The Path We Choose

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chapter 5


"Can you get me a Coke please; I'm craving one so bad!" I say to him as he moves to go inside the deli with Maddie and Masen.

That smirk, I tell you it will get you every time!

I take a quick look around at my surroundings, making sure that no one is paying any attention to me before I sit down and pick Rufus up and set him on my lap. I sit facing the deli, with my back to the sidewalk to make sure that anyone passing by can't see my face. I know Seth is somewhere around here, I hope he's not getting too hungry. I'll have to fix him something special for dinner tonight, I know this day is turning out to be much longer than we had anticipated this morning when we left the loft, but there is no way I can make myself leave Edward and the kids just yet.

The thought of saying good bye at the end of the afternoon feels like a knife in my chest and brings instant tears to my eyes. How is it possible for three people to affect your life so fully in such a short period of time? The morning spent with Masen and then Edward and Maddie playing with Rufus and laughing at the kids was like a dream.

I have been on my own and alone for such a long time, the feeling of being a part of something was almost completely foreign to me. Seth has always been with me, but the feeling of family I felt with the three of them is so much different…bigger.

I know he can feel the electric charges between us, I can see it in his eyes. I have no idea what it means; I have never felt anything like it before in my life. It is not an uncomfortable feeling, I'll tell you that. In fact, it feels really nice, like a piece of me that I didn't know was missing was finally back.

I hope to get a little more time talking to Edward. Maddie and Masen are a riot, but I have this need building in me to know everything about him. How is a totally gorgeous man with the two most amazing kids I have ever met, alone? What does he do for a living? Who picked out Maddie's totally awesome pink Converse? Who can I thank for the mess of copper hair on top of his head? Yeah, that hair. I'll definitely be dreaming about running my hands through that hair tonight! Will I ever see him again once we get through this lunch?

That one hurts. I know I told Masen he could play with Rufus again at the park. Hopefully, I'll seem them there again sometime. They mentioned playing there every Sunday, I suppose I could start stalking the park or some shit like that and casually bump into them again. Hmm, that sounds like a plan.

Edward is a good dad; I know this all the way down to my toes. He looks at his kids the way Charlie used to look at me, the way Sue and Harry looked at Seth and the way Peter and Charlotte looked at Rose and Jasper. I can't even begin to imagine raising two kids by yourself, but from the looks of it, he has done a hell of a job.

Masen, oh my God! Has there been a cuter boy, like ever? I swear one look from him and I was done for. And that pout, holy hell. I would give that kid anything if he looked at me like that all the time. And, Maddie, the girl is just beautiful. Light brown hair with the prettiest curls, hazel eyes and a shy smile that would melt anyone's heart. So eager to please, that one is. Watching the twins together was amazing. Kind of reminds me of Seth and I. We're not twins of course, close enough though. So I know all about the silent conversation thing, but it was interesting to watch from the outside. I imagine that is what Seth and I looked like to our parents and friends all the time. I can see why it would be a little frustrating to watch, but not know what was going on in our heads.

Like I said, Edward is an amazing dad. When I saw him sit down in between the two kids and hold Rufus on his lap, yeah, I could so not help the sigh that escaped. I hope like hell Edward didn't hear that! I just got a flash of him holding a baby instead of a puppy and it made me have that warm, fuzzy feeling all over.

I have to be honest and say I enjoyed the hell out of teasing Edward and watching him slink off to pick up Rufus' business. Hey, better him than me! I hope he gives in and gets Maddie and Masen a puppy. I doubt he could find one as cute as my Rufus, though. Maybe I can ask Seth to talk to his friend and get him one like my little guy, and then they could have play dates at the park together. Oops, way to get ahead of yourself there, Bella. Perhaps we should make sure we see him again after lunch today first?

Oh, I hope he brings the food soon, I'm starving! A club sandwich, I can't remember the last time I ate one of those. My trainer, Mike, doesn't let me eat food like club sandwiches and drink Cokes, but he's not here and I am on vacation, so I am going to eat what I fucking want!

Remember your mantra Bella, six more months and then you are free. My contract with Volturi's and Twilight is up in September, on my 25th birthday. I signed a five year contract when I was 20, under much duress, and I am almost at the end. I absofuckinglutely can not wait until then! I have near panic attacks thinking something will come up at the end that won't let me get out of it, but J has promised that won't happen. I am not convinced, but I am trying to keep a positive outlook. I know Aro and Jane Volturi, if they can find a way, any tiny thing, they can use to force me to stay under contract, they will and they won't bat an eye doing it.

I glance through the window and see Edward talking to the most adorable old man behind the counter. He is pointing outside in my direction. I glance at him and give him a little wave, hoping that he doesn't bring the old man outside, I can't risk anyone noticing me and telling Edward who I really am until I can do it myself.

I am not sure how he will take it, and I can't bear the thought of him saying "it's been nice knowing you," and walking out of my life forever. I am not going to tell him yet, though. This I know. No use scaring him off before I have to, right?

I have not had a lot of men in my life, in fact besides Seth and J, I have only had 2 serious relationships. One was with my high school boyfriend Will. We dated most of my Junior and Senior year of high school. He was the one boy at Forks High that Jasper and Seth let get past the first date with me. A dad who was the Chief of Police and the guard dogs named J and Seth didn't allow too many to pass inspection, but Will did. He was a sweet boy, and the only one besides my pseudo brothers to not let the fact that I was a soccer stand out affect him. He was proud of me, proud of what I was able to accomplish. It is amazing thinking back on it that a girl from small town Forks, Washington made it all the way to the US National team, and as a Captain, no less! No Bella, can't start thinking about that time right now, or you'll never make it through lunch I tell myself as I absently reach down and rub my knee.

The other serious relationship I had was with James. I ended things with him right after I signed my contract with Volturi's. It was ugly and painful… so very painful. I shudder just thinking about it.

Thankfully, I see the three Cullen's walking through the deli, loaded down with food and drinks, so that stops that painful walk down memory lane in its tracks.

I look up and notice Edward looking at me funny, his head cocked to the side a bit as if he is trying to figure something out.

"Bella, why are you sitting that way, instead of facing out to the street like a normal person would do?" he jokingly asks me, but I can tell the question is somewhat serious.

Shit, what do I say? I certainly can't say because I am afraid someone will recognize me and start a small mob asking for autographs.

"Well, Edward, maybe I wanted to watch you walk to me carrying my food. Did you ever think about that?" I cheekily ask him with a smile on my face.

Yes, I love teasing Edward; he gets the most adorable grin on his face when I say something he likes. I think I like it! Must do that again, Bella!

"Um, sure Bella smella, whatever you say. Here is the Coke you ordered my lady. Hope it quenches your craving," he says smirking at me.

"Guess it depends on if I am craving anything more than a Coke now, doesn't it?" I flirt back with him suggestively.

He gives me a panty dropping smile and a wiggle of his eyebrows. God, could the man melt me any more I wonder?

Maddie and Masen are arguing over who gets to sit beside me. Oh, I love to feel wanted!

"Ok, guys, hold up a sec," I tell them holding up my hand to stop the argument before it gets too heated, and before people start to notice us.

"Masen, since I got to spend time with you at the park by yourself while we were trying to find your lost parent," I say as I wink at him and look at Edward, "how about Maddie sits next to me? I'll let you keep a hold of Rufus if that is ok?" I ask him, hoping he agrees so that I can sit by Edward.

Not that I wouldn't love to sit by the precious boy, but I want to sit by the gorgeous dad even more! Hey, never said I was stupid!

"Sure, Bella, I can do that!" he sweetly answers me.

Edward sits down next to me and passes out the food before leaning over to whisper in my ear, "you handled that beautifully, Bella. Saved me from having to fight with my 7 year old to get to sit beside you," he breathes into my ear.

Fuck me! Edward whispering and breathing in my ear, I think my heart is about to fly out of my chest. I swear to Christ the man has the sexiest voice you have ever heard. Smooth and deep, I can feel it almost. I hope he does that again!

"Wouldn't want that now, would we? Imagine, a grown man fighting with his kid, what is the world coming too?" I tell him playfully as I lean over and bump his shoulder.

Ok, there is that freaky ass shock thing again. What the hell is that?

Maddie pats my arm and looks up at me sweetly to ask, "Bella, do you like your sandwich? Daddy brings us here all the time. Nana and Papa brought him here when he was little, so he brings us. It's so yummy, isn't it?"

"Yes, Miss Maddie, this is the best club sandwich I have ever had, thanks so much for asking me to come with you," I tell her.

"What do you think Mase face, is it good?" I ask Masen after I finish chewing a bite.

He looked up at me with a mouthful of food and just nodded his head up and down.

"Um, Bella," Maddie asked me quietly, "Do you think you can give me a cool nick name like Masen's? Pretty please?"

Oh kill me know, not another pout?

"Sure thing, let me think about it for a bit though, ok? Your name doesn't have anything that rhymes with it like Masen's does. I'll see what I can come up with for you all right?" I ask, a little hesitantly because I am not sure how to proceed.

What if I never see them again after today? I don't want to promise her something and then not come through, but I don't want to tell her no, either.

Edward must see the thoughts flicker across my face because he leans over to speak softly into my ear as he tells me, "It's ok Bella. I'm sure she will love anything you can come up with for her."

Shaking my head a little to let him know that is not exactly what I was worrying about, I bite my bottom lip and look at him before replying back just as softly, "That's not it Edward. Um, well, what if I don't ever see you again after today? I mean I don't want to tell her one thing and then do another. I wouldn't want to disappoint her like that," I finish up saying knowing I am blushing all the way down to my toes.

"Shit Bella, you don't really think you are going to get rid of us that easy, do you?" He chuckles at me.

I look at him, knowing he's not quite joking about what he says. Whew…ok then.

"Besides, you promised to let Masen play with Rufus again, didn't you? I would hate to see the pout that would come out of that one if you backed out of that wouldn't you?" He laughs at me.

A nod my head yes to him as I feel him put his arm across the back of my chair and realize he is leaning in even closer to me. He turns his head a little and presses his lips right next to me ear and murmurs, "Bella, just in case you were wondering…there is no fucking way you are getting rid of me already, Ok?" He finishes as I feel his lips press against my ear.

God help me if that is not the most erotic thing I have ever fucking heard or felt? I think I need to go home and change my panties! Ok, add one more thing to the list of things I can dream about tonight!

He sits up and gives me a shit eating grin and motions to my sandwich implying that I should finish eating.

The conversation continues at the table. Maddie and Masen tell me all about their Nana and Papa and their Uncle Emmett and Aunt Alice. Emmett sounds like a riot and Alice sounds like someone I can picture hanging out with and watching chick movies and eating candy and pop corn with. They also tell me they are on Spring Break this week so they have the week off from school. I listen as they list the things they want to do like go to the museum, go to the pizza place that has the games, maybe even go to Six Flags or to the Aquarium. They also tell me excitedly that Uncle Emmett and Aunt Alice are taking them to play paintball and putt-putt on Saturday night when they have their sleep over.

I look at Edward laughing at my expression as I try to keep up with both of the kids. They finish each others sentences without even missing a beat, amazing to watch really. I could say that I missed having siblings when I was growing up, but I spent so much time with Jasper, Rose and Seth, it was like we were brothers and sisters anyway. I can't imagine anyone being closer than the four of us, but from the look on Edward's face as the kids talk about his brother and sister, I can tell they are extremely close, too.

"Hey Bella," Masen asks as he takes a breath, "do you have any brothers or sisters?"

"Nope, it was just me growing up. But I had 3 best friends that did everything with me, so I wasn't always by myself," I tell him.

"What are their names and are you still best friends with them? I thought me and Maddie were your bestest friends?" He pouts that last part at me.

Crap, the pout again. Really, if I am going to hang out with these people at all, I am going to have to develop some resistance to that damn thing, somehow!

"Yes, Masen, we are all still best friends. Jasper and Rose live in California so I don't see them very much but my other best friend Seth, lives here in New York City. As a matter of fact, he's the one that gave Rufus to me. And as for you and Maddie, you two are my newest and bestest friends, got it?" I giggle at him.

"Jasper, what kind of name is that," I hear Edward mumble under his breath.

"I heard that Edward," I tell him, hopefully giving him my "look". Seth tells me the "look" isn't as scary as I try to pretend it is.

"Uh, sorry…" he tells me sheepishly.

"It's ok, maybe I'll tell you all about the three of them someday, if you like?" I ask hopefully.

"I do like Bella. I can't wait to learn all about you," he tells me.

Ok then, that sounds promising at least. Maybe this won't be as bad as I thought it would be.

We finish up our food and the kids get up to take the tray and the trash to the garbage can, taking Rufus with them. I can't believe how good the little guy is doing with all the up and downs, but he's definitely a keeper. Seth will be so pleased.

Speaking of Seth, I look up and glance around and catch a glimpse of him across the street at the coffee bar. I wonder what he thinks about all that has happened today. As I am thinking about that, I see him quickly catch my eye and raise his eyebrow. Yep, he's definitely going to have lots to say. I'll be surprised if I don't have a phone call from each J and LeLe by the time I make it home. He's such a gossip, worse than an old woman I tell you!

I hear Edward clear his throat and as I look at him, he seems nervous. Oh shit, what does that mean?

"Um, Bella…shit. What I mean is, do you think, maybe, you might…want to have dinner with me Saturday night?" He stammers to me while running his fingers through his hair.

Edward Cullen is asking me on a date, hell yes!

Looking at him, I swear it looks like he is expecting me to day no- as if? "Edward, I would love to have dinner with you," I tell him sounding entirely more confident than I feel.

Hopefully he can't hear how hard my heart is beating or feel my knee bouncing up and down. I am sure he can see the blush on my face since I can feel the damn thing, but what am I gonna do? A date, a real first date! Oh my God! Now, I'm the one that can't wait to go home and talk to Rose.

"Really?" He sounds shocked. "Damn, yeah, great, dinner Saturday." He finishes saying.

Smiling at me, he goes on, "Ok, to sound even more like an idiot teenager, do you think I can get your number so I can call you to firm up the plans?"

"Sure, Edward, I mean that's normally how people communicate, isn't it?" I tease him.

"Ok, smart ass. Just pull your damn phone out of your backpack and give it to me." He demands.

I reach behind me to take my iPhone out of my backpack and give it to him. He punches in a bunch of numbers and then I hear his phone ring. Elvis Presley's "Hunk of Burning Love" sounds from his phone. I raise my eyebrow at him as I see him enter his name in my phone and then takes his out of his pocket and does the same to mine.

"What? The kids love this song." He sheepishly looks at me.

He hands my phone back, saying, "Ok, now, I have your number and you have mine. Do you think it would be ok if I called you sometime, before our date on Saturday? I don't think I can go that long without talking to you Bella."

He wants to talk to me…on the phone. Like normal people do? And, he can't wait that long to talk to me again. I feel butterflies in my stomach now. That's good, right? Wait, what about Wednesday, he's forgotten I am supposed to let Masen play with Rufus on Wednesday. Does that mean he won't be there?

"Sure, Edward, I would really like that. Um, did you forget that Masen asked to play with Rufus on Wednesday at the park? If he can't come, that's ok; I just don't want him to think I wouldn't let him play or think I didn't show up." I quickly say.

Edward laughs at me and slightly shakes his head saying, "No, Bella, I didn't forget. I am already looking forward to Wednesday and we haven't even said good bye yet. I was just hoping that maybe, if you wanted to that is, talk on the phone a bit before our date Saturday. We didn't get to talk very much today thanks to the WonderTwins, and I was hoping to get to know you a bit better before we have dinner together. That didn't sound bad or anything did it? Shit, I'm sorry. I can't believe I am so bad at this. It's just been…a long time since someone has captured my attention so completely. And, Bella, you have definitely captured my attention. I hope you're ok with that."

Alrighty then, score one for Bella Swan! Hell yes, I give myself an internal fist bump. He wants to get to know me better, yeah for me. And, I've captured his attention…wow! Just wow. He helps me up out of my chair, what a gentleman, and I turn to him and say,

"Edward, I'm very ok with that. And just so you know, you aren't bad at this at all. In fact, I would go so far to say you've been perfect so far," I bite my lip and tell him. "I hope you do call me; I'll be looking forward to getting to know you better, too. Oh…and as for capturing attention, you are not the only one feeling that way."

I move a bit closer to him and stand on my tip toes, damn he's tall. And built. I can feel the muscles below his shirt. I reach up to press my hand on his chest and kiss him softly on the cheek before quietly telling him, "I have had the best day, thank you for lunch. I hope you don't wait too long to call."

I turn from him, and swiftly kiss Maddie and Masen on the head, promising them I will see them on Wednesday, pick Rufus up from Masen and head towards home.

Ok, saying good bye to the three of them just now? Yeah sucks ass. Majorly. Three days. That's how long it will be until I can see them again. Get a grip Bella, I tell myself, you just met them for cripes sakes. Yeah, well, I know that, but that doesn't make the pain in my heart hurt any less, now does it?

I pick Rufus up to my face, and tell him "I know little guy, I know."

I think I have fallen in love with all three Cullen's in one fell swoop. Now what the hell am I supposed to do?


I make it back to the loft, realizing that Seth has beaten me here. Hmm, I must have been thinking about Edward so much I didn't notice Seth walking home. Edward. Just thinking his name makes me smile, not to mention what it does to parts down below. Seriously, the man is beyond beautiful. And I have a date. With him. On Saturday! I let out the girliest squeal ever as I close the front door.

"Well, I am sure I don't need to ask how your day was or what the hell that sound was coming from your mouth, do I?" Seth asks as I make my way into the living room.

"Shut it, Seth," I grumble to him as I put Rufus down so he can eat and have some water.

Poor little guy, I sure did run him ragged today. Such a little trooper, I'll have to get him a treat when I go to the market later.

Seth just laughs at me, "Shortcake, you can't fool me. I know you better than you know yourself. Besides the smile on your face is a dead giveaway," he tells me. "Now, spill. Name, age, occupation, where does he live, how old are the kids, when are you seeing him again," he fires question after question at me.

Laughing, I tell him I am going to change clothes, and then I'll tell him what he wants to know.

I make my way into my room and take off my shoes and hat. I change out of my clothes and put them in the hamper. I pull on my favorite yoga pants and Forks High t-shirt. I think this one used to belong to Jasper, and take my hair down out of the pony tail as I make my way into the kitchen to get a bottle of water out of the fridge. I refill the puppy's water bowl, poor guy, he was thirsty, and make my way back to the sofa where Seth is not very patiently waiting for me. I use the remote to turn on the iHome and lean back onto the back of the sofa and turn my head to face Seth.

I notice him raise his eyebrow at me, and giggling at him I ask, "What were your questions again?"

He hits me up side of the head with a pillow and demands, "Spill it Swan, right fucking now, or I am calling J and LeLe and you'll have to tell all three of us at one time!"

So, I start talking telling him about Masen getting separated from Edward and bringing him back to his dad. About Edward bumping into me and knocking me on the ground. About Maddie and her pink Converse. Edward picking up puppy shit. Lunch with the three of them. Edward asking me out on a date for Saturday night, giving him my phone number and kissing him on the cheek before I left. I tell him everything I can think of; 32 years old, single dad, not sure where the mom is. I forgot to ask what he did for a living, but he must have a lot of flexibility with his job to take off the week to spend with Maddie and Masen. I don't know where he lives, but it must be within walking distance from the park. I even tell him about the weird ass electricity thing and the way my hand felt inside his. How it felt when he whispered in my ear. How I hope he doesn't wait too long before he calls me. I tell him everything. Like I said before, if I have a thought, Seth knows what it is.

"Bell, I have to tell you, I have never seen you this way, about anyone, ever." Seth tells me quietly.

My head snaps up at his tone and I ask, "Is that a bad thing Seth? I meet a great guy who has two of the cutest kids ever and he asked me on a date. I'm excited, am I not allowed to be excited for something happening to me for a change?" I bitingly ask him.

"Bella, you know perfectly well that is not what I meant, so knock that shit off right now and cut out the attitude. Of course I am happy for you. I watched you all day, remember? I saw how you were with those kids. I haven't seen you smile that much in one day in like…well; I've never seen it, not in my life. And the way you and Mr. Wonderful were looking at each other, hell, I could see that shit from the other side of the park. Give me some credit, Bell. I just want you to be careful. You know things are liable to get tricky here in the next few months after the magazine comes out. He has kids Bella, don't forget that. You'll be followed wherever you go. I just want you to think about that, ok? Have you told him yet, who you are?" he finishes pointedly to me.

Shit. He does know me better than I know myself. I hang my head and sheepishly tell him, "No, brother, I haven't told him yet. I didn't want to spoil our day and make him run for the hills before I even had a chance to get to know him. Fuck, Seth, maybe I shouldn't even start this now! You're right, I wasn't thinking. I got all caught up in meeting the man of my dreams who just happens to have the 2 most perfect kids in the world, and I didn't even give a thought to who I am. I'll just have to tell him I can't go to dinner on Saturday." I finish.

Damn, that hurts just thinking about it, as I grab myself around my waist.

"Shortcake, stop. Breathe for a damn second. I did not tell you not to see him or talk to him. Woman, I swear. Sometimes you make me want to slap the shit out of you. If you calm down for a fucking second, you will realize I said to be careful," he says. "Bella, I watched you and Edward all day. There is no way in hell that that man will take no for an answer, nor should he have to. This can be done, if you want it to be. But," he waits until I look at him, "Bell, you'll have to tell him who you are…soon. The sooner the better. He'll figure it out anyway, or someone will see you out and come up to ask for an autograph. You have to be the one to tell him or this, whatever it is, will be over before it even has a chance to start."

I hate my fucking job! I scream it in my head; it makes me feel better and doesn't freak the shit out of Seth.

"You're right Seth, I know you are. I'll tell him, soon. Probably Saturday since when I see him on Wednesday, the kids will be with him. Thank you for being here for me, babycakes, as always." I giggle at him as I lean over to kiss his nose before hopping up off the sofa.

"Babycakes, really Bella?" He smirks at me.

Yep is say, popping the "p". "Payback for the sweetcheeks from this morning big fella!" I laugh at him and his shocked face.

"Ah, that's ok, I kinda like babycakes, I think I'll keep that one, thanks Shortstuff!" He playfully says to me.

I spend the rest of the afternoon walking to the market to get everything I need to make the cookies to take to the shelter in the morning as well as a treat for Rufus…and one for Seth, too. I love him, so much and I don't know what I would do without him. I cook dinner for Seth and I, lasagna and garlic bread with a salad and homemade cheesecake for dessert and after putting Rufus in his kennel for the night I make my way to my room to get ready for bed.

Showering, I think about my day and Edward. I wonder what he's doing right now? I hope he's thinking about me. God, I feel like a 13 year old girl with her first crush! But, I do hope he is. I hope he wants to get to know me as much as I want to know him. I want to know everything: favorite color, what he likes on his pizza, favorite kind of music. What his favorite kind of ice cream is; it better not be vanilla. That would just be depressing for someone like him to pick something as plain as vanilla. What happened to the kids' mom, what his dad and mom look like. What makes him happy, sad, scared. I want to know it all.

Stepping out of the shower, I dry off and put on a tank top and boy shorts and brush out my hair. I hear my phone chirp, letting me know I have a text message. Assuming it's Seth saying goodnight I reach over and pick my phone up off the nightstand. I gasp as I see it's from Edward:

Night beautiful. Thanks for the perfect day. I'll call you tomorrow, sweet dreams. I know I will since they will be of you. E

Sweet dreams for sure!

1 comment:

  1. Perfect first not date... with the kids... totally Saweeet~!
    Seth is right she does need to let him know before the magazine comes out and apparently she does not know who Cullen is as it never crossed her mind, of course if I had Edward in front of me all coherent thought would leave my body as well, *snicker*