Also a big thank you to Luluubelle and FarDareisMai2 for beta’ing.
“Come on, Carlisle. It’s not good for you to always be on your own. Dinner’s Friday at six, sharp. I won’t take no for an answer,” Esme says firmly.
I sigh and close my eyes, rubbing the bridge of my nose. “Please, Es, I really don’t think-” I try, but she cuts me off.
“I mean it, Carbunkle. Six sharp. Don’t be late.”
Barely stifling a groan, I rest my head back against the back of my chair, staring up at the ceiling. “Fine. Fine. Just… please don’t try to set me up with anyone. You know how well that didn’t work the last time you tried. God knows, I don’t need another Diego right now.”
I grin at the annoyed – and quite un-ladylike – grunt Esme gives in response. I can practically hear her wince at the reminder of the last guy she’d tried to set me up with. Diego, while sweet at first, had turned out to be a handful – psychotic’s more like it.
Esme sighs. “Alright, dearheart. No blind dates, I promise. But you’d better be there, or else!” she threatens before hanging up with her usual, “Love you. See you Friday.”
I know she means well. I know that she and the rest of my family are worried about me. They think I’ve been alone for too long. Perhaps they’re right, but I just don’t have it in me anymore to try to find someone. Let alone to find love.
Love, I had once. With Liam.
Sighing, I swivel my chair to face the picture of Liam and me that sits on the shelf in my office. It’s one of the few I’ve allowed myself to keep on display after losing him. Even now, a good twenty years after he died, I still miss him. We had eight years together, filled with love and passion the likes of which I’ve not known since.
I’ve long since resigned myself to never finding it again. Such things only come but once in a lifetime, and I’ve had my chance, cut short as it was.
Oh, that’s not to say that I haven’t tried to find someone new, but nothing ever lasts. To be honest, it took me years before I was even ready to “get on the market” again, as Esme puts it, and in that time things changed. Too much, for my liking.
So here I am, pushing fifty and alone. Lonely, too, if I’m completely honest, but resigned to my fate. The club scene isn’t for me – hasn’t been for years – and most of the men my age are either already in happy relationships or summarily not my type.
No. There’s nothing for it but to go on with my life as best as I can. With a shake of my head, I force myself to put such dreary thoughts aside in favor of a couple of hours more work before bedtime. I might not have someone to share things with, but at least I have something to show for my life: my own, moderately successful framing store.
Three hours later, I’m finally done balancing the books and more than ready to call it a night. After carefully putting everything away, I stretch, my arms high over my head. My eyes fall once again on Liam’s picture and I sigh, almost deflating as I murmur, “I miss you, my love.”
Gently picking up the frame, I smile down at him – my sad one contrasting the happy grin on his face. It’s funny, really. It was in trying to find just the right frame for this picture after he passed away, that ended up with me starting my own shop. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find one I liked – they were all too generic – so I decided to dig deeper, and Cullen Frames was born.
I shake my head, caressing Liam’s face before putting the frame back on the shelf and going to bed. It’ll do me no good to dwell on the past even more than I already have tonight. I’ll never fall asleep otherwise.
As it is, my dreams are haunted by Liam, and the feeling of loss and loneliness, and I wake up earlier than normal. I lie in bed for a while, staring at the ceiling as I try to shake the lingering sense of sadness. I finally give up before my alarm sounds and just get up, deciding to go for a run in the park behind my apartment building.
It’s too early for most people, so everything’s nice and quiet, the paths mostly devoid of traffic as I run. The few brave souls that are out on this dreary morning – the weather seems to be as gray as my mood – are friendly enough, though.
A sharp whistle followed by a brusk, “Brutus, here boy,” catches my attention. I slow to a jog as I watch a young man play with a black labrador that’s bouncing around, trying to catch the ball the man tosses between his hands. The sound of playful barking and the warmth of his laughter as he finally throws the ball makes me smile.
“There’s a good boy. Come on, Brutus, bring it to me,” he calls.
I find myself coming to a stop and watching the two for a while. They’re the picture of joy and something inside me twinges. Maybe I should get a dog, I ponder even as my eyes drink in the sight of the young man. Tall – as tall as me, if not more so – unruly, auburn hair, a lithe body.
As soon as I realize I’m checking him out, I give myself a shake and force my legs to start running again, bypassing the duo without another glance. He’s far too young. He could be your son, I’m sure. Forget it, Cullen. Since when did you start falling for Kindergartners.
Snorting, I shake my head again and push all thoughts aside, focusing on my breathing and letting everything else just fall away.
By the time I get home, I’m drenched with sweat, pleasantly exhausted and exhilarated at the same time, and all thoughts about the young man and his dog forgotten. I end up having to hurry in order to make it to work on time. My own business it may be, but I hold myself strictly to the hours I’ve posted. To do otherwise is out of the question.
My day is quiet, filled with the occasional customer looking for frames or picking up their orders. I spend most of my time working on the projects that are due that week, taking the utmost care to make everything as perfect as I can. It’s what I’m known for, after all.
About an hour before closing, the bell jingles as someone enters the shop. I call out, “I’ll be right there,” as I carefully place a delicate heirloom christening gown a customer wants framed aside before heading to the front.
“Good afternoon, what can I do for you,” I ask, smiling even though the man has his back to me as he peruses some of the examples that adorn the walls.
My breathing stutters when he turns around, his own smile warm and brilliant as he steps up to the counter. “Hi! I was hoping you could help me find a frame for these,” he says, spreading out a couple of pictures as well as a couple of keepsakes. “My friend suggested this was the place to go, if I wanted it to be special. It’s for my parents, you see. Their thirtieth anniversary?”
He looks at me questioningly, and I realize I’ve yet to say a word – and that I’ve been staring at him, practically gaping like a fish. Blinking, I shake my head a little in hopes of clearing it, still not quite able to believe that the young man I’d seen on my run that very morning is now standing in my shop. A quick glance outside shows the black lab tethered to the bike rack, waiting patiently for its master.
Clearing my throat, I look down at the items he put down, carefully moving them to note five pictures of a couple at varying ages, as well as an old fashioned key, a dried blood red rose, a lace handkerchief, and what appears to be an antique pocket watch. Frowning slightly, I gently trace the etchings on the surface of the watch before looking up.
“Are you certain you want something like this in a shadow box?” I ask. It’s not unusual for people to want heirlooms placed in one, but a watch like this should be used.
The young man blushes slightly, clearing his throat. “Yeah. My dad was given that watch by his father on their wedding day. Unfortunately, neither my dad nor I ever manage to keep any kind of watch alive.”
He grins, then, showing me his bare wrists. “Doesn’t seem to matter if they’re wrist watches, pocket watches, or what. They always break. My dad’s never dared actually use this one, and I thought it might be nice to give it a place of honor instead, you know?”
I smile, nodding. “I see. Yes, well… I’m certain we can find something suitable. What did you have in mind?”
We talk for a while about what he wants the end result to be. The positioning of the items, what color background, etc., before moving on to find a frame he likes. The sound of the clock ringing out six chimes startles us both, and he chuckles. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to take up so much of your time, Mr. Cullen.”
Waving his concern off, I smile. “Quite alright. It’s important that you like the end product. It’s a gift, after all, and a remarkable one at that. Now why don’t we finish writing up the order.Mr.?” I pause, and he supplies, “Masen. Edward Masen.”
I nod and continue, “Mr. Masen, so you can be on your way. I’m sure your poor dog must be anxious to move by now.”
His eyes widen at the mention of his dog and his head swivels to search him out. Brutus, however, has apparently decided to take a nap and is curled up right where Edward had left him. Edward’s sigh of relief makes me smile. He turns back to me with an embarrassed grin and says, “Wow, bad sign when I lose track of time to the point where I forget about Brutus. Or good, depending on your point of view, I suppose.”
There’s a hint of mischief in his eyes as he says this, but it’s quickly gone as he clears his throat, and we set about dotting I’s and crossing T’s. Before long he’s leaving my store, and I’m left closing up shop. It’s more difficult than it ought to be to go through my routine, as my thoughts keep returning to Edward.
When I’d seen him that morning, I’d believed him to be handsome and full of life. Now, after having talked to him, I know he is that and much more. He’s kind, considerate, and apparently has a big heart, judging by what little he told me regarding the photos he’d chosen, and why.
Edward had mentioned he’d only recently moved back in town, having grown up here as a lad. He was still getting situated and currently living with his best friend, Alice, while looking for a place of his own. It had been her who’d sent him to my store for his plans.
The name’s familiar, but I can’t place it. I decide to not worry about it anymore and just be happy for the recommendation. It’s always good to know people appreciate what I do enough to send their friends to me, too.
I spend the next couple of days working diligently as always, though for whatever reason I end up taking particular care of the piece that Edward ordered. I try to tell myself that I do the same for every customer, but a small voice niggles at me that this is not the truth. Since I had to order the actual framework, I can’t finish the piece yet, but I’d made Edward aware of this the night he’d come into my store, so I wasn’t expecting to see him until the following week.
Twice a week – every Tuesday and Friday – I check my mail in the mailroom of the complex. It’s an old habit of mine that I’ve never really been able to break. It works for me, though, since I mostly get bills anyway. Leaning against the wall, I flip through everything to see if everything is mine. It’s happened once too often that one or more pieces of mail have been wrongly delivered in my box that should have gone to a neighbor’s, so I make it a point to check before leaving the room.
Sure enough, my eye falls on a name that isn’t my own. Sighing, I double check the apartment number, only to find it was supposed to go to number 209, whereas I live in 709. As I’m about to drop the envelope into the correct mailbox, I read the name again, and my eyes widen.
Mary Alice Brandon.
Staring at it, the conversation with Edward runs through my head, and I wonder whether this is the same person. Impossible.
“Brutus, stop pulling!”
My head jerks up at the name, though the voice is all wrong – soprano instead of Edward’s rich tones. Blinking, I take in the sight of this slip of a woman being pulled along by Brutus, who’s nearly twice her weight if not more. She laughs, shaking her head as she finally manages to rein him in, apologizing even as Brutus starts to sniff at my legs.
“Hi, sorry about that. He’s a good dog, but a bit too strong for me at times,” she smiles.
Grinning, I allow Brutus to smell my hand before scratching behind his ear, which earns me a pleased grumble from him and a giggle from her. “It’s quite alright, I don’t mind.”
Glancing at her, I frown, then look at the envelope in my hand. “Say, don’t you live in 209?” I ask.
“Yeah, I do.” She notices the mail and sighs. “Don’t tell me they managed to deliver my mail to you again.”
Straightening up, I grin as I hand her her mail. “Alright, I won’t tell you.”
She narrows her eyes, then laughs, shaking her head. Waving the envelope, she says, “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Petting Brutus again, I add, “I didn’t realize you had a dog.”
She crouches down next to Brutus, mussing between his ears as she smiles up at me. “Oh, no, he’s not mine. My friend’s staying with me for a while. Brutus is his, but Edward’s at work right now, so I said I’d walk him.”
The mention of Edward’s name, the confirmation that this is indeed the same dog, and that Edward’s staying in the same building as I am throws me for a bit. Alice asks whether Edward ever stopped by my store, and we talk for a while. Brutus starts to make noises after a few minutes, though, indicating he needs to go for a walk.
Alice quickly checks her mail, sifting through everything much as I had, and then heads out with a wave and a, “Thanks again,” thrown over her shoulder as Brutus pulls her toward the door.
A glance at my watch tells me I have to hurry if I’m to make it to Esme’s on time. Plans of a shower and shave are abandoned, though I do change out of my work clothes in favor of tan chinos and a navy turtleneck.
Right on the dot, I ring Esme’s doorbell. She opens the door, already talking, “-own fault for showing up early, Kate, and offering to help to boot. Oh, hi Carlisle, come on in, you’re right on time.”
She kisses my cheeks, hugging me briefly before ushering me into the dining room with orders to pour everyone wine. Shaking my head, I grin and do as I’m told, sharing a look of amusement with her husband, Charles as he follows me in, carrying a large platter of lamb chops.
Before long, we’re all seated around the table. It’s just cousin Garrett, his wife Kate, Charles, Esme, and myself tonight. Esme explains that mother had to cancel. “She didn’t feel well, poor thing. Said there’s a bug or something doing the rounds at the retirement center, and she didn’t want to risk passing it on to anyone. She sends her love, though.”
I nod, sipping my wine. “I’ll give her a call this weekend, see how she’s doing.”
Esme smiles, patting my hand. “I was hoping you’d say that.” Her smile turns mischievous as she adds, “And as you can see, I kept my promise. No blind dates.”
I snort, shaking my head as I say wryly, “Thanks, my dear. It’s appreciated.”
The evening is relaxed, the food excellent as always, and I’m able to enjoy myself more than I’d anticipated. I love my family very much, but often it’s difficult to be around them. I’m not sure why, really. There’s no real drama, and most of us get along just fine. Though it can be hard to see them all be happy and with someone. Especially when someone gets it in their head that I need someone in my life. Thankfully, Esme’s earlier remark aside, there is no further mention of the subject.
It’s nice to just catch up with everybody. Kate and Garrett announce that they’ve finally had a successful in vitro treatment and are expecting. I’m happy for them, because I know they’ve been trying for years, and it’s been very difficult for them both.
Esme rises, hugging Kate tightly before leaning back with wide eyes and a look of faint horror on her face as she asks, “Oh no, Kate, you should have said something! Are you okay to have wine?”
Kate chuckles, patting Esme’s arm lightly as she nods toward her glass, which is half-full. “A little won’t hurt, Esme. Don’t worry.”
The look of relief on Esme’s face has us all laughing. Esme grouses a little at our teasing, but quickly bounces back and starts talking with Kate about the whole experience, sharing tips and laments of her own pregnancy.
By the time the evening comes to a close, I know far more about the female body than I ever cared to, but I take it in stride. Bidding my family goodnight, I decide to walk back to my apartment in order to enjoy the rather balmy night, despite the late hour.
My walk takes me along the park, and my thoughts go back to Edward. I find myself wondering about him. How he’s settling in, whether he’s having any luck finding a place to live. Oddly enough, I even wonder how he would be with kids.
Don’t be ridiculous, Carlisle.
Still, thoughts of him won’t be shaken in spite of my best efforts, and I end up going to bed with him on my mind.
The weekend passes quietly enough. I go for my usual run in the park, though I don’t see Edward or Brutus either time I go, and find myself oddly disappointed by it. I know next to nothing about the man, aside from the fact that he is most definitely too young for me. Even if he were gay, something I’m not even entirely sure of.
It’s my weekend off, something I do once a month in order to give myself a break, since I run the store on my own. Off, however, does not mean I don’t have other things I have to do, so I busy myself with catching up on housework and other chores. Boring, perhaps, but it needs doing and it passes the time.
It’s just after lunch on Monday when the bell jingles, announcing a customer. I look up from the order I’m trying to put together and smile at the sight of Edward, all tousle-haired and relaxed in jeans and a snug fitting white t-shirt with a pink sheep and the text, “Pink sheep of the family,” on it.
I blink, staring at the shirt for a beat too long. Edward clears his throat, “Hi.”
Blushing, I raise my eyes to his, only to find him trying to stifle a grin. His eyes are dancing with amusement, though, as well as something else. “Hi. Sorry, let me just…” I point over my shoulder to the back as I let my sentence trail. My mind’s awhirl with thoughts I’m struggling to control. Now is not the time for personal crisis of any kind, and definitely not the time to check out my customers, or speculating whether he’s wearing that shirt with a purpose or not.
I hurry to the back to retrieve his shadowbox, which I’d put the finishing touches on just this morning. Edward gasps as soon as he sees it and when I put it down on the counter, his fingers hover just above the glass.
“This turned out beautiful, Mr. Cullen,” he murmurs. Glancing up, he smiles and adds, “Thank you.”
Inclining my head, I smile. “You’re quite welcome. I’m glad you’re pleased with the result.”
Edward lets out a slow breath, gazing down at the images of his parents. “They’ll love this,” he says, quietly.
He spends a few minutes admiring my work. It isn’t until the bell signals another customer that he reluctantly lets me wrap it up for him. He quickly pays, telling me again how much he likes what I did. As he’s about to leave, he holds out his hand and says, “Thank you, again. I can’t even tell you how much this’ll mean to them. How much it means to me.”
Shaking his hand, I feel a shiver run down my back. His handshake is warm, firm, and lingers longer than most would consider normal. The feel of his hand in mine is somehow intimate, which stuns me completely. There’s something in his eyes when I reluctantly pull my hand back again and say, “You’re welcome. I’d be pleased to hear what they think of it.”
“Oh, trust me, I’ll definitely let you know. Their anniversary is next week, so…” he says, grinning.
Lugging the parcel under his arm, he turns to head out the door. “Are you going to be alright with that?” I ask.
He looks over his shoulder and nods. “Yeah, I borrowed Alice’s car so I wouldn’t have to carry this thing on foot. I figured it’d be a bit cumbersome.”
My attention is drawn by the other customer, and I watch Edward leave out of the corner of my eye as I listen to the woman explain what she’s looking for.
The rest of my day I have a hard time focussing on work, but I manage.
It’s Sunday, almost three weeks later, when I finally see him again, other than from afar a couple of times. I’ve just finished my morning run when I notice a couple of guys struggling with a couch and opening the front door of the complex.
As I get closer, I can hear them bickering good naturedly.
“Don’t be such a wimp, Ed, my granny could help move this thing, now get a move on,” the big guy says.
I glance at him briefly, taking in the 6’6” that’s on the end closest to me. All muscle, short, dark curly hair, and as I pass him I see a huge grin on his face, despite the strain of lifting the heavy object. I don’t pay him too much mind, though, because Edward is struggling to keep a hold of the couch while opening the door.
Hurrying over, I have to lean over him in order to push the door open. “Here, let me,” I say, smiling.
“Oh thank God,” Edward groans. “Thanks. I had the door set to stay open while we move stuff into the elevator, but some old biddy closed it on her way in right as we were walking up. I tried calling her to stop, but I don’t think she heard me.”
“Let me guess: Five foot nothing, hunched over, walks with a cane, gray hair up in a tight bun?”
He grunts, nodding. “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
“Old Mrs. Miller. Deaf as a doornail, I’m afraid. Sweet little thing, but…”
The big guy laughs. “I’m sure. Hey, thanks, man. Appreciate the help.”
“Oh, shit, sorry,” Edward says as they maneuver the couch into the elevator. “Mr. Cullen, this is my cousin Emmett. He’s helping me move.”
My eyebrows shoot up, and I look at Edward, slightly puzzled. “I thought you were living with Miss Brandon?”
Edward grins. “I was. 501 opened up, though, and she helped me get it. It’ll be nice to have my own place again. Love her to bits, but she can be a bit much at times. All that energy,” he mock-grouses, winking.
Emmett laughs, slapping Edward on the shoulder. “Man, I’m so gonna tell her you said that.”
Edward grins. “Whatever, big guy. I’m not scared of her.”
Emmett snorts, muttering, “Sure you’re not.” He turns to me then, holding out his hand. “Mr. Cullen, pleased to meet you, by the way.”
Shaking his hand, I smile. “Likewise. But please, call me Carlisle. That goes for you, too, Edward,” I add.
Edward’s face seems to light up at that, causing my heart to skip a beat. I tamp it down quickly. Eyeing the elevator, I decide to take a chance, just to be neighborly. At least, that’s what I tell myself. “Did you boys need a hand?”
They exchange a glance, and it’s clear there’s some silent – but intense – communication going on between them, but I can’t quite grasp what’s going on. Finally, Edward turns to me with a smile. “Are you sure? We can manage it-”
I shake my head, interrupting him. “Perfectly sure.”
Edward bites his lip, his eyes flickering to Emmett who’s determinedly looking away from him with an amused grin on his face. Edward turns back to me, nodding. “Okay, sure. Thanks.”
The next couple of hours fly by as we work hard to get Edward’s things moved in and his furniture situated. It’s well past lunch by the time we’re done, and we’re all exhausted. Emmett’s flung himself dramatically across the loveseat, leaving Edward and me to take a seat on the couch.
“God, I’m starving,” Emmett grouses, his words emphasized by a loud gurgling in his stomach, causing us all to laugh. “Sorry ’bout that,” he says, grinning.
I wave him off. “Why don’t I order us all some pizza? I doubt any of us are up for cooking right now, and I know you’ve yet to unpack your kitchen, anyway,” I say, looking at Edward.
His eyes are wide as he starts to shake his head, “Oh no, I couldn’t-”
I hold up my hands. “I insist. I believe I even have a couple of cold beers in my fridge. I think we’ve all earned one, don’t you?”
“Hell, yeah,” Emmett says enthusiastically as he sits up.
Edward attempts to argue again, but I cut him off, smiling. “Then it’s settled. We’ll head up to my place after you boys freshen up a bit, and have something to eat.”
I can’t explain exactly what prompts me, but I know that it feels right, and that the grateful look in Edward’s eyes is worth whatever inconveniences I might have for helping him today. It… warms me, somehow.
Emmett and Edward quickly wash up before we all trudge up to my place. I don’t often have people over, but rather than it feeling strange to have them there, it feels right. Their laughter seems to brighten the place in ways I’ve never known, and I find myself hoping this won’t be the last time.
When I ask what kind of pizza they’d like, Emmett calls out, “Meatlover’s all the way. Especially for Eddie here,” he adds with a huge grin and a conspiratorial wink.
My eyes widen slightly, flickering between them uncertainly. I’m intrigued, but not quite sure what to make of it, especially when Edward blushes to his roots. His mouth opens and closes a few times before he finally grabs one of the couch pillows and hurls it at Emmett with a hissed, “Thanks, Jackass.”
Emmett effortlessly catches the object, laughing. Edward takes a steadying breath as he turns to me with a hesitant smile. “Meatlover’ll be fine, thanks, Carlisle. And maybe some cheesesticks or something?”
After ordering two large Meatlovers, a side of cheesesticks with marinara, as well as an order of Honey BBQ chicken wings, I grab us each a beer and we sit and chat while we wait for the food to arrive. Edward’s just taken a swig of his beer when he suddenly jerks forward, holding up his hand with a grin. “Oh, I almost forgot! My parents loved the shadowbox you made. Mom was in tears when she saw it. It was the hit of the party, actually. People kept asking about it.”
My eyebrows rise in surprise and I smile. “Really? I’m glad to hear they liked it.”
“Liked it?” Emmett says, chuckling. “Dude, you shoulda seen it. The whole family was there, right, and I shit you not, man, but every one of them kept stopping by to check it out. It was great.”
Edward groans quietly, shooting a glare at his cousin who seems not to notice – or care, I’m not sure which. As for me, I’m trying hard not to grin at Emmetts enthusiasm, or cringe at his language.
They talk a little more about the party. The pizzas arrive, and as I pay the delivery boy I hear Edward say that his mother had asked him to help hang the shadowbox up this last weekend. It’s nice to hear them talk like this, to get an insight into their lives – into Edward’s life. The more I hear, the more I find that I want to learn more about him.
When Emmett’s watch beeps, he heaves a sigh, getting to his feet as he says, “Sorry, man. I gotta go. Rose’s expecting me home soon, and I promised her I’d swing by the store and pick up a few things, since she’s stuck at home.”
Getting up, I shake his hand, frowning slightly. “Stuck at home? Is she alright?” I ask, curious.
Emmett grins. “Oh yeah. Well, sort of. She’s on bedrest for the rest of her pregnancy. Her friend Vera’s been with her most of today since I was helping out Edward here, but she’ll have gone by now. Gotta take care of my girl, ya know?”
Edward stood behind Emmett and clasped his shoulder, smiling warmly at his cousin. “Thanks again, man. I really appreciate the help. And tell Rosalie thanks, too, for letting me borrow you today. I’ll stop by after work later this week and say hi, alright?”
Emmett nodded. “Sure thing. I’ll let her know,” he says, turning to hug Edward. Then he shakes my hand again, grinning. “Was nice finally meeting you, Carlisle.”
My eyes flicker between the two, and I’m surprised to see Edward blushing and averting his eyes even as he hisses under his breath, “Shut up, Emmett.”
Quirking a brow, I turn my attention back to Emmett. “Pleasure was mine, I assure you. Good luck with… well…” I wave my hand in the air, hoping he gets that I mean the pregnancy and everything.
Edward hesitates as Emmett walks to the door, glancing at me. Biting his lip, he finally sighs and jams his hands into his pockets and says quietly, “Well, I suppose I should get going, too. I have a lot to still get done, and the boxes won’t unpack themselves.”
Emmett chuckles, throwing a, “Later, man,” over his shoulder before disappearing and leaving Edward and me alone. I’m tempted to offer to help him again, but stop myself from doing so – if only barely. It’s one thing to help someone with their furniture, but unpacking their belongings is another thing altogether. It feels… too personal, and though it pains me to cut my time with him short, I can’t bring myself to intrude.
Swallowing past the lump that’s suddenly in my throat, I nod. “I don’t suppose they will, no.”
Something flashes in Edward’s eyes, but it’s gone so quickly I have no chance to figure it out. He smiles, then, and says, “Thanks again for all the help… and the pizza and beers. It was… nice. Sorry about Emmett, by the way. He doesn’t always…” He trails off, shrugging.
“Don’t worry about it. I didn’t mind.”
We both stand there for a while, staring at each other. I want to say more, and I think he does, too, but neither of us does until finally Edward clears his throat and with a glance at the door says, “Right. I’d better get going.” Looking at me again, he smiles, and adds with a nod to the living room, “I had a good time. Thank you. Have a good night, Carlisle.”
Walking him to the door, I manage a quiet, “Good night, Edward… and good luck.”
I watch him walk to the elevator and enter it. When he sees me still looking, he smiles and waves as the doors slide shut. Leaning against the door frame, I close my eyes and groan.
What do you think you’re doing?