When Ed returned home…his home, I was sitting on his futon, writing in a journal I picked up at a bookstore after leaving the park.
“Hey, there! Yooooou, looooook Maaaavawus!” he said, channeling Fernando Lamas. He leaned in and pulled me into his arms.
“Hey, back!” I said, smiling. I closed the journal and set it, along with my shiny new fountain pen on the coffee table.
He watched me, but didn’t comment on the new items.
“I’m starving,” he said. “How about a simple pasta? I’ll do something more elaborate tomorrow; I only work half a day.”
“You sure I can’t fix it? I think I can handle boiling some noodles and stirring a pot of sauce.”
“Are you kidding me?” he said. “No. There’s more to pasta than boiling and stirring. But,” he said, pushing me back and laying on top of me, “I’m so happy that you offered.”
We kissed for several minutes, enjoying each other’s warmth. I heard his stomach growl and felt that pang of guilt again.
Of course! All you did was sit around a park and chat up an old man.
It wasn’t like that. He was helping me.
What did you do that was productive, other than eat ice cream and buy paper products?
That’s not the point.
You didn’t even quit your job. And you’ve already decided and you can’t even tell the guy you’re—
“You wanna talk about it?”
“Mm-nn,” I said, shaking my head.
He sighed and got up. I heard, rather than saw him in the kitchen. I knew he wasn’t banging things on purpose, passive aggressive not being his style, but the silence between us was so heavy in the air, that it made everything else seem really loud.
My guilt sucked the air out of my lungs.
“OK,” I said. “I’ll talk.”
He continued what he was doing, but nodded, so I knew he was paying attention.
“I’m going to quit my job,” I said.
I looked up at him. He smiled supportively, but didn’t comment.
“I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to go in tomorrow.”
I sighed, feeling some of the weight lift.
“I still don’t know what I do want to do, and that scares the shit out of me.” I felt tears. I leaned forward and rested my crossed forearms on my knees.
“Hm,” he said, turning away to fill up the pot with water. After he turned the burner on, he walked around the counter and sat next to me.
He grabbed a hand was dangling from the end of my wrist.
I sat up a little.
He turned my hand over and kissed my palm, then my wrist. Then he pulled me to him and held me close.
Six months later…
“Honey, I’m home!” I shouted across the tiny apartment, kicking my shoes off, and hanging my coat on the hanger on the back of the bathroom door.
I turned to find Edward, holding two glasses of Pinot Grigio, offering one to me.
I took it and greedily drank a gulp.
“Bad day?” he asked, eyebrow cocked.
“No, just…kind of excited, you know?”
“Yeah?” He grinned. “Tell me about it.”
He was already changed out of his scrubs and I smelled bread baking. He’d prepped the stew in the Crock Pot before he left for work this morning. My mouth watered.
We sat on the futon and I pulled my legs underneath me. I took another sip, then took a breath to get started.
“Wait,” he said. “First, tell me, how’s Carlisle for a boss?” he asked.
“Oh…he’s great, and very flexible with my hours. He says I can come in any time as long as I give him an hour’s notice, to make sure he’s home.”
“Is his life story as interesting as it seems?”
“Even better. Did you know he worked for a trucking company?”
“Really?” Edward asked. “But he’s so…”
“Yeah, no, I know,” I said, taking another sip. “He was a safety director.”
“How did he get that gig?” Edward asked.
“Oh, it was amazing. He was between jobs, and walked by this temp agency, and on a whim stopped in. He met and chatted with the owner for like two hours. And she up and offers him this job he’s in NO way qualified for. She had been trying for months to find someone, and she thought he was smart and had the right drive that he could pick anything up. She sent him for an interview, they liked him, and he started the next day.”
“Wow. Did he like it?” he asked.
“I don’t know, we haven’t gotten that far. But he’s a fascinating man. His story is going to be inspiring, I just know it,” I said.
I hesitated before admitting, “And even if my other story doesn’t sell, I just know this one will.”
“So, how was your day?” I asked.
“Great. I’m so glad Carmen gave me that raise, really takes the pressure off,” he said, dry washing his face.
“I can help more,” I offered.
“When you get your letter, I’ll let you help as much as you want. For now, please allow me,” he said putting his hand on my knee and squeezing.
“But you already do so much!” I said, gesturing around the apartment. It was spotless, as usual. All Edward asked was that I pick up after myself. I did, but I still felt bad that he was the only one who cooked and cleaned the toilet.
You still do the laundry…perhaps you should give yourself a break.
Who the fuck are you?
I’m Grown-Up Swan, and I’m serving you an official eviction notice.
“Spill it, Iz,” Edward said from the kitchen.
“I was just serving Evil Swan an eviction notice.”
“About time, I hate that fucking bitch,” he said.
“Yeah, she was six months behind on her rent, and I need the space,” I said.
“Really? Got a new tenant lined up?” he asked.
“Yes!” I said.
He came back to the futon and handed me a fresh piece of bread.
“Anyone I know?” He asked.
“Maybe. Perhaps you should be formally introduced,” I suggested with a shimmy.
He grinned at me, and picked up his wine to take a sip.
“Oh, I’d love to meet her,” he said around the lip of the glass.
“Fine,” I said, sitting up tall and extending my hand. “Edward Cullen, meet Grown-Up Swan,”
“Very nice to meet you Ms. Swan,” he said with a wink.
I laughed and set my glass down, pulling my jeans off to get more comfortable.
Edward watched me like a cat watches a canary.
“You keep stripping, Iz and we’re gonna miss dinner again,” he warned.
“Promise?” I asked, and pulled my shirt off.
He set his glass down and pushed me back, pulling my bra straps down. He’d never learned how to properly remove a bra.
“Fuck…you are a very (kiss) naughty (kiss kiss) girl—”
“—Hey!” I said, as though I were offended.
“Excuse me,” he said, sitting up on his heels, hands crossing to cover his heart. “I meant to say woman, Grown-up Swan.”
“That’s better,” I said, raising my chin to accommodate the wild hair that was suddenly back in my face.
He told me he wanted to introduce Grown-up Swan to Horny Edward, and I said, she’d been dying to meet him all day.
We missed dinner.
After, as we lay on the futon, my back side spooned by his front side, he reached over and pulled open the drawer in our night stand.
“Hey, this came for you in the mail today.”
It was a large white envelope.
He grinned. “Are you mad at me for not telling you right away?”
“No. But I’m kind of wondering why,” I said.
“I don’t know. I wanted to hear about your day, spend some time with you…I guess I was just being a little selfish. I know you’re gonna be busy with editing and publicity, and I wanted just a little bit of you and me time before the chaos sets in.”
I stared at him dumbly.
“You know that’s an offer.”
“It might not be,” I observed.
“Yeah, but I think you know it is. I know it is, anyway…and Grown-Up Swan definitely knows it is.”
He’s right, she said.
I grinned and ripped it open like a Christmas present.