What's Love? Ch 13
I'm broken. I’ve grown to accept I can’t develop feelings like Jasper can. My marriages were shams; a way to get money and to have fun. Watching this family interact and the love between the couples is something I’m lacking. But through the years I could never develop relationships. I’ve given up, but now when Edward glances at me or makes a joke within inches of me, I get this unknown butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach.
It’s been a couple of weeks now, and I am still getting the house together. It was grim at first entering my home, I could smell the dust and my dad’s cologne. But since activating the Charlie program it has been easier to clean out the house. Well, my mother’s things, anyway. I took more time with my dad's things, which is why it’s been two weeks and I am still cleaning. I have hired Emmett and Edward to renovate the house and their mom to come in and do the interior design. I haven’t met with her yet but from what I have seen of her work I know she is perfect and Charlie agrees with that assessment.
Today is the meeting with Mrs. Cullen, Edward, and Emmett to go over the details and time frame of this project. I have very detailed specifications because of Charlie. I have him linked with several satellites and I want him hard wired into the electrical system. I programed him after watching Iron Man and wanting a program like Jarvis, who can do everything. I had his program perfected by eighteen and continue to tinker when I think of something else I want to add. I waited to use him again until I knew I was home.
“The Cullens have arrived on the premises,” the soothing automatic voice rings through the house.
“Thank you, Charlie, please let them in,” I answer him, tidying up the table that has my ideas laid out.
“Hello!” Emmett’s booming voice echoes in my house.
“In the kitchen!” I call back to him, not moving from my tablet.
I hear their shoes clapping against the linoleum as they come in. I look up to see someone I never wanted to see again. She has gotten smile lines and grey hair that just adds more beauty to the hair that Edward inherited.
“Oh.” Her eyes widen as she looks at me. My facial expressions must match hers. She comes closer to me, grabbing me by the shoulders, and continues to look into my eyes. “I think God has given me another chance.”
Her voice is so warm and no longer sad as it was the day she came to the service for my dad. I avert my eyes, trying to calm myself. I’m confused over the feelings that are running through my body- anger, guilt, and being unsure of what to say or do.
Emmett and Edward seem confused at the scene unfolding in front of them.
“Boys, Chief Swan saved my life ten years ago; he died saving me.”
They gasp in sync with each other and I can see the many emotions flash on their faces. “I only ever told your father, I didn’t want you kids to worry over it.”
“I think I need to reschedule this appointment, maybe for tomorrow.” My voice is distant and cold.
“Okay.” Esme retreats away from me.
“Charlie, please reschedule with the Cullens. I need to lay down for a while.” I leave them standing there as I go to my old room. I hear Charlie's deep automated voice begin to talk.
I honestly wasn’t going to fall asleep, but I did, and I wake up to someone shaking me.
Instinct kicks in and I throw the person away from me, grabbing a nearby knife I have stashed.
“Ugh, seriously need a way to touch you when you’re out of it or sleeping. I tried saying your name for the last ten minutes.” Jasper is gasping for air and clutching his stomach.
“Shit, sorry, Jasper!” I jump out of bed and help him up, giving him an apologetic grin.
“You need to program Charlie to alert you with loud noises and your bed needs to vibrate or even buck you when someone needs to approach you.”
“Yeah, I’ll work on that.” I step away from him and go back downstairs to the kitchen.
I can hear Jasper behind me. “You want to talk about it?” Jasper slides a chair out and takes a seat. I can feel his eyes on me as I mechanically wash my dishes.
“I don’t think there is much to talk about. Other than how the hell you found out.”
“They had a family meeting and Esme came clean about the incident to Alice, Emmett and Edward,” he answered me calmly.
Stepping away from the sink and turning to Jasper, I say, “It was just a lot to handle in that moment. I never thought I would see her again. I was significantly rude to her back then.” I wrap my arms around myself trying not to make eye contact with Jasper. I don’t need him to see what a horrible person I am.
Jasper takes a deep breath. “Bella,” the air whooshes out of him. “Ten years is a long time to feel bad about something. Esme knows you were grieving. She just wants to be something to you, a friend if we must put a label on it.”
“Bella, Esme Cullen is at the door,” Charlie interrupts us.
“Let her in, Charlie,” Jasper tries to give an order.
“I’m sorry, Jasper, but you are not the owner of this residence. Only Bella can give instructions, ” Charlie gets sassy with Jasper. I can’t help but chuckle at Jasper's facial expression.
“Go ahead, Charlie,” I give him the command. I know Jasper was getting to the point where he was going to tell me I need to talk to her and move on.
Jasper nods his head. “I’ll talk to you later, Bella.” He gives me a hug and passes a nervous Esme.
“I’m sorry for just coming here like this, but I just wanted to talk to you without the kids.”
I wave my arm for her to take a seat and take one myself. We awkwardly stare at each other for a moment. So many years perfecting my shield and keeping with my logical side to keep myself from being hurt, but I have to let it all go.
“How did it happen?” I all but blurt out. It’s the biggest question that has been in my mind since the day I saw my daddy in the morgue. I look to her face. Shock, worry and regret are all etched in the creases that cover her well-aged face.
“Oh.” The shock in her voice is evident, and she clears her throat. “It was just a normal day at the gas station. I filled up and ran in. Your dad was staring at some unhealthy snacks with a coffee cup in his hands. I told him his wife would have his hind if she caught him. He laughed and agreed. I was at the register when they came in with their guns out and yelling. All the years I took self-defense and did all those stupid classes that are supposed to help you prepare for situations like the one I was in, and I froze in fear. The gun was pointed right at my heart. I imagined all my kids crying, Carlisle breaking; I thought ‘this is it’. And then your dad was just there, he tackled the one with the gun but I heard the loud bang as it went off.” She takes a ragged breath with her eyes closed. I feel my own tears falling, matching hers.
“The shot must have scared the other guy because he was gone and the other one was trying to push the chief off him. I reached for Charlie and rolled him over to face me, he was still breathing but it was shallow. I took his hand while we waited. He didn’t say anything. I just held his hand until the paramedics came. They tried to bring him back, but there wasn’t anything more they could do for him. I’m sorry, Bella.” I feel her reach for my hands.
“He was a hero. My dad was the greatest man and he would be so ashamed of me.” I start crying, a real cry, something long in the making. Warm arms embrace me, shushing me. It feels nice, something a mother would do for their child.
“Your father would be so proud of his very accomplished daughter. You have changed the field of social work and how the foster care system works. You have created countless programs for governments and everyday people to use.” She pulls my face to meet her eyes, and within them I can see she means every word.
“I know you’re closed off, Bella. Jasper spoke to me about you many times. I didn’t make the connection, of course. I know you don’t make connections with people. But know you have more than just Jasper as family.”
I feel a chink in my armor fall as I nod to her, letting her know that I understand that she is calling me her family.
“Now, I see all these wonderful sketches that look like interior ideas, shall we go through them?” Esme smiles at me. Grateful for the change, I readily agree.
I think maybe the move here wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe it will help me not be so broken.
“Bella, there is someone trying to search for you on Google,” Charlie announces to me.