Publishing own all rights
We remained on the couch for a long while, sharing regrets and airing grievances about our past as a family. The damage would never be completely repaired, we’d never be exactly the same as we used to be. Those were the consequences of the choices we’d made. We would need time to get to know each other again and time to build new happy memories to eclipse the old. We’d taken the first steps.
Dad excused himself momentarily and as I watched him leave the room it occurred to me that Rose wasn’t sitting in her chair anymore. My brow wrinkled; I almost stood up to go look for her, but I couldn’t leave mom sitting alone. My fingers tapped on the arm of the couch nervously. I hoped Rose was okay.
“Go see what’s keeping Rosalie, Edward,” My mother said, gently patting my knee. I looked at her gratefully. One thing was certain, mom hadn’t lost her uncanny gift for reading my mind. Or maybe I just wore my heart on my sleeve. I leaned in and pecked her cheek before standing and heading in the direction of the office. That seemed to always be where I’d find Rose when she was upset or lonely. Being surrounded by her father’s things and the lingering scent of his Cohibas seemed to help soothe her. I knew why she had quietly disappeared, and it wasn’t only for the sake of giving us some privacy.
I reached the second story landing and found her in the office, just as I’d suspected. She was standing in front of the open large picture window that overlooked the lawn and gardens, her back to the doorway where I stood. The afternoon sunlight fell in bright beams through the window, making her golden hair, piled delicately on her head, shimmer like spun sugar. She wore a pale yellow dress of some sort of gauzy fabric that fluttered in the breeze floating through the open window. She had her arms crossed over her chest, hugging herself, and my feet started toward her. Just as I came up behind her, she sniffled, and the sound was so fucking filled with sadness, it made me cringe. I knew the cause.
My arms snaked around her waist and I nuzzled her neck, drawing little circles with the tip of my nose before gently kissing her just below her ear. She melted into me, leaning back against my chest and brought one hand up to my cheek. I rested my chin on her shoulder and looked out at the view she pretended to be mesmerized by.
“How is Jasper?” I whispered.
“He’s fine,” she replied with a shrug, trying to seem casual. That’s when I got a good look at her face, her nose was red and her eyes were puffy. She’d been crying. I pulled her closer. “The trial is going to start soon,” she added in a whisper, sounding unsure. I squeezed her tighter.
“Everything will be alright.” I tried to reassure her, but I knew she was anxious about it. She needed a distraction, and nothing could distract Rose and make her focus like her sense of duty.
“C’mon, back to the parlor Rosie. I need you to keep me in line so I don’t drive them away for another ten years?” I begged teasingly and gave her a pleading smile.
She giggled a little and sighed. “Of course, Edward. Forgive me for disappearing so long. I wanted to give you some privacy.”
“I know, doll. I appreciate that, but I still missed you every fucking minute,” I confessed, reaching up to swipe away the glistening moisture high on her cheekbone with my thumb. My hand cradled her face, and her lips parted. I leaned in, sensing what she needed, and – I had to admit – what I needed too, and kissed her. The kiss was full of the gentle reminder that I was here for her.
After a moment, I broke the kiss and tilted her chin up, “Let’s go back downstairs, sweetheart.” She nodded, and hand in hand we descended the stairs.
In the parlor, my parents were sitting together nibbling finger sandwiches and chatting. I led Rose by the hand to the love seat opposite them and sat beside her. I was anxious to find out about the trouble my father was in, but once again I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. I wasn’t aware of how much my mother knew about the situation and I didn’t want to accidentally put my dad in hot water. I didn’t need to worry though, Rosie came through for me in true form.
“So, Carlisle, what exactly is going on?” she asked, and I almost chuckled at her. Her honestly never fucking failed me.
Dad sighed and put his cup down on the coffee table. As he ran a hand through his hair, I could tell he wasn’t relishing whatever it was he had to say.
“Well, for several years, I’ve volunteered at a clinic in my spare time. One evening, a young woman who was quite far along in her pregnancy came in and asked to speak with me. She was quite nervous and hesitant of everyone, especially the other men. She asked if she could speak to me confidentially. I led her to an examination room, but she wouldn’t allow me to shut the door,” he began and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.
“Her name was Marie. She was a beautiful girl. She could have been so full of promise, and I’m sure she once was, before I knew her. She was nineteen, unmarried and I guessed by looking at her, seven or eight months pregnant. In a hurried whispered rush, she told me about the night she got off her shift at the dry cleaners and was approached by a handsome well-to-do looking young man with two of his friends. They pulled her into the alley. They pushed her down, her knees splashing in to a filthy puddle. They pushed her head down, scraping her cheek into the gritty asphalt. She claimed she didn’t remember the rest, but I never believed her. She asked me to help her find a home for her baby, and to not call the police. I agreed easily to her first request, but was reluctant about the second. I asked her if she knew who her attackers were and she said she didn’t.”
My mother scooted a little closer to him on the sofa and laid her hand on his shoulder. This was obviously difficult for Dad. His compassion for others had always made him try to put himself in their shoes. He drew a heavy breath and went on.
“I convinced her to let me examine her; I doubted she’d had any prenatal care. As I went through the routine examination, I coaxed more information from her. She didn’t have anywhere to go, her family all being in Indiana, and she didn’t want them to know what had happened to her. I offered to let her stay with us in our guest room until we could find a home for the infant. She was reluctant and I placed a call to Esme to come down and help me convince her that she would be safe in our home. After lots of compromises and insistence that it wouldn’t be an inconvenience to us, she finally agreed.”
“I knew a couple who were having difficulty conceiving and contacted them. They were very interested in the baby so I arranged a meeting. They showed Marie their home and the nursery they had decorated a year ago, with it’s tiny white crib that had soft blankets and a stuffed rabbit, ready and waiting. She confided in me afterwards that she felt they’d be wonderful parents for her baby, and for the first time I saw her smile, her anxiousness dissipating with the knowledge her baby would be loved.”
“She went into labor two weeks later, earlier than I expected. It was a…difficult birth,” he paused and closed his eyes for the briefest of moments, “and she didn’t survive,” he finished solemnly.
My mother looked down at her shoes, while her left hand entwined itself in my father’s.
“But, the baby survived, right, Dr. Cullen?” Rose asked with an alarmed frown.
“Yes, he did,” Dad answered.
I relaxed a little but not completely.
There has to be more: what’s all the trouble about?
“Where does the trouble come in, Dad?”
“Last week, I got a note in the mail, telling me to expect a phone call on the thirteenth of this month at two o’clock in the morning, and that it would be in my best interest to answer the phone.”
The thirteenth was two days ago. “Do you still have the note?” I asked, and hoped he’d say yes, so I could add it to the mental list of possible evidence.
“I do. I wasn’t sure if you were going to take the case, so I didn’t bring it,” he explained apologetically.
“There was no doubt in my mind I’d take the case.” It was true, and I wanted them to know that. My mother beamed at me. Dad grinned too, I cleared my throat.
“So the phone call…” I encouraged him to continue.
He sighed heavily. “He called exactly when he said he would. He said they knew about the baby, and that they want him. I have a week to make arrangements and to bring the baby to an address in the Warehouse district. They threatened to hurt your mother, and I can’t…” he drifted off and not one of us expected him to finish his thought. The threat drove me into a near murderous rage, but it didn’t stop my wheels from turning. The best way to keep mom safe, to keep them both safe, was to solve the case.
“So the question is; who is he? I assume you were under the impression that you and Esme were the only people who knew about the arrangement and that the baby had survived?” I asked.
“That’s correct, Edward. She was very adamant about it.”
Very adamant. That usually means they’re hiding something. I filed that away for later, and moved on.
“Do the new parents know anything?” I probed.
“I haven’t said anything to the adoptive couple. He said not to tell anyone, and no police.”
“Do you still have any of Marie’s things?” I continued, hoping to add to the evidence list.
My mother answered me this time. “I kept some of her more personal looking things, letters and trinkets and such. I thought maybe I could find a way to return them to her family,” she said sadly. I smiled softly at her.
She’s such a saint.
It wouldn’t hurt to look through the letters, I realized. Maybe I’d see something no one else had yet. “I’ll come by and look through them tomorrow, if that’s alright?”
“Of course, anytime tomorrow is fine.” My mother beamed, and my father nodded encouragingly. I smiled and tried to hide it by averting their gaze and staring at the Persian rug. Despite the bullshit they were facing right now, we were going to be okay, eventually.
A moment later as Rose was about to ring for more tea, Emily came in and announced it was supper time. I looked at the window and saw the setting sun; it was much later than I thought. Rose invited them to stay and after modest apologies for being unexpected and Rosie hushing them with several it’s-no-trouble-at-all’s , they agreed. I took Rose’s arm in mine and led us to the dining room. Once seated and the salad was being served, I decided not to bring up any more about the case tonight. I needed to mull over what I knew and I’d have a chance to ask more questions later. I relaxed back in my chair and over the course of the meal, I let my guard down. I just enjoyed the foreign feeling of having everyone I loved more than anything all in the same room together. Mom regaled Rose with the stories of what a devious little boy I had been. Like how I used to catch bees, then chase Lauren Mallory around the neighborhood with them. Rose laughed so hard she cried. That made my utter fucking humiliation worth it. That night, over Sam’s delectable lamb chops and mint sauce, we created that first, all important, new happy memory.
The dining room table was significantly more full with the Cullens staying for supper. Looking around the room, my heart swelled as Edward reached over and grabbed my hand, bringing it to his mouth for a quick kiss as his eyes met mine. Esme watched our interactions throughout the meal and I could tell that she was restraining herself from cooing and saying any more than, “You two are very good for one another.” Carlisle praised Sam’s cooking over and over while stealing glances at Edward and I. I knew Edward was basking in the feeling of having his parents there with us and from that small gesture of him kissing my hand, I could tell that he was pleased with where we were in our relationship as well.
Sam had made a chocolate cake for dessert and presented it to lavish praise from all at the table. Winking at me, he retreated once more to the kitchen. Looking at the cake reminded me of the one that was in the picture Edward carried of the three of them together. I rose from my chair and Edward looked at me questioningly. After stating, “I’ll be right back,” I went to the front foyer, my heels clicking on the floor, and started rooting around the closet. I found the camera in its folding case on the top shelf, where I had last stored it after Edward and I took pictures outside in the garden. The film from that day was still inside and I walked briskly back into the dining room to find the Cullens looking at me, expectantly.
“I just thought you’d like a new picture,” I said softly, the statement held a question.
The smiles I got in response were all the answer I needed. Edward quickly stood and moved to the side of the table with his parents. He placed his hands on both of their shoulders and Esme reached her hand up to hold his tighter to her. Soft smiles were given to me behind the camera and I snapped the shot, a new memory held in time for them. It was different than the last, ten years ago. Edward was now the one standing while his parents sat and he looked protectively over them instead of the other way around.
I started to close the case back up but Edward spoke up. Emily had just finished cutting and plating the cake so he asked for her to take a picture of the four of us together. I moved to his side and together, we smiled at the camera. Esme turned her head at the last moment, looking up at the both of us, her eyes shining. I wondered if the camera would be able to catch the adoration that was permeating the room.
After we were finished, Emily took the camera and said she would return it to the closet. Edward and I both rounded the table, coming back to our seats, and started in with the conversation once more. I loved hearing the stories of Edward when he was younger, the things that only parents would share. Edward shared the occasional story with me here and there but there were certain things that would stick out in a parent’s mind that would seem inconsequential to a child. They shared these stories with great enthusiasm and if it was possible, I listened with even more enthusiasm.
The time passed quickly and soon Emmett came into the dining room to see if they were ready to leave. After he left to pull the car into the driveway, we walked into the foyer and Emily brought their coats to them.
“Should I bring Mister Edward’s coat as well?” she asked, looking between the two of us.
He looked at me and then at his parents, and once more, back to me. I wasn’t planning on having him go anywhere but I also didn’t know how to broach this subject with his parents. We were adults, for goodness sake, but I felt like a child at the moment and I could tell that he did as well. He was their child, at that.
Awkwardly, I jumped in. “Um, I… I… have something that needs Edward’s attention.” Turning to him, I looked at him, beseechingly. “Perhaps you could stay a few minutes longer? We’ll call a cab once we are finished?”
Esme patted my cheek and smiled broadly at Carlisle. Mercifully, neither of them said anything other than telling Edward to get home safely. Edward let out a quiet groan and looked down at his shoes for a moment before hugging both of his parents. As Carlisle pulled away from Edward, he gently punched him on the shoulder and said, “See you tomorrow, kiddo. And… thank you. For agreeing to help and for… everything.”
Once the door closed behind them, we both let out a sigh of relief and then chuckled at the awkward exchange. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close to him. “So, you have something that needs my attention, hmm?”
I lowered my eyes and looked up at him, coyly. “I do. But once we’re done, you need to go home.” I teased him as I turned my body toward the stairs, with him still holding onto my hips. “After all, that’s what we told your parents and I don’t want to lie to them.”
“You’d just kick me to the curb like that? And after only a few minutes, at that?” he asked, as he walked close behind me. “Maybe I’ll just have to pay… attention, all night long.” I gasped at the naughty suggestion as I felt him press up against me and knew that could probably be arranged. “That way, I won’t have to leave.”
After all that had happened recently, the last thing I wanted him to do was leave and I needed him to know. I quickly amended my statement as we entered the bedroom, “A little white lie won’t hurt anyone, right?”
He agreed as I sat down at my vanity, pulling the pin from my hair and picking up my brush. I asked quietly, “Are you okay?” In the reflection of the mirror I watched as he strode over to the radio and turn the switch, fiddling with the dial until he settled on “You Go to My Head.”
“Ahhh, Billie,” he sighed at the song while he paced behind me, removing his shirt and pulling his undershirt from his pants. “I’m fine, doll. Just a little tense after all that’s happened recently.” He sat on the edge of our bed and continued to undress, removing his shoes and socks. His movements were stiff and jerky and I could tell that the day had taken a toll on him, more than he let on or would ever say.
Quickly, I unbuttoned the dress I was wearing while sitting there at the vanity. As I stood, it fell off my shoulders. His eyes were trained solely on me as I walked to him, climbing up onto the bed behind him. Leaning forward, I let my nose trace his circles on his neck, as he had done earlier in the office. I could feel him lean into my body and my breasts brushed up against his back.
“You need to relax. We both do.”
He grunted as my hands pressed hard circles in his shoulders, my lips kissing lightly along his neck. His hand reached to me and he grabbed my torso, shifting me so that I was sitting on his lap, my legs wrapped around him.
“We both need attention,” he muttered softly as he unsnapped my bra clasp in the back with one hand. I continued to press my hands along his shoulders while he leaned forward, nuzzling into my breasts with his nose and mouth. “So soft. I love your skin here.”
It was the perfect opening. The perfect opportunity for me to say those words I’d been thinking. Those words that conveyed my feelings. But he continued speaking. “I love your skin everywhere.” His lips skimmed along before opening around the tip of my breast and all words escaped me as I moaned in response.
Pushing him back onto the bed, I quickly rid him of the remaining garments he wore before deftly rolling my stockings down and removing my garter and panties. There was a time for slow but this wasn’t one of those times. We needed one another. The comfort, the warmth of the other. Climbing on top of him, my hair hung over his face as I pressed my body to his. Our legs tangled and his arms wrapped around my body as he held me close to him. My nose pressed into his neck and I breathed in his scent: the Lucky Strikes, the coffee he had with his cake, the sweet chocolate of the cake, and the cologne I’d had made for him as a gift. Tilting my head back slightly, I took his earlobe between my teeth and bit, knowing that it was a sweet spot for him.
“Rosalie,” he growled lowly as he flipped me easily onto the bed, the sheet ruffling under my body. “In case you haven’t noticed, I need you.” His eyes were smoldering and I knew he needed me because I needed him just as much. I loved him just as much.
“Well then, take me.” I countered back, offering myself up to him, arching my back slightly and pressing my breasts forward. “I need you, too.”
Not taking his eyes off of me, he reached over toward the nightstand and opened the drawer. His fingers knew exactly where the prophylactics were in the drawer. In a fast movement, the wrapper was shed and he placed the condom on, before he laid back on the bed. I looked at him, questioning what he was doing laying back rather than climbing on top of me and taking me.
“Get on top of me,” he demanded. “I need to watch you, gorgeous.” I usually gave him a run for his money and argued with him when he demanded things, often times just for arguement’s sake. I wasn’t one to give into demands and he full well knew it.
Not tonight though. I wanted him then and there and I needed for him to watch me. For him to see what he did to me.
Swinging my leg over his body once more, I kissed him with force. Our mouths melded and I quickly reached a hand down, in between us, stroking him for a moment and then guiding him inside my body. The noises we emitted were one and the same and I leaned back, kneading his thighs as I took him deeper and as he took me higher.
His eyes hungrily swept my body and he brought his hands up to my hips as we found a rhythm that suited us both. I tossed my head back, pushing myself into him harder still, needing to feel him. My hair swept my back and his thighs and he mumbled curses under his breath. His hands continued their journey up my body and they were everywhere, fanning the fire and spurring it on. He shifted me forward and once more, his warm mouth found my breasts as he lavished them with kisses and his tongue and his teeth tugged gently on their peaks.
Leaning onto my forearms, my body never slowed as my fingers wound their way into his hair, pulling and moving of their own accord. Shifting back slightly, I looked into his eyes. I saw that he was at the same point I was. Nearly there. Nearly at that climax.
“You feel so good, Rosie.” I whimpered at his words as I shifted once more, reaching up to the headboard and grasping on with both hands. Our moves syncopated and I felt his hand between us, his fingers expertly finding where they needed to be. I took a sharp breath and I knew we were both moments away. Finding our comfort within one another. Finding our strength within one another.
Our eyes connected, he earnestly stated, “You’re everything I’ll ever want, Rosie.”
Those words and the look in his eyes sent me tumbling over the edge. My orgasm taking him along with me, he pushed further still into me and we both surrendered to the feelings that washed over us. He kissed me again and again as I collapsed on top of him. Once we had come down from our high, he gently rolled me onto the bed and promised me his return.
While he was in the bathroom, my mind thought of the words he had spoken with such conviction. I had to believe that it wasn’t something he said in the heat of the moment, it was something he truly felt. When he came back to my side, he climbed in the bed and wrapped his arms around me.
I turned to face him, my head rested on his arm as we looked into each other’s eyes and his ran his fingers softly through my hair. “Did you mean that? What you said?” A vulnerability that I didn’t know I had crept into my voice.
“Everything and more.”
“As you are for me,” I breathed out, smiling softly.
Making good on his promise to pay attention all night, he started kissing me once again. We didn’t sleep much that night.