Rock 'n Roll Boots & White Collar Roots @bitterharpy
Chapter 10

Thanks as always to Team Harpy.

And thank you to the readers. Without you, I am nothing.

Let's meet the Swans, shall we?

*E*

"Why are you so anxious?"

She's been a nervous ball of energy ever since I picked her up in my rental. We are on the way to her parent's house and if anything, I should be the nervous one. I am walking in blind. Nessa and Renee are the only ones I've met so far and although they didn't recognize me, that doesn't mean anyone else there tonight won't.

But this is important to Bella and she is important to me. And I don't mind suffering through a night with her loud family if it makes her happy.

"I've never done this before." She admits.

I look at her curiously.

"Brought a guy home to meet my family."

"Surely, you've had boyfriends before. What about Mikey?"

"I mean, he met my parents but he wasn't important enough to warrant a family dinner. That's a big deal."

"So, I'm important." I grin widely.

"Yeah, yeah, don't go lettin' that ego get any bigger."

"But you said…"

"I know what I said. Drop it."

I keep my mouth shut though I'm chuckling the whole time. She's so damn adorable. I want to pull over and kiss her but I know if I start, I might not stop for a while and I don't want to be late. I met her mother with only a towel on and there is no redoing that first memorable meeting but I want to try to make a better impression on her father. I settle for grabbing her hand and putting it to my lips.

She's quiet for the rest of the ride and if you know Bella, you know that's quite the feat. The driveway is full so I park on the street.

"If you don't want to do this we don't have to."

"I do want to do this. All of this." She admits shyly.

"Okay, now that that's settled and we still have a few minutes, can you give me a crash course on who's who so I don't embarrass myself?"

Her eyes widened. "Oh, no. I didn't prepare you at all. What kind of girlfriend am I?"

"So you admit you're my girlfriend? That's an improvement." I don't think I can smile any bigger right now.

Her 'oh crap'' look is on full display but I decide to be kind and leave it alone.

"Okay, so I've met Renee and Nessa. Who else?"

With a grateful look, she delves into the ins and outs of the Swan family. From her father Charlie to her grandmother, Charlotte, to her brother Jake and all the others in between. There will be about fifteen or so people here tonight. I think I can do this.

I get out of the car and walk around to open her door. She looks surprised. Whoever dated this woman before didn't know how to treat a woman.

'You're lying to her with every breath you take,' my subconscious reminds me.

I mute my inner voice and let her lead me up the walkway to the front door. She hesitates and looks at me.

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

I answer her by leaning down to kiss her, drinking her in. I lick my lips once they let hers go.

"Absolutely positive," I assure her.

She looks a little dazed but shakes it off and opens the front door.

I hear voices but they're stifled. I look around but there's no one there.

"Where are they?"

"Where the food is."

"Which is where exactly?"

"The garage." She says it as if it's normal.

"We're eating in the garage? Is that even sanitary?"

"We should waste a perfectly good room on a car?"

She starts to walk towards our destination and I suddenly wonder what I've gotten myself into.

The answer to that becomes painfully clear when all conversation stops the second I walk in the door of their garage slash family room.

"They're here!" Renee announces unnecessarily. She grabs what I presume to be her husband's arm and drags him over for introductions.

"Masen, this is my Pops, Charlie Swan. Pops, this is Masen Whitlock."

"Welcome to our home." He says graciously, then walks back over to the table laden with food.

Man of few words, I see.

"Oh, there's Jake!"

Jake is about three inches taller than me and buff. He's like Emmett. I look at him just a little wearily.

Jake reaches for my hand and shakes it heartily.

"It's nice to meet ya, Masen. Nessa has told me a lot about you."

"Bella has told me a lot about you." I lie, cause that's what I do best. All she told me was he was in construction. I decide to bring that up as an ice breaker.

"So Bella tells me you work in construction."

"Yes, I was with Clear River Construction but I just got hired on at Cullen Construction last week out of Tacoma. It's more of a commute but much better pay."

My ears tune him out as they start roaring. This man will be working for my family? While I rarely have anything to do with James' business, it's all tied in to Cullen, Inc.

Bella is oblivious to my panic which I am grateful for.

I manage to choke out a 'That's great' before I let her pull me over to an older lady who is sitting on a high backed chair against the wall. I decide to put the Jake thing aside for now and stew on it later.

"Nonni, this is Masen."

Nonni appraises me and then nods at Bella with a twinkle in her eye. "He's a looker, Bella Marie."

Bella blushes then laughs. "Hands off, he's mine."

"She's right, Mrs. Swan. I'm all hers."

"Please, call me Nonni."

"Nonni."

Bella then drags me to meet everyone else; her brother Sam and his wife, Emily, and their kids. At one point, she thrusts a small infant-like child in my arms- her niece, Gracie. The other two children, Charlie and Rebecca, are running around everyone playing tag. I hang back and watch everyone interact with each other. They are all happy and smiling and eating and laughing. Not one disagreement in sight.

I can't relate. To any of this.

I try to imagine my life if I was really Masen Whitlock and I married into this family. I smile because while I know it is just a pipe dream, it's still a really nice one.

I'm brought back to reality when a little hand pats cheek. I look down at little Gracie, who amazingly looks a little like Bella. She smiles with her four little teeth and giggles. I think my heart grows a size or two. At the very least, it squeezes just a little.

"Hey, what are ya doin' over here all by yourself?" An arm hooks through mine and Bella's head finds my shoulder.

"I'm just taking it all in."

"Overwhelmed?"

"A little, but not in a bad way. I never had this growing up and it makes me wish I had." I admit.

Bella smiles and she hums. "I'll share them with ya. You're doin' real good and I'm so happy."

"I'm glad you're happy."

Charlie chooses that moment to stroll over and hand me a beer. I try to figure out how to take it and not drop Gracie. Bella scoops her out of my arms so I can and takes her over to Emily.

"So, how long have you been dating?"

"Not very long, about six weeks or so."

"And she's already bringing you home to meet the family? That's surprising. She's not pregnant, is she?"

Unfortunately, I chose that moment to take a drink of my Mount Rainier and choke instantly. Bella rushes over to slap my back as I cough up half a lung.

"Masen, are you okay?"

"Yes," I croak as tears stream down my cheeks.

"What did you do?" Bella accuses her dad.

"Nothing! I simply asked him a question." Charlie is the picture of innocence.

She just looks at him, waiting, giving him that look I usually get when I'm being stupid.

"I just asked what the rush was in meeting us, is all."

"There is no rush. Ma just invited him to dinner."

"So, no birth announcements coming any time soon?"

Everyone stops conversing for the second time this evening to listen intently to the question asked.

I'm still clearing my throat to get back to normal after my near-death experience. Renee hands me some water and I offer her some semblance of smile as a reply.

Bella puts her hands on her hips, a sure sign that she might burn this whole house down.

"Bella." I choke out. "Calm down." I go to stand behind her and put my hands on her shoulders to keep her from shooting into orbit.

"Pops, if you think for one moment that my uterus isn't locked up tighter than Fort Knox, you have another thing coming. And furthermore, I like this guy, okay? So, be nice to him."

Charlie looks at his only daughter, then looks at me, then sighs and draws a circle around his head in halo form.

He mutters 'I need another beer' and heads towards the kitchen.

"I'm so sorry about that. I thought I was gonna have to give you the Heimlich."

"Now, that would be a sight though I would much rather have mouth to mouth." My voice is still a little rough and she laughs.

"Try to sing with that voice. My panties might just obliterate."

"Foods ready!" Renee calls out, interrupting our moment.

With a wink and a mouthed 'later', she leads me to a seat at the table.

"Stay here and I'll fix you a plate."

"I can fix my own plate, Bella."

"I know you can, but I want you to get the full experience."

And off she goes.

I smile as I watch her fight Sam for a place in line, elbowing him out of her way as she loads up two plates

"You really like her, don't ya?" I drag my focus to Jake.

"Yes, I really do. More than like if I'm being honest with myself. She's amazing."

"She is. She's been hurt before, ya know."

"I do know. Mikey Newton, right?"

"Yeah, that little punk ass. Something wasn't right about that kid from the get-go but Ma made us promise to not interfere and to let Bella handle herself. Which she did, but way later than she should have in my opinion."

"What did he do to her? I mean, I know some of it. Something about a cymbal to the head and stitches."

Jake laughs. "Yeah, that still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Groupies. He couldn't get enough of 'em."

"So that explains why she is always shooing mine out of the way."

"Oh, I imagine she doesn't let them get within three yards of you."

"Something like that." I chuckle.

"Just respect her, treat her right, and don't lie to her. It's simple, really." Jake shrugs and starts attacking the plate in front of him with relish.

My eyes find Bella and she winks at me as she gives me the 'one-moment' sign with her finger.

I swallow heavily.

Simple, huh? Right…

I am rushing to get this posted and because of some real-life things, I have not found songs for the playlist. I will add songs in later tonight and replace this chapter.

Who shit themselves when Jake mentioned who he works for?

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