Compromise

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After a tour of the newly remodeled rooms of Bella's house, having not seen it since construction started, they sat down to eat. The late lunch was fun, and though Edward enjoyed seeing Bella getting along with his parents well, there was an underlying need to talk to her, alone. Something she had said worried him—not seeing a doctor in years.

Despite his abhorrence to hospitals and doctors, other than his father, he did get a physical every year, and a CT every six months. He'd even been to several therapy sessions. Something could have been wrong and she would have no clue. She needed to see a physician as soon as possible. He could do a check on her records as Isabella to ensure that it wouldn't lead someone to her location. If she managed to stay on the run for as long as she had, her papers had to be good.

For hours, his parents remained, helping Bella come up with the color scheme and tile for the master suite. It was something she had held off for the last week while at his cabin. If she wanted her house done before fall, Edward had to order the materials as soon as possible. His parents visit kept him from being alone with Bella, but he settled for her soft touches at every opportunity. Eventually, they stayed for dinner and eventually a few too many drinks for everyone but him.

After dinner, they all sat around Bella's kitchen island. His father had a bright smile on his face, his eyes glazed from drinking. It was clear his parents would need to stay in the spare bedroom downstairs. They couldn't drive in their condition, and the same went for Bella. Since he avoided driving at night as much as possible, he'd have to stay, too, so he made the suggestion.

"I think that's a great idea," Carlisle said with a hiccup. "I'm not working tomorrow so we can sleep in, darling." He eyed his mother in a way that made Edward cringe and look away. He was used to the affection they had for each other, but he did not want to know when his father was feeling handsy.

His father leaned toward him and whispered, "Bella's a keeper."

"I know, Dad," Edward said, gently slapping a hand along his back. "I'm well aware of it."

"Good. As much as I love you, you can be a bit of an ass at times, son." Before he could reach for another glass of lemonade, Edward pushed it away.

"I'm cutting you off." His father uncharacteristically pouted. Edward turned to his mother to tell her to do the same, but instead, he watched his Bella interact with her. Bella waved her hands around as she described a shot she had lined up of a sunset on his property. She dug through her bag he had retrieved from the truck, pulled out a cell phone, and showed his mother something on it.

"Oh my." His mother looked at him, and he noticed something in her eyes soften. "You look very handsome and here I thought the beard scared away most people."

"Not me," Bella said, somewhat wistfully. He ignored the flush of his ears and asked for her phone. In the photo, he sat on the abandoned train bridge on part of his property. The battered train tracks were a backdrop against the sun, his legs dangling from under the railing, his arms resting on one as he smoked. He'd been aware of the fact that Bella had taken pictures of him, but hadn't remembered this one in particular. She was on his mind, that much he knew, but the slight lift of one corner of his mouth and the brightness in his eyes surprised him.

He looked content, maybe even happy.

His mother must have seen the same in the picture, too, and it was the reason why her eyes had softened. She always worried he would be alone, with Bella around, maybe she wouldn't anymore. Something thumped on the counter, startling all of them. His father's cheek lay on the granite countertop, as he softly snored and started to drool.

"Oh Carlisle, you're such a lightweight," his mother said, rolling her eyes. "Any chance you can help me get him into bed, son? I'll be right behind you."

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