Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Perdition Teaser Chapter 17

It's tedious as hell to spend hours pretending you don't want to gut the guy sitting next to you like a fish. If I had the chance to be a widow on my wedding day, the way he warned me not to do to him, I would split him open and not regret it.
When the men are sloppy and snoring on their chests, Jacob stumbles to his feet and holds a hand out to me. I take it without hesitation and stand next to him, plastic pieces on a chessboard, and we walk down the hallway that leads to what looks like a handful of bedrooms. When he ushers me inside one, closing and locking the door, I take in my surroundings. Closet, bathroom, window over bed. I can't see very far into the bathroom, but I hope there's a sizable window in there.

I look at the walls, the peeling wallpaper that might have once been red but is now a faded version of puce. The bed is messy, with sheets tangled everywhere. It smells like it needs a good scrubbing, the bedding needs to be bleached, and a bomb set off to take care of the rest.



Capo di tutti Capi Chapter 5


EPOV


The next few hours were a fucking misery. I didn't know where she'd gone, but I had all of my men looking for her. The two at the Benbrook warehouse had been so thoroughly interrogated that I'd almost broken them. They'd done nothing but obey orders, and yet I blamed them for letting her leave without contacting me first. I was pissed that she'd let those men go free, presumably letting them walk away without facing consequences. I blamed Eli for not warning me of what she was planning, for not having the courtesy to tell me my fucking wife was packing her fucking bags while I sat in my father's fucking office. I blamed Carlisle for being unmoving in his decision, for being unable to choose to believe my wife when she swore that these were loyal men. I blamed my wife for being headstrong and not listening to reason, for thinking that she knew better than me and her father-in-law.


Most of all, I blamed myself. God, I'd spiraled into a never ending cycle of self loathing and blame. I knew it was past time to force my father to retire. He couldn't have me act like a show pony, but still be expected to answer to him. The very fact that he'd threatened my wife, my equal, had me not speaking to him, but even more so, I'd shut him out. I'd issued a company- and family-wide order that he was not in his right mind, and was not to be obeyed. My word was law, and the first man to cross me would be shot on sight, no questions asked.


I had moles in the Volturi family's operations looking for information. I didn't think she was pissed enough to be disloyal, but I never thought she'd truly leave me, either. As a last resort, I had men checking the safe houses we had stashed around the city and further out into the more rural areas. I hadn't slept, hadn't eaten, in the past twelve hours. I was subsisting on coffee; pot after pot of coffee. I couldn't close my eyes without seeing Bella and her captivating brown eyes, her flowing chestnut hair wrapped around us as we embraced. All I wanted was to hold her again.


The phone in my hand rang, startling the shit out of me. “Yes,” I answered it, my voice gruff from hours of shouting.

“We got something at a safe house, boss.”

“Bella?” I questioned, suddenly terrified of the answer.

“No. Newton with a third eye.”

If Emmett wasn't cowering on the other end of the line with the amount of expletives I was shouting in his ear, then he had bigger balls than me. When I finished, he continued calmly.

“There are signs that she was here, like a towel hanging up, and her hairbrush on the counter in the master bathroom. I checked the stash, and two handguns are missing; the Sig Sauer P238 and a .45.”

Bella's preferred weapon was a Sig, so I had hope. “What size hole in Newton's head?”

“Looks like a .300, boss. The poor bastard.”

I scrubbed my hand over my face, feeling the stubble that was rapidly morphing into a beard. “So three went in, and two left. Two handguns are missing, but the DB has apparently been killed with a rifle.” My brain spun in useless circles, like tires on ice. I couldn't think, couldn't function.

“Goddammit!” I roared.

“Boss, let me and Jasper do some more digging. You need to sleep, you know how you get,” he reminded me.

“Don't tell me to sleep, or eat, or fucking meditate while praying to the motherfucking Buddha!” I screamed into the phone. “All of you need to get your lazy asses moving and find my goddamn wife!” I roared, punctuating that with throwing my phone across the room, watching as it cracked against the fireplace.

I paced the bedroom, back and forth in an irregular pattern. I was going mad without her, and the idea that something went wrong with those two troglodytes that she rescued had me seeing red. I pulled at my hair, I screamed out my frustration, and I threw everything within my reach across the room to shatter on the hearth.

When my fit was over, Felix brought me a new phone, a sandwich, and a sedative. Nothing would satisfy me more than shoving the pill and my Witness Elite 1911 down his throat, but good men are hard to find, and I didn't want to have to replace the rug. Sighing loudly, I swallowed the pill and ate the sandwich before flopping down across the bed. I could only think of Bella, like a movie reel played on repeat in my brain. I wondered if she was okay, where she was, why Newton was dead. There shouldn't be any reason for her to kill him, unless she discovered that he was, in fact, disloyal.

Thoughts whirled around in my head until the meds finally kicked in, and I fell into a restless sleep. Bella was calling for me to help her, and there was nothing I could do. Then I saw her fighting off a man in a ski mask, kicking his ass pretty good. As the scene seemed to play backwards, I saw her in the safe house, standing under the waterfall shower spray and washing her long, glorious hair.

My house phone rang, waking me groggily, and I cleared my throat several times before answering. “Cullen.”

“Edward!” I heard my wife screaming.

My heart pounded in my chest furiously, my mouth arid from the sedative. “Bella! Are you alright, what's going on?”

But it was a different voice that answered me. “Cullen, if you expect me to keep your pretty wife alive, you will sign over the rights to all MCE holdings and leave the paperwork in a drop box. I will call tomorrow at ten with further instructions.”

“You listen to me, you cock sucking, mother fucking piece of shit on the bottom of my shoe. If you harm one tiny hair on her head, there will not be a corner in Hell you can hide in! Do I make myself fucking clear!?”

I knew when he merely laughed that she was in more trouble than I'd feared.






Sunday, May 28, 2017

Angry All The Time Chapter 20



Crashing, hit a wall

Right now I need a miracle
Hurry up, I need a miracle
Stranded, reaching out
I call your name but you're not around
I say you're name but you're not around
I need you, I need you, I need you right now
Yeah, I need you right now
So don't let me, don't let me, don't let me down
I think I'm losing my mind now
It's in my head, darling I hope
That you'll be there when I need you the most
So don't let me, don't let me, don't let me down
Don't let me down, down, down

~ The Chainsmokers ft. Daya, Don't Let Me Down


February 2010
BPOV

I was beginning to feel like myself again, after the grueling months of dealing with Mike and finding myself to be a workaholic. I felt like I was out of the slump that followed, where I wanted nothing more than to bury my head in the sand, but was too bored to sit still. The holidays felt relaxed, especially when my parents came to visit for a week after the first of the year. Mom and I spent most of our time decorating a guest room upstairs and an office downstairs. Dad and Edward got their fishing trip, which they both enjoyed more than they thought they would.

I spent the month of December learning my way around the library on Mercer Island, including the friendly staff. Carmen, the head librarian, was a lovely woman somewhere around a decade older than me, with rich coffee colored hair and smooth olive skin. She was possibly created for the position of librarian, she was so attentive and warm and compassionate to the patrons and to me, also.

"Whatever hours are comfortable for you, Bella. You are a volunteer, after all." Her chocolate eyes were quite similar to my own, but seemed more expressive to me. Her husband stopped in one day at lunch, and I looked after the counter for her while they sat outside for a visit. Eleazar had a more exotic look to his features, and a heavier accent than Carmen. She said they had been married forever and had not been able to have children of their own, so she loved story hour when the children would come in. I did, as well.

After Rose's announcement, Edward and I spent several nights having serious discussions regarding children. We knew before we married that we each wanted them, but the idea of them is something very different than the concrete existence of them. I was a little giddy at the idea that he wanted to start trying for children already. He admitted that Charlie had something to do with that.

In February I met a sweet older lady at the library by the name of Siobhan. She came in asking me if there were any newly donated suspense novels, and sat right down in an armchair and started reading one. Her accent was faded like her eyes, but her smile was genuine when it curved up in her wrinkled face.

"I don't recall seeing you in here before," she said in a whispery voice, with a lilting remainder of Ireland.

"I came here in December, as a volunteer. We moved to the island a handful of months ago."

"I come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, always at nine. Never miss one. Carmen, she lets me read whatever has come in lately."

"Ah, that explains it. The only two days I normally don't come in." I sat on the edge of the table next to her. "I'll have to change that."

Siobhan and I sat in the reading nook for an hour, talking about the book she was reading. I brought her a cup of tea from the cafe, and she gave me the sweetest smile. Her eyes crinkled in the corners when she smiled at me, and she gave me the warmest feeling, like my grandmother used to.

I left at the end of my day feeling buoyant and incredibly happy. I had a smile on my face as I unlocked the door of my truck. A movement caught my attention in my peripheral vision, so I looked up, the smile dying on my frozen face.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" I hissed. My face flamed, and my body locked down.

Mike just smiled and sauntered closer to me. "I wanted to see how you were holding up after the. . .incident at the university."

"I'm fantastic, thanks for asking. Go away." I was infuriated that he would dare to show up here.

"Now, now, that's impolite." He reached towards me, and I side stepped. His hand bumped the truck instead.

"Don't touch me," I warned in a low voice. "How did you find me?"

"Your address is in your personnel file. It wasn't hard to ask around and find where you were working." He reached for me again.

"I said DON'T TOUCH ME!" My voice was edging towards hysteria.

"Isabella? Is there a problem?" I visually sagged in relief at the sharp sound of Eleazar's voice.

"Yes, this man has repeatedly tried to put his hands on me." I watched Mike's eyes shift from me to the man walking up next to me.

"And you are?" Eleazar asked. His eyes narrowed, and to me he looked intimidating.

"It's not important." He focused back on me. "I'll see you around, Bella." Mike started whistling as he walked away, crossing the street and disappearing into the park. The rush of adrenaline left me feeling exhausted and shaky.

"I'm so glad you came when you did, Eleazar." I sighed. "Carmen is still inside, but I believe she's almost done closing up. She sent me home."

"That is fine, Chabela, but are you sure you are all right?" The concern was evident in his thickly accented voice.

I was flushed from anger and embarrassment, and then the tears started to flow freely. I couldn't help myself as I sobbed, Eleazar wrapping his warm arms around me and shushing me soothingly.

"Here, let us go inside to Carmen. Can one of us call your husband?" He tsked. "Mi querido, you are shaking." He ushered me back inside the cool library, and the thick, familiar smell of paper and coffee helped to ease my mind.

"Th-thank you, Eleazar," I said, and watched Carmen rush at us from the circulation desk.

"Bella!" She met her husband's eyes. "What is it?"

"Un hombre. He was trying to touch her, until I walked up. He is gone now, amablemente."

Carmen nodded in concern. "Honey, let's get the phone and call Edward. You're in no shape to drive home."

The Denalis took care of me as I waited for Edward, who had merely said he was coming right away. He had to drive from midtown Seattle, so I sat with Carmen while Eleazar made us hot tea. She had a calming, maternal presence about her, regardless of her young age. We ended up chatting about the fabulous Siobhan, who was a long time regular and beloved by all of the staff.

I was considerably more calm by the time Edward arrived; he, however, was not.

"What the hell happened? Did he put his hands on you?" He looked around frantically as he rushed to me, as though the instinct to defend included the interior of the library.

I waved my hands dismissively and stood as he approached, and he crushed me to him, his hands roaming my body like he was searching for injuries. "He's gone. I think Eleazar scared him off." I had spoken enough of the Denalis that Edward knew who they were, but he had never met them. I made quick introductions as Edward thanked them profusely.

"I am merely grateful for my good timing, and the fact that I was here to pick up mi cielo for dinner, which is not always the case." Eleazar looked at me. "I believe the young man's intentions were to scare your wife, Edward."

"Yes, we've had problems with him in the past. He was Bella's boss at the university, and he made her life very difficult." I'd shared all of this with Carmen, so she understood.

"Yes, well, he shouldn't be hanging around our parking lot here. Maybe you should file a restraining order if he's been a repeat nuisance?" Carmen suggested.

"That's exactly what we should do," Edward agreed.

"Wait. Why would anyone believe my side of the story over his? They didn't the last time."

"We have security cameras aimed toward the parking lot, Bella. It's in black and white, no one has to take sides. The truth will be on the camera," Carmen pointed out.

Eleazar added, "I will corroborate if you need, Isabella. I saw him reach for you, and you backed away just as I was approaching."

"Thank you guys, so much" I sniffled, and Edward tightened his arms around me. "I made it harder on myself the last time by not speaking up. It's so much easier with your support."

~~~oOo~~~

With the restraining order filed, I felt more at ease as I left in the evenings. Carmen watched me from the door each time, reminding me of the cameras to help me to relax.

I didn't tell Siobhan about what happened, but she was an intuitive woman. She asked me every time she came if I was still okay, or if I'd been staying out of trouble. Once she even asked if I felt safe at home, and I was quick to assure her it was not my husband that was the problem. She swore to me that she would take on whatever monsters plagued me, and I couldn't help hugging her for that.

"When I was a wee little babe, there was political unrest in my country. It was called Cogadh na Saoirse. Civilians, British soldiers, and guerrilla men were killed with no regard to whose side they were on. My father was killed on Domhnach na Fola." She looked at me seriously with her filmy eyes. "You would call it Bloody Sunday. My mother was never the same again; she had many babes to tend to, and I was the youngest." She closed her eyes, as though she was picturing this thing that had occurred so long ago. "There was a man that I remember growing up. Not my father, but my mathair's man friend." She smiled wryly. "I knew even then what he was. He was not kind to the children. He wanted only my mother, for she was a beauty still."

She stopped speaking long enough that I prompted her. "What happened?" I asked quietly, afraid of the answer.

She reopened her eyes and looked right into mine, and I somehow felt her terrible pain. "He did unspeakable things to my older sisters. Ma would not give in to him anymore, and he took his revenge on her daughters. I was lucky; I was young enough that he did not want to bother with me." She sighed with a deeply ingrained weariness. "Mathair was not the type to sit by, though. She defended her daughters the best she could, and she paid for it with her life. My young brothers and I ran as fast as our short legs would carry us to the neighbor's house. We found help, but too late."

She picked up her cup and sipped a bit of tea. I was riveted to the spot, too afraid to say anything and break the strange connection I felt between us. "We were wards of the government after that. We were split up, the youngest of us being of more interest. I had a good set of adoptive parents. They brought me here to the States. I had a good life after that."

"What happened to your siblings?" I whispered.

"I never knew."

I left that day feeling weighed down with Siobhan's sadness. I wanted my husband, I wanted some comfort and safety, and I was more than relieved to walk in my own front door.

I could hear the tinkling of the piano as I searched out Edward. I followed the sounds, taking off my shoes and stripping my jacket on the way to the family room. The echoing notes rose and fell as he played, filling my heart with warmth once again.

I went straight to him, draping myself over his back and breathing in his unique scent.

"Hello," he greeted me, wrapping his arms over mine.

I kissed his neck, then behind his ear. "Hello, love of mine. I missed you."

I straightened as he turned on the piano bench, his hands going to my waist. "I was thinking of you, and adding to your lullaby."

I smiled at him. "That's very sweet." I leaned into him, touching my lips softly to his. His hands brushed at the hair at my temple before cradling my jaw. "I want to make love to my husband," I said quietly as we broke apart from the kiss.

He smiled tenderly at me. "I would like nothing more, my Bella."

There were soft sighs and whispers of love, gentle caresses and throaty moans. We were so attuned to each other's needs, our bodies responding readily to the ecstasy we created in our cocoon. It was easy, but no less powerful than the first time. I found solace in his strong arms, a completeness that I only felt when we were together as one.


Spanish translations:
Chabela- nickname for Isabella
Mi querido- my dear
Un hombre- a man
Amablemente- thankfully
Mi cielo- my heaven (endearment)
Gaelic translations:
Cogadh na Saoirse- Irish War of Independence
Domhnach na Fola- Bloody Sunday
Mathair- mother


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Angry All The Time Chapter 19



I never dreamt of doing him no harm

I always seem to pull him down
He'll be floating away
Floating away
Hope he floats right back to me
He'll be floating away
He'll be turning away
Oh, gravity
Damn, gravity
Oh, gravity
Damn, gravity
He keeps drifting away
Hope he floats right back to me

~Okay Kaya, Damn, Gravity


October 2009
EPOV

I knew that Bella was unhappy. I felt guilty, though I was immensely pleased that she was no longer under the thumb of such a slimy weasel. She wanted, needed, something to do with her time. She was not the type to stay inside all day around the house and watch television.

To say I was stunned when she was fired would be a massive understatement. I still hadn't wrapped my mind around all of it, but I had most definitely called the university and found the chain of command, speaking to higher authorities than one Jessica Stanley. I insisted they launch an investigation into all of this, and I'd been assured that someone was reviewing security footage from the parking garage. I was absolutely furious to hear that Bella's scum of a boss had started stalking her and she hadn't said anything to me. It was a bitter argument when I got home from work the day that she was fired.

I remember that I was surprised she was already home; she no longer arrived before seven in the evening, yet there she was at a quarter 'till five.

"Bella? Are you sick?" I found her curled up in our bed, the covers to her nose. She was so still that I was partially undressed before I noticed her. It was actually the sound of her sniffling that caught my attention.

"No," she whispered.

I pulled my phone and the change from the day out of my trouser pockets, placing them on the dresser. Out of habit, I turned my phone back on, watching the screen light up as I unbuttoned my dress shirt.

"You're home early, I thought maybe something was wrong. . ." I trailed off as several notifications popped up on the screen of my phone. I frowned, reaching for it. "Son of a bitch," I swore, running my hand roughly through my hair.

I dropped my phone back on the dresser and moved around to the other side of the bed. Kneeling, I pulled the duvet away from Bella's tear-stained face. "My phone was off; I was in a client meeting, and I came straight home when we were finished. I just now saw the texts from Jasper." She wouldn't look at me, just stared over my shoulder. "That job sucked, baby. It'll be good for you to be away from there."

Her reddened eyes flicked to mine, then back to a point behind me. "I don't care about the job. I care about what they said about me."

"What do you mean?" I asked her in confusion.

"Mike turned everything around on me, made me out to be a stalker and claimed I couldn't meet my deadlines, so they fired me." I couldn't help but notice that her voice was dead, devoid of emotion.

"Couldn't meet the ridiculous deadlines he enforced? I wouldn't care about that either." I sighed, then something she said hit me. "Wait, he said you were stalking him? Is that . . .was he following you around?" I ground out. She didn't answer me. "Bella!"

"Yes, okay? He appeared at the truck more than once. He was always at my desk in the mornings, even though I was coming in early. Turns out he was just keeping track of my hours to report back that I was incompetent!"

"He was STALKING YOU!" I roared. Bella cowered back into the bed, and I worked hard to modulate my voice. "Whatever his pathetic reasons, he was following you around and making you miserable, and you never said a word!"

"It didn't matter," she insisted.

"You matter! You matter to me, damn it!" I groaned in frustration, scrubbing my hands over my face and lowering to the floor to sit in front of her. "I thought we agreed you would tell me absolutely everything that fucker did."

"I was trying to protect you." Her voice was so small, and she had her body curled up in the fetal position. This had been going on for too long.

"You can't protect me by lying to me," I said harshly. She flinched, and I sighed.

"You take on too much, I don't want to add any stress on you."

"You have to take care of yourself if you want me to not worry about you. Stop worrying about me, and expecting me to not worry about you!" I didn't understand her logic.

The tears were rolling down her face, trickling sideways across her nose and into the pillow. "You're the best thing that ever happened to me, Edward." My heart squeezed painfully at her statement. "I want to worry about you, to make sure you're always okay."

"Then I reserve the same right." I stood, leaning over her and kissing her on the head. "You should get up, get a bath and let me make you something to eat. And maybe call Jasper, because he's still blowing up my phone," I glanced over as another notification beeped on my phone.

~~~oOo~~~

The girls and I were trying to distract Bella from boredom, but it wasn't working. I came home early when I could, and Rose and Ali would stop by during the day and drag her to lunch. Rose was incredibly blunt with her opinion of Bella's old boss, and the way she handled the situation. She made Bella promise to knock off the shit and communicate with me more.

She was still bored.

She job hunted, but she was understandably not secure in her ability to find work after having such a scandal in her previous position. I told her repeatedly not to worry about income, just to find something to make her happy.

I came home from work one day in November to find Bella in the entryway, stark naked. She had one of my ties around her neck, and she was running her hands down it, between her breasts. My gaze travelled down as I dropped my briefcase on the floor, and I groaned at the sight of red stilettos and long legs.

"Did you have a good day, Edward?" she rasped sexily. I think I whimpered loudly.

"Did you?" I countered as I adjusted my erection in my pants. I moved closer to her, and I was positively salivating at the view in front of me.

She pushed my suit coat off my shoulders, running her hands down my arms and grabbing my hands in hers. She backed up into the living room, pulling me with her. She stopped at the couch and pushed me down. I reached for her, but she backed away, a teasing smile on her face. Whatever had happened that day, she was in a playful mood and I was going to gleefully reap the rewards.

When she leaned forward in my direction, I couldn't help but take her breasts in my hands. The tie dangled between us as she started unbuttoning my shirt, and I palmed her breasts, rolling the tips in my fingers. She bit her lip, and my gaze focused on her mouth instead of her tits. When she shoved at my shirt, I helped her take it off, then her hands went to my zipper. She worked at my belt and pants, shoving open the fly and reaching into my boxers.

She made a soft sound as she wrapped her silky hands around my cock, and I leaned back and moaned at the feeling. She had me throbbing with the way she was teasing, so hard it was uncomfortable. When she stroked me the way she did, it made that aching both better and worse.

"Baby," I whispered, then licked my dry lips. "You're driving me crazy."

Bella smiled wickedly. "Good."

She stood straight again, and I whimpered at the loss of contact. She turned around, running her hands down her thighs to her knees. My hands ran over her ass as she bent over, and this time she was the one whimpering. One of my hands stroked her wet pussy from the back, the other circling around her plump ass. My dick was practically begging her to sit on it, but she didn't. She straightened again, turning back to face me and placing a heeled foot on the couch between my legs. She ran her hands from her ankle to her knee, and my hands followed suit.

"Baby, do you want me to come all over this couch?" I breathed out.

"Maybe," she responded. Instead, she grabbed the waistband of my pants and yanked. I stood with her, working to toe off my shoes and push my pants off at the same time. She pushed me back down on the couch, crouching and pulling my socks off. I was officially more naked than she was, and she finally straddled me, trapping my leaking cock between us.

"Mmm, you're killing me," I moaned.

She merely smiled, pushing her tits into my face and running her hands through my hair. I absolutely devoured her gorgeous breasts with my mouth and tongue, reveling in the sounds of pleasure coming from her throat. Finally she lifted enough to position her wet entrance over my eager cock, sinking down and setting an urgent pace.

I was thinking that she'd turned herself on with all the teasing, because her breathing was harsh and her moans guttural as she rode me. I twisted the tie around my hand, pulling her in to kiss her deeply, stroking my tongue urgently in her mouth.

"Oh, God!" she cried against my lips, and her hips faltered. I grabbed them, helping her move over me, meeting her thrusts until I knew I was going to explode. "Ohhhh. . .Yes, Edward!" Her orgasm spurred mine, and I held her tight as my dick pulsed inside her, the walls of her pussy clamped down like a vise.

Bella sprawled limply over my chest, and I stroked her back softly. I was trying to catch my breath when she spoke into my skin.

"I'm going to be volunteering at the library. I start tomorrow."

"That's the best news I've ever heard," I stated.

She looked up at me. "Why?"

I gestured to her naked body draped over mine. "This was the result."

She giggled, and my heart felt full.

oOo

December 2009

Christmas was good for all of us. We hadn't spent as much time together as we would've preferred, so it was a nice change to slow down and talk, and to just be ourselves.

Charlie kept hinting about grandbabies, and I was surprised it was him and not Renee. We'd been married for 8 months by then, and I wasn't even sure how Bella felt about having children that early in our marriage. I decided I would ask her the next time we were alone.

We were smart that year, making the drive on Christmas Eve and spending the day with the Swans. Charlie and I spent a good amount of time talking about fishing; it was something I had not really done since I was a child. I promised him we would come out one weekend soon and he and I would spend the day on the lake.

Bella and her mother talked endlessly about the new house. Renee was more than happy to lend a hand decorating, since it wasn't really Bella's thing. Alice had already done an amazing job with the furniture and paint, and my piano sat in the room off the kitchen. Other than the master, the bedrooms upstairs were empty.

When it was time to head to my parents' house, Bella was teary eyed.

"I never spend enough time with them anymore, Edward." She swiped at a tear and sniffled.

"So have them over. For New Year's or a weekend in January. You and Renee can spend all the time you want on the house, and your dad and I can fiddle around in the garage."

She smiled up at me. "Yeah, maybe I will."

We spent plenty of time at the piano at Mom and Dad's house, since everyone loved singing carols. When it was almost time to leave, Emmett stopped everybody in the dining room.

"So, Rosie and I wanted you all to know. . .one of my swimmers was Superman and now she's knocked up!" He boomed an ecstatic laughed and grabbed Rosalie, who actually blushed as he swung her around. The joy was bright on their faces as they spun, Emmett finally setting her carefully on her feet. He kept an arm around her waist and kissed her soundly before allowing the rest of us to hug them in congratulations. My mom was actually crying, she was so happy for them.

"Ma, no crying allowed! It's a happy occasion!" I teased her.

She laughed and swatted my arm before hugging me. "Happy tears, son. Let me be."

Emmett and I had grown up together, and I knew that Mom felt like he was one of hers. She would spoil their child as though it was her very own grandchild, too. "I know, I'm just teasing." I kissed her cheek. "Merry Christmas, Ma. I love you."

She cried a bit harder, squeezing me tightly again. "I'm proud of you for being such an exceptional young man, and an excellent husband. I love you, as well."

Suddenly I was the one with a tear in my eye. Bella caught my attention, smiling at me from Emmett's embrace. He liked to make her and Ali squeak when he hugged them. Mom and Bella hugged, and I saw them talking. It was definitely time to have a discussion about babies.


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