“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”
Ch 11: Awake My Soul
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
A noise woke me, and I looked over to see Edward dressed in a pair of running shorts, and nothing else, as he opened the bedroom door.
“Hey,” my voice was raspy with sleep and I had to clear my throat before I finished, “are you trying to sneak out on me?”
He chuckled and came over to the bed, squatting down so we were eye level. “Nope, just heading out for a run before it gets too warm.”
“Okay,” I said as I yawned and stretched. “Have fun.”
“I didn’t think you would want to join me.”
I smiled and giggled. “See, you do know me. Nothing to worry about today.”
He rolled his eyes. “Right. My parents are probably downstairs already drinking coffee and reading the paper if you want to join them. I should be back before you and Alice head out but if not, have a great time and don’t let her try to talk you into buying anything you don’t want.”
“‘Kay,” he smiled, and I could tell he was thinking about scrapping his plan to run to climb back in bed with me, but maybe I only imagined that’s what he was thinking because it was what I wanted him to do. “See you later.”
“Later.” I nodded, I didn’t want him to see my disappointment, or confusion for that matter.
He leaned in and kissed my forehead before heading downstairs.
I didn’t really want to get up, but I didn’t want to stay in bed without Edward either. I rolled quickly to my other side and curled myself around his pillow. It smelled like him, and I took a deep breath, grinning like a fool. I thought about our run in with Rose through the door the night before. Her cockblocking seriously pissed me off. I didn’t think we would have actually had sex, but that was beside the point since she completely ruined the mood.
What was developing between Edward and me was messed up on so many levels. I wanted him, good lord did I want him, but the timing was horrible with spending the entire weekend in his family’s beach house. That and I was becoming increasingly worried about getting my heart broken, because it seemed like each breath of air I took filled my heart with a little more love for him.
I wanted to learn everything about him, to know him well enough to predict his reactions. I wanted it so badly that it terrified me, because I had no idea what would happen if his family found out we were faking it. I had a sinking suspicion that if the truth came out Edward would drop me like a hot potato to reconcile with them, because let’s face it, they were amazing. That had been my revelation the day before—no matter how Edward and I grew to feel about each other, we’d pulled his entire family into our charade.
I don’t know what I’d been expecting when I agreed to come to New York, but it hadn’t been to be welcomed with open arms as I had been—for the most part. They were close, closer than any family I knew, and I couldn’t imagine how much Edward missed them when he was in Seattle.
Over the years, I had wished for a family like his. Angela had a close family and they’d taken me in, but I never felt as if I belonged. I loved Charlie, he had done the best he could, but he had been a bachelor and I’d spent my teen years cooking and cleaning and raising myself. And my mother… for all intents and purposes, I didn’t have one. But Edward did. He had great parents and TV sitcom siblings—even Rose, with her bitchtastic attitude. Every family had someone like that, the black sheep or the odd duck. The drug addict, criminal, ubergeek or pervert. Rose was the anomaly in the Cullen clan. I’d worked with enough teenagers with a chip on their shoulders to know she had a reason—one that might only make sense to her—but she had one.
If she’d been a friend or relative of almost anyone else I’d write her off, but she was Edward’s so I would take a deep breath and deal with her. Okay, maybe I’d need a few cocktails, but I would be an adult about the situation and remember what Edward said—it didn’t matter what Rose thought. I’d have to repeat that to myself when she got particularly irritating.
I glanced at the clock, and it was way too early to call Angela in Seattle. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall back to sleep, so I decided to get up and join Edward’s parents.
By the time I’d showered and dried my hair I could hear others moving around the house. When I made it downstairs, I found the kids watching cartoons while Alice and Emmett were at the table with Esme and Carlisle. Jasper had gone running with Edward and Rose was still getting ready.
Esme got me a bowl of fresh cut fruit as I poured coffee. I took a seat next to Emmett and took a large sip from my mug. We talked quietly but mostly we shared the paper and let the caffeine work its magic.
Rose joined us after a while, and I gave myself the first pep-talk of the day.
I will be the bigger person. Edward said it didn’t matter what she thinks.
Alice giggled, and I was terrified.
“Oh my God,” I whispered. “Did I say that out loud?”
“No. It was the look on your face.” She shook her head before taking a drink of juice. “You looked like you ate a lemon.”
“That’s odd. I like lemons.”
We were still laughing when Rose sat across from us with her coffee and bagel. She raised an eyebrow but thankfully didn’t say anything before picking up part of the newspaper and ignoring me. We continued our quiet breakfast, and Rose was either not fully awake or on her best behavior because she kept to herself.
Esme and I were loading the dishwasher when Edward and Jasper made their way into the house. If I thought he had looked good before he left, it was only because I couldn’t possibly fathom how hot he’d be after his run. His hair was crazier than usual, sweat beaded on his chest, his cheeks were pink, and his legs… they looked so long and powerful. I bit my lip, and he totally caught me checking him out.
“Hey, Swan,” he smirked and laughed as he crossed the kitchen towards me.
My heart tripped a little at his use of my last name. It was kind of sweet.
“Good run?” I asked as he put his hands on my hips and leaned in to give me a quick kiss.
“I’m sweaty,” he murmured, I assumed explaining why he didn’t get any closer. “It was good. Jasper and I used to run a lot together.”
“I love having all of my kids home,” Esme sighed next to me, and we all chuckled.
“Rose,” Edward said, his voice cutting through the smaller conversations going on at the table. “Got a sec?”
She nodded, and he grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. He angled his head towards the deck, and she followed him outside.
You could have heard a pin drop, or Rose’s cold heart cracking. The brief silence around the table told me everyone understood what he wanted to speak to her about. I was mortified that he’d called her out so publicly in front of his whole family.
“Bella,” Esme nudged my arm and handed me a stack of bowls to put in the dishwasher.
I took care of the dishes and put them in the bottom rack as I wondered how wrong it would be for me to stand at the window and watch Edward and Rose.
When I stood Esme was holding a towel towards me and smiling shyly. “I prefer to wash the wine glasses by hand. Would you mind drying?”
I wanted to throw my arms around her. She so wanted to keep an eye on them, as well!
“No problem.” I grabbed the towel and watched Edward and Rose cross the deck to sit on the steps going down to the beach. Esme and I stood quietly together, waiting for the water to heat up. Seriously, Edward’s mother was genius. She was doing everything she could think of to make our chore last as long as possible.
At first Edward and Rose appeared to sit comfortably together. I couldn’t tell if they were talking or not, but they sat close together, with only a couple of inches between them on the step.
After only a few seconds, Rose became animated, or perhaps agitated, waving her arms and shaking her head. Edward tensed and ran his hand through his hair.
“You shouldn’t be watching them,” Carlisle’s voice startled me, and I almost dropped the wine glass I was drying.
Esme shushed him as if we could hear anything that was being said outside. He was right, though, we shouldn’t have been watching, but I didn’t want to stop. I checked over my shoulder to see if Emmett and Alice were watching too, or if they agreed with their father.
“They’re with the kids,” Carlisle answered as if he read my mind. I noticed that he hadn’t moved from behind Esme and me, still watching the muted drama on the deck.
Rose moved to stand, and Edward grabbed her wrist. I bit my lip, and Esme put her arm around me. Carlisle rested his hand on my shoulder.
“I heard about what she said to you,” Esme whispered. “I’m so sorry. I don’t really know why she’s got such an attitude towards you. She can be very protective of us.”
“That’s what Edward said.”
Carlisle squeezed my shoulder. “I’m sure she has a reason, though that doesn’t make it okay.”
I nodded and watched Edward shake his head at his Rose. She stood quickly and walked down to the beach without so much as a look over her shoulder at him. Edward put both hands in his hair, and Esme, Carlisle and I scattered.
I found Alice in her and Jasper’s bedroom looking for her shoes. I sat on the bed and hoped Edward hadn’t seen me dashing up the stairs.
“Ready for shopping?” she asked excitedly.
“I just need to grab my shoes and purse.”
“Great! I think we’ll just go ahead now. Rose doesn’t much like shopping with me anyway, and after having words with Edward, she won’t be in any mood for it.”
“Oh, okay.” What was I supposed to say to that? The words she’d had with Edward were about me. That wasn’t awkward or anything.
Alice shook her head. “Don’t let it get to you. It’ll all be smoothed over by the time we get home.”
I rolled my eyes doubting her optimism. I heard the shower down the hall turn on and guessed that it was Edward. While I wanted to know what was said between him and Rose, I didn’t want to ambush him. I decided that we’d have time to talk after shopping and grabbed my things from our bedroom.
“Oh, I love those sandals! I can’t wait to show you my favorite shops!”
I followed her down the stairs, and we were on our way.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
I don’t think one could truly prepare for shopping with Alice. She was a whirlwind of fashion and design commentary, and she spent money like it was burning a hole in her pocket. Thankfully she didn’t pressure me to buy anything, but I’d seen the sales girl put a blouse I loved into one of Alice’s shopping bags, so I had no idea what she had purchased for me.
She also didn’t ask much about my relationship with Edward. She had, however, asked me a million questions about my dream wedding and ideal wedding gown, not to mention did I want live music or DJ, seated meal with steak and salmon or steak and chicken, color palette or theme? I did the best I could, answering honestly for myself and telling her about things I thought Edward would like as well. It was bizarre, talking about our make believe wedding, but Alice had no idea it wasn’t real. It was easy to get caught up in her enthusiasm, and I had to keep reminding myself not to get too excited, which was depressing. In the end, I distracted her with stories about my favorite thrift shops and independent stores in Seattle.
I was exhausted by the time we got home , and we still had Riley’s barbecue to get through. Emmett and Jasper were in the kitchen eating sandwiches, but we didn’t see anyone else as we carried in our, mostly Alice’s, purchases.
“Damn, Alice, you buy one of everything?” Emmett teased.
“Nah,” she laughed, “I left a few things for mom to buy tomorrow.”
“Good thinking.” Jasper came over and gave her a quick kiss. “You want me to carry this upstairs?”
“Thanks, baby.” She cupped his cheeks and kissed him back. “If you could get the big red bag that would be great. It’s kind of heavy.”
They headed upstairs and left Emmett and I alone in the kitchen. He was generally pretty cool, I loved how he and Edward picked on each other and acted like they didn’t get along when it was obvious that they really cared about each other.
“Soooo,” he said, stretching the word, “I hear Ed and Rose had it out this morning.”
“What’s your point?” I sighed, as I took a seat across from him at the table. Seriously, this family had a major case of buttinskis. Maybe it was hereditary?
He raised an eyebrow. “My point is that although I feel bad for her because she’s my wife, she totally deserved it. I was pretty pissed when she told me what she said to you. She didn’t have an easy time of it with my grandparents when we first started going out, so she knows exactly how she made you feel.”
Oh, I seriously doubted that. She had no idea how I felt when she said she wasn’t buying our engagement.
“It’s just that she-”
“Stop. I don’t want to hear it, and especially not from you. I mean, I’m sure she has her reasons for acting like a complete bitch to me, but I’m not sure I want to know what they are—because I’m not sure they’d make sense to me, and it would just piss me off.”
“Would it mean anything if I said she was sorry?”
“No. It will only mean something when it comes from her.”
“Is Edward satisfied with whatever she had to say for herself?”
He snorted. “I don’t think he’s satisfied, but they didn’t end up sparring with each other on the beach, so he accepted whatever she told him.”
“Where is he, anyway?” I sat with a view of the deck and hadn’t seen Edward out there.
“He said he had to check his email, but that was like thirty minutes ago. My money says he fell asleep upstairs. Guess you really wore him out.” He waggled his eyebrows and smirked.
I grabbed a chip off his plate and flipped it at him frisbee style, hitting him in the forehead.
“Emmett, I realize your family is used to being all up in each other’s business, but some things are private.”
He snorted as he stood and took his plate to the sink. “Good luck with that.”
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
I went upstairs to look for Edward only to discover he was asleep. He was propped against the headboard with his computer lying cockeyed, half on, half off his lap. His head was tipped back, and his mouth was slightly open. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched him sleep. He looked so relaxed and peaceful, and I knew that his schedule at home left him very little time to relax and take care of himself.
He let out a snore and licked his lips but didn’t wake up. He wore khaki shorts and a golf shirt, obviously having showered after his run. I sighed and resisted the urge I had to curl up next to him, grabbing my toiletry bag and a change of clothes to get ready for Riley’s cookout.
About half an hour before we needed to leave I went back upstairs to check on him. He’d set his laptop on the nightstand and stretched out on the bed, burying his head under a pillow. I sat on the bed and lifted it to run a hand through his hair.
After a couple of passes through his hair, he smiled and reached up to grab my arm, pulling me down on beside him. I laughed and pushed my hair away from my face.
“Mmm. Hi.” He gave me a sleepy smile.
“Hi. We need to leave pretty soon, are you ready?”
“What?” He ran his hands over his face and blinked at me a couple of times trying to wake himself up. “How long was I asleep?”
“Well, Rip Van Winkle,” I teased, “I don’t know how to break it to you, but our kids are in college.”
He snorted. “Wow, that is a long time. You look really good for having kids in college, Ms. Swan, or did you marry me as well as take advantage of me during my twenty year slumber?”
I rolled my eyes and laughed, loving that he’d just rolled with my joke.
“Clearly we adopted; you would remember it if I had my way with you.”
“Fuck,” he whispered, his eyes wide.
I smirked and stood, making my way to the door. “You coming?”
He groaned and threw a pillow at me.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Edward and I took Jasper’s car to the party while Jasper and Alice rode with Carlise and Esme. When we got on the road I noticed him looking at me out of the corner of his eye.
He pinched the bridge of his nose then glanced at me again. “Are you going to ask me?”
“No. I’m not going to ask.”
“You don’t want to know?” He seemed surprised, and I told him the same thing I’d told Emmett.
“I don’t think I do. I’m not sure her explanation will be good enough for me. If she wants to apologize, that’s great but, really, I just want to try to move on. That’s how you left it, right? She’s going to pull her head out of her ass, and we’ll all get to know each other.”
“Um, yeah.” He nodded, still looking unsure. “You’re okay with that?”
“Edward,” I sighed. “I have no idea why she felt the need to put me down and try to make me feel like shit. I can only guess as to what her history is and what kind of things would make her act like that—or maybe it’s as simple as she’s a jealous bitch, I don’t know—what I know is that I don’t want it to ruin our weekend.”
He grinned at me as he reached over and took my hand. “You just keep on surprising me.”
“I do what I can.” I shrugged. “So, what haven’t you told me that I need to know for today?”
He rolled his shoulders, and I could tell that he’d relaxed a little after realizing I wasn’t going to give him the third degree about his talk with Rose.
“Hmm…Did I tell you how you know when Esme needs to be cut off?”
“Ha! No, you didn’t, but I bet that’s valuable information.”
“Oh, it is. She has two tells, she hiccups and she starts to talk about when my dad was in medical school. Do me a favor, if you hear either of those things, lead her away from whoever she’s talking to and find me or one of my family.”
“Deal. Anything else?”
He parked the car along a driveway already lined with cars. “No, I don’t think so, but I’ll try to stay close to you just in case.”
“Good. I like it when you’re close to me.”
We made our way up the drive, catching up with the rest of his family as they walked to the house. Edward’s hand rested on my lower back as we stepped into the house and made our way to the beachside deck where the party was apparently taking place. There were a few people in the house as we passed through, but I was entirely surprised to see close to a hundred people filling up the deck and spilling onto the beach.
It seemed as though there was no right or wrong way to dress for the day. I saw people dressed in everything from swimwear to silk dresses. I felt good about my choice of a tennis skirt and layered tanks. Alice had loaned me a bracelet and necklace set that dressed it up a little.
Esme and Carlisle had been stopped by friends somewhere in the house while Emmett and Rose followed the kids who made a beeline for the beach. I was hopeful that I wouldn’t have to spend much time near Rose. One can only wear big girl panties for so long before they become suffocating, and I had a feeling that if I had very much alcohol I would throw caution to the wind and all of my hard work at being the better person would fly out the window.
I let Edward lead me to a bar that had been set up in a shady area near the far corner of the deck. There was quite a line for drinks and as soon as we stopped moving people seemed to come out of the woodwork to say hello to Edward, Alice and Jasper.
My nerves spiked each time Edward introduced me as his fiancée as I gauged people’s reactions. The crowd was a mix of Edwards and his parents’ friends, and it seemed that most of Esme’s friends knew about our engagement but not so much the younger crowd. There were a few wide eyes and some furtive glances at my hand, but for the most part, everyone seemed excited for us.
By the time we got our drinks and left the bar area we still hadn’t seen Riley or his stepdaughter. I was nervous about meeting Riley. He’d been a big part of Edward’s life, and I knew their estrangement still bothered Edward. I wanted him to like me, and I wanted him to be happy for Edward. Somehow, I thought that was expecting way too much, but I hoped I was wrong. Maggie, on the other hand, I could have done without meeting entirely. From everything I’d heard she didn’t seem like someone I would ever be friends with. In fact, she was probably someone that Angela and I would make fun of while we sipped a drink under cover of a dark bar.
We were talking with Alice and Jasper when a woman shouted Edward’s name from the beach.
“Edward! I’m so glad you could make it!”
“Oh, shit,” Alice whispered.
I looked up to see someone who looked like Heidi Montag’s twin dressed in a tiny red bikini, grinning and waving at Edward. She stood between two other bikini clad women, thrusting their chests in our direction. My stomach sank. I knew it was Maggie. How could I compete with that? But what if it wasn’t even her? What if there was an entire posse of skanky women who lusted after Edward and my very existence was going to piss them off? Damn. I bit my lip and took a couple of deep calming breaths, reminding myself again that Edward said he wanted to be with me.
“She got a boob job,” Jasper said quietly.
“She certainly did,” Alice laughed.
Edward had yet to say anything. I glanced over to see him watching me with a crooked smile.
“Nothing,” he laughed, “just trying to figure out what’s going on in your head.”
“You so don’t want to know.”
He reached up and put a hand in my hair, leaning close to whisper in my ear, “Oh, but I do.”
He ran his nose up my neck, and I had to force myself to concentrate and get the words out, “You’re being rude.”
“You want me to be nice to her?” His breath on my neck gave me goosebumps.
“I don’t even know who she is.”
He kissed my forehead and slid his hand down around my waist as he turned towards the beach. “Hey, Maggie.”
Her eyes were bulging out of her head almost as much as her breasts were bulging out of her tiny swimsuit.
“Where’s Riley?” Edward asked, as if there was nothing strange about her reaction to him. “We haven’t seen him yet.”
She cocked her head like a puppy trying to understand what she was seeing. “I saw him with Randall talking to the caterers a little while ago.”
“Your brother’s here? That’s great.” He smiled at me, completely oblivious to her confusion. “You’ll like Randall.”
Alice giggled, and Jasper tried to shush her.
“You realize you’re still being rude to her?” I said quietly. “You’re being a total dick.”
“It’s the only language she understands.”
Maggie and her friends had been slowly walking towards us as she and Edward talked. She finally acknowledged the rest of us when they were close enough for me to see the sweat beading and sliding between her giant breasts.
“Alice, Jasper, it’s great to see you again too. Did you bring a friend?”
I realized Edward might have been right. It was possible she only spoke bitch.
“No,” Alice gave a fake laugh. “This is Bella-”
“My fiancée,” Edward finished, pulling me close and giving her that panty dropping crooked smile.
She raised an eyebrow and snorted. It wasn’t very lady like. She stepped closer to where we stood on the deck and introduced herself to me.
“I’m Maggie, and these are my friends Tanya and Irina Denali, and you are?”
“Bella Swan, Edward’s fiancée. I’ve heard so much about you.” I didn’t tell her that I had heard she was looking for a rich husband or that I thought she’d been sexually harassing Edward.
She looked back and forth between Edward and me, then at Alice and Jasper before looking back to Edward. “You’re serious?”
He grinned and moved his hand up to my shoulder, his fingers burning a path up my arm. “I can happily say I’m off the market.”
His words and the expression on his face made my stomach flip. I looked up at him, and I was so overwhelmed I had to blink back tears. God, how I wanted it to be true.
He smiled down at me, then his brows furrowed when he saw my eyes.
“Hey,” he turned and put his hands on either side of my face, pushing my hair back and searching my face.
We were standing close and I could feel Maggie’s eyes on us, but Edward didn’t seem to care.
“You know I really mean that, don’t you?” His words were so quiet no one else could hear.
My breath caught, and my eyes got wide.
He licked his lips and caressed my cheek with his thumb. “I don’t think I can go back to my life without you.”
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t say it enough. I kind of lost my motivation a few weeks ago, but I feel like I’ve gotten a second wind. I could tell you all kinds of crazy things that have been going on in my life, but you really probably don’t want to hear it. Just know that writing (and reading) fic is my happy place. You all make me happy too, so thanks.
What I’ve been reading: (I’ve been rec’ing some fics in the A/N of my FFposts of this fic and people seem to like them, so I thought I’d share here too. If you enjoy them, great, if not – no worries. I just like to pay forward the rec’s people have given my fic.
FF – all 3 are WIP
Betrayed just days before her wedding, Bella’s personal and professional life hang in the balance. When one of her closest friends offers to be the stand-in groom, Bella will find that sometimes the best things in life really aren’t what you planned.
When a one-night stand that should have stayed that way has unexpected consequences, Edward and Bella have to find a way to make it work, for better or worse. AH/OCC. Rated M for so many reasons.
Bell Swan is a hard ass roller derby chick. Edward Cullen is a shy and totally awkward Medical Examiner. What will happen when he needs to take care of her when no one else will? A bit of angst… a bit of drama but a TON of funny. Rated M for…you know.
Books to rec – I know right, books? I could tell you more, but the summaries are way too long. Amazon doesn’t have a word limit like FFnet. LOL
Overseas – Beatriz Williams (Time-travelly, mystery/romance. This new book has a prominent spot in my re-read rotation.)
Premonition Series – Amy Bartol (Paranormal mystery/romance series. SO freakin’ good) (Books 1 – 3 are out (Inescapable, Intuition & Indebted), according to her blog/tweets she’s finishing book 4 now (Incendiary) and it should be out in a few months.)