A/N: I’m so sorry about missing Wednesday posting. Didn’t have internet services all night. To make up for that, here’s the longest chapter yet.
“Here you go, buddy.” The little boy of eight looks up to find his cousin brother holding out a small bouquet of dandelions to him. “Give this to her when you see her.”
“But Phil …” he protests. “The baby is just a … baby. She won’t know flowers.”
His cousin smiles. “I know, Carl. That’s why you’ll give them to Reneé.”
The boy points to the bigger bouquet of red roses held in his cousin’s hands and asks, “Is that for Reneé too?”
Phil nods, his smile fading. “It’s from Charlie.”
“But you bought it, not Charlie.”
Phil ruffles his hair with a sad curve on his lips and motions toward the hospital doors that has just opened up. As the brothers approach the door, Charlie Swan and Edward Masen, two of Phil’s best friends come strolling out of there. Charlie’s face lights up as soon as his eyes fall on them. “Phil, my man!” he comes forward to hug him and then takes the bouquet from Phil’s hands. “You’re a lifesaver.”
Then his eyes catch the little boy and he reaches to cup his chubby cheeks. “Wanna meet your new niece?” he whispers to the boy. When the boy eagerly nods, he leads him into the hospital room.
“Carlisle!” A sweet feminine voice calls out as soon as he enters the room. He looks up to find Reneé sitting on the bed with a pink bundle held close to her chest. Reneé seems to spy the bouquet in his hands and exclaims, “Look, Mary! Your uncle Carlisle has brought flowers for you.”
Little Carlisle steps closer the the bundle so he can get a peek at it and a gasp leaves him. So pretty … and pink. Unbeknownst to him, he reaches out to touch one of the baby’s fingers. When a tiny hand wraps around his finger in a tiny fist, his shock turns into awe.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” Reneé asks in a whispered voice. All Carlisle manages to do is nod.
The magic of the moment is broken when Charlie steps forward with the rose bouquet and places it on the bed next to Reneé. “A token of love for my bride for giving me the most priceless present of all.”
Reneé giggles, shaking her head at her husband. Her flushed cheeks tell the story of how pleased she is. “Although Phil got this for you, I’ll thank you, Mr. Swan,” she says with a smirk. “Since you endured all my bone-crushing squeezing of your hand during childbirth without a protest.”
“Anything for my girls,” Charlie says, hugging his wife and child together, making Carlisle awkwardly step away.
Apparently, Reneé wasn’t having any of that. She reaches out to pull Carlisle into the hug and when Charlie wraps an arm around Carlisle’s shoulders, the boy feels like he’s a part of their family now.
“Phil?” Reneé calls out when their moment is over. “What are you doing over there? Come here and greet our little Mary Swan.”
As Phil walks forward to join the group, Edward says from behind them all, “Carlisle has double responsibility now.”
When Carlisle turns around with a puzzled look on his face, Edward taps the tip of his nose. “You’re Uncle Carlisle to both Ed and Mary now. You have to protect them from the world.”
The boy’s eyes widen at the thought of taking care of two persons, but before he can say anything, Reneé says proudly, “Carlisle is going to be the best uncle to our children. I’m sure of it. Won’t you, Carlisle?”
The look of expectation on her face makes him nod. Yes, he’ll protect them with everything he has. He’ll be the best uncle ever!
Beep … Beep … BEEP!!!
The harsh sound of his alarm clock wakes Carlisle up from the recurring dream that haunts his every unconscious moment.
Like always, he closes his eyes and imagines Mary’s sweet face. “I’m so sorry, Mary,” he whispers into the empty room. “I’m sorry I let you down.”
Just then his phone starts to ring, bring him out of his stupor. One look at the caller id makes him regain his composure. Just a little more, Mary, and then Uncle Carlisle will protect you, he thinks as he pick up the call.
My first day working undercover as Anthony Scott couldn’t be further from what I expected it to be. Instead of being shunted because of the shy and timorous newbie I was trying to portray myself as, Isabella allows me to trail after her as she rushes about the office like a spitfire. And I cannot help but feel more and more interested toward her despite Esme’s warning from the morning.
“Tony!” Isabella, or Bella as she asked me to address her as, calls my attention to herself.
“Me?” I ask, widening my eyes to magnify the effect of my clueless act.
She rolls her eyes. “No, I was calling for Tony Blair actually.” I cannot help but lift the corners of my mouth. She nods appreciatively. “That’s better. Now what are your plans for lunch?”
“Lunch?” I repeat confusedly.
Before I can say anything more, she lifts her hands in the universal signal for surrender and blurts out, “I’m not asking you out on a date. God no!”
God no!? I feel a little hurt by her way of saying that. Did she have someone else?
She of course reads into my silence and adds quickly, “Not that you’re not good looking or anything … it’s the opposite actually. You’re very handsome. It’s just … Um …” she looks panicked and then slaps a hand over her mouth. “I should stop speaking,” she mumbles from behind her hand.
When I continue to stare at her, wondering how the hell did we get here, she removes her hand from her mouth and says, “I was just offering to buy you lunch … as your supervisor or whatever.”
I decide to put her out of her misery and offer her a shy smile. “That would be great, Bella.”
She sighs in relief and suddenly, all awkwardness is gone and she’s grabbing my hand to lead me out of the office.
I know I shouldn’t, but I realize that I’m enjoying this new job way too much.
My impression of the perks of my new job evaporates into thin air when Bella takes me to lunch … at her father’s café.
“This here is my dad’s café,” she says, spreading her arms out. “You’re welcome to come over at any time.”
“No, no, he is not,” a stoic middle-aged man replies from behind her. The sight of his eyes narrowing at me, makes me feel flustered. I’m not used to having people stare at me since I spend most of my time working in the shadow. “Who are you, young man? And what are you doing with our Bells?” he asks me, walking past Bella and getting into my face.
“Eriiiiic,” Bella says, trying in vain to pull the man back. “Eric, cut it out. This is Tony.”
“Tony who?” another voice which I recognize as Eleazar Barone’s calls out from the direction of the staircase that connects the café to their home.
“Tony Scott,” Bella answers in an exasperated tone. She motions at me and says, “Tony joined Inside Out today, as a junior reporter.”
“Reporter and this matchstick?” The man name Eric snorts. “The boy’s hardly got muscles on his bones, Bells.”
Bella glowers at him. “Last time I checked, Eric, you don’t have to have muscles on your bones to be a reporter, only need muscles on your brain.”
Eric opens his mouth, but his retort dies down when Mr. Barone speaks. “Enough! Anthony, may I see you in my office?”
“But Dad,” Bella protests. “We have to get back to work soon.”
“We won’t be a minute, honey,” he says sweetly before turning his gaze onto me. “Come. Eric, you too.”
I watch like a deer caught in headlights as Eleazar Barone paces the room like an agitated lion. I wait for him to open his mouth and breath fire for he obviously seems angry at my association with his daughter.
“Hmph,” he huffs before coming to stand before me. I have to tilt my head up to get a good look at his face thanks to the low chairs in his office. “So you’re her partner now?” he asks at last.
“P-partner?” I repeat, keeping up with my act. “No, no, Sir, you’re mistaken. Ms. Barone is my mentor. She’s training me.”
“Good,” Eric says from somewhere to my left. “Ms. Barone, you say? Eleazar, the kid’s got manners, I gotta give him that.”
“Sush, Eric,” Eleazar says, his eyes focused on me. “So, boy,” he starts, “What I’m asking is will you be spending a lot of time with my daughter?”
“Yes,” I say before I catch the look of shock on Eric’s face and quickly change my answer. “Not really.”
“I’m guessing yes is the right answer,” Eleazar tells me knowingly. “Now then, if you’ll promise me a few things, we’ll get along just fine.”
“Of course, Sir.”
“First, you’ll make sure Bella doesn’t take any unnecessary risks. My daughter is a magnet for troubles, you can say. And I want you to promise me that you’ll protect her from herself.”
I nod. “I will, Sir.”
“Next, you’ll always treat her with respect.”
I nod again.
“Finally, you’ll not try to sweet talk your way into her heart because I want a strong man for my daughter.”
I blink. Why do they think I’m such a weakling? I wonder before I realize that I’ve purposefully chosen loose-fitting wardrobe to ensure my profile doesn’t match that of Virtuoso’s.
I gulp and then nod. “Sir, yes, Sir.”
He nods back. “As long as we understand each other, nice to meet you, boy. I’m Eleazar Barone.” He points to Eric and continues, “That’s Eric Yorkie, former pick-pocket whom I graciously saved from his previous livelihood and gave the job of a waiter in my café.”
“I’m Anthony Scott, Sir,” I introduce myself, pretending to be rightfully perplexed by Eric’s shady past. “Nice to meet you too.”
By the time I get back down to find Bella sitting at a table, I find out that despite his attempt at scaring me, I’m glad that Bella has Eleazar Barone as her father because the man truly loves his daughter.
A/N: Share your thoughts with me and leave a review.
Thanks for reading.
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