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Charlie's Interference

Summary:
Now that school is out for the summer, Edward and Bella would be more than happy to spend all their time together. Unfortunately, Charlie has other ideas.


Notes:
This story was originally written for one of Novel Novice Twilight's challenges.


1. One shot

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3447   Review this Chapter

Now that summer was here and school no longer forced us apart for most of the day, Bella and I became nearly inseparable. We would spend the day together, parting only at dinnertime. Even if I sat in the living room and didn’t watch them eat, Charlie’s thoughts made it clear he preferred that I go to my own home for dinner. I was happy enough to pretend for him: anything to stay in his good graces. Well, almost anything – staying away from Bella for long periods was out of the question.

Except for the nights I needed to hunt, I would climb through Bella’s window once Charlie was asleep and spend the night holding her in my arms while she slept. However, tonight I just couldn’t wait. Something in the tenor of Charlie’s thoughts earlier this evening worried me.

It was just dark enough that I could walk in the shadows of the house and remain unnoticed. I heard the water running – Bella was still cleaning up from dinner, later than usual. I assumed Charlie was glued to the ball game, but I noticed the television was at a much lower level of volume than usual – possibly even too low for human ears.

“Bells, just think about what I said, ok?” Charlie said. I froze in place next to the house, my hand already raised to begin climbing. What had I missed?

“Fine, Dad.” I could hear in Bella’s voice that she was trying to be polite but her patience was thinning.

Charlie sighed. Concern was his primary emotion. At least he wasn’t angry. “I’m just – when you left that night and got hurt, back in the spring – “

I closed my eyes and shuddered at the memory of Bella, broken and in pain, at the ballet studio.

“Dad! I’ve told you before – Edward has never hurt me.” All traces of patience in Bella’s voice vanished. “He would never hurt me,” she added quietly.

“You don’t know that, Bella. You’re both so young.”

“I know him,” Bella insisted.

“Whatever happened that night that made you leave – I don’t want that to happen again. I know it was an accident, but I can’t help but feel that he was responsible, that somehow he put you in danger. Call it a cop’s intuition.”

I buried my face in my hands. Charlie was more right than he knew. I did put Bella in danger. Only it wasn’t limited to that one instance: it was every minute I spent with her. If Charlie had any idea how close Bella had come to losing her life, he’d ban me from the house. Or arrest me for reckless endangerment of a minor.

I heard Bella pulling in slow, deep breaths, trying to calm herself. “Or maybe just a dad worrying too much? I know you mean well, Dad. Just trust me about Edward, ok?”

“Yeah. Ok,” Charlie said, resigned. He didn’t want to fight. There were footsteps, then the couch groaned under his weight, and the TV resumed its regular volume. Dishes clanged together as Bella hurried through washing them. I heard her sigh, and I wished I could be there to help her, but I didn’t want to push my luck with Charlie tonight.

The water stopped, a chair scraped against the floor, and pages were turned. I wondered idly which book Bella had picked up to read again. She found the page she was looking for, but after several more minutes, she still hadn’t turned another page. What was she thinking about? What she and Charlie had discussed, surely. Was she realizing he was right? Would Bella ever believe that I was dangerous?

I could hear that Charlie was tired – he would retire for the night when the ball game was over, not much longer now. Bella, as always, would wait until it was just late enough to go to bed without raising suspicion. I scaled the front of the house and slipped into her room to wait for her, sitting as still as a statue on her bed.

Finally, I heard the book close and Bella stand. “Good night Dad.” She tried to make her voice light and cheerful, but I could hear the faint trace of annoyance still lingering.

“’Night Bells.” I heard his relief, glad that she wasn’t mad at him anymore.

Bella walked up the stairs slowly, and entered her room with an expression that creased her forehead. She saw me on her bed and her face immediately relaxed into a wide smile. My tension melted with hers and I smiled too.

“Hi,” she greeted me softly as she curled up on my lap and rested her head against my chest. “You’re here early.”

I laughed quietly as I kissed the top of her head. “I couldn’t wait any longer. I missed you.”

She wrapped her arms around me and pressed herself closer to my stone chest. Suddenly she pulled away, as if she had just remembered something. “Wait – how long have you been here?” she asked, biting her lip.

“Oh, just a few minutes.” It was mostly the truth – that’s how long I’d been in her room, anyway.

“Ok.” She relaxed again, and kissed me quickly. “I won’t take long,” she promised as she grabbed her bag of toiletries and headed to the bathroom.

Charlie was absorbed in his excitement over the game he was watching – clearly whatever concerns he had earlier had been alleviated, and he was unlikely to check on Bella before heading to bed himself. Bella, on the other hand, still seemed worried about something, however calm she was in my presence. She obviously worried about how much of her conversation with Charlie I’d heard. I laid back on her bed, my hands behind my head, and concentrated on my breathing to calm myself. It would do no good to be upset about it in the meantime.

I listened as the water shut off in the shower and then Bella rummaging around. It did sound like she was hurrying, anxious to get back to her room. I stared up at the ceiling. I had unending patience, except when Bella was not with me. Finally, the door opened, just enough for Bella to squeeze through, even though Charlie was still downstairs. How did she manage to look so sexy in an old tattered t-shirt and a pair of shorts? Focus. Self-control.

“Hi again.” She smiled as she climbed onto the bed next to me.

“Hello, beautiful,” I replied, twining my fingers into her damp hair and pulling her close. I kissed her, not quite as gently as usual. She noticed the difference immediately and eagerly tangled her fingers into my own hair. I tilted her head back slightly, kissing her neck just below her ear, then continuing a trail to the hollow of her throat and then to her other ear before returning to her lips. Her breaths became shallower with every kiss, as did my own, but unlike my silent heart, hers was beating frantically. Her lips parted slightly and she touched my bottom lip with the tip of her tongue. A jolt of electricity shot down the entire length of my body, requiring all my focus to fight against the urge for more.

I pulled away instantly and regained my self-control. “Careful, my love.”

“Sorry,” she whispered, but she didn’t look sorry in the least. I grinned.

I heard the TV turn off downstairs and Charlie come upstairs. He didn’t have any intentions on checking on Bella, so I didn’t leave her bed, however it did remind me of my earlier concerns…concerns that Bella completely distracted me from. She didn’t seem eager to talk about anything, which just made me more nervous. I pulled her to my chest – tucking the blanket between us – and stroked her hair while I waited for confirmation through his thoughts (or lack thereof) that Charlie was asleep. It didn’t take long; Charlie was an easy sleeper.

Bella was absentmindedly tracing circles onto my chest, taking in deep breaths of my scent periodically. Could I possibly smell as good to her as she did to me? I never asked her; she tried to be inconspicuous about it, as if she was embarrassed, so I pretended not to notice.

“So, how was your dinner?” I asked casually.

“Fine.” Then she sat up to face me and narrowed her eyes. “You were listening, weren’t you?”

“I just caught the tail end, while you were cleaning up.”

She sighed. “Charlie thinks we spend too much time together,” she explained, rolling her eyes. “He suggested I get a job. It’s actually not a bad idea. I could use some extra spending money…my truck goes through gas like you wouldn’t believe.”

I stroked her cheek. “Bella, you don’t need to get a job if you don’t want to. You know I would be happy to give you anything you need or desire.”

“Edward, I don’t want you to spend your money on me!” She scowled.

“But I want to. I want to take care of you, provide for you.” I knew that in this time, women were more independent than in my time, but that couldn’t change how I felt. My early twentieth century upbringing would always be at my core, as if carved in stone. If we were both human, I’d have already put a ring on her finger.

“But the one thing I want most from you, you won’t give me!” She folded her arms across her chest and pouted.

“Bella,” I sighed. “We’ve been through that. You know why I won’t – why I can’t.” I didn’t want to have this conversation. Again. “And Charlie blames me for what happened in Phoenix,” I continued quickly, before she could argue further.

Bella’s face softened. “Of course he does. He doesn’t know what really happened.”

I looked down, unable to meet her eyes with my shame-filled ones. “Even so, he’s correct, I –“

Bella placed her hands on either side of my face and tried to raise my head to look me in the eye. I resisted at first, but then I gave in. Her brown eyes burned with sincerity. “Edward Cullen, don’t you dare think like that! It was not yourfault; it just happened. You saved my life.”

We stared into each other eyes, each dazzled – to use Bella’s word – by the other. I forced myself to look away from her wide brown eyes when I realized she had stopped breathing, and pulled her back down to my chest, stroking her hair as her breathing regulated. I sensed there was more to her conversation with Charlie than she was telling me. Or perhaps not; I always second-guessed my intuition when it involved Bella.

Then she giggled, for no apparent reason, distracting me from my thoughts.

“What’s funny?”

“I was just thinking…imagine what Charlie would say if he knew exactly how much time we spent together.”

I chuckled. “Mmmm…I see what you mean. How would Chief Swan feel about a vampire sneaking into his own daughter’s room at night?”

“He’d probably come after you with a head of garlic and a wooden stake.”

We laughed together, quietly so we didn’t wake the Chief.

She tightened her arms around me and raised her head to kiss me. Her warm breath blew in my face, and I inhaled deeply to appreciate her delicious scent. I rested my cheek against her hair as she lay down against my chest again. Gently, I stroked her back with my fingertips, and began humming the lullaby I wrote for her.

***

Charlie had already left for work by the time Bella woke up. After her breakfast, I waited downstairs while she took one of her “human minutes”, as she called them, to clean up and dress.

Bella’s toe caught on some invisible hazard at the foot of the stairs. I dashed to her side to catch her before she fell, pressing my lips together so I couldn’t laugh aloud.

“Thanks,” she muttered, blushing.

“Anytime.” I touched her warm, red cheek with my fingertips.

“So, will you come with me to Newton’s Olympic Outfitters this morning?” she asked when she regained her composure.

I raised my eyebrows. Where did that come from? “Newton’s? Since when are you interested in camping and the great outdoors?”

“To apply for a job. Charlie thought they might be looking for help, summer being the busy season and all.”

Did Charlie have an ulterior motive in suggesting the Newton’s store? What else had they talked about last night?

“Sure.” I kissed the top of her head. “Would you like to go now?”

“In a little while…” she murmured, stretching up to reach my lips. I grinned, scooping her up into my arms, more than happy to oblige.

***

Wow, must be my lucky day. That sounds like Bella’s truck.

We weren’t even out of the truck yet and Newton was already irritating me. I rolled my eyes while I walked around to open Bella’s door; she finally learned to wait for me to open the door for her, even when I must move at human speed.

Mike Newton approached the front door of the store to greet Bella with a wide smile. As soon as he saw me behind her, his smile faded slightly. Should have known he wouldn’t be far. Does he ever leave her side?

“Hey, Bella!” His eyes flickered to me. “Edward.”

“Hi, Mike, how’s it going?” Bella replied cheerfully. I nodded to Mike in greeting as I wrapped my arm around Bella’s waist and smiled at him, a little bit smug. Mike had been one of my rivals before I even knew I had rivals; it was nearly impossible not to flaunt the fact that I’d been the one fortunate enough to win Bella’s affection.

“Good. So what brings you to our store? I didn’t know you were the backpacking type.” He grinned. I tried to control myself but a chuckle escaped my lips. The idea of Bella hiking through the woods was quite amusing. He glanced at me. I guess I should be nice to him. His folks do spend a lot of money here. “Oh, did you need something, Edward?”

“Actually I was wondering if I could apply for a job,” Bella answered.

My lucky day for sure. Bella’s too…I can see to it that she’s hired. “Absolutely! Come right over here, I have an application.” He gestured towards the counter, and then added reluctantly, “Do you need one too, Edward?” He won’t want a job too, will he? Well, I can see to it that he’s not hired.

My eyes narrowed ever so slightly and I shook my head. My jaw clenched, but I tried to maintain a calm, friendly tone. “I’ll be over there, looking at the tents, Bella.” She heard the edge in my voice and looked up with questions in her eyes. I smiled and squeezed her hand gently to let her know I was all right. Deliberately, I looked Mike straight in the eyes, and then leaned in to kiss Bella, keeping my lips on hers just a moment longer than I normally would. I saw her blush before I turned and walked to the other side of the store, laughing quietly.

Mike was so annoyed that his thoughts were incoherent, and then I blocked him out. I didn’t trust myself.

“So, you enjoying your summer?” he asked as Bella filled out the form.

“Yes, it’s been wonderful. Best summer I’ve ever spent in Forks. Best summer ever, actually.” Her happiness was obvious, and it made me so happy I temporarily forgot about my irritation with Mike.

“Nice to see the sun now and then, huh?”

“Mmmmm…” Bella was evasive, pretending to be concentrating on writing. Sunny days were difficult. On overcast mornings, I could stay with her overnight and bring her to my house before the sun shone. Others, we couldn’t see each other until after Charlie had gone to sleep. Those were the hardest days, the longest days.

“Here, I’m done.” Bella handed the paper back to Mike and they started walking towards me.

“In a few weeks, we’re heading out to First Beach again. Wanna come?”

Bella hesitated. I became very still, waiting for her answer. If she wanted to go, of course I wouldn’t stop her, even though I wouldn’t be going with her regardless of the weather. “Um... I don’t know…”

“Oh, come on. It’ll be warm enough for sunbathing this time.” Don’t bring Cullen. I’ll keep you company. It can be a date if you’d like it to be…

I focused so hard on Bella’s response that I forgot to block Mike’s thoughts. My fists clenched once he started thinking about Bella in a bikini (didn’t he know her at all?), and then untying it to rub sunblock onto her back. Throwing him through the wall would not be a good thing...or so I tried to convince myself.

“Bella,” I called, pretending I didn’t hear anything they said. “You should come camping with my family on our next trip. These two-person tents do look cozy.”

Mike’s eyes practically popped out of their sockets and Bella blushed deeply, staring at me incredulously. What impulse caused me to make such a crude remark? It really was inappropriate, no better than Mike’s fantasies. His reaction was worth it, at least.

I met them in the middle of the store, wrapping my arm around Bella again and kissing the top of her head. “Ready to go?”

“Yes. Thanks Mike.”

“Sure. I’ll make sure my mom gets your application this afternoon. I’ll call you.” He glanced at me. “About the job, I mean.”

Bella nodded. “Great, thank you.”

Boy, I sure wouldn’t mind spending a night in a tent with her…

“Ok let’s go, Bella,” I said quickly, pulling her towards the door. I wasn’t sure how much longer my control would hold out, what with Mike’s fantasies of how he’d keep Bella warm. It was my own fault for putting the idea in his head in the first place.

“Um, ok.” Bella looked at me, that little crease visible between her eyebrows, but she didn’t resist. Not that it would have mattered if she did. “Bye, Mike.”

“See you later, Bella.”

I didn’t listen to Mike’s thoughts as I opened the door for Bella. Any pretense of friendliness between Mike and I had evaporated and neither of us acknowledged the other.

Bella didn’t take her eyes off me as I pulled out of the parking lot, our fingers intertwined on the seat between us. She didn’t say a word until we reached the highway.

“What was all that about?” she demanded.

I turned to face her and met her eyes. “What was all what about?” I asked innocently. I watched her kitten-anger fade from her eyes the longer I stared in them, and smirked.

She shook her head as if to clear it and looked straight ahead out the windshield.

“You know what.”

I sighed and my teeth clenched. “You didn’t hear Newton’s thoughts.”

“Oh.” She thought about that for a minute. Then a smile spread slowly across her face and she laughed lightly.

“What?” Did she enjoy Mike’s attention?

She looked me directly in the eye. “Edward, you aren’t jealous of Mike, are you?”

“Jealous?” I raised my eyebrows. “No, just annoyed. His thoughts were improper. I don’t like him to think of you like that.” Even as I said the words, I realized I was envious of Mike Newton: envious of his humanity and of what he could offer Bella.

Her smile didn’t fade at all. Instead, she rolled her eyes as she pulled my hand up to her lips and kissed it. “You silly, insecure vampire, don’t you know I’m yours, always?”

Her brown eyes were warm, liquid, unclouded. Finally, I smiled. “As I am yours, my love.”