Driving Forces Chapter 6
“Jake, the bassinet needs to be over here.” I pointed to the opposite side of the room from where he’d set it up.
He rolled his eyes, but began to move it. I felt a sharp pain in my abdomen, making me cry out.
I run my fingers through my hair. Even with all the time I’ve spent with Edward and Emma, it can only temporarily make me think of something other than this.
Today is Cullen family dinner day; I usually skip it, but my brothers have been nagging at me to come. Tired of listening to them, I climb into my car and drive over to my parents’ house.
Pulling into the driveway brings up so many memories.
The big oak tree where Jake and I had our first kiss. Where we planned our future together. He wanted to be a mechanic; he was going to go to trade school while I was in law school. We got engaged when I turned eighteen, and we were married by twenty.
I put the car in park, trying to get myself to move out of the car and to the door. Seeing my aunt and mom at the door, smiling, finally gets me motivated to get out of the car and walk toward them.
Aunt Esme and Uncle Carlisle are the best aunty and uncle kids could ask for. They couldn’t have children of their own, so they spoiled us instead.
Sue has been, and will always be, my mom. She stepped in and helped me be the woman I am today after Renée left us when I was five.
Both women hug me tightly, something I sorely need. I begin to cry softly as they hold me.
“Shh, my child, you’re home and we have your favorite chocolate pie ready for you.” Esme pulls away, brushing hair out of my face, and Mom rubs my back. They lead me into the house where all the children are giggling and running around playing tag with Uncle Carlisle and Dad.
I can’t help but smile when I see her. With the bright brown eyes and sun-kissed looking skin, curls bouncing as she runs with her cousins.
Sara was born two months after the incident.
I was wearing the same clothes for the fifth day in a row, ignoring everything around me as my stomach laid flat and my nursery empty. The doorbell rang over and over. After the eighth time I got up out of bed and opened it. On the other side was my step-sister, Leah. She’d been my maid of honor. Her stomach was protruding, and her eyes were red.
“Bella, I have to talk to you.”
The dining room table is set. I choose a seat between Alice and Emmett; across from us are Jake and Leah. Jake’s arm is slung casually over her shoulders, kissing her temple and avoiding my eyes.
Dad and Carlisle finally come in with the kids, setting them up at their own table. My heart is partially full sitting here with my family. The only dark, empty spot is sitting across from me.
I listen to all the family updates. Carlisle has expanded his practice, and Esme has taken an interior design job for a high-profile business mogul. Mom is thinking about volunteering at the local animal shelter.
I smile at all the happy news until Leah stands up. “Jake and I have some happy news ourselves.” My stomach is in knots as I watch her hands move to her stomach, and Jake puts his hands there, too. “We’re ten weeks pregnant!” she squeals happily.
Everyone gives them congratulations. It isn’t as happy as a normal congrats would go, considering that all their eyes are on me and my reaction. Tears are already falling as I get up and all but run out of my childhood home, broken. I don’t know where to go; certainly not to my empty house. It doesn’t even occur to me where I am until I park at the familiar apartment building.
Wiping the tears away, I get into the elevator and ride up to his floor. When he opens his door, Edward is smiling and laughing at something happening behind him. When his eyes meet mine they widen just a little.
“Bella, are you okay?” His voice is full of concern, and I can’t blame him. I must look like a mess.
I shake my head. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt anything. I just needed to be somewhere that wasn’t home.”
He opens the door wider. “Come in, we’re just having pizza and playing card games.”
I walk in, seeing little Emma and a man sitting at the round table. His blond hair sticks up everywhere, his dark eyes crinkling at the corners.
“You must be the famous Bella I’ve heard so much about.” The voice is one I’ve heard before on the phone. “I’m Alistair, but you can call me Al.”
Smiling politely, I reply, “Nice to meet you, Alistair.”
Edward’s ears are red, his hands deep in his pockets as usual. It’s his nervous tell.
“I don’t want to impose on you guys. I should go.”
“No!” all three of them shout at me. I find myself laughing.
“Okay, okay. Well, then get me a slice of pizza and deal me in.”
Tonight was everything I needed. I smiled; I laughed. I haven’t been this happy in a long time, and it takes my mind off the news I heard today. Emma is now sound asleep, leaving Edward, Al, and me relaxing at the table playing rummy. What strikes me is how comfortable Edward is with Alistair. His body is relaxed, and he seems more confident. He has never been so calm with me, even with all the time we’ve been spending together. He’s been getting better, but I’ve never seen him like this.
“How did you guys meet?” I ask while looking at my cards. When no one answers right away, I look up.
Al looks at Edward, who nibbles his bottom lip, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.
“We met a year ago through some services,” Alistair answers vaguely.
I don’t pry any further, seeing that it’s something Edward isn’t ready to talk about.
It isn’t long after, that Al leaves. Edward and I sit on the couch to watch Netflix.
Edward clears his throat. “You… um… want to talk about…” he drifts off as his confidence dies in his shaky voice.
My head falls back on the couch, and I let out a gust of air. “I found out my step-sister is pregnant again.”
He doesn’t say anything, letting me find the words.
“It’s with my ex-husband. They were having an affair for over a year when she got pregnant with their first child, little Sara.” I can feel the tears sliding down my cheeks as the memories flood my brain. “Sara was born two months after I lost my…” the words die in my throat. He picks up my hand, squeezing it gently.
Turning to his face, our eyes meet, and his show the pain I am currently feeling.
“I’m sorry, Bella, so sorry.” His voice cracks as he tries to give me sympathy.
Nodding, I squeeze his hand “Thank you. Thank you for the zoo, and thank you for tonight.”
He shrugs. “It’s what friends are supposed to do.”
“I don’t think I’ve had a friend outside of my family in a long time,” I murmur.
He clears his throat. “I’ve never had a friend that was female.”
We don’t say anything else, just enjoy each other’s company and watch TV until I fall asleep on his couch.