Chapter 9: Gated Community
"Dad, you're late. Mom is mad. Dinner was finished over two hours ago." He is sighing on the other end of the line and I am trying to keep my voice down so Renee won't hear. "Not that you missed out on anything special."
"Bella, be nice to your Mom. She tries."
"The noodles were like sausages. I had to hide most of it in my napkin," I whine and he laughs. He knows Renee can't cook to save her life.
"I'll be home soon, Baby. I'll bring you a little treat, alright?"
I smile and curl the telephone wire around my fingers. "The kind with almonds?"
He laughs and I can imagine how his face looks. Tired, but happy and scruffy. There were no tiny hairs in the sink this morning and my mother hasn't complained about it in days.
"Sure thing, Kid." There is a man in the background calling his name and he sighs. "I'll be home soon."
Edward pulls out a chair and startles me. I look away from the window and to his face. He sets down a tray, but there is no laptop. I lower my hands into my lap and make room for his lunch. He has on a black sweater today and I want to tell him there is lint on his shoulder, but my mouth stays closed. A sandwich is placed in front of me.
"Please just eat it. My sister is already annoyed with me and if she sees you tossing it in the trash, it'll only get worse."
His face looks tired and I glance at the counter. His sister looks away when my eyes meet hers and I wonder if she is pissed that I have been sitting here without buying anything for the last hour. He unwraps his sandwich and takes a bite, then a sip of his drink. I follow his actions and chew while looking out the window.
He wipes his hands and dips into his pocket. A piece of paper is set on the tray and he stares at me for a moment before he speaks.
"I made good on my word and have a list for you, but before I hand it over, I want you to tell me a few things, please."
I wait and he continues.
"Do you know who the father is?" I stare at him dubiously and he nods. "Have you ever done this before?"
"No. Fuck, no."
He is quiet and thinks for a moment while he takes a sip of his drink. His eyes wander to the window and they stay there while he speaks this time.
"Have you ever considered alternatives? You know abortion isn't your only option, right?"
"Yeah, because clearly I would qualify for mother of the year."
"I mean adoption." His eyes come back to me. "You could find an adoptive home for your baby. There are a lot of people who would love to have a child and cannot. A lot of people who would take wonderful care of him or her and give them excellent life."
I laugh in disbelief. "You want to know something?" I ask and he raises his brows, nodding.
"I dated this guy one time. Him and his wife couldn't have babies. It stressed him the fuck out, 'cause he was the reason why, fucked up genetics or something and most of the time, he sat complaining to me about it, rather than…you know…what he was paying for?"
"Anyhow, they finally started going to this place where I guess they make babies or some shit. His wife could pick out the sex it would be…the fucking eye color. Shit, what race it was and the list even told you where the donor's sperm came from; like picking out a breed of dog or something. A fucking thorough bred." I laugh humorlessly and push my food aside.
"Rich people want perfect babies to show off to their perfect friends in perfect gated communities with perfect lawns and perfect houses. They want perfect looking Christmas cards with perfect pictures of their perfect family so everyone can talk about how fucking perfect they are, even though, most of them are fucked up when you really get to know them. The point is; they don't want a baby from a whore; they want a perfect baby from a test tube that has the same color eyes and perfect brains and will grow up to be just as perfect looking on the outside and fucked up on the inside. I didn't even graduate high school."
Edward's bottom lip is scraping against his teeth as he thinks over my rant. His hands cup his drink and he takes a deep breath.
"Well it wasn't like that in my family."
I roll my eyes at him. Of course. "You're adopted?"
"No, but Alice is." He looks down to his cup. "My mother couldn't have children." He looks back to me. "Fucked up genetics or something."
I go to speak, but his words have caused my mouth to trip. I know I am fucked up and my brain isn't as fast as some, but I am not that fucking easy to trick, either. He thinks I'm stupid.
"You would say anything to talk me out of doing this, wouldn't you?" I toss my food back on the tray and slide my chair back. "You're a fucking liar and I'm not that stupid."
His face is confused. "How did I lie?"
I glare at him. "Your sister is adopted? Really? Your mother can't have babies? Then let me ask you something, since you're so fucking smart." I lean forward. "Where the fuck did you come from?"
Edward squeezes the cup in his hands. "I never said Esme was my biological mother. I just said she was my mother."
Now he's talking circles; trying to confuse me further. "You said you weren't adopted. I just fucking asked you that. You said no. I heard you. Clear as fucking day." I am being loud and people are staring.
"Carlisle is my father. My biological father. He married Esme when I was just a boy."
I want to see a lie in his face, but he is good. He hides his lies well. "Well what happened to your mother? Let me guess, she died or something, right? Something ridiculously sad that will make me cry and tell you how sorry I am for you, right?"
He shakes his head and reaches for the paper on his tray. He slides it my way and places his index finger over it, holding it in place as I go to reach for it. "My biological mother, Elizabeth, just walked out one day. I don't know where she went. She didn't leave a letter. She didn't tell anyone. She just left." He lifts his finger and allows me to take the paper.
"Esme is the only mother I have ever known. The only real mother I've ever had. Sorry to burst your bubble." He picks up his sandwich again and takes a bite. I want to take the paper and haul ass, but my feet won't move and my mouth is trying to think of a witty come back. He beats me to it.
"For the record," he swallows and looks at me. "I didn't grow up in a gated community and I don't live in one now." He continues eating and I pull my chair back to the table. I don't pick up my sandwich and I don't drink whatever he ordered me. I just sit. He says nothing and I'm not sure if that means he is done with me, but it reminds me of Charlie and when I did something wrong as a child. He would never speak to me or yell, he would just stew and work it out in his mind until he either got over it, or had something wise to say. Or until…I stopped being a brat and apologized.
I am squeezing my hands in my lap and feeling like a child. I don't want to say it, but I know it's the only thing that will get him to look at me.
He keeps eating and I think he didn't hear me. I look around and see his sister staring at me. She looks pissed and I can't help but to think she overheard, or at least, witnessed our exchange. Fuck.
"I said I'm sorry, alright."
He nods and wipes his mouth. "I heard you."
My nails are digging into my palms and I don't know what to. I should leave, but when I tell my feet to move, they still won't listen. He is done with his food and pushes the tray to the side.
"Where are your parents?" He is challenging my apology and I have to answer. I hurt his feelings when he revealed something about himself. Maybe he wants to do the same.
"Phoenix and Memorial Park Cemetery."
"Which one is where?" He clasps his hands and watches me. I look at my hands under the table.
"Renee is in Phoenix. My Dad is here."
There's a pause. I still can't look up. "And your mother won't help you?" My eyes go to his and he quickly back peddles. "Of course not. I don't know why I asked."
"She has her own life."
He sighs and sits back in his seat. He looks tired and I am probably making him late. "Won't you even consider adoption?"
"Why does it matter so much to you what I do with it?"
"I don't know…maybe because I see children everyday and it bothers me to think about you doing this…or… I don't know, Bella. It just does. I just don't want you to think this is the only option you have."
"Well it is. Even if I want to keep this…thing…and give it to someone, it's just not possible."
"You're truly blind as fuck, aren't you?" I scoot my seat back again. My leg is lifted and I show him my foot. "These boots, these very expensive designer boots that people look at in awe and assume I have shit I don't…they came from a guy who was my only real source of income…other than dancing. His wife found out and he bounced. He's fucking some chick with huge fake tits now."
I lower my foot and point to the Parasite. "Only sick, sick fucks wanna look at a fat pregnant woman dance, or fuck them. I'm not into grown men with lactating fantasies or shitting adult diapers, if you know what I mean."
Edward looks like his lunch is coming back for a visit. Too bad. He asked for it. He rubs his face as he thinks through his thoughts.
"So…money is the issue. If you had the means, you would consider adoption?"
"I don't, so it doesn't matter."
"But if you did," he presses. I squirm a little and hope he isn't one of those sick fucks with a fetish for lactating. Normal looking or not; I've been wrong before.
"I don't have a phone, or address….or fucking…..no one wants to hire a person with a place called Lollipops Lounge on their resume. Unless they are applying for a fucking candy store or some shit."
The corner of his mouth lifts. "I know of a job. Pay isn't the best, but it offers a room and the neighborhood is pretty safe."
I stare at him, waiting for the part that is sure to make me cringe. He pulls a paper from under his tray, I hadn't seen it before. I take it from his hands and scan the words.
"Think you can do those things?"
I look up at him. "This is a cleaning list. The job is a housekeeper?"
"No, no," he smiles teasingly. "Rich people consider them Live-in Assistants. It sounds more prestigious that way. Don't you know?"
My mind is going to fast to answer. There are too many questions and ways I want to wiggle out of this one.
"So?" He asks. "Think you could handle it?"
"Um…" I look back to this list. It doesn't seem too hard, but fuck, he's trapping me. "I don't know. Maybe. It doesn't mean I'll want to keep the thing, though."
"It's not a compromise. It's an offer."
Fuck, he's not trapping me. I give a slight nod and he looks pleased. He reaches for the tray, sliding the food I have not eaten from it and rests the sandwich in front of me. He slides his chair back and stands to dump the tray into the trash bin behind our table.
"The address is on the bottom. Come before eight in the morning. I need to get back to the hospital." He scoots his seat in and takes his jacket, pulling it on. I am looking down to the list and trying to remember where this street is.
"Bella?" I look up at him and he points his finger at me. "Don't be late."