Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?
Do you ever feel already buried deep?
6 feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
6 feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there's still a chance for you
'Cause there's a spark in you You just gotta ignite, the light, and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July '
Cause baby you're a firework
Cause baby you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby, you're a firework Come on, let your colors burst
Baby, you're a firework Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
You're gonna leave 'em all in down-own-own
You're gonna leave 'em all in down-own-own
It was another rainy night in Seattle. The sounds of fierce thunder and lightning were too loud, making it unable for me to sleep. Plus, Edward was away on official Mafia business in Portland, Oregon for the next two days. I missed him terribly.
The Greek relatives were managing a big American gun deal, and they needed Edward's help. His Uncle Paulo and Aunt Chara were like two balls of energy. Where Paulo was tall and thin, Chara was short and thick. However, their love was an inspiration. I hoped Edward and I would still carry that kind of flame for each other after so many years.
Dante's loud wailing put the storm to shame. I stepped out of bed and put on my slippers so I could go feed our boy. He was sleeping more often...except it still wasn't much. I was trying to get better about letting him cry, but I just couldn't stand to let my child have a moment of discomfort.
"What's the matter, sweetness?" I asked, lifting him out of the baby bed.
He began rooting so I knew he was hungry. I walked over to the rocking chair and took a seat. Then I lowered my nursing tank. It was barely down before Dante began drinking from my nipples. I held him close, staring down at his beautiful bronze-haired head as he fed greedily.
"You're so much like your daddy, Dante," I murmured, rocking us gently.
The sounds of the storm blended with Dante's suckling to make a comfortable melody. My eyelids started drooping, but I fought sleep for my baby boy. His warm little body wiggled and squirmed as he ate to his heart's delight.
After about fifteen minutes he unlatched. I laid him on my shoulder so that he could burp. I noticed how much weight he'd gained. It had become harder to pick him up and some of his older infant clothes were now snug.
"My big boy. You're growing so fast, Dante."
He squealed and slobbered on my cheek. I took that as his way of giving me a kiss. My little man was so loveable and already showed signs of kindness. I had so much love in my heart for him; it felt like I could burst.
"I thought I heard my cuddlekins," Chara declared, entering the room. She was wearing a long pink bubble gum robe that clashed with her fire engine red hair, but somehow she made it work.
Smiling, I passed him to his great Aunt. She kissed his chubby pink face while whispering Greek words in his ears. At this rate, I was going to be the only one not multilingual in this family. Edward had promised to teach me some Italian, but lately he'd been too busy.
"You can put those away now, dear. I'm sure my Edward enjoys them as much as our bambino. It's been so long since mine were that high," Chara said wistfully.
I was dumbfounded until I looked down to see my breasts still out. Blushing, I snapped my nursing tank back into place. So far gravity had been kind to my body, but I knew that it would eventually catch up if we kept having babies.
After changing Dante's soggy diaper, we went to the kitchen to get a snack. My baby boy knew this room best, and his fat little legs went wild the moment we entered. He was now able to eat hot cereal and other mashed food, and he loved it all.
I turned on the light and took out the ingredients for turkey sandwiches. Chara was like all the other women in Edward's family, so my baby boy instantly loved her. I'd been worried she wouldn't like me, but we got along well from the start.
"What do you want on your sandwich?" I asked, cutting up some vegetables.
"I'll have lots of olives and onions. You can take the girl out of Greece, but you can't take Greece out of the girl," she chortled, bouncing a laughing Dante on her knee. It warmed my heart to hear my baby boy so happy.
A few minutes later, we were eating. Dante, always the spoiled baby, wanted a nightcap too. I poured some organic apple sauce into a small bowl for him. He kept spitting it out and half of it landed on his bib. It was great entertainment for his Aunt.
"Oh, he's just like Edward! I remember the first time Esme and Edward Sr. brought him to Greece. He looked just like Dante, and the girls that worked in our house all wanted to hold and feed him. It was chaos and poor Esme was so young. She barely let him out of her sight."
I poured us more sparkling grape juice. "Um, I know you're Canadian. How did you end up in Greece with Paulo? I asked Edward, but he said it was your story to tell."
She absentmindedly kissed Dante's forehead, staring off into space. "I grew up in Nova Scotia. My family is of Scottish decent, thus the red hair. The summer of my sixteenth birthday, my father made a great deal of money and decided to take us for a trip to Athens. Mother had always wanted to go."
"I've seen pictures of Nova Scotia. It's beautiful! I've always wanted to visit. I grew up in a small, rainy town, too, so I don't think it would bother me."
Smiling, she wiped my little man's mouth. When she was finished, he promptly stuck his thumb inside. I reached for him so Chara could finish her food. She cuddled him a little more before handing him over. Once he was in my arms again, his little head resting over my breast, I felt at ease.
"It's hard to give him up for even a minute, isn't it dear? I've been there."
I nodded. "I've never felt so protective in my life. I just love him so much. Go on, keep telling your story."
"Well, for a small town girl like me, Athens was another universe. I was a typical teen girl, thinking I was too fat, had too many freckles, too much butt," she giggled. "Plus, I'd inherited my father's ruby hair and stockier build. My sisters were blond and thin like my mother. One day we went sightseeing without our parents. We had a guide but she was too busy flirting with her boyfriend to look after us properly. As usual, my sisters got all the attention from the boys, but one young man only stared at me.
"It was cold most of the time in Nova Scotia so I wasn't used to a light summer dress. The wind blew it up around my knees, exposing my underwear. I was so embarrassed!"
I pictured the story in my mind, itching to make it into a book. I'd done so well getting Vlad and his late wife's story published; perhaps the publisher would let me do more. I made a mental note to talk to Giles about it during our next meeting. But first, I had to find a way to ask Chara.
"Of course no one was paying attention to me, except the lanky one. He walked over and gave me a beautiful pink peony. I was shocked at how good his English was compared to the others we'd heard. While I sniffed the flower he whispered five words in my ear, 'I want to fuck you.' As you can imagine, I was disgusted. No boy or man had ever used such crude words in relation to me. I slapped his cheek and threw the flower on the ground. Our guide, fearing that she would lose her job, shooed all the boys away. The last thing I saw that day was the skinny boy's sad face as he picked up the peony."
I wiped away some stray tears. "Paulo sounds a lot like Edward. Our first meeting didn't go to plan. He was rude, too, but it was because he was fighting the attraction."
She nodded and took our plates to the sink. "Men are stupid creatures. They often have no filter between the brain and the mouth. I don't think they realize how what they say can hurt us. No matter how far we come, women still have more sensitive hearts; especially when it comes to our men."
"I know. Sometimes Edward can break my heart with just once sentence. His opinion matters above all others, and when I feel that he's disappointed in me… it hurts."
We walked to the den in contemplative silence. Dante tugged on my hair and babbled baby nonsense the whole way. I truly believed he was already trying to tell me important things, but we didn't speak the same language yet. I looked forward to the day when he could articulate his wants, needs, and feelings.
When we got there, Chara took a seat on the overstuffed sectional. I spread a blanket in the middle and placed Dante on his tummy. Instantly, his little eyes closed. Chara rubbed his back while I put on some soft nursery music.
"Edward loves you Bella. His father was… a whore. I didn't like my Paulo to hang with him. Edward Sr. could charm the pants off of any woman and he did. But if a man so much as looked at Esme, he'd be plotting murder. I never understood that man. For a long time, I feared Edward got too much of his dad's personality and not enough of Esme's. When she and Di told me you two were getting married, I was over the moon. I wanted to come, but it wasn't safe, and then after… Oh, I'm so glad you and Dante made it! You're a strong woman, Bella."
I sniffled. "Those were bad times, but we made it. That's the most important thing. Thank you for the gifts."
She leaned down, kissing the back of Dante's head. He was really asleep now. "It was nothing. I'm still upset I missed DC's birth. It still wasn't safe so Paulo wouldn't let me travel. We fought over it for a whole week. I think we drove your friend Jake mad."
I giggled. "He was awfully tired when he came back. I'm sure Leah found some ways to relax him, though."
She smiled, making her light brown eyes crinkle. "He's such a nice young man. He needs babies. We need lots and lots of babies in the family. My own three sons refuse to settle down and give me any, so I disown them," she teased. "They're dying to meet you, but their services are needed in Greece at the moment. They've made Edward promise to bring everyone on his next trip."
"I'd like that," I mused, putting another small blanket over Dante's still form.
"Now back to my story. The next time I saw Paulo was outside of the Acropolis. He had cleaned up and was wearing a suit and tie. His jet black hair was slicked back so that it glowed in the sun. I remember noticing the contrast of our skin, mine milk white and his a deep golden brown that made his pearl white teeth stand out. While everyone took pictures and milled around, he stood there with a fresh pink peony staring at me. That was the first time I ever felt attraction and it frightened me. Everywhere we went, Paulo showed up holding the pink flower. Eventually, I got mad and confronted him. He handed the peony over and kissed me on the cheek. Then, he walked away, whistling to himself. Two days later, my father hired a driver to take us further out. Imagine my shock when it was Paulo! Oh, how I blushed! My mother thought I was coming down with a fever."
"Wow, indeed. My parents were rekindling their romance, so my sisters and I were pretty much on our own. They left me so that they could make out with some English boys who were also on vacation. Paulo took my hand and walked me around the city. He seemed to know everyone, and they were fond of him. He talked of poems he'd read, how his father died, and of his mother. By the end of our conversation, I knew that I was in love. That night, before he drove us home, he kissed me on the lips. The next day, we did the same thing except I told him all about me and my life in Nova Scotia. He absorbed it all, even though his eyes never wandered far from my breasts. That's how we got to know each other. Each day, we'd go a little father. On the last night, he took me to his small house. While he went to find us a bottle of wine, I took off my clothes. When he saw me naked, he dropped the bottle and pounced on me. I wanted to give him my virginity as a parting gift. I'd talked to my sisters and they'd given me condoms so I wouldn't become pregnant. Paulo looked deep in my eyes and whispered words I'll never forget. He said, 'I wanted to fuck you then, but now I want to make love to you.' Then, he stood up and left the room. Later, he took me back to the hotel. We didn't speak, but he kissed me passionately before driving away. I was heartbroken that he'd rejected me."
I grabbed a bunch of Kleenex and dabbed at my eyes. "I don't understand. How did you end up together?"
She held up her hand and kissed her wedding ring. "I returned to Nova Scotia, no longer the naïve girl that left. My blood boiled and I yearned for my Greek boy. A month later, a letter came. It was from Paulo. Throughout the next two years, we wrote each other. On my eighteenth birthday, Paulo showed up at our door wearing a fancy suit and holding a bouquet of pink roses. He asked to speak to my father. Two months later, we were married in a quaint chapel in Nova Scotia. I left my family and moved to Athens for good. I spent my days in college classes while Paulo hustled to become rich. That is how he met Edward Sr., the half Greek, half Italian mutt from New York. He'd come to Athens on lowly Mafia business but left a wealthy man."
I played with the hem of my tank, contemplating how to ask the next question. "Does it, um, ever bother you… um, what they do?"
"They make a living, sweetheart, and take very good care of us. I do worry for Paulo's safety, but I'm proud of him. He always knows he has a loving home to come back to, no matter what happens out there. Does it bother you?"
"It never has," I said with conviction."That is kind of the thing that scares me. I worry that it will catch up with me later. I mean, my father was a Police Chief. I was brought up to honor justice, yet here I am married to a Mafia Don. Sometimes it's overwhelming."
She nodded. "I know, but you love him. You'd lie for him, go to jail, and risk your life, wouldn't you?"
"That's how you know it's love. We can't choose these things. You're a wonderful woman, Bella, exactly what I wished for Edward and even my own sons. The Family takes some getting used to, but you will never be alone again. We take care of our own."
I sighed. "To be honest, it's not really the Mafia stuff that worries me right now. Edward and I are drifting apart. I know I've changed. I have Dante and the bookstore, so it's…different. He's hired these women who I hate. I want to trust him, but it's so hard because of his past. I don't want to lose him."
"Adjusting to motherhood is hard. You want to be with your baby all the time, but your husband needs you, too. You have to find your balance, Bella. Let Edward know how you feel. The minute you lose communication with your husband, the battle is lost. Make sure you let those other hussies know he's yours. Surprise him sometimes when he least expects it. It takes hard work to make a marriage last, but it's worth it in the end."
"Thank you, Chara," I said, hugging her tightly.
She laughed. "Chara means happiness in Greek. Paulo gave me that one. My given name is Beathas. There are only a few living people who know the truth. Now you're really a part of the family, Bella."
I chortled. "Beathas?"
"It's Scottish. Paulo always refused to call me by it, and eventually, I had it legally changed."
After putting Dante in his bed, we retired for the night. This time I had no problem falling asleep. I dreamed of Chara's love story, except it was Edward and me. The colors, smells, and sounds were so real in my head.
When I woke up, there was something long and thick sliding inside of me. Edward. I moaned softly as his hardness parted my folds. My dream must have made me moist because I was more than ready for him. While he pounded into me, I kept my eyes closed.
"Shit, babydoll! I missed you. It's always so good," he whispered, raising my knees.
Lazily, I wrapped my legs around his waist, reaching up to feel his hard shoulders. He bit down on my nipples, slamming into me until I creamed his massive cock. It felt so good. He wasn't done yet, though.
"Open your eyes and look at me, Bella," he commanded.
I did as he said. It was still raining and foggy, so the room was mostly dark, but Edward's electric green eyes and copper hair stood out. Savagely, he took my mouth, swirling his tongue with mine. I tasted myself on his lips, the milk and juices. He must have eaten me out while I was dreaming.
"Harder," I panted, pulling his hair.
He placed my legs on his shoulder and continued to pound me deep into the bed. His long fingers caressed my clit with every stroke. Before long I was screaming my pleasure into his mouth as he came inside of me.
"Ti amo, babydoll," he whispered, stroking my sweaty head.
Sweaty and spent, we laid together for several long minutes. He didn't pull out, and pretty soon, I felt him swell inside me again. This time he took me slow and lovingly. As the storm grew, so did our passion. With our mouths fused together, we spilled into each other. The cracked pieces of my heart mended. Edward had come home to me, not those other bimbos. Rolling us, he fell asleep with me on top of his chest.
The next time I woke up, I was alone. I would have thought the lovemaking was a dream had I not seen Edward's note. He had business to attend to at the club and would be there most of the day. I stood up and angrily stomped to the shower.
As I ran the water, I let my mind wander. What was I now, just a nice bed mate? He'd already missed two counseling sessions with Dr. Athenadora. It wasn't going to help us if I was the only one attending.
After letting the hot water wash away my stress and soreness, I picked out a pair of dark skinny jeans and a purple tunic to wear. Instead of going with my usual flats, I put on a pair of black 'fuck me' boots. I also took time to curl my hair, leaving it loose and wild. Then, I added a bit of smoky eye and nude lip color. The woman in the mirror looked dangerous, sexy, and competent.
Since I had a lot to do at the bookstore, Chara and Esme were going to watch Dante for the day. I ate breakfast and fed him before leaving out with Alice. She was arranging a fashion show for her boutique and wanted me and Rose to model.
"You look hot, Bella," she said, kissing my cheek.
I blushed, looking at her short mini dress and black heels. "Not as hot as you. Did my brother see this getup?"
She wiggled her tiny nose in distaste. "No, silly. He was gone by the time I woke up. You know how he is about my clothes. I'm sure Edward wouldn't exactly approve of your outfit either. Your rack looks great, though. Are you wearing the La Perla pushup bra I gave you?"
"I sure am. I wanted to look good today. I was, um, thinking of surprising Edward with lunch."
Giggling, she got into the car. "He'll love it. I may have to surprise Jazzy, too."
Riding with Alice was always an experience. Her yellow Lamborghini stood out like a sore thumb once we hit the college area. We kept our windows cracked and guys ogled. Alice ignored them and cranked up her pop music.
By the time we got to my bookstore, I was fully energized. A few college guys invited us to a frat party. We both promised that we'd be there, giggling when they noticed our wedding rings. Inside, almost every couch and table were taken. The business was doing well.
I stopped to talk to Maggie and Bree, who were working on the floor, before leading Alice to my office. Esme had decorated the whole thing, and since Dante came to work with me most days, it was more like a small apartment than an office, but I did have a huge desk. Rose was already inside, sipping coffee and waiting for us.
"I thought you two hot bitches were going to stand me up," she said, kissing our cheeks.
Alice rolled her eyes and reached for her Espresso. Rose and I shared a look. Alice was naturally hyper, but with caffeine… let's just say I didn't envy my brother. He wouldn't be getting any rest anytime soon.
"So," Alice said, pulling out her art portfolio, "I came up with some good sketches. I want my line to be stylish, but also accessible to the modern working woman or mother. Rose, I want you in golds, pinks, and reds. The purples and deep blues are more suited for Bella's coloring."
I looked at the pictures she handed me. The outfits were gorgeous. I didn't know how Edward would feel about some of them, though. Some showed a lot of breast, and others a lot of leg. The last picture was a dark blue Teddy with a matching robe.
"I don't know, Alice. Edward is going to flip."
She nodded. "Let me handle my brother. My line is sexy but tasteful. Are you two in?"
"Hell yeah! Em will love this," Rose said, holding up a sketch of a gorgeous red opera dress.
"I'm in, too. I've never modeled. It'll be fun."
Later, Bree and Maggie brought us breakfast croissants. Alice had outfits for them, too. Bree blushed a lot, but I saw an excitement in her eyes that was far too rare. She agreed to do it as long as Riley wouldn't be offended. Maggie, who had modeled before, was more than happy to have a new campaign. I knew that she was still hurting because of Demetri's betrayal and I wanted to kick his ass. He didn't deserve her.
Eventually, Rose and Alice had to leave. I said goodbye to my sisters, making them promise to come over for dinner as soon as possible. We were all so busy with our businesses, husbands, and kids. Sometimes it was hard to get some real girl time.
At one, I went to my private garage to get my SUV. Then, I drove to Garrett's restaurant to pick up some lunch. He was at the front talking to a server and feeding baby Sasha. I kissed her head, taking her for a minute. He gladly let me. She was a little angel with big blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair.
"Hi, baby girl," I said, rubbing her cheeks.
Her eyes flashed with recognition. Kate and I had already had several play dates between Sasha and Dante. They got along well. She was a few months older, and Dante was eager to catch up. Now that she was crawling, he wanted to do the same. It was very cute to watch.
"Thank you, Bella," Garrett said, placing her in a carrier. "Ernie is almost done with your phone in order. How have you been?"
"Tired," I said, yawning.
"I know what you mean. Babies are hard work, but they're lovely little things."
Garrett had a poetic way with words. It was easy to see why Kate had been so attracted. Hers was the next story I was yearning to hear. She was so smart and beautiful. I still didn't quite understand how she'd ended up being a madame for HADES.
"Kate said the practice is keeping her busy. I can't wait to make an appointment," I said, making conversation.
He nodded. "I'm just glad she's out of the club. Edward is my friend, but Kate is my wife. I couldn't have lived knowing she was with those other men. We're starting fresh."
"Does it bother you sometimes? Edward wasn't a paid professional, but I'd wager he has more experience than Kate. Um, I worry."
"I can't let it get to me. When we married, I told her that I forgave her past. That means I can't throw it in her face every time I get angry. It's very hard, Bella, but I love her enough to try."
A few minutes later, Ernie brought out the bags of food. I kissed Garrett and Sasha goodbye before leading Ernie to my car. I knew Jane was somewhere watching me, but I was happy that she gave me space throughout the day.
The drive to HADES went well. The rain stopped so the sun could finally shine a little. I felt giddy at the prospect of seeing my husband. I had on silk black underwear that I hoped he would be adding to his collection.
Felix was in the garage talking to some guy when I pulled up. He opened my door and insisted on carrying my bags to the elevator. He looked really happy. I knew he and Chelsea were getting along well.
After setting up, he left me in the office. Sometimes, I missed working with Edward, but it wasn't like we ever get a lot of work done anyway. As I made my husband a plate, I thought of all the good times we'd had here, like when he gave me that first orgasm on his office couch.
Surprisingly, Edward's office door was not only closed, but also locked. "It's me. Open up, honey. I brought lunch."
Five minutes later, the door opened. I almost dropped the plate when I saw Gina standing on the other side. She was wearing a short red bustier dress with a tiny black jacket. Today, she had a red feather in her hair and blue stilettos.
"Hello, Bella. Edward and I were just…working. I love those pictures the photographer sent over of you and Dante. Is he with you?"
It took work not to throw the food in her smug face. "He's with his grandmother."
Not that you could touch him anyway, whore! I thought bitterly.
"I'm not paying you to talk to my wife. Get the fuck out, Gina," Edward yelled, walking over and taking the plate from me.
Gina pouted before walking away. "See you later tonight, Ed."
Ed? That bitch is after my husband. How can he be so blind!
He tried to kiss me, but I pulled away because he smelled like her. It turned my stomach.
"What the fuck, Bella? I know that look. We were just working on shit. I didn't even know the door was locked. Don't pull this bullshit right now. And what are you wearing? Go to the lair and change. That top is almost see-thru and those pants… Fuck! Just change."
I crossed my arms over my chest. "I didn't come here for a lecture. I came to bring you lunch. I think any wife would be suspicious about her husband being in a locked office with a woman like Gina."
He smirked. "You're fucking jealous. I don't have time for this insecurity shit. I just came home from a long business trip. You could be nicer. What happened to trust?"
Instead of getting mad or hitting him, I stood up and walked to the door. "Dante misses you. Try to spend some time with him when you get home. I know we aren't as important as your business and employees, but surely you can give us a little attention."
He ran over, squeezing my arm until it hurt. "Why are you being a fucking nag? I go places and see things you can't imagine. I don't see you complaining about the time I spend working when you're picking out expensive shit for the dream house. Someone has to pay for all that shit."
This time I couldn't resist; I slapped him across the cheek. "Don't you dare! That whole thing was your idea! I work too, asshole. My bookstore is doing well. I hired all the people, and my writing is taking off. You can quit and be a stay at home dad for all I care. I can support us."
He released me. "Just go, Bella. I didn't come home to argue with you. Kiss Dante for me. I'm spending the night here, and then I have business in San Francisco. I'll be gone all weekend. Stop disobeying me and start dressing like my wife instead of a whore!"
I laughed. "You sure fuck me like a whore, and then run off when I'm asleep. How much am I worth, Edward?"
After grabbing my purse, I left the building. Strangely, I didn't feel like crying. Our marriage was crumbling, but I was becoming stronger as a woman. If Edward thought he owned me, he had another thing coming.
"It's none of my business, love, but you look sad. Is something the matter?" he asked, before sipping his Earl Grey.
I shrugged. "I'm just adjusting to married life and motherhood. I'll be fine."
"Well, if you ever need to talk, I'm here. I'm not only your publisher, I'm your friend."
It was nice being with Giles and going over writing ideas. Unlike Edward, he was actually interested in what I had to say. My book sales were increasing, so he was thinking of having me do a promotional tour around the US. I told him I'd have to think about it, because I could only do it if Dante was with me.
Later, I was getting ready to go home for the day when Edward walked into my office. He had a bunch of sunflowers and chocolates in his hands. Dropping them, he stalked over to where I was standing. An instant later, his lips were on mine.
As he pushed me against the wall and unbuttoned my pants, I thought about how broken we'd become these last few months. Eventually, we'd have to use something besides sex to solve our problems or go down in flames.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I was an idiot," he whispered, plunging into me.
Part of me couldn't help but feel he was using my body, but picturing Gina or one of the other bimbos. Sadly, I was willing to take what I could get. At least in that moment I believed Edward loved me and nothing could tear us apart.
You want to kill me, I know. Please remember it's the holidays. I have to go here so we can see how they ended up to the Prologue. Feel free to tweet or PM me your thoughts. Most of all click the button and review. I will try to update again this week. In the meantime, I'll be under the desk with the Stoli. *Huggles*