Edward stood talking to Jessica, James, and one of the other helpers, explaining what today’s lesson was going to be as I walked up with the basket of colored bags. James and Jessica knew very well what the exercise entailed, given the near-disastrous way their own lesson in diving had ended nearly a decade earlier. It still amazed me how much she’d changed since then, though that was only natural, of course.
James, too, had changed a lot. Dramatically, even, since that day. Jessica was graduating high school this summer and James had started college last year at U—dub. They’d both decided to become helpers at the club around the same time and had been on friendly enough terms since he’d nearly drowned Jessica. It was somewhat surprising to me, but I thought it showed more about Jessica’s heart and ability to forgive and forget than anything.
All in all, both Edward and I were very proud of them and had happily taken them on to help in our classes. I grinned as I spotted Rose and Bella — both very pregnant — taking seats in the stands and waved at them. They waved back and I set about throwing the colored bags randomly in the pool for the kids to retrieve once class started.
Momma and Rose were talking quietly about what was supposed to happen. I tried to listen, to pay attention, but it was difficult because I couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t quite right. Not the fact that we were at the rehearsal for Rose and Emmett’s wedding, but that Daddy wasn’t a part of it. Rosalie and I’d talked about things a lot over the past several weeks, and she assured me she was fine with the fact she’d be walking down the aisle with me rather than with him.
I’d taken her word for it, partially because I wanted her to be okay. I no longer felt guilt so much over what had happened, and made my peace with things as they stood, thanks to the immense support I’d gotten from both family and friends – not to mention from Edward, of course.
A/N: Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
“Here you go, sweetheart,” said Esme, handing me a cup of coffee even as Carolyn did the same to Jasper.
“Thanks, Mom,” I murmured, shifting in my seat. The DA had just left after going over a few last minute things before the trial started, and now we were left waiting to be called in. Jasper had been quiet all morning, looking paler than normal, but he’d insisted he was fine. I knew that now that he’d made up his mind to be here, he was determined to see it through.
Esme and I were out shopping for the apartment. It was supposedly just for the office, but with how often she’d delight in seeing something that would just be perfect for the living room, or bedroom, or kitchen. I had a feeling it was a losing battle and that Edward and I would end up doing the whole place.
We’d taken a break for lunch at one of her favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, however, and conversation was – for once – not focused on redecorating or school.
“So have you two given any thought yet about Valentine’s Day?” asked Esme as she took a bite of her pasta.
Frowning, I poked my fork around my own pasta and shook my head. “Not really. I mean, I want to do something special and all, but with the trial starting the next day… I’d hoped to go away for the weekend, but… not really a good idea, considering.”
Ding. Frowning, I looked at the popup notifier and clicked to open chat. It was a little before the time we usually chatted, so I was curious. It felt strange to be back at work without all the distractions of the holidays – never mind the days off we’d been able to spend together.
EACullen: Hey, yourself. Everything okay?
When there was no immediate reply, I toggled back to the screen I’d been working on, wondering what was going on. It was silly, really, that just that one word had me on edge, but it did the same as if I’d heard him speak. The tone just felt… off, somehow. Another ding alerted me to a response.
Jazzman: I guess? Got a call a little bit ago from the DA’s office. Apparently they pushed through my case and it’s going to trial next month.
“He, who?” I asked, turning first to Edward, then Emmett in confusion. I was puzzled by Edward’s sudden change in demeanor, as well as Emmett’s and even Felix’s tension as they both stared hard at the pool. When I didn’t get a response I followed their gazes, hoping to find some sort of answer.
Frowning, I put my hand on Edward’s wrist. “Edward, what’s going on?” I asked quietly, trying to keep my calm. Something wasn’t right, that much was certain, but what?
Edward took a shuddering breath, then shook his head as he blinked several times as if coming back to himself, then turned to me with a strained smile. “Alec,” he murmured. “He’s on the other team.”
My frown deepened as I focused on the players in the water again. I didn’t see him until Emmett rumbled, “Number eight,” behind me and my eyes focused immediately on him. Just as I found him, Alec looked toward us and something flickered across his features, but before I could identify it he turned away.
The whistle blew sharply, bringing everything to a halt as we all looked up at the referee to see what was up. A foul to be sure, but I had no idea as to who or what, as I’d been too focused on defending the goal. I could hear shouting and vaguely thought that I recognized Rosalie yelling, but dismissed it. Now was not the time for that, though I wanted to groan when Kirk got sent out after his third foul.
Eric jumped in to take his place, though he had to wait for Kirk’s twenty second penalty to tick away. The opposition was given a free shot, but missed thanks to Emmett, who threw the ball to Jasper as he was already far ahead from everyone else and heading toward the other goal. Bella and I weren’t far behind him and I felt a thrill of pleasure at knowing that our team was complete again and playing our best.
Esme had gone all out for Thanksgiving dinner, it seemed. Yesterday when I saw all the pies, I thought it’d been a bit much. Everybody helped to set the table – they had to, there was so much food. Once everything was set, I couldn’t help but stare at the heavily laden table. There was a huge turkey, a honey-glazed ham, two different kinds of potatoes, yams, two types of green bean casseroles, gravy, corn, two kinds of cranberry sauce, both plain and flavored butter, fresh rolls, a pitcher of ice-water, and several bottles of white wine.
Edward chuckled, kissing my cheek. “You all right, Jazz?” he asked, amused.
“Right now, yeah… ask me again after we’ve eaten, though… so much food,” I said softly.
Esme, who overheard as she walked past me, grinned and patted my arm. “Trust me, Jasper, I won’t be cooking again for about a week. Carlisle’s a wiz with leftovers,” she said, causing everyone to laugh.
“Honey, could you hand me that pie plate over there, please?” Mom asked as she finished rolling out the dough for what would be her pecan pie. Putting down the knife and the apple I’d been peeling, I reached for the dish I knew she wanted and handed it to her. Mom had a system for this, after all – one I knew quite well.
“Thanks, sweetie,” she said with a smile.
We worked in silence for a while as she put the pie together and popped it in the oven, and I continued to peel the apples. It was both familiar and odd to be standing in my mother’s kitchen the evening before Thanksgiving. Familiar, because I’d done it every year for as long as I could remember, and odd because it was just the two of us. Dad was at the store doing some last minute shopping for dinner tomorrow, and Jasper was having dinner with his mom and Rosalie.
Sitting on the couch, I idly strummed my guitar as I let my mind wander. I was supposed to be getting ready to head to dinner at Esme and Carlisle’s place, but my thoughts kept whirling as they’d been wont to do of late. Not surprising, really. The two weeks or so after Momma’s visit had been kind of surreal. I’d tried to concentrate on my class work, but wasn’t as successful as I’d have liked. Edward and I spent a lot of time talking about what had happened – both between ourselves, with his parents, and with Carmen.
And Rose, of course. She was shocked when I’d called her after Momma had left to tell her what had happened. She couldn’t believe Momma had risked Daddy’s wrath by meeting with me – with us. She’d been thrilled, though, that Momma had done it, happy to know that she at least wanted her son in her life. That Momma loved and accepted me – and Edward.