A Woman of Conviction Ch 5
“Jesus fucking Christ!” I shout, hoping my personal assistant hears me. In the last month, I’ve gone through two of them. They’re all stupid; missing files, screwing up my calendar, and not putting my coffee where I want it.
The mistakes that my newest PA makes causes my mind to wander towards Bella. I’ve been having lunch there every weekday that I’m not horribly booked. The benefit of being the boss of a company is that I can make sure I’m free to go down to Paul’s Diner most days.
After the last major over-tip I left her, we’ve established a more cordial relationship. Bella is a hard worker. I’ve watched her run the whole diner plus watch her kid brothers. I’m still assuming they’re her brothers; they have some similarities, but she’s just too young to be their mom.
Needing to distract myself, I call for Stephanie, my assistant, to come in my office. “Is everything set for Saturday’s sign-up?” I shuffle some papers, not looking at her in the hopes it makes her feel intimidated.
“Yes, the field has been booked, flyers and other advertisements have been put out, and I have made sure Mr. Whitlock and Mr. Cullen are aware of the schedule for the day,” she replies timidly.
I nod and wave my hand, dismissing her. I wonder if Bella would want to bring her brothers. They’re in the diner most days, and they seem well behaved for two young boys. I’m confident it has something to do with Bella’s influence.
I look at my watch and notice it’s time to go to down to the diner. Thank God! I get up from the desk, buttoning my suit jacket. I chose my midnight blue Hugo Boss suit, thinking of Bella when picking it out. I want to get her attention, something I’ve noticed takes a lot of effort. After the money, she hasn’t had any conversation with me other than ordering and asking how my day is. Mostly she just does her job no matter what I’m wearing or any comments I might say to her.
I meet up with Jasper and Emmett in the lobby of the building. “The little women too busy today?” I joke, slapping Emmett on the back.
Emmett laughs. “Yes, Rose had to go yell at some people that messed up her design. You seem relieved, Edward. It’s not because we’re going to see a pretty little waitress today, is it?” He wiggles his eyebrows.
I really hate that he knows me so well. I choose to ignore him and begin to walk to our destination.
“I think you’re on to something, Em,” Jaspers chuckles behind me. Assholes.
The smell of pie and grease permeate my nose the moment I open the doors. The bell rings above my head and the face I wait to see every day appears from behind the counter and smirks at the sight of us. Her hair is in her usual pony tail, she’s wearing her uniform of a mustard-colored shirt and black pants, but her shoes today look a little newer. Something for herself! I can’t help but put my head down to hide my smile from her.
I see the boys walking around the diner, and it looks like she’s put them to work cleaning the tables. We sit at our usual spot, making sure we get Bella as our waitress. Though I suspect no matter where we sit we would get Bella. I’ve seen the woman work the whole diner.
She greets us quickly with menus. “I’m going to guess drinks today will consist of Mountain Dew, sweet tea, and for you, freshly brewed coffee.” She is bouncing foot to foot almost in a chipper motion. It’s so great to see her lively.
“Sounds about right, darling,” Jasper answers for us.
“Your southern accent does nothing for me, Jasper, save it for your energetic wife.” She raises her brows at him, then turns on her heels and walks away to get our drinks. I watch the kids wash tables and splash water at each other when they think no one is looking. It reminds me so much of myself and Emmett when we were just boys.
“You should just ask her out already,” Emmett states while looking at his menu.
I sigh, because I want to get to know Bella, but after Kate’s betrayal I don’t think I’m ready to date someone.
“She’s not Kate, Edward. Bella is better than her,” Jasper comments from behind his menu. The dick assumes he knows what I’m thinking.
“Kate, we need to talk.” I stormed into our apartment we’d recently moved into. I’d noticed missing funds from our joint account I’d set up, close to two thousand dollars pulled out in cash.
Kate got up from the couch, her dark hair pulled up in a messy bun. “What’s going on, Edward?” Her voice didn’t give anything away.
“Why the hell did you pull two grand out of the account?”
Tears suddenly sprung from her eyes, and she blurted, “I’m pregnant.”
I come back to the present from the horrible memory to see Bella setting my coffee cup in the correct spot.
“Okay, gentlemen, what will you be eating today?” Bella’s honey voice is happy today, which seems to dissipate the sour mood I was developing.
“I’ll be having the American burger, medium rare, all the way, with fries,” Emmett orders first.
“I’ll do the bacon burger, medium rare, with fries.” Jasper is next, handing his menu back to Bella.
“And for you, Edward?” Bella’s chocolate eyes look to mine and I just want to fall into them.
“Edward.” Emmett nudges me. Fuck!
“I’ll have my usual sub.” I hastily hand her my menu and look away, embarrassed.
She nods with a confused expression on her face and walks away, which allows me to check out her ass in the process.
“Dude, you have it bad,” Emmett laughs and Jasper joins him.
“You both can fuck yourselves.” I cross my arms like a child. I’m a fucking twenty-eight year old man. I quickly uncross my arms.
The rest of lunch is quiet and awkward since my staring issue with Bella. I go back to my office to finish work and wind up firing my PA because she lost the paperwork for an upcoming merger I was conducting.
Saturday morning comes and we set up our table, getting all the paperwork set out before parents and kids start coming over to sign up for the Cullen Inc. team, the Phoenixes.
“Oh God, the Newton kid is back, thank God he’s yours this year.” Emmett looks at his clipboard as the trouble maker comes up. Newton is an only child and his parents spoil him like I have never seen before.
“You’ll be in my group this year, Michael, you excited?” I ask him with a friendly smile as I hand his mom the clipboard.
“Yes, coach. I’ve been working all summer to be the best I can.”
“Alright, Quil is over at the field, go over and get started with him.” I point in the direction of my intern who volunteered to help me coach this year. He’s a good kid that has a lot of potential.
“Okay.” He jogs to the field.
“How many is that so far?” I ask, looking at the list I started about half an hour ago when kids started to arrive.
“We have about six so far, you?” Jasper answers.
“I have eight now.” I look up and see my favorite pair of eyes. Her hair is down and is almost at her waist, and she’s wearing jean shorts and a tank top. I can tell her clothes have been worn one too many times. The boys seem excited, but the taller one seems nervous, biting his lip.
“Hey, Bella,” Jasper greets Bella cheerfully. “You dragged your big sister down here to play some football?” he asks Bella’s brothers.
“She isn’t my sister, she’s my mom,” the tallest corrects Jasper. I can feel my lungs lose air and my chest tighten. How the hell can she be their mom? What the fuck! This woman is a mom? I can’t believe it.
I look at her and see her blush spread on her face and down her chest. I feel embarrassed for her. She had to be thirteen or fourteen maybe when the oldest was born. My God. Bella has two kids.
Bella clears her voice, gently raising the tallest boy’s arm. “Lucian is ten,” then she raises her other boy’s arm, “and Damon is eight.”
Trying to distract my thoughts from the fact this woman I want to date is a mother, I grab up a clipboard and begin to rattle off, “Here’s the paperwork for Lucian; he’ll be with my assistant, Quil. Jasper and Emmett will be Damon’s coaches, and I think Jasper has the papers for you to fill out for him.” I hand her the clipboard roughly, not really meaning to, but I’m in shock.
Looking at Lucian, I can’t help but smile at him. For almost a month I’ve been watching him. I know what a recluse he is. “I’m having my group start warm-up with Quil down on that field.” I point to Quil. “You can go join them, Lucian.”
Lucian looks to his mom, still biting his lip nervously.
Bella bends down to meet his eyes. “Hey, sweetheart, don’t you want to play football anymore?”
I watch as Lucian pushes his glasses up his nose before finally speaking. “Yes, I do. I’m just scared that the other kids will tease me like the kids did at school.”
I feel so bad for this boy. I used to be that kid in school that everyone teased because of how smart I was and how I didn’t want to run around, I wanted to read. I bend down next to Bella.
“If anyone bothers you like that, you tell me or Quil. I will not tolerate anything like that. On this team, we treat each other with respect.” I keep my voice firm but comforting. I want him to like being on my team, but I also want him to trust me.
“Okay,” he agrees, seeming more confident than he was just a moment before.
“If anyone messes with you, I got your back, brother.” The other son of Bella’s-- she has two!-- states while puffing out his chest and then narrowing his eyes at the boys that Lucian will be joining.
I want to laugh at this kid’s brass. I peek an eye over to Emmett, remembering the days that he used to stick up for me before I started to do it on my own.
“Damon.” Bella sighs as she stands up. I follow suit.
“I’m not sure you can play on my team if you’re going to have that kind of attitude,” Emmett addresses Damon in a no-nonsense voice. I can’t help but agree with him, though. I look over to Bella to see her reaction, and I’m puzzled to see a small smile form.
“Sir, I love my brother, and he’s my only brother. He’s smart and has a big heart, that’s what my mom says, anyway. I have to use my size and protect him.” I want to hug this kid, I feel for him so much.
“I understand how you feel, big guy, but on this team, we don’t fight. We use our words and talk things out. I don’t know if you can handle that.” Emmett crosses his arms. I understand what he’s trying to get Damon to do, now.
I see Damon’s mouth pop open in response to my brother’s statement. “I really want to play. I promise I will try really hard, please let me play.” His voice is small and pleading. I know Emmett is going to let him, but he wanted to hear this from Damon.
Emmett clasps Damon’s shoulder gently and then bends down. “And that’s all I need from you, is to try. If you’re having any problems you come to me or Jasper.” He gestures over to Jasper, who tips his imaginary hat back. “We’ll figure it out.”
“Okay.” Damon nods his head in understanding. These kids remind me so much of myself and Emmett when we were younger.
“Alright, let’s get over to where we’ll be practicing, and your mom can get all the paperwork done.” Emmett stands up and begins to lead Damon away.
I see Bella nudge Lucian to get moving along as well.
I have no idea what to say to her. I feel angry, even though I know I shouldn’t because it isn’t any of my business. We don’t even have any kind of friendship.
“I guess I better get to these.” Bella waves the one clipboard that I gave her and then grabs one from the other section of the table.
“If you have any questions, Jasper can answer them,” I say to her curtly. I shouldn’t feel this betrayed by her. I hate these irrational feelings. I walk over to the practice field where Quil has them doing stretches.
“Quil, how we doing?” I slap him on the back, taking the clipboard from him.
“We’re doing good. I think we’re ready to learn some drills,” he responds cheerfully.
“Alright boys, bring it in,” I call to the thirteen boys we have in total for the team. I quickly explain drills and positions to them and how we’re going to figure out who will go where.
After a few running drills, I notice that Lucian is fast and can run without getting winded. But I also notice he lets the other kids talk over him, and he doesn’t ask questions when I can tell he’s confused.
“Lucian!” I call his name, and wave my hand for him to come to me. I watch as he pushes his glasses up and bites his lip as he jogs over to me.
“Yes, coach.” His voice is low and timid.
“Are you okay, you like it so far?” I question him gently.
“I like it very much. I like to run,” he says to the ground.
I nod my head, trying to figure out what he needs. “Are the kids treating you okay?”
“I guess,” he whispers.
I squat down. “Lucian, look at me, please.”
His eyes meet mine and they’re the same shape and color as his mom’s, except hidden behind his glasses. Currently, they’re watering up just a bit.
“You’re an amazing runner. I think you are going to be amazing on our team. If anyone is bothering you, you can tell me and we will get it figured out.” I keep my eyes on his so he knows I’m being honest and he can hopefully trust me.
“I just feel out of place. I never been on a team before, so I don’t know how. The other kids aren’t mean.” His voice is still soft and he’s fidgeting with the hem of his shirt.
“Well, it takes time to form a team; we’re just on our first day.” I hope to lay rest to his worries.
“Also, coach, all the other kids talk about expensive gear and clothes. My mom can’t do that for me or my brother. I don’t know how I can be on the team if I don’t have the right stuff,” he says in a rush. He looks down again, and I can see his tan skin blush red just a bit.
The feeling that comes over me is something I have never experienced. This kid worries about his mom and what she can afford. I just, I have to make this better. “Well, that’s a choice by their parents, but I actually get all the gear and shirts that are needed. In fact, after this last mock game, I’ll get yours and your brother’s sizes just in case your mom forgot.”
I watch a smile break out on his face. “Really? Thank you. I better get out there, then.” And he’s gone in a flash.
I watch as he gets more into the game this time. I wonder if his worries were more about whether his mom could afford for them to play than about being part of the team.
The parents start to pick up their kids, and I make sure to get sizes of pants, shirts, and shoes from Lucian for him and his brother.
I notice Bella hasn’t come down to the field, so I take Lucian back up to the table where I meet with Emmett, Damon and Jasper.
“So, how’d they do?” Bella asks us anxiously and I can see where Lucian gets his lip biting habit from.
“Damon is great, and he listens well. He needs to work on focus, though. I kept catching him looking over toward where his brother was,” my brother answers first.
“I just was checking. I’ll do better next time,” Damon responds quickly.
“You better, or you’ll do laps,” Emmett warns him with a smirk on his face.
Damon’s shoulders slump and he mumbles back, “Yes, coach.”
“And how did Lucian do?” Bella addresses me, worry written on her face.
“Lucian is the fastest kid on the team. We have to work on communication and speaking up, but I think he’s going to fit right in.” I smile and pat Lucian’s shoulder.
Wondering if she got the schedules for practices and games, I mention it to her. “All the practice schedules are on the sheet at the end of the table, and it also has the game schedule.”
I watch her eyes widen. She must have missed it. She grabs it up quickly. “Okay, see you coaches later.”
I can’t help but watch her walk away with the boys. “She is a fucking mom.” I turn to my brother and brother-in-law.
“Yeah, and a dam good one,” Jasper replies as he finishes putting the papers up.