Chapter 41: His Name is Emmett McCarty
My finger is sliding over the pages. Not the cookbook. I woke up a little earlier than usual. Esme is supposed to come over this week and help with this adoption shit. I'm trying to at least understand some of it and not seem like a complete moron. There are words that are bigger than me, though. Even in the profiles. I don't understand what some of the jobs are or how far away some of the places are. What some of the religions mean. Does it even matter?
I have a piece of paper and I am writing down the words I don't know. The things I don't know. I hear Edward moving around upstairs. I close the book and hop down from the stool. I open the other book. This one has a lot of shit I don't understand either. There is a section on how to fry an egg. He wouldn't like that. I flip to a new page. Poached eggs. He likes poached eggs. I'll try that shit.
I'm stirring the water in a circular motion when he enters. He's on the phone. It sounds like Bree. The smile confirms this. He kisses my head and then sits whiles he talks to her. I crack the egg into a separate bowl. The yellow mixes with the white. Fuck. I push it aside and get a new bowl. I try it again. I'm good this time. I stir the water once more and re-read the page. I drop it in the pot and watch it swirl around. Eat it, Betty Crocker.
I don't have olive bread or whatever the hell his ass was eating at that diner and I sure as shit don't have artichoke spread, but the stupid egg is cooked and it is not fried or greasy so he is just going to have to be happy.
I put it on a plate and wish Alice would make an appearance. This house is breadless, except for this crappy wheat stuff he has in the pantry. It's like cardboard. I toast a few pieces and put it in front of him. I go to turn – he is still on the phone – but he reaches for my waist and pulls me into him. He tips the phone away from his mouth and asks silently for a kiss. I lower my face to his and he mouths a thank you. I tell my stupid heart to quit it.
I make myself an egg and sit. I glance up and he is occupied eating and talking to Bree. I pull the book back over to me and open the page to where I left off. I don't hear him say his goodbye, but I can feel his eyes on me. He rests his phone down and pushes his empty plate away.
"Sorry about that."
I look up. "It's alright."
"She said to tell you hi."
I look back to my book. I don't want to pry, plus I heard most of it. Edward is not in the same mood.
"What are you reading?"
I don't know why I feel nervous, but I do. I should have left this in my room.
"Um…Esme said she would come over this week."
He doesn't understand. He waits for more.
"To help with the papers."
Now he gets it.
A nod. "I see. So…you're really going to do it?"
My turn to nod. His eyes look down. My turn to not understand. He rubs his face.
"Bella, may I ask why you are doing it? I know it's not my place. It's none of my business, but I'd really love to know."
I stare at him. "I thought you were all for this? Why are you…why are acting like I'm doing something wrong? You said it was a good thing to do, Cullen."
He shakes his head. "I'm not saying it isn't. I just want to know why you would still think you have to? You have a home…a good home….you're doing well…I just…." He rubs his face again. "I'm sorry, I'm confusing you. I just mean…you can stay here, you know. If you want to have this baby, I'm not going to ask you to leave or something. You know that right?"
And I stare at him. And I have no idea what he is talking about or why all of a sudden he is saying these things.
"Cullen, stop it. Just stop it."
He closes his eyes. He sighs. He reaches for my hand. "I'm sorry. I just don't want you to think you are forced into anything. I'm not trying to confuse you."
"I'm not going to be this thing's mother, so just stop hoping that I'll change my mind. Okay?"
He says nothing, but kisses my hand. "I need to get going."
He starts collecting his things. I go back to reading. More stupid words I don't understand. I glance up and feel like an idiot.
"Do you have a dictionary?"
He looks at me, then my papers. I feel small as an ant. Not because of him, because of me. I chew my lip.
"Uh….somewhere. I think there's one in the living room on the bookcase. I can look for it later."
I shake my head. "I'll find it."
But if I don't I won't know what the word in the other book means and we won't have dinner. I reach across the counter and find the page I marked. A book made for dummies and I still need to ask questions. Perfect.
"Edward, do you know what this means?" My finger points and he leans in to read it.
He nods. "Yeah it's like…a type of oven. Or a setting. Come here."
He walks to the stove. He points. I stand next to him.
"If you press this button, then it cooks on convection."
I'm still stupid. "But what's the difference?"
He grins. "About five hundred dollars." He shakes his head. "I have no idea to be honest. My mother could probably tell you."
I look down to the book. "It says to cook on this setting. I wanted to make this."
"Call Esme. She'll tell you." He kisses my face. "I have to go or I'll be late."
I tip my face up. More kisses. His hands frame my face.
"And Bella, don't ever be afraid to ask something. Even geniuses ask questions; that's how and why they are geniuses."
Another kiss and he gone.
After a brief lesson from Esme about regular ovens and convection cooking ovens, I think I understand. I put the marinade over the chicken like it says and then in the fridge. I start a load of laundry and go back to the kitchen. I read a little more of the cooking book. There are some ingredients required that we don't have.
My truck is hideous. Fine. He's right. But it's mine and I don't care. I drive towards the grocery store. My list in my pocket. I brought the book just in case. It's on the passenger's seat. I park and go inside. I'm scanning the aisles for something when I see him. Emmett is walking my way. There is a case of beer tucked under his arm. He looks like shit. No, shit looks better.
He says nothing. I am nothing. Not anymore. Not that I ever was. I made him nothing. I'm pushing this cart full of Susie Homemaker bullshit trying to be someone I'm not and he is Emmett. The real Emmett. He is low and he is lost. He is living in reality. I am listening to Edward tell me fairytales and poetry.
I am debating over who to give up my baby to that I don't want. Emmett is a father. A real father. His son is loved and cared for. Rosalie has a real husband. She can go on dates to the movies with him and cook without a book showing her every little stupid step. She probably never asked him what words mean.
I buy my shit and slam the door to the truck. I park along the side of the street and wait for her to come out. Great, now I am a stalker. It's lunch and I should leave her alone, but I don't know where else to find her and I won't fuck up Edward's day/life by starting shit in his office.
I get out and call to her. She turns and she is not happy to see me. She goes to get in her car. I call to her again. She slams her door and faces me.
"What do you want?"
My nails dig into my palms. "I just want you to know something. I know you hate me and I know you're pissed off and I'm not going to ask you to forgive me, but I just want to say something and then I'll go."
I wait and she doesn't move. Emmett already hates me. I might as well just fucking say it. My words come out in a rush.
"This guy followed me. I was still really young and new and didn't know any better. I didn't look over my shoulder. I didn't leave with the other girls. I didn't have a ride. I stayed a few blocks away, at some motel. I was taking a short cut between the two buildings. I ended up in the back of the grocery store's parking lot.
"This asshole grabbed me from behind. He was one of my regulars. I thought he was just drunk, but he was….he was beyond drunk. I was too small. He had his arms around me and his hand over my mouth and I couldn't get away. Someone came out from the back door of the grocery store."
I look at her and she knows who I am talking about if she knew him back then. Her face tells me she does.
"Emmett grabbed him and pulled him off. He fucked him up and I had no idea why. I was just glad that he did 'cause no one ever did that shit. No one ever stuck up for me. He asked me if I was alright. He wanted to call the police and I told him I was fine. He offered to walk me to my car, but like I said, I didn't have one.
"He told me he was getting off his shift and he could give me a ride. I didn't want him to, but I didn't know if that asshole was going to wait for me or follow me. He drove me home and I sat in the car for a second. He asked me my name. I told him. He told me his.
"He asked me why I was walking around so late. That it wasn't safe. I laughed at him and told him nothing I did was safe. He asked me what that meant. I told him I was a stripper. That's all I was doing then. Dancing. He told me I should never leave by myself and I told him I didn't have anyone to walk me home.
"He didn't say anything and I got out. I never spoke to him again…but I saw him. I saw his car every night. He would follow me. He made sure I got home safe. I didn't even know him. I got an offer to do a party one night. I wasn't a saint or anything. I fucked guys for money at this point. Only at the club, though. In the private rooms.
"This guy wanted me to go somewhere else. Washington. I left the club early. I waited for Emmett by the grocery store. When he came out I told him I needed a bodyguard and he laughed at me. I told him how much it paid and he took me more seriously.
"He was only going to do it once. He was going to take the money and start that stupid grass cutting business and that was it. But dreams of a little boy and dreams of a grown man are different. And you don't just have success and dreams overnight. And you don't just get to marry the girl and have the kids and the house and all of it because you simply dream. And Emmett was never just a little boy.
"He was the little boy who wanted a father and got a piece of shit drunk instead. He was the little boy who cried while his mother was beaten before his eyes. He was the little boy who couldn't do anything about it. He was the little boy who never got taught how to play baseball. He was the little boy who ran away from home was he was thirteen. He was a little boy living amongst men who made him a man. A man who was violent. A man who was a thief. A man who did what he had to do to survive. And a little boy fell in love with this blonde girl who made him shameful of those things.
"A little boy who ran away again and took a shitty regular job stocking shelves and doing things other men, the men who taught him how to be a man, would laugh at. And all he wanted was to just have this girl love him. All he wanted was for someone to love him. To see that he was good under all the shit.
"And so yeah….he fucked up and he took the money and he kept coming back again and again until he was in too deep to leave. Their was a house and a baby and a pretty girl and a lifestyle that wasn't made on dreams or cutting lawns. And their was a man who felt like a man, despite his shame. He was a man, when he went home."
She's crying. I'm crying and this is so fucked. I swat the tears away.
"Rosalie, don't blame him. Blame him for lying, yeah. But don't blame him for what he did. Blame me. Hate me. But please don't blame him. He is good, despite his bad."
And that's all there is to it. I told her I would say my piece and be gone. And I am.
Esme is reading over all of my questions. I gnaw on my lip. We are alone. She brought lunch from Alice's bakery. Bread too. I saved some for breakfast tomorrow. She explains all the legal stuff and I try to understand. She senses my discomfort and moves on to the profile book.
"Have you made a list of what you are looking for in adoptive parents?"
I shake my head. She flips another page. "Am I supposed to?"
"You're not supposed to do anything, Dear. There's no right or wrong, but when I was looking for a child to adopt, that's what I did. The amount of children they showed me was overwhelming. I could have adopted them all. They each deserved a good home. Just like all of these people deserve a child. It will make it seem less scary of you compile a list of a few things you are looking for."
More lip chewing. "I don't know what I'm looking for."
"Just write down all the things you wish you could offer. When I looked for Alice, I wrote down all the things I was looking to give a child. Then I found a child who fit those things. It's the same thing."
She makes it sound easy, but there isn't enough paper in the World for a list like that. She points out a few profiles she likes and tells me why. Jobs. The way their faces look. They way they look in general. Where they live. And she loves people who go to Church.
After she leaves, I start cooking dinner. We are having chicken noodle casserole. He will probably die if he ever sees the amount of fat listed in the chart, next to each serving, but I am dying to eat the picture on this page. I set it in the oven and set the timer. Something I figured out about convection settings; they cook much faster than regular settings. Score one for the maker of convection ovens.
I sit and scan through recipes as I wait for the food. I don't trust the timers in this house. They have failed me before. Even if Edward carrying you to bed is nice. Burnt food would not be. He comes in and I look up to say hi, but pause. Emmett.
Edward looks at me. "He wants to talk to you."
I look to Emmett. My insides coil. Not like with Edward. Like I want to puke.
Edward. "Um…I'll be in the other room." He gives me a purposeful look and leaves.
"Listen, I'm not here to be a dick, so just cut out all the scared Bella shit. Alright?"
I nod. He looks at the oven then to me. He's stalling.
"So…Rose came to see me. Like…she came home. This morning. She said you talked to her." He looks at me.
"I just wanted her to know it wasn't you. It was me."
He shakes his head. "I'm fucking like…" he scratches his head. "Two hundred pounds bigger than you, Bella. You really think your skinny ass made me do something? You must have some pretty big balls and pretty gay former clients if you really believe that shit."
He sighs. "It was me. I'm a man and I made my own choice. I blamed you because it was easier. It was easier to be mad at you, or to blame you rather than blame myself and look at my wife and my son and see what I really was. How I was really hurting them."
He looks at the counter. He is silent. He is a gentle giant who is defeated, but in a good way. He finally understands what a man is for the first time. I laugh silently to myself. A lot of firsts happen in Edward's home.
My voice is low. "Are you and Rosalie back together?"
He shakes his head. "She said I have to go to counseling. She wants to live apart for a while. She doesn't trust me."
He looks up. "I told you not to say that shit."
I want to say it again, but I don't want him to be pissed off. It's an easy thing to do. The timer goes off. I get up and take the food from the oven. It looks alright. I look at him.
"Um…we're having chicken noodle casserole for dinner. Do you want to have some? I mean, it might taste like shit, I don't really know what I'm doing. But…you can have some if you want."
He looks at the dish. "You made that shit?"
I nod. He smiles a little. "Maybe Edward knows what the fuck he's doing after all."
"Is that a yes?"
He rubs his face. "Yeah, sure. Why the fuck not. Feed me some of your casserole that might taste like shit, Bella."
I take out three plates and put a serving on each. We have to sit at the real table. There are only two stools in the kitchen where we usually sit. It's a little weird. The food doesn't taste like shit. Thankfully. Edward glances up at me as he takes a sip of his drink. He gives a small wink.
I take a bite of food and look at Emmett. He is eating like a starved man. One hand folded close to his chest. Eyes down and I know he feels like he doesn't belong here. It's how I feel sometimes.
There is something living in the crease of his forehead. In his silence. It's wondering what Joshua is eating. It's picturing Rosalie feeding him. It's feeling like he isn't deserving of food. Of someone caring for him. It's Emmett as a child. It's a meal that was never served to him. A mother who never got to do it because Emmett's father came home and interrupted her with his hands and anger. His case of beer and his bottle.
But this is Emmett. He isn't a little boy. He has a little boy. He would never do that. So he sits and he eats and he doesn't complain, even if what I served him did taste like shit. It's better than becoming a monster. It's better than becoming what he was. It's how a man would act. A real man would act. The man sitting across from me. The man winking at me. The man who reads me poetry and gives encouragement.
Emmett shoves his plate at me and it's empty.
His smile is kind.