Monday, July 21, 2014

Finding Love Through Music...Complete

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Edward is a choral director, reeling from his recent divorce from his wife, Jessica. His world is filled with his daughter, Emma, his music and his job. Bella is an English teacher, running from her past and wary of love. ExB, AH, AU

Chapter One
"Mr. Cullen, please report to the main office. Mr. Cullen, the main office, please," came the disembodied voice of Mrs. Rowe, the principals secretary. I groaned and heaved my body away from my desk in my office. I was trying to finish my script for the annual madrigal dinner. I had most of it done but the ending was driving me insane. It just wasn't meshing.
I swiped a pad of paper and adjusted my tie before heading through the hallways of Springview Central High School. A number of students who were leaving for the end of the day bid me goodbye. I gave them my signature crooked smile as I walked through the hallways. But it wasn't a genuine smile.
I hadn't smiled for real in nearly a year and a half.
Not since I found my skank of an ex-wife was cheating on me with the athletic director in my school or when I found bottles upon bottles of pain medication hidden her purse. That she didn't need.
I hadn't smiled since I had to tell my angel, my Emma, that Mommy wasn't going to live at home with us anymore.
I hadn't smiled since my life was ripped apart.
Thankfully, I had a strong family. My parents watched my daughter while I was at work. My father, Carlisle, was a doctor, psychiatrist, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago. My mom, Esme, was a retired teacher who dabbled in interior design to earn some extra money. Not that we needed it or anything. My mom's father was a old oil tycoon and had pretty much set up her, her children, her children's children and their children for the rest of their lives.
When my parents were unable to take care of my angel, my brother, Emmett and his wife, Rosalie, helped out when they could. To say that they were busy was an understatement. Emmett was an orthopedic surgeon, also at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Rose, as she preferred to be called, was an assistant state's attorney, specializing in special victims. Women who were victims of rape, children who were victims of abuse and putting away the scum of the earth who did that to them.
I shook off my mind off my daughter and family. I walked into the main office. "I was beckoned, Mrs. Rowe?" I smirked.
"Yes. Mr. Smith wants to meet with you and the drama director of the spring musical," she said, cowering slightly.
I saw red. I'd been doing the musical as long as I'd been hired as the choral director at Springview Central High School. I pursed my lips and strode into Mr. Smith's office. Sitting across from him was one of the new hires. She was a petite brunette with a killer body and a pretty face. But she was not taking my spring musical away.
"Ah, Edward," Mr. Smith said with an amiable grin. "Thank you for coming down so promptly. How's the madrigal dinner script coming?"
"Almost done," I said tersely. "Music rehearsals have been smooth and all I need to do is finalize the ending."
"Excellent. I assume that Mrs. Rowe told you why I needed to meet with you?"
"Yes. Something about a drama director," I snapped. "Bill, I've been the director of the musical as long as I've been here."
"Relax, Edward," Bill said. "The show is still going to be yours but you need some assistance. I'd like to introduce to you Bella Swan. She's been hired as Sherrie's replacement in the English department. However, in addition to her expertise in English, she was also a theater minor in college at University of Washington. Bella, please meet our cantankerous but brilliant musical director, Edward Cullen."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Cullen," she said in a deep, warm alto voice. However her eyes were riddled with sadness and anger. She sneered toward me as we shook hands. But when we touched, a jolt osomething ran up my arm. I tried to hide the involuntary shudder I felt when our hands touched. "I know that you are used to running things on your own but Mr. Smith thinks that if we work together that we could make the spring musical something spectacular."
"Edward, this past year has been…"
"I know, Bill," I snarled. "In all of the madness, have I once taken time off?"
"The only day I had to take was the trial date to finalize my divorce. I was teaching by that afternoon," I said as I ran my hands through my bronze hair. "I'll admit that I bit off more than I could chew with Les Mis last year but I've chosen an awesome show for this spring."
"What?" Bella asked.
"Legally Blonde," I answered. "I jumped at the chance to do it once the rights opened up. I have to do some minor adjustments to the script but it'll be a lot of fun."
Bella laughed slightly. "I auditioned for the touring company of that show," she said quietly. "Was offered the part of Elle Woods."
My brows shot up to my hairline. Bill looked at me smugly, daring me to not accept the help. "Did you take it?" I asked.
"I had some family issues to attend to, so no," Bella replied, hiding behind her curtain of her mahogany hair. I found it difficult to picture this petite brunette as the bubbly, BLONDE Elle Woods. "Look, Mr. Smith told me that I am to assist you with your musical, Mr. Cullen. And that's what I'm going to do. In addition to being an English teacher, I'm also endorsed in music and can run choral rehearsals. I'm not good on the piano but I've been told that your students use solfege to learn their music. No piano needed."
"I'll leave how you two divide up the work up to you," Bill said. "But, this needs to be a fantastic show. If not, it'll be one of the first things that will be cut if we can't raise more money."
"There's the rub," I sighed. "It all comes down to dollars and cents, right?"
"We're a well-off district, Edward. But, this economy and the state are drowning in debt. The musicals are one of many things on the chopping block," Bill explained. "There's more, but I'm not at liberty to say. Any questions? Ms. Swan?"
"No," she said, blushing a bright crimson.
"Mr. Cullen?"
"No," I sighed. I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. "Are we done?"
"Yes. I'll let you two figure out what you are doing on your time. But, I will be checking in with you in at least three weeks for final rehearsal schedules and the proposed budget for the show. Comprende?"
We both nodded and got up from our spots in the office. Bella slipped past me and I saw a faint scar beneath her ear. She covered it with her hair and opened the door. We both left the office. She turned to look at me. "I'm not sure when you're available, but we need to meet and discuss this. When are your plan periods?"
"First period, the first half of fourth, and fifth," I answered.
"Hmmm, I'm teaching during those periods," she frowned. "We'll have to meet during lunch or after school. Are you available now?"
"No. I have to get home," I said, staring into her brown eyes. They were the most unusual shade of chocolate brown. The out rims were almost golden. But so sad. Like mineWhat's your story, Ms. Swan? "The only day I'm available is Friday. I am staying with the Pep Banned for the first basketball game. We can meet then."
"What if I'm unavailable?" she asked, her eyes flashing with anger.
"Look, I have rehearsals every day after school. Today, I didn't have one because I was at a meeting at the district office that didn't take as long as I anticipated. Anyhow, I need to leave. I'll email you to confirm our meeting for Friday," I said angrily. "Come or not, it's your choice, Ms. Swan."
I didn't give her a chance to respond. I turned on my heel and went down to my office. I saved the work of the madrigal dinner script to my flash drive and logged off my computer. I slipped on my leather jacket and locked up my room, slipping out the back door in the rear of cavernous classroom. I walked to my car, my extremely safe Silver Volvo. After I put my briefcase into the trunk, I slid into the front seat. I tossed my cell phone into the cup holder in car. Turning the Volvo over, I eased out of the parking lot.
Once I was on the highway, I listened to the voicemail that was left on my phone.
"Hi, Daddy! I miss you and love you! I can't wait to show you what I drawed with Nana today. Nana says it's the best flower she's ever seen. It's for your office! Love you! Bye!"
I smiled as I listened to my angel's voice. She could always make me happy. Using the hands-free feature on my car, I dialed my mom's phone number.
"Hello?" she sang.
"Hi, Mom," I said. "I'm on my way to pick up my little Emma-bear."
"She left you a message earlier, Edward. She is so proud of her flower," my mom said excitedly. "She's got some talent. So unlike you and your brother. God, you never wanted to color in the lines."
"Still don't," I snorted. "Damn the man. I don't need to stay in the lines."
"Oh my liberal son," Esme giggled. "It's so ironic that your father and I are so conservative and yet, you and Emmett are as liberal as they come."
"Going against the norm," I shrugged. "Can I speak to my angel?"
"Of course, Edward. Hold on," Esme said. I heard her call to Emma. She squealed and I heard her feet patter to the phone.
"Daddy!" she shrieked. "Guess what I did when I got home from school?"
"Built a rocket ship?" I quipped.
"No," she laughed. "Guess again!"
"Went to Paris and tap danced on the Eiffel Tower?"
"Daddy! You're so silly," she giggled. "Nana and me painted. You have a new flower for your office."
"My students will undoubtedly love it. They always complain that my office is too white. I need some color in there, sweet girl," I joked. "What color is it?"
Oh, lord.
"I bet it's beautiful, angel," I smiled. "I love you, baby."
"I love you, more, Daddy. When are you coming home?" she asked.
"I'll be there in a little bit, sweet girl," I answered. "Can you put Nana back on the phone, please?"
"Okay, Daddy."
I heard a rustle and a fumble until my mom came back on. "What's up, my youngest boy?"
"Nothing, I just wanted to thank you for watching Emma," I said.
"She's my granddaughter. Of course, I'm going to watch her," Esme said sharply. "I'm not going to allow she-who-shall-not-be-named watch her. I'd rather drink hydrochloric acid and puke it up."
"Mom, that's gross."
"It's the truth. SHE was a horrible woman. Only wanting you for your money," Esme spat. "Good riddance to bad rubbish. I hope she is enjoying her time in rehab with her new boyfriend."
"Mom, she's still Emma's mother. And still has parental and visitation rights," I grumbled. "I need to maintain a somewhat cordial relationship with her."
"No, you don't."
"Okay, I don't. But, stop. Please?" I begged.
"Fine," Esme huffed out. "Are you staying for dinner?"
"I don't think so. I have a lot of work to do on the script," I said. "Anyhow, I'm about to exit the highway. Be there soon. Love you."
"Love you, too, Edward," she answered.

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