Chapter 19: Light
I close Edward's door and head downstairs. Esme smiles as I walk through the kitchen, but otherwise keeps cooking. I make sure everything is put back in place and turn off the light. I'm fucking exhausted. I head back upstairs and lay down on my bed for awhile. When my eyes open, it's dark. I hear a light knock on the door and sit up. My hand rubs my eyes. The door slowly opens. I expect Edward, but it's his mom.
"Sorry. Didn't mean to wake you, Dear, but dinner is done. Will you come eat with us?"
She is nice and her voice is soft. She sounds like a mother. Not mine. I like it. I nod and swing my feet over the edge of the mattress. She steps in and offers a hand. I look away.
"I'm fine." I stand and she steps back.
Her voice is still soft. "How far along are you?"
"Must not be too far. I don't see anything." She laughs and it is meant to make me feel better, but I don't. "I know a great OB. He delivered Alice. He took care of her mother. I could give you the number." She doesn't wait for me to answer. Edward's mom catches on fast. I like it.
I follow her down the steps and see the blonde doctor from the hospital with Edward. They are in the living room. They see us and I want to turn back around. I feel like everyone is looking right through me. Not like Emmett. Like, they can see exactly what I am. Like they know. There's no mask. They walk towards us.
"Bella this is my father, Carlisle." He waves to the doctor. I already knew that. I eye Edward. He knew that I already knew that. He's trying to make it less awkward.
"Nice to meet you Bella." He extends a hand and I just nod. My skin itches. I want to leave. I bite my lip and look down.
"We should eat before it gets cold." Esme walks to the dining room and they follow her. I follow them. Edward's dad pulls out her chair. Then mine. It's weird. I don't like it. I sit and they start to pass food. It looks pretty good. Edward is drinking water. They are drinking wine. I want to laugh. He is sitting in his sweatpants and tee-shirt, still. The glasses are crystal and his mother's wedding ring could blind someone. Edward is wearing sweatpants and fighting off a hangover. Yeah, I definitely want to laugh. Give me a few days with your son and you won't recognize him anymore.
Carlisle's phone beeps. His mother glares. He gives a sympathetic look and checks it. "Darling, if that phone reaches your ear, I might have to tie you up and take it away. I'm not apposed to feeding you like a child."
Edward chuckles as he eats and I am taken aback. She's feisty. Edward has a feisty mom. Who the fuck knew. Carlisle smiles and shoves it in his back pocket. It doesn't ring again. I assume he shut it off. I eat a bite of meat and it is tender. The parasite likes it and I give it the finger under the table.
"The children missed you, today. Poor Emily kept asking where her Voctor Shullen was," Esme smiles and Edward laughs harder. He is chewing and his eyes are bright. Ah, so there is the light. Good, good, Jesus. I get it.
He swallows and spears a carrot. "How is she?"
"Her tummy was upset. I told that wonderful mother of hers, cupcakes are not a good way to start out a two-year-olds morning. I'm sure she misses Voctor Shullen, too."
Edward shakes his head. "Like I would have told her any different."
"You're nicer." Esme cuts a piece of her meat. "And I'm sure better looking." She winks and Edward rolls his eyes.
Esme reaches for my plate without asking. I hold my fork and she puts more vegetables and meat on it. She says nothing. It is placed back in front of me and then she reaches for Edward's.
"Wait, wait. Shit, you always do that." He is stabbing his fork to grab the last piece of food.
"Watch your language." She fills his plate and hands it back. "Darling?" She looks at Carlisle and he is already holding out his for her.
After dinner is done, she makes us sit in the living room. I'm tired and I don't want to play along with this family time scenario, but she insists and I don't have the energy to be difficult. I sit in the corner of the couch. A yawn escapes my mouth. The fire place is on and it is warm and I just want to close my eyes. She comes in carrying a tray. Edward takes his mug and thanks her. She turns it to me a certain way. There are two cups with coffee, one with hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is mine. I feel like a damn child; in the very best way.
I take it and she sets the tray down on the coffee table. Carlisle takes his mug and sits in the reclining chair. Esme makes him sit forward. She pulls the blanket off the chair and I think she is giving it to Edward, but it wraps around my shoulders. She smiles and takes her mug. She sits in between Edward and I on the couch.
"The girls did a lovely job on tree, didn't they?" She takes a sip and admires it.
It looks alright. It's a little too fancy. A little too matchy-matchy. All of the lights work. They are clear, not colored. There is an angel on top, not a mouse with a scarf. It is decked out in white and feathers and soft and just…it's just too nice looking. It needs plastic candy canes and ornaments with glitter missing. Chips in the wood to the little Santa sleighs. Red cardinal birds missing eyeballs. Sports themed Christmas balls at the bottom and the one with the fishing pole.
"When Edward was a little boy, he used to love to decorate the Christmas tree with me."
"Mom," he warns.
"Hush," she taps his leg and looks at me. "He had to have his red Santa hat on and we'd play holiday music. It was adorable. He was adorable." She smiles and I like it. "When he got older he used to play music for us on the piano. This child could play any song. Any song at all, Bella. Just from hearing it. It was amazing."
"Not any song. She's lying." Edward leans forward and rests his mug on the table. "I knew how to play Here Comes Santa Clause and Frosty the Snowman. That's it."
"Well that's not what I remember," she argues with a smile.
He smiles back. "Well then clearly your husband should send you through the MRI machine and scan your brain to make sure it's working properly."
"You played Silent Night, too. I remember." We all look at Carlisle. "You played it in church one night."
"Dad, I was twenty."
He shrugs. "You still played it."
Esme looks at Edward for a moment and then to me. "My point is, this man, as a child was the greatest blessing I've ever had."
Edward laughs. "Why isn't Alice here when you say things like that?"
She ignores him. "Both of them were blessings. I could never imagine my life without them. Bella, there is nothing in life that gives you joy and peace like your children. No matter where they come from."
Her words are sincere, but there is underlining. I see it. Edward gives her away by the way his face falls and he picks back up his drink. His mouth is silent, now. She rubs my shoulder and lets it go.
Yeah, Edward's mom catches on quick.
"Bella, have you seen my laptop?" Edward is trying to tie his tie. He is late. We're in the kitchen. I'm eating some oatmeal. I hate oatmeal.
"Damn." He groans and keeps fumbling with his tie. His phone rings and he gives up. It hangs loosely on his neck and he answers his cell.
I finish eating and wash up. Edward is still on the phone. I walk into the living room and look around. I don't see anything. I check the laundry room, the garage and peer into his car windows. Nothing. I can't remember when I saw it last. He is hanging up the phone when I go back in the house. He grabs his things and starts off towards the door.
"Oh." He pauses and shifts all his shit to his left arm. His hand goes in his pocket. "I was supposed to give you this. It's from Esme." He slips me a piece of paper and I know what it is. "Speaking of which, it's my turn to host Thanksgiving this year. Esme is shopping for the food. I asked her to pick you up so you can help. She'll be by at four."
The paper in my hand is shouting at me. I owe Edward a kick in the balls for this shit.
"Your tie is fucked up."
He half smiles. "Have good day, Bella."
We arrive at the grocery store and Esme hands me a list. She grabs a cart. There are a million items on this damn piece of paper. I'm guessing Thanksgiving is a big deal for these people.
"What's first, Dear?"
She nods and we head towards the baking aisle. Five boxes of different brown sugars and white sugars and confectioners sugar make it into the cart. She puts her finger over her lips like this will be a secret.
"Cloves, vanilla extract and then cinnamon."
She heads towards the end of the aisle. "Do you cook, Bella?"
I shake my head. "No."
"Really? Nothing at all?"
"Hmm." She reaches for the cloves. "What about your mother? Will she be cooking this year?"
"Um, I don't know. I mean, she can't cook, but she tries. I don't know what their plans are."
Esme tucks the items into the cart. "You're not spending the holiday with your family? Edward will give you the day, probably the week off. You just need to ask him."
"No, I mean…I wasn't…you know…they didn't ask me."
The light in her face dies. She starts pushing the cart, again. I read from the list. "Apples and a boat load of vegetables."
She heads towards Produce and starts grabbing for red apples. I'm not sure what to do. I just let her do her thing. She gets a bag of red and green and then carrots and celery and potatoes a shit load of other stuff. We make it to the meat section and she picks out two turkeys and a ham. We grab wine and beer and something else for children to drink. I wish she wasn't here and I could buy a bottle or two. I have my full pay on me and have yet to spend a dime. I need other shit too, but I'm supposed to be 'working' not shopping for myself. Our list is halfway done. Esme is trying to decide if she wants to make rolls from scratch or just buy the frozen shit.
"Oh, hell. I'll let Alice deal with the bread." She waves at the glass door and we are off. She looks at me. "Do you need anything while we are here? Edward said to give you sometime to get things."
"It's alright. I don't mind." She waits and I look around, trying to find the aisle I want. She follows behind and as I pick out shampoo and soap, she sniffs some bottles of body spray next to me.
"Oh, this one is nice." She holds it to my face and I sniff. "I should buy one of these for little Bree. She is such a girly girl. She loves things like this."
She picks one out and then another. I play a little stupid. "Is that the girl Edward gave his kidney to?"
Esme nods and there is a serious brightness in here eyes. A little bit of sad, but mostly bright. Pride. "He cherishes that little girl. Spoils her like she's his own. If Edward ever has children someday, I fear they will never know the word 'no'."
She starts to push the cart again. "You have no idea how relieved I am he grew up the way he did. He could have been a very bitter person."
"Because of his mother?" Shit. "His biological mother?"
Her eyes are surprised. "He told you that story?"
I shrug. "Some of it."
She smiles, slightly. "Yes, because of Elizabeth." She sighs as we round the corner. "When I met Carlisle, Edward was just around four years old. He was this smiling, bright, charming, just…." She laughs. "Well, pretty much exactly how is today, just smaller."
I smile a little.
"I think I fell in love with that child, before I fell in love with his father." She pauses. "Alice's mother was just sixteen when she gave birth. She had no way out. No where to go. She had an entire life ahead of her and when she gave Alice to us, she was able to make something out of it. She owns her own business now. She has a nice house. She has a wonderful husband. She sends Alice Christmas cards and birthday cards and Alice isn't bitter, either.
"Elizabeth had everything and gave it all away for nothing. Whatever she was chasing, whatever she left to go find, she already had it. She just didn't open her eyes to see it. Alice's mother had nothing, but when she gave Alice away, she gave Alice everything."
There are tears in her face and I hate it. She presses her finger tips to the corners of each one and dries them before her makeup is ruined. A deep breath and she is strong again.
"I think we forgot pumpkin pie filling."