Sunday, October 11, 2015 | By: Drotuno

A Few Tables Away Chapter 20 & Pics

Chapter 20
Love, the boy a few tables away
I closed Edward’s journal for a moment, gazing unseeingly out of the plane’s window. Seattle was coming into view, and I’d already put my seat belt back on and my tray up. I glared out into the night, my hatred and anger building into something ugly. My whole body shook with the force of it.
Opening Edward’s journal back up, I lost myself in his words again. Since he’d left for Washington, I’d reread his entries a thousand times. They were beautiful and sweet, they were filled with love and adorable adoration for me, and they were Edward’s pure, undiluted thoughts written down in black and white.
And they were all to me.
I loved the first one, his sweet initial crush on me, his curiosity over all I’d read inside our library. I loved the tentative decision to tell me about his past, his mother, his fears. My heart swelled with the one he’d left for me declaring his beautiful love for me before getting on the plane. But there were a few in between that were just…Edward.
Pretty girl,
It feels wrong for what I’m about to write, but I need to work stuff out. Everything about you makes me crazy. And in every good way possible. You’re fun and sweet, sexy and alluring, and most days, I can barely see straight at the thought of you.
I’d just told you about things back home. You’d asked about crushes, and I’d explained that I ignored everyone from home, because it always seemed they had ulterior motives. It’s all true. And I came to Florida not expecting to change that right away. I had no delusions that I was going to leave Forks and become like my brother, who was always so easygoing with members of the opposite sex. It never even entered my mind that I’d meet someone like you, but I did.
But now I’m nervous.
There are moments when it’s just me and you, and all I want is to just…not stop. I just want to completely lose myself in you, Bella, but the reality is…I can’t. There’s a part of me – the bookworm/computer geek – that knows the basics of sex and what to do. However, the reality of it all is overwhelming. It’s scary to place my heart on the line, not to mention a bit of ego, too. I don’t REALLY know what I’m doing, but I’m glad to know I’m not alone. I’m glad to know that we’re both…ignorant – for a lack of a better word – about some things, that we’re sort of diving into it all blind…together. That makes me feel better.
I’ve read so many books that describe sex and love like the universe shifted with the power of it all, and I know it’s not TRULY like that. I’ve read romances with candles and flowers and beautiful words said, and I know it can’t always be like that, either. But I’m a man, too, so I’ve seen porn. I’ve even read some of my mom’s old romance novels, which is probably the farthest from the reality of it all. But the daydreamer in me, the part of me that I’ve lost to you makes me want all of the above and more. FOR YOU.
I want it all with you, Bella.
I’m writing this as you sleep next to me in my bed at your house. I look over at you, and my chest hurts with everything that I feel. I want to give you all that I just mentioned – the romance and candles, but I want the universe to move, too. It sounds crazy, but it’s true.
You’re leading us, pretty girl. And I’m perfectly okay with that, because each step we take is better than any book or movie. When we finally take that next step, Bella, I’m pretty damn sure it’ll blow my mind.
I closed the leather-bound book again, wrapping my arms around it against my chest as the plane touched down on the runway. The book was a poor substitute for the real thing, the real, warm, strong arms that held me close, that always touched me like I was made of fine crystal or spun glass. It paled in comparison to his voice – that smooth, calm, velvety sound that made me melt into a puddle of goo no matter if he was just talking about school or reading from a book.
“You ready, Bella?” Mom asked softly, tucking my hair back. “We’ve got a bit of a drive…”
I nodded, looking over at her. “Yeah, I know. Edward told me he’s like three hours from Seattle.”
I pulled out my phone, turning it back on now that we’d landed. It took a minute to load up, but as soon as it connected, a voice mail alert bleeped. My hands shook as I looked at the number I didn’t recognize, but I called to retrieve the message, sagging in my seat when my favorite voice met my ear.
“Pretty girl, I’m okay. Just…my phone is completely broken. I’ll get a new one tomorrow and call you back. Just…don’t panic, Bella. I promise you I’m okay, and I love you.”
A soft sob left me, and I looked to Mom. “He’s okay. He’s okay. Thank God.”
There was a beep, and another message came over as I took my bag that Dad was handing me.
“Bella, it’s me. I just… I needed to tell you. This is my sister’s phone, and she’s okay if you call. But I can’t… Why aren’t you answering?” he asked a little impatiently, but then I could hear his sister in the background reminding him that it was, indeed, Christmas Day. “Oh…yeah. Sorry. Anyway, I promise I’m okay. And… Baby, they’ve…they’ve arrested my dad. Apparently you guys called the chief, and…Jasper called Emmett and… Are you flying here?! Never mind, I just…I really need to talk to you…” He sighed deeply. “Bella, call me…please?”
My mouth gaped, because I’d thought I’d heard wrong, but no.
“Holy shit,” I hissed, and my whole family stopped to look at me. Turning to my cousin, I asked, “You called his brother?”
Jasper pulled me out of the way of all the people getting off the plane, saying, “Hell yeah, I did! I’ve had Emmett’s number in my phone since Thanksgiving. It’s the only contact Edward would give me on his application. Emmett said a bunch of shit was goin’ down with their dad, but he and his fiancée were trying to catch a flight out of La Guardia as soon as they could. Why, what’s Edward saying?”
Nodding, I had to lean against the wall and listen to the message again. “They… Carlisle’s been arrested!” I whispered to them.
My dad stepped closer, his own phone to his ear as he nodded. “Yeah, Chief Yorkie left me a message. They arrested Edward’s father on an assault charge.”
“Good. Fucker.” Jasper grunted, but then added, “Is Ed okay, though?”
“Yeah, but he sounds so…lost. I have to call him,” I said, saving the phone number under Alice’s name, just in case.
“Bella, wait until we’re in the rental car, okay?” Dad requested. “You’ll have better reception.”
I gripped my phone like a talisman, because as soon as I was able, I was calling Edward. We wound our way down to the car rental place, and my patience unraveled as the damned, pimple-faced kid behind the desk took his dear, sweet time.
“Fuck this,” I practically growled, stepping out into the very cold, very damp night. I dialed the number.
“Bella!” I heard a girl’s voice answer, and she sounded relieved. I recognized Alice instantly from hearing her in the background of previous calls. “Oh my damn, Edward’s been pacing the floor. I kept telling him to calm down, that it’s Christmas, or that you were probably already in the air… He’s not believing a fucking thing I say until he talks to you.”
I had to laugh. I couldn’t help it. She rambled a little like me, maybe a bit more frantic.
But my laugh died quickly. “Alice, is he… Are you guys okay?”
“Oh God, he’s… Bella, he just…snapped on our dad! Just lost it completely. Are you here? Because, fuck me, I think… I just… He needs you,” she whispered.
Tears started anew at that statement coming from his sister – the same girl who Edward called the strongest person he knew. So if she was telling me he needed me, then the cross-country flight we’d just flown was well worth it.
“Yeah, yeah, we just landed, and we’re getting a rental car.”
“Thank God!” she sighed with relief. “Who’s with you?”
I snorted and sniffled at the same time. “My whole family, Alice.”
“Why? What are all of you doing here?” she asked, sounding completely confused.
“Because we love him,” I answered immediately. “Can… Can I please talk to Edward?”
“Shit! Yeah, sure…absolutely.”
I heard the opening of a door, then the thump of feet on steps, and then finally a knock on the door. “Big brother?” she called to him, knocking again, and the phone shifted when the door opened. “For you.”
“Is it Chief Yorkie again, ’cause I dunno…” I heard his voice, and my sweet Edward sounded so damned tired and lost. My need to wrap him up just increased by tenfold.
“No, silly… It’s Bella!”
“Bella!” I heard over the line and smiled. “Pretty girl… I’m sorry. I know I probably scared you. I’m okay. And…”
“Edward,” I sighed in relief and worry and to get him to calm down. “Shhh, baby. We’re here. We just landed in Seattle. Give us a bit, and we’re on our way to you.”
“You’re really here?” he asked softly.
“Yes, handsome. All of us. I know it’ll be really late, but…”
“I don’t fucking care,” he practically sobbed into the phone. “I don’t give a damn how late it is. I can’t believe you really came.”
“I love you.” It was my only reason to give, and it was a damned good one as far as I was concerned. And I’d keep giving that reason.
“I love you, too, Bella. So much. And I miss you like fucking crazy. I… They… They want me to press charges, and I… I… I don’t know what to do,” he rambled, and I knew him well enough to know that his hand was probably pulling at his hair. “If I… Jesus, all hell will break loose if I do that, Bella.”
“Is this something we can talk about when we get there?” I asked him. “What I mean is, baby, can it wait a few hours? Or does this decision have to be made like now?”
“No, it can wait. The chief said that he’s keeping him overnight, due to the holiday.”
“Okay, then… First things first, baby. Let me just get to you.” I urged that last sentence, flinching when a warm hand landed on my shoulder. I looked up to see my dad silently asking to speak to him. “Edward, Dad wants to talk to you, okay?”
My dad took my phone, putting it to his ear. “Son, you all right?” he asked and then listened to Edward for a moment. “Damn, kiddo…” He groaned, rubbing his face and smoothing his mustache. “Okay, well… We’re heading your way. Give me your address, buddy.” He scribbled down an address on the receipt from the car rental and then asked, “Edward, is there some sort of hotel or…or…” He huffed a laugh. “We didn’t exactly plan, but we knew you might need us.” He frowned a little. “What did I tell you at Thanksgiving, son? Exactly. That hasn’t changed. And if you’re sure you have the room…”
“We’ll make room,” I heard Edward urge over the phone, and I grinned.
“Fair enough. Here’s Bella back, and we’ll see you soon.”
“Pretty girl, it’ll take you about three hours to get here, but… I can’t believe you all came,” he mumbled that last part, and I swiped at the tears that fell. “Alice and I will get places for you guys to sleep.”
“I don’t care if I’m on the floor somewhere,” I teased him, smiling when he huffed a light laugh.
“I’d never do that to you. I’ll give up my room for you, and I’ll sleep on the floor.”
“I’m hugging and kissing you to pieces when I get there. We’re leaving the airport now,” I told him, glancing up when Aunt Jane pulled the car to the curb.
“Please be careful, Bella. The snow is light, but it’s still tough to drive in, okay?”
“Okay.” I ended the call and dove into the backseat of the SUV they’d rented, my family already loaded up.
“How is he?” Jasper asked, draping an arm around me.
I looked at him and then to my mother, who was waiting for the answer. “He needs us,” I told them, and my aunt nodded and pulled away from the airport.
I leaned against the door of my mother’s office, my sister’s phone still in my hand. Tears burned my eyes as I absorbed the fact that not only was Bella here in Washington, but her whole family came with her. I knew they’d welcomed me into their lives with open arms – that was just the type of people they were – but knowing they’d shoved Christmas Day aside and jumped on a plane… There weren’t any words. None.
Hearing Bella’s voice telling me she was here was one thing, but hearing Charlie remind me of our conversation at Thanksgiving, where he’d essentially called me family, was something completely different. Despite how hard I was trying to stay calm, stay strong, I needed them. And the fact that they knew that enough to fly across the country meant more to me than anything.
“Big brother?” Alice asked, tapping the door tentatively. “You okay?”
I wiped my face on my shirt sleeve, taking a deep breath and pushing away from the door. When I opened it, she looked me over, but she didn’t say anything, simply took her phone back.
“They’ll be here in a few hours,” I told her, swallowing thickly. “We need to get places for them to sleep. I dunno how long…”
“Okay, well… You know them best, so…you tell me.”
Nodding, I pointed to the stairs. “Renee and Charlie can have the guest room. We just need to make the bed. Aunt Jane can take Em’s old room. Jasper can take Mom’s office – either the sofa, or he can open it up. I… I don’t know about Bella… Maybe in your room?”
Alice got a wicked gleam in her eye. “Why can’t she shack up with you?”
Snorting into a laugh, I said, “’Cause her parents are here?”
“As many times as you’ve stayed at their house, they don’t know about the two of you? I call bullshit, big brother!” she sang teasingly, poking my stomach. “C’mon, we’ll get to work. I’ll handle the guest room and Em’s room.”
“Okay.” I pointed to the shattered window pane at the back of the library that had broken when Dad threw Alice’s phone. “I’ve got to cover that up. And I’ll build the fire. They won’t be used to the cold, so…” I shrugged, and Alice nodded.
We got to work, which helped the time fly. As exhausted as I was, just knowing that I was minutes away from seeing Bella made me wide awake. Using some cardboard and tape, I sealed the broken window pane and then set about cleaning up the broken glass my dad had thrown, shaking my head at the liquor that tainted a few of my mother’s books. Quilts and blankets were taken down from the attic, sheets and towels from the hall closet, and more firewood was brought in from the back steps.
As I glanced out the window, my worries kicked up a bit as I saw a light snow falling, and I wondered if I’d ever be comfortable with cars and bad weather or if I’d always stress about everyone I cared about behind the wheel of a car. Hell, I hadn’t driven a car myself since before I’d left Forks for Glenhaven.
I was stoking the fire when headlights of a car flashed in the front window. I tossed a log into the fireplace and stood up straight, brushing off my hands.
“Ali, they’re here.”
“Okay!” she called from upstairs.
I walked to the front door and opened it, shaking my head at the loud voices and teasing tones. Knowing Jasper, he was doing it to give Bella something else to think about.
The back doors of the SUV opened before the front, Jasper laughing as hats and gloves were thrown at his head. “That’s it! I’m calling Santa. Only coal for you, little elf!”
“Shut up, asshat. That stopped working when I was like nine,” she grunted, stepping out onto the snow. My girl shivered in the cold, giving a slow gaze around her, but she took off in a run when she saw me. “Edward!”
“Bella, don’t run,” I tried to warn her but then caught her at the bottom step just as she slipped. It took all I had not to collapse to the steps with her. I wrapped my arms around her. “You’ll slip, baby,” I whispered sarcastically too late, but the feel of her, the smell of her – I’d needed it and missed it so badly that all I could do was bury my face in her neck. “Fuck, I missed you. I can’t… You’re here and…”
“I was so scared for you,” she mumbled into my neck. “I didn’t know… I was just… I love you.”
“I love you, too, pretty girl.”
I pulled back, cupping her face and kissing her briefly. Grimacing when her gloved hands touched my face, I let her look. I’d pushed the cuts and the bruises out of my mind for a bit, but watching my girl start to lose her shit brought the reality all back to the forefront.
“I’m okay, Bella.”
“No, you are not! He did this!?” she practically growled. “Then it serves him right that he was arrested. I hope he…he…”
“Bella-girl, that’s enough.” Charlie’s calm tone always seemed to catch more attention than anyone yelling.
Seeing the rest of Bella’s family standing there was surreal. My two polar-opposite worlds just came slamming together, and I felt awkward and strange, but God, I’d missed them all. I started to speak, my mouth opening and closing, but it was Aunt Jane who broke the silence.
“Jesus, son,” she whispered, pulling me in for a hug, and soon she and Renee were wrapped around me.
It was the latter that I’d unknowingly needed. There was something about Renee’s hugs, something healing and nostalgic about them. I remembered the first time I’d met her, she’d hugged me, and I’d thought at the time that they weren’t exactly like my own mother’s, but I was so very wrong. They were identical, and I melted into it. I needed every second of it. After having been in my dad’s home for two weeks, I needed to feel something besides anxiousness, fear, and hatred.
“Oh, my sweet boy,” she crooned in my ear as she ran her fingers through my hair with one hand and wiped the moisture from eyes with the other. “I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have let you come alone. Or at all.”
“I had to come.” I swallowed around the lump in my throat. “I had no choice,” I told her softly, shrugging when I pulled back, and I looked to Charlie. “I found out things I never knew. C’mon in and warm up.”
“No, no…don’t mind me. I got this!” Jasper stated sarcastically, slamming the back of the rental car, but he was draped in bags.
I couldn’t help but laugh, and I walked to him to take a couple from him.
“All right, Ed?” he asked, the grin slowly slipping off his face as he looked at the cut on my forehead.
“I’m okay. Thanks for coming. You didn’t…”
“Oh, hell yes, we did!” he grunted, and I led everyone inside the house, setting the bags down in the living room, and he followed suit. “You’re lucky my cousin wasn’t on the plane right after you.”
Smirking at my girl, who walked into my arms, I said, “Then it would be me down at the police station and not my dad.” I shrugged again. “If he’d said what he did to her face, I would’ve done more than punch him.” I held up my bruised hand, which made Bella gasp and take it gently.
Charlie narrowed his eyes. “Do I wanna know, son?”
“No, sir. You don’t,” I replied, shaking my head, and the sound of footsteps on the staircase caught my attention. “Ali, come meet everyone.”
My sister stepped nervously into the living room, which made me smile. My very vibrant Alice was now suddenly shy, but as she caught sight of Jasper, I understood why. Chuckling, I walked to her, pointing to everyone.
“This is Professors Charlie and Renee Swan. This is Jane Whitlock, Charlie’s sister – she prefers it if you call her Aunt Jane. Her son is Jasper,” I told her, and I held out my hand and pulled Bella closer. “And this is Bella.”
Finally, my sister found her voice, and she rushed at Bella, wrapping her in a fierce hug. “It’s nice to finally meet you in person!” She pulled back. “All of you. I…” She paused for a second and then looked to me. “Em’s old room and the guest room are done, big brother. Did you find sheets for the pull-out sofa?”
“Yeah,” I told her with a nod but looked at everyone else. “There’s room for everyone.” Then I looked to Bella. “My sister has a pull-out…”
“I want to stay with you. I don’t even care if it’s out here. I just… Please.” Bella’s voice was firm, and Jasper snorted, but it also didn’t seem to faze her parents or Aunt Jane, either.
Alice giggled, breaking the silence.
Smirking, I hugged Bella closer, telling her, “We’ll figure something out, pretty girl.” Bella nodded, and I turned to everyone else. “Tomorrow… I’ve got to go down to the station. The chief wants my decision on whether I’m pressing assault charges. I don’t… I have to…”
Charlie stepped forward. “Tell me exactly what happened today, buddy,” he said, gesturing for me to sit down on the sofa, and I did, with Bella sticking to me like glue.
“My vote is yes,” Alice snapped, holding out her phone. “Show him, Edward!”
Aunt Jane looked to my sister. “Sweetheart, why don’t you show us where we can put our things, hmm?”
Alice nodded, starting with Jasper and the library, and then Renee and Aunt Jane followed my sister upstairs. I frowned down at Alice’s phone, taking a deep breath and letting it out.
“I’m…” I started but felt my face heat. “I… I completely lost my temper.” I glanced from Charlie’s calm face to Bella’s loving but worried one. “I just… I couldn’t take it anymore. I’d bitten my tongue the whole time I was here, but…knowing everything my mother had gone through, knowing that he most likely was using her for so long… And then! Then he…he… He insulted Bella, and I just snapped.”
I started the video for them, flinching at the sound of my father’s foul voice, his hatred. Alice had told me she’d followed him. That she’d heard him leave his room. It was when he slammed his bedroom door that alerted her to his mood. She’d told me that she didn’t want to take any chances. Her view was from the library doorway, and it started just before he threw his drink at me. The footage shook a bit because Alice wavered on whether to keep recording or step in, but she needed proof. Every bit of it was there – the insults, the destruction of my phone, the chokehold, every fact I spewed his way – even more the blood spilling down my face.
It cut off when I told him to let me go and he did.
“You didn’t hit him here,” Charlie noted, handing the phone back.
I shook my head, pulling Bella to me. She was a teary mess. “Pretty girl,” I crooned against her forehead. “I’m okay, Bella. I’m actually sorry I let him get to me.” I snorted a bit, shaking my head again.
“God, son…” Charlie sighed, frowning. “Jesus himself would’ve lost his temper.”
“Right,” I said with a chuckle. “To answer your question, I didn’t hit him until after Alice had told him she’d already sent the video to Emmett, when I picked up my phone and told him that he’d been overheard. He then insulted Bella… I couldn’t stop myself.”
Charlie grunted and nodded. “What happens if you press charges, Edward?”
“I don’t know. He goes before a judge?” I guessed, shrugging. “I don’t… I’m not sure what to do, but I have to go down there tomorrow.”
“I’ll go with you,” Bella offered.
“Yeah, me too, son,” Charlie agreed, standing up from the chair across from us. “I think it’s high time your father and I met.” His mustache twitched as he gave a wry smile. He pointed a finger between Bella and me. “You know, since our kids are…serious.”
Bella’s soft giggle shook us both, and I smiled a little, kissing the crown of her head. “That we are, Charlie,” I promised him.
“Good. That’s good.” He winked at his daughter and then went upstairs where there was laughter.
I collapsed a little to the back of the sofa, looking at Bella. “We are, right? Serious, I mean?”
“As a fucking heart attack,” she breathed, her lips meeting mine almost roughly. And I kissed her back with all I had. Her forehead met mine softly, her breathing coming out in puffs, but I couldn’t help but smile at her. “I really do want to stay with you, Edward.”
I was nodding before she even finished that plea. “Okay.”
“I missed you.” She kissed me again.
“And I love you.”
Her smile was sweet and adorable. “Here? Or your room?”
“My room,” I told her, getting up to pick up the only bag left, so I assumed it was hers. “Tomorrow… I… Hell, I don’t know.”
“Tomorrow…” she stated, taking my hand in hers as we walked upstairs. “Tomorrow, I’m gonna give your Daddy Dearest a piece of my fucking mind.” As we stepped into my room and closed the door, my girl came to a stop at the sight of my bed. “Tonight, though,” she said, pulling me down so that I sat on the edge of the mattress, putting her bag down beside me. Her lips met my forehead, the cut my dad had left, with a sweet softness. She tilted my head a little, leaning in to press a kiss to my throat.
“Tonight, I just want to love you, hold you, kiss you stupid, and remind you that you are amazing and strong and… ” She stopped, trailing her fingers across my face. “Baby, you look so tired,” she whispered, swallowing back emotions I could see her fighting.
I nodded, feeling completely drained. I’d ridden an emotional rollercoaster all damn day, and it was now the wee hours of the morning. I pulled her closer to me as she stayed between my legs, laying my head against her chest. The sound of her heart soothed me as I wound my arms around her.
“You’re not alone in this, Edward. I’ll hold your hand through it all. We all will. Okay?” she whispered against my head, and I nodded.
“I’m sorry you missed Christmas,” I mumbled, smiling when she laughed lightly.
“I’m not.” Her smile was sweet when I pulled back to look at her as her hands cupped either side of my face, and she kissed my lips softly. “Nope. I was missing you too much to enjoy any-damn-thing. Now I wanna cuddle the shit outta you.” She pointed to the bed. “Let’s go, Mr. Cullen. I’ve flown a long way. You’ve been through hell and back…all today. You need spoiling. So severe amounts of cuddling must commence pronto, buddy.”
A laugh escaped me, and I nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
I knew the next day would be trying at best, and I knew I’d be hearing from not only the police chief but probably Liam and Emmett as well. But for the moment, my wish of Bella in my room wasn’t a daydream but an utterly perfect reality. And just knowing that they were all here to watch my back made me feel a sense of calm that I hadn’t felt since I’d left them behind in Florida.
As she started to pull away, I stopped her. “I’m glad you’re here.”
She smiled. “I’ve got you, baby. Always.”


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