Wednesday, October 14, 2015 | By: Drotuno

A Few Tables Away Chapter 21 & Pics

Chapter 21
I slowly woke up in a cocoon of covers and legs and skin, surrounded by Bella’s scent. We’d crawled into my bed the night before, completely and utterly exhausted. With all that I’d been through and her long flight, all we could manage was to curl ourselves around each other and a few very long, very deep kisses. Hell, I wasn’t sure which one of us passed out first.
The gray, early morning light lit up my room, but it was the sight next to me, the perfect body alongside mine, that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Bella was just beautiful. She always was to me – whether she was dressed for school or hanging out at home, it didn’t matter…not to me. But watching her slowly wake up, feeling her hands and arms against my bare chest and her legs entwined with mine, was the best thing ever, especially in my old bed. Having her here seemed to chase away the darkness that hung over this house.
Sleepy-sweet brown opened up to gaze at me.
My fingers trailed up and down her spine beneath her shirt – up between her shoulder blades and down along the edge of her pajama bottoms. I needed to touch her. Hell, if I was being honest with myself, I wanted everything all at once, but today, it wasn’t going to happen. The trip to the police station was weighing heavily on me.
Bella smiled softly, her fingers raking through my hair as she eyed the cut on my forehead, but her fingers continued their trail down my jaw.
“I want to wake up like this every damn morning. I mean, I know we’ve woken up like this before, but still… I mean it. I want this every day.”
Smiling at that adorable rambling honesty of hers that I’d missed so fucking much, I let out a light laugh as I pressed a kiss to the middle of her brow. “Me too.”
“We aren’t the only ones,” she teased, her body shifting. “Is this a morning thing?”
“It’s a Bella thing,” I said with a laugh, shrugging a shoulder. “You’re so beautiful. I can’t help it, pretty girl.”
I tried to shift away, but she wouldn’t have it. Her hand gently gripped my side, holding me to her. Reaching for her face, I tucked her hair behind her ear. I still couldn’t believe she was there, in Forks, Washington, in the bedroom in which I’d spent practically my whole life hiding. Absentmindedly, she traced my scars along my side, but I loved it. I loved that something that once made me dress for P.E. behind closed doors was now hardly something I gave much thought.
She pushed at me until I fell back, and she climbed on top of me, making me grin up at her. “One day, there won’t be just sleepovers at my house. We’ll curl up and read together on our own sofa or bed. We can do ridiculously naughty things to each other and not worry about who’s across the hall.”
“Hmm,” I hummed, cupping her face as she braced her hands on my shoulders. “I’m liking this plan, pretty girl.”
“Which part?” she asked with a deliciously sexy giggle. “Our own place or the naughty bits?”
“All of it. Everything. Tell me more, Bella.” I skimmed my hands flat down her back, cupping her bottom and giving it a squeeze to bring her closer.
Her eyes gleamed wickedly as she fought her smile. “We’ll have our own library. A small one. But you’ll have a desk in there, where you’ll write the most amazing stories. I’ll finally find out if the fairy princess marries her sweet, brave archer boy.”
“She does.”
“Does she?” she squeaked, grinning. “Oh, fairy babies…”
I chuckled at how she sounded like my sister when it came to that particular story.
“Well, you’ll write and you’ll be this famous author. They’ll make movies about your fairy world.” When that made me laugh out loud, she got serious. “I mean it. And I’ll be your biggest fan, your best cheerleader. I’ll make sure the gorgeous actress who plays the princess doesn’t steal you away.”
“Never,” I whispered, gazing up at her in awe and wonder and head-over-heels love. “I’ve already been stolen, my pretty girl.”
Her eyes watered a bit at that, and she leaned down to kiss my neck, shifting to kiss the cut on my forehead. “And…And… I swear to God, I’ll never, ever let anyone hurt you again.”
“I love you,” I breathed, shaking my head slowly at how I’d gotten so fucking lucky.
My life was a mess, truly. Outside the bedroom door we were secured behind, my world was fucked up. But everything in my arms, every inch of the beautiful girl that was draped over me, was pure perfection. From her adorable toes that were rubbing against my legs, to her sweet smile, to that smart mind – there wasn’t a bit of her that I could live without.
“I love you, too, Edward. I’m sorry he hurt you, and I know we have stuff to deal with today, but if you don’t kiss me, I’m gonna—”
She didn’t have to finish that sentence, and my lips met hers to stop her and to give her what she wanted. I gave in completely – at least for a few minutes. As much as I wanted her, as amazing as she felt pressing against me, touching me, kissing me, grinding over me, I was well aware of the sounds coming from the hallway. The house was waking up, which meant the chief would be calling, and Liam would probably stop over. There was a decision that needed to be made concerning my father.
Rolling her onto her back, I loomed over her, finally breaking our kiss. “There’s something missing from this grand plan of yours, pretty girl,” I teased her breathlessly, brushing my lips across hers lightly.
“What’s that?”
“If I’m writing, then what are you doing?”
She grinned and shrugged. “I dunno, but I’ll let you know when I do. I just look forward to figuring it out with you.”
“Fair enough, baby.” I sighed, turning a bit when I heard my sister’s phone ring. Turning back to Bella, I said, “I’d better get up. I need…and then you guys need breakfast, and…”
“Baby, baby… Edward… We here to help you, not impose. Just tell us what you need.”
I pressed a heavy kiss to her lips. “Thank you. Let me shower first, and then we’ll get with everyone downstairs.”
Regretfully, I extricated myself from her arms, mentally preparing myself for the shit-storm to come. I shook my head at the sight of her in my childhood bed, trying my damnedest to keep my thoughts controlled. I definitely needed that shower – a cold one.
By the time we were both clean and dressed, we came downstairs to find my house filled with laughter and teasing…and food. Lots of food.
Jasper grinned, slapping my shoulder. “That’s one helluva diner you got down the street.”
Grimacing a little, I shrugged a shoulder. “It gets old. Trust me.”
“Apparently my big brother got spoiled by home cookin’,” Alice teased from her spot at the kitchen counter.
“Whatever,” I said as I waved her away. “Just wait until you’ve had Renee’s and Aunt Jane’s fried chicken. That’s all I’m sayin’.”
Renee kissed the side of my head. “You need to eat something, sweet boy, even though I didn’t make it.” When I laughed her way, she ruffled my hair. “Charlie’ll be down in a moment.”
Bella and I took the take-out boxes from her mom, and we sat down at the kitchen table with Aunt Jane. I didn’t think I was hungry until the first bite hit my tongue, but then I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast the day before.
All of the bullshit my dad had said and done flashed through my head as I ate – the hatred he’d spewed my way, my phone, the threats. By the time I’d cleaned my plate and looked up at Alice, Charlie had joined us.
“Ali, have you heard from Emmett?” I asked, getting up to throw away the box and taking Bella’s, too.
“Yeah, he’s in the air. And he told me to tell you to…and I quote, ‘Nail the asshole to the wall.’”
My nostrils flared, and I nodded, shoving my hands into the front pockets of my jeans. “He’ll kill him,” I whispered, mainly to myself, but everyone heard me. “He threatened Dad at Thanksgiving about me and you,” I said to her. “I don’t…” I shrugged. “I don’t know what the right thing is here.”
“Edward, he…” Bella started, but stopped, slumping in her chair at the table.
Smirking at her adorable attempt to keep her mouth under control, I simply said, “I know, Bella,” against the top of her head.
Aunt Jane turned to look my way, and in her hand was the long list of chores Alice and I were supposed to have accomplished while I was home. Most of them were done. Some of them had to wait due to the snow.
“Has he always been this way?” she asked my sister and me, and when we nodded, she sighed deeply. “These aren’t just…chores. Hell, some of this shit needs a professional…like the chimney and the gutters. Really? It’s fucking snowing!”
Alice grinned, but she looked to me before she answered. “Be-Before Mom died, he never bothered with us. But he really does blame my brothers for the accident. More Edward than Emmett, but Em came to our defense so much that he’s just as hated.”
I quickly explained all I’d learned from Pastor Liam the day before. How my mother had tried to leave my father. How he’d accused her of cheating because I didn’t look like him. How it was a punishment against Alice that had truly kicked it all off.
“I remember that,” she whispered. “Mom cried when she cleaned me up.”
That caused a silence in the room for a moment, but I continued, telling about all the money and accounts and even the file Liam had handed me. And finally, I ended with the fact that my dad had been sued for malpractice.
“Which means he’ll have a lawyer at his fingertips,” Charlie finally spoke, wiping his mouth with a napkin. He got up from the counter to throw his box away. “You should, too, I suppose.”
“I’m sure,” I agreed, rubbing my face. “I need to talk to Emmett about that stuff. He’s about to turn twenty-one, which means he’s going to inherit his portion. I just… I don’t care about the money, but…it seems like my dad used my mother, like he’s been syphoning from her this whole time, and it’s that money he’s threatened us with our whole lives. There’s… There’s a part of me that wants nothing more than to walk away from this house, him, all of it. But there are questions I want answers to, and I can’t leave my sister here.”
“Then let’s go ask him, son,” Charlie said firmly. “Maybe after you’ve given him a chance to answer, you’ll know whether or not you want to press charges.” He pointed to Alice. “And as far as your sister goes… We’ll work it out, buddy.”
Nodding, I sighed. “Okay.”
“I’m still going,” Bella said, standing up and taking my hand.
“Me, too,” Charlie added.
“Well, I’m not. I’ll end up in a cell next to Daddy Dearest, and I’m way too pretty for jail,” Jasper added, his half smile making me laugh, but he squeezed my shoulder. “Give me your phone, Ed. I can at least go handle some business.”
“I can’t let you—”
“Oh, you’ll work it off at the coffee shop. Don’t think you won’t.” He shot me a wink, opening and closing his hand. “I’ll get you something badass and a new number, because I think you’re gonna need it.”
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out my poor, ruined cell phone. Jasper face darkened at the sight of the shattered screen and the broken back and power button. He muttered something about doing the same to my dad’s face but tucked it into his pocket.
“I have to go,” Alice piped up, wrinkling her nose. “They want a statement from me.”
Nodding, I told her she could drive, and then Renee was in front of me, cupping my face. “I want to spoil you – all of you,” she said, glancing to my sister. “And if you’ve got your brother coming in, then we’ll stay at the lodge in town, but I want to cook for all of you.”
“You don’t—”
Aunt Jane chuckled. “Well, we are, kiddo. So…suck it up. And since you have such high praises for our fried chicken, then the menu is easy.”
Grinning, I nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
Alice drove us in her car after calling Chief Yorkie and letting him know that we were on our way. Bella sat with me in the backseat, looking absolutely adorable in her wool cap, while Charlie sat up front. Forks was so damn small that we were pulling into the station less than ten minutes after leaving my house.
I could see the chief’s cruiser in the parking lot, and Liam was standing out on the steps waiting for us. His expression was curious as he saw all of us get out of the car.
“Pastor Liam,” I greeted him.
“Son.” He nodded once, reaching for my hand. “How’s the head?”
Snorting once, I shrugged. “Fine. My hand hurts worse than anything.”
He grinned, gripping my shoulder. “Ah, but that shiner you planted on Carlisle is quite the beauty.”
“Good!” Bella grunted, which made me laugh. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be,” I told her, pulling her to me. “Bella Swan, this is Pastor Liam. Liam, this is my girlfriend, Bella…and her father, Professor Charlie Swan.”
“Professor,” Liam mused, but he wore a small smile.
Charlie’s mustache twitched, but he shook the pastor’s hand. “Good to meet you. Edward’s told us a bit about you and what you’ve done for him.”
“It apparently wasn’t enough.” Liam sighed deeply, glancing over his shoulder toward the door of the station. “Listen, Edward, your dad is as mad as a wet hornet in there. His lawyer can’t even keep him under control. And the chief seems to be enjoying himself.”
Shaking my head, I let out a deep breath. “Alice and I have to give statements, and they’re taking her video as evidence, but I’m… I have to decide whether or not to press charges. I don’t know if I can… He’ll want paybacks, and I can’t… I don’t…”
Liam studied my face. “God, you’re so much like Esme. No matter what advice I handed her, she only wanted to protect you three. She wanted no part of a fight. She was incredible at hiding her emotions.”
I shook my head. “No, he knew. He knew she was repulsed by him. He accused me of looking at him the same way she did.”
“I imagine that the sight of you was a constant reminder,” Liam murmured, shaking his head, but the door opened to reveal Chief Yorkie.
Introductions to Bella and Charlie were made again, only this time, the chief smiled, patting Charlie’s shoulder. “Smart thinking to call me. Had you not, there’s no telling what he’d have done to these two. He was… Well, he still is rather pissed off.” The chief looked to me. “C’mon in. You don’t have to see him, but… I will need those statements.”
“I…I need to talk to him before I make a decision,” I said, frowning a little, but Bella’s hand slipped into mine.
“His lawyer’s gonna love this shit,” Yorkie said wryly, shaking his head. “Okay, I’ll pull him out of the holding cell and put him in an interrogation room.”
We all followed him quietly into the station. Forks Police Department was small – both the building and the amount of officers. As we wound our way by the front desk, I could see one other officer sitting at a computer.
“Go get him, Dobbins,” Chief said wearily. “Put him and that sleazeball lawyer of his in room three.” Before the officer got up, the chief added, “Oh, yeah, and cuff that asshole to the table. I don’t want him to move without my say-so.”
“Sir,” Dobbins grunted, leaving his desk for the side hallway.
Chief Yorkie faced us. “You sure you want to do this?”
“I have nothing to say to him,” Alice said, looking to me with tears in her eyes. “Sorry, big brother. I just… I don’t care what his reasons are. I want… Can I come with you when you leave?”
I pulled her into a hug. “We’ll do whatever you want, Mary Alice,” I whispered to her. “You’re eighteen, Ali. You tell me. We’ll figure it out.”
She nodded, looking up at me. “I’m… I’ll just…write my statement. Maybe I’ll listen in, but…”
“I get it.” I sighed, glancing over at Charlie. “You still want to do this?”
“Oh yeah,” he drawled, smirking a bit. “He needs to hear a few things.”
It was Bella I turned my attention to next, cupping her worried face. “Look at me,” I begged her softly. “I can’t stop you from joining us, but… Do not speak to him, Bella. I know you’re mad. I know you want to tell him where to go and how fast he can get there, but for me…for my sake, please just…wait on giving him a piece of that beautiful mind. Okay?”
Her smile was wickedly sexy, but she was still pissed. I could see it every time she caught sight of my cuts and bruises. Lifting up on her toes, she pressed a soft kiss to my lips.
“I’m here for you, so fuck him.”
“Bella,” Charlie chastised, but it was halfhearted at best. His amusement was clear in the mustache that lifted a little, and he muttered something about being just like her mother.
I heard my dad along with the sound of doors opening. His yelling was loud and foul; his threats about suing the station, the county, and the state were echoing out from the hallway.
Just as he was handcuffed to the table in the middle of the room, he snapped, “Why am I in here? I told you I’m not answering any more questions.” I stepped into the room as he glared at a man in an expensive suit. “And you! How am I not bailed out yet?!”
“Because technically, I haven’t charged you…yet. I’m simply holding you as a ‘person of interest,’” Chief Yorkie told him as he led us into the room. “How you behave for this next part will determine whether or not I charge you with assault, and from what I hear…theft.”
Dad paled at the sight of me stepping into the room. And his gaze raked over the people with me. He didn’t know Charlie, so as far as he was concerned, I could’ve gotten a lawyer, but when his eyes landed on my girl, they narrowed.
“Don’t do it,” I warned him, taking the chair across the table from him.
“I don’t have shit to say to you,” he sneered. “In fact, I should have a restraining order put on you.”
Shrugging, I said, “I’m just here because Chief Yorkie needs me to press charges. I haven’t decided yet. Though, Alice is out there writing her statement, and I’m pretty sure the chief has the video by now, so…”
“Inadmissible,” the man in the suit stated with a bored tone. “It’d be thrown out of—”
“I don’t care,” I cut him off with a harsh laugh. “I’m willing to bet you’re the one responsible for all his…legal activities. So just…shut up.” I turned back to my father. “This is a…family affair, isn’t it, Daddy?”
“Then why are they here?” Dad asked, pointing to Charlie and Bella, who were leaning against the wall behind me and completely silent.
They are my family now, so you’ll answer a few questions for me with them here. Or…I’ll go write my statement and have a lawyer look into that trust fund you’ve been in control over for seven years…”
“What do you want, you little shit?!”
I heard Charlie shift a bit behind me, but I looked at my father, saying, “I want to know…why. Why you used Mom; why you blamed us; why a large chunk of what she left for us is gone; and why, if you hated us so much, didn’t you just walk away. All of it. I want answers.” When he didn’t speak up, I added, “And while we’re at it, I want to know if the rumors about you are true. Were you sued for malpractice? Did you cheat on Mom, because I swear to God…”
“What? What can you do about it if I did, Edward?” he asked, leaning forward on the table. The cuffs on his wrists rattled, and he only got so far, but he smiled. “Your mother wasn’t innocent.”
“Don’t try me,” I sighed, pointing to him. “You are a damned doctor, so don’t sit there and tell me you didn’t test me. It wouldn’t have taken much, Dad. A bandage from a scraped knee would do it. And all three of us have had plenty over the years, so…what were the outcomes?”
His eyes narrowed, but he sat back.
“Right.” I nodded but then tilted my head. “Start talking, or I’m gone. And you’d better pray you’re still in this protected environment when Emmett comes home.”
Chief Yorkie chuckled, and I looked up at him and shrugged, but he said, “He was sued for malpractice, Edward. I can attest to that one. Should I tell him? Or do you want to do it?” My father glared at the table but stayed silent, so the chief continued. “It was a few years after your mother’s passing, not long after Emmett went to college. There was a pretty bad rainstorm one evening. There was a van and a logging truck involved in an accident. The truck driver had minor injuries; the family in the van, though, not so much. Your father was called down to the ER to help, and there was a missed diagnosis on one of the children. The little boy bled out internally. They didn’t catch it in time. The parents sued because they’d seen your father send a nurse into tears. They’d tried to tell Dr. Cullen all about their son’s pain, but…he didn’t pay attention or he ignored them. There was concern that alcohol had been involved, but by the time it all came to a head, it was too late to test him. So…rather than let the malpractice insurance investigate and in order to keep the hospital board happy and to shut the family up, he offered to pay it himself. Kid was only four years old.
“Personally, I think he’d be in some serious trouble had they dug deep enough. Wonder what the board will think with you sitting here in my station in cuffs, hmm?” the chief asked, bracing his hands on the table. “Wonder what they’d make of that video Mary Alice was so kind to take of you. Edward here could seriously walk away, and honestly, I hope all three kids not only sue the shit out of you but leave you broken and alone. But that video – admissible or not – that’s some pretty condemning stuff.”
“What the fuck do you care?” Dad snapped.
Chief Yorkie grinned, shaking his head. “I don’t like you. See…you forget yourself. You forget how small this fucking town is, Cullen. You forget that the nurses you drag over the coals on a daily basis have families and…husbands.” He raised an eyebrow at my dad. “My wife would come home in tears, and she would tell me all the shit you said or did. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much I could do, legally. An asshole boss isn’t illegal, just an asshole boss…or father, as we’re starting to see. She’s head nurse over at the old folks’ home now. She’s damned happy, too.”
My dad was starting to see that the shit was beginning to stack up against him. The only person on his side was his lawyer, and that was paid-for loyalty.
Dad’s nostrils flared as he fiddled with his cuffs. “I never wanted children.”
“I’m aware. Mom actually told us once,” I replied calmly.
“Dammit, you…” he started to yell but then shook his head. “You really are fucking just like her. Nothing bothers you, does it? I could sit here and tell you that… No, I didn’t want kids. I grew up with nothing, getting my ass kicked daily, so by the time I got to this fucking hole-in-the-wall town, I could breathe. I could tell you that your mother was a breath of fresh air, that she belonged to me. That I finally had something fucking normal. Your mother made all the bad shit better. But then…your mother, she started talking babies. She wanted children, and she finally trapped me with Emmett. And she’d have left then, but in order to keep her, in order to maintain my normal, I had to accept you three. Three!” He laughed harshly. “Fuck, I never wanted one.
“Your mother started acting funny just before the accident. She was secretive and distant. I was pretty fucking sure she was cheating. I was either going to kill her or the asshole she was fucking, but you had to…”
Charlie finally stepped forward, pulled out the chair next to mine, and sat down.
“What?” Dad asked him.
Charlie held out his hand. “Professor Charlie Swan. I’m just… I’m trying to figure out if you could be a lower stain of scum, Dr. Cullen.” His voice was low, even, that tone he took that caused everyone to stop and listen, but he lowered his hand when my father merely glared at it. “You might be the most selfish, most deplorable man I’ve ever set eyes on. Everything you’ve spewed at your children, at all of us in here today, is all about you.” He leaned on his elbows, studying my dad. “You act like you’re the only one who lost someone. You didn’t want children, so their entire world was their mother – something you made sure of – and then when they lost her, you blame them?” he asked, huffing a harsh laugh. “I heard you on the phone, you know. I heard you blame your son for your wife’s death. I then see you wanted him arrested when clearly it was self-defense.”
My dad’s eyebrows shot up, but he glanced behind me to Bella.
“Say something to her, I fucking dare you,” I ground out through gritted teeth.
“Then you shouldn’t have brought her.”
“What could he say, Edward?” Bella’s voice sounded calmly from right behind me, her hands landing on my shoulders. “He could call me names, like he did Rose. He could try to scare me or threaten me, but…it won’t work. He’s a weak, selfish little man, and personally, I think asking him anything is a waste of time, but I hope you squash him like the cockroach that he is. Thankfully, you and your brother and sister are more like Esme than him.”
“Don’t you dare say her name, you little—”
I grabbed my dad’s cuffs, yanking hard so that his ribcage met the edge of the table, and no one in the room stopped me, not even his lawyer. “I wasn’t kidding. Finish that sentence, and – what was it you always said to us? Oh yeah – you’ll ‘face the consequences.’”
He glared her way and then mine, sitting back in his chair.
“You know what gaslighting is, Dr. Cullen?” Charlie asked calmly, tilting his head. “C’mon, you had to take some psychology courses during med school, so… Do you?” My dad bit down hard on his bottom lip, staying silent as Charlie talked to him like a child. “Well, for those in the room who don’t… Gaslighting is a form of verbal or psychological abuse, isn’t it? You start the fight, but when the one on the defense fights back, it’s their fault. The abuser – and truly, that’s what you are – turns it on the other person over and over. It causes someone to question their sanity. I’m curious… Did that shit work on your wife?”
My dad lunged, but he didn’t make it far. However, Charlie’s hand landed on my shoulder.
“Son, I don’t think you’ll ever get the answers you’re looking for. He’ll never admit to anything. Hell, he probably doesn’t see anything wrong with what he’s done here. He may never see it, kiddo. You have to make a choice here, Edward. Remember what we talked about at Thanksgiving? About how choices affect everyone involved. He’s made his, so now you have to make yours.” He gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze. “Sometimes, you have to make a tough decision and let the cards fall where they may. The very best thing you can do is to live your life and put him and all he’s done behind you. I get the impression that’s what your mother was trying her damnedest to do. I swear to God,” he emphasized the last part, “I will help you, son.” He shot my dad a scathing glare. “If only to prove this asshole wrong.”
I wanted to laugh, but nothing about this shit was funny. My dad scoffed, shaking his head and shrugging a shoulder. There was a scuffle at the door. I could hear Alice’s voice raise, but it was the enormous, pissed-off form of my brother slamming open the door that caused everyone to jump. I pulled Bella out of the way before my hands landed smack in the middle of his broad chest.
“What the fuck did I tell you, motherfucker? I told you if you touched him, if you didn’t leave them the fuck alone, I’d be back to bury you!” Emmett snarled, pointing a finger over my shoulder.
“Emmett!” I grunted, pushing him enough to get his attention.
When he looked at me, he was pissed off all over again. “That video… It’s… Fuck, baby bro…”
Shaking my head, I sighed. “I’m okay.” I looked up in the doorway to see Rose and a man who had to be her father, not to mention Alice, too. “I’m not pressing charges,” I stated, shaking my head at the outburst around me.
“Edward…” Emmett groaned.
“No, I hit him, too.”
“Fuckin’-A, you did,” my brother muttered. “Grade-A shiner, Daddy Dearest.”
I looked to Emmett and then to my sister. “It’s time to do what Mom wanted. We’ll take what she left us, and we’ll leave his ass. She tried to do it seven years ago. He’s taken enough. I’m not pressing charges, but I am filing a restraining order. I’m done here.”
“Excellent,” Emmett said with a big grin. “Remember all those times you threatened us with money, Dad? Money that was really ours? Money that Mom tried to leave for us? We’ll be starting the process to take it from you. And with the video and bank statements Ali-boo sent me, I’m pretty sure there’s not a judge who won’t sign off on it.” He leaned down to Dad’s level. “Consequences, remember? Your turn, fucker.”
Dad paled a little, and I studied him a second, finally saying, “You know, I don’t care that you didn’t want us. You weren’t an integral part of our childhood. But Mom loved you – really, truly loved you – and you took that and smashed it in her face. For someone who claims she was the one good thing in his life, you sure had a shitty way of showing it. I can’t fucking imagine what it felt like for her to find out that everything about you was a damn lie.”
I let out a deep breath, and for a split second, I thought I saw remorse on his cold face, but I wasn’t sure. Shaking my head, I finally turned away from him, smiling a little when Bella wrapped an arm around my waist and Chief Yorkie led all of us out of the interrogation room and back out into the office area.
“You okay?” she whispered, shifting to my front.
“Yeah, pretty girl.”
I looked up to see my brother smiling at her. “Em, this is Bella. Bella, this loud thing is my brother, Emmett,” I introduced.
He grinned, shaking her hand. “You’re as pretty as my brother said, Bella.”
“Thanks,” she said with a giggle.
“Let’s finish this stuff up,” I told them. “I’m ready for Renee’s cookin’.”
Chief Yorkie gripped my shoulder. “Your mom would be proud of you, kid.”
I nodded, trying to smile at him, but I really was just ready to go home. I was ready to be back in Florida. I knew that all of us needed to sit down at the house and talk. In fact, I could hear Rose’s father introduce himself to Dad as our lawyer as the interrogation room door closed again. Nothing about this next step would be easy, but if we were finally out of Forks, then maybe we could start our lives the way my mother had wanted.


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