posted by groovychicklisa
It was a relief to finally leave Alice and Jasper's apartment after lunch – I knew that they were only 연기 out of concern for me, but they had been watching my every 옮기기 all day. I loved them for caring, of course, but having them constantly hovering was getting really annoying.
I found 21st Century Breakdown in the 장갑 compartment of the Accord, and turned the volume up as I pulled into the traffic on Seaview Avenue. While I drove to Ben and Angela's place I tried to focus on the 음악 and keep my mind from wandering. I skipped ahead, and Know 당신 enemy blared from the speakers; the loud 음악 cut into my ears, but I welcomed it. It made thinking difficult, and that was exactly what I had been trying to accomplish.
Angela's car wasn't there when I got to the parking lot outside their apartment building, so I called her cell phone. It wasn't even two yet, and they were probably still at the zoo, but a part of me just needed to make sure.
Apparently I didn't sound as composed as I thought I did. But then again, this was Angela – she was my best friend, and she knew me better than anyone.
"I'll tell 당신 when 당신 get here, OK? I'm at your place."
"OK. We're just making one last stop at the penguins, and then we're heading home." I could tell that she really wanted to push, to find out what had happened, but Lily was there, and Angela wouldn't want her to overhear anything.
"OK, I'll see 당신 soon."
"See 당신 in a bit. And whatever it is, don't overanalyze!"
Better than anyone.
I hung up the phone, skipped a couple 더 많이 tracks and then hit the repeat button. I leaned my head back and tried to focus on the lyrics of the song, again keeping my mind too busy to wander too far into unwanted territory.
Do 당신 know what's worth fighting for
When it's not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away
And 당신 feel yourself suffocating
Does the pain weigh out the pride?
And 당신 look for a place to hide
Did someone break your 심장 inside
You're in ruins
We didn't need him. We had been getting on just fine without him for five years; we'd continue to do exactly that. It wasn't the end of the world. We would survive.
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
I was insanely grateful that Lily would never have to know anything about what had happened today. Knowing that Edward had rejected her hurt me physically all the way to my bones, but at least she wouldn't have to deal with it. That was a small comfort, but a comfort none the less. I would just have to focus on that.
When you're at the end of the road
And 당신 로스트 all sense of control
And your thoughts have taken their toll
When your mind breaks the spirit of your soul
Your faith walks on broken glass
And the hangover doesn't pass
Nothing's ever built to last
You're in ruins
At least Alice and Jasper would be an addition to our lives in the future. And maybe even Carlisle and Esme – I wasn't as sure about their reaction as Alice seemed to be, but I was hopeful. If they would only give her a chance, there wasn't anyone Lily couldn't charm. So not only negative consequences then, but something to be grateful for as well.
Did 당신 try to live on your own
When 당신 burned down the house and home
Did 당신 stand too close to the fire?
Like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone
I closed my eyes and let the 음악 wash over me as the song drew towards its end. Angela and Ben would be back with Lily soon, and I had to pull myself together so that she didn't suspect anything. She could be dangerously attentive sometimes, and I didn't want her to start asking questions. I wasn't sure I could deal with that at the moment.
When it's time to live and let die
And 당신 can't get another try
Something inside this 심장 has died
You're in ruins
I had managed to put on a somewhat collected appearance when Angela's Clio rolled into the 우주 다음 to the Accord ten 분 later. Lily immediately spotted me and jumped out of the car as soon as Ben had opened the door for her.
"Mommy!" She jumped into my arms and I held her close, relishing in the warmth of her body, the smell that was just her. "Guess what? There were baby penguins at the zoo! And lion cubs, too, they were sooo cute."
"Really? I hope you've got a lot of pictures to show me." My voice sounded perfectly normal, but I caught the look Angela gave me out of the corner of my eye. I wasn't fooling her.
"Uh-huh, we took a million pictures!"
"We'll have to look at them, then." I put Lily down, and she skipped ahead of the rest of us into the building.
Angela came up beside me and wrapped an arm around my shoulders.
"Later, Ang." My voice trembled a little, and I swallowed to try to make it steadier.
Ben hooked up the digital camera to the computer when we got into the apartment, and Lily spent an 시간 explaining – in detail – all the 사진 of different animals. I had to admit that the baby penguins were cute, and the lion cubs too – like little yellow balls of fluff.
After the picture show, Angela put The Lion King into the DVD, and we all sat down on the couch. Half an 시간 into the movie, Lily had moved down to the floor to be closer to the 텔레비전 and was so wrapped up in what was happening on the screen that she didn't notice me and Angela slipping out of the room.
"So?" Angela asked when she had closed the door to the bedroom behind us.
"He left." I shrugged, but didn't meet her eyes. I didn't want her to see the pain that must be obvious in mine.
"He left?" She repeated incredulously. "Just like that?"
"He looked at the 사진 for ten 분 또는 something, then he said that he had to go and he left." There really was nothing 더 많이 to it than that. Nothing at all.
"So what are 당신 going to do now?"
"What am I going to do?" I stared at her. "Nothing. That's what I'm going to do. He's made his choice."
"And you're just going to accept that?"
We were speaking quietly, so Lily wouldn't hear. But I could tell from Angela's tone of voice that anger was bubbling just below the surface. I wasn't sure whether she was mad at Edward for the way he had reacted, 또는 at me for simply accepting it without a fight.
"What do 당신 want me to do, force him to see her? Do 당신 really think that would be good for Lily?"
"No, of course not. 당신 can't force him to do anything. But 당신 have to at least talk to him again."
"I don't know if I can."
I couldn't tell her that seeing him, hearing him disregard my daughter – our daughter – with just four little words had opened up part of the hole in my chest again. Brought the memories of that horrible time to the surface – memories that I had thought I'd buried somewhere deep down years ago, but that were now nagging at me to acknowledge them. But she seemed to know, because she wrapped an arm around my shoulders in a comforting way.
"Oh, honey, 당신 don't have to. I'm sorry." She thought for a moment. "Can't Alice try to get him to come around?"
"She probably will, she was even 더 많이 furious than 당신 are."
"She'll get through to him, you'll see." Angela smiled evilly. "Or at least knock some sense into him. Literally, I hope."
I smiled at that. The thought was 더 많이 appealing than it should be.
"You want to hang out here tonight?" Angela wondered. "We'll order Chinese, watch movies... Ben can head over to Jake and Sam's place, we'll make a girls' night out of it."
"Now 당신 sound like Alice." I rolled my eyes. "She wouldn't let me leave until I promised to come straight here. I'm fine, really."
"I know." She didn't sound the least bit convinced.
"Didn't 당신 and Ben have plans tonight, anyway?" I dimly recalled her talking about a movie… 또는 a restaurant...
"No." She replied a little too quickly, forgetting that I knew her just as well as she knew me.
"Yes 당신 do. 당신 have reservations at that new French place; you've been dying to go there ever since it opened."
"We'll cancel. We can go another night, it's no big deal."
What had I done to deserve such a self-sacrificing friend?
"Ang, I'm grateful for what you're trying to do, but honestly, I'm fine." It was closer to the truth now than it had been when I had told Alice the same thing earlier in the day. "I survived six years ago, and I'll survive this too." I added.
She studied me for a moment, and apparently decided to believe me.
"OK. But 당신 call me, 당신 hear? If 당신 need to talk, 또는 anything. Promise! I won't be able to relax if I have to worry about you, all alone, wallowing in self pity, and then I won't even get to enjoy a night out with my boyfriend, and it'll be all your fault!"
"Jeez, I promise." When she put it that way…
"OK then." She got up off the bed. "Let's go watch some 노래 lions."
"What are 당신 going to do?" Alice asked as we sat down on the 침상, 소파 in the living room.
"I called, but they weren't home."
She snickered and shook her head at that.
"I think 당신 need to be a little 더 많이 creative than that. What were 당신 planning on saying, anyway? "Sorry about being a jerk, mind if I come over?" Don't think that'll cut it, exactly."
I should have thought of that, of course. Bella would be furious – she should be furious. I was furious with myself.
"What do 당신 suggest?" Alice would know what to do, she always did.
"Well, first of all 당신 need to convince Bella that you're serious about this." Her eyes narrowed as she looked at me. "You are, right?"
"Of course I am! 당신 know me better than that." Didn't she?
"Because this isn't some toy 당신 can play with until 당신 get bored and then throw aside, 당신 know."
"I know that, Alice." Did she really think so little of me? "Give me some credit."
"OK, I just had to make sure."
I was getting anxious.
"Will 당신 get to the point already?"
"I did – 당신 have to convince Bella that you're really in. She won't even let 당신 see Lily if she doesn't believe that you're serious about this."
"That's it?" Could it really be that simple?
""That's it?" It won't be easy, if that's what 당신 think." Alice punched me in the arm, but in a playful way. "You just made her worse fear come true, it's going to take a lot to make this up to her. If it's even possible."
It felt like my 심장 sank into my feet. What if Bella didn't forgive me? I would never get to see Lily, never know my own daughter. The thought was unbearable.
"What am I going to do?" Even in my ears my voice sounded defeated.
"Well, you're not going to get anywhere with that attitude!" Alice exclaimed, sounding exasperated.
"You just said that 당신 didn't think it would be possible to make up for what I did, and 당신 expected what?"
"I expected some fire! You're going to have to fight for this; I just need 당신 to grasp that."
I had been a fighter once. With Bella. But without her, I had given up. There had been nothing worth fighting for. Until now.
"What am I going to do?" The empty look in his eyes matched the defeat in his voice.
"Well, you're not going to get anywhere with that attitude!" What was wrong with him? Was he just going to give up? Did he honestly think I would let him do that?
"You just said that 당신 didn't think it would be possible to make up for what I did, and 당신 expected what?"
Not this, for sure. It felt like I barely knew him these days. Even after Los Angeles, he had never backed away from a difficult situation, always fighting when he had wanted something bad enough.
"I expected some fire! You're going to have to fight for this; I just need 당신 to grasp that."
He was quiet for a moment.
There was a little 더 많이 life in his eyes now, and though it wasn't exactly the attitude I had hoped for, it was better than defeat. This I could work with.
"Good. Now, you're going to have to let me talk to her first." He looked like he was about to object, so I held my hand up to stop him. "I have no doubt that she'll hang up if she hears your voice on the phone, and if 당신 show up at the apartment, she'll probably slam the door in your face. And that will get us nowhere."
"Good point." He sighed.
"Don't worry," I squeezed his hand. "I'll help 당신 fix this. Don't I always?"
"Thanks, Alice." He smiled weakly. "I don't know what I'd do without you."
"I shudder to even think about it."
He actually laughed at that, and I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I had actually heard him laugh spontaneously. Oh, Edward. All these years, I had thought that he didn't like being set up because it was awkward and embarrassing. I hadn't realized that it was because he was still in 사랑 with Bella. Of course, I had known that there would always be something there – first 사랑 and all that – but I had honestly believed that he had gotten over her 의해 now. Well, step two in my plan would have to be to do something about that.
"OK, might as well get started." I pulled my phone from my pocket and dialed Bella's cell.
The movie was almost over when my cell phone rang. I hurried to 검색 my 재킷, 자 켓 pockets, of course finding it in the last one.
"Alice, hi." I went into the bedroom to talk, closing the door behind me.
"Are 당신 still over at Ben and Angela's?"
"Well, yes. 당신 told me that I wasn't allowed to leave, remember?" I said dryly. No need to tell her that I wasn't planning on following her orders. What Alice didn't know…
"Right. Well, I want to talk to you, do 당신 think 당신 could head home?"
"I guess." What was she up to? "What about?"
"Half an hour?" She ignored my question.
"See 당신 then."
I hit the "End" button and went back into the living room, where the credits were rolling across the screen.
"You ready to head home, baby?" Lily looked up from the TV.
"Yeah." She sighed. She loved hanging out at Ben and Angela's. No wonder, since they spoiled her rotten.
"Chicken nuggets for dinner." I tried to tempt her, and it worked.
"With ketchup?" The one time I had tried the combination, it had tasted horrible, but it was her favorite.
"Is there any other way?"
She happily got to her feet and followed me into the hall at the prospect of chicken nuggets with ketchup.
"What did Alice want?" Angela mumbled quietly as Lily focused on tying her shoes. She had just mastered it the 이전 week, not wanting to wear "baby shoes" to school.
"Talk. I don't know?" I shrugged. I didn't want to analyze Alice's reasons for wanting to talk too closely; I knew my mind would jump to conclusions that would only lead to 더 많이 disappointments.
"She didn't say anything else?" Angela pressed.
"Nope." I shook my head. "Cryptic as ever."
Lily had finished tying her shoes, so I helped her put her 재킷, 자 켓 on before opening the door. She started skipping down the stairs and I grabbed her backpack, which Angela handed me.
"Have fun tonight." I said to Angela. "And don't worry."
"Not possible." Angela gave me a hug goodbye. "Call me tomorrow."
Lily started babbling about the trip to the zoo again in the car, and I listened gratefully, pushing all other thoughts aside for at least a moment. I knew I would have to deal with them soon enough.
We were 집 in a couple of minutes.
"Mommy, can I watch SpongeBob?" Lily asked, following me into the kitchen.
"Sure, baby." That would hopefully keep her occupied so I could talk to Alice when she got there.
"Yay!" Lily hurried into the living room, and I heard the sound of the TV a moment later – it was much too loud.
"Turn it down a little, sweetie. You'll go deaf!" I called. She lowered the volume as little as she could possibly get away with, and I shook my head, smiling. She was a wonderful kid, but now and then she tested boundaries, just like all children.
It was still a little early to start dinner, so I tried to busy myself with cleaning the 부엌, 주방 – which wasn't very messy to begin with – as I waited for Alice. Finally, there was a knock on the door, and I let her in.
"Hi." She greeted with a smile.
"Hey." I stepped aside and she walked past me into the apartment. A moment later, she was almost knocked over 의해 Lily who came bounding into the hallway.
"Miss Alice!" She exclaimed happily.
"Hi Lily." Alice gave her a big hug. "You don't have to call me Miss Alice when we're not at school, 당신 know."
"Can I call 당신 aunt Alice, like aunt Angela?"
Alice shot me a questioning and hopeful look, and I nodded discretely.
"Of course 당신 can!" Alice said.
"Why don't 당신 go back and watch your show, honey" I suggested. "Grown up talk is just boring."
Lily didn't object, happily returning to the living room.
"Come on." I led the way into the kitchen, sitting down at the table. Alice followed my lead. "So?"
"I figured 당신 probably wouldn't talk to him, so I thought I'd act as a sort of middleman." She explained.
"You thought right." My voice was hard, but my 심장 rate was picking up and I had to struggle to keep breathing normally.
I laughed dryly at that.
"Is he now? Well, that just makes it all better, doesn't it?"
"Really sorry." She continued, ignoring my sarcastic remark. "But 당신 have to understand that he was shocked. 당신 get that, right?"
"I guess." I shrugged.
"I'm not trying to make any excuses for him, but 당신 did catch him 의해 surprise."
That might be the understatement of the century, actually.
I didn't say anything, keeping my eyes fixed on the 표, 테이블 in front of me, and after a 분 또는 two, Alice spoke again.
"He's afraid that 당신 won't let him see her."
My eyes snapped up to hers.
"For that to even matter, he'd have to actually want to see her." I pointed out, a little harsher than I had intended.
"He does, he really does. I know that the way he reacted this morning doesn't exactly back that up, but 당신 don't ever have to doubt that."
I wasn't so sure about that, but decided not to argue with her.
"Will 당신 at least talk to him?" She pleaded.
"He's not outside, is he?" My eyes darted nervously to the part of the hallway that I could see from where I was sitting. I had locked the door after letting Alice in, right?
"Of course not, I would never put 당신 on the spot like that." Alice hurried to assure me. "He's back at his place, probably wearing a path in the carpet 의해 now."
I tried to gather my thoughts, evaluate the situation. I had to make sure that Alice wasn't mistaken before I let Edward anywhere near Lily, but I had to admit that Alice had a point. I had dropped this on him out of the blue, and I had anticipated some sort of shock... I supposed talking to him again, giving him another chance, would be the right thing to do. My stomach lurched in a not completely unpleasant way at the thought of seeing him again.
"OK." I nodded.
"Oh, thank you!" Alice hopped up, rounded the 표, 테이블 and gave me a hug. "I'll call him right away."
"Wait a minute." I grabbed her hand before she had a chance to pull her phone from her pocket. "I don't want Lily around."
"Oh, of course. 당신 can go over there." She suggested, but I shook my head.
I needed to be in my own comfort zone if I was going to do this.
"I'll call Angela, she and Ben were going out tonight, but I'm sure she'll 취소하기 if I ask her."
"Don't be silly." Alice objected. "I can take Lily 집 with me. I mean, if that's OK with you?"
"Of course it is. Jasper won't mind, though? It is Saturday night." I pointed out. "You don't have plans?"
"No, we were just going to stay in. "Alice replied. "Besides, Jasper's been dying to meet her."
"OK then." I knew that Lily would be fine with them, and there was no doubt in my mind that she would be ecstatic at the thought of spending the evening with Miss Alice.
When SpongeBob was over a few 분 later, Lily came into the kitchen.
"I'm hungry, mommy."
"Hey, Lily. How would 당신 like to hang out with me tonight?" Alice suggested. "Your mom has some grown up stuff she has to do."
"But mommy's making chicken nuggets for dinner." Lily frowned, torn between her 가장 좋아하는 음식 and getting to spend time with Alice.
"I can make chicken nuggets, if 당신 want. With ketchup." Alice quickly offered.
So that's where she got it from? I should have known.
"Really?" Lily's eyes sparkled. "Mommy doesn't like ketchup on her chicken nuggets."
"Well, mommy's a little weird." Alice stage whispered, winking at Lily, who laughed.
"Maybe 당신 should bring a movie, 또는 a game." I assumed there wouldn't be any toys at Alice and Jasper's, and entertaining a five-year-old was far from easy.
"That's a good idea, why don't 당신 go pick something out." Alice said, and Lily excitedly rushed out of the room. "I'll call him when we get home, give 당신 some time to prepare." Alice continued when Lily was out of earshot.
"Thanks, though I'm not sure it will actually help."
"If it makes 당신 feel any better, I'm sure he's even 더 많이 nervous than 당신 are." Alice offered.
"It really doesn't." I laughed humorlessly. "But thanks anyway."
Lily came bounding back into the room, Lilo & Stitch in one hand and 캔디 Land tucked under her arm. Renée had given her the Winnie the Pooh edition of the game for her last birthday. I could easily imagine Alice playing, but had trouble picturing Jasper moving around the little figures in shapes of Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore.
"Ready to go?" Alice asked, and Lily nodded eagerly.
I went with them to the car, since Alice needed Lily's car seat. I moved it to the backseat of the Mini, and Lily climbed in before responsibly putting her 좌석 벨트 on.
Alice squeezed my hand before getting into the driver's seat.
"It'll be OK." She said in an obvious attempt to calm my nerves.
"I've heard that before."
"Trust me." The look in her eyes gave me no other choice. Of course, the 분 she drove out of the parking lot, my trust began to falter.
"So 당신 like Lilo & Stitch?" I smiled at Lily, who sat clutching the movie and the game in her lap, in the rear view mirror.
"Uh-huh." Lily nodded vigorously. "Her name's almost like mine!"
"It is, I didn't think about that."
"Lily's a flower." She informed me. "Grandpa says that I'm even prettier than the flower."
He was right. Of course, I was probably biased.
"Listen, Lily, you're going to meet a very special friend of mine tonight." I wasn't sure how to explain the situation without getting into subjects that definitely weren't suitable for the ears of a five-year-old. "His name's Jasper, and we live together."
"Like aunt Angela and uncle Ben? And grandpa and aunt Sue?"
So Charlie had found someone? Good for him.
"Yeah, like that."
She frowned for a moment, apparently thinking hard about something.
"Does he like chicken nuggets with ketchup?" She finally asked, and I was so relieved at her 질문 that I almost laughed out loud.
"No, but we can make some without for him, right?"
"I guess." She generously agreed.
We were at our apartment building 의해 then, and I helped Lily out from the back seat.
"The water's right there!" She exclaimed excitedly, pointing at the bay.
"It is. 당신 can see all the way to the other 육지, 쇼 어 from our window."
We rode up in the elevator, and I unlocked the door.
"Jasper?" I hadn't called him to let him know that Lily was coming back with me. "We have company."
"It's pretty." Lily went over to the panorama window and pressed her hands against the glass, leaning as close as she possibly could without touching it with her nose. The sun was on its way down, and colored the sky in different shades of 담홍색, 핑크 and purple which reflected off the still surface of the water below. It really was beautiful.
"Hey." Jasper greeted, coming into the living room. Lily was completely absorbed in the view and didn't notice him.
"I offered to watch her for a while, so they could talk." I mumbled, and Jasper nodded.
"Of course. 당신 managed to knock some sense into him then?"
I had gone straight over to Bella's after leaving Edward's apartment, so I hadn't had time to give Jasper an update on the situation.
"I think he had already taken care of that part himself, honestly. But I helped him find his resolve, at least."
"You don't mind spending the evening with 만화 and 캔디 Land?"
"Of course not." He shot a glance in the direction of the kitchen. "Dinner first?"
"We have chicken nuggets, right?" I was pretty sure I had seen a box in the freezer the other day. "And ketchup?" He raised an eyebrow at me. "What? It's not for me."
He glanced over at Lily, who was still looking out the window.
"I should have known. Bad taste runs in the family."
I chose to ignore him.
"Hey, Lily." I called and she, apparently grudgingly, turned her attention from the view. "This is Jasper."
She slowly walked over to where we were standing, suddenly seeming a little shy.
"Hi." She glanced up at Jasper before looking down at her feet.
"Hey there." Jasper crouched down so that he was 더 많이 on her level. "Alice has been telling me about how good you've been in school. Do 당신 like it?"
"Uh-huh." Lily nodded, looking up from the floor. "It's really fun."
"I'm glad 당신 think so." He gave her a big smile, and she tentatively returned it. "Would 당신 like to help me with dinner?"
"We're having chicken nuggets." She informed him.
"I know. I think it might be best if 당신 kept an eye on me, just to make sure that I don't mess anything up."
"OK." Lily willingly agreed. "I help mommy make 공식 만찬, 저녁 식사 sometimes. But I'm not supposed to touch the knives."
"Then I'll be in charge of the knives, how does that sound?" Jasper said, and Lily nodded.
"You go ahead with Jasper, I'll be right there." I smiled at Lily. "I just need to make a call first."
Lily happily trudged along down the hallway with Jasper, and I smiled a little wider when I saw her tucking her hand in his. I waited until they disappeared into the 부엌, 주방 before I pulled my cell from my pocket and called Edward.
"Hey, everything's clear, 당신 can head on over. Lily's here with me and Jazz, so 당신 and Bella can sort this out."
"OK. Talk to 당신 later. And thanks."
"You can thank me later. Now go grovel. And good luck."
I answered the phone before the 초 ring.
"Hello?" Like I had hoped, it was Alice.
"Hey, everything's clear, 당신 can head on over. Lily's here with me and Jazz, so 당신 and Bella can sort this out."
I briefly closed my eyes, thanking whatever higher power it was that had decided to offer me a 초 chance. I was not going to screw it up.
"OK. Talk to 당신 later. And thanks."
"You can thank me later. Now go grovel. And good luck."
I was out the door almost before I had hung up the phone, grabbing my 재킷, 자 켓 as I passed it in the hallway. When I got to the parking lot behind my building, I realized that I had forgotten my car keys, and had to run back up to the apartment, cursing under my breath the entire way.
Finally in the car, I sped out of the lot and down the street. I had to restrain myself so I didn't go over the speed limit; it would not do to be stopped 의해 the cops now.
I arrived at their building within ten minutes, and took the stairs two at a time. But outside their door, I stopped. I would see Bella in just a moment; she was on the other side of the piece of wood in front of me.
The fear that she would simply turn me away overwhelmed me, and I had to lean against the 벽 in the corridor and take a few deep breaths to calm my racing heart. Alice wouldn't tell me to go over here if there was no hope, right? If Bella was just going to tell me to stay away from them, Alice would have warned me, wouldn't she?
I had to convince Bella that I was serious about wanting to be a part of Lily's life. That was what Alice had said, and that was what I had to do. I wouldn't give up no matter what.
I knocked on the door, forcing myself not to pound on it. It opened after a moment, and there she was.
She looked wary, and I didn't blame her. She had every right to be.
I didn't know exactly what to do with myself after Alice and Lily left. It wouldn't take 더 많이 than ten 분 for them to get back to Alice's place, and then another ten 분 for him to get here.
I busied myself with picking up the few toys that scattered the living room and kitchen. Lily was a very neat girl and rarely left things lying around for long, so there wasn't a lot to do in that area.
I straightened the magazines on the coffee table, and lined up the remotes to the TV and DVD. A book I had been 읽기 the 이전 night found its rightful place in the bookcase.
I checked the bathroom, making sure that no stray underwear was hanging over the side of the tub 또는 lying on the floor. The laundry basket was closed and the 샤워 curtain drawn in front of the tub before I put a bottle of Tylenol into the medicine cabinet and quickly wiped off the sink and mirror.
I went into my bedroom – not that he would have any business going in there – and quickly made the bed. I tossed the clothes that were hanging over the back of the chair in the corner into the closet. A pair of sandals was kicked under the bed. I still closed the door behind me when I left the room.
I checked Lily's room, made the 침대 and lined up her stuffed 동물 on the coverlet. Other than that, it was fine.
I returned to the living room, grabbed one of the magazines off the 표, 테이블 without noticing which one it was, and sat down on the couch. My hands automatically flipped through the glossy pages without my mind registering what they were seeing.
Five 분 later, there was a discreet knock on the door.
I placed the magazine back in the exact place I had taken it from, and took several deep breaths on my way to the door, telling myself that I was not nervous.
A little voice inside me laughed at the lame attempt.
I opened the door, taking one last, deep breath. For a moment, I had trouble forming a coherent thought, just like I'd had at times when we first got to know each other back in Forks.
"Hi." His voice brought me out of my temporary insanity.
He didn't ask to come in, but I took a step back. He looked grateful that I hadn't slammed the door shut and quickly crossed the threshold. And then he was in the hallway.
Having him so close in the small 우주 was overwhelming, and I had to retreat into the doorway to the living room.
"I'm glad 당신 agreed to give me another chance."
"What can I say? I still haven't learned how to say no to Alice." I didn't know why I said that, and when I noticed the flicker of pain in his eyes, I immediately regretted the words. No matter how much he had hurt me that morning, I couldn't 곰 the thought of inflicting him any pain. "Come on in."
I had planned to go into the kitchen, but for some reason, I ended up on the 침상, 소파 in the living room. He sat down in the battered 안락 의자, 안락의 자 다음 to it.
He was quiet, studying the room, and after a moment I decided to give him a push in the right direction.
"I'm listening." It sounded a little harsher than I had intended.
"I'm sorry." He started, his eyes burrowing into mine for a moment before he looked away. "I know that that's nowhere near enough, but it's all I've got."
"OK?" I was listening, but I wasn't going to help him out.
"When 당신 told me… I was shocked, to say the least." His eyes pleaded with me. "You have to understand that I was completely caught off guard, first seeing 당신 and then…"
"I get that." I interrupted.
"It's no excuse for what I did, but I don't know what else to say. I was overwhelmed, and I had to think."
"And now that you've had time to do that?" Alice had said that he wanted to see Lily, to be a part of her life, but I needed to hear it from him to believe it. Actually, I needed a lot 더 많이 than that to believe it, but hearing him say the words would be a good start.
"I would like to see her, if that's OK?"
The fact that he asked surprised me.
"I want that too, but I have to be positive that 당신 won't disappear in a month, 또는 a year. This isn't some game."
"I know that, of course I know that." The words flowed quickly, and he seemed encouraged 의해 the fact that I hadn't shut him down.
"This is a full time job, not something 당신 can do when 당신 feel like it. If I let 당신 be a part of her life and 당신 decide that it wasn't what 당신 expected after a while…"
"I would never do that, I promise." He interrupted. "I could never abandon her like that."
I saw the sincerity in his eyes, and 로스트 the urge to argue. He really did mean it.
I was afraid that I'd misheard her.
"OK?" I repeated disbelievingly.
"Thank you." The words didn't do the gratitude I felt justice, but I could think of nothing else to say. "I promise that 당신 won't regret it. I'll do whatever it takes to make up for this morning and make 당신 trust me with Lily."
She just nodded at that.
I wanted to touch her, to hug her, feel her body close to mine again after all these years. But I knew that she would never accept that, so instead I looked around the room again.
Against one of the walls was a 책장 with 사진 frames on several of the shelves. I went over to look at the pictures.
There were dozens of Lily; baby photos, pictures of her as a toddler and 더 많이 recent ones. I felt a lump forming in my throat, and swallowed hard.
"I have 더 많이 photos, if 당신 want to see." Bella said from behind me, and I turned around.
"I'd like that."
Meet the Cullens
We stayed at the playground until five, and then we had to go 집 to get ready for dinner. Alice had called at three, and she had been thrilled when Edward had told her that Lily and I would come tonight. We were meeting her and Jasper at the restaurant at six thirty.
Edward walked back to the apartment with us before he headed 집 to get ready too. He insisted on picking us up, and since we actually lived on his way to the restaurant, I didn't argue.
When Lily and I got home, there were several messages on the answering machine wishing me a happy birthday; Charlie, Renée, Mike, Angela and Jacob. I decided to call Angela and give her a quick update on what had happened since I had left her and Ben's place the 일 before, and also let her know that I wouldn't be over for 피자 and a movie that night. The others I could talk to later.
"Hey Ben. Is that girlfriend of yours around?"
"Hi Bella. Sure, hang on just a minute." I heard him call Angela. "Oh, and happy birthday, 의해 the way."
"Here she is."
I waited as he handed the phone to Angela.
"Hi sweetie, did 당신 get my messages? Where have 당신 been, 의해 the way? I've called you, like, five times."
"I did and we were at the playground. I forgot my cell at home, sorry."
"Oh, OK. Are 당신 feeling better today? About the whole E-business."
I laughed at the way she expressed it, which apparently surprised – and pleased – her.
"You sure sound happier."
"I am, Ang. Things seem to be working out."
"OK, explanation please."
"Edward came over last night, that's why Alice wanted to talk to me. We talked, and he really wants to be a part of Lily's life. He met her this morning, and she seems to be perfectly fine with everything. She even asked if she could call him dad when we were at the playground earlier." I smiled as I remembered; it had been obvious that Edward had been thrilled at Lily's question. The look on his face had been indescribable.
"Oh my God, that's so great, Bella. I'm so glad things are looking up."
"You and me both."
"So how about that 피자 tonight? I can send Ben over in half an hour."
"That's the other reason I'm calling. Alice really wants to take Lily and me out for 공식 만찬, 저녁 식사 tonight, and I thought it would be nice for Lily to get to spend some time with her "new" family. I know Alice is dying to tell Lily that she's her aunt, and I thought tonight would be a good time."
"Of course, I totally understand. But we are going to celebrate your birthday; you're not getting out of that!" I wondered why that sounded 더 많이 like a threat than a promise…
"I'm not trying to." I assured her. "Next week, I promise."
"I'll hold 당신 to that. Now go, get pretty."
Lily and I were both finished when Edward knocked on the door at a quarter past six. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw his old Camaro in the lot.
"I can't believe 당신 still have this." I exclaimed in astonishment.
"Of course I do, I wouldn't give this car up for anything." He sounded almost insulted that I had suggested that he might have parted ways with his beloved car.
"I think it might be easier if we take my car, though." I looked in through the windows to the back 좌석 of the Camaro. "I'm not sure I can get Lily's car 좌석 into the back."
"Oh." His face fell. "I didn't think of that, of course. I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it." I quickly brushed off, trying to prevent him from being too hard on himself. It would take some time for him to get used to all the things that went with having a child – it wasn't something that just popped into your head overnight.
I led the way over to the Accord, opening the back door for Lily. She jumped into her car 좌석 and put her seatbelt on. Charlie had already started teaching her about traffic sense, and she always put her seatbelt on the 분 she got in the car.
"No 더 많이 truck?" Edward asked as I started the engine.
"Charlie made me trade it in for this one. The truck wasn't "suitable", according to him." I was getting along fine with the Accord these days, but occasionally, I still missed my truck. The Accord didn't have character – it was just a car.
"How is Charlie?" Edward wondered curiously.
"He's good. He's even got a G-I-R-L-F-R-I-E-N-D." I spelled the last word so that Lily wouldn't start asking questions. I had no desire whatsoever to explain the word to her at the moment – I was hoping to push that as far into the future as possible.
"Nope. Sue Clearwater; she was married to his friend Harry who died a couple of years ago."
"Well, good for him, I guess."
"It's OK to think that it's a little weird." I assured him. "I do. And I've know about it for years." I was glad that Charlie had someone, but I tried very hard not to think too much about it. I definitely didn't need those mental images.
"No, I think it's nice that he's found someone." Edward insisted. "He's been alone for too long."
"Now 당신 sound like Renée." I teased him.
"And how is she?"
"Happy as a clam. She and Phil are still in Jacksonville. She absolutely loves Florida."
"You don't see them much then?" He deduced.
"Not really." I shrugged. "Christmas, summer, and once 또는 twice in between, if we have enough money for plane tickets." Which we usually didn't.
"That's too bad."
"You don't get to see your family that often either, right? With them living in New York, I mean."
"Emmett and Rose I've only seen a couple of times since I moved here, but Carlisle and Esme try to visit every other 월 또는 so, if we can't come there." He gave me an evaluative look. "They're actually coming here on Friday, all of them. They'll be staying the weekend."
"Really? It would be nice to see them again." I'd missed them; Rosalie's friendship, Emmett's brotherly protectiveness, Carlisle's gentle ways, Esme's unconditional love. I hadn't realized how much; I hadn't let myself think too much about any of them over the years.
"We haven't told them anything, 당신 know." He glanced over his shoulder at Lily, who was playing with a doll that had been left in the car for some reason. "Alice suggested that we let them meet first, before getting into all the explanations."
That sounded like an excellent plan.
"Sure." Talking about his family reminded me that I should probably tell Charlie and Renée that Edward had become a part of our lives. I was not looking 앞으로 to that; I knew that at least Charlie still blamed Edward for leaving.
We arrived at the restaurant then, and I parked the car in an available lot behind Alice's Mini. I could already see her, barely able to stand still on the sidewalk 의해 the entrance.
"You're here!" She exclaimed as we approached. "Happy birthday!" She gave me a big hug before turning her attention to Lily. "Hi Lily."
"Hi aunt Alice." Lily beamed up at Alice. "Are 당신 having 공식 만찬, 저녁 식사 with us too?"
"I sure am." Alice took Lily's hand and the two of them walked into the restaurant.
"Happy birthday, Bella." Jasper gave me a quick hug too.
We followed Alice and Lily into the restaurant, where they had been shown to a corner 표, 테이블 의해 the window. A waitress came over to take our drink orders.
Lily was sitting between me and Alice, almost bouncing in her 좌석 with excitement. We didn't go out for 공식 만찬, 저녁 식사 very often, and when we did, it wasn't to a fancy place like this. Since we only went out to eat as a treat for Lily, we usually ended up at Chuck E. Cheese's 또는 someplace like it. It was nice to go to a "grown-up" restaurant for a change.
"Aunt Alice, do 당신 want to know a secret?" Lily asked after a few minutes.
"Sure." Alice leaned down so that Lily could whisper in her ear.
"That's my dad!" I heard her say, pointing at Edward across the table.
"I know." Alice half whispered back and Lily's eyes went wide.
"I do. And do 당신 know why?" Lily shook her head. "Because he's my brother."
"My daddy's your brother?"
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a smile on Edward's face as he heard her.
"He is. And do 당신 know what that means?" Alice wondered.
"That we're family!" Lily quickly concluded.
"That's right." Alice confirmed.
"That's so cool." I hadn't heard her use that word before, and assumed that she must have picked it up at school. Well, as long as she didn't pick up any offensive words…
"I think so too." Alice said, smiling at Lily.
We had a very nice evening, and I was reminded of the nights we'd used to spend together in Forks, watching 영화 and eating 피자 또는 Chinese. Surprisingly enough, the memories didn't make me sad at all, and I was glad that I was finally able to remember without having to worry about getting upset. For so long, I had struggled to suppress the memories of those days – some of the happiest of my life – and it had been hard.
Lily fell asleep in the car on the way home, despite the fact that the drive barely took ten minutes. I was about to pick her up out of her car 좌석 when Edward's voice stopped me.
"Do 당신 mind if I carry her upstairs?" He asked, a look of such longing on his face that I neither could nor wanted to deny him.
He picked her up incredibly carefully, like he was afraid that he would break her. I walked ahead of him up the stairs and unlocked the door so he could continue into her room. I followed and watched as he gently removed her denim skirt, tights and 상단, 맨 위로 before he placed a 키스 on her forehead and put her down on the bed, pulling the covers up over her body.
I felt wave of complete happiness as I watched them.
When Bella had unbuckled Lily's 좌석 belt, I couldn't help but ask.
"Do 당신 mind if I carry her upstairs?"
I picked Lily up from her car seat, afraid to wake her. She shifted a little, her little arms winding around my neck, but her eyes remained closed. I carefully cradled her in my arms and followed Bella up the stairs to their apartment. Lily's little body was so warm in my arms; I never wanted to let her go.
I managed to remove her clothes without letting her go, and 스톨, 훔친 a quick 키스 before I put her down on the bed. When I had tucked her in, I turned around and found Bella leaning against the doorframe.
"I never get sick of watching her sleep." She noted quietly. "She's so relaxed; I doubt she'd notice an earthquake. Must be a kid thing."
We left the room and Bella closed the door quietly behind us.
"When she was little, I used to sit 의해 her 어린이 침대, 침대 and watch her sleep. I could sit there for hours." She reminisced, and I felt a sting of pain at having missed that. She looked up at me. "I'm sorry. I can't imagine what it must feel like to know that you've missed so much of her life. I didn't mean to rub it in like that."
"No, I want to know." I did, no matter how painful it might be. "I want to hear every story 당신 have to tell about her growing up."
"Well, she's still got quite a lot of growing to do." Bella pointed out.
"Yeah. I'm glad I get to be a part of that, at least."
"And, hey. I'll do 당신 one better." She smiled. "Next time we visit Charlie, I'll have him copy all the 집 영화 he's got. He bought a video camera before Lily was born, and he's filmed pretty much everything."
"Yeah?" It would be amazing to watch films of Lily, not just immobile photos.
"Of course. But I have to warn you; there is quite a lot of film of Lily doing absolutely nothing." She yawned, and I realized that it was getting late.
"I should go." I said reluctantly.
"It is kind of late." She agreed, glancing at her watch. The hopeful part of me noted that she didn't say that she actually wanted me to leave. My inner pessimist snickered at that.
"I was just thinking…" I said as we walked to the door. "You don't get off work until, what? Five?"
"Usually around that time, why?"
"Where does Lily go after school?"
"Well, we don't really have a routine down yet, but so far she's been going 집 with either Angela 또는 Donna, her best friend Catie's mom. Angela works from home, and Donna has afternoons off a couple of days a week." She frowned. "It's not an ideal solution, but…" She shrugged.
"I was thinking that maybe I could pick her up? I mean, only if it's OK with you, of course." I didn't want her to think that I was taking anything for granted. "I work from home, except for meetings with clients, but I can schedule that so it doesn't interfere. The jazz bar I play at doesn't open until nine, and it would be nice to get to spend 더 많이 time with her than just the odd weekend."
She contemplated this for a moment.
"I guess that would be OK." She finally said, and I let out a sigh of relief. "I know Lily would 사랑 it."
"You think so?"
She giggled at the uncertainty in my voice.
"Did 당신 see her today at the playground? She absolutely adores 당신 already."
She did? I felt a surge of contentment, and a smile spread automatically on my face. I was still getting used to not having to force myself to smile.
"So, yeah. That would be fine." She frowned a little. "I would like to check your place first, though. Make sure it's kid proofed. So maybe Tuesday?"
"That would be great." I was so relieved that she hadn't said no.
"I'll stop 의해 on my way from work tomorrow and make sure your place isn't a death trap 또는 anything." She smirked, so I knew she was being sarcastic. At least a little.
"Sure, I'll be there." I wasn't sure if she had my address, so I wrote it down on a piece of paper for her.
"See 당신 tomorrow."
Edward's apartment building wasn't hard to find. I passed a playground just two blocks away, and reminded myself to tell him to take Lily there if he ran out of ideas on how to keep her busy.
"Hey." He opened the door almost before I knocked. "Come on in."
He stepped back, and I walked into the apartment, curiosity getting the better of me. It wasn't anything like I had imagined it, remembering his room in Forks.
The walls were white and bare, the floor covered with carpets of an indeterminable color. The furniture, in black leather, steel and glass, felt impersonal and didn't suit him at all. The only personal thing seemed to be the 피아노 in the corner. I noticed that it was the one he used to have in Forks, and the memory of him playing for me flashed through my mind.
"I went to the store and got some stuff, but I wasn't really sure what I needed." He pointed to a Wal-Mart bag on the coffee table, and I peeked inside. Tot locks, outlet plugs, toilet lid-lock.
"Well, this is all great, but she's five." I laughed at his frown. "All 당신 really need to do is not keep knives and scissors where she can reach them. She knows not to play with them, but just in case. And matches, medicine bottles, detergents, stuff like that. And no funny magazines." I winked at him, and he blushed.
"No, of course not, I don't…"
"Relax. I'm kidding." I interrupted.
"You can take this stuff back. But I suggest getting a couple of games, maybe a movie 또는 two, some crayons and coloring books. Keeping a five-year-old occupied is actually 더 많이 difficult than it sounds."
"Sure, I'll do that." He nodded eagerly.
I looked around the room.
"I don't think she'll be able to do much damage here, really. 당신 should be fine."
"Great." He sounded relieved.
"But 당신 will need to get a booster seat." I frowned. "Though how you'll be able to get it into the backseat of the Camaro, I don't know."
"Don't worry; I'll take care of it."
"I should get going, Angela's waiting."
He grabbed the Wal-Mart bag off the table.
"I'll walk 당신 down, might as well go back with this stuff right away."
We left the apartment together and walked down the stairs.
"I'll pick her up as soon as I get off from work tomorrow." I assured him as I got in the car.
"That's OK, 당신 don't have to rush."
"Bye." I waved as I pulled out of the parking lot.
"Bye." She waved through the window as she drove away.
I stood looking after her until she disappeared around the corner, then I walked over to the Camaro.
I had to go back to Wal-Mart, return the baby-proofing stuff. I didn't know what I had been thinking when I had gotten them, but the lady in the store had showed me that part of the store when I had said that I needed to kid proof my apartment. I should have looked 더 많이 closely at the instructions before buying anything.
I went to the complaints and returns 책상, 데스크 and got my money back before heading into the store.
I browsed the kid's 영화 section, trying to figure out what Lily would like. Harry Potter, she wasn't old enough for that, right? I chose a couple of 영화 that seemed 더 많이 suitable for a five-year-old. Some crayons, three coloring 책 and a bunch of games later I headed towards the register. As I was about to pay, I remembered that I also needed to get a booster 좌석 for the car. I quickly left the line and went to the baby department, where I remembered having seen a variety of car seats earlier.
I found one that I hoped Lily would like; it was 담홍색, 핑크 and had 요정 on it. I checked the product details; three to ten years, that should do.
I carried everything back to the register, paid and left the store.
A few 분 later, I realized that Bella had been right about getting the car 좌석 into the back of the Camaro. There was just no way. And putting Lily in the front 좌석 was not an option.
Only one thing to do then, really.
I put the car 좌석 in the passenger 좌석 for the moment, stuffed the bag with the other things in the back and headed west.
I was a bit anxious on Tuesday afternoon. I knew that Lily would be perfectly fine with Edward, and she had been ecstatic when I had told her that he would be picking her up from school. I tried to convince myself that the nervous knot in my stomach had its origin in the fact that I hadn't left the two of them alone before. I was not about to admit to myself that it was really because I knew that I would see him in a couple of hours. Those thoughts could lead to no good.
I was out of the office mere 초 after five o'clock, rushing to my car. When I got to the lot behind Edward's building, I parked 다음 to a shiny, black Volvo. I noticed a 담홍색, 핑크 car 좌석 in the back; it was just the thing that Lily would love.
I hurried up the stairs and knocked on Edward's door. When it opened, I was momentarily unable to breathe. His hair was unkempt, and there was a big smile on his face. He looked so much like the Edward I remembered that it literally took my breath away.
"Hey, come on in."
I had to shake my head a little to get my mind to start working properly again before I was able to follow him into the apartment. I discovered Lily lying on her stomach on the living room floor, completely absorbed in a game of Chutes and Ladders.
"Hi, mommy. Can I finish playing?" She didn't even look up at me as she spoke.
Edward sat down opposite her on the floor, and I watched as they finished the game. I could tell that Edward was letting her win, "accidentally" landing on the wrong square and sliding back down the board. Lily didn't notice, of course, and was thrilled when her plastic Dora reached the last square first.
"I won, mommy!" She happily exclaimed, beaming up at me.
"That's great, baby. We have to get going now, though."
Two pairs of eyes, one green and one brown, but both as disappointed, looked up at me. I felt like the big, bad 늑대 eating Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother.
"Come on, kiddo." Edward got up, grabbed Lily 의해 the waist and carried her upside-down to the door. She shrieked with laughter.
"Can I come back tomorrow?" She asked when he had put her down, right-side up, on the floor. She looked up at me, a hopeful expression on her face.
"Of course, sweetie." I assured her. "I told 당신 that your dad would be picking 당신 up every 일 after school, didn't I?"
"Can I ride in the 담홍색, 핑크 car 좌석 again? In the Vovlo?" She beamed at Edward.
"Sure 당신 can, that's your 좌석 now." He told her, rumpling her hair with one hand.
I connected the words with the car I had seen in the lot.
"You got a new car?" I asked incredulously.
"The Camaro wouldn't work." He shrugged. "You were right about the car 좌석 not fitting in the back."
"So 당신 traded it in for a Volvo?" Hadn't he said that he wouldn't give his car up for anything?
"Of course not. I got the Volvo too."
"Oh. A 초 car."
He made it sound like it was no big deal. And maybe to him, it wasn't. How well did 글쓰기 jingles pay, anyway? Undoubtedly a lot better than my job did.
"OK, great. See 당신 tomorrow."
"Bye, daddy!" Lily waved.
When Lily had fallen asleep that night, I forced myself to pick up the phone and call Charlie. I had already talked to Renée, who had been skeptical but supportive of my choice of letting Edward be a part of Lily's life; I did not expect Charlie to be as reasonable.
"Hi, Sue, is my dad around somewhere?"
"Sure, hang on a minute. And happy birthday, sweetie."
It took Charlie only a moment to get to the phone. I could hear the TV on in the background; he was probably watching some game 또는 other.
"Hey, Bells. What's up?"
So not the 질문 I wanted.
"Quite a lot, actually." I fiddled with a magazine on the 표, 테이블 in front of me, pondering how to bring up the subject.
"Right, Lily's first week in school. How did it go? She's excited, I suppose." He chuckled a little. "I remember when 당신 started first grade; it was all 당신 could talk about for weeks."
"She really loves it." OK, might as well use the opening. "You'll never guess who her teacher is."
He was quiet so long that I started to wonder if he had hung up.
"Dad? 당신 still there?"
"What is she doing in Seattle?"
"She lives here." Obviously.
"Edward's here too." I bit my lip, waiting for Charlie's reaction to the news. He didn't disappoint me.
"Is he now?" His voice was suddenly icy. "I hope you're keeping him well away from my granddaughter."
"I don't want him anywhere near her after what he did to you!"
"That's not really your call, is it? And 당신 don't know everything that happened back then. It wasn't all his fault."
"That's what 당신 say." He muttered. "And I know enough; I know that he left 당신 broken hearted without any way of contacting him. Is that the kind of father 당신 want for Lily?"
I took a deep breath and decided to ignore that.
"Anyway, he's great with her. And she absolutely adores him."
He apparently didn't know what to say to that.
"I just wanted to fill 당신 in on the situation. I understand if 당신 feel like 당신 can't accept it, but you'll just have to deal with the fact that Edward's going to be a part of our lives from now on." And if he couldn't do that…
He contemplated that for a moment.
"I guess you're right, it's not my decision to make." He admitted. "But that doesn't mean that I have to like it!"
"All I ask is that you're civil to him when Lily's around."
"I can do that. And Bells? Please, be careful."
I got the impression that he wasn't talking about Lily any more.
On Thursday afternoon, Bella and Lily stayed for 공식 만찬, 저녁 식사 so that we could talk to Lily about what was happening that Saturday. Carlisle, Esme, Emmett and Rosalie were flying in to Sea-Tac at six the following day, and we would all be going to Alice and Jasper's for lunch on Saturday, which was when Bella and Lily would 가입하기 us.
Bella helped me get 공식 만찬, 저녁 식사 ready while Lily watched 텔레비전 in the living room.
"You seem comfortable in the kitchen." Bella noted after a while.
"You can't live with Esme for eighteen years and not pick something up." I shrugged.
She laughed at that.
"I guess that's true."
We continued to work in comfortable silence, moving around each other in the limited space. It felt completely natural, like we'd done it for years.
After dinner, we sat down on the 침상, 소파 in the living room. I let Bella lead the conversation.
"You know how grandpa Charlie and grandma Renée are my parents, Lily?" She started.
"Uh-huh." Lily nodded.
"Well, your dad's parents are your grandparents too." Bella continued.
"I have two grandpas and two grandmas?"
She was definitely quick-witted.
"That's right." Bella confirmed. "And they're coming to visit this weekend, along with your dad's brother, his wife and their little boy."
"I have a cousin?" An excited smile spread on her face. "Catie has a cousin. Can I play with him?"
Both Bella and I laughed at her enthusiasm.
"He's just a baby, so not right now. But maybe in a couple of years." I told her.
"I can't wait to tell Catie I have a cousin too!"
"Would 당신 like to meet them, your grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousin?" Bella wondered, and Lily nodded her head vigorously.
"Uh-huh, can I?"
I had been afraid that the prospect of meeting so many new people would overwhelm her, but she once again surprised me.
"Sure, honey. We'll see them on Saturday, OK?" Bella told her.
Lily seemed satisfied with this, because she turned her attention to the coloring book in front of her.
"That went well." I noted quietly, and Bella nodded.
Edward and I met our parents and Emmett and Rosalie at the airport; Jasper had to work late so he couldn't go with us. I was bursting to tell them about Lily, but we had agreed to wait until the 다음 day; and it had actually been my idea, so I'd better stick to it. I knew that mom would be thrilled, and dad wouldn't be able to not be excited once he met Lily. She would 덮개, 랩 all of them around her little finger in no time, just like she already had with the rest of us.
"Mom! Dad!" I called as I spotted them in the crowd, waving over my head to catch their attention. "Over here!"
They quickly made their way over and mom wrapped me in a tight hug.
"Oh, honey." She mumbled. "It's been too long."
"We were in New York five weeks ago, mom." I pointed out, carefully slipping out of her embrace to hug dad. "Hi, dad."
"Exactly. Way too long!" Mom moved to Edward, who willingly returned her hug.
"Hey there, kiddos, how's it hanging?" Emmett enveloped me in one of his bone breaking hugs, lifting me at least a foot off the ground, and I had to struggle to breath.
"Pretty good, bro." Edward replied in my place, causing everyone to raise their eyebrows at him. It had been a long time since they had heard Edward sound so… happy, that was the word I was looking for.
"Rose!" I hugged her tightly, while making sure not to jostle the baby in her arms. "Oh, he's gotten so big!"
"The kid grows like weeds." Emmett noted. "He'll be chasing girls in no time."
"Oh no, not for a long time." Rosalie objected, nuzzling Noah's hair. "He'll be my little boy for a while still."
"Come on, let's get out of here." Edward said, slapping Emmett on the back. The two of them, along with dad, headed off towards the exit with the two luggage carts. Me, mom, Rosalie and the baby brought up the rear.
"Edward seems 더 많이 cheerful than usual." Rosalie noted quietly.
"I haven't seen him like this in years." Mom added.
"I know." I had, of course, noted the rise in my brother's mood in the past week. Of course, Lily was responsible for a lot of that, but I thought there was another reason too… 또는 at least I hoped so. "I think he's finally coming out of the gloom."
"He hasn't met someone, has he?" Mom asked optimistically.
"Oh, I hope so." I said, smiling.
To say that I was fidgeting in my 좌석 during lunch that Saturday would have been an enormous understatement. The closer we got to Bella and Lily arriving, the 더 많이 nervous I got. 더 많이 than once, Alice kicked my shins under the 표, 테이블 to try to get me to stay still. It didn't work, of course, but I was sure to have a couple of nice bruises as a result.
When Alice started clearing the table, she gave me a pointed look, and I grabbed a few plates and followed her into the kitchen.
"Will 당신 cut it out!" She hissed as soon as we were out of earshot. "They're going to think you've developed adult ADD 또는 something."
"I'm nervous." I hissed back.
"Oh, come on. It'll be fine." She surveyed me briefly. "Do I need to slap you?"
"I'm fine." I replied dryly.
"You're clearly not fine, but whatever." She started 로딩 the dishwasher. "Why don't 당신 text Bella, let her know that the coast is clear?"
"OK." I pulled my cell from my pocket and quickly sent Bella a text message. A moment later, my phone chirped.
OK, we're on our way
"They're on their way."
"OK. Now 당신 go back out there and try to convince our poor parents that you're not insane!" She gave me a push in the direction of the family room, and I grudgingly did as she told me.
Esme did give me a curious look when I reentered the room, and I tried to smile at her in a comforting way. I probably failed, because she frowned, looking even 더 많이 concerned.
When Alice returned from the kitchen, we relocated to the couch. The girls fussed over the baby, while Emmett and Jasper started discussing the latest football game. I tried to pay attention, but every few seconds, my eyes darted to the hallway.
Ten 분 later, I got another text message.
I shot Alice a look, and she nodded, getting up from the couch. We had agreed that Bella should come in first, and Alice was going to wait outside with Lily in the meantime.
"Where are 당신 going?" Esme wondered when she spotted Alice on her way out of the room.
"I'll just be a minute, mom."
Alice left the apartment, and a moment later, there was a timid knock on the door. I got up to answer it.
"We asked a friend over, I hope that's OK." I heard Jasper say behind me. I shot a glance over my shoulder and saw Esme and Carlisle's confused faces.
Bella looked about as nervous as I felt when I opened the door for her – and that was saying something.
"Hey." She mumbled, glancing down the hallway in the direction of the living room as if she was looking at a lion's den.
"Hey." I replied. I wanted to reach out and smooth the worried crease between her eyebrows, but controlled myself.
"Might as well just get this over with, right?" She said, trying to sound 메리다와 마법의 숲 and failing miserably.
"Come on." I placed my hand on the small of her back to lead her into the living room, allowing myself that small amount of physical contact. The ever present electrical current between us almost stung my hand, but I didn't shy away from the warmth of her skin that I could feel through the fabric of her shirt.
"…not sure what he's…" Esme was saying, but cut herself off when she spotted Bella. "Bella?"
"Hi, Esme." Bella offered her a small smile. "Carlisle, Emmett, Rosalie."
"Oh, I've missed you, sweetheart." Esme was on her feet and pulling Bella into a tight hug in an instant.