A/N: Just an FYI, the next few chapters, including this one, will have no lemons. Also, there is an outtake over in my Facebook group 'Stories by MissLiss15' from Chapter 6. It's of a conversation between Charlie and Edward after Renee and Bella left the table. So if you're interested in that, you can find the link to my group here on my FFN profile!
"Do my eyes deceive me, or is my brother really standing on the other side of my bar?" Emmett made a show of rubbing at his eyes, pretending to clear them.
"For fuck's sake, Emmett, you act as if I've never set foot in here before." I sat down on one of the stools against the bar.
"Well, it's been a few months, brother." He eyed me carefully, and I knew the bartender in him would scope out and find everything possible through my body language. "What have you been up to? You look... oh, I know! You look like you got laid!" He barked out a laugh.
"What the fuck is wrong with you, man? Keep your voice down!"
The stupid smirk he was sporting wouldn't leave his face. "Ah ha! So it's true!" he all but yelled as he slammed his hand down on the bar. I must have had a lapse in judgment before coming here, forgetting that my brother only had two volumes; loud and louder.
I ran a hand over my face and sighed. "Yeah, I guess so."
"Alright! It's about time! It's only been, what? Nineteen years? I'm shocked your dick hasn't fallen off by now."
I glared at him. "It's not like I've been celibate for the last twenty years, Emmett. I just didn't go parading anyone around Junior."
"And this someoneyou're wanting to parade, as you so put it?" He leaned against the bar, crossing his arms along the top.
"Yeah, I guess you could say that."
"Anyone I know?" He waggled his eyebrows at me and I nodded. "Holy shit! Who is it? It's not Heidi, is it?"
"No! I'd never let her near my dick!" I shouted, causing a few patrons to glance my way.
Emmett chuckled. "So, who is she?"
Emmett was the first person I was confiding in about this. Sure, we were more out in the open now that Bella's parents knew, but I still had the task of figuring out how to tell Junior. I knew I could talk to Bella about a plan of attack, but I valued my brother's opinion. Even as annoying as he could be.
"You can't freak out."
"I won't freak out. You know me."
"Okay. So." I took a deep breath, readying myself for his reaction. "Do you remember Bella?"
His eyes widened and his eyebrows rose as he stood there gaping at me for a moment. "Tell me that Bella's parents got divorced and you're banging Renee."
I shook my head. "Nope."
He pushed out a hard breath and shook his head. "Bella? Really? Isn't she, what, eighteen? And Junior's best friend?"
"She's nineteen, and it's not like I went looking for her, Em. It just... happened. I love her."
"But you've known her since she was a kid. Shit, we've all known her since she was a kid. How the hell are you going to explain this to Junior?"
"That's sort of why I'm here. I know he's going to be pissed. I would be, too, if I were him. I can't stay away from her though. She's not just a pretty face; she's intelligent and caring, and she keeps me on my toes. She's literally everything I've been looking for."
Emmett nodded. "Look, I'm not blind. As soon as you walked in here, I could see you're so fucking in love. But, I don't know what to tell you about Junior, man. You're right, he's gonna be pissed. The one thing you have going for you is that he cares about Bella, and if she's happy…" He shrugged. "But I don't see him jumping for joy. You're his father,and he's going to see it as if you stole his girl."
I sighed heavily, knowing he was right. There was no advice anyone could give on how to go about this other than proceed carefully and hope he understood sooner rather than later.
Last night had been the first night in weeks I'd slept alone. Bella wanted to go to a party on campus that her friend and roommate, Rose, invited her to. I wasn't about to begrudge her college experiences, and it wasn't my place to tell her what she could and couldn't do.
When I still hadn't heard from her by noon, and my calls and texts went unanswered, I started to get a little worried. So, I hopped in my car and drove over to her dorm building.
Luck would have it that as I was walking up, Rose was walking out the door. Otherwise, I would have had no way of getting into the building.
"Rose!" I called out and she turned around. "Hey, is Bella all right? I haven't heard from her all morning."
Rose laughed as she started to walk toward me. "Oh, she's fine, she's just, uh, a little hungover."
I breathed a sigh of relief. "Will you let me in so I can take care of her?"
She nodded and slipped her keycard in the door, unlocking it for me. "She was still sleeping when I left, but last night was rough. She drank the punch." Rose chuckled, handing me the key to their room. "Just leave the key with my neighbor when you leave."
I nodded and headed up the stairs, letting myself into the room. Taking in her sleeping form and the sound of her soft snores, I sighed. After slipping off my shoes, I climbed onto the small bed behind her, wrapping my arms around her tightly. She snuggled in closer to me, her ass rubbing against my crotch. I groaned, trying to push away the thoughts that came racing to the front of my mind. She was hungover, and I highly doubted she'd want sex with the state she'd be in when she woke up.
I woke a while later to the feeling of someone running their fingers through my hair. I opened my eyes to see Bella looking back at me. "When did you get here?" Her voice was rough with sleep, and I was sure from the night before, as well.
"What time is it?"
She reached over, grabbing her phone from her nightstand and letting out a small gasp. "It's after three! I slept all day."
I chuckled. "That's what you get for drinking the jungle juice, sweetheart." I kissed her forehead. "How are you feeling?"
"Mm, better than earlier this morning." She stretched her arms above her head and I couldn't pull my gaze away from where her tank top had ridden up. It'd been at least a week since we'd had time for anything other than falling into bed at night because her finals were quickly approaching, and I'd had an unusually difficult client to deal with.
"Edward!" I heard her shout.
"I've been trying to get your attention for the last few minutes, where the hell did you go just now?" She frowned at me.
"Sorry, what were you saying?"
"I was just saying that I'm going to go take a shower."
I nodded. "Okay, I'll be here when you get finished. Maybe we can grab a bite to eat."
"Actually, that sounds perfect." She gave me a quick kiss on the lips before she headed out the door to shower.
"So—" we both began at the same time once we were seated. I gestured to her. "Go ahead, what did you want to say?"
She took a deep breath before she spoke. "It's just that finals are in a few weeks, and then Eddie will be home. My parents will probably expect me to spend some time at home, as well. I'm just feeling really overwhelmed."
"First things first; it's not your job to tell Junior—sorry, Eddie."I gave her a small smirk. "I think that needs to come from me."
"I'm as involved in this relationship as you are, Edward. I've played just as big a part." She huffed. "I can't let you handle this on your own. You didn't make me tell my parents alone."
"If it was up to you, Bella, you'd have shouted it from the rooftops when this all began. It's my fault we've been running around in secret."
"As true as it may be that I've wanted everyone to know, well, I've learned that it doesn't always go as planned."
"Your dad will come around, sweetheart. Charlie is a good, reasonable man. He just wants what's best for you." I sighed.
"You are what's best for me. I just hope one day he and Eddie will realize that."
"Don't you worry, they will."
Somehow, in the past few weeks, I'd become the optimist in our relationship. A fact that was starting to concern me.