Driving Forces Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Emma and I have found ourselves essentially living with Bella, and I love it. I love being there with Bella all the time. I’ve never felt that Emma and I were as safe as I do now.

That being said, right now, Bella is terrifying. If it was anyone else, I would be afraid, but it's her, and I feel nothing but safe. Even with the scary-lawyer-face she’s using right now. Bella has been on Tanya’s lawyer like white on rice, sending her cease and desist letters and calling her in the attempt to get them to drop the request so I wouldn’t have to see the inside of a courtroom. All to no avail.

Watching how Bella has become this force to be reckoned with has also moved something inside me that I had long forgotten.

Shaking my head clear of my thoughts, I focus on Bella pleading with the judge to have the visitation request thrown out.

“Your Honor, Ms. Denali was charged with aggravated assault, attempted murder, and child endangerment. It’s horrifying that I even have to explain why she shouldn’t be allowed to ask for any rights after they were terminated,” Bella asserts, disbelief masking her tone.

Tanya’s lawyer scoffs. “Your Honor, my client was high at the time of the trial. She didn’t even know what was happening during that time, let alone that her rights were being terminated. She deserves the right to prove herself worthy.”

My body trembles at the thought that Tanya is getting away with everything, and now she’s going to be able to get near Emma.

“Your Honor.” I hear Bella’s eye roll in her voice as she addresses the judge.

He puts his hand up. “Enough. I will allow Ms. Denali to argue her point on another day.”

I stand without conscious thought, feeling Bella’s hand in mine. I hear her reassure me that everything is going to be all right, but my eyes are locked on her. Her bleached-blonde hair is cropped to her ears and she is thinner than the last time I saw her.

Tanya’s steely eyes meet mine and I see the smirk. I can see in her eyes the hate that was there before she started doing drugs.

She’s doing all this to hurt me.

“Yes, she is.” Bella’s voice is pure venom as she squeezes my hand, watching as Tanya walks out with her lawyer.

I clear my throat. “I didn’t realize I said that out loud.”

Bella turns to me and smiles gently, and this unexplainable urge to kiss her overcomes me. Before I can act, I feel a firm hand on my shoulder.

“That girl is going to feel the full force of the Cullen’s for messing with one of us.”

I turn to Charlie, who stares daggers at Tanya with his lips curled in disgust. Then he turns away, almost as if dismissing her.

“Bella, Sue has started dinner at your house so we can talk some more strategy.”

Bella nods as she squeezes my hand before letting go to gather her things.

Arriving back home, a smile graces my lips for a second, thinking about Bella’s house as my home.

“Dad wasn’t kidding when he said everyone was here.” Bella lets out a breathy laugh as she parks the car.

All the kids are running around with Emma, and all the adults, including Alistair, Eleazar, and Carmen, are waiting for us with the wonderful aroma of delicious food.

We all take our seats around the table, the kids sitting at their own table with the assistance of Claire and Rose to keep them distracted. Soon the conversation around us becomes about strategy.

“What they’re trying to establish is that Tanya was never abusive until she began taking drugs and that it was the drugs that impaired her to the point of being harmful to herself and others. Supposedly, when she was in court for the custody hearing she wasn’t competent enough to understand her rights.” Bella rolls her eyes and takes a drink.

I feel several sets of eyes flicker to me “It did start way before that,” I whisper, feeling that I have to justify myself.

I feel Bella’s hand on my arm and our eyes meet. “We all know that, and I’m going to prove it to the judge over and over again.”

I believe every word she says.

“What do you need from us?” Carmen asks as she points to Alistair, Eleazar, and herself.

Bella gives a small smile. “I need to establish a timeline of sorts and to establish that Edward and Emma’s abuse began long before Tanya started using drugs. I do not want to put Emma or Edward on the stand. Instead, I want to use you three. With Edward’s consent, of course.” She gives me a quick glance and I nod.

There is no way in hell that Emma will enter that courtroom. I would prefer if hell froze over before I had to be in the hot seat, but I would suck it up if I had to.

“Okay, I have video recordings of Emma right after the attack on Edward. She had bruises and welts, which should help with establishing that the abuse started before the drugs,” Carmen said.

It was a long time before a solid plan A and even a plan B was in place. Before I knew it I was getting hugs and everyone was saying goodbye.

Bella and I read a couple of stories with Emma as we tuck her in.

“Daddy, she isn’t going to take me away from you and Bella, is she?”

My heart tightens as Bella sinks onto the bed next to Emma and I kneel next to the bed, taking her small hand into mine.

“Bella and I will make sure that never happens, baby.” My eyes connect with Bella’s as she runs her fingers through Emma’s hair.

“I’m working with Carmen, Al, and El”—Bella drops a kiss to Emma’s forehead—”to make sure she doesn’t get anywhere near you.”

Bella and I both stay with Emma until she falls asleep to keep her reassured that she’s safe. When we finally leave her room, Bella and I hold hands and slowly walk to the living room.

My gut is twisting and every nerve is tingling throughout my body. Even with everything happening right now, all I can think about is her lips. Are they as soft as they look? My God, how long has it been since I’ve had a kiss? Am I okay enough to kiss Bella? Would she want to kiss me?

I let out an audible sigh as so many doubts and questions overrun my mind.

Bella turns around and looks at me. “Are you okay?”

The concern in her voice just calms everything. Taking her hands into mine, I pull her in close until our bodies are touching.

“Edward?” My name comes out on a breath and I just know she wants this, too.

I lean in close, her lips just millimeters away. “I’ve been thinking about this since we were in the courtroom.” I can’t believe I’m doing this. I press my lips to hers.

Her body relaxes into me as she presses her lips firmly back to mine.

My lips curve up. “I can’t believe I’m kissing you.”

Her giggle makes my heart pound hard in my chest. “Believe it, because I’m going to kiss you every chance I get.”

*Driving Forces*

I have been at every group meeting and several extra meetings with Eleazar. Emma has been seeing Carmen twice a week and she has her own little group she also started going to. Tanya has really stirred up so much shit with taking me to court. With Bella and everyone standing with us, it feels like we’re going to survive it.

But what has made everything bearable is tonight. Tonight, Bella and I are going on a date. A real date.

Nothing makes the fear and pain disappear faster than kissing Bella. And she’s okay with just kissing. She doesn’t ask for anything more.

Rose immediately volunteered to take Emma while we go out tonight. Emma was happy to spend more time with Ollie and Aunty Rose. We told her that we were going out, but in her little mind, she didn’t see any significance.

I run my hand through my hair and straighten out my shirt for the millionth time.

“You ready?” Alistair came by to make sure I was doing okay for my date tonight.

I nod. “I think so.”

He pats my back, making me look over at him. He's smiling wide.

“What?” I look back to the mirror, checking for anything out of place.

He chuckles. “I’m just so happy to see this day.”

I can’t help but smile. “Me, too.”

Alistair leaves and I decide to wait for Bella in the living room, trying not to pace the length of it. I have to constantly remind myself that this is okay. I need to live my life. Life continues, even when an evil bitch wants to ruin it.

“Edward.” Her voice prompts me to stop my pacing and look at her.

I freeze on the spot with my mouth hanging open as I take her in. There really isn’t any word that could truly describe how perfect she looks.

Bella is wearing a pink lace dress with a belt at her waist and a black jacket. Her legs could go on for miles, ending in black high heels. Her hair is pulled half up with loose curls hanging around her face.

As I stare at her, Bella’s cheeks pinken.

Snapping my mouth shut and clearing my throat, I explain, “I’m sorry, it’s just that you look breathtaking.”

Bella bites her bottom lip just a little. “Thank you. Are you ready to go?”

“Yes,” I answer quickly. Unable to help myself I take her soft hand and kiss her lips gently before leading her out.

I open her door for her and before I close it behind her I swear I hear her sigh at the action. I can’t be sure because my blood is pumping in my ears.

We always go out to eat, so tonight I wanted to do something different in hopes of sparking new conversation between us that isn’t about Emma or court-related. This evening we leave earlier than a normal date perhaps, but I think it will be worth it.

The first stop is Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Bella wears a contagious smile as she sees where we are. “I haven’t been here since I was a child.”

Not being able to stop myself from touching her I take her hand and lead us in.

It’s spectacular. Bella and I can’t stop talking about all the different glass sculptures and how much work had to go into each one. She takes pictures with her phone of her favorite pieces and often stops to take one of the two of us.

When we finally reach the end, she looks almost sad.

“Are you ready for the next part?” I smile, tugging her along.

Giggling really does suit her. “There’s more?”

Smiling wider, I answer, “Oh, yes, and I hope you like it.” A little bit of doubt creeps in.

She kisses my cheek. “Whatever it is, I’ll love it because I’m with you.”

Bella gives me a questioning look when I pull into the parking lot of our next destination.

“I thought we would be hungry so I made reservations for a food tour followed by an underground tour.”

“Really?” she asks excitedly.


She claps her hands and bounces in her seat. “I’ve always wanted to do this, but...” her voice trails off.

I get out quickly and open her door. “Then I’m glad we’re doing this because I’ve always wanted to do it, too.”

We ate food that I never would have any other time, but it was worth it to get Bella laughing. We laugh and giggle so much while trying out the different vendors, then we go on the Underground History Tour and Bella holds onto me like a lifeline as we listen to creepy tales and history of the area. She feels safe with me. That means so much to me.

Arriving back home, we’re still laughing and just everything feels right in the world until we see everyone waiting for us.

“What’s going on?” Bella straightens herself out as she climbs out of the car.

Emma runs up to me, crying, and clings to me for dear life.

“We went out for ice cream and Tanya showed up and tried talking to Emma.”

A strangled noise comes out of my mouth before words finally form. “Did she touch her?”

Rose shook her head. “I told her to get away, that she was under a restraining order and that Emmett was calling the cops. She walked away, but not before telling Emma she would be seeing her soon.”

Emma sobs hard into my leg. I crouch down and pick her up, holding her tight.

Bella comes over and kisses Emma’s cheek while rubbing my back. “That crazy bitch has another think coming.”


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