A/N: Thank yous to Team Spiderward for all you do. xx
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. The NHL owns anything that sounds familiar. I’m here having fun.
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“Say something,” I request.
We’re on our way to Rosewood Mansion, a historic luxury hotel near the arts district, for our interview, but I just shared with Edward the details of my morning meeting with Roy. Those included revealing why Roy is upset with me about Alice.
“He crossed the line threatening my wife, which also affects my child. I’m not sure how rational I can be at this moment. You can call his threats whatever you want, but I see them for what they are—”
“I’m fine. We’re fine. I can handle Roy. He can try, but he doesn’t intimidate me,” I reassure. “I’m not about to be bullied by him.”
“You shouldn’t have to deal with him. He keeps inserting himself into your life, and I don’t like it.” Waiting for the traffic light to change from red to green, Edward releases a heavy sigh. “It’s a lot to process. Alice owns the team. That’s blowing my mind. No one has a clue. Junior and Senior report to her.”
“Not just the team. Everything. All their family businesses. She’s the majority owner, already doing the job with zero acknowledgement. That part rubs me the wrong way. If there is a way to help her, I will. Alice signs off on everything. You can’t repeat that to anyone,” I add.
“She asked me not to share that information yet, but now, we have spousal privilege.” I smile.
“We do.” Edward smirks, squeezing my hand with the thought before his happiness fades. “She agreed with Vladdy’s trade. And adding Caius to our roster.”
“I don’t believe she necessarily agreed, but she signed off on the advice of Roy and Royce. Who knows how long they’ve been taking advantage of the situation? Since her father and aunt passed away? I believe Roy could sell anyone anything. On the unusual occasion when that doesn’t work, he will press until the other person bends to his will, using any means at his disposal. Do you feel any differently, knowing a woman owns the team?” I ask curiously.
“No. It doesn’t change anything for me. It isn’t as if we’re going to play any differently,” Edward concludes. “We still want to win every night.”
“That’s what I thought. It shouldn’t matter, but Roy claims it does with their business relationships. He’s got Alice believing that too, which is a delaying tactic I think he’s using for his own benefit. In my opinion, if their business relationships are so fragile that the egos involved can’t handle dealing with Alice instead of Roy, then maybe it’s time to forge new ones.”
“I don’t know what it is about Roy. There’s something about him that I can’t put my finger on. Like my gut is telling me something, but I can’t figure out what that is. This can’t only be about Victoria or Alice. I just don’t get it. I realize I’m rambling, but sometimes I need to talk it through.”
Edward kisses the back of my hand and smiles. “Ramble away.”
“It’s as if he’s isolated Alice from everything but him.” I struggle to assess Roy’s motives behind the situation before my thoughts return to my business partner. “I mean, does he truly care about Victoria? Or is she some trophy to keep on his arm? If Roy does care about what’s best for her, he needs to accept whatever they had is over, let her go, and move on. She has. When anyone puts boundaries in place, they should be respected.”
My husband shrugs. “But what if it isn’t over? What if he gave her the right amount of attention or whatever she needs, would Victoria be willing to continue their relationship or pick up wherever they left off?”
I release a frustrated groan. “I’m not going to answer that because I’m positive I won’t like my answer if I’m truthful. She probably hasn’t closed that door completely. You’re going to have me rooting for Caius and that’s not something I’m prepared to do either. I want what’s best for her, but in my opinion, it’s neither of them. And Alice . . . Alice is different. She’s his family and has every legal right to step into the leadership role for their companies publicly. Why would he delay or prevent that?”
“I don’t know.” I shake my head. “Their family has more than they will ever need.”
“Could be. He’s on quite the God-like ego trip right now,” I conclude. “Do you have any ideas for what I should do about ending his involvement in . . . everything? His touches are everywhere. Our building. The expansion. My loan. Sam. Fuck. The list goes on and on.”
“Roy knows too much.”
“He knows where your dad is,” I reveal.
“I do too.”
“You do? Did you tell your mom or Rose?” I ask.
“Yes, and no, I’m not telling them yet.”
“Roy wouldn’t go into any detail. He’s worse than clickbait, but I called Jason and left a message about having his private investigator look into whatever Roy thinks he knows. I’m waiting to hear back from Jason. He was in court today. So, I may not hear from him until next week.”
“Could you not . . .” Edward starts.
“Don’t tell your lawyer about Dad.”
“But I already asked Jason for help in locating Carlisle.”
“James told me this morning that Dad was in Nashville last night.”
Edward confirms with a slight nod while he remains focused on the drive. “He had some sort of physical confrontation with security near the visiting team locker room before the game and was escorted from the building.”
His eyes shift to mine briefly. “Security told Coach and he is aware of the rocky state of our relationship. Even though I wasn’t there, Coach has my back. James knows everything too. Plus, the team doesn’t need that type of attention. It’s just . . . embarrassing.”
He shrugs. “Not much I can do about it. We’re at a stalemate. It may get worse before it gets better.”
We’re both quiet as I consider what that could mean for Carlisle. I can’t imagine he took being escorted from a hockey arena any better than my interactions with him, let alone being denied access to Edward or his team. Thank goodness Edward wasn’t there since he was with me. Ideally, Carlisle should have been with Esme when we called to share our news, but that isn’t the reality of our current situation. When he does find out, I doubt Carlisle will be happy about our change in marital status.
“While you were at practice today, did you tell anyone about us eloping?”
My question puts a beaming smile on his face. “Yes. Did you see my post?”
“No. I’ll look for it now.” I remove my phone from my purse.
“I tagged you.”
“Who did you tell? Oh, wait, let me guess.” I scroll through my unread messages. “I have new texts from Deedee, Jess, and Lauren. So . . .”
“Marcus, Demir, and Tyler,” he confirms with a grin. “I also told James, Ben, and Stefan. And Lou, our goaltending coach. You met him, right?”
“I did at Casino Night with Deedee. She introduced us, only she called him Louis.”
“Everyone calls him Lou. They all wanted me to share their congratulations with you. They’re happy for us.”
I notice a message Jason sent earlier, indicating that he’s working on my “list.” He will call once he has more to share and discuss. Opening my Instagram app, I tap on my notifications, locating Edward’s first. With another tap, I go directly to his post and a photo of us in Las Vegas fills the screen. He used a wedding photo. Well, technically, it’s just a selfie for anyone who doesn’t realize what we’re wearing.
“I only posted one, and I took it, not Dianna,” Edward adds.
I’m looking at the camera while he kisses my cheek after the ceremony at Red Rock Canyon as the sun sets. There’s no containing my smile at our expressions. We’re radiating with happiness and so crazy in love. His caption says, “Long-term contract signed.“—with writing hand and red heart emojis, followed by, “ILY, Doc.“
It has over twenty thousand likes after being posted hours ago.
Oh my goodness.
“I didn’t say we are married,” Edward points out. “And there’s no denying it’s you or me.”
It isn’t difficult to guess what long-term contract he’s referencing. His fans or anyone we know can’t possibly believe he’s referring to hockey, especially when he added the location.
“Have you checked the comments? I’m scared to tap on them.”
“No. I haven’t looked since I made the post. How many are there?”
“Over five hundred.”
“I can turn them off if they bother you,” he offers.
“It’s fine. I don’t think I’m going to look.” I tap the heart on the post, turning it red, then consider what to leave as a comment. With a smile, I type, “Best day ever. ILY2,” then include a smiling emoji surrounded by hearts.
After closing the app, I return my phone to my purse and change topics. “So, I wanted to ask about your blood type. Do you know it?”
“Okay, that’s what Rose said, but I wanted to double-check. Something isn’t quite right with the blood work that was done at my last appointment. So, my doctor plans to retest at our next visit. According to her, I also have a negative Rh factor, and she wants to discuss what that will mean for my pregnancy, but Rose said it shouldn’t be an issue.”
His face fills with concern. “You and Pumpkin are okay?”
“I think so. Or at least we will be. It sounds as if I’ll need a couple of shots. Ugh. It’s always something.”
“If I could take them for you, I would,” Edward states.
“I know you would, and I appreciate that.” I smile. “Do you know who we’re meeting at the hotel? I’m a little nervous that our interviewer could make me cry. It’s been such a roller coaster of a day—past week. Scratch that. Past few months.”
“It’s in an email on my phone. Maria somebody. She’s a freelance writer and requested to do our interview because she supposedly knows you.”
“Knows me? How does that happen?”
“Yeah. I don’t know.”
“I don’t recall any Marias, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t telling the truth.”
“They sent a list of possible questions, if you want to look them over.”
“Did you read through them?”
He nods. “They were pretty standard. We can say whatever we want and guide this interview in any direction we choose.”
Edward pulls into the entrance for the hotel, waiting until the valet motions for him to drive forward.
“I’ll get your door. Stay put,” he tells me.
Exiting the vehicle, Edward waves off the employee approaching the SUV. “I’ll get her door.” I watch as my handsome husband, in a black dress shirt and black dress pants, walks around to my side, opens my door, then offers his hand.
“Are you checking in, Mr. . . . ?” the valet asks.
“Cullen and no. We’re here for an interview with D Magazine,” Edward explains.
“Very good. Let me double-check where they’re set up. I believe they arrived earlier. I’ll also request an escort to meet you in the lobby. It’s right through those doors.”
Hand in hand, we enter the lobby to wait. Before I have a chance to marvel at the original mansion’s grandeur, Edward guides me to a quiet corner out of public view.
I smile, looking up at him. “Why are you giving me a look that says you’re interested in testing my smudge-proof lipstick?”
“Because I am. You look beautiful. And married,” he adds with my favorite crooked grin before kissing my lips.
Once Edward pulls away, I challenge, “Being married has a look?”
I’m still wearing my clothes from work today since I didn’t have time to change before we needed to leave, opting to eat a quick bite instead. Today’s office look is a simple off-white sleeveless sheath dress with an off-white blazer. I liked the combination because my growing bump isn’t obvious with the blazer.
Glancing between our outfits, I realize we could be unconsciously broadcasting subtle traditional bride and groom vibes with our clothing choices.
“It does, but there’s something else I need to share before we do this,” Edward hesitates.
“You know that they’re using the photos from our Mexico photoshoot.”
“Right,” I agree.
“Our article will be in the April issue for the print magazine with an early excerpt on their website,” he explains. “But they offered to pay double if we would allow them to record us today as a part of their promotion on social media too. And I agreed on our behalf. I just want to make sure you’re okay with that.”
“So, it isn’t just the Maria you mentioned waiting for us,” I conclude.
“No. I would guess there will be someone operating the cameras and possibly a producer.”
“Mr. Cullen?” a woman says from behind him.
Edward turns. “Give us a minute.”
He returns his focus to me. “Are we still good? You’re okay with that?”
I shrug. “Let’s hope I don’t embarrass either of us by saying the wrong thing or tearing up if we discuss personal things, like my mom.”
“Not a chance. This will be great,” he reassures. “It’s our first joint interview and we’re doing it as husband and wife. I can’t think of anything better.”
I snort. “I can think of lots of things better to be doing as husband and wife, but I suppose we should go.”
“Fuck, I love you.” Cupping the back of my head, Edward presses a kiss against my lips firmly. “I understand this isn’t easy and you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone for me,” he says, stealing another kiss and another. “But I promise, with time, being in the spotlight will get easier.”
“Mmmm. If kisses are my reward, we’ll be here all night.” I grin, lifting onto my toes for one more. “You’re distracting and addictive.”
His eyebrows lift and his smirk is back in full force.
“Wait. Did you just smudge my lipstick?” I reach out, rubbing my thumb across his lips, but there isn’t any evidence of our kisses.
“Your lips are perfect. I promise I’ll try harder to smudge them after the interview.” Edward winks, then turns to the woman waiting. “Okay, we’re ready.”
With my husband’s hand on the small of my back, we follow our escort through the hotel. It’s bustling with activity in the bar and restaurant, but it doesn’t detract from the building’s features, which are quaint and romantic.
As we approach the suite, I make a suggestion. “We should come back and check out the restaurant or even spend the night some time.”
His grin widens. “Hungry?”
“Maybe a little. My granola and yogurt aren’t going to last forever. I’ll need to eat again soon.”
“I’ll ask if I can get us a reservation for when we’re finished,” he replies before the door to the suite opens and we’re ushered inside.
While Edward asks our escort about accommodating our plans for after the interview, a sweet voice shouts, “Dr. Bella!”
As I approach the area set up for the interview, a young boy runs toward me, wrapping his arms around my legs for a hug. After I pat his back, he releases me, and I recognize him as a patient from Sam’s office—the one who bit Paul. I love this kid already.
“Diego, what are you doing here?” I wonder.
“Look!” He points at the gap where his bottom two teeth used to be. “They fell out, like you said they would. I drew you a picture. I’ll get it.”
Diego hurries to a coffee table near the windows where a worn open backpack sits on the floor. The glass table holds crayons sprawled across its surface as he retrieves one of the loose papers.
“Here. This is for you.”
I grin at the smiling, bright green dinosaur with a full set of teeth, wearing a white lab coat.
“It’s a Bellasaurus,” he shares proudly.
“A dinosaur dentist?”
“Yeah. I named her after you.” Diego giggles. “Dinosaurs need someone to check their teeth too.”
A familiar looking woman approaches us, getting my attention. “Hello, Dr. Swan.”
“Maria, right? You’re Diego’s mother.” I recall, making the connection.
She nods. “I apologize for bringing Diego along, but my mother wasn’t able to stay with him this evening. I couldn’t find a sitter at the last minute. I promise he will be on his best behavior.”
“Not a problem. I’m relieved.” I chuckle. “When Edward said our interviewer knew me, I didn’t remember that you were a writer.”
“When Diego was born, we experienced many changes, including a career change for me. It was for the best,” she says.
I nod. “Trust me. I understand when changes are necessary. I’m no longer at Uley Family Dental.”
“I’m a partner at Lone Star Dental now.”
“That’s great. I should switch our appointments to your new location.”
“I’ll look forward to your next visit.” I smile. “Diego, did you go to the museum and check out the dinosaurs after our last appointment?”
“Yes! It was so cool. I want to go again.”
“Diego,” his mother prompts. “We need to thank Dr. Swan for the tickets.”
“Thank you, Dr. Bella. It was fun.”
When Edward rejoins me, Diego’s eyes light up. “Mr. Edward! Do you remember me? I saw you at Dr. Bella’s office when I was there. You’re still big.”
My husband grins. “I do.”
“Did Dr. Bella count your teeth?”
“I’m going to draw you a picture next,” Diego promises.
Diego returns to the coffee table, settles onto his knees and selects a crayon, sufficiently distracted with creating his next masterpiece. While the gorgeous suite with its sleek, modern touches is cast into shadows, we move toward the brightly lit area for the interview.
Maria pauses, giving us a reassuring smile. “Before we begin, I want to ask. Is there anything that either of you don’t want to discuss on-camera?”
Even though I vaguely know Maria in a professional setting, I have no intention of giving her anything more than necessary. And sharing what I don’t want to discuss is revealing in this situation.
My eyes shift to Edward’s and his expression is anything but neutral. During Diego’s appointment, I recall explaining to him that Edward was my boyfriend at that time. Only now, he’s my husband.
“How about we just take it one question at a time?” I suggest.
“Okay.” She waves toward the waiting seats with cameras ready to capture every angle. “Let’s get started. Please have a seat.”
Maria takes the chair and Edward follows me to the couch while we edge past the coffee table with a simple fresh floral arrangement on it. Once we’re seated, Edward wraps an arm around me, nestling me against his side. He reaches out to join our hands together in a gentle clasp, kisses the back of my hand, then rests our hands on his thigh.
While we wait for cameras to begin rolling, Edward whispers into my ear. “I love you.”
I smile, keeping my voice low, and hopefully our conversation is just between us. “No offense to anyone here, but I can’t wait until this is over. Do we have a reservation?”
“I’m having second thoughts. We should have checked the menu first. Now I’m thinking it could be one of those fine dining experiences that you will probably like.”
Edward laughs. “I’m positive you’ll find something that appeals to you.”
“Let’s hope. Pumpkin is a fan of comfort food.”
He smirks. “Is that right?”
“And possibly . . . me too,” I admit with a grin.