*^*A Taste of Honey*^* ~ SoapyMayhem
Yes. Master is coming back... very soon.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 26 **Mourning Morning**
"Can you come help me with my tie?" I asked, cutting my eyes toward Isabella, knowing she wouldn't deny me. To be honest, I didn't need helping putting on a tie, and as often as I wore them, I could put on a blindfold and get it perfectly straight, but I was looking for any excuse to get Isabella's hands on me again.
I craved her touch. I was desperate for it.
"Sure," she said giving me a slight smile. That simple little gesture was the most emotion I'd seen on her face in days. I didn't even attempt to fight the grin that escaped in response.
"Edward..." she mumbled, sounding embarrassed, before blushing and looking away.
"What?" I replied, grinning so broadly, the action made my cheeks ache. "Can't I smile at my baby girl?"
"Yeah," she whispered, finally meeting my eyes again.
Hope swelled in my chest that Isabella might be feeling better, only to deflate when I noticed her expression darken again as she set about straightening my tie. "You look beautiful, sweetheart," I whispered, taking advantage of her proximity so I could press a gentle kiss to her forehead.
Though she had these lavender, bruise-like circles under her eyes, she still looked as stunning as ever in her black baby doll dress with the pretty lace overlay. The last time she wore it was just a month ago at the dinner party. This time the dress served a graver purpose. Since it was the only black outfit Isabella owned, she was going to wear it to her father's funeral - her mourning dress.
I sighed sadly as Isabella dropped her hands and put some distance between us after straightening my tie. She was pushing me away again, and as much as I hated it, there was nothing I could do but wait and make sure she knew I would be there for her when she was ready - in whatever capacity she needed from me. "Thank you, baby. Conner should be here in half an hour to pick us up."
I didn't bother asking if she was ready. She wasn't. How could she be? It was her father's funeral, and she was about to say goodbye to him, without having the knowledge of his final wishes and thoughts to ease her burden. She still chose not to read the letter.
I didn't push her. I simply let her know that I was holding it for safekeeping so she didn't do anything she might later regret.
I saw the contempt in her eyes when Nurse Cope tried to give her that clandestine message - denying what could have been her father's final wishes of love and happiness, maybe some sort of apology, though it very well might have been the bitter accusations of a mentally unstable man.
Whatever the case, Isabella wanted nothing to do with it. I knew if I handed the letter over, she would have probably tossed it into the fireplace and scorched it to death, depriving herself of the possibility of a small bit of closure down the road.
Thankfully, she didn't fight me when I asked to keep it for her. She was able to be sensible about it all, but even if she hadn't, I knew I would have relented. It was too hard to say no to my baby girl.
A bit later, the Blackberry buzzing in my pocket startled me from my thoughts. I caught Isabella sitting on the edge of the bed staring off into to space, her face almost completely devoid of emotion, other than the fact that she looked so tired.
How can I make this easier for her?
I was completely out of my element here. I remembered when Mom died, Dad and Alice both seemed to just break down, but Isabella was just... existing.
"Thank you for coming. It was good to meet you, though I wish it had been under different circumstances," I greeted cordially, shaking Chief Clearwater's calloused hand. I had spoken to him only briefly when I was set with the task of recruiting pallbearers for the service.
According to Isabella, he was made Fork's new police chief after Charlie was fired the month before. The two men had, at one time, been close friends as well as fishing buddies, at least before Isabella's mother died and Charlie Swan became lost to the world.
The burial service had just ended with Charlie's body being laid to rest next to Renee's in a quiet plot lined on one side by dense green vegetation. They were together again and the rainy town of Forks would always be their home.
Once everyone had said their goodbyes to the departed, I invited them all to join us for lunch at the Swan house, which I had already paid to have professionally cleaned shortly after taking Charlie to the clinic.
I tried not to think too much about the role I played in sending him there - to his death.
When Isabella walked off to speak to her aunt, Chief Clearwater stayed by my side, continuing our conversation - this time speaking a bit more bluntly. He admitted that he wasn't all that surprised to hear of Charlie's death and said that on several occasions he'd offered to help Charlie with various things like money or even just a listening ear, only to have him push it back in his face as though their previous friendship had meant nothing.
He had no trouble taking Isabella's money - I thought bitterly.
"Charlie wouldn't accept help from anyone, least of all me. Even my wife tried to stop by once to see if he needed a home cooked meal or someone to pitch in and do a few chores around the house, but he sent her back to me a sobbing mess. He was at his worst when Isabella was at school, though. She'd be gone for months at a time and he would simply shut down. He just got too lonely, I think."
Guilt hit me like a ton of fucking bricks, as I felt the blood drain from my face.
Charlie was lonely... Isabella left him alone... because of... me. My selfishness - the scheme I used as a ploy to lure that young girl here for the purposes of seducing her. Of course we were more than that now, but at first, I was completely calculating.
Was that why she acted like she was scared to get too close now? Did she think it was my fault her father was dead? That I took her away from him? I was the one who put him in rehab after all.
I had to will myself to stay composed, even though the coffee and dry toast I choked down for breakfast was threatening to make a reappearance.
"Edward?" I heard Isabella's timid whisper from behind me. She might have been quiet, but at least it didn't sound like she hated me. "Would you like to meet my aunt Rebecca?"
"Of course," I replied before excusing myself, all too happy to get away from Chief Clearwater and the gnawing guilt that suddenly threatened to consume me.
Isabella's aunt Rebecca, as I learned, was her mother's eccentric sister from Portland, who worked as a psychic therapist - giving readings and helping people brighten their auras while simultaneously working through their emotional issues.
She was one of the few members of Isabella's family that made an appearance at the memorial service and the only relative on her mother's side that even bothered to contact Isabella.
Among those in her small family, Charlie's death had, for the most part, been met with disgust and contention and nearly all of them had chosen not to come - even though their decision left Isabella with little support from anyone but myself, a couple of Charlie's elderly cousins, a kooky aunt, and a couple of the guys from the police department and their wives.
I was just about to decline having my own aura read when I heard the familiar voices of my family echoing through the tiny living room. Isabella expression seemed to brighten a bit when her eyes landed on Esme and for that small flicker of emotion, I was grateful for their sudden appearance.
"Bella, honey we're sorry to just pop in like this, but we wanted to stop by and give our condolences," Esme explained kindly.
"And Esme needed to make sure there was plenty of food," Carlisle said gesturing toward the matching casserole dishes they were each carrying in their hands.
"Thank you. It was really kind of you to be here, you didn't have to go to so much trouble," Isabella replied gratefully. Once their casseroles had been set on the table with the rest of the food, they both wrapped their arms around my baby girl, whispering words of support.
Introductions were made, Charlie was discussed, though most kept the conversation light, talking about happier times, many asked about Isabella's move to Seattle and her upcoming semester. While most were too polite to ask, several people questioned my presence here. Thankfully, Isabella agreed that the truth was best, leaving quite a few of them slack-jawed and shocked, but no one seemed to take issue with it. Though, I was fairly certain, that under normal circumstances, those same people might have reacted poorly.
Mortality does an excellent job of putting things into perspective.
Once the food was gone, the number of guests began to dwindle until we were left with my father and Esme and a kind woman named Sue who introduced herself as Chief Clearwater's wife and offered to help us clean up. Not wanting to leave the mess till Monday, the earliest day I could hire someone, I accepted.
We all set about different tasks, working together to get the place clean quickly - even my father who managed to operate the ancient vacuum cleaner we found in the hall closet.
After walking back in from hauling a few trash bags to the end of the driveway, the sound of laughter filling the house gave me a bit of a shock. Quietly, I crept into the kitchen where Isabella and Esme were working together washing and drying the dishes. I wasn't sure what they were talking about, but the important thing was that Isabella was laughing - for the first time since before I broke the news about Charlie.
The sound was infectious, causing me to chuckle a bit. "What are you ladies giggling about?" I asked happily before coming up behind Isabella and wrapping my arms loosely around her waist, praying to God she wouldn't pull away. She didn't.
She turned around in my arms, placing a slightly soapy hand on my chest. I didn't care about the soap. I was just happy to have her touch - to see the amused grin on her face.
"Esme was just telling me about the time you put some of her homemade jelly on your biscuit thinking it was strawberry or raspberry flavored," Isabella replied with a chuckle, reminding me of the time I mistook Esme's hot pepper jelly for some kind of sweet berry preserves. Not expecting the intense heat, I nearly choked to death and then had to drink about a gallon of water to stop the burn. I couldn't believe anyone would ever eat something so ridiculously hot, and when I asked, Esme explained that it was for cooking with, and not meant to be eaten straight out of the jar. Everyone had a nice laugh at my expense, especially Emmett.
The next day, my mouth was still sore.
"Ugh," I groaned, "Esme, you swore you wouldn't tell that story again. You know how it embarasses me." I feigned hurt and frowned a bit, earning a sympathetic coo from Isabella.
"Aww, poor baby," she soothed with a sexy, little pout. Her mood was definitely improving.
Wanting to press my luck a little, I leaned forward brushing my lips against her ear. "You want to kiss it and make it better?" I whispered roughly, hoping she'd react positively.
When I pulled back, she was blushing furiously, cutting her eyes over to Esme, who was standing there drying a few dishes, pretending not to notice our interaction. Tightening my arms around her waist, I pulled her closer to me, knowing she'd be able to feel my body's reaction to her proximity She had to know how much I missed our closeness.
With a final glance to make sure Esme wasn't watching, Isabella turned back to me, her eyes hooded and full of desire. These were the eyes of my lover, not the sad broken eyes that barely looked at me for the last three days.
Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I quickly leaned forward, brushing my lips against hers. Once. Twice. I would have gone for a third, but I knew I wouldn't have been able to restrain myself from sending everyone away, so I could haul her upstairs to fuck her on her childhood bed.
What a sick fuck I was.
Shaking my head in frustration, I released Bella from my grasp. Looking down at her, I saw confusion written all over her face. Was she shocked that I didn't try to molest her or was she simply confused that I initiated a kiss in front of my stepmother?
I looked over to the spot where said stepmother had been standing and found her conveniently absent.
Looking back to Isabella, I found her staring at me with a wary expression on her face. Did I look as crazed as I felt? I desperately wanted to kiss her again. So maybe.
"I missed you," I whispered pitifully.
"I missed you too," Isabella replied with a frown.
"You know I love you right?" I reassured her, letting my hand find her pale cheek. Her skin was smooth, warm, flushed.
"I know, and I'm sorry I kind of checked out these last few days. I just wasn't ready to talk about... everything. I'm still not ready," she admitted. It didn't escape my notice that she didn't say she loved me back, but I tried not to read too much into it.
"I understand, baby girl," I told her solemnly. "We don't have to talk about what happened, but at some point soon we do need to discuss your future. Your classes start in a week and half and we've already postponed the move to the apartment. I just need to know what you want... after everything that's happened." I wondered if Isabella would hear the underlying message in my words - that what I was really asking was if she still wanted me.
"I -" she started, only to be interrupted by a sharp knock at the door.
Isabelle stared blankly toward the side entrance. When she continued to stand there even after another knock, I realized she wasn't going to answer it. I walked over, feeling irritated by the interruption and whoever was on the other side of the door.
When I opened it, I was shocked at the sight of a rather tall native American man. He was dressed in pair of jeans with a dress shirt and tie that had been paired with a brown sport coat and was clutching a thick manila envelope in his bulky hand.
"Yes?" I asked tersely, feeling slightly unnerved by the bright grin on his cheery face.
"Yes... I'm looking for Miss Swan," he said happily, oblivious to my annoyance.
"She's a bit busy at the moment. What's this in regards to?" Maybe I shouldn't have been screening Isabella's visitors, but something about this guy seemed to rub me the wrong way. I was a jealous bastard, so that might have had something to do with it.
"I've been trying to reach her for a couple days now. I'm Jacob Black - the executor for Charlie's will and estate," he explained, unfazed.
I was about to argue, tell him it was a bad time, but Isabella appeared by my side, her face blank of any detectable emotion. "I'm Isabella Swan," she said cooly.
"Ahh Miss Swan, wonderful," Jacob beamed. "I was hoping I'd find you here, because I have a few things we need to discuss."
"I'm listening," she muttered.
"Well, I thought you might come down to my office, so we could speak... privately," Jacob said, his voice becoming strangely threatening as he quickly cut his eyes toward mine, a clear indication that he meant for Isabella meet with him without my presence. There was no fucking way I'd let that happen.
"I don't know why you can't just say what you need to say right here. Edward's my boyfriend, so whatever you need to tell me you can say it in front of him," she argued, making my chest swell with pride and an acute sense of relief.
"Fine," he replied through gritted teeth, still holding a grin, only now it looked slightly menacing - fucking prick.
"Won't you come in?" Isabella deadpanned, opening the door wider for the asshole to enter. I could tell this was going to be painful for Isabella, and as much as I wished I could carry the burden for her, keep her sheltered, I knew it was impossible.
At some point she had to come to terms with what her father did.
It wasn't long before the three of us sat at Charlie's small kitchen table, waiting as Jacob spread out several piles of paperwork and documents. The fact that he had everything he needed right in that envelope pissed me off more than I cared to admit. Especially when it seemed he had no intentions of justifying his request to see Isabella alone.
Who the fuck does this guy think he is?
Seething, I had to take a few deep breaths to calm myself. I had to be strong for Isabella. It wouldn't do her any good if I was locked up for assault.
As Jacob laid everything out, he spoke about Charlie and how before Isabella's mother died, he took money out on the house. As I already knew, Renee's medical bills had become practically unmanageable, and the house was the only collateral he could borrow against and get enough money to pay for her treatments, but it wasn't really enough as it turned out.
Just when I thought that Jacob had come here to help Isabella put the house in her name and sign over all of Charlie's possessions and whatever retirement and life insurance policies he retained, he pulled the rug out from under us and gave the news that Charlie had in fact lost the house and that it now belonged to the bank. To pour a bit more salt in the wound, Charlie's policies all had clauses that prevented payout to the beneficiaries in the event that the cause of death couldn't be deemed as natural or accidental, and what little money he had left in his retirement fund was required to be given to the bank to cover a portion of his debt on the house.
Isabella would receive nothing. Her childhood home, filled with memories of her mother and father, and growing up, was going to be lost.
"How much?" I growled, startling Jacob and Isabella.
"Excuse me?" Jacob balked, cocking a brow at my outburst.
"How much to get the house back?" I clarified, pulling out my checkbook.
"Edward, no," Isabella whispered, her cheeks red with embarrassment.
This was no time to coddle her or try to talk her into seeing things my way. I was going to resolve this issue immediately.
"I don't think that's- " Jacob started, but I cut him off.
"Give me a fucking number, Black. Call your boss or whoever the fuck owns the house and tell me what's owed."
I could feel my blood pressure skyrocketing as Jacob sat there scowling. He didn't seem like the type of guy who liked to be ordered around. Well that makes two of us, fucker.
After an uncomfortable minute, Jacob pulled an iPhone from his pocket and stood to leave the room.
Likely concerned by the sounds of raised voices, Carlisle peaked his head in from around the corner, his brow raised in silent question. Are you okay? - he seemed to be wondering.
I shook my head angrily, knowing this whole ridiculous debacle was likely to be a major setback with Isabella, but I wasn't about to sit here and let this jackass take her house away.
My father's gaze locked on something to my right, probably looking at my girl. His eyes filled with concern and I couldn't help but glance down at her.
Her eyes were focused on her lap, and I had no idea what she might be thinking.
Jacob's voice became slightly raised as he whispered harshly to someone on the phone. I thought I heard the words rich prick - most likely directed at me. I wasn't a violent person, but I was about ready to punch that guy in his fucking face.
Just as my anger was about to boil over, I felt a small hand on my thigh. My head shot up, eyes meeting Isabella's which were shining with unshed tears.
"Thank you," she whispered before biting her lip, while I just stared at her dumbly, still under the impression that I was going to be met with the silent treatment from her for the conceivable future. When I didn't respond she continued. "Thank you for helping me keep my house."
My heart leapt in my chest, and I struggled for a moment to find the words to say to her.
"I love you, baby girl. I would do anything to make you happy," I replied, feeling myself get a bit choked up. Reflexively, I cleared my throat, putting on my mask of confidence as Jacob joined us back at the table.
"I spoke to one of the loan officers at the bank. They're willing to work with you to buy back the house," he said tersely. Something about this guy just seemed off, like he was taking this whole situation much too personally.
I squeezed Isabella's hand and wrapped my arm around her protectively, not releasing her until Jacob's sorry ass walked out the door he came in from.
After he left, Carlisle and Esme came back into the kitchen neither one asking, but both looked curious about the heated exchange between myself and Jacob. Esme asked Isabella to help with a few things in the other room, leaving me with my father so I could explain what happened.
Not long after, the house was clean and Isabella seemed eager for everyone to leave.
I briefly panicked, wondering if she'd want me to leave with them, but her hand slipped into mine as she gave one-armed hugs to my parents and Sue.
I guess I was going to get to stay with her after-all.
"Did you want to go back to the estate tonight?" I asked thinking we might be able to pick back up the conversation we were having before Jacob interrupted. I was eager to find out if Isabella's plans had changed - to find out what she wanted now.
"I thought we might just stay here tonight - my bed is a little small though," she replied shyly. I couldn't help but react to the slightly suggestive tone in her voice.
"I think we could manage, especially if you cuddle up close to me," I replied giving her a coy smirk.
"I'd like that," she said with a small smile before looking away and sighing heavily, making me wonder if she had something important she needed to say. "I think we should still try to move soon. Just because... this happened, doesn't mean we should put our lives on hold."
I was so fucking happy she felt that way that I couldn't help but pull her toward me and wrap my arms around her tightly, enjoying her small body, soft and warm, pressed pleasingly against mine.
"We can start moving everything tomorrow, if you're ready," I suggested hopefully, letting my lips brush the top of her head.
I felt her nod against my chest, and in that moment ,all felt right in the world.
Of course there were still so many unresolved issue - things still up in the air, things denied and ignored, but Isabella was going to be moving in with me - permanently, and for the moment, that was good enough for me.
The rest we'd deal with later.
Isabella and I didn't wait for the night to close in before we made our way to her bed.
Our minds were completely in sync as soon as we entered the room, we began wriggling out of our clothes as quickly as possible - feeding the frantic need we had to join our bodies together again.
Her eyes wandered my chest as I continued to expose more and more skin, just as I was watching hers. Those perfect breasts were calling to be sucked and nibbled, played with and worshipped by my mouth and fingers. I needed to taste her just as badly as she needed to be tasted, but we were both too frantic - all forms of foreplay were tossed out the window as I hooked my fingers in Isabella's lacy, black panties and drug them down her shapely legs as quickly as I could manage.
"I fucking need you now, baby girl," I groaned and gasped as I felt the heat of her small hand palming my cock through my boxers.
I needed that barrier gone, removing everything that separated us till there was nothing between our bodies but sweat and arousal.
"I need you too, Edward," Isabella whimpered helplessly before taking action and pulling my boxers down over my hips till they landed on the floor with the rest of our clothes.
With her finally in front of me, naked and wanting, I had to be inside her immediately. The only choice I had left was how to take her.
Feeling her eyes on mine, staring into my soul, I knew the choice was simple.
"Lay down on the bed baby girl," I commanded, feeling my heart thud heavily in my chest as she visibly shuddered in response to my words. "Spread your legs wide... this isn't going to be gentle."
I was going to take her on her childhood bed - the bed she laid in at night touching herself as stared at my photograph, fantasizing about making love to me, before we'd ever even met.