"Oooooo, Edward, we can get this one too, huh?"
I nodded, looking at the Bratz doll Isabella held in her hand. "Yes baby, we can get that one too," I replied.
She smiled and added the toy to our basket. "Yah-huh, it'll be fun to play with her…" she commented as we turned down another aisle in the toy store.
Yes, her and the other eleven dolls you picked out.
"Okay, now that you picked a toy for yourself, try and find one for Hadassah," I told her.
She nodded and inspected the shelves full of toys with a look of silent amusement in her eyes.
We had been here, at Toys R Us, for an hour now, and my baby girl was loving every minute of it.
As soon as she had woken up from her nap, I told her that we needed to make a trip to the toy store because we had some very important shopping to do. She eagerly agreed and hurried to put on her shoes, completely forgetting to tie them before she went to stand up, causing her to almost trip on her laces. When she proved to be too excited to get ready to go all by herself, I had her sit on the bed while I tied her shoes for her, and then we were off. I had sped down the highway, wanting to get here as soon as possible because it was already almost four in the afternoon.
But now, it was almost 5:30, and it was pretty obvious that we weren't going to be home in time for dinner, so I started to think of different places I could go to feed my mate while Isabella went 'baby-toy-hunting'.
We had been going back and forth between these two particular aisles; one aisle had toys that Isabella seemed to be interested in, and the other one had toys a two year old would like. The only reason I know this, is because it has the preferred ages advertised on the box. And while Isabella was willing to grab just about anything for my new baby, Hadassah, I was trying to avoid things for actual babies…things like a baby mat jungle jim where the infant lays down and reaches up to play with the blinking, sparkly toys that make pretty sounds. It may look fun and intriguing to Isabella, and make her want to pick that out for her new friend, but she hasn't seemed to comprehend the fact that she's in the body of an eighteen year old just yet.
That being said, I looked down at our cart full of toys and quickly scanned it's overflowing contents. There was an assortment of every kind of Bratz doll in there, along with every color My Little Pony that Isabella could find. There were also a few more bath time accessories, including a new Elmo water doll and a fountain toy. There was a purple blankie identical to Isabella's that she had chosen for Hadassah, number and letter magnets for the fridge, a few soft cloth books, water color paints, several Playskool and Fischer Price 'Laugh And Learn' toys for toddlers, a few stuffed animals, an Activity Triangle, a LeapFrog laptop for Isabella, some new 3D sidewalk chalk, a pink O'Ball rattle where you try to fit the different shapes into the holes, a Baby Einstein Count and Compose piano (I picked that one out), and two soft Baby Born dolls; each one coming with it's own set of accessories.
I already had them holding two toy boxes up front by the registers for me; one purple and one pink, because Isabella really likes the color pink. She said so herself.
"Baby girl, do you think Hadassah would like a Bratz doll to play with too?" I asked, picking up a miniature Bratz doll, and eyeing it intently.
These dolls seemed to come in different ages, as well. There were the grown up dolls, dressed in what appeared to be hooker outfits, and then there were the baby ones, complete with a diaper and bib.
Isabella shook her head. "No, b'cuz those are the big girl toys, Edward, and Dassah is a baby. She gets baby toys," she told me, punctuating her statement by adding an Elmo play phone to the basket.
I furrowed my brow. "Well, how about you play with the grown up dolls, and she plays with the baby ones…" I trailed off in suggestion.
Isabella shrugged and added what looked to be another baby mat activity center to the cart. I sighed and took it out, then placed it back on the shelf.
Isabella furrowed her thin brow. "B-but-"
I cut off her protest by gently squeezing her hand and giving her a stern look. "Isabella, what did I tell you about these toys?" I asked, pointing to a shelf full of the damn things.
She looked up at the mats, then back at me, seeming to think about her answer. After a minute, her confused gaze turned sheepish, and she replied in an unsure voice, "Um…that they are for in-fants."
I nodded and brought my hand back down to my side. "Mm-hmm…and neither you, nor Hadassah, are infants. Remember how we talked about that, angel?" I asked, softening my features. Isabella nodded, so I continued on. "You're a big girl, and Hadassah is a toddler. She's too big for those baby mats," I reiterated.
"Kay," she muttered, nervously sucking on her bottom lip, probably afraid she was in trouble, or something.
I kissed her forehead to alleviate her fears. She wasn't in trouble, I was just slightly annoyed that that was the third baby mat I had to put back on the shelf. "Alright, now about these Bratz dolls…" I trailed off, holding up a baby Bratz in one hand and holding my mate's hand in the other.
Isabella furrowed her brow and looked at the doll collection she had successfully piled into the cart's basket. "Um…kay, but she can't play with my growed up dollies, Edward. She gets the baby ones, and I get the big ones, b'cuz I'm a big girl and she's not. She's a baby," she reasoned.
I nodded in agreement and put the small baby Bratz doll back in the cart.
“Edward?” Isabella asked, tugging me along to the next toy aisle.
She reached for a Tinker Bell music box. “What about Joey?” she muttered distractedly while placing it in the cart.
I was cut off by my own gasp.
Oh, for the love of god...
She turned to look up at me, startled by my tone.
I kept eye contact with her as I gently pried the pink baby rattle out of her hand and placed it back on the shelf. “What do you mean, ‘what about Joey’? Isabella, is there anyone else I need to know about?” I asked in a serious tone.
Isabella slowly shook her head, gazing at me with worried eyes. “Edward, I’m in trouble?”
I furrowed my brow and shook my head. “No, baby, but I need to know,” I told her, leaning down a bit so that I was eye level with her. “I’m not mad…you’re not in trouble,” I assured her, softening my tone.
Isabella sniffled. “But you were makin your mad face…” she supplied in a small voice.
I nodded in understanding. “Sorry, sweetness, I didn’t mean it…” I promised.
She nodded and stopped her little sniffles, reassured that she wasn’t in trouble. “Kay.”
I sighed, realizing that this was not a conversation to be having in a toy store, but it was a conversation that needed to happen, regardless. I reached out and gently tucked a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. “Angel, this is very important,” I told her in all seriousness. When she nodded at me with wide eyes, I continued on. “I’m going to ask you a question, and I need you to be truthful with me and tell me everything…” I trailed off.
Isabella gave me a curious look and slowly nodded again.
Alright, here goes…
“Is there anyone else?” When she just furrowed her brow at my odd question, I placed a cool fingertip to her temple. “In here, baby…is there’s anyone in here besides you, Marie, and Hadassah,” I clarified, letting my fingertip fall from her temple to gently trace the delicate line of her jaw.
Isabella slowly nodded. “There’s Bella and Joey,” she mumbled quietly, realizing from my soft tone that we needed to keep this conversation just between us. We were practically reduced to whispers by now.
I swallowed some venom, noticing her extremely close proximity and the fact that I needed to hunt soon. Very soon. “Alright…tell me about Joey,” I requested, keeping my face impassive. The last thing I needed right now was to inadvertently make my ‘mad face’ again and scare my little girl in a fucking toy store.
Isabella leaned up against the side of the cart and lifted her bare knee to scratch while she scrunched up her little button nose in the most adorable way. She sighed and cocked her head to the side a bit when she placed her foot back down on the floor, and fourteen seconds later, she finally answered me. “He’s a boy…” she told me, stating the obvious.
I nodded. “I kinda figured that angel, but can you tell me how old he is?” I asked, my voice back to normal.
She nodded and smiled at me. “He’s two hands, Edward,” she informed me. “He’s two whole hands. He’s a big kid.”
I sighed. “So, he’s…ten?” I hedged, already knowing the answer.
She nodded, sucking on her bottom lip. “Mm-hmm.”
This is getting out of hand.
I know from a few therapy sessions ago, that this Joey person was around when my Bella was a child, just like Isabella was. So that would mean that an ‘other’ has, in fact, come back around, when my Bella was so fucking sure that none of them were going to.
She obviously doesn’t know her own mind.
What the fuck am I gonna do with a ten year old? A boy, for that matter!
I shook my head from it’s thoughts, the fact that she is my mate coming to the forefront of my mind again.
I can deal with anything she throws at me, no matter what. I can handle this Joey person, just like I'm handling my girls. Everything is going to be fine.
Just fucking peachy.
I sighed, realizing that I can start ‘handling’ him the same way I would handle one of my girls, by getting him some things of his own.
Right…but what would a ten year old boy want?
I looked down at the cart and took notice of the preferred ages printed on some of the boxes.
I could just go to the little boy’s section and get everything that is marked for a ten year old.
I’m a fucking genius.
I nodded to myself. “Alright angel, I think we need to go pay for this stuff, and then we can come back inside and get some things for Joey,” I told her, gesturing to our full cart.
Isabella nodded. “Kay, but Edward?”
She came up to my side and wrapped her little arms around my waist, squeezing me with all her small might. I smiled and wrapped her up in my arms, cradling her to my chest and dropping three kisses to the top of her silky head. She nuzzled her face into the middle of my chest, then rested her cheek against it. “I love you,” she mumbled into my shirt.
I hummed, delighting in her sweet aroma despite the intense burn it was causing my throat at the moment. “I love you too, baby girl.”
She squeezed me tighter. “And you’re mine, huh?”
“Yes. I’ll always be your’s, Isabella,” I reassured her for the tenth time since we had arrived and started picking toys out for Hadassah.
“And I’m yours, huh?”
I nodded. “Yes, baby love. You are mine.”
“And I can have a hula-hoop too, huh?”
I chuckled and turned my head, just now noticing that we were standing directly in front of the hula-hoop display. I gave her one last gentle kiss and loosened my embrace. “Yes sweetheart, you can have a hula-hoop, but that’s it. We need to go pay for this stuff and get an empty cart so that we can pick out some stuff for Joey, too,” I told her.
She giggled and smiled brightly up at me as she stepped out of my embrace. “I’m gonna get a pretty one,” she told me, walking the three feet away towards the display of hanging hula-hoops.
“Are you going to get a pink one?” I guessed, trailing behind her with our cart full of toys.
“Yah-huh, a pretty pink one, and - ooo!” she exclaimed, cutting herself off. “Edward, I want that one!” she told me, pointing towards a hula-hoop that appeared to have clear liquid in the middle with pink glitter hearts, and stars dancing around inside of it.
I nodded my assent and reached for the round toy since she couldn’t seem to reach for it herself. I placed it on top of our piled toys and was rewarded with another beaming smile from my precious little angel.
“S’pretty, huh Edward?” she asked me, eyeing the new hula-hoop with some intensity.
“Yes it is, baby girl, you picked out a very pretty one,” I commented.
“Mm-hmm…” she hummed, grabbing my hand and gripping it firmly in her own.
As we walked up to the front of the store, Isabella stuck her thumb in her mouth.
I immediately paused our steps, and reached for her wrist. “No…” I trailed off a bit firmly in a quiet voice.
She gasped and looked up at me when I gently pulled that little thumb out of her mouth. She whimpered and her bottom lip started to tremble just as I began to smell the salt in her unshed, developing tears.
My eyes widened a bit, realizing in that moment that this wasn’t Isabella, but Hadassah.
Isabella doesn’t cry anymore when I take her thumb away. She just shrugs it off and waits a few minutes to try again in hopes that I won’t stop her the next time. It’s a pattern…a very predictable pattern.
Shit, what do I do?
I had to act fast, so I hugged her to me while I quickly reached inside my pocket for one of Isabella‘s lollipops.
“Shhh…don’t cry, little one,” I softly cooed to her ear, desperate for her not to cause a scene in the store. I was very grateful that we were standing in an empty aisle right now.
I stepped out of our embrace and held up the candy for her to see. I was glad to see that no tears had fallen, but her beautiful chocolate eyes were still glistening. And I need that fucking glisten to stop.
She looked at the tootsie pop curiously and silently reached for it. I smiled, glad that she was cooperating, and handed it over. After a few seconds of trying to tear the red paper wrapper off, she stomped her foot in frustration and handed it back to me. I chuckled and unwrapped it for her, then handed the tootsie pop back to my now-smiling, brand-new baby girl.
Glad that that little crisis had been averted, I evveloped her little hand back in my own and continued on our journey to the front of the store, intent on the cashier that was holding the two toy boxes for me.
After loading everything onto the conveyor belt and paying the ridiculous $387 bill, I loaded the shopping bags into the cart and took my mate’s hand in my own again.
Hadassah had been silent throughout the entire exchange between me and the sweet elderly cashier. She would suck on the lollipop, twirl it around in her mouth, pop it out and lick it with her tongue, but she never spoke a word.
She was a very quiet little girl.
Out in the parking lot, I instructed her to stand by the SUV until I was done loading everything in the back. I didn’t want her walking around or wandering off into the space where vehicles drove by looking for a parking space. She nodded in acknowledgement of my instructions and kept that lollipop in her mouth as she stood by the back opening of the vehicle and watched my movements curiously.
“Do you like your candy, Hadassah?” I asked, putting the last bag of toys in the vehicle, and closing the trunk.
She furrowed her thin brow at me, but didn’t speak.
Right…she doesn’t know her name.
I tucked a soft strand of hair behind her little ear. “Do you like that name, little one? Would you like to be called Hadassah?” I asked in a soft voice.
She nodded and reached for my hand with her small one. I immediately gripped it in my own, and turned back towards the store.
By the time I grabbed another cart and made it to the movie section, I was pretty sure that she wasn’t going to answer me vocally, but she proved me wrong a second later. “My granny’s name…” she said in that softly whispered voice with a faint high-pitched undertone.
I nodded and smiled at her. “Do you like it?”
“Okay, then...you’re name is Hadassah,” I proclaimed.
“Kay,” she whispered, eyeing the colorful movies in front of her. She pointed to a Sesame Street dvd with a small smile, and I immediately placed it in the cart, unable to even think about telling her no, even though we already had plenty of cartoon dvds out in the car, as well as at home.
Joey…get stuff for Joey!
I sighed and looked around in the electronics section of this huge, overpriced toy store.
What the hell do I get?
“Ed-ward?” came a small whispered voice from beside me.
Damn, I’m lucky I have vampire hearing.
I wouldn’t be able to understand her if I didn’t.
I turned to face her. “Yeah?”
She started shifting her slight body weight from side to side, lightly shuffling on her small feet. “Isabella says’ta tell you when I gotta potty…” she told me, her slight lisp still in place.
I nodded, already seeing where this conversation was going and started us in the direction of the bathrooms. “Mm-hmm…”
“And I gotta potty,” she said with quiet desperation.
I nodded to her and picked up our pace, only stopping our hurried steps when we were standing in front of the ladies room. “Alright sweetheart, go in there and go potty,” I gently instructed, pointing towards the gray door.
She look up at me with worried eyes. “You’re not comin’?”
I widened my eyes.
“Boys aren’t allowed to go into the girl’s bathroom,” I supplied.
She rubbed her right eye with a tiny fist. “Will you get in trouble?” she asked, her R’s sounding more like W’s now that she was talking more.
So, it appears as though Hadassah has trouble with R’s and S’s, while Isabella has a problem with T’s.
Hmm…maybe I can help them with their speech every once in a while…sort of like a tutor, and then-
“Ed-ward?” she whispered again, bringing me out of my reverie.
Right. Potty time.
I subtly nodded. “Yeah, baby…I’ll get in trouble,” I answered.
She nodded in response, then stepped over and quickly hugged me before she handed me her lollipop. Once I took it from her with a promise to 'save it for later', she turned and made her way into the bathroom all by herself.
Like a big girl.
I smiled and kept my hearing trained on her heartbeat and slight movements, constantly reassuring myself that she was OK in there without me.
I started to try and think of different things a ten year old boy would like in an effort to distract myself from the fact that we were separated at the moment. Things like action figures, race cars, and video games came to mind, but I still wasn’t sure if that was right. I concentrated really hard, and tried to remember my human memories as a boy, but what I could come up with was very fuzzy, and it wasn’t filled with toys. I remembered my mother…the way she dressed and how she smelled when she tucked me into bed at night. I remember playing outside with school friends…climbing trees and using our imagination for games. There weren’t a lot of actual toys, though…and what they have now wasn’t even around back in 1911.
Ugh, it’s hopeless.
Just then, my new baby girl came out of the bathroom and I decided to go off the usual checklist with her, remembering that she was still in that potty training phase.
“Did you wash your hands?” I asked, handing her back the tootsie pop.
She nodded and placed the candy in her mouth, but remained quiet.
“Alright,” I said as I took her hand in my own and lead her back to the electronics section.
After she picked out which Elmo sing-a-long dvd she wanted, we went over to check out the video game selection.
We already had a PS3 and an XBOX 360 back at the mansion, and my Bella had a Nintendo DS, but I started to wonder if maybe Joey would want something of his own, so I grabbed a Wii. I scanned the many games that the game console had to offer and smiled, knowing that there was something in there for everyone in the family, my girls included. There were Mario games, dance games, sport games, music games, fighting games, Sonic games, and so on. I asked the sales associate for one of each, along with all the necessary controllers needed to play certain games. He happily obliged, proceeding to load up my cart with one of every single Wii game they had.
I sighed in relief, relaxing a bit at the sight of a video game collection any ten year old boy would kill for, and looked back at my mate…only to find that she was already looking at me through the corner of her eye with a curious look on her face.
She brought the red tootsie pop half way out of her mouth and twirled the candy in between her puckered lips before sticking it back in and tucking it into the side of her cheek. Her intent, yet curious stare never faltered as her eyes stayed focused on me.
After twelve seconds, she blinked once and cleared her throat.
I bit my lip, taking a pretty good guess that Hadassah wasn’t around anymore and decided to just go with the flow.
It worked with Isabella.
I quietly thanked the store’s sales associate, then turned, intent on the little boy's toy section.
I silently reached for my mate’s hand, but she discreetly drew hers back and crossed her arms over her chest, eyeing me somewhat suspiciously now.
I let my hand fall back to my side and gave her…or, him a small smile. “Hello…” I trailed off in greeting.
“Are you a queer?” she asked then, in a voice that was very similar to my Bella’s mellow one, but was just a little bit raspier.
I raised my eyebrows in disbelief. “What?”
“A queer…you know, a fag. Because, dude - wanting to hold my hand? That’s kinda gay,” she clarified. Or, he clarified.
“Joey…” I trailed off, to which recognition lit his up his eyes.
Damn, it’s going to be hard thinking of my mate as a boy…
I subtly shook my head at my thoughts. “No, I’m not gay,” I confirmed. “That is your name, right? Joey?” I asked.
He smiled and stuck out his hand for me to shake. “The one and only,” he proclaimed.
I smiled and enveloped my mate’s little hand in my own, amusing Joey by actually shaking it in a formal greeting.
His smile doubled in size as he looked up at me in amazement and said, “Wow, your hand is big. Big and cold.”
I chuckled and nodded in agreement, then offered him the handle bar of the cart, since he didn‘t seem to want to hold hands. He eagerly took it, then took a moment to quickly scan his surroundings. Realization seemed to dawn on his features a few seconds later and excitement quickly took over when it was obvious that we were standing in the middle of a toy store. He gripped the cart’s handle bar so tightly that his knuckles began to turn white, then he raced off towards the aisle where all the remote control cars, nerf guns, and action figures from various films were.
“Wow!” he exclaimed, reaching his hands up in the air for the top shelf where a large remote controlled Army Hummer lay.
I smiled, pleased that I wouldn’t have to blindly pick out toys for him after all, and reached for the toy that had caused him to start bouncing in place over. “Here you go,” I said in offering.
He gasped, almost as if in disbelief. “It can be mine?! I can play with it?” he asked, his excitement barely concealed in his Bella-like voice.
I nodded. “Of course. Anything you want, you can have,” I assured him.
He beamed up at me. “Wow! You’re the coolest best friend ever!” he exclaimed, side-hugging me in a very manly way, then going down on his knees to check out the camouflaged toy I had placed on the ground.
I’m the coolest best friend ever.
I guess I would have to settle with just being Joey’s ‘best friend’, since it was very obvious that I wouldn’t be able to interact with him the same way I would with my girls. He wouldn’t want to cuddle, or kiss…or hold hands. Pacing the room with him in my arms wouldn’t calm him down. No…I would have to handle things very differently with young Joey.
And I’m not too sure how I feel about that.
“Awesome!” his voice exclaimed, pressing different buttons on the exposed remote control.
I chuckled, the sound seeming to bring him out of his toy-induced reverie. “Would you like anything else, Joey?” I asked, picking the large toy up off the ground and placing it in the cart next to the video games. “You can have anything you want. Just point to whatever you want, and I’ll put in the cart,” I assured him.
He laughed and smiled up at me, nodding as if he liked that idea, but then suddenly stopped a split second later. His face turned from happy and excited to serious and somber so fast, that it almost gave me whiplash.
“Where’s dad?” he whispered to me then, taking a careful step back, away from me.
I furrowed my brow, then gritted my teeth a second later when realization dawned on me.
Joey is a product of Jim’s abuse, just like my little Isabella. So…it looks like he is going to be displaying the behavior of an abused child, as well. He’ll probably be prejudice too, hence the ‘queer’ comment earlier.
“Jim isn’t here, Joey,” I said, quick to reassure him. “You live with me now, and you-”
“What?” he breathed, furrowing his brow and cutting me off. “Did he give me to you?” he asked, his voice strained.
“What? No!” I told him, furrowing my own brow in exasperation. “Joey…” I trailed off with a sigh. “So much has happened, and I know that you‘re confused right now, but the basics are - Jim isn’t around. He is dead. And you live with me. And the fact that you live with me has nothing to do with Jim…okay? He didn't -” I paused to shake my head, “He didn’t give you to me,” I promised.
He bit his bottom lip then, reminding me a lot of my Bella, before he reluctantly nodded. “Dad would beat me if I got new toys, but Dad’s not around, huh?” he asked then, reassuring himself with his quiet statement. He turned his head and eyed the super soakers and Nerf guns appreciatively. “So, I can get new toys and not get a fuckin beatin for it,” he muttered to himself.
That last statement both enraged, and saddened me.
I’ll beat anyone who tries to take your toys away from you I silently vowed.
And I would.
I sighed. “That’s right,” I confirmed in an even tone.
He nodded, suddenly all smiles and laughter again.
I breathed a sigh of relief, glad that the subject of that sick fucker hadn‘t brought him down.
“I want a gun!” he told me, pointing to the black and green Nerf gun with thirty interchangeable foam bullets.
I nodded and reached for it, just like I had promised. “You got it,” I told him with a smile.
And so it went on…Joey proceeded to run up and down all the aisles, picking out random ‘cool toys’ while I trailed behind him with our shopping cart. I let him have his fun, fully aware that he had never gotten this opportunity before. No one had ever taken my Bella to a toy store as a child, and told her to go to town…to just go crazy and pick out any toy she wanted.
I took great delight in being able to provide for my mate so well…all aspects of my mate.
While he stood in a fucking trance in front of the display of Hulk and Transformers toys, I discreetly added a new ten-pack of pacifiers, both sparkle neon and pastel colored, to the cart for both of my little girls.
It was obvious that I was going to have to reevaluate Isabella’s thumb rule and the current pacifier dilemma. I decided that I didn’t really mind the pacifiers, as long as neither of them used it as a substitute for sustenance. And a thumb at bedtime is still fine, but I think that Hadassah is going to want hers at other times too, and that will eventually cause a problem between me and Isabella if she begins to view it as me being unfair. If that happens, then I’ll have to enforce the bedtime rule with Hadassah as well, and just offer her a lollipop or a pacifier as a placating alternative.
I picked up a blue toy shelf and put it underneath the cart in it’s storage compartment. It was in a box, just like a bookshelf, and would have to be built when we got home, but I was fine with that. It was the perfect place for Joey to put his toys and other belongings. I could set a toy box on either side of it, and put them up against the wall in our bedroom, because it was fairly obvious that Isabella’s plastic basinet wasn’t a sufficient place to put toys anymore.
After Joey set a bucket of Legos in the cart, he nodded to me with a smile. “Dude, this is gonna be so fun! We can build legos and race cars when we get home, huh?” he asked excitedly before adding as an afterthought, “Isabella showed me what home looks like.”
I nodded and started walking up to the front of the store to check out for the second time this evening. “She did?” I asked, slightly perplexed by that thought.
“Yeah, uh-huh…” he paused to take a deep breath, then sighed. He was slightly out of breath from either excitement, or running around - I wasn‘t sure which. “Edward.”
I slightly halted my steps and looked at him the second my name quietly fell from his lips.
I hadn’t told him my name.
He looked up at me a bit sheepishly. “She says that your ours, Edward, and that you won’t let Dad hurt us…you won’t let him find us. So, you‘re OK,” he said with a little nod, falling into step beside me.
I took the opportunity to loosely wrap my arm around my mate’s frail shoulders, now that we were standing in line. “No…I won’t let anyone hurt you,” I assured him, then quickly released my hold, just now remembering his apparent distaste for affection from other guys, and gently patted his back twice in reassurance.
He nodded and lightly bumped his fist on my own. “We’re best friends, huh?” he asked then.
That’s fucking right.
I gave him a smug smile. “The best,” I assured him as I started placing random items on the conveyor belt.
“Got anything to eat?” he asked out of nowhere as I placed the bucket of Legos on the belt.
I turned to him and silently nodded, reaching in my pocket and pulling out three of Isabella’s lollies.
He gazed at them apprehensively. After a minute, he looked up at me and asked, “Which one is Isabella’s?”
I shrugged, not really sure because she hadn’t specified which one she wanted in particular.
“She gets dibbs,” he explained as an afterthought.
I slowly nodded in understanding.
Right. Isabella is in charge, apparently.
“Um…why don’t you ask her?” I suggested quietly as the cashier busied himself with ringing up the remainder of our purchases.
Joey nodded, and after twelve seconds, selected the cherry blow pop. “She wants grape,” he told me then.
I nodded, silently marveling at their unique ability to communicate, and placed the grape blow pop in my left pocket, reserving it for Isabella, and the chocolate tootsie pop in my right, in case I needed it for any of my other girls later on.
After I paid an insane amount of money for these particular toys, and finished loading the second round of goodies into the back storage area of the SUV, I heard my mate’s stomach growl. I slammed the trunk closed and walked around to the driver’s side, slipping inside with ease and noticing the 7:00 hour. “Are you hungry?” I asked.
“Where’s my toy, Edward?” Marie countered.
“What would you like, sweetheart?” I quickly asked with a smile, reaching into my pocket and offering her a chocolate tootsie pop.
Please don’t be mad.
No wonder she feels left out all the time. I didn’t get her anything!
She eyed the brown paper wrapper with disdain, then very loudly, almost pointedly, popped the cherry blow pop out of her mouth, reminding me that she already had a lollipop to suck on.
“Honey…darling…” I started in a soft, cooing voice. “Tell what you want, and we’ll go get it right now, I promise. But first, you need to tell me what you want to eat. Pick a place, any place. I’ll treat you to a nice steak dinner…”I trailed off suggestively before hastily adding, “or lobster, if you want-”
“Shut up, Edward,” she said softly with a little chuckle, cutting me off with a subtle shake of her head. “Goddamn, you really are pussy whipped,” she remarked.
I bit my lip and smiled.
You have no idea.
She sighed and seemed to think about her answer. “I want a cheeseburger and a haircut,” she noted decisively with a nod.
I started to nod in response, but immediately cut it short and sharply turned my head to look at her, not liking that second request at all. Not one bit.
Please tell me I’m hearing things.
“A…h-haircut?” I asked, my voice surprisingly strained as my lips formed to speak that wretched, blasphemous word.
She nodded. “Yeah, Edward. A hair-cut,” she articulated. “I want a fuckawesome new doo, one that doesn’t have my hair always falling in my face all the fuckin time. Plus, do you know how hard it is to have hair this long?” she asked, bunching up her waist long lock in her tiny fists. “Not only is it annoying because you can’t style the shit in anything but a goddamn ponytail, but it gets heavy too, and it strains on your neck. It’s fucking ridiculous,” she told me, her tone laced with frustration and exasperation.
I slowly nodded, absorbing this newfound information and her logical reasoning.
It hurts her?
“It hurts you? Your neck hurts, baby?” I asked with furrowed brows, extremely concerned all of a sudden.
She nodded. “Mm-hmm…and me and Jo already discussed it. We both voted that a haircut is definitely in order, and the two snotty brats couldn’t a fuck either way,” she informed me.
I was taken aback. They had discussed it?
“Don’t worry, my Bell will love it,” she went on. “The style that I have in mind is both fuckhott, and simple, all in one! It’ll be shoulder length with just a few layers to add some body to it,” she told me with a little nod.
“It hurts you?” I repeated, completely perplexed by that idea.
She nodded. “Duh, that’s what I just said,” she said with a little roll of her eyes.
“Okay…” I muttered, my quiet voice cracking with the weight of our topic and what I was about to say.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this.
I sighed, and began. “Okay, love. I’ll get you a cheeseburger, and a…a…a fucking h-haircut, if that’s what you want,” I relented with a small nod.
I was rewarded with a bright smile and warm lips on mine a second later. I smiled, taking the rare opportunity to kiss my girl on her sweet mouth for the first time today.
“I love you so fuckin much, Edward,” she told me when she finally pulled away for a breath of fresh air.
“I love you too, Marie,” I assured her with a small smile.
She bit her lip and smirked as her stomach growled at me again. “So…haircut, or cheeseburger first?” she asked.
I swallowed some venom and turned on the ignition. “Cheeseburger.”
I had taken Marie to the Backyard burger here in Port Angeles and watched in silence as she consumed her cheeseburger and fries while animatedly talking about her intended ‘new doo’, and Joey, and Bella, and Hadassah, and Isabella. It appears that she’s not too annoyed with the two new arrivals, she just doesn’t want to be drowned in baby dolls and pacifiers all the time. It’s clear from her interactions with Katy that she has a maternal side to her, but it’s very fleeting. After an hour or two, she’s ready to ditch the baby stuff and get back to her teen life, which is completely understandable and normal. She’s only seventeen, after all.
“I’m full, Edward,” she told me, swallowing a fry and taking the last sip of her cherry coke.
I nodded and stood from our table. “Let’s go get that haircut then, love,” I suggested.
She smiled, then followed suit, and soon we were back on the road, on our way to the SmartStyle salon inside the local Walmart a few blocks over. I pulled into a parking spot towards the back of the lot, and waited until Marie was finished singing her song, Everytime by Britney Spears, to turn off the car.
“Do you think they’re still open, babe?” I asked, noting the late hour and the darkened world around us.
She glanced towards the glowing clock on the dashboard and nodded. “Yeah. It’s only 7:58. I think they stay open till nine,” she told me.
I nodded. “Okay, then let’s go.”
She opened the glove box then, and reached for a stick of her spearmint gum. After popping it in her mouth, she repeated, “Yeah. Let’s go.”
And with that, we were both out of Jasper’s SUV and walking hand in hand towards the busy entrance of Walmart.
It turned out that the salon was located just inside the sliding glass doors, to the left. And they were, in fact, open.
Marie immediately walked in like she owned the damn place and wrote her name down on the customer’s sign in sheet. Not even ten seconds later, a man approached her, smiling and saying that he would take care of her.
My possessive instincts took over and I subtly growled, but successfully held myself back at his tame thoughts. He was a homosexual - there was no doubt about it, and he meant no secret sexual innuendo with that ‘take care of you’ comment.
I glared at the hand that he placed at the small of my mate’s back, and placated myself by eyeing him with a look of contempt and slight disgust.
I didn’t want him touching her hair.
Goddamn it, I need to calm the fuck down.
Marie wants a new haircut, so she’s going to get a new haircut.
No matter how much my insides burn and coil in protest at the mere thought of it.
My girls will always get what they want…they come first, not me.
They come first, not me… They come first, not me… They come first, not me…
I kept repeating that mantra inside my head and looked through a pointless, mundane magazine as Marie went through the process of getting her hair washed.
I want to wash her hair, goddamn it.
I suppressed another growl and quickly switched magazines, listening to my mate’s precious heartbeats. It was a wonder how that single, small sound could calm me down from a murderous rage.
Oh my God! my mind screamed as I watched the hairstylist’s scissors take that inevitable first snip.
It took everything I had inside of me not to rip that wretched tool out of his hand and haul Marie’s ass out of that fucking chair, and out of this stupid, crowded store.
I gripped the magazine tightly in my hands until I heard a small rip coming from the colorful paper. I looked down and realized that I was tearing at the binding, so I discreetly set the book down and looked around…I looked anywhere and everywhere but at that disgusting sodomite with the offending pair of scissors cutting away at my mate’s silky long locks.
Don’t think about it… Don’t think about it… Don’t think about it…
I closed my eyes and palmed my face, setting my elbows on my knees and taking the advice of the new mantra running it’s course through my mind.
I breathed in the smell of aerosol cans and chemicals, but my mate’s heavenly scent was like a beacon of light through it all, keeping me grounded. That, and the sounds of her voice and heartbeat. I focused on how her blood rushed through her veins, singing the most enticing, beautiful song to me…calling to me…
Venom flooded my mouth at that thought, and I was quickly reminded of my need to hunt.
After some quiet contemplation, I decided that I would go hunting after I tucked my mate into bed tonight. I would wait until after she fell asleep, and hopefully I’d be back before she woke up in the morning. I recoiled from the thought of her waking up, wanting me and calling out my name, but me not being there.
Yes. I will definitely hurry and make it a quick trip, just like all the others.
I will be there when my sleeping beauty awakes I silently vowed.
“Edward, isn’t it sooo awesome and pretty?” her voice sounded then, much closer than it had been before.
I opened my eyes and looked up from my hands to the most…beautiful sight in the whole wide world.
I smiled and stood from the hard plastic chair, immediately enveloping my small girl in my arms. “It’s beautiful, love,” I assured her, gently running my fingertips through her newly styled hair and kissing her forehead. “You’re gorgeous,” I whispered to the shell of her ear.
It actually looked really good. Her chocolate silky locks fell around her shoulders and framed her soft, perfect features in the most…well, perfect way.
She smiled brightly up at me. “You like it?”
I nodded and kissed her smooth forehead again. “I love it…I love you,” I murmured against her warm flesh.
She smiled and hummed softly in content. “Hmmm…love you too, Edward.”
I nodded and took her hand in mine, then walked us up to the register where the hairstylist was waiting to be paid. I avoided making eye contact with the hair chopping fucker and politely handed over the $18, then walked out of the store with my beautiful mate in tow.
“Kitty…?” she softly whispered once we were halfway down the parking lot.
I looked at Hadassah in question. “What was that, baby?”
“Ed-ward, kitty?” she repeated, sticking her thumb in her mouth.
I quickly retrieved the chocolate tootsie pop out of my pant’s pocket and held it up for her viewing pleasure. “Hadassah, your thumb is going to be for bedtimes, alright? You can have a lollipop until then,” I told her, taking the wrapper off of the sticked candy and handing it over.
“I want my thuuuuumb…” she whined.
“No,” I reiterated, still holding the lollipop out in offering.
She furrowed her brow in frustration and stomped her foot.
I glared at her. “Stop it.”
I had never been more appreciative of my experiences with Isabella than I was right at this moment. Because of my little girl, I was an expert at handling temper tantrums.
And preventing developing ones.
She sniffled and took her thumb out of her mouth, bringing Marie‘s chewed up gum out along with it. “I can have candy?” she whispered then, pointing to the opened lollipop, and dropping the green wad of gum onto the ground.
I nodded and placed it in her outstretched hand. “Yes baby, you can have candy for now, and you can have your thumb at bedtime. And if you want, you can have a binky when we get home,” I assured her.
She smiled and stuck the tootsie pop in her mouth. “Kay.”
We continued walking then, and when we got to the passenger side of the SUV, Hadassah repeated her earlier inquiry. “Kitty?”
I opened her door for her. “You want a kitty cat, baby? Is that what you’re saying?” I asked, wanting to be sure we were both on the same page.
She climbed into her seat, then looked back at me and nodded, smiling shyly with the candy’s stick hanging out of her pink pursed lips.
I sighed, thinking about all the complications having a cat in the house could cause. Not only would it not be comfortable in my family’s presence, but one of us might always be tempted to eat the damn thing.
“Please?” her softly whispered voice pleaded with me.
But what my baby wants, my baby gets.
Consequences be damned.
I looked at my watch and noticed the time. 8:28. The Port Angeles Animal Shelter closed at nine. If we hurried, we might be able to make it there in time.
I nodded and kissed her soft rosy cheek. “Okay baby girl, we can go get you a kitty,” I consented.
She giggled and smiled brightly at me in response.
“Now buckle up, angel, because we have to hurry,” I told her.
She nodded and reached for her seatbelt as I softly clicked her door shut. Once I was back in the driver’s seat, I traveled east for twelve miles, making a bee line for the local animal shelter, hoping that they would have a kitten in there somewhere.
Just as I was pulling into a parking space with ten minutes to spare, my cell phone rang.
“Yeah?” I greeted, pressing the phone to my ear, and unbuckling my baby’s seat belt for her.
“Edward, Esme is on her way to the store right now, picking up the necessities for Bella’s new kitty cat,” Alice squeaked.
I nodded, relieved that she had apparently seen a vision of us bringing home a cat. That would mean, obviously, that this shelter does have a kitten for my little girl, and that the family is fine with it if Esme was already at the store shopping for the damn thing.
“Thank you, Alice.”
“Yeah, whatever - no problem. It’s not like I did anything,” she remarked. “Anyways, what kind of stuff does a cat need besides litter and food?” she asked curiously.
I subtly shrugged to myself, ushering Hadassah into the entrance of the shelter with just minutes to spare. “Um, I don’t know…” I trailed off, taking a minute to quickly scan the minds of a few workers to get an idea of what a domesticated feline needs. “Um, probably some toys, a scratching post, some treats…uh, make sure she gets some litter box accessories, too…like, maybe a scooper and some liner bags that will make it easier to change out the box when needed.”
“Okay, yeah!” she exclaimed. “Jeez, why didn’t I think of that stuff?” she muttered quietly to herself. “Alright well, I’ll give Esme a call. Good luck!” she exclaimed before the line went dead.
I put my phone back in my pocket and kept my little girl protectively tucked into my side as we approached the podium and signed in. A young girl with curly hair and a high pony tail stepped forward, her thoughts somewhat annoyed with our impeccably late timing.
“How can I help you folks? Do you want a cat…a dog…are you dropping off an animal?” she guessed, grasping at straws.
I subtly shook my head. “A kitten, please,” I said politely, giving her a small smile.
After a minute of being star-struck by my evil gold eyes, she distractedly nodded and smiled, going on about a few litters of kittens that had come in this past week, what with it being Spring, and all.
Hadassah and I trailed close behind, turning left when we got to a certain hallway and entered the Feline section. I had to hold my breath as the smell of ammonia was beginning to become a bit much for my overly sensitive nose.
“Alright, well I’ll give you guys a minute to make your selection and bond with the animals. I’ll be up front,” she told us, then promptly left the small room full of caged cats.
After a minute of standing in the middle of the room and silently observing the animals, I urged Hadassah forward. “Go on, baby…go pick one. You can have any one you want,” I gently coaxed.
“Edward, we’re gettin a kitty?” Isabella asked then, her excitement on the matter barely concealed in her tone.
I nodded, coming up with an idea. “Mm-hmmm…and it’s for you and Hadassah to share, so you two should go ahead and pick one out as soon as possible because this place is getting ready to close, baby,” I told her, happy with my decision to make the animal belong to both of them. It was the perfect opportunity to ‘break the ice’ on the sharing front, so to speak.
Isabella nodded, turning her head to observe several different cats, before her gaze finally landed on a fluffy white kitten with light blue eyes. She smiled, intrigued, and stepped closer to it’s cage.
When she stuck her little index finger through one of the cage’s holes, it rubbed it’s tiny pink nose and furry cheek against her hand. She giggled and turned to look at me for approval, the action causing her silky hair to wave around and frame her smiling, rosy cheeks. After an encouraging nod from me, she quickly turned her attention back on her furry little friend. It started purring and licked her fingertip a few times before rubbing the side of it’s small body against her hand.
Isabella giggled again. “I like you,” she told it.
After another small giggle, she withdrew her hand, then turned to face me and whispered, “Want this one, Ed-ward.”
I nodded my assent to Hadassah. “Okay, baby. We’ll get that one.”
She smiled, then came back over to me, immediately tucking herself into my side. “Love you, Ed-ward,” she told me, wrapping her thin arms around my waist.
I kissed the top of her head and hugged her to me. “I love you too, Hadassah.”
She stepped out of my embrace a minute later and went back to the cage. “Well, hey there, little guy,” Marie cooed to it. She smiled and unlatched the cage’s lock, successfully setting the kitten free. When she brought the furry little ball of fluff to her chest, she kissed the top of it’s head, then turned and came back over to my side. “Ready to go?” she asked then.
I smirked. “I was ready to go like five minutes ago, love,” I told her as I took her free hand in mine and walked us out of the room stuffed full of felines.
When we were back up at the podium, the bubbly girl with curly hair, whose name I had learned was Sarah, placed the tiny kitten in a cardboard carryout box with holes in the top of it.
She assured us that there was a small toy in there to occupy the animal on our drive home, and that the kitten had already had it’s first series of shots at six weeks old. It was then that we learned the small animal’s sex and age…a six week old female.
After some instruction to only feed it Kitten food and to water it everyday, she suggested that we set up an appointment at our local vet in a few weeks time. I agreed and signed off on the adoption papers, then paid the $30 fee, and left the building, my mate and fluffy white kitten in tow.
In the car ride home, Marie sang along to Jamie Foxx’s Blame It On the Alcohol and finished off Hadassah’s chocolate tootsie pop for her, occasionally using it as a microphone to sing her song. She placed the cardboard box on the floorboard by her feet and eventually turned the volume down when she heard the soft mewls coming from inside of it.
"Kitty!” she exclaimed brightly, and I knew then that she wasn’t Marie anymore. Isabella’s high-pitched voice had just reminded me of that child on her Monsters Inc movie. That little movie character says that 'kitty' word all the goddamn time, and Isabella had just mirrored it’s tone perfectly.
I chuckled. “She’s in there, baby…in that box,” I informed her as I made a left turn and took the ramp onto the highway.
She giggled softly. “Edward?”
“She’s a girl baby kitty, huh?”
“I can hold her?” she wondered out loud.
I glanced over at Isabella and gave her a serious look before turning my attention back to the road. “If you take her out of that box, then you need to hold her, baby girl. Don’t put her down so she can walk all around the vehicle, and if you get tired of holding her, then put her back in the box. Understand?” I pressed, taking the opportunity to fix her with another hard stare.
She sucked on her bottom lip for a few seconds and nodded. “Kay.”
I nodded in return, switching lanes and deciding to just stay in this one until we came upon our exit forty miles down the road. “Alright, angel…go ahead and take her out of the box,” I relented.
She beamed up at me, then quickly turned her attention down to the box by her feet. She carefully opened the top flap and peered inside of it.
The kitten meowed at her and she giggled back.
After she reached inside and scooped up the small animal, she followed my instructions and held it to her chest, cuddling and nuzzling it’s soft fur with her little button nose.
The kitten’s squeaky meows quickly turned into a contented purr as it promptly fell asleep on my angel’s shoulder, snuggled into the side of her neck.
“Edward?” she whispered then.
“Yes, baby love?” I responded in an equally soft voice.
“My baby kitty’s sleepin, huh?”
I nodded. “Yes. She fell asleep all cuddled up on your shoulder, sweetheart,” I confirmed.
Isabella giggled softly, trying her best to remain as quiet as possible. “It’s b’cuz she loves me, huh?”
I smiled warmly at her.
How could anyone not love you?
“Yes, baby, she loves you…”
Isabella nodded, that adorable smile never leaving her beautiful face, then relaxed back into her chair, humming along with the tune on the radio.
I soon recognized the song to be Flyleaf’s There For You and subtly turned the volume up, since my baby girl apparently knew this song and didn’t seem opposed to singing along with it. She softly hummed to her new kitty, occasionally singing a few words here and there, but eventually started to yawn and tiredly rub her eyes, so I told her that she needed to lean her seat back for a naptime.
It was late enough for it to be bedtime, but she would have to wake up as soon as we got home; she still needed a bath and we had to set up a little area for her new kitten to spend the night.
Normally, I would take care of it all myself and let my little girl go to bed, but I decided that this kitten was going to be her responsibility. She would need to participate in taking care of it’s needs, just as much as I would, whether she was tired or not. It’s all a part of being 'a big girl'.
Hadassah would need to learn too. She could be in charge of making sure that the cat always had toys to play with. Isabella could be responsible for feeding and watering it everyday. I would take care of everything else…litter boxes and vet visits, included.
She turned on her side then, following my instructions, and repositioned the sleeping bundle of fluff so that it was cuddled around her left breast, then reached out for my hand with her own. I let her hold my hand and play with my fingers until she eventually drifted off to sleep, the usual “mine” whispered from her lips just seconds later.
Fifty-four minutes later, I pulled into the garage and immediately noticed something different…Emmett was home.
I smiled. I had missed that big lug.
Rosalie had better not start anything.
I gritted my teeth at that thought and protectively palmed my mate’s head where she lay, sleeping peacefully by my side.
No…Rosalie won’t start anything.
She went on vacation with her mate and thoroughly calmed the fuck down before they decided to return home.
And if not? Then they can leave again.
Or I will.
I nodded to myself, satisfied with my decision to take my mate and leave if anymore fuckery was afoot, and started the process of gently waking my little sleeping beauty.
She was curled up in a ball in the laid back passenger seat, and she had that kitten protectively tucked into her chest, covering it with her small hand and snuggling with it.
I turned off the ignition and stuffed my keys in my pocket, then leaned over and started kissing my mate’s forehead. I gently wiped her newly styled hair out of her face and began running my fingers through it.
“Wake up, angel…” I murmured against her warm flesh.
“Mmmm…” she moaned sleepily and squirmed a bit, before letting out a tired sigh and falling still again.
I chuckled lightly, igniting goosebumps along her cheek before I kissed it. “Wake up, pretty girl…” I softly sang.
She subtly squirmed again, then sighed as her eyelashes began to flutter until they eventually popped open.
I smiled. “There she is…” I softly cooed to her, taking my fingers out of her hair, and running their cool tips along her delicate jaw line.
She immediately smiled up at me, then quickly dropped her eyes to the kitten, wanting to reassure herself that it was still there, apparently.
“Edward?” Isabella croaked, her voice thick with sleep.
She sat up and brought the kitten to her chest. “Can I carry my baby kitty inside, or do I gotta put her back in the box?” she asked curiously.
I subtly nodded. “Put her back in the box for now, angel. We’ll let her back out when we have a spot all set up for her in the bedroom,” I reasoned.
“Kay,” muttered, tiredly rubbing her right eye and lowering the kitten back into the cardboard carryout box.
It meowed in protest, but she ignored it, choosing to listen to me and closed the top flap instead.
Inside, Esme had already set up a soft cat bed in the corner of our room with a small assortment of tiny toys laying on the ground beside it.
Isabella immediately went over to the kitty corner and knelt down, setting the box to her side. I watched as she opened the top flap and carefully extracted the kitten, then laid it down on it’s new bed. It started walking around the soft pink surface, sniffing and exploring, while Isabella sat Indian style in front of it and tried to introduce it to it’s new toys.
While she jingled-jangled different colored balls and tossed a small catnip toy around, I got to work in setting up the new litter box in our adjoining bathroom.
It was fairly easy once I read the instructions on the back. I mean, I got the gist of it, I just wasn’t sure if I was supposed to put the entire box of cat litter in the pan, or save some for later. Anyway, after the litter box was lined and filled, I put it in a secluded corner in the large bathroom and told Isabella to bring the kitten in here, so that we could show it where the litter box was.
“I havta show it where the potty is, Edward?” she asked from the bedroom as her small feet padded along the hardwood floor leading to our bathroom.
“Yes, angel,” I replied once she was standing in front of me. I pointed to the prepared litter box. “Put the kitty in there Isabella, and let her find her way back to the kitty bed and toys. That way, she’ll know how to navigate around the room, and she’ll always know where the potty is when she needs to go,” I reasoned.
Isabella nodded, heeding my advice, and gently placed the tiny animal in the grainy, sandy substance.
It’s little paws scooped the material around immediately, and after it sniffed a few times, it actually used the damn thing.
I breathed a sigh of relief, glad that it appeared to already be house trained, and that I wouldn’t have to clean up random puddles of cat urine anytime soon.
After the kitten covered it’s mess with a dainty paw, it hopped out of the litter box and walked out of the bathroom with Isabella hot on it’s heels.
I smiled and followed after the two of them. After a few minutes of watching Isabella play with the kitten and it’s new toys, I suggested that we go downstairs. “We need to make a food and water bowl for it now, sweetheart,” I told her.
She nodded and stood, coming over to me and leaving the kitten to play with it’s squeaky toys.
“Are you going to be a big girl for me, angel?” I asked then
“Yah-huh, Edward. I‘m a big girl,” she replied with a small smile.
I nodded. “Good. Because making sure your kitty has fresh food and water everyday is going to be your responsibility, princess.”
She furrowed her thin brow. “Respon…sability?” she muttered curiously.
I nodded. “Yes, you’re in charge of it,” I clarified for her.
“Oh,” she chirped, understanding the term ‘responsibility’ now. “Kay.”
I enveloped her small hand in my own and led her down the stairs. “Okay, so we are going to prepare a bowl of food and a bowl of water for your new kitty, and then we’ll bring it back upstairs to our bedroom. But after tonight, we’re going to let the kitty explore the house, so we’ll keep her food and water down in the kitchen from then on,” I explained.
Emmett and Rosalie were busy fucking in their bedroom while I showed my little girl how to care for her new pet, so we didn’t end up running into them on our trip up and down the stairs.
Once the cat was settled in with access to food, toys, and water, I told Isabella to get ready for her bath.
I needed to hurry up and get her tucked into bed so that I could leave to go hunt. The burn in my parched throat was starting to become really ridiculous, not to mention painful, and I had noticed a minute ago, while I was in the bathroom in front of a mirror, that the black specks of thirst had started to infiltrate my venom-glistened eyes.
“Edward?” Isabella chirped while I rummaged through our dresser drawers, trying to pick some pajamas for my little girl.
“Yes?” I muttered distractedly.
“Does my baby kitty want bubbles, too?” she asked over the roar of the tub’s faucet.
I chuckled. “No, sweetheart…from what I understand, kitties don’t like water. They only drink it, they don’t play in it.”
“But why?” she muttered curiously.
I shrugged, then turned around to face my little girl and set her pajamas on the bed. I had chosen a small black nightgown, and a pair of black cotton panties to match. The gown was formfitting and had thin shoulder straps, and I believe it would come down to her mid-thigh area. It was one of the articles of clothing that Alice had bought for her and tonight would be the first time she would wear it.
“I don’t know, love…that’s just the way kitties are,” I supplied.
“But how come?”
I sighed and swallowed some venom, seeing an endless night of questions looming up ahead if I didn’t put a stop to this right now. “Because their skin is sensitive and the warm water hurts them,” I told her, almost completely sure that what I had just said was a lie, but not caring in the least because it had gotten her to shut up about wanting to inevitably bring the kitten into the bathtub with her.
“Kay,” she muttered, apparently satisfied with my answer, then turned on her heel to go into the bathroom, black pajamas in hand.
I followed in after her and quickly shut the water off. After Isabella lifted her shirt over her head, I kissed her cheek and told her that I would be busy bringing in the toys from the car and reminded her to wash up real good and to get dressed in the bathroom.
She stood before me, clad in only a white lacy bra and a pair of faded jean shorts. “Kay, but Edward?”
“I gotta potty first,” she informed me with a little nod.
I nodded. “Alright, baby love. Go potty, and then take your bath. I’ll bring the toys in,” I reiterated.
She nodded. “Kay.”
And with that, I left my angel to do her business while I enlisted the help of Alice and Jasper to bring up the toys and new furniture from Jasper’s SUV.
Alice was very curious about the kitten, and ran her fingertip along the top of it’s head while it slept, but Jasper kept his distance, not at all interested in the white ball of fluff on the pink kitty bed.
On our many trips up and down the stairs with shopping bags full of toys, we talked about my mate’s two new arrivals and Emmett’s return home. They assured me that Rosalie had sufficiently calmed down and that Emmett wanted to see Bella, but I couldn’t stop my protective instincts from kicking in.
My coven sister would not be left alone with my mate - I don’t care what they say.
And Alice already knew about Joey when she saw a vision of my Bella running up and down the aisles at a Toys R Us store, and picking out different action figures, along with a Super Soaker water gun. She told the family about him, and apparently, from what Jasper says, Carlisle’s excitement spiked at the prospect of meeting yet another one of my Bella‘s alternates, but he was currently at the hospital completing an overnight shift, so that inevitable meeting would have to wait until later.
After we set twenty seven shopping bags, one boxed toy shelf, and two toy boxes down on the floor, Alice and Jasper excused themselves so that I could get my little girl out of the bathtub and into bed.
I knocked lightly on the bathroom door. “Isabella, baby…” I called out.
Her splashes abruptly stopped. “Huh?”
“It’s time for bed, baby. Bath time is over,” I informed her.
“Nooo…” she whined.
“Yeeesss…” I countered, matching her tone so that she could see how ridiculous she sounded when she whined.
She giggled. “Edward?”
I leaned my head up against the door. “Yes?”
“You’re whinin, huh?”
“Yep,” I replied, popping the P.
“Oooo, you’re gonna get in trouuuble…” she playfully trailed off in a tone of warning.
I chuckled. “It’s time for bed, baby,” I reiterated in a soft voice.
“Kay, but I gotta wash the soapies outta my hair first,” she told me.
“Okay, hurry up, angel. I’ll put a movie on for you when you come out.”
I tried to pick a juvenile movie while I listened to the sounds of water sloshing around as my mate rinsed out her hair. After a minute, I eventually chose Bolt and loaded it into the dvd player while I listened to the telltale signs of my mate getting dressed and brushing her teeth.
When she came out of the bathroom, hair dripping and damp, she went straight over to the pink cat bed and softly stroked the top of the sleeping kitten’s head.
“Edward?” she asked, looking up at me from her squatted position on the floor.
I squatted down next to her, mimicking her position. “Hmm?”
“Kitty’s tired, huh?”
She stood then with a little nod of acceptance, and handed over her hairbrush. I took it from her, then went to grab her hand, but she quickly sidestepped me, her eyes immediately growing wide with excitement at the sight of all the piled up brand new toys in the corner.
I shook my head. “No, Isabella. You can play with your new toys in the morning. It’s time for bed now,” I reminded her.
She gasped at the apparent unfairness of it all and stomped her foot. “But, Edwaaard…” she trailed off, a hint of desperation in her voice.
She furrowed her brow. “But, Edwaaard…” she repeated.
She pointed to a hula-hoop with pink sparkles and tried again, adding some umph to her stomp this time. “But, Edwaaaaaard….!”
I quickly reached around her small form and swatted her ass. “That’s enough, Isabella.”
I did not have time for a tantrum tonight. I had to hunt, which meant I had to hurry up with this tucking in process, so that I could haul ass outta here as soon as possible.
The swat started her crying, which started her sniffling, which started her pouting.
It was a vicious cycle.
As she sniffled and pouted at me, she gazed up at me with sad, chocolate eyes. Eyes that attempted to suck me into their pooling depths, effectively bending me to her will.
I gritted my teeth and resisted her charms like a pro. “Rules, Isabella,” I reminded her. “You need to listen when I tell you that it’s bedtime. I shouldn’t have to repeat myself all the goddamn time, young lady. Get. In. Bed. Now,” I commanded with another swat.
She let out another little cry as she quickly turned and crawled up onto the large king size bed. “Wanna play with my toooys…” she trailed off with a little sniffle, sitting up by the headboard now.
I nodded in understanding and softened my features, then joined her on the bed. “I know angel, and you can play with them in the morning, I promise. But right now it’s late, and I know that you’re tired. You need to sleep, baby,” I told her, lifting her to sit on my lap, and running the first brush stroke through her shoulder length hair.
She nodded and snuggled herself back into my chest, turning her attention to the movie playing on the flat screen. I brushed her hair while she quieted her barely there cries, rubbing her tired eyes with a tiny fist and sniffling every so often.
I was both surprised and delighted to find that having shorter hair meant a shorter drying time. So after seven minutes of brushing, her hair was dry enough for her to lay down and go to sleep, so I set the brush down on the nightstand and focused on lulling my little angel into unconsciousness.
After a minute, she tiredly sighed and slipped her thumb in her mouth, so I scooted forward a little bit, then laid us down on the bed. She slid off of my lap then, and onto the mattress, and latched herself onto me. She stayed tightly cuddled into my side while she laid her head down on my shoulder.
I turned off the bedside lamp, noting the late midnight hour, and lowered the volume on the TV until it was barely audible, wanting to set a dark and quiet atmosphere so that she could fall asleep faster.
I really needed to go…like, now.
“Edward?” she mumbled sleepily.
I kissed the silky hair lining her temple and swallowed back some venom. “Yes, baby love?”
“I love you, too.”
“Mm-hmm, b’cuz you’re mine, huh?”
“Yes, I’m your’s.”
“But not Dassah’s, huh?”
I started lightly trailing my fingertips along her side and tried to figure out how to avoid that question, and answer it at the same time. After a minute, I came up with, “I’m your’s and you are mine. We belong to each other.”
She subtly nodded against my shoulder and hummed in agreement. “Mm-hmm…”
I kissed her forehead.
“But…you’re just mine, huh?” she pressed after a minute of silence.
I softly chuckled, amazed that she wasn‘t letting it go. “I’m your’s, baby girl,” I assured her again.
“And not Joey’s, huh?”
I furrowed my brow. “Baby, Joey and I are best friends,” I gently explained.
“Yah-huh, but you’re just mine, huh?”
“Yes, angel…I’m your’s.”
“Mm-hmmm…” she softly hummed.
I sighed against the burn in my parched throat.
Go to sleep.
“Yes?” I whispered.
“And you’re just mine, but not Marie’s, huh?
I rolled my eyes. “Go to sleep, Isabella.”
“Isabella,” I started, cutting her off. “I am your’s. I will always be your’s. Now go to sleep,” I stated, my tone ringing with finality now.
Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep…
Fuck my life.
“Isabella…” I trailed off in an even tone.
“This had better be a very important question, or you’re going to be in trouble. I have told you countless times to go to sleep. So think really long and hard about what you want to say, and if it’s a question that can wait until the morning, then don’t ask it. Just be quiet and go to sleep,” I instructed.
After forty two seconds of silence, she piped up again. “Edward?”
I clenched my eyes shut and gritted my teeth. “Yes…?"
She sniffled a little. “I love you,” she said quietly. Apprehensively.
I sighed and softened my tone, hugging her to my side a little more. “I love you too, Isabella.”
I was being a dick, that much was obvious.
I had just made my baby girl scared of telling me that she loved me.
Apparently, being hungry, or in my case, thirsty, makes me cranky.
I swallowed some more venom and resolved to be nicer. “Yes, angel?”
“Can I name my baby kitty Tinker Bell?” she asked curiously.
And just like that, my resolve was gone. Nonexistent. “Isabella, is that a question that could’ve waited until morning?” I pressed in a firm tone.
“Um, y-yesss…” she trailed off hesitantly.
“Do you want me to be angry with you?” I asked through gritted teeth.
She whimpered a little. “No…”
“Go. To. Sleep,” I commanded with a soft warning pat to her bottom.
She snuggled tighter into my side and sniffled in response. “Kay…” was her sad whisper.
After twelve long minutes, and with the help of my caressing fingertips, my little angel was fast asleep in my arms. I quickly maneuvered her out of my arms though, much to my body’s protests, and placed a soft pillow under her head to replace where my cool chest had been.
After I made sure the gold comforter was tucked tightly around her small form, and that her thumb was out of her mouth, I raced down the steps, my burning body becoming my driving force to leave my mate behind and go feed.
I passed by Emmett on the way out and yelled a quick, “Hey, bro!”, before bolting through the front door, into the trees, and across the rushing river bend.
I was a man on a mission; I needed to hunt quickly and return to my mate quickly - before she wakes.
Five hours later proved that I sucked when it came to missions, because when I returned home, fully satiated and riddled with anxiety at being away from my mate for so long, I found that her heartbeat and breathing levels indicated that she was, in fact, awake.
As I approached the front door, I paused my steps and listened to the voices and thoughts inside the mansion. Everyone appeared to be doing their own thing with my mate nowhere in sight, so I quickly entered my home, wondering if she was awake and up in our bedroom, all by herself.
That possibility became very plausible in my mind, since there were several shopping bags full of toys in our room, just waiting to be played with, not to mention a furry little kitten to coo and cuddle.
When I stepped into the foyer, her scent drew me in instantly, and I immediately whipped my head around to the left in search of her.
The room fell silent as my eyes quickly zeroed in on her small, still form sitting on top the step’s first landing in the stairwell.
Her posture appeared relaxed, but her body language and Jasper’s talent told me differently.
She was upset.
She sat with her bare feet resting two stairs below her, and her elbows were relaxed on her naked knees. Her left palm covered her right fist, which was tightly clenched, and she casually held both hands out in front of her, eyeing her thumb and wrist with some intensity that I couldn‘t understand.
I needlessly cleared my throat then, the subtle sound causing her eyes to flick up towards mine.
Her pink lips pursed when she caught sight of me, and her gaze narrowed angrily, to which mine widened a bit in surprise.
Why is she awake? Or, better yet, why the fuck is she angry?
I slowly closed the door, never taking my eyes away from my mate’s intent stare.
Eventually, I sighed into the quiet of the room, and she, apparently, took this as a sign to speak.
“You left…” Joey muttered quietly. Accusingly.
I subtly nodded. “Sorry…I, uh…I had some things that I needed to take care of. I wanted to do it while you were sleeping,” I offered.
Joey scoffed at my explanation, slowly shaking his head in disbelief, and stood from his spot on the staircase, then walked back upstairs to our bedroom.
But not before sending one last glare my way.
“He missed you,” Carlisle said then, adding in his two-sense from his spot on the couch.
I continued to stare at the spot my mate had occupied just seconds before. “Yeah…yeah, I missed him, too,” I whispered with a little nod.
Everyone’s voices began to fade into the backround as I steeled my resolve to go upstairs and cheer up my brand new little buddy.
I would full fill the promise that I had made to him earlier….we would build stuff with Legos and race cars around the room until he got all tuckered out, because I had missed him too.
I had missed him too.