Under the Apple Tree
Chapter 51: Roles
I am a little nervous this morning.
There is something I need to bring up to Bella. She will be pissed. No doubt. I don't care about the chores not being done. It isn't about that. This isn't a punishment, but she will see it as one. I would be doing it even if she wasn't going to attend school. College. She is getting to far along. It isn't safe.
It's too much for her.
Not to mention when she leaves. Esme can't always be here. Nor I. I will need someone. Help. A knock on the door. I get up from my chair in the living room. Bella is still showering. I answer and there is a friendly girl on the other side. She has on glasses and looks like what I imagined. Lauren recommended her. I trust Lauren.
The girl smiles and I invite her in. She is pretty. Which will no doubt make this even harder. Bella is not confident enough. I wish this girl was ugly. Hideous even. Some type of deformity. I need to shut up. She takes a seat and drops her bag next to her feet. Her clothing is clean. Pressed. I hear the shower turn off. I get to business.
"Thank you for meeting with me on such short notice, Angela. I need to make this fast. I'm running late, unfortunately."
I'm on time. I'm trying to be faster than Bella.
The girl smiles. "It's alright, Dr. Cullen. I brought references and I understand a busy schedule. I worked for Dr. Smith a few years ago. I'm used to it." She hands over her papers, resume, references.
I scan them quickly and set them aside.
"Good. One of my receptionist recommended you to me. I'm sure it will work out fine. I'd like you to come by tomorrow morning if you could? Around seven. My….um, Bella, will able to show you how things are done. She knows how I am and she'll be here most days, so she can help you. She's pregnant though, so, that's obviously why I need help."
Angela nods. "Lauren said you would need a nanny."
I hear Bella's footsteps. I stand up. "Yes. We'll talk about that more tomorrow. I really need to get going. I'm sorry to be so short."
She follows me to the door. I say my goodbye and close the door just as Bella's feet reach the bottom of the steps. She misses nothing. Damn.
"Who was that?"
I turn. She'd know if I lied. We are built on trust.
"Her name is Angela. We need to talk, Bella."
Her eyes are nervous. "About what?"
I take a step forward. I take her hand. "Let's sit."
She pulls away. "Just say it, Cullen."
I sigh. Here goes nothing. "I'm hiring her."
Her eyes close for a moment and yeah, here it comes.
"I know I missed doing laundry last week. I had to go down to the school though, I'm not making excuses, but….fuck, Cullen. I'm sorry. I'm done with…"
I take a seat on the steps and pull her hand so she'll sit beside me. She does.
"I'm not firing you. And this isn't about school. Well, not how you think, anyhow. Not about last week. I don't care about the laundry, Bella."
She isn't buying it when she looks at me. "Then what is it about?"
"You. I care about you. I'm pretty sure we have discussed this." And I can't help but smile. And draw her hair away from her face. Tuck it behind her ear. It does nothing to help her mood.
"We talked about that too, Cullen." She untucks her hair. She is frustrated. "This need you have to fix things. Things that I don't want you to fix. Or take care of."
"And when you leave for school, what am I supposed to do, Sweetheart? Call you and request that you come home to clean? Press a shirt? And when Grace is here, and Esme can't help me and I have work, what do I do then? Cancel my appointments for that day? I wouldn't imagine I'd be in business very long if that were the case. I'm sure Grace would like a roof over her head, yes?"
She looks away. I'm getting better at winning these rounds.
I don't get my tie fixed before I leave, however.
Bella is watching from the window. I hear Angela's car pull up. The door closes. Bella turns around. She is not happy.
"Oh, go fuck yourself, Edward."
I smile. I shake my head. "She came highly recommended."
"Oh, I bet. She's every single man's nanny fantasy."
I roll my eyes. "Lauren recommended her, number one. I am pretty sure she doesn't have a nanny fantasy. Number two, since when am I single?"
She take a deep breath in and out. "She's gonna live here?"
I nod. "That's typically what live-in nannies do, Bella."
I am only burying myself deeper. Her hands go on her hips. It is the universal sign that a man is in trouble. My mother. My sister. Tanya. Rose. They've all done it. The arched eyebrow confirms this theory.
"Sweetheart, if I knew an extremely ugly woman with one leg and hunch-back, I'd hire her. Just for you. But I don't."
Her stance doesn't change. Deeeeeep breath. Me. Not her.
I stand to answer the door. "Bella, please. As adorable as you are; stop acting like such a girl." I'm teasing and kissing her under her ear, but her body is rigid. "I suppose I should be flattered." I keep kissing, but she pulls back a little. Very little.
I smile against her skin. "That your jealous."
She pulls back more. I hold her to me. She goes nowhere. The doorbell rings again. I don't move.
"I'm not jealous, Edward."
And all I can do is laugh quietly. And… "I love you, Bella. Even though you are crazy." One more kiss and I go to the door.
Angela steps in. Bella sits down. Her arms are crossed. I try not to laugh. I invite Angela into the living room. Bella's face is priceless.
"Oh! You must be Bella. Edward told me a lot about you." She extends her hand. I make a face at Bella that Angela can't see. In short, it would read: 'I told you so.'
"Hi." Bella shakes her hand. She is still pissed off. In her own Bella way.
I sit next to her and Angela takes the chair across from us. I feel Bella fidgeting and I hold her hand so she'll stop. She is so ridiculous.
"Bella will show you around this morning and get you started. I'd appreciate if you'd listen to her as though she were me. Her voice is just as important." And I am talking to Bella. Not Angela.
Angela nods. "Absolutely."
I lean over and kiss Bella's head. "I need to get going. Call me if you need anything." Another kiss and I stand. She doesn't let go of my hand. I look at her and I know her expressions better than anything. I bend down and cup her face in my hands. I kiss her on the lips this time. She is Bella and wants this pretty girl across from us to know she is my Bella. And I'm fine with that.
I whisper against her lips. "I love you."
And she kisses me back. And back. And back. And…
You get it.
I roll back, just enough to shut off the alarm. Bella's. Not mine. She has a fear of oversleeping. She has her first class this morning. She is spooned against me. My chest to her back. I tighten my arms and shove my face into her hair.
A sigh of contentment leaves me. She relaxes into my hold and there are…other parts that are not as content as my heart. I try to ignore it and sleep. But my hands aren't on the same plan. And my mouth on her skin, her shoulder, isn't on the same plan.
I slide my fingers down her arm and find her leg under the covers. My thumb tucks itself under the hem of her nightgown and rubs along the soft skin there. And she is the only one in this bed that is soft.
I draw her nightgown higher and ghost the tips of my fingers along her hip. I feel the goose-bumps rise from my touch. She rolls into me and tips her head back. Her hand finds the back of my head. She pulls me to her lips. My tongue enters her mouth and she makes the noises I love.
I pull her underwear down enough to give me access. Then my own. I just slide against where she is wet. I don't enter her. Not yet. It feels too good. I slide the straps of her nightgown off her shoulders. Her breasts are bare. Full. Perfect. But also new and she is shyer than before. I pull a pillow from my side and place it in front of her so she has comfort and support. Her belly. And then…and then I slide myself inside of her. Warm velvet. Jesus Christ.
And she sighs like it's relief. And my whole body agrees. Her sounds increase and I move her mouth back to mine. I whisper over her lips.
"You have to be quiet, Sweetheart. We have…."
And a knock on my door. "Dr. Cullen?" No.
I slow my movements and Bella tugs on my hair. "Don't stop. She'll go away."
And stopping is the last thing I was thinking of doing, but Angela, who has become the cock-blocker of my existence - at the moment - knocks again and while I am trying to kiss and fondle and make love to Bella, the fucking alarm clock goes off too. I can't get back into it. I can't focus and she groans as I pull out.
I kiss her face. "I'm sorry."
She mumbles and I pound my fist to stop the beeping alarm clock. It's going to be a long ass day.
~ Bella ~
By the time I shower and change, Edward is already downstairs. And this morning, gets even worse. There are eggs and toast and juice and a bowl of cut up fruit in front of him. I didn't put it there. There is a girl with a petite frame, shiny long hair and those glasses he talked about. She is cooking and he is laughing at something she has said and I want to die.
I want to fucking die.
"Good morning, Bella." And she is fucking cheery.
She stole Edward away this morning. Cooked him breakfast. Made him laugh. And now, she is smiling. I sit down and say nothing. She places a plate in front of me.
And she is addressing me like she is the help. I lift my eyes to her. I shake my head no. I feel Edward's hand on mine. I pull back and if I looked at his face, I'm sure he is hurt. I push away from my seat. If I see him eat her food, I will be sick.
"I'm going to school." And it sounds so juvenile.
It matches my behavior.
I hear his chair and then his feet as he follows me towards the front door. I should have put my shoes on before I went in the kitchen. It would have made my getaway much easier. I am shoving my feet into the sneakers, except, I can't really see the fucking things past my stomach and I almost lose my balance. I am pissed off and it is only making my current lack of coordination worse. Amazing I used to be a 'dancer.'
He puts his hands on my hips to steady me. I swat him away, but this is Cullen and he never goes away. He turns me to face him. Tears turn into traitors for my lie he wouldn't have believed anyhow. He would have known I wasn't fine. This is Cullen.
He rubs his thumb to my cheek. "Bella, what's wrong?"
I turn my face to the side. "I'm late. I need to go."
"I'm supposed to drive you."
I pull away. "You're busy."
And I don't let him catch me this time.
I make my way to the school and sit in the parking lot. I was lying. I'm not late. Even if I ate breakfast, I'd be on time. I'm early. I didn't eat. I see the other students. I see their cars. Some are nice. Some are like mine. Some are in between. They all have friends. I am alone in my truck.
My phone beeps and I don't have to look at it to know it's him. He's the only one who calls. Okay, that's a lie. Sometimes Esme does. But it's not her. It's him. And I am so stupid. I am so, so stupid.
When I enter the classroom, it feels different from before. All of these kids look different. They look at me differently. If at all. Most of them are talking to each other. Or playing on their cell phones. I see a free seat in back corner. I make my way to it. I sit down and pull out a pen and a notebook. I try to listen when the instructor begins the lesson. I hear nothing. I see nothing. Just Edward. Just him smiling at that girl and that is all.
By the time school lets out, it's afternoon. I drive home and when I walk in, it smells clean. I told her what he liked to have done, yesterday. I told her what he liked.
I told her what he liked.
I told her what he liked.
The room seems dizzy and I sit down on the couch. A sob leaves my chest and I hear her in the laundry room. She is humming. She is touching his shit and she is fucking humming. I swat away my tears and get up. She is in the kitchen, now. There is a basket in her hands. She pauses.
"Give me that."
She looks scared. She hands it over. I'm being a bitch.
"Don't ever go in his room. You're not allowed in there." A real bitch. Ever.
"Okay. No problem, Ma'am. Where would you…"
"Just leave the goddamn basket on the steps if I'm not here. But don't ever go in his room."
She nods. "Yes, Ma'am."
I turn, but then remember. I face her again. "And don't make him fucking breakfast, either. I am perfectly capable of doing that and I don't appreciate you thinking you can just come in here and act like you own the damn place. Edward is your boss. I know he's fucking charming and shit, but he's your boss. Act like it."
And I don't wait for another 'yes, Ma'am.' And I know, I am so, so, stupid.
I put away his clothes. She didn't use enough fabric softener. I make the bed. I sit on it and stare at my bag on the floor. I moved all my things in here. I told her not to go into his room. It is now our room. She has my room. My old room. The baby has Bree's room. We are out of rooms. There is no where to hide here.
I leave the basket on the stairs and leave. I am at Billy's house before I know it. Jacob is doing his chores. He tries to break away when he sees me, but Billy won't let him.
"Just finish and then we can hang out, Jacob." I push past them and go inside the house.
Sue is in the kitchen. She sees me and smiles. She is cooking something. It smells good. I sit at the table. After she stirs what she's making, she joins me.
Her palm rests on my head. "What is wrong?"
And she is like a mother I have never had.
"Edward hired a new girl." I sound five.
She sounds surprised. "He fired you?"
"No, he just hired this girl because I am going to go to school and he thinks I'm too pregnant and she is fucking perfect and pretty and he was laughing at her this morning. Not like 'at her' but like 'with her'. At something she said." I am sniffling and Jacob has more maturity than me, right now.
"Awe, Bella. He is trying to take care of you. Why would this be upsetting? You think Edward has eyes for this girl? I cannot imagine he would have eyes like I saw, for another. They looked to me like you were their only owner."
And I don't know. I told you already. I am stupid.
She passes me a napkin and I wipe my face.
"I think you are scared that you saw him…happy? Would that make sense?"
Yes. No. "Maybe. I don't know. I mean, if Harry had this hot little nanny type in your house, wouldn't you feel shitty? Wouldn't you want to kill her if she was feeding him and touching his clothes and shit?"
She laughs. "I am not sure. Are his clothes still on him?"
Ha-ha. "I'm serious, Sue."
She pats my hand. "If he hired her to clean and do housework, then, no. I would not be upset. And I think I would trust him enough when I was gone to know nothing beyond a polite conversation - even a good conversation - would be taking place. Is there a reason not to trust him?"
No. Yes. Not him. Men. She sees.
"Bella, I think your Edward is a good man. I think that by hiring this person, he was trying to show you that."
And I have been wrong too many times today. I hate it.
Night has fallen by the time I get home. I walk in the house and it is quiet. I hear the water in the kitchen, but there is also humming. I roll my eyes and climb the steps. I listen before I turn the door knob. The TV is on. I am nervous, but open the door. He has papers on his bed and he looks up.
"Jesus, Bella. Do you have any idea how worried I was about you?" And his face shows that.
I close the door and sit on the bed. "Sorry. I went to Billy's house."
"You could have at least messaged me back. Let me know you were alright."
"I said I'm sorry, Cullen."
He looks at his papers, but I know he isn't seeing them. I don't know what to say or do and I have nowhere to run now. And I don't know if he wants me to. Traitor fucking tears. I look down, hoping he won't see. Of course he does. This is Cullen. He pushes the papers aside. He moves closer, but doesn't touch me.
"You have to talk to me, Bella. It's the only thing that works for us."
My mouth just blurts out words. "I don't like her."
"I just don't." Liar.
He shakes his head. "Baby, I don't know how to make you happy, right now. What is it you would like me to do? I'm trying so hard to do what is right and I feel like I fail every time."
I wipe my face and look at him. "You called me baby."
He is confused.
I elaborate. "You've never called me that."
He shakes his head. "I call you Sweetheart, all the time, Bella."
"But not baby."
He is even more confused.
"Men give pet names to girls because that are afraid they'll forget or slip up, Edward."
Confusion. Still. "I swear I am not trying to be stupid, Bella. I really don't get it though. I call you Sweetheart and you've never said anything. If it bothered you…"
I cut him off. "You call Bree Sweetheart, too. You obviously haven't forgotten her name."
"And…you think I've forgotten yours?"
I say nothing. He moves closer. "Bella."
I say nothing.
Firmer this time. "Bella."
I say nothing.
Like he can't believe me. "Bella."
And again, tears. This time he touches me, bringing my face to his chest. He laughs a little.
"I swear you are crazy." He sighs and his voice becomes more serious. "For the record, men who love their girl, give pet names because they love their girl. Unless, you are trying to say that I am one of those assholes who has too many girls to keep track of?"
I shake my head.
"Good. Glad we have cleared that up. Now, if you could please tell me how to fix this thing with Angela."
I say nothing and he sighs. "Do you want me to fire her? Would that make it better?"
Yes. No. Yes. Shut up. Grow up.
I mumble against shirt. "No."
"Then what do I do? This is obviously why you are upset."
And my mouth speaks without permission. This is Cullen.
"She's replacing me." Stupid fucking tears.
He sucks his teeth. His hand palms my cheek. He kisses my face.
"No one is replacing you, Bella. Are you serious?"
"She made you breakfast. She made you laugh and she's doing all the shit I am supposed to do. She makes you happy."
He lifts my face towards his. I am given a feather-light kiss on my mouth.
"No one is replacing you. They couldn't. Never."
Another feather kiss.
Stupid mouth. "I want to make you happy."
Feather kisses. "You do. More than you know."
Stupid mouth. "I won't be here as much with school. And when I get a job, or change schools, I'll never be here. But she will."
Feather kisses. "I love you going to school. Nothing makes me happier."
Feather kisses. "Watching you grow and learn and be better, that's what makes me the happiest, Bella."
Feather kisses. "That's what love is. Being unselfish."
Feather kisses. "And I love you. I love you so much."
Feather kisses. "I love that you try and I love that you are brave and I love that when you will be at school, or working, there will someday be this beautiful baby with your eyes and smile and I can see you in her everyday."
Feather kisses. Feather kisses. Feather kisses.
The corner of his mouth lifts. "And as frustrating as today has been, I actually love that you're jealous. It's quite an ego-booster."
My face crinkles. "I am not jealous."
Feather kisses. "Yes you are. It's alright, though. And at least your jealousy is against a grown woman. I'm jealous of a child."
He smiles. "Jacob. I'm jealous of Jacob."
My face really crinkles. "He is a kid, Edward. I am not that sick in the head."
He laughs. "I know. It's completely ridiculous for me to feel that way. But…I just do." He shrugs.
And I start laughing and cannot stop. He take my face into his hands.
"I think your hormones are seriously messing you up, Love." Kisses and a smile.
"There's another one."
He gives more kisses. "Another one what?"
He pulls back a little. "And all are true." More kisses. "You're my Sweetheart, my Baby, my Bella and my Love. You're everything." More kisses. "You're everything."
And when his mouth touches mine this time, it is serious. It is not light. There are no feathers. I part my lips and love his tongue. I grab his hair and curl my fingers. His hands move me into his lap. He kisses lower. Down my neck and against the fabric of my shirt. Over my tits.
"You better not tease me like this morning, Cullen."
And he doesn't.
Edward is brushing his teeth in the bathroom. I am staring at myself in the mirror. I am groaning. He spits.
"What's wrong, Baby?"
"I'm a house."
He rinses his mouth and turns off the water. He kisses my shoulder and puts his toothbrush away.
"None of my clothes fit. Again."
He opens the closet door. "Want something of mine?"
I look him over as he searches for his own clothes for the day. Still in boxer-briefs. Nothing else. He looks at me in question. I grin. He lowers his eyes.
"Like a shirt, Bella."
I smirk. "I guess. If that's all you're offering a girl. A girl you love."
And I see his smile as he looks through a stack of shirts. He finds one and walks towards me. He places his hands on either side of me, against the vanity. His face is close to mine.
"If I had time, I'd happily give you whatever you like."
I run my fingers down his bare chest. "Maybe you should make time."
He presses his lips to my cheek and works his way back towards my ear.
"It be worth being late. That's for sure."
I dip my fingers into his waistband and decide being evil can be a little fun.
"You left me hanging yesterday, Edward." I pause my fingers.
He keeps kissing along my neck. "I made up for it last night."
I slowly draw my fingers away. "But I had to suffer all day."
I try not to smirk, but fail. Miserably. He groans into my neck and I laugh. He hands over his shirt. I take it and look at his underwear.
"You have a seriously nice cock, Cullen. Even hidden in those baby-bakers."
"I can take them off if you'd like."
I smile and pat my hand to his crotch "Later."
He makes a face and I turn around to change, but stop. He is watching and the mirror is in front of me. I look at him in the reflection.
"Um…can I have a second? Alone."
He steps forward. His fingers draw my hair back, over my shoulders.
"Is this about your belly?"
I look down.
"Let me see it."
I look back up. "No."
"Bella, it's just your stomach. You're growing a baby."
"It's fucking gross."
He shakes his head. "It's not gross. It's beautiful. It's a part of you and you are beautiful. Have I ever lied to you?"
And I really hate him sometimes. He touches my hips and spins me towards him. He rubs his hands over the fabric where the hideous bulge is.
"You're not going to want to fuck me later."
He rolls his eyes. "Doubtful."
I sigh in irritation and fucking take the stupid thing off. "Happy?"
He looks at it and he smiles. "Yes. I happen to like being right." He bends down and kisses me there. "You're beautiful."
I push the smug face he is wearing away. I put on my bra and then pull the shirt he gave me over my head. I see him eyeing me.
He shakes his head. "Nothing. It just occurred to me that I didn't even get to ask you how school went yesterday."
I find some pants. His. Sweatpants. Yay.
"It was fine." Liar. "At least….there weren't any assholes sitting behind me asking for pens and sexual favors." That's better.
He smiles. "Good."
We go downstairs and I make us food. Angela is cleaning the patio area. My poached eggs taste a little better this morning. By the end of the day, I am exhausted. Edward pulls in just a few minutes after me. Then another car. We both look towards it. It's Emmett…and Rose? And….Jacob? Why the hell would….
"What the hell is he doing with you guys?"
I look to Jacob. He has a new black eye.
Emmett puts his hand on his head. Jacob's head. "Apparently I am not as scary as I thought."
Rosalie scowls at him. "Listen, my idiotic husband has this idiotic idea that he can go around terrorizing half the public in order to get his way. I am only here to say that I am sick and tired of the sneaky stuff and you two need to stop it. This child needs help, not a thug going around beating up…"
I cut her ass off. "Emmett isn't a thug. And it wasn't his fault. I asked him to."
"Yeah, heard this all before, Bella. That's my point. You say jump and Emmett asks how high."
I shake my head. "You really don't get it do you?"
And her face answers me. I look at Jacob. "Go inside and watch TV. I'll be right there."
He takes a step and looks at Edward before he keeps walking. He looks scared. Edward puts out his hand and a small Jacob hand is placed inside of it. This is Cullen. Jacob has a black eye. Cullen is a doctor. Always a doctor. And Cullen.
After the door closes behind them, I look back to Rosalie.
"Those stupid kids almost killed Jacob. They were also trying to break into Edward's house."
She crosses her arms. "And my husband isn't the Neighborhood Watch Dog. I'm pretty sure Dr. E can dial 911."
So annoying this girl is. "And I am pretty sure that if your kid was being bullied you'd want someone to stick up for his ass. If I could kick the shit out of those kids myself, I would. But I can't." I palm my stomach.
Emmett steps in. "I didn't come here to fight. We didn't come here to fight." He looks at Rosalie and she simmers down. Her jaw is tight. She wants to hit me. I know it. The tight jaw tells me so.
Emmett sighs. "Look, Bella. I want to help Jacob, but I don't want to mess up shit in my marriage…anymore than I already have. So…"
I hit my fist to my truck. "Jesus, he is just a kid! Are you really that selfish? You Emmett? You who has lived through the shit that kid has?"
He puts up his hands. "Let me finish. Damn it, Bella." He waits. I bite my tongue. "I was going to say that we made a deal. Rose will let me help Jacob if I do it legit. It makes sense actually."
I look between them. "What do you mean legit?"
"There's a ring over at the gym I go to. The dude said I could use it after his classes. Teach little Jacob how to defend himself. This way I don't have to be the…" he looks at Rosalie. "What did you call me?"
Her perfect stupid face smirks. "Neighborhood Watch Dog."
He smiles back at her. His hand touches her face like Cullen touches mine.
And I guess we all have our roles.
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