Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 19

"You swear you're not moving away?" Kevin begged on the phone.
I sighed, rolling my eyes, but still smiling. "I promise, Kev. Edward just wants to take a break and think about what he really wants to do…"
"Yeah, but," he cut me off, "I know you guys move a lot, and I know that you're Americans, like me. I just don't want to come over and you suddenly not be there…"
"Kevin, if we move, you'll be the first to know. How's that?"
"It'll have to do," he sighed dramatically into the phone, but I could tell that he was placated for the moment. "Where are you going?"
"I just picked up my car from the shop, and now I'm headed to the hospital. It's his last day, and one of the little boys that Edward's been working with is finally going home," I said, unable to keep the smile from my face as I thought about Toby.
"Is that the one that has cancer?"
"Had cancer," I beamed proudly. "He's all clear now."
"Way to go, Hot Doc!" my friend cheered in my ear. I could hear him turn up the stereo and start to dance around.
I pulled the Volvo into the hospital's garage, parking next to Emmett's Jeep. I got out, opened the trunk, and grabbed Toby's gift. "Kev, sweetie, I gotta go. I'll call you later."
"Speaking of leaving…just where the hell did you and Dr. Heavy Equipment disappear to the other night?" His voice was amused and accusatory; I couldn't help but laugh.
"Just for a walk. I needed air," I said smoothly, laughing again at Kevin's snort.
"Fine, whatever," he sang dramatically. "With arms like his, he totally took you in that alley…"
"I'm hanging up now, Kev…Buh-bye," I cracked up, ending the call.
I closed the trunk, turning around to face Jasper, who had suddenly appeared. "It wasn't the alley," he clarified, grinning and shaking his head.
"Shut it," I laughed, rolling my eyes. "Is he bouncing off the walls?"
"Toby is currently using Emmett as his battle horse. He's fighting off nurses like they're fire breathing dragons," Jasper chuckled, holding out his arm for me.
"Some of those nurses are fire breathing dragons," I countered. "I will miss Helen, though."
"Helen's great," he laughed, calling the elevator. "She's practically forcing a going away party on Edward."
"Good for her," I answered curtly as we stepped onto the elevator. "She was my best defense against Brooke and Eden."
"Oh, Eden…" Jasper shook his head sadly. "She's a mess. She's trying to negotiate information out of Edward about where he's going. She could be a potential stalker."
"She's not a stalker," I snorted, rolling my eyes. "She's just crushing on my man. Out of sight. Out of mind," I beamed. "Brooke, on the other hand, is a different story."
"She's fighting a wide range of emotions today," my brother agreed, guiding me down the corridor. "One is embarrassment. The other is sadness. However, Alice sees them moving on shortly. Brothers or some nonsense."
"Brilliant!" I grinned, turning the corner to see that what Jasper had said was entirely true.
Toby was on Emmett's back, using an empty wrapping paper tube as his sword, a food tray as his shield, but it was the Spiderman slippers that just completed the whole outfit. He had two other children fighting against him. It was hilarious. But it all came to a screeching halt when he saw me.
"Miss Bella!" Toby yelled, scaring a few nurses as he jumped from Emmett's back and bolted down the hallway. He slid to a stop in front of me, bowing low and saying, "Princess Bella has returned to the castle. The war is officially over."
"That is totally a Dr. Masen thing," I chuckled, scooping him up. "You don't fool me, mister."
"Yeah, it was." Toby blushed, hugging me tightly. "He said I could fight off the enemy until the princess returned," he explained, grinning.
I heard Edward's deep chuckle from the nurse's station. He was leaning against it, watching the whole thing. "You weren't supposed to tell her," he growled dramatically, rolling his eyes.
"She guessed it," Toby countered, holding his hands out like it was inevitable. "What defense do I have to her guessing the truth? Gosh, you didn't tell me that part!"
Edward started to argue, but I stopped him. "Really? You really want to debate this? He's nine!" I laughed, shaking my head.
"Right, I'm nine!" Toby grinned cheesily at his doctor, who was beyond amused. "My mum says I have a few more years where I can use age as my excuse!"
"Don't believe it," I said, turning and walking away with Toby still in my arms. "Dr. Masen still uses his age as an excuse for a great many things."
I heard Edward and Jasper snort into laughter as I walked away.
I walked up to Alice, who reached to tickle Toby with a grin.
The night we found out about mine and Edward's connection, she had said things she didn't mean. One was that she didn't care about Toby. She had been upset, which we had completely understood. Her love for me and Edward obviously trumped the little human boy in my arms, but she wouldn't have wanted to miss what we were about to give him, because we had worked on it together. And he was the sweetest of boys. The fact that he meant something special to Edward just made him all the more precious to us.
"You ready?" I asked her, smiling at her exuberant nod.
"Hey, Toby," I said, setting him on his feet. "Miss Alice and I have something for you. It's a going home present."
"Okay!" He smiled, taking each of our hands in his and tugging us into the playroom.
My family, Edward, Helen, and Toby's parents all joined us, sitting in various places around the room. Toby went to the table and slid into a chair.
"Here, pal," Emmett chuckled, setting a baseball cap on his little bald head. It was an X-men cap. "You left that in the hall."
"Thanks," he giggled, turning it backwards just like Emmett wore his most of the time.
"Gawd, I love that kid," Rose snorted, loud enough that only we were able to hear her, shaking her head.
"Okay, Tobias, focus," his mother smirked. "Miss Bella is trying to give you something."
"Oh, sorry," he said, reaching for the bag.
"Listen," I whispered. "I know school will be a big deal, and I know you'll be nervous, but you'll do just fine, okay?" He nodded, and I went on. "Since I can't come tell you stories, I thought you might like to have them to read for yourself."
He pulled out a book that held all the stories that I had told him since Edward had started at the hospital at the beginning of the summer. With Alice's illustrations and my words, he had an entire book of original stories. And the only copy.
"Brilliant!" He grinned, flipping through the pages. "Is the knights and dragons in here?"
"Yes," I chuckled.
"And Jake, the wolf?"
"What about the lion and the lamb?"
"Of course."
"What about the caterpillar and the butterfly…you know, the one where the caterpillar goes off to find out what he really is, and when he comes back as a butterfly, looking for his girl…he helps her become a butterfly, too."
"It's in there," I laughed, turning slightly as I heard Edward's breath catch. Apparently he had missed that story. Yes, Edward…that one is about you. I gave him a quick smile, turning back to Toby.
"They're all there," Alice giggled, opening the page to the story about the lion and the lamb.
Her artwork was stunning. Each sketch or painting was better than the last, but the lion and the lamb was my favorite – so much so, that I scanned it into my computer and used it as a wallpaper background. I'd even debated on whether to frame it or not.
The lion was large, lying in tall grasses with trees behind him. His large paw was draped protectively over the tiniest of fluffy lambs. The lion's mane was dark, but with her colored pencils, Alice added just the hint of bronze to it. His tawny eyes were solely focused, lovingly and beautifully, on the lamb by his side. The lamb was curled to him, a sweet smile just barely gracing her features as she met the gaze of the giant cat.
It was perfect in every sense.
"I really love that," I muttered just to Alice, shaking my head and turning back to Toby. "They're all yours, buddy."
"Well, thank them, Tobias," his father laughed.
"Thank you, Miss Alice." He smiled so sweetly, hugging her. "Thanks, Miss Bella," he said, crawling up into my lap, still looking through his book.
"Okay, now," Helen said with a smile, clapping her hands like Alice, "time for cake. Come on, Edward…you can't leave and not tell everyone goodbye."
I chuckled against Toby's head, watching my husband squirm. He looked embarrassed and uncomfortable, but amused and humble, too.
"Come on, you two. Don't let me suffer alone," he pleaded, kissing my head.
"Oh, I wanna read," Toby said, frowning. "Just a few minutes, and I promise, we'll come straight away."
"Don't you want cake, Tobias?" his mother asked.
"Yes, please, but in a minute," he said, barely looking up from the book and making no move to get up from my lap as everyone left the playroom.
As the little boy on my lap flipped slowly through his book, the enormity of his little fragile life hit me hard. I hoped he had everything he wished for. I hoped he stayed healthy, grew up strong, fell in love with a sweet, loving girl, and had a beautiful family. I hoped he found something he really wanted to do, and did it with love and honor.
I hoped he never lost the bright, curious, happy demeanor that he carried with him. I prayed to God and all that was above that he never grew callous to life, because his open, loving nature was the best part of…just Toby.
"Miss Bella?" he whispered, pointing to the book. "Will you read this one for me?"
He was pointing to the one about the butterfly and caterpillar. I nodded, reading him the story about a disillusioned caterpillar. Frederick hated what he was, thinking he was a foul creature, no matter how many times his girlfriend, Hanna, told him different.
In order to prove to himself, Hanna, and the world that he could be better, be something, he went off on his own. Hanna had been heartbroken, missing him completely and worrying that something would happen to her Frederick.
When Frederick kept eating and eating, never satisified, he finally took a nap, waking up as a beautiful butterfly with brilliant colors. His first thought when he awoke was of his Hanna. He went home to her, finding her sad, lonely. He taught her what to do to join him in the skies, how easy it was to kiss the flowers.
Alice had drawn Frederick and Hanna adorably as caterpillers, using a bright green as their color and making them round and sweet, but the couple as butterflies was beautiful. They had golden wings and happy faces, laughing together as they landed on wildflowers.
"Little man, they're eating cake without you," Emmett boomed from the doorway just as I finished the story. "Come on, they've got punch, too."
I turned Toby around, placing kisses all over his face. "Go get your cake, silly," I growled, tickling him relentlessly.
He squealed, wriggling down off of my lap to run to Emmett and dragging him off. I watched him laugh as my brother set him up on his shoulder, feeling the sense of loss from my shield almost immediately. Saying goodbye to Imelda or Wendy or even Angela had been one feeling. This was something different.
I wanted more for Toby – I wanted him to live. Really live. He had looked death in the face and beaten it, so I wanted him to take life and wring everything he could out of it.
Never before had my immortal life stretched out before me until Toby. To consider forever with Edward was a given, a comfort, but to think that the little boy that had come to mean so much to us would grow up, marry, have children, and die was a little overwhelming.
I walked over to the window, watching a rainy, slushy day play out below. I pressed my forehead to the glass, my eyes locking onto a couple walking under the awning to avoid the rain.
I felt Edward's presence before I smelled him.
"I'm fine, Edward." I smiled at his reflection in the glass.
"It's me that needs saving," he smirked back at me. "I just narrowly escaped having to eat cake, which, I might add, I haven't done since our wedding." I turned with a snicker, looking up into his sweet face, which grew pretty serious. "I felt those same things when I met you. I wanted you to have so much."
"I have everything," I countered, leaning back against the window.
He smiled, nodded, and tilted his head at me. "Why would you want those things for him, when you never wanted them for yourself?"
"Because my path was different." I smiled, reaching up to his tie and tugging him closer. "My path was your path. I wanted those things for me, but they had to have you included, so…" I smiled again, leaning up on my toes and kissing his chin. "So some things needed…hmm, altering."
"And these…alterations are not small."
"I know. They're huge and wonderful. They come wrapped in strong arms and the best hug in the world. And I don't regret a single change." I wrapped my arms around his waist, burrowing my face into his neck. "Nothing in my life, no matter how great or small, would've been worth a damn if I didn't have you, Edward," I sighed deeply, closing my eyes in pure comfort as his arms wrapped around me.
"I couldn't have said it better," he said softly in my ear. "Will you be okay about letting him go?"
"Yes," I said firmly, pulling back. "Oh, I'll miss him. He's all kinds of fun and sweet and the essence of unconditional love, but he has fantastic parents, who love him so much. And thanks to you, he's healthy." Edward leaned in, placing his lips to my forehead and leaving them there. "I can let him go. Maybe he'll remember us for a little while, huh?"
"I'm sure." He smiled against my brow and pulled back. "He thinks you're the prettiest lady he's ever seen, so I'm sure that he'll grow up to like brunettes," he teased, linking our fingers together.
"Nice," I said wryly. "Just for that, I should make you eat cake."
Well after Toby had checked out and gone home with his parents, I found myself packing up Edward's office. An emergency had called him downstairs, so I thought I would give him a hand.
It was quiet work, but something so marital that I couldn't describe it. I had two boxes of pictures; one being Esme's, and the other, Edward's. They had each added to the small office d├ęcor.
"Is he all packed up?" Carlisle asked from the doorway. He was wearing a white coat over a light blue button down, with a matching tie.
"Just about," I answered with a nod, slipping Edward's personal laptop into its bag. "He'll need to go through a few things, but he's ready to go."
I looked around the room, finding a guitar pick here and a small stack of music notations there, and I set them inside one of the boxes. I snorted at how out of place those particular items would be for someone other than Edward. If you didn't truly know him, you wouldn't understand that music flowed through his entire being, running just under the surface of whatever else he was thinking at the time. It was a part of him that would probably always have to be written down, tried out on the piano, or hummed to me in the dark of night.
"Are you disappointed?" I asked, turning to see Carlisle musing over the soon to be empty little office.
"Never," he said with a small smile. "I could never be disappointed in my son. He may not have wanted our life, but he tried his damnedest to never fail. As you know, he can be quite…tenacious."
I giggled. "Oh, you think?"
"Right," he laughed, nodding. "I suppose you and I have seen it the most, huh?"
I smiled warmly at my other father. Charlie was my dad, but Carlisle had turned into my sounding board, and we had no secrets. "I suppose that's true."
"I have gotten to work with my son, side by side, three times now." Carlisle smiled widely. "This last time was a bonus. The time before, I thought for sure that he would never give medicine another shot."
"He may again," I said, shrugging, not really sure. "If we can figure out this…thing between us, then maybe…"
"About that," he said, pushing away from the doorframe and walking to me. He set his hands gently on my shoulders. "When Marcus returns, I would like just the four of us to talk. I've been doing my own research…and reading more of that book. Can you make time for us?"
"Sure, yeah," I agreed. "Tell me it's something good. Tell me that my change…like reset our connection clock or something."
"Ah." He grinned, nodding. "We are on the same page. Excellent!"
"Really?" I laughed. "I was kidding, you know."
"I know, but I don't think you're far off."
"Okay, we'll come over when Marcus gets back."
"No, we'll come to you. Let's keep the emotional folks that are our crazy family out of this until we know more, okay?"
"Sure, sure," I chuckled, narrowing my eyes in a tease. "I'll be sure to tell Esme you called her crazy."
"Let's not go too far," he mumbled, smiling when I laughed and hugged him. He pulled back and said, "Come, Bells. I'll help you carry his things to your car."
By the time we got down to the garage and locked the boxes in the trunk, Carlisle's pager went off. He kissed my temple and ran back to work.
My siblings had left already, stating that they'd meet us at our house later. I was waiting for Edward to finish his last day. I walked back to the pediatric ward, smiling as Helen and Eden blew up balloons and wrapped a present for him.
We all turned when we heard Brooke's voice. "I don't have time, Dr. Masen. I have to clean the nursery." She sounded almost angry, but the tremble in her voice told me differently.
I winced at the frustrated hand that my husband ran through his hair before he went back into a patient's room. He so wanted to make right his show of temper to Brooke. She just wouldn't let him.
I locked eyes with Helen, who looked rather pissed, but Eden winced with understanding.
"She…" Eden started, but paused to tie a balloon. "I know he's your husband, but she really liked him. And she's a little…shocked he kinda found out…"
"Alcohol is a deadly truth serum," I chuckled, shaking my head.
"And hyper friends," Eden said with a grin. "It's my fault we were so loud."
"Don't make excuses for his temper," I smirked, raising my eyebrow at the two giggling ladies. "Just because he was having a bad day didn't give him the right to get testy."
With that said, I turned to follow Brooke into the nursery. I watched as she cleaned quietly, setting infants into prams in order to change the linens of the cribs. She worked efficiently and quickly, the little ones hardly having a chance to get upset that they'd been disturbed.
Brooke caught sight of me and stopped. "I think Dr. Masen is almost finished with his rounds." Her voice was barely above a whisper, and she could hardly meet my gaze. It looked like she was barely keeping her emotions under control.
"I know," I said quietly, walking to a squirming little girl and letting her squeeze my finger. "It's okay that you're mad at him. He's not perfect," I chuckled, glancing up from the little one to look at her.
She was leaning on a crib, watching me, but tears welled up. "He told you?" she asked, her brow furrowing. I nodded, but waited for her to continue. "And you're not…disgusted with me?"
"Ah, no," I answered, shaking my head. "You are neither the first, nor the last of many crushes on him. Many hearts break at the sight of him. I should know, but he, on the other hand, can be very…obtuse."
She smirked, folded her arms across her chest, and said, "He tried to ignore us." She snorted to herself, but went on. "I didn't want him to know…it's embarrassing. I see how he looks at you, and I knew that nothing could come of it. I just felt exposed."
"But he shouldn't have snapped," I stated, waving my hand. "He only wants to apologize. And he should; he needs to own his mistakes. Like I said, he's not perfect."
"You'd think he was, what with the way no nurse on this floor can stop herself from ogling him," she chuckled.
"Well, he's not," I promised. "He may look the ideal, but he gets just as frustrated as you or me. He can't seem to find the laundry basket when he takes off his socks. He's too intense sometimes, and not silly enough other times. He's very smart, but insists on cheating at board games and card games, except for Monopoly, which he has this annoying ability to stomp anyone into the ground. And he's determined to drive everywhere we go."
She laughed, nodding in understanding. "My brother couldn't find the laundry basket either. Is that a guy thing?"
"Most likely," I snickered with a shrug. "But it's those things that make him special to me, because only I see it…and clean up after it." I said the last thing in a wry voice that made her chuckle again.
"I'm sorry." She smiled sadly. "It must get old…"
"You would think so, but nevertheless…you should accept his apology. You deserve it. And I'm sure he'd like to make it right before he leaves."
"Okay," she sighed with a smile, nodding slightly. "He's an amazing doctor. We'll miss him around here. The nurses and the kids adore him, but I'm not sure he's taken seriously by the other doctors."
"Well, he wants to rethink a few things." I smiled, stopping her when she reached for the little girl. "Let me."
I scooped up the little one, placing kisses to her fingers that reached for my face. I set her down in the clean crib, smoothing her hair away from her brow. She gazed up at me with bright blue eyes, little dimples marring her sweet, chubby cheeks when she smiled.
When we left the nursery, Brooke gave me a nod. "I used to think you were the lucky one."
"I am," I laughed.
"No, he is."
Something unbelievably nostalgic hit me as Edward slid gracefully into the driver's side of the Volvo. Even though it was on the opposite side of the original, the feeling was still the same.
He said he wanted to test drive it to make sure that Rose had done the upgrades like he'd asked. But that was after he inspected the new hood with the funniest of wry smiles on his face. Even I had laughed at how shameless his face looked.
"I can do it again, you know," I teased, pointing to the hood.
"Anytime," he challenged with a low growl, his eyes growing dark. "That was…something." He grinned a sexy smile.
He made a submissive look amazing, beyond erotic. All that raw power, strength, intelligence had been at my command, at my fingertips. It was enough to make a girl purr with want and ego and desire. Who knew my husband liked to be told what to do?
"Only by you, sweet girl." He laughed softly almost to himself, licking his bottom lip before opening my door.
Now, as we drove through the streets of London, I couldn't help but watch him drive, occasionally looking around the car. It wasn't the same, but it…was. It was strange.
Flashes of memories in Edward's original Volvo flickered through my mind like a photo slide show. The silver car flying up just in time in Port Angeles. The reason I breathed leaning against it in Charlie's driveway the first day he took me to school – the very day I knew I was completely in love with him. Seeing it again after two years as it sat innocently in the Cullen house garage. Pressing Edward against it as I took him in my mouth somewhere in the middle of the woods on the side of the road.
We attended three years of Dartmouth, driving that car just about every day. It was the summer before our senior year at college when that special car met its demise.
"I'm glad you like the car, Bella," Edward said, his smile soft and sweet as he looked over at me.
"It's not the car…it's what it represents," I sighed happily, taking his hand in mine. "I suppose the Volvo is like the piano…it's just...us."
He simply nodded, bringing the back of my hand to his lips. "I love that you love me in every symbol of us," he muttered softly.
We drove in our usual comfortable silence the rest of the way home, pulling in to see a full driveway and hear music already blaring.
I chuckled, took a deep sigh, and looked over at his amused face. "I'm so singing this weekend, aren't I?"
"Indeed, Mrs. Masen," he laughed, leaning over to kiss my cheek. "And I can't wait, baby."
"Oh, God, I don't want to do this," I whined, my head falling back to the headrest.
"You lost a bet," Alice giggled, poking my leg with her finger as she parked her car in the pub's parking lot. "You can't take it back."
"I know," I groaned, squeezing my eyes closed.
"Besides, the boys are taking sympathy on you." Her eyes were closed, a clear sign that she was seeing something. "They're going to let you go last."
"'Kay," I sighed, looking over at her. "It doesn't make it any easier. I just don't like the attention."
"Oh," she pouted, looking like a lost puppy. It really was an unfair tactic on her part, but she used it relentlessly, because there wasn't a soul that could resist that face. "Edward wants this so badly."
"Don't…don't do that," I growled, pointing an accusatory finger at her. "I know he does. And I plan on doing it, but I don't have to like it." We were quiet for a moment, but I turned back to her. "Is it weird that we're singing country? I mean, we're in England…"
"No," she laughed, her head falling back. "Music is music. And that song fits you two – words and harmony. There is more to England than the Beatles."
"'Kay," I muttered again, taking a deep breath and finally opening my door.
We both walked towards the club, but Alice turned to me with a sweet smile. "The boys are waiting for you backstage. Another band cancelled, so you guys are it tonight."
"Fan-fucking-tastic," I muttered to myself, pulling the door open and heading to the side of the stage.
"Oh, thank God," Kevin gushed, rushing to me, but stopping mid-stride. "You look fabulous," he beamed, gesturing for me to turn around, and with an eye roll, I did.
I was wearing whatever configuration of clothes that Alice had stuffed me in. It was a tight, black skirt, knee-high black leather boots, and a black, see-through lace, long-sleeved shirt over a red camisole.
"Anyway," he sighed, immediately sinking back into his panic, "Mr. Mountain-of-Sexy is driving me crazy. He won't let me sing what we planned. He keeps telling me that I have to sing Unskinny Bop." His nose wrinkled, as if that was the most disturbing news. Ever.
I couldn't help it. The laugh exploded from me. "And you believed him?" I gasped, my hand over my mouth. "Oh, Kev, watch and learn…"
I took him by the hand and tugged him further backstage, where I could hear my brothers and Edward laughing at Kevin's anxiety.
As I stepped in front of them, their faces morphed from amusement to shock as they all gasped. "Whoa!"
Edward's shameless self stood up, his mouth hanging open as his eyes drank every inch of me in.
"That's what I said," Kevin chuckled. "Wait…that's not I brought you back here for."
"Bella…" Edward started, his voice husky. I didn't need to read minds to tell what his darkening eyes meant.
"You," I laughed, pointing to my husband, "just hold that thought." I turned my attention to my brothers. "Why did the song list change?"
"No…well," Emmett mumbled, looking down at his sneakers. "We were…I mean…"
"We just thought Kev could do a better job with a Poison song," Jasper muttered, his eyes darting everywhere but my face.
"Oh, no," I said, shaking my head. "He sings what he wants, or this whole night is off and the bet is even."
"No, no, no," Edward pleaded, waving his hands and stepping between me and our brothers. "Damn, you look…"
"Focus, Heavy E." Kevin barked a laugh. I turned to my friend with a raised eyebrow. "What? He's not a doc anymore…Heavy E…you know, Heavy Equipment."
I snorted, turning back to Edward, who was running a hand through his hair. "Bella, they were teasing him. The list stays. Everything we practiced, please?"
I leaned past him to look at the other two. "Yeah, yeah," they said in unison, nodding frantically.
"How did you do that?" Kevin asked, his eyebrows high.
"Because, they know," I growled, pointing around Edward to my brothers, "that I will bring their wives back here quicker than shit to keep them honest."
Kevin hid his grin from them as I winked his way.
"That, and she's scary as hell when she's pissed," Emmett whispered.
I laughed, shaking my head. "I can be," I sighed dramatically. "Only when the situation warrants a firm hand."
Kevin was the only one that missed the low, sultry growl that erupted from Edward. I turned, opening my mind. You, Mr. Insatiable, need to put a lid on that. I can't do this if you're kicking lust up everywhere. Please? I'm doing this for you – not because I'm a big fan of being in front of humans.
"Eddie, please?" Jasper whispered, sending a calm wave over the whole room.
Even Kevin sighed with relief from behind me where he had his headphones plugged in his ears.
Edward closed his eyes for a moment, his fists clenched at his sides. When he finally opened them again, they were the warm honey that I loved. He smirked, shaking his head and shrugging. "You look amazing, sweet girl."
"Thank you," I chuckled, looking up at his now calm face. "I'm nervous, though."
"Don't be." He smiled, cupping my face as I sat on a guitar amp. "You'll do fine. We were going to ask if you wanted to go first or last. Lady's choice."
My first instinct was to go first, to get it over with quickly, but me singing with Edward was big deal to him, so there was a chance we would be overwhelmed emotionally. The song we were singing had words that hit close to home.
"Last," I murmured, biting my lip. "Where do you want me until then?"
"Right next to me, baby." He grinned, practically lighting up the room with happiness.
They all chuckled at him, getting wrapped up in his feelings of almost childlike joy.
A few minutes later, I found myself being led out on stage. The best part of that were the stage lights; they totally obscured some of the staring, drinking humans.
"I'm 'piano man' all night," Edward whispered in my ear with a sweet chuckle. "So do you want to sit on the bench with me or on top?"
"I don't care, Edward," I whined with a giggle. "Can I just get this over with?"
He laughed, gripping my waist and setting me on the top of the black grand piano. He handed my mic to me, saying, "You don't need that until our song—" he grinned happily, "—but when you're ready, flip this switch." He pointed to the power switch on the side, and I nodded.
He started to walk to the bench, but turned to me again, ignoring the audience. "I love you, and you'll be perfect."
I smiled, in spite of my nerves.
Kevin's song was first, and he looked adorable. He'd ripped up an old tank top, spiking up his short, light brown locks with touches of blue hairspray. He wore faded jeans and heavy, black boots.
He had told me it took him days to find the right song, since he'd avoided most of the rock from the eighties like the plague. But the song he found not only fit him and his feelings about me and my family, but it fit my favorite little rock group to a tee.
He'd picked Honestly by Stryper. The lead singer's voice was similar to Kevin's, and Edward liked the piano in it. My brothers just liked the fact that it was a "power ballad," to quote Emmett.
For this song, Edward had to use both keyboards and the piano, starting with the former and continuing with the latter. Kevin's soulful, powerful voice started softly.
I believe in you
Do you trust in me?
I will stand by you
I will stand beside you faithfully
And through the years
I will be a friend for always and forever
My boys sounded amazing, as Jasper and Emmett began a heavy beat, heavy notes, making Kevin grin in spite of himself.
Call on me and I'll be there for you
I'm a friend who always will be true
And I love you can't you see
That I can say I love you honestly
When they harmonized, it was just plain perfect. Edward's eyes focused on me, then switched back to Kevin to make sure he was keeping the same rhythm, so that he could do the keyboard solo.
Call on me and I will be there for you
I'm a friend who will always be true
And I love you can't you see
That I love you honestly
I will never betray your trust in me
And I love you can't you see
That I can say I love you
When they harmonized for the last time, they held the note longer than the original song, making the club whistle and cheer, and finally ending again with Kevin's sweet, smooth voice.
The place erupted in loud applause, led by two crowded tables pushed together. I couldn't believe they'd all come, but they were crowded there and happy about it. Not only were Alice and Rose the main whistlers in the crowd, but next to them sat Gannon and Spence. On the other side of my sisters were Carlisle and Esme. Marcus, Demitri, and Carina were back from their trip just in time to see this whole thing.
Marcus, who had never watched us before, was in awe but amused. I'm sure he wondered how a bunch of vampires played in front of a human audience, but from the look on his face, he was impressed.
"Bella, baby, sit with me now," Edward said, patting the seat next to him.
I hopped down from the top of the piano and slid in beside him. I smiled up at him. This…this I was used to. I could sit for hours as he played and sang for me. I relaxed next to him as he began the next song. Never Say Never by The Fray.
Jasper was singing this time, but very faintly could I hear Edward singing the words with him. It was the second verse that I heard directly in my ear, making me want to lean into him, but very aware that we were the center of attention.
Picture, you're the queen of everything
As far as the eye can see
Under your command
I will be your guardian
When all is crumbling
To steady your hand
You can never say never
While we don't know when
Time, time, time again
Younger now than we were before
Don't let me go
Don't let me go
Don't let me go
I ignored the claps and whistles this time, looking up at my husband for courage. He smiled, whispering, "For me, baby? I know you'll be fine. Please?"
I giggled, shaking my head at him. Just before I flipped the switch on my mic, I turned to him. "I'm going to get into a lot of trouble one day with that 'please.'"
"Go on, my beautiful love," he laughed unabashedly. "Sing with me, Isabella."
With a deep breath, and a desire to kiss him so badly that I practically ached, I stood up to walk in front of the piano. I locked eyes with Edward and nodded.
He started the pre-recorded strings on one of his keyboards, turned to the piano, and gave me a sweet smile before starting No Place That Far by Sara Evans and Vince Gill.
The words were hard to sing at first, and I couldn't look at him when I started. I closed my eyes and turned to the audience instead.
I can't imagine, any greater fear
Then waking up, without you here,
And though the sun, would still shine on,
My whole world, would all be gone,
But not for long,
Emmett and Jasper started just before the chorus, Jasper using a slide on his guitar. But as Edward's and my voices melted together, creating a tone that was just beautiful, I had to smile and look at him. He shot me a wink.
If I had to run, if I had to crawl
If I had to swim a hundred rivers, just to climb a thousand walls,
Always know that I would find a way, to get to where you are,
There's no place that far
I couldn't help but walk behind him, pressing my body to his back as he played, because this verse meant a lot to me – because I needed him more than this simple song could begin to express.
It wouldn't matter why we're apart,
Lonely minds or two stubborn hearts
Nothing short of God above
Could turn me away from your love
I need you that much
If I had to run, if I had to crawl
If I had to swim a hundred rivers, just to climb a thousand walls,
Always know that I would find a way, to get to where you are,
There's no place that far
Baby there's no place that far
The place erupted, louder than before, led again by the two full tables at the front. As the curtain fell down, I squealed as Edward picked me up and swung me around.
"Excellent job, baby!" he exclaimed, kissing my face all over.
"Nice," Jasper chuckled when Edward set me down. He wrapped an arm around my shoulders. "We've got a new lead singer."
"Oh no," I snorted, backing away from them with my hands raised, but I ran smack into Kevin and Emmett.
"Watch this," Kevin laughed, pulling open the curtain and raising my hand in the air. The crowd went crazy, and he shut the curtain again.
"Come on," Emmett boomed, gripping my hand. "This is the best part."
I groaned, knowing he was talking about the walk from backstage to the family table. I braced myself for the attention, and I wasn't disappointed. The place was loud, people reaching out to us, but both Emmett and Edward kept a hand on me as we made our way to the table.
"Holy crap!" Alice gushed, wrapping me in a hug.
"You guys sounded awesome!" she and Rose blurted out at the same time.
"That was beautiful, little one." Esme smiled, cupping my face. "You two should do that more often."
"Oh, I don't know if I could do that on a regular basis." I shook my head, looking up at Edward as he sat on a stool and pulled me between his legs. "At home, yeah. But this was…overwhelming."
"Well, at least the boys aren't turning you into a ham," Carlisle teased.
"Give us time," Emmett laughed, popping his collar. "She'll be belting out Tina Turner in no time."
"Oh God," I groaned, wriggling closer to Edward, but he reached down and pulled me to his lap.
He bent his mouth to my ear. "I told you that it would be good. You were astounding tonight, my love." He kissed my cheek, whispering, "Thank you."
"Anything for you, baby," I chuckled, stealing his line and nuzzling his jaw.
While the table was loud, fun, and full of laughter, I stayed quiet, content in Edward's arms. I observed the dynamics of the two tables – humans and immortals. The ages ranged from centuries to only decades, like me.
I noticed everything.
I took in Alice and Jasper's quiet smiles and simple communications, Emmett and Rose's laughing and teasing. I smiled at the simple, yet immeasurable love that radiated from Carlisle and Esme when they simply held hands. I chuckled at Kevin's boisterous personality as he laughed at jokes with his two friends.
I could practically feel the emotion between Demitri and Carina when he smiled sweetly at her, pressing his forehead to hers for just a quick touch, a quick reconnection.
I locked eyes with Marcus, who was taking the scene in just like I was. A small smile graced his face, and I could almost tell he was thinking about how such a wide variety of people could get along and stay together.
Edward's lips brushed my ear, his sweet breath ghosting over me softly, but he said nothing. He turned my hand palm up and placed his palm to mine. Instead of linking our fingers, he rubbed them slowly, the pads of his fingers dancing over the heel of my hand to my wrist and back to the tips of my own fingers. Over and over, he repeated this process, finally linking our fingers together and squeezing.
I sighed, taking our linked hands and wrapping them around my stomach just to feel him surround me.
It had been a strange few weeks – our connection, Alice's past, saying goodbye to Toby, and finally singing together. I was looking forward to a few quiet days, but I knew there was more to come.
Marcus and Carlisle wanted to talk to me and Edward. We all wanted an update on Tanya, and there was still the matter of New York to discuss.
"Let's go," I heard in my ear, and I realized that I had my shield up and he'd heard everything. I turned to look at Edward. He smiled, kissed my forehead, and slid me off of his lap. "Quiet first, crazy later," he promised, kissing my temple.
We waved goodbye to everyone, making plans to see Marcus and Carlisle the next evening.
Edward led me through the parking lot to his car. "Come, my sweet, talented girl. Let's celebrate my unemployment and your new career as a lead singer."
I laughed, wrapping my arm around his waist. "Keep dreaming, Edward."
"I don't need dreams anymore," he said, wrapping his arms around me. "All my dreams came true, all wrapped up in you, Bella."


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