Milk Money Chapter 16
Bella

 

Visiting Edward at work had been exciting. Alice couldn’t stop talking about getting to intern on the set. By the time we’d gotten home, she’d already planned her acceptance speech for the academy awards for costume design. I loved seeing her so excited.

 

Emmett seemed in a good mood, though he didn’t come in the house for dinner. He sometimes missed when he made something on his own or went out. When I asked Edward about it, he said that he was helping out by being security for a friend.

 

I didn’t think much of it until the following morning. I walked into the kitchen to find someone in the fridge. At first I thought it was Alice, but when the door closed I was face to face with Rosalie Hale. She had a container of Greek yogurt in her hand.

 

“Hi, uh, I hope you don’t mind.”

 

I looked around for Edward or some explanation as to why she was in the kitchen. “Um, no, I don’t mind. Would you like a spoon?”

 

She smiled. “Yeah, that would be great. I’m not sure Emmett has utensils.” It made a bit more sense, but just a bit. She was staying with Emmett. I had to wonder if they were dating. “All he had in his fridge was some left over pizza and beer.” Rosalie laughed, standing at the counter, holding the spoon and yogurt.

 

“Wanna sit down?” I asked, pointing to a chair. She smiled and sat, opening the container and taking a spoonful. “He really only had pizza and beer?” I asked, laughing.

 

She rolled her eyes. “Well, there was some catsup in there and a jar of pickle juice...but no pickles. Not quite sure what that was about.”

She’d just about finished her yogurt when the back door burst open and Emmett came running in. “Jesus fuck! Don’t just disappear like that!” he shouted at her.

 

“I didn’t. I left a note,” she said, standing up, her voice raised and her hands on her hips.

 

“Where?” Emmett growled.

 

“On the counter in the kitchen. Should I have left it on the night stand? Is that where your girls usually leave notes when they...escape?”

 

I couldn’t help but giggle, making them both look at me. “Sorry, I uh...sorry,” I said. But by then they were both laughing.

 

“I’ll have you know,” Emmett said a minute later, “that women don’t escape from my place in the morning.”

 

“‘Cause you keep them handcuffed to the bed?” Rosalie teased back.

 

“You are lucky to have slept in my bed!” he teased.

 

“Oh yes. I feel so lucky!” she responded, the sarcasm dripping from her voice.

 

The two went back and forth for a bit until Edward walked into the kitchen. He had Charlie in his arms. He’d been feeding him. “Rosalie?” he asked, apparently as shocked as I was. “I thought you two would be at your house.” I was more confused than ever.

 

“It’s not safe at her place. She’s staying in a huge hotel. Between the maid service, room service, and the guests, I can’t tell who is and who isn’t supposed to be there. Here is safer and as long as she’s under my watch, we stay here.” He seemed very firm in that, and Rosalie just huffed.

 

“Fine, but on our way home, can we do a bit of shopping. I didn’t feel like a bowl of catsup and a beer for breakfast,” she said, starting again.

 

“There was pizza. You liked it last night.”

 

“Yeah ‘cause last night it was warm and fresh!”

 

The two of them continued to argue as they walked out the back door. Edward still had some time before he left. I assumed that they would drive in together today; well, for as long as she stayed with Emmett.

 

“So she’s the friend he was helping?” I asked, feeling a bit jealous, though I had no reason to. There was all sorts of chemistry between Rosalie and Emmett, and I hadn’t seen much of a spark between her and Edward.

 

“Yeah, it’s kinda personal, but I guess she’s staying here for a while. I hope you don’t mind.”

 

“Why would I mind?” I answered. “And it’s your house anyway.”

 

“You live here, too,” he retorted. He grabbed a cup of coffee and we made small talk. All too soon he was gone and I was home alone.

 

What started out as a boring day turned out to be anything but. Charlie had seemed fine when Edward left, but by mid-afternoon he was fussy. He would nurse and pull off, then nurse again. He’d stop and cry. I realized that his nose was stuffy and he wasn’t able to eat and breathe at the same time. He felt warm and I took his temperature. It was 100.6. Elizabeth had had temperatures much higher than that, especially when she teethed, but it was hardly likely that Charlie at five weeks was teething. I called Edward, who listened, then said that he had to call the doctor. He called back and said that Emmett would go get some infant fever reducing medicine and bring it right over. I told him I already had some because of Elizabeth, but I didn’t have any idea how much to give someone so small. After getting the proper dosage from the doctor, Charlie seemed a little better.

 

Edward came rushing in an hour later. “We wrapped up early,” he said, hurrying over to me and looking at Charlie, who was asleep. “How’s he doing?”

 

“He’s hungry. He keeps waking up, but his nose is stuffy. I guess he has a cold.”

 

Edward took a turn with him holding and walking him when he woke. It was a long evening and an even longer night. Wednesday and Thursday weren’t any better, in fact, it was worse. Edward offered to stay home, but there was really no point. What Charlie needed was rest and he was finally sleeping. His fever seemed gone, but we were constantly giving him the medicine, so we really weren’t sure.

 

Edward had just walked in from work when Tanya came down the stairs. I hadn’t seen her the entire time Charlie had been sick. I wasn’t even sure she was in the house. It was probably better. If she didn’t know Charlie was sick, she probably had no clue that Rosalie was staying at the house. How could someone be so self-centered.

 

“Everything is all set for tomorrow, right?” she asked, looking at me and Charlie.

 

Edward looked at her like she was nuts. “Tanya, Charlie is sick. He can’t go to the shoot!”

 

She put her hands on her hips. “He looks fine to me, and it’s not until tomorrow. Babies heal fast,” she said. Edward was about to say something, but Tanya continued talking. “Don’t tell me that this is going to ruin our romantic night this weekend. The doctor finally cleared me for sex.”

I looked at Edward. I knew I wasn’t masking the surprise on my face. He was going away for a romantic night with Tanya? He looked from me to Tanya, like a deer in headlights, until he finally spoke. “I, uh, well, if Charlie isn’t feeling well…”

 

“Come on, Edward. You must need it as much as me, and you promised me a romantic night.” I saw her bat her eyes and add, “Bella is really good with him.” It was a small consolation that she remembered my name.

 

Edward said nothing. Then she turned to me. “He’d be fine with you, right? I mean, you’re so good with him and you understand why it’s important for couples to have some alone time. Right?”

 

I nodded. She was right. It was important, but it just seemed so wrong. I felt awful for having pangs of jealousy, considering they were engaged.

She turned her attention back to Edward. “See, she agrees. He will be fine.” Tanya ran her hand up Edward’s thigh to his crotch. Edward backed away, his cheeks pink. “I can’t wait to spend time with you.” Tanya smiled at him then at me. It almost seemed as though she was putting on a show for me, but why would she care what I thought? It was enough to make me feel sick. I felt so awkward standing there like a third wheel.

 

“I’ll go check on him,” I said, turning to leave the room.

 

“I’ll come with you,” Edward said.

 

I’d already felt the tears start to prick at my eyes. I was such a fool and I didn’t want him to see me cry. Using all of my willpower, I held my voice

steady. “No, I’ve got it. And then I’m going to be in my room studying.”

 

I didn’t come out for the rest of the evening. Again Charlie had a rough night. I felt like I nursed him every two hours; Edward came in each time Charlie cried. We didn’t talk about Tanya at all. In the morning, we were both exhausted. Edward had more shooting and I had school. Of course he went and I headed off to school with Alice watching both of the children. I knew Charlie would be in good hands with her. I had plenty of pumped milk and my class would only be for a few hours. He had been scheduled to go to the photo shoot with Tanya in the afternoon, but he still was congested, so Edward had decided it was best that he didn’t go.

 

I left for class after kissing Elizabeth and Charlie goodbye. He did seem a bit better and hoped he’d be getting over it soon. I hated when babies were sick, even if it was just a cold.

 

Class was long, almost all lecture and I’d been busy taking notes. I always turned off my phone in class, as the professor was a bit old school and didn’t like the students on them. When I got out and turned on my phone, I saw two voice mails, four missed calls and eleven messages from Alice. My heart was in my throat.

 

I went to the messages first. Tanya is here and says the shoot got moved to this morning. She says that she’s taking Charlie. I thought he wasn’t going.

 

I scrolled down. Next message. Tried to call.

 

Bella?

 

Shit your phone must be off.

 

We’re here. At the shoot.

 

Check your voicemail.

 

They need you here, check your voicemail.

 

Charlie won’t stop crying.

 

Okay, we’re taking a break and I’m feeding him.

 

Heading back out for the shoot.

 

Call me as soon as you get this.

 

I checked the time of the last text and it had only been five minutes earlier. I called her without listening to the voice messages. It was pretty clear what was going on.

 

“Oh, thank God!” she said, picking up on the first ring. I could hear Charlie crying in the background. “Bella, can you get down here?

 

“Where are you?” I asked, rushing to the parking lot, looking for the black SUV. I no longer drove myself. Edward had hired a new driver since

 

Emmett was with Rosalie in the evenings. His name was Seth. Emmett drove Edward and Rosalie to the studio in the morning, which left Seth free to drive me. I told Edward I could drive myself, but he said Seth was on call and he felt better because of paparazzi, which I hadn’t seen any of in a week or so.

 

“Same studio Edward works at, only building F,” Alice answered, as I spotted the car.

 

I got in and climbed in the front. I hated riding in the back. “Can you take me to Edward’s studio, but building F?”

 

“Sure,” Seth responded.

 

Alice’s voice faded in and out. “Not good signal here,” she said. “See you in a bit.”

 

Seth drove us there, taking only about fifteen minutes. I tried Edward but it went to voice mail. I didn’t want to tell him over text, so I just messaged him to call me.

 

Just as we were getting through the gates, I got a text from Edward. Got missed calls from Alice and a text saying that Charlie went to the shoot. Thought it was this afternoon and he wasn’t going. What’s going on?

 

I was glad Alice had tried to contact him. I knew he’d be upset, but there was no way I was keeping this from him. I texted back. I guess it was moved up. I was in class. I’m heading there now. It’s in building F, in your studio.

 

K

 

That was his response. “K.” I knew he’d be mad. I hoped he wouldn’t be mad at Alice. It wasn’t really her fault. I felt guilty for going to my class.

 

I didn’t have too much time to think about it because we pulled up in front of the studio. It didn’t take me long to find them. Charlie was screaming his head off. Tanya looked beautiful, but frazzled. The photographer looked at the end of his rope.

 

Tanya was nude, wrapped in a sheet on a big white bed with netting all around. Charlie was in just a diaper. It would have been a beautiful set of photographs if Charlie wasn’t crying.

 

I hurried over to them just as the photographer said, “Let’s take another break. Maybe we should just scrap the idea.”

 

He walked away just as I walked up to Tanya. Through gritted teeth she said, “Take him and shut him up. He better not ruin this for me.”

 

He felt like ice when she practically dropped him in my arms. I brought him to me and he snuggled into my chest. His crying stopped as I wrapped my arms around him. I was grateful I was wearing a long white sweater and that it would provide some warmth. He rooted a bit and I wondered if he was hungry.

 

Alice saw it too and whispered, “He just ate. Well, a little.” She was holding a bottle in one hand and Elizabeth’s hand in the other.

“Hi, Mama,” Elizabeth said, as I smiled down at her. She looked adorable. Alice had clearly been playing dress up with her this morning. She was wearing a cute white dress with little pink roses on it. Her hair was in two little blonde pigtails. Alice was dressed up as well, making me feel very underdressed in my leggings and sweater. It was a fleeting thought though, as I was much more concerned about Charlie than what I looked like.

 

“He’s freezing,” I said to Alice. “Did you bring a blanket?”

 

“Yeah, it’s over there,” she said, leaving Elizabeth with me who immediately climbed up on the bed. I walked over and sat down next to her. I looked up just as Edward walked in the studio. His eyes looked so fierce that it scared me, though the moment he saw me, they softened a bit. My heart raced as it usually did while he made his way steadily over to me.

 

“What’s going on? Why is he here?” he asked, sitting down on the bed next to me. “And where is Tanya?” I nodded my head toward where Tanya was sitting having her makeup reapplied. He put his hand on Charlie’s arm. “Jesus, he’s freezing.”

 

“I know. I just got here. Alice is looking for a blanket. I don’t know what is going on. They took a break when I walked in. I’m really sorry, Edward. I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

 

He started unbuttoning his shirt. “It’s not your fault,” he said, pulling it from his body and wrapping it around Charlie. “You were in class. This is Tanya. I was very clear and she did it anyway.” He looked down at Charlie who was sucking greedily on the bottle, looking a lot better. “Daddy is

here,” he whispered, stroking his cheek.

 

“Daddy,” Elizabeth echoed, making both of us turn to her. She was standing on the bed behind our backs looking over our shoulders at Edward.

 

“Hi, Elizabeth,” he said with a smile, not correcting her at all. If it bothered him that she’d called him Daddy, he never let on. It was a natural mistake. I referred to Edward as Daddy all of the time with Charlie, but still I worried he’d take it wrong.

 

Elizabeth pushed her way between us and climbed onto Edward’s lap. “Baby no cry,” she said, leaning down and kissing his head. I had to smile at that as did Edward. Movement caught my eye and I looked up to see Alice approaching us with a blanket. The photographer put his arm out to stop her. He was clicking away at his camera.

 

“Edward?” I said, drawing his attention to the man.

 

Edward went rigid before he stood and walked to the photographer. I tried to ignore the fact that he was shirtless and sexy as hell. “What are you doing? That was a private moment.”

 

“I’m sorry man, it’s just that those are the best shots I’ve taken all day.”

 

Edward turned back to look at me and again his anger softened. “It’s okay, but my son is going home now.”

 

“You mind telling that to her?” the photographer asked, looking at Tanya with an expression of fear on his face.

 

“No problem. I have to talk to her anyway,” he said, but turned and walked back to me. “I assume Seth is still here?” I nodded. “Good, then have him take you, Alice and the kids home. Call me if anything is wrong, okay?”

 

“Okay,” I said, standing up. He took his shirt and I replaced it with the blanket Alice was holding. She also had Charlie’s outfit, which I just took with us to the car. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be around Edward, it was that I didn’t want to be there when Tanya realized I’d taken Charlie.

 

I dressed Charlie in the car. Not surprisingly, both he and Elizabeth were asleep before we got half way home. He slept for a few hours before waking. He was starving and nursed well. He felt warm to me, but he didn’t have much of a fever when I took his temperature. The same wasn’t true a few hours later when he woke again. He was burning up. It was late and Edward wasn’t home yet, either.

 

I called him, but it went straight to voicemail. I hung up and tried again. Same thing. “Edward, it’s Bella. Charlie has a fever. Can you call me?”

I texted him as well, asking him to call home. Maybe shooting was going late.

 

I took Charlie’s temperature. It was one hundred one. I gave him some infant acetaminophen and carried Charlie downstairs to see if maybe Edward had come home and I hadn’t heard him.

 

I could hear Emmett’s voice in the kitchen. When I opened the door, I found him and Rosalie both at the stove, cooking something that smelled delicious. They turned to me as if I’d caught them doing something wrong, rather than making dinner.

 

“Hey, Bella,” Emmett said, trying to act normal. I’d have been curious as to his odd behavior, but I was worried about Charlie.

“Hey,” I responded. “Have you seen Edward?”

 

He quirked an eyebrow. “Yeah, he’s at the hotel, with Tanya.”

 

I knew my mouth was hanging open. He’d gone with her? After what she’d pulled today? I didn’t know if I was more upset or pissed off.

“Didn’t you know?” Emmett asked.

 

“Uh, yeah, I knew. I just forgot.” I didn’t know why I was so upset. I mean, Edward and Tanya had planned this. I’d told him Charlie was all right. I left the kitchen in a daze and sat down on the couch. I could still hear Emmett and Rosalie talking with the occasional laughter. I did know why I was so pissed. Edward was allowing himself and Charlie to be treated like shit. I couldn’t believe he was still interested in her after the way she acted around their son.

 

“Hey, are you all right?”

 

I looked up to see Alice standing right in front of me. Jasper was with her. I didn’t even ask. It was clear to me that something was going on, but it was as though we all pretended we didn’t know.

 

“No, I’m not all right. Charlie has a fever and Edward isn’t home.”

 

Jasper shook his head. “Oh yeah, the Tanya publicity stunt.”

 

Everything with Tanya seemed to be a publicity stunt. I shook my head. “I don’t care what it is. Edward must have his phone off.”

“How high is his fever?” Alice said, putting her hand on his forehead.

 

“One-o-one.”

 

“Are you sure? He feels warmer than that,” she responded.

 

“Well, I took it a bit ago and gave him some fever reducer. We can check it again. The thermometer is upstairs.”

 

Alice ran for it and was back in a minute. We took his temperature again and it was up to one hundred three. “Oh God, what do we do?”

“What would you do if it was Elizabeth?” Jasper asked.

 

“Well, if it kept going up even after medicine, I’d take her in.”

 

“Then we take him in,” Jasper said, standing. “I’ll drive.”

 

I didn’t argue. I was scared. We were halfway to the door when I stopped. “Elizabeth! Someone has to stay with her.”

 

“Wait for me in the car,” Alice said, turning back.

 

We loaded Charlie into his car seat and buckled it into the back of Jasper’s car. He wasn’t crying and I wished he would. He was just lying there limply.

 

Alice jumped in the passenger seat. I expected her to have Elizabeth. “Emmett said he’d watch her. She’s asleep anyway, and probably will be for the rest of the night.”

 

I didn’t argue and we sped off. I tried Edward again, but nothing. I left another voice message. “Edward, Charlie got worse. We’re taking him to the hospital. Please call me.”

 

Jasper picked up his phone and pressed a few buttons. Because we were in his car, the call automatically went over his speakers. It rang, rang, rang, rang, and then there was Tanya’s voice. “What?” she said in a snippy tone.

 

“Tanya, I need to talk to Edward,” Jasper said quickly.

 

“No. We’re busy. We’re trying to have a romantic night together.”

 

“Tanya, it’s an emergency. Charlie’s sick.”

 

“I know,” she retorted.

 

“I mean really sick. We’re taking him to the hospital.”

 

“So then everything will be fine. They will take care of it. This night was planned all week and there will be photographers in the morning. I don’t want anything to ruin this. You can take care of this. I’m turning my phone off now.”

 

And with that, she was gone. “How the hell can that woman have a soul?” Alice shouted.

 

I was quiet for a minute imagining Edward making love to Tanya, then Charlie whimpered. It was enough to draw my attention back to him. Before

I knew it we were at the hospital. Once they took his temperature and vitals, Charlie was taken from me and placed on a stretcher. I guessed they assumed I was his mother because they allowed me to follow them.

 

Jasper and Alice were left behind. I didn’t go back, I decided I’d stay with Charlie. I knew I loved him, but until that moment, I didn’t realize how much. That little baby had my heart just as much as his father did.


 

© 2014-2017 by NJ COLE  and Butterfly Publishing's

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