20. Garage

The Twilight Twenty-Five

Prompt: #10/garage
Pen Name: Missus T
Pairing/Main Character(s): Edward/Bella

A/N:
Good news/Bad news. Good news – I’ve completed the challenge! Bad news – I had a o/s yanked on FF Monday night so I can’t post there until like 2AM tonight which is after the contest deadline – so I’m posting here – which I have been all along so I don’t feel like it’s cheating – to squeak in within the time-limit! So I guess it’s not really bad news… unless you were waiting for my AiL update on FFnet…

Anyway — Here are the last six chapters of Fire and Rain. Thank you so much for reading. The sad in this story lasted longer than I anticipated, but I think it turned around. You’ll have to let me know.

Thanks to SydneyGen and Seastarr08 for pre-reading and fixing my mistakes. Any and all remaining errors are mine.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

Dating Edward was much easier than I anticipated. He was incredibly patient, allowing us to take things at a veritable snails pace. We made out like teenagers, going a little further each time until I thought I’d go crazy wanting him. He had his reasons for taking things slow as well, as I soon found out.

We had some serious conversations right away, and I was suddenly aware that I’d become a grown up. We talked about what our dating meant for us at work, and how we were going to tell Carmen and Zar about our new relationship. Most of our friends had figured out there was something going on between us, so we chose to tell Garrett’s parents before anyone else.

I invited them to dinner, and they didn’t question anything when they arrived to find Edward already at the cottage. We told them our news after spaghetti and a bottle of wine. They tried to be happy for us but it was difficult—for all of us.

“That’s… lovely,” Carmen sniffed. “I’m sad, but I’m happy for you.” She tried, but failed, to blink back her tears and muttered an apology before leaving the room.

I stood to go after her, but Zar shook his head.

“Let her go, honey. Just give her a minute. She’ll be okay.” His smile was full of sadness. “You’re good people. You deserve to find happiness. It’s just hard to think of how different things could have been.”

His eyes were glassy with tears and my heart broke for him. Edward squeezed my hand under the table, and I knew he felt the same way.

“Anyway,” Zar nodded, “thank you for telling us. It means a lot that you didn’t want us to find out from someone else.”

When Carmen came back from the bathroom she still looked upset, but she put on a good front. “Did you say earlier there was cake for dessert?” she asked with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

Edward and I had several conversations about my career at Forks High School. As the principal it wasn’t appropriate for him to date a teacher, but he said it wasn’t entirely unheard of for staff to date and even marry.

We were halfway through the school year, and I was scheduled to switch classrooms in a few weeks time when the next in the line of pregnant teachers went on maternity leave. There was another teacher on maternity leave in the middle school as well. After much debate, we decided Edward should meet with James Hunter, the superintendent, to discuss having me switch assignments so I no longer worked in his building.

It was a tough call. Outing ourselves made it look like we had something to hide, but not telling the administration made us look shady. In the end James had simply laughed, and told Edward to do what he thought was best. Turned out, when he worked in a different district, James had married his secretary—who was also fifteen years younger than him. He didn’t anticipate trouble with the school board but advised Edward it might not be a good idea for me to apply full time until we were married.

I had gotten a panicked look on my face when Edward told me that part of the story and he just laughed, assuring me he told James we’d only just started dating. It left me shaken though. Did that mean Edward didn’t ever see us getting married? If he didn’t, what were we doing?

Edward had waited, watching my emotions play out on my face before shaking his head and putting his arms around me.

“I thought we were taking things slow,” he chuckled. “Now you’re all freaked out because I didn’t tell James I want to marry you.”

“Do you?”

My mouth was dry. My stomach was doing those crazy things but this time it wasn’t a good sign.

“Bella,” he sighed, “we don’t need to have this conversation yet. Do I eventually, at some time down the road, think I might want to marry you? Yes. Am I going to pressure you by even asking you if you feel the same? No. We have plenty of time for that.”

I licked my lips and felt my heart begin to slow to its regular pace. “Okay.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You sure?”

I took a deep breath and exhaled loudly, trying to pull my thoughts together. “I’m sure I’m not ready to have this conversation, but I’m also sure that I wouldn’t invest my time in us if I didn’t hope for a future. Does that make sense?”

He pushed some of my hair over my shoulder and smiled at me. “It makes total sense.”

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

Telling our core group of friends was easy. Emmett made jokes. Alice cried, and Rose said I told you so. They all took it in stride, but like Char said, they’d pretty much seen it coming for months. It made me laugh, because I certainly hadn’t. Even my phone call to Kate ended with us giggling about her former childhood crush on Edward. The person who took the news the worst was a complete shock.

Edward and I walked into Emmett and Rosalie’s garage one night in February when they were having everyone over to watch a Sonics basketball game. Mike Newton stood near the back door, watching us as the beer he was pouring overflowed. He didn’t even notice. Beer soaked his shoe and started to puddle on the floor. He cocked his head and continued to look at us, and I could almost feel his eyes focused on our joined hands.

“What the mother fuck?” Rose barked at him when she saw the beer on the floor. “Clean that shit up, Newton.” She grabbed an old towel off a shelf and tossed it near Mike’s feet.

“Shit. Sorry. I just…” he looked at us, confused. “What the fuck, Edward?”

“Mike-” Edward started, but Mike interrupted, sounding disgusted. “She’s Garrett’s widow. What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking she’s an adult and can make her own decisions.”

Edward seemed calm, but I felt sick. Did others feel the same way Mike did?

“She’s heartbroken! She’s not ready to date.” Mike spit the last word out like it was dirty.

“Excuse me,” I said loudly. “She is standing right here.”

“I’m sorry, Bella.” Mike shook his head and set his beer down hard, sloshing more on a shelf.  “This just isn’t right. You can’t be ready to move on—and with Edward?” He gave Edward a disapproving look. “It’s not right.”

I stiffened. “Wait, are you upset with Edward? He hasn’t done anything wrong.”

“He’s taking advantage of you. You’re not ready for this.”

“Taking advantage of me? I had to ask him if he was attracted to me! He was waiting for me to be ready. ”

“I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

Hurt? What the hell did he think happened to me?

“Newsflash, Mike: my husband died. I’ve already been hurt.”

Edward put a hand on my arm, and I turned toward him. “You don’t need to defend yourself to him.”

“Yeah, I do. Because if he’s thinking it, then other people are too.” I sighed and looked back to Mike.

“How long should I wait? When will it have been long enough for me to move on, to live again? Because I didn’t know there was a prescribed amount of time. I thought maybe when I’d finally stopped crying myself to sleep at night and actually looking forward to things again that it might be time to try. But if you know something I don’t, please, enlighten me.”

“I don’t know, Bella.” He was much quieter. “I’m just worried about you. He was Garrett’s best friend, isn’t that weird?

“It is what it is,” I said, frustrated.

“It’s none of your business.” Edward was getting pissed.

I knew Mike meant well, but I’d had enough.

“You know what Mike? You were friends with Garrett too, but I didn’t see you in Italy when I could barely function. You didn’t stay after the memorial to make sure I was okay. You didn’t hold me when I had a complete fucking breakdown over being alone. You didn’t help me Christmas shop when I’d waited until the last minute because I didn’t want to think about spending the holiday without Garrett. It was Edward. It was always Edward.”

I turned towards Edward again and noticed a some of our friends gathered in the doorway. It was horrible timing, or maybe it was perfect in case anyone else doubted me. Us. I bit my lip as I looked into his eyes.

“I know it should be weird, and I know I shouldn’t have fallen for him… but I did.”

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

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