AN: My apologies, I thought today was Saturday! That's what comes with retirement - the days just disappear
On with the story and real life is beginning to poke its nose into their lives.
Thank you to MeteorOnAMoonlessNight, annaharding and Midnight Cougar for their help with not only this chapter but the whole story
A great thank you to everyone who left me a review or favorited or followed. I'm glad you're all liking our sweet couple
Disclaimer: SM owns it all, I just want Edward
In other news it seems that Rob is OK. Our prayers were answered
Third Time's the Charm Part 3 Chapter 18
Left pregnant and alone, Bella delivers a surprise to the paramedic who knocks on her door.
The six weeks before Thanksgiving were almost perfect. I say almost because Edward was wary of taking the final step. His argument was we'd only been officially together for a few weeks at the point of our first date. I scoffed, wanting to tell him a lot of couples slept with each other long before the six-week mark, but I had to respect that he wanted us to be secure in our relationship. I had to admit I loved that about him; he was a gentleman through and through. My happiness and that of Emily were paramount, and he wanted us both to be sure before we took such a big step.
Esme and Carlisle loved having Emily, so that meant we went on a date at least once a week. As well, we continued the tradition of having dates at home and at the park, along with Emily.
Returning to work was looming on the horizon, but I wasn't keen on leaving Emily. I'd made great strides in following my dream of writing a novel, but it would hardly keep the two of us for a while yet, even if I could find a decent publisher who liked it.
I searched the internet and came up with a list of ten daycare centers reasonably local to where I worked. Edward and I whittled them down to four that seemed the sort of place I felt would look after Emily the way I wanted. It was important to me for her to be in a daycare placement that didn't have too many children, and one that would help her along with her development. The first two of which we would be looking at today.
I would have preferred a family environment, but those places were few and far between, so the next best thing was a daycare center. I wanted her to have what I didn't; a chance to learn how to make friends. I'd been an only child and had spent a fair amount of time without other children to play with—both before my parents divorced and for the first few years of living with Mom. It meant I didn't make close friends easily now. Edward had been much luckier, and although he was an only child, his parents had close friends with children who took the place of siblings.
"I hate trying to make this decision for Emily. I'm never sure I'm doing the right thing."
"I'm sure we'll find the best one for her, Bella. I know this is really important for you and her, but try not to worry."
"I know, and thanks for trying to make me feel better about it. It's just that she's almost five months old, and she needs interaction with other kids so she can learn to share and make friends, but I don't want her to be overwhelmed."
"She's already had experience with other kids. Heidi, Demetri, Kate, and Garrett, and their kids have made sure of that, so I'm sure she'll be fine with this step."
"I think it's more I don't want to leave her at all." I released a deep sigh. "But I have to go back to work. I've used all my maternity leave, paid and unpaid, and all my vacation time, too. Despite the fact that Tyler was an utter douche, I'm really glad his ego insisted on paying for everything, since that allowed me to add most of my salary to my savings account. Without that money, I'd have had to move into a disgusting little studio long ago."
Edward took his eyes off the road for a few seconds and took my hand, giving it a squeeze. As always, his touch calmed me. He pulled into a smallish parking lot outside a single-story building.
"Come on, we're here. I'll get Emily, if you like."
I nodded in agreement as I stepped out of the car. The outside of the building was pretty utilitarian, and I hoped the inside was much cheerier. The parking lot was small, and my first thought was how difficult would it be in the morning to find a space when dropping her off.
Edward took my hand and squeezed lightly before tangling his fingers with mine. "It'll be fine, Bella," he whispered.
I took a deep breath and stepped through the door Edward held open for me. My first impression of the inside was the bright colors on the walls and the warmth. There was an intercom with a buzzer on the second set of doors, and I pressed it, waiting for someone to let us in.
"Hello, Day Bright Nursery."
The voice sounded friendly, so that was a plus.
"It's Bella Swan with my daughter Emily. We have an appointment at ten o'clock with Miss Havisham."
"Good morning, Miss Swan. Yes, we're expecting you. Please push the door after the buzzer sounds."
From the details on the website, I knew they took children from four months to school age, so I didn't expect it to be silent, but there was a loud screaming coming from one of the rooms off the corridor leading away from the reception desk. I winced but figured there were bound to be some points during the day when kids let loose.
The receptionist came around the counter and shook my hand.
"This is Edward, my partner."
She looked him up and down as if he was something to eat, even going as far as to lick her lips. I was already having second thoughts about this place, and that didn't give me any encouragement.
"This way, Miss Swan, and Mr.—"
"Cullen, Edward Cullen." He was always unfailingly polite, but the look on her face had me wanting to stake my claim. He was mine!
She led the way to a door on the opposite side of the room, knocking lightly and opening it when she heard whomever was on the other side give permission. The woman behind the desk put me in mind of a strict matron at a boarding school, minus the cap and starched uniform. She looked stern, and I hoped her sharp demeanor belied a heart of gold.
Half an hour later, we left the building a little shell-shocked, clicking the car seat into its base and making sure Emily was warm enough before climbing into the front seats. The women who would cover the day-to-day childcare had all been nurses or teachers, and none of them were particularly young. I wasn't sure if that was what put me off or how regimented the place was. There was a time for everything, it seemed, and they worked to the clock.
"Well," I began, "I don't know what to say about that. What did you think, Edward?"
He looked at me, probably trying to gauge how much his opinion would count. "Hmm, it was a little rigid, don't you think?"
"I think you're right. Emily is used to being on her own schedule, and I don't think that place is right for her. Of course, all the caregivers were professional, and I've no doubt they'd do a fine job of taking care of her, but—"
"They don't look as if they know how to have fun," Edward finished for me.
"And I didn't like the way that receptionist looked at you, either. I felt as if I should either growl at her or pee around you in a circle to stake my claim."
Within minutes, we were laughing like hyenas at the image my words produced. Edward leaned over and kissed me.
"You can pee around me anytime." He smirked. "But, I'm yours even without the show of ownership. I love you."
"I love you, too. Come on, let's go see the other one and get it out of the way before we head over to your parents' house for lunch.
The second was less rigid, but they had more infants than I was comfortable with. However, they didn't seem to stick to a strict timetable, catering to each child as necessary with meal and play times. They had the requisite number of carers per head, but it was noisy because of how many kids they took care of. The carers were all very friendly, and the babies and older children all seemed to be happy enough, so it was on the short, short list.
Arriving at Edward's parents' just after one, Esme was waiting for us and immediately whisked Emily away.
"Hey," Edward called. "Don't I get a hug and a kiss anymore? I'm your only son."
"You're old enough to wait," she called over her shoulder, disappearing inside the house.
He held out his hands, palms up, a forlorn look on his face. I pulled his face down for a kiss as his arms went around my waist and tugged me against his body. He didn't hesitate to deepen the kiss, his tongue plundering my mouth. I pulled back to take a breath to see his eyes closed and a big smile on his face.
"Is that better, sweetheart?"
He opened his eyes and grinned. "Definitely. I'd rather have one from you anyway," he joked.
Hand in hand, we entered the house, finding Esme in the kitchen as usual. She'd made sandwiches and coffee, and they were spread out over the island counter. Emily was already unbuckled and seated on her lap, leaning back against Esme.
"She looks ready for lunch." I took a bottle and a small container of infant cereal out of the diaper bag and handed them to Esme, knowing she would want to feed Emily.
"How did the morning go, Bella? Did you find what you were looking for?"
I sighed, thinking back on the two we'd seen already. "Number one was a definite no. They wanted to stick to rigid times for everything, and I know Emily wouldn't be happy there. Everyone seemed to be much older than I'd pictured the caregivers to be, and I didn't like the receptionist at all."
Edward coughed and hid a grin behind his hand. Esme looked at him and narrowed her eyes, probably trying to work out what was going on. However, she must have decided it wasn't worth pursuing and turned back to me again.
"And the second one. Was that any better?"
"Well, it made my short, short list, but it wasn't ideal. The staff were sweet and a lot less stringent, but there were a lot of infants. Don't get me wrong," I hastily added. "There were enough of them, but Emily isn't used to that much noise, and I wanted a more family atmosphere. I sound picky, don't I?"
"Not at all, Bella. This is for the happiness of your little girl; of course you want it to be just perfect." She hesitated for a second, then plowed ahead. "I have a suggestion to make. So can you hear me out before you say anything?"
"Okay, go on."
"You know Heidi's a stay-at-home mom? She isn't going back to work for a few years since Liam is only three, although she is planning on him going to preschool. Chelsea's still a baby, too. Anyway, you know she loves babies, and when I was talking to her about you going back to work, she told me to tell you she would look after Emily for you."
I looked over at Edward. "What do you think?" I asked. My heart leaped at the possibility, though I didn't want to get my hopes up.
"I've known Heidi all my life and she does love kids. Chelsea is a little older than Emily is, so I don't think it would be difficult, and if anyone can cope, it's Heidi. You two get along well, too." He shrugged. "It seems like an ideal solution."
"I'll be there to take up any slack if needed, too, Bella. I have some design jobs on the books, but I never take on so much that I don't have spare time. I'll speak to Carlisle, but I'm sure he would be fine with it."
"What about Demetri, Esme? Do you know how he would feel about Heidi taking on Emily? I know he loves her when they're here, but it's totally different when she'd be there every day."
"If Heidi is happy, then Demetri's happy, and you can see he loves kids. I'll give you Heidi's number and you can call her. That way, you can see the house and talk to them both before making any decisions."
Edward reached out and put his arm over my shoulder. "It makes sense to me, Bella, and it can't hurt to talk to Heidi and Demetri."
That was how we found ourselves a sitter who fulfilled every one of my conditions. I knew Heidi, Demetri, and even Liam adored Emily, and she would be well taken care of and would find a friend in Chelsea, as she grew older. Though I would have preferred to stay at home with Emily, I knew I could go back to work without any worries. The only disagreement we had was over money. Heidi wanted to do it for nothing, and I wanted to pay the going rate. In the end, we compromised and she accepted half the usual rate.
~ oOo ~