A Woman of Conviction Ch 13
I almost swoon when his lips press against mine. I don’t have to worry, though, because he places his hands on my hips and holds me against him. His lips are so soft as his tongue traces my lips, trying to gain access, which I quickly allow. His taste is something indescribable. I want more, so I push myself closer and bring my hands to his hair to use as handles to pull him in closer. His hands are gripping my hips, allowing him to keep me in place to grind into me, but what I feel has me panicked.
I pull away, bringing my hands up to my mouth.
Edward looks shocked at what just transpired. “Shit, Bella, I’m sorry. I was just wanting to give you a kiss, not...” He nearly pulls his hair out trying to explain.
I touch his arm reassuringly. “It takes two, Edward, but we can’t let that happen again.”
“What? Bella.” He rubs his neck, looking around, then back at me determinedly. “I’ve wanted to kiss you since the first day in the diner. I want to be more to you than your boss.”
My heart beats against my chest and echoes in my ears at his confession. “But you are my boss, Edward. I can’t lose my job when you get tired of me.” I turn away, folding my arms across my chest. As much as I want Edward and everything he’s offering, I can’t go down that road. I have my kids to think about, bills to pay; if he gets tired of me, then he’ll fire me or God knows what.
Edward gently pulls me around to face him. He brushes some of my hair back over my shoulder, and his actions are so gentle and loving. “I would never do that to you. I will spend the rest of my life proving that I am not that kind of man.”
I want to fall into this wonderful feeling he’s stirring inside me. But I know. I know how life works. “Edward, I…” I want to scream, I want to cry, I want life to be as easy as he’s making it out to be. “I can’t do this right now.” I pull away and try to clear my head.
“You’re right this was—shit.” I can hear the sorrow and frustration coloring his voice.
I can’t help but chuckle. “It’s not that I don’t want you, Edward. I do.” I ruffle my hands through my hair, trying to think about what I want. Could I have Edward, my job, and a life without hurt or drama?
“I need better timing, this whole shit storm with Jake, and now these women coming around… I just, I want to be whatever you need.”
I see the sincerity in his green eyes. “I need you to hold me while I fall apart for a minute.” He sweeps my off my feet and takes me to the couch as I cry into his shirt. I don’t remember it happening, but I fall asleep in Edward’s lap.
Despite being awake, I lie with my eyes closed. Edward is good to my boys, but will he get tired of them; get tired of me?
I feel circles being made on my skin. “Are you sure you want to attempt anything with me? I tend to cry a lot,” I mumble into his chest.
His chest vibrates against my cheek as he chuckles. “I like that you aren’t afraid to be who you are.”
I lean up and look at him, as something in his voice tells me he has his own baggage.
“I’m really scared, Edward, I can’t-” How do I express that I can’t lose him? I enjoy what we have, but I know I could possibly combust if we don’t also explore other aspects.
“I’ll write up a contract if you’re scared that I would fire you. Honestly, I’ll wait for you, I just don’t want to hold back my feelings anymore.”
I think maybe this could work. “I want to go slow, go on dates, and keep it from the boys until we get more serious. I don’t need a contract.“ I smile a little. “I know deep down that you aren’t like that.”
He pecks my lips and gives me a grin that could light up a city.
“We need to feed the boys dinner.” I launch myself up, having lost track of time.
We eat pizza together, discussing Sunday plans and the rest of the week.
Monday arrives in a blink, and I’m crying looking at my boys dressed up in their school uniforms.
“Edward, take a picture with me and the boys, please.”
The boys grunt, a little reluctant since we’re in front of their school when I decide I want pictures.
“Sure.” He smiles, taking my phone as I stand between them.
“Edward, do you want a picture with them?” The words leave my mouth before I really think about what I just said.
“Yeah, Coach!” Lucian readily agrees. Edward hands the phone back to me and they pose with Edward kneeling and the boys with their arms around him.
“Okay, remember after school Garrett is picking you up and bringing you to the office, then we have practice,” I rattle off when I hear the bell ring for them to go in. “Oh, and I love you!” I holler at them as they begin to walk away. I lean against Edward as I watch them go.
“Okay, what’s on the agenda for work?” Edward steers us to the car.
Once we’re in the car I get my tablet out and open the schedule for the day and list what’s on it.
“Okay, so is there any time for me and you to go over Heidi’s proposal?” He’s clicking away at his phone as he asks, probably returning emails.
I look over the schedule and notice an hour and half is open. “When we get in, we have an hour and half free.”
He looks up with his eyes smoldering. “I guess we’ll discuss the proposal when we get in.”
“You shouldn’t look at me like that, we have to separate work and our relationship,” I scold him.
He chuckles softly, “Anything for you, Bella.”
We get into the office where I gather my presentation I worked on all weekend to show my findings. Edward listens intently to everything I say, and he reads everything I hand him.
“I think what she wants to accomplish is possible. It’s going to take a lot of work and networking. But I think it’ll be worth everything when it comes together.” I smile, proud of myself and my work.
“Good, call Heidi get it all worked out and tell her you’re going to head the project with her.” He shuffles the papers and puts them back in the folder and closes it.
I stare, shell shocked. “What?”
His eyes flicker to me. “I know you heard what I said,” his voice gives away his humor.
I growl just a bit. “This wouldn’t have anything to do with the relationship you want to have with me, would it?” I grab the edge of his desk, glaring at him.
His eyes widen. “What? No! Fucking Christ, Bella! This,” he points to the folder with all my work, “is why I want you to head this project. The most senior researcher at my company wouldn’t have delved this deep. I want you because you have a passion for the subject. I would never use what we have going between us to intervene at work. I worked too hard to lose everything that way. No offense.” He eyes me warily at the last part of his speech.
I smile wide and glide over to him and kiss him hard on the lips. “Good, and I have never been so happy to hear that.”
I leave him sitting there speechless and head back to my desk to make my phone calls.
Around two I get a text from Irina saying that she and Jasper have time for me to come down and talk to them if I’m available.
I knock on Edward’s office door. “Yeah!” he barks from behind it.
I smile again; I really love that he isn’t treating me any different.
“I’m going down to Jasper’s office, can you come with me?” I ask timidly.
His features soften. “Absolutely.” He gets up, buttoning his suit jacket, and with his hand on my lower back he leads the way.
Sitting in the conference room with all of them, I feel uneasy. “I want to terminate his rights, but I also want for him to meet Damon once before it becomes official.” I keep my voice steady as I state my demands.
“Sounds good. Would you like to also have back child support paid up until the rights being terminated?” Jasper asks me.
I scrunch my nose, trying to think if that’s even possible. “I’ve never filed anything, is it possible?”
Irina nearly gives me whiplash as she looks to Jasper, whose forehead creases as he looks through some papers. “Back after Damon was born, it looks like someone filed for child support. Just never aggressively pursued it. So, it fell in the system’s cracks.”
“Let me see that,” my voice shakes. Jasper hands me the paper.
I would recognize that signature anywhere. I bring my hand up to my mouth. “Oh, my God.”
Edward pushes back the hair that falls into my face. “What is it?”
“This isn’t my signature, this is my dad’s.”
“Still, you were a minor, so he could file on your behalf. Do you want to pursue back child support with everything else?”
After that, I don’t hear much about what’s happening with the case. The weeks pass quickly with school, football, and work.
Before I know it, Halloween is just a week away, and suddenly shit begins to hit the fan.
Edward and I really haven’t been on a date, but we spend a lot of time together. We kiss and hold hands, but I’m was still wary and scared for him to walk away.
Then, out of the blue, an enraged Jake shows up at my office.
“Jake, you can’t show up here at my place of work,” I whisper-shout at him.
“Who the fuck are you to ask for back child support, and to order me to have a meeting first before I can terminate my rights!” he yells right in my face.
“How is the fiancée taking the news that you have two kids you want nothing to do with,” I snap back at him.
His face goes purple. “I fucking knew you had some shit to do with that!” He raises an arm, and I step back in fear.
“Keep raising that hand and you will exit this building through that window.” Edward appears behind me, his voice lethal. It should probably scare me, but I feel myself getting turned on a bit. So not the time.
“You aren’t getting shit out of me, bitch. I will see you in court.” He turns and leaves.
Edward embraces me. “I want to kill him, please.”
I laugh to the point of snorting into his shirt. “The kids love you too much, and you’ve grown on me as well.” I pull away.
He rolls his eyes dramatically. “Okay, for the boys.” He smirks. “Can you believe tomorrow is the last game?” I love how he changes the subject.
“I’m very happy, right now I feel overwhelmed. With that being out of the way, some of my time will be freed up.”
I go back to my desk and Edward sits on the corner of it. “That means I can take you out properly?”
I look up to his eager face. “I guess when you ask properly you can find out.”
He leans in closer. “Are you okay?”
I guess now with Jake showing up at the office screaming my name, if we get through this and Edward doesn’t walk away, he’s a keeper.
I close my eyes. “Not really. He’s going to fight everything, but I just want him to meet Damon. Maybe if I drop the back child support…” I nibble my bottom lip.
He narrows his eyes. “He won’t get his way. Don’t you drop a thing; Jasper and Irina will get everything settled.”
True to his word, after the last game of the season with both teams undefeated, Jasper tells me that he set up a meeting with Jake on Tuesday when the kids get out of school.
“I don’t understand, when he came into the office he told me he was taking me to court. What changed?” Edward wraps his arms around me as I question Jasper.
“I don’t know. All I know is, his lawyer called me and it was set up. We still have the court date set for November eleventh.”
I nod, looking out at all the kids on the teams celebrating with pizza and ice cream, plus t-shirts.
“So, Tuesday after school, at your office?” I keep my eyes on Lucian throwing a ball around with Mike. I look over to Damon shoveling food in his face trying not to laugh as Emmett does the same thing.
Once we get home, Edward helps me tell the kids that we have a meeting set. Damon seems happy and Lucian runs to his room, slamming the door.
The dreadful day comes, and Edward and I pick the kids up from school instead of Garrett, our driver.
I really don’t know what to expect, or if he will really show. But when we arrive at the meeting room, there he stands with the young woman from the field. I see red; he couldn’t come alone?
“That’s him,” Damon whispers, nervousness lacing his tone.
I bend down in front of him. His brown eyes are scared. I smile, brushing his hair with my fingers. “Yes, baby, that’s your-” I choke a little “-father, but he doesn’t have to be anything to you after this. I love you, okay? Are you ready?”
Damon nods and Edward opens the door for us to walk in. Lucian puts his headphones on and goes across the room far away from Jake. Damon keeps a hold of my hand as we walk up to Jake.
“Damon, this is Jake. Jake, Damon.” I have no idea what else to say as Jake has a mixed expression as he looks at Damon and then over at Lucian.
Damon shifts his feet before looking at Jake. I walk over to Edward, watching and waiting.
“Why don’t you want me?” he asks in a tiny voice.
I watch Jake’s eyes widen in surprise. His hand scratches his neck and he looks to the young woman, who glares at him.
He lets out a breath and bends down to Damon. “I’m a selfish person, Damon. I won’t make you happy, I can’t make your brother happy. I never really made your mom happy. I just want to give you and your brother a chance to have someone that can give you what you want and need. Because I can’t.”
I am speechless at what Jake is saying. I hate him for being this genuine, but I’m so happy that he gave Damon a decent answer, even if it’s most likely bullshit.
I hear Damon sniffle. “Okay, bye.” He runs out of the conference room, Edward following him. I glare at Jake and his whatever the hell she is.
“I’m surprised you gave him this, what changed?”
His eyes go dark with anger. “None of your business.”
“Why are you here, gonna go back and tell my dad what happened?” I can’t help but address her.
She looks at me. “Charlie doesn’t know I’m here, he wants me to leave Jake. But I’m giving him a chance. He isn’t the guy you were with. He is sweet and kind; a kid who made a mistake.”
My mouth pops open in disgust. “You deserve each other, see you in court.” I wave to Lucian so we can leave.
Damon and Edward are sitting on a bench and Edward is whispering to Damon. It must be something good because Damon is smiling.
“Let’s go home.”