“I… I could try to nurse him.” Her words came like an angel’s sent to save me. My head snapped up. “I don’t know if it would work. I’ve only ever nursed Elizabeth.”
“You’d try?” I stood to look her in the eye to see if she was serious.
“Yeah, I mean, my heart is breaking for him. I want to help.” I was willing to try anything, even this. I had no idea if it would work, but I took Charlie from Esme.
“How do we do this?” I asked.
“I just need a place to sit down. A couch would be perfect.”
I carried Charlie into the living room toward the couch. As soon as I handed Charlie to Bella he began to try to nurse through her clothes. It was similar to what he’d done with Esme, and with me a few times when I held him close, but with Bella it was different. I supposed he could smell her milk and knew she had what he so desperately needed. I turned my back as to not embarrass her. “I’ll, uh, give you privacy,” I said and walked back into the kitchen. Esme followed.
Charlie had stopped crying for a moment, but started again. He started crying for a second time, stopped and started a third. I was about to go back in there and thank Bella for trying but Esme stopped me. “Give it a few minutes. It might seem like a natural thing, but newborns have a hard time latching on. It’s only going to be harder for Charlie. He’s used to a bottle.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” I asked.
Esme held up one of his bottles. “Look at the nipple.” I looked at it. It looked like every baby bottle nipple I’d ever seen.
“Does this look like any woman’s nipples you’ve ever seen?” The lightbulb clicked. “I’m sure it’s not like Bella’s.”
Why the hell did she have to say that. An image of Bella’s breasts popped into my head and I felt my cock tingle. She was right though. No woman had nipples like the bottle and I had to assume Bella didn’t either.
“Anyway, it’s quiet now and that means it’s working.”
Again Esme was right. I’d never left him with anyone other than Esme and I was a bit nervous. I busied myself cleaning up the milk on the floor which reminded me of why we were doing this in the first place.
I sat at the kitchen table with my head in my hands. What was I going to do?
“I can’t go through this again. I’m going to ask her to stay, to nurse him when needed.”
“Do you have any idea what kind of commitment that is?” Esme interjected. “We could continue to have her pump, and get a few others to pump as well.”
“I don’t want that. I don’t know if he’ll like their milk. I don’t want to depend on all those people. I just want her to feed him, just like she is now.”
“Edward, I know you’re upset, but you have to be reasonable.”
“This is my child. There is no room for reasonable. What went on this morning is ridiculous. I don’t ever want it to happen again.”
“And what are you going to say to Bella?”
“I’m just going to tell her that this isn’t working that I need to have her here. If she says no, then she says no.”
“What about her job?” Esme asked. “Her daughter?”
“I’d pay her of course, and, well, we can work out the details if she says yes.”
“I suppose you can ask,” Esme said sitting next to me and putting her hand on mine. “I’m going to go check to see if she’s done. Also, if this does happen again, she really should be drinking a glass of water when she nurses.”
If Bella said yes, I’d research what nursing mothers needed and make sure she had anything and everything she could possibly want.
Esme peeked into the living room and nodded to me. She looks finished. We walked toward her quietly as to not wake Charlie. She was on the couch with Charlie in her arms looking down at him, stroking his cheek. The vision was perfect, yet so wrong. She was looking at him in the way Tanya should have been. I wasn’t upset with Bella, just Tanya. In fact it stirred something inside of me to see them like that.
“Bella?” I whispered as softly as I could, trying not to startle her. It was a shame to ruin the pose they’d been in, but I swore it was imprinted in my mind as the happiest moment of my son’s life. I could see it in his face. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
When she looked up my heart raced. I reminded myself that anything I felt for her was based on the fact that she was helping me save my son. I pushed all thoughts of her and Tanya from my head. I had to ask her about Charlie and being his live in wet nurse. “Can we talk?”
“Sure, uh, do you want Charlie?”
“I’ll take him,” Esme said, reaching over to pick up her nephew. He let out a sigh and put his thumb into his mouth. “I think I’ll just rock him for a bit in the library.”
I nodded and she left the room. “So I wanted to talk to you about our arrangement. Obviously getting two or even three bags isn’t going to be enough for Charlie, and he’s only going to want more.”
She nodded and chewed on her lower lip. “I really can’t pump more than that. I would if I could.”
“I know. I understand though, that you’d make more if he was nursing?”
She had a quizzical expression on her face as if what I’d just said had caught her off guard.
“Yes, that’s true. I’m sure I’ll pump more at this time tomorrow because he nursed today, but it won’t be that much more. It builds up over time and once really wouldn’t make that much of a difference.”
“What if it was more than once?” She just stared at me. “What if I hired you to feed him, to nurse him all of the time.”
“Like be his nanny?” she asked, her eyes wide.
“Sort of. Just his wet nurse. All you would be responsible for is feeding him. I’d take care of him the rest of the time. If I’m not here, I’ll have a nanny. You won’t have to change diapers or do anything other than nurse him.”
“I.. well,” she said. I wouldn’t let her say no so I interrupted.
“I’ll pay you of course. I can pay you per feeding, or just by the day, that way when he eats less often you’ll still get paid. What if I paid you a thousand dollars a day?”
Her eyes went as wide as saucers. “That’s… that’s… ridiculous,” she finally said.
My heart was crushed. I guess I’d see who else had answered Esme’s ad. “You don’t have to pay me that much. I’d do it for way less than that.”
“Wait, you’ll do it?” I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I didn’t even care if she saw me cry.
“Yes, I will, but I don’t know how the night feedings are going to work.”
“You can have a room next to his. There is a suite with a connecting bathroom. I’ll try to help out as much as I can. If you can still pump, I can take some of the night feedings.” I knew I was rambling, but I was excited.
“It’s not that. I mean, I wouldn’t mind, but I have to be home at night, and some times during the day.”
I’d been called egotistical and self centered before, but I’d just hit an all new level. It had never occurred to me that she might have a life outside of pumping milk for my son. She’d told me she had a daughter. Of course she wouldn’t just want to move in here. She likely had a husband too. She was sweet, smart and beautiful. Why wouldn’t she have a husband?
“There has to be some way to work it out,” I said trying to keep my voice even.
“I’m sure we can work this out. I need time to spend with my daughter during the day. I suppose I really don’t need to be there when she’s asleep, but I’d like to be there when she wakes up in the morning. Breakfast is kind of our special time.”
The way her eyes lit up when she talked about her little girl made me like her even more. The fact that she said that she didn’t need to be there when she slept confirmed the fact that she was married, or at least the father was in the picture. I had no idea why that thought bothered me. It was actually helping my situation.
“Can I ask you about pumping?” My voice was low and I knew my cheeks were pink. I didn’t embarrass easily, yet this topic was just so foreign to me.
“Sure, uh, what do you want to know?”
“Well, if you’re nursing Charlie, can you pump? How do mothers do that?”
“Yes, I can pump while I’m nursing him. Actually, pumping while nursing does help.”
“So you could pump for maybe one or two feedings a day?” I asked hopefully.
“I think so. I’m not so sure now, but in a few days, a week for sure, I should be able to.”
“Well, then maybe you could pump for an evening and morning feeding and stay with your little girl until she goes to bed and make it back for breakfast. Maybe if there is enough, you can just come over after breakfast. I really don’t mean to take over your life, it’s just that I want what’s best for Charlie, but I don’t want to take you from your daughter.”
“It’s going to be alright,” she smiled. “I won’t neglect Elizabeth, but I’ll make sure Charlie is happy too.”
It was the best thing I’d heard in my life and I couldn’t help but to pull her into my arms and hug her. My heart was racing with all of the excitement. She laughed and I released her realizing how inappropriate it was. I’d just been so happy.
After I released her we sat down and discussed it a bit more. We compromised on five hundred dollars a day as her salary. She insisted it was too much, but I pointed out I was paying one hundred per bag, and now she’d be feeding up to twelve times a day, so I was getting quite a bargain.
She laughed at my joke and countered that I was paying her over 180,000 a year to literally just sit there.
“Let me take you on a tour of the house,” I said when we’d stopped laughing.
“I can’t wait,” she responded.
I gave her a tour of the main floor showing her the study again as well as an additional sitting room, the formal dining room and a few odd rooms. “Through here,” I said opening a sliding door, “is the pool and hot tub. Feel free to use it whenever you want.” She smiled.
“We also have a workout room just through those doors...not that you need to work out,” I added quickly, not wanting to offend her.
“The bedrooms are upstairs,” I said showing her to the large staircase that landed in the foyer. “This house has tons of rooms, but we only use a few.”
We walked down the hall to the large double doors. “This is the master suite.” I could have said it was mine and Tanya’s room, but it really wasn’t. True it had been the room we shared together when she’d first moved in with me, but as soon as she was pregnant she claimed to have trouble sleeping and wanted to sleep alone. I wasn’t going to force her to sleep with me, and I had wanted what was best for the baby, so I’d let it go.
We walked down the hall past several doors. “These are guest rooms,” I said motioning to the tastefully decorated, yet very simple bedrooms. Again I didn’t point out that Tanya used one as her primary bedroom.
“This is Charlie’s room,” I said with a smile as I pushed open the door to his nursery. The walls were a rich blue and there was cream colored carpet on the floor. I’d had cherry furniture which included his crib, a few dressers, a changing table and a glider that sat next to a large window. “You can nurse him there, if that’s comfortable, or does it have to be a couch?”
“No, my arm just gets tired, so it’s nice to have a pillow under it.” She smiled at me and again my heart did a little flip. Was it just because she was playing house with me, or was I truly attracted to her? The morning sun was coming in through the window making what had looked like simple brown hair come alive with strands of gold and copper. I felt my cock stir and shook my head to clear the thought.
Don’t sleep with the nanny, Cullen. The voice in my head was right. A good rule of business, you never slept with someone you worked with. Especially when that someone was the most important person in your son’s life.
I showed her the bathroom and then the adjoining room. A few of my things were in there. “I had a nanny, and she stayed in here, but she just couldn’t handle the constant crying. I was going to look for a new one, but first I just wanted to find a food he could eat. You can take this room.”
She looked at me strangely. I wasn’t sure if it was because the bed wasn’t made and it was pretty clear I’d slept in there, or if it was because she’d didn’t really want to stay over
“I know that you need to be home for your daughter and your husband probably won’t like you being away.”
Her cheeks turned pink and I wondered if I’d offended her by my statement. “I… I don’t have…”
“BROCCOLI SOUP? BROCCOLI SOUP!” I heard the voice of my manager shout, making Bella and I jump apart. I hadn’t noticed just how close we’d gotten. I wanted to know what she’d been about to say, I wanted to be closer to her again, but thoughts of Charlie snapped me out of it. I couldn’t have Jasper shouting in the house and wake him up. “Edward Cullen, what in the hell would possess you to go into the valley to get broccoli soup from a bar?”
I was nearly running down the hall to get to him. When I hit the top of stairs he looked up at me. “And Broccoli? You hate broccoli!” His voice was still booming.
“Shhhh! Will you please keep your voice down!” I whisper shouted at him.. I’d left Bella behind in Charlie’s room when I’d heard Jasper’s shouting. “How did you know about the soup?” I asked when I finally got to the living room.
Jasper looked at me like I was insane though he lowered his voice some. “It’s in the paper, two tabloids, and it was on the entertainment channel! There are even pictures!” He threw his hands up in the air and turned away then spun back around. “Broccoli fucking soup? The papers and news shows are being kind, but on the internet, want to know what they are guessing was in that black bag?”
“I… I don’t… uh…” My head was spinning. Going to get the milk from Bella was in the papers and on television?
“Drugs! They think you made some sort of drug deal in that bar.” I started to tell him that wasn’t it. “And those that don’t think it’s that think it’s something perverted. Some sort of sex toy.” Again I started to speak but he was on a roll. “And who the fuck is Bella Swan?”
My mouth hung open wide as he rifled through the paper to pull out the entertainment section to show a photo of Bella handing me the black bag. It was a profile pic of the two of us, clear as day. The headline read, ‘Who is SOUPER Girl?” There was an entire article below it with two more pictures, one a blow up of the black bag.
“How the fuck?” I managed to get out.
“Tell me this wasn’t about a piece of ass? Tell me you didn’t drive into the valley for a piece of ass!”
For some reason when he said that, referred to Bella as a piece of ass, I nearly lost it. “This wasn’t about a piece of ass. And don’t call her that!” I was inches from his face and for some reason, my anger seemed to dissolve his. He stepped back.
“Well that’s good, because as much as I dislike QB, she’s good for your image. Everyone thinks of you two as a supercouple. New baby, new engagement…”
“It doesn’t matter,” Jasper interrupted. “The people think you did and they ate it up.”
The fuck it didn’t matter. Everyone thought Tanya, whom Jasper referred to as QB, as in Queen Bitch, and I were engaged. We weren’t. She’d gone on a late night talk show and when the host asked about the two of us Tanya let it “slip” that we were engaged. She had on some ridiculously huge diamond ring and the next thing I knew, I was engaged. I fucking found out via text. Know what it’s like to get fifty texts saying, “Congratulations” when you have no idea what the hell they are talking about? It’s not fun.
“Anyway, it wasn’t about a piece of ass,” I said more calmly.
“Then tell me Edward, what the hell was it about, because it sure wasn’t about fucking broccoli cheddar soup! What was in the bag and who the fuck is Bella Swan?”
“I am,” came her voice from the top of the stairs making me spin around and Jasper look up in shock. She walked down the steps and both of our eyes followed her. I’m not sure what Jasper was looking at, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of the swell of her breasts under her top and the sway of her hips as she moved steadily toward us.
Her cheeks were pink, and much to my surprise, so were Jasper’s.
“Jasper, this is Bella Swan. Bella, this is Jasper, my agent.”
“I’m sorry Ma’am,” he said. “I don’t know how much you overheard.”
I thought back to what Jasper had said, calling Bella a piece of ass and prayed that she hadn’t heard it. If he made her so mad that she left, I’d kill him.
“I’m sure she overheard everything,” Esme said coming into the room holding Charlie who was now wide awake. He wasn’t crying though, which was a first. Maybe he’d cried when he woke up and I hadn’t heard.
“Oh shit, did I wake the baby?” Jasper asked looking sheepish.
“Of course you did, coming in here and yelling about soup like that,” Esme scolded.
“I’m sorry,” Jasper said.
We stood there for a moment in awkward silence. Charlie, who had been lying still in Esme’s arms, began to wriggle around, as if he wanted out. His little neck craned, trying to hold up his head in the direction of Bella. Esme chuckled. “He smells you,” she said shifting her hold on him.
Charlie didn’t like that and began to cry. “It hasn’t even been half an hour since he’s eaten,” I said. “He shouldn’t be hungry.”
Bella smiled at Charlie and my heart did that thing again where it felt like it was going to flip out of my chest. “It’s not about hunger, it’s a comfort thing,” she said, never removing her eyes from Charlie and taking him from Esme’s arms. “I remember this age. I’ll take him up to his room and he’ll be back asleep in no time.”
She walked upstairs with him and I watched her the whole way. Why the fuck couldn’t she be his mother? Why couldn’t Tanya have been like that? I turned to see Esme and Jasper looking at me looking at her.
“Tell me you’re not fucking the Nanny!”
“Jesus Jasper! I’d never fuck her!” It was a lie. I’d fuck her seven ways to Sunday if she wasn’t the woman keeping Charlie happy. And Tanya, a voice in my head said, but I knew that wasn’t true. Tanya and I were over, I knew it in my heart. It was more just a matter of when and how.
Jasper and Esme were still staring at me. Esme had a smirk on her face though for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was so damn funny.
Jasper sighed. “Okay, so this is salvageable then. We just make a statement that Bella Swan is your nanny and last night you were near the pub and stopped to get something for Charlie.”
“It was for Charlie,” I said in exasperation. He looked at me shocked. “It was her breast milk.”
I think Jasper stared at me for a full minute before he said anything, and even then, it was just “Uh… well… we … we can’t really… um… that’s not… uh…”
“Oh for Pete’s sake!” Esme said. “It’s not like it was a bag of drugs or sex toys!”
“That would have been easier to spin,” Jasper said, though at least there was a smile on his face now. He moved to the couch and sat down. He looked deep in thought. “So she pumps her breast milk for him?” I nodded. “And like right now, she’s upstairs pumping it for him?”
I shook my head. “Well, not now. We ran out of the pumped stuff. That’s why I went there last night. Charlie was screaming his head off and I didn’t know what to do. Today she brought me what little more she could pump, but it wasn’t enough, so she nursed him.”
“So right now, she’s… her top is off and he’s sucking on her… uh…” I could see Jasper shifting uncomfortably.
“She’s feeding him,” Esme said, rolling her eyes and walking away.
Jasper waited until Esme was out of earshot before turning to me. “It’s so hot. I have no idea how you’re not fucking her.”
I forced a laugh. The truth was, fucking her was now in the front of my mind. I felt like a pervert, but I couldn’t stop picturing her topless.
“We need to figure out what to say to the press,” Jasper said, changing the subject. He looked around the room and saw a huge rack of dresses that had been delivered earlier in the morning. “Is QB home? What does she think of this?”
“Tanya’s still at the spa. Those dresses are for the Oscars. She’s sending some assistant to come and get them.”
“You really need her here. As much as I hate that bitch, the three of you need to be seen together. Maybe a trip to the park with Charlie.”
An image popped into my head of me pushing Charlie’s stroller in the park, but the woman next to me wasn’t Tanya. It was Bella, smiling at me and at him. Tanya’s idea of a family day would be pedicures and then shopping for clothes for Charlie. That was the only part of him she’d ever been interested in. She’d bought him hundreds of outfits before he was born, but never bothered to put them on him.
I looked over at Jasper who was now on his phone. “Tanya, this is Jasper. I’m here with Edward and Charlie and we need you home.”
Jasper switched the phone to speaker. “I’m at the spa and quite frankly, this is really killing my mood. Didn’t Edward tell you that I won’t be home until the Oscars.”
“Tanya, this is really important,” Jasper pleaded. “It would be good for both of your careers to have some good publicity shots.”
“We just did that when I got out of the hospital with the baby. He’s not back in the hospital is he?”
I turned toward the phone. Was Tanya showing some interest, some compassion for our son? Maybe I’d been wrong. “No, he’s not in the hospital. He’s fine, better than fine really.”
“Oh good, because I’d hate to have to come home and miss my commercial shoot. Besides kids with tubes in them are ugly. Who’d want pictures like that?”
I wanted to reach through the phone and strangle her. She didn’t care about Charlie at all. Jasper saw the look on my face and picked up the phone quickly.
“Tanya, this is important!”
“If you’re as good as you say you are, Jasper, you’ll spin this. They can get plenty of pics at the Oscars. By the way, I heard my dress choices were delivered. I’m sending a girl to get them to ship them here. Oh, and Edward, you better not be fucking Miss Broccoli Cheddar soup.”
There was a click and Jasper and I just were staring at each other. “Does she even have a soul?” he asked shaking his head. “I have no idea what you see in her.”
I shook my head. I had no idea what I ever saw in her either. Well, yes I did. “She’s beautiful with an amazing body and she’s also a very good actress. She had me fooled.” I walked over to the rack of dresses. “She loves these more than her own son!” Angrily I grabbed an armful and pulled them from the hangers and threw them on the floor.
I heard a throat clear behind me. “I don’t mean to interrupt,” Esme said, “And I’d sure like to join in the Tanya bashing, but we might have a problem.”
“What the fuck else?” I asked in exasperation.
“Well, she’s a top gossip story and the paparazzi want an interview. My friend at the paper said there are reporters camped outside of her apartment and outside of your gate waiting to get a glimpse of her either coming or going.”
Jasper shook his head, “We’re fucked. If she leaves now. It will look like she spent the night.”
“What if she was my nanny? Wouldn’t that be normal for her to come over?” I asked. “It’s not like we’re doing anything wrong.”
“Possibly. I don’t know,” Jasper said. “The thing is, if she’s your nanny, why is she working at that bar? And why did she come over after her shift?” He sighed. “How long is she planning to stay?”
“I don’t know. Originally she was just going to drop off the milk. I asked her to stay and nurse Charlie full time this morning. She said that she could stay a while, but she did have to get home at some point. She has a daughter.”
“Maybe you could ask her to stay a while,” Jasper suggested. “Or bring her daughter here?”
“I’ll talk to her,” I said heading for the stairs.
“And ask her for her keys. I’m going to have her car moved into one of the garages. We don’t want it spotted.”
I shook my head. This was ridiculous. We hadn’t done anything wrong. I’d been so preoccupied with my anger that I hadn’t thought about what I was doing. How was I going to talk to Bella? I knew she was nursing Charlie. Did she do it topless? I mean, obviously she had to have her breast exposed, but did she take off her top completely?
I stood outside of the door for a full minute before knocking softly. “Come in,” she whispered. My heart raced. I hadn’t felt this way since I was a kid. I opened the door slowly preparing myself for what I might see. What I saw did surprise me.
Bella was standing over Charlie at the changing table, taping his diaper in place. “Oh, you didn’t have to do that!” I said, rushing over to them. “I’d have done it.” I was speaking in a whisper as Charlie was sound asleep.
“I know, but I didn’t mind. He went while I was feeding him. I didn’t want him to get a diaper rash.” While she talked she snapped back together his outfit and put him in his crib. I stared at her in the dim light of his room. She was an angel to us, and now I had to break the news to her that the fucking paparazzi were after her. I took a deep breath.
“Bella, we have to talk.