Once inside, we smelled cinnamon, ginger and cloves. There was a fire roaring in the fireplace and some old Christmas standards playing over the intercom. My dad was walking down the stairs, helping my mom. She looked better today, with a festive scarf around her bald head and her skin didn't appear so sallow. She glanced up and beamed when she saw us. "You both look so happy," she cooed. "Doesn't Bella look happy, Charlie?"
"She looks beautiful, Rennie," Dad answered.
Mom hugged me. Out of the corner of my eye, Charlie held out a hand to Edward. With a noticeable swallow, Edward shook his hand and nodded nervously. They spoke quietly, but from the short responses, neither man was comfortable with the other. Mom must have noticed their discomfort and she waddled toward Edward. She took his hand, kissing his cheek. "You look very handsome, Edward. I hope you're hungry."
"I am, Mrs. Swan," he said. "It smells really good in here."
"What did I say yesterday, Edward," Mom chided, tugging him into the living room. "Call me Renee."
"Bella, can we talk?" Charlie asked, shifting uneasily on his feet. My dad was never uneasy. "In the kitchen? I'm working on dinner."
"You're cooking?" I snorted.
"Yeah," he said, his mustache twitching. "We gave our staff the holidays off and what we're eating was planned for yesterday, but with ..." He offered me his hand. I looked at Edward, who was being doted on by my mother and being shown baby pictures. Oh, hell. "Edward will be fine. Your mom wants to mother him."
"And you probably want to kick him out," I growled, shooting my dad a glower. He ducked his head, sighing heavily. "Yep, I knew it."
"Bella, no. I ... I would never condone what your brother did," he said, dragging me into the kitchen. He pulled out a cutting board, slicing some vegetables for the salad. "Yes, my opinion of people who made less than me was ... I thought they were not on the same level as me. I worked my ass off to get my millions and build my empire. It afforded me the ability to retire young and pass along the reins to my family, my children. Jasper tried his hand at my job, but he wasn't cut out for it. He was more ..." He narrowed his eyes. "Jasper is not me. As much as he acts like me, he can't make decisions like me or follow through."
"He followed through with that bullshit with Edward," I snapped. "He punched him in the face and ..."
"I know what he did and I know who's working with," Dad said, his voice disappointed.
"You know what happened?" I asked.
"I do and I've spoken with the police about Jasper's actions," Dad sighed. "What does your brother do?"
"We really don't talk, Dad. I know that he makes good money," I answered. "He's able to purchase his house outright and his wife ... yeah, she's a piece of work."
"His wife is the daughter of some bigwig at a bank. Their marriage is not one of love, but of convenience. The baby? It's not Jasper's," Dad explained. "He told me that she had an affair, but they cannot divorce because Jasper works at the bank with his father-in-law. He works in loans."
"Wait, he's a loan shark?" I squeaked.
"For the job at the bank, he's the head of the loans department, but on the outside, he provides loans to some seedy characters. He has an army of enforcers. That's who attacked Edward, at Jasper's command."
"How do you know this, Dad?" I asked. "And why do you care?"
"I know this because the FBI approached me to discuss my son," Dad replied. "Jasper's in a ton of trouble, Bells. They're talking federal time for money laundering, racketeering and extortion. Now, this assault charge? It's icing on the cake, Bella."
YOU ARE READING
Mechanics and MistletoeFanfiction
Bella, an uptight, cold executive, is on her way home for Christmas. The first Christmas she's been home since she started working for the Fortune 500 company that hired her from college, almost ten years ago. The only reason why she's going home is...