A Woman of Conviction CH 14

Chapter 14
EPOV


I feel like a man starved when my lips touch Bella’s. I just want to give her a sweet, gentle kiss, but when I meet her lips something else takes over. My body disconnects from my head. My tongue sweeps across her bottom lip, wanting access to her mouth. She grants it to me with a moan. God, she tastes like mint and chocolate; I can feel her hands find their way to my hair, yanking it to bring me closer to her body. My hands land on her hips, causing me to groan in pleasure. My dick is so hard it must be touching her stomach.


She gently pushes my chest to stop our make-out session. Her hand is up to her mouth when I look at her.


What the fuck did I just do, I dry humped her after being confronted by her dead-beat dad’s new wife and her shit bag ex’s fiancée.


“Shit, Bella, I’m sorry. I was just wanting to give you a kiss, not...” I rake my hands through my hair; I might go bald if I continue this shit.


I feel her gentle touch. “It takes two, Edward, but we can’t let that happen again.”


“What? Bella.” I move my hands from my hair to the back of my neck. I can’t keep pretending that she’s just an employee. I look into her eyes, showing her just how serious I am. “I’ve wanted to kiss you since the first day in the diner. I want to be more to you than your boss.”


“But you are my boss, Edward. I can’t lose my job when you get tired of me.” She turns away from me. She looks so small and tired. I can see that she’s wrapped her arms around herself as if she’s protecting herself from any more heartaches.


I need her to be closer to me, and I want to see those warm chocolate eyes. I pull on her arm gently so I won’t hurt her. As she faces me I can see her eyes are moist, and I brush her smooth hair off her shoulder.


“I would never do that to you. I will spend the rest of my life proving that I am not that kind of man.”


“Edward, I…” I watch emotion after emotion cross her face before she pulls away from me.


“I can’t do this right now.”


“You’re right this was—shit.” My timing is shit. This is shit, I should have waited, I am a selfish prick.


“It’s not that I don’t want you, Edward. I do,” she confesses to me while she brushes her hair with her fingers.


I look at her in a plain tee and jeans, no makeup, and she looks so gorgeous. I know that I just want to be with her. “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.”


Something crosses her features as she stares at me. “I need you to hold me while I fall apart for a minute.”


I don’t let her finish her sentence before I sweep her up and take her to the couch so we can be comfortable while she breaks down. Her whole body shakes from the sobs, and I do my best to comfort her as I hold her close to me. She cries for a good ten minutes before she quiets down and her breathing evens out.


Damon and Lucian decide at that time to come out of their rooms.


“Is Mom okay?” Damon’s whisper is full of concern.


“Yeah, it’s just that a lot happened today. Why don’t you guys get a snack or something and hang out in your rooms until she wakes up.” I feel bad asking them to hide out in their rooms, but I’m sure Bella really doesn’t want her kids to see her this way.


Bella doesn’t stay asleep long; I can feel her breathing change, and she adjusts herself so her face is pressed into my chest.


“Are you sure you want to attempt anything with me? I tend to cry a lot,” she says into my chest.


My mind flashes to Kate and how fake she was to me. I never knew what kind of bitch she was until she tried walking away with my hard-earned money. Not wanting to bring things down any more, I chuckle lightly, “I like that you aren’t afraid to be who you are.”


She leans up and scans my face with her eyes. “I’m really scared, Edward, I can’t-”


Without thinking it through, I blurt, “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.”


A smile is playing on her lips at my rambling. I wonder if she really wants me to draw up a contract. If that’s what it takes to prove to her that I would never hurt her and I would never use our personal relationship to cloud our professional one.


“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.” Her smile becomes more pronounced as she continues to talk. “I know deep down that you aren’t like that.”


Thank fuck! I peck her lips, trying to keep myself in check because I’m going to do as she asks and go slow. I will go slower than a fucking snail to make her happy. Because she’s worth everything.
Monday comes, and watching Bella lose it because it’s the boys’ first day of school is so fucking cute to watch. She fusses over their hair and clothes and takes a shit ton of pictures all morning, and it’s no different when we get to the school.


She has me take her picture with the boys, but then she turns and asks me if I want one, too. I’m shocked as fuck, not because I don’t want to, but because I do and I’m just surprised that she thought to include me.


Lucian’s smile melts my heart when he shouts for me to take the picture with them.


Bella sends the picture to my phone as we’re driven to work. I immediately make it my background, and the one of Bella and the boys is my lock screen.


Bella rattles off what the schedule is for today.
“Okay, so is there any time for me and you to go over Heidi’s proposal?” I ask before she notices that I wasn’t paying attention whatsoever to the day’s schedule. Thank god, she emails me everything on top of telling me.


I glance up, watching her bite her lip as she finds a spot in the schedule for us to talk. I know she’s worked hard on the proposal to see if it’s worth the investment. She spent all weekend doing research and making a presentation for me. She really didn’t need to do all that, but I don’t want her to be discouraged; I love that she’s putting this much effort into it.


“When we get in, we have an hour and half free.”
She looks stunning today, I haven’t really taken a good look this morning due to the boys’ first day at school. She’s wearing a blue dress that accents the curves that are appearing with the weight she’s putting on. “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,” she scolds me. Shit, busted.


“Anything for you, Bella,” I chuckle at her. She crosses her ankles and I notice her thighs press tightly together. She wants me just as much as I want her.


Arriving at the office, I wait for her at my desk as she brings in a folder and a poster board. Where the hell did that come from?


I listen to all the data she’s gathered and her passion is noticeable in her stance and voice. I am just stunned at how much work she really did to get all of this together.


“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.” Bella gives me a proud smile. And she should be this proud, my actual researchers don’t even do this much fucking work and they get paid to do just that.


I should let her lead this up, she has the motivation, the skills, and the passion. “Good, call Heidi and get it all worked out and tell her you’re going to head the project with her.” I gather up the papers and put them back into the folder.


Bella’s mouth pops open a bit and she stares at me with a blank expression. “What?”


“I know you heard what I said,” I try to keep the laugh in.


“This wouldn’t have anything to do with the relationship you want to have with me, would it?” Bella’s eyes are narrowed in at me as her knuckles turn white from grabbing my desk to lean into me. I’m stunned that she would really think that I would do that to her. That is the farthest thing from my mind.


“What? No! Fucking Christ, Bella! This,” I feel the pain shoot up my finger as I slam it down on the folder of her 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.” I should have shut up before I said the last part. I don’t want her to think that my company is more important than her and the boys, but I’m not going to just throw away all this hard work to get her to trust me.


I sit frozen when she smiles wide and walks brazenly over to me and plants a quick kiss on my mouth.


“Good, and I have never been so happy to hear that.”


I stay in my seat and stare at my door for a good fifteen minutes before I realize I’d better get to fucking work.


First thing is, I need to get ahold of Jenkins and have him start digging dirt on Jake. Fucking Jake.
I grab the office phone and dial up Jenkins. It rings twice before his sleep-thickened voice answers. “Jenkins.”


“Jenkins, it’s Cullen, I need you to dig up everything you can on a Jake Black or Jacob Black. He’s of Indian descent from Forks, Washington or somewhere really close to it.” My voice is steel as I tell him what I want.


“How long do I have?” he answers, more awake now.


I think for a moment. “I want the info as it comes in. You’ll be paid weekly until I get what I need.”
“I’ll have something by the week’s end,” I hear the receiver click, signaling he hung up.


There are very few people that I tolerate that from and he is one of them, only because he can find the secrets of the dead. He’s just that good. I know he can help me fulfill the promise I made to Damon.


With that out of the way, I start in with my emails and get ready for my first meeting of the day.
I’m in my zone after my skype meeting with Aro about an expansion into organic foods when I hear knocking on my door.


“Yeah!” I yell in annoyance.


The door creaks open. “I’m going down to Jasper’s office, can you come with me?” Bella’s voice seeps with uncertainty.


I can’t help but feel ashamed that I yelled at her. I stand up and button my jacket and lead her to Jasper’s office.


Bella and I sit down at the conference table, and I can see her shaking slightly.


“I want to terminate his rights, but I also want for him to meet Damon once before it becomes official.” I am so proud of what she demands, even though I think she should take him to the cleaners and I really don’t want the bastard around my boys. Fuck. Not mine… yet.


Jasper smiles, writing down what she wants. “Sounds good. Would you like to also have back child support paid up until the rights being terminated?”


I watch as Bella furrows her eyebrows and then her nose scrunches up as she explains how she never filed anything.


Jasper and Irina exchange a look, then Jasper quickly pulls a paper out. “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.”


Well, shit. I look over to Bella who’s white as a sheet. I want to scoop her up and take her away from all of this.


She puts her hand out, and in a quivering voice asks to see the paper.


I scoot in close to her so I can push her hair out of her face. “What is it?”


She explains to us that it’s her father’s signature on the paper.


Jasper quickly explains that it’s still good because she was a minor, so her father could legally act on her behalf. “Do you want to pursue back child support with everything else?”


She answers immediately, “Yes.”


That night while I’m at home, I think about that paper. Her dad kicked her out but still tried helping her. What the hell is going on with Charlie Swan?


I grab my cell and dial Jenkins and tell him to gather everything on Charles Swan as well.


Jenkins comes to my office on Friday with two thick folders. Bella doesn’t even ask who he is. It doesn’t surprise me, considering that she and Heidi are so busy with gathering things for the fanfiction expansion of the publishing house, on top of her duties with me, the boys’ practices, and spending time with me outside of work.


He hands me the folders. “That Jacob Black is a piece of work.”


I start looking through the folder, disgusted at what I’m seeing. Lucian and Damon are not his only kids, and not the only ones he gave up.


“He has four other kids, all girls. Two of them live in New York, one in Florida, and last one is in Michigan. The mothers were about 16, 17, and 18. They span from three years old to about six,” he tells me as I scan through the pictures.


“And he never paid child support on any of them.” I’m sure he can hear the anger in my voice.


“No, he managed to walk away, giving up his rights to all of them. Bella, as far as I can tell, is the first to take him to court.”


I grunt, too pissed to say much more as I look through what he has gathered on Jacob. “What about Charlie?” I slam the folder shut.


Jenkins whistles, “That guys has problems.”
I nod my head for him to continue.


“After his wife died, he picked up a drinking habit that seemed to get worse as the years went on. He got a lot of DUIs, and then the year he kicked his daughter out he actually got busted drinking on the job and was given the option of going to rehab, or jail and losing his pension.”


I stare at Charlie Swan; it’s a recent picture, and he looks like a man that regrets life. As he should. “I assume he became a changed man after rehab,” I grit out.


“Yeah, he reconnected with Sue Clearwater about three years ago and then got married a year after that.“


“Thank you, keep digging.” I dismiss him as I hide the files away for me to go through later.


This is how it goes almost every Friday; he brings me back something new on Jacob Black and Charlie Swan. I put everything he gathers in a locked drawer for me to keep for a rainy day.
I don’t tell Bella what I’m doing, because as far as the case is going, there isn’t anything I need to do yet. I’m letting Jasper and Irina handle it.


Every day we take the kids to school and go to work. While we’re at work, we remain professional. After work, we cuddle and watch movies at her home. If it’s a practice day, we go out to eat afterward, and on non-practice days Bella makes a home cooked meal for us.


I love every minute of this time we spend together. We haven’t done much but kiss, and I haven’t taken her on a date yet, but with everything going on we’ve been busy, her even more so with the project with Heidi. But I can tell she loves every minute of it.


It’s the week before Halloween and I’m trying to think of a way to ask Bella out, since the last game is tomorrow and she’ll have some free time. I’m lost in planning it when I hear shouting coming from the waiting area.


“Jake, you can’t show up here at my place of work,” I hear Bella attempt to shout quietly at who I now know is Jake.


“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!” I look out my door to see Jake in Bella’s face. My vision washes red as I walk out to protect what is mine.


“How is the fiancée taking the news that you have two kids you want nothing to do with,” Bella snaps back.


His face goes purple. “I fucking knew you had some shit to do with that!” I watch Jake start to raise his arm. Fuck!


“Keep raising that hand and you will exit this building through that window.” I come up from behind Bella. I can feel myself shaking in anger.


“You aren’t getting shit out of me, bitch. I will see you in court.” He turns and leaves.


I gather Bella up in my arms. “I want to kill him, please.”


I feel Bella shaking in laughter before I hear her. “The kids love you too much, and you’ve grown on me as well.” I miss her tucked into me the moment she pulls away.


I roll my eyes, playfully telling her that I won’t kill him, only for the sake of the boys. I then quickly change the subject to try to get her mind off what just happened. I listen to her, and when I can see she’s calm, I ask if she’s okay.


I watch as she closes her 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…” she takes her bottom lip between her teeth.


Over my dead body will she give in, Damon will see that so-called man if it’s the last thing I do.
I think about the folder full of incriminating evidence. “He won’t get his way. Don’t you drop a thing; Jasper and Irina will get everything settled.”


I go back to my office and make a phone call.


“Chief Swan.”


“Chief Swan, my name is Edward Cullen.” I try to keep the disgust out of my voice.


“Edward Cullen?” His voice is surprised.


I can’t help but grit my teeth. “Yes, it appears that we have the same problem. A Jacob Black.”
He stays quiet on his side.


“Damon wants to meet him, and Bella is asking for the back child support that you filed for on her behalf after Damon was born. Then she’s going to terminate his rights. Considering everything,” I can't even continue, and I won’t call him a man. “Bella deserves so much more, but this is what she wants.”


“What do you want me to do?” I can hear the sadness in his voice, but I don’t care.


“Make it happen, Charlie, you tell that dog to give Bella what she wants or I will take everything he owns and I will spill all his dirty secrets and yours along the way.” I don’t give him time to answer me before I hang up.


When Jasper informs us that Jake has agreed to meet Damon, I hide my smile. Charlie finally did something right.


Watching the interaction of Jake and Damon makes me sick. That man could have this wonderful child in his life, and he wants nothing.


Damon runs out and I follow him. I find him sitting on a bench close to the elevator.


“I want a dad.” I can hear the tears in his voice.


I sit next to him and wrap my arm around him. “I know I’m not the man that helped create you, but I will always be there when you need me.”


“I wish you were my dad.”


“Between us, I wish I was, too,” I whisper secretively in his ear.


He smiles hugely up at me.



Bella comes up to us with Lucian and says, “Let’s go home.”


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