Driving Forces Chapter 2

Chapter 2
As the water washes over me, I recall the events of the day.

“I want to offer you the position, and would like you to start immediately. Would tomorrow be too soon for you?”

My heart pounds in my ears. I got the job.

The first thing I’d done this morning was pick out my best clothes. I helped Emma get ready to go to a neighbor’s apartment to stay while I went to the interview, but she didn’t answer her door.

By the time I got to Cullen Enterprises my nerves were shot.

“I want to offer you the position, and would like you to start immediately. Would tomorrow be too soon for you?”

I begin laughing, trying not cry. Against all odds, even the anxiety that made me sweat and shake, the doppelganger, and the fact that I had to bring my princess with me, I got the job. Not just any job either, a dream job, one that is going to allow me to keep my daughter no matter what.

Ignoring the bumps and dips from the many scars on my body, I finish up my shower.

“You are so fucking stupid,” the voice sneers in my head as I dry myself off.

I walk out of the tiny bathroom to the rest of my small two-bedroom apartment. It’s all I can afford with the help of welfare and our case worker. I didn’t want to live here, I didn’t want to move out of our home, but in the end, it was best to take Emma away from the horrible memories. We don’t have much, just the necessities.

Running my fingers through my hair, I decide I better finish the paperwork for Emma’s daycare. The daycare is a parent’s dream. A key card to get in and out, cameras, all personnel has been trained and has to be recertified every six months. And they are willing to work with Emma’s counselor.

The paperwork is very standard, but the anxiety burns just under my skin as I pass over certain areas.

Feeling the panic just under the surface, I call the one person who knows everything. It rings a couple of times before his upbeat voice answers.

“Edward, what’s going on?”

I can feel myself shaking, it angers me so much. “It’s so stupid.”

Hearing the fear and anxiety in my voice must have hinted to the urgency of my break down. “Hey, breathe in through your nose and count to four.” His voice is soothing, and I do what he says. “Now out through your nose and count to four again.”

I let the air out of my nose.

“Now, Edward, what happened?”

I let out a humorless laugh. “I was filling out a section of this paperwork I have to do for the daycare at Cullen Enterprises.” Before I can finish he interrupts me.

“Wait, Cullen Enterprises, you got the job!”

I chuckle, “Yeah, Alistair, I got the job.”

“Sorry, I just got excited for you.” He clears his throat.

Leaning back in my chair and taking a deep breath, I reply, “It’s okay, I’m excited, too. It’s just my nerves, man.”

“Okay, start from the beginning.”

And I do. I tell him about waking up last minute, having to take Emma with me, how I had a panic attack because of a doppelganger, and now filling out paperwork.

“I feel weak.” My body slumps at my admission.

He sighs into the phone. “Edward, you are not weak, you have been through a lot of trauma in your life. You’re strong, a survivor.”

I take in his words, trying to believe them, just as every other time he tries to make me understand.

“Do you understand me, Edward?” His voice is caring but stern.

“I hear you, Al, but it doesn’t make it easier. I already have an issue being around women. And my boss, a woman, saw me nearly lose my shit.” I can’t seem to finish my sentence as the pathetic feeling overwhelms me.

“She must not care, she gave you the job and she’s going to make sure you have little to no contact with the doppelganger. Edward, you need to call Eleazar.”

I grunt, “I know.”

“Don’t make me do it for you and then show up at your new job to take you.” The threat in his voice is very real. And knowing him, he would.

“I’ll call him on my break tomorrow.”

“Don’t think I won’t call him and check.” His voice stern.

“Al, I will call. I promise.”

“Good, now you want to talk about anything else?”

Shaking my head, I tell him, “No, man. Thanks. I'll see you Thursday.”

We say goodbye and hang up the phone.

I sign my name on the line and put the papers away, thinking back to when I found out we were going to have Emma. I’d just graduated from high school and was about to age out of the system. She was gorgeous from a rich family and she wanted me. Neither of us had ever had sex before that night, and I thought I loved her, that she was going to give me the love I desperately wanted and needed. It was a month later that we found out she was pregnant. Her parents kicked her out in a rage. We had her car and that was it. I quickly found myself a job at an auto body shop and she got a part-time job at McDonald’s. We found a cheap studio apartment. I thought everything was going well for us.

I rub my face roughly, deciding I should go to bed and get some sleep, but it isn’t long before my princess is crying out for me. She’s in bed with me before I can even open my eyes fully. Running my hand through her hair, I soothe her to the best of my ability.

“Do you want to talk about it, princess?”

Sniffling, she shakes her head no. I kiss the top of her head, snuggling her closer.

“Remember, Miss Carmen says it helps if you talk about it.” I feel like a hypocrite, because I never speak of the nightmares that plague my every dream.

Emma does the breathing exercise Carmen has been teaching her to help with panic attacks. “There was a lot of blood. You were too far away, and I heard laughing and I kept falling, and-and—” She begins to cry harder.

“Shh, baby, it’s all over, Daddy’s here.” I attempt to calm her down, humming and repeating that it's all over. Not that it feels like it; like her, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It’s a long time before I hear her soft snores, allowing me to drift off.

*Driving Forces*

I wake up at six with Emma staring at me from her side of the bed. “Time to get up, Daddy?” She tightens her hold on her teddy bear.

Smiling and bopping her nose with my finger, I answer, “Sure is, princess, you ready to make some new friends today?”

She giggles, nodding her head.

We pull into a parking spot and head into the big glass building that is Cullen Enterprises. I take out my badge to get into the employee entrance and then again when we get to the daycare. A woman with honeyed skin and dyed red hair greats us.

“Hi, I’m Claire, and I’m here to help Emma adjust while you and Angela finish your paperwork.”

Emma looks at me with trepidation. I smile, crouching down at her level. “It’s okay, princess, I’ll come back to give you a kiss and say goodbye before I go to work.”

She nods, giving me a hug before taking Claire’s hand. Claire begins to tell Emma all about the daycare, like how she has her own cubby space and desk. I walk to the office; behind a desk with folders, papers, sticky notes, and a computer is a woman with glasses shuffling papers together.

“Hi, Mr. Swan.” She looks up at me with a smile.

“Hello, Angela,” I greet her, taking a seat after handing her the papers.

She smiles, taking them gently, and begins to look over them. I give her credit, she doesn’t even pause at the missing information. “Everything looks great.” Angela looks at me again, still smiling.

I smile back, feeling a small weight lift off my shoulders.

“We’ll see you a little after four."

I nod, shaking her hand again and leaving her office. Remembering the promise, I made my Emma bear, I go back into the daycare and give her a hug and kiss, telling her I’ll back around four to get her.

That part is done, now onto the next. I begin one of the three breathing techniques that Eleazar taught me. Inhaling through my nose, counting to four, then exhaling through my mouth while counting to four again.

The elevator doors open to the legal department, and I step out, hearing raised voices. The closer I get to Ms. Cullen’s office, the louder they become.

“Dammit, Emmett, you know I’m fucking swamped, especially with having to train a new assistant.” Her voice echoes, shaking me to my core as flashes of heat hit me.

I close my eyes. 1, 2, 3, 4, breath out, 1, 2, 3, 4. A feeling of calm begins to come back to me. I take a few more steps toward the doorway where a very large man with short black hair seems to be trying to back out and away from a red-faced Ms. Cullen.

“You know I’ll do anything for you.” His deep, throaty voice comes out sheepish.

“Get away from me now."

The man doesn’t seem to hesitate to go around me and almost run to the elevator.

Swallowing hard, I walk into her office with my eyes on the ground.

Hearing her throat clear, I look up to meet her eyes. “Hello, Mr. Swan, are you ready?”

Swallowing hard and calling to all my courage, I answer, “Yes, Ma’am. I am.”


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