|The Cracks in the Crystal Ball
Author: SydneyAlice PM
A fortune teller promised Bella that she'd lose her heart to a green-eyed boy. Six years and two kids later, a husband and wife struggle to rekindle the passion they once shared. One-shot.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Family - Bella & Edward - Words: 5,016 - Reviews: 295 - Favs: 622 - Follows: 138 - Published: 01-24-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6683216
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: This is for Narissa :)
"Crystal Ball" is performed by Pink.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns it all.
The Cracks in the Crystal Ball
6:00 AM: Slap the alarm clock into submission.
6:15 AM: Scalding hot shower. Wash my hair with his favorite strawberry shampoo in hopes that he'll smell it and smile.
6:30 AM: Dress for the day. Wear something soft and tight-fitting in hopes that he'll see me and smile.
7:00 AM: Wake Masen because he's a Mommy's boy. I remember when both of us used to wake the kids. I think Masen misses that. I know I do.
7:30 AM: Make his favorite breakfast. Again, hoping for a smile. He helps me set the table. We move around each other without touching. Once upon a time, he couldn't keep his hands off me.
7:45 AM: Family breakfast. Smile and pretend we are the perfect family.
8:00 AM: Kiss the kids' cheeks and put them on the bus.
8:10 AM: Kiss him goodbye and wish him a good day. Incidentally, he doesn't mention the shampoo, the clothes, or the breakfast. He never does. Not anymore.
This is my typical morning, and each morning is the same.
Monotonous. Tedious. Cold.
But I love him, so I stay.
6:00 AM: Listen as she slaps the alarm clock into submission. Stretch out my arm in hopes that she'll let me hold her. She doesn't. Pretend I'm sleeping while she showers. Imagine what it would be like to join her. I don't.
6:25: Scalding hot shower. The shower still smells of her strawberry shampoo. I wash myself with her favorite body wash in hopes that she'll smell it and smile.
6:30 AM: Dress for the day. Crisp, white shirt and black slacks. Wear her favorite tie in hopes that she'll smile.
7:00 AM: Wake Makenna because she's a Daddy's girl. I remember when both of us used to wake the kids. I think Makenna misses that. I know I do.
7:30 AM: Help her set the table for breakfast. We move around each other without touching. Once upon a time, she couldn't keep her hands off me.
7:45 AM: Family breakfast. Smile and pretend we are the perfect family. I'm so lost in my memories that I can't even taste it.
8:00 AM: Kiss the kids' cheeks and put them on the bus.
8:10 AM: Kiss her goodbye and wish her a good day. Incidentally, she doesn't mention the body wash or the tie. She never does. Not anymore.
This is my typical morning, and each morning is the same.
Monotonous. Tedious. Cold.
But I love her, so I stay.
Six years earlier
The carnival lights were bright as we made our way through the maze of games and rides. The night was chilly, and I wished I'd brought my jacket. Mom had told me to bring my coat, but like most high school seniors, I knew it all and ignored her advice.
"A fortune teller!" Alice squealed as she tugged my arm. My best friend believed in the supernatural and paranormal, and she had an uncanny ability to predict the future. I'd learned long ago not to bet against Alice.
"Why do we need to pay five dollars to see a fortune teller?" I smirked as she pulled me inside. "I have you."
Alice had already predicted that I would meet the man of my dreams at this carnival, and he would have blazing emerald eyes. Those were her words…blazing emeralds. She assured me that we would make beautiful babies together.
I humored her because I loved her.
"It's always good to have a second opinion," Alice grinned. "Confirmation, if you will."
"Of course," I laughed as we handed our money to the carnival worker and took our seats. Naturally, there was a shiny crystal ball in the middle of the table. "Because if two psychics predict the same future, then surely there's some validity to this."
"You doubt me?" Alice pouted.
"Never," I smiled at her, and her face lit up once again. It was comical how easily she could be placated.
Just then, a wild looking gypsy with long flowing hair and gigantic gold hoop earrings made her way through the beaded curtain.
"Ahh, little Alice!" Madame Katerina smiled brightly. "You come see me every year!"
She had a Russian accent, and I wondered if it was fake.
"This is my best friend," Alice squealed excitedly.
"Bella," the fortune teller smiled at me, and I must have looked surprised that she knew my name.
"Oh no, dear, I'm not that good," Madame Katerina giggled. "Alice speaks of you often. She loves you and worries about you so much."
I glanced at my best friend. "You worry about me?"
"This little town makes you unhappy," Alice shrugged, but then her face morphed into a beautiful grin. "But that's going to change. Tell her, Madame Katerina."
"Hmm…" the gypsy smiled indulgently at Alice. "You seem so sure, little one."
"I am sure," Alice nodded enthusiastically.
"Let's take a look," Madame Katerina smiled warmly, and she placed her hands over the crystal ball. Alice watched in wonder as I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
"I do see a boy," the fortune teller said, and Alice nearly jumped out of her seat with excitement. "He is a smart boy who loves to read and play piano."
"Bella loves to read," Alice whispered eagerly.
"Oh, he is handsome," Madame Katerina continued, "with beautiful green eyes. His hair could use some tidying…"
"Blazing emeralds," Alice reminded me, and this time, I let my eyes roll heavenward.
"He is a good boy," the woman said softly. "You will lose your heart to this boy, and you will never get it back."
"Will we be happy?" I whispered in spite of my cynicism.
Madame Katerina's face flickered with uncertainty. "You will love passionately and deeply, but both of you must be brave in your beautiful mistakes."
In a daze, Alice and I walked back out into the twinkling lights of the carnival.
"What are beautiful mistakes?" I asked softly as made our way toward the cotton candy. Pink cotton candy had been our tradition since fifth grade.
Before she could answer, her boyfriend appeared out of the blue and lifted her into his arms. Alice squealed as he pulled her into his embrace, and I watched enviously as they melted against each other. When they finally came up for air, Jasper grinned at me.
"Bella, may I steal my beautiful girl for a ride on the Ferris wheel?"
"Of course you can."
I carried our jumbo bags of cotton candy down the midway. I was still pondering the meaning of beautiful mistakes when I found myself standing on a makeshift wooden bridge overlooking a wishing well. The well was a carnival tradition with all proceeds going to the children's wing of our local hospital. I fished in my pocket for some change and looked down into the shimmering water. The bottom was littered with pennies. There were a few silver coins, but for the most part, the coins were copper and glistening in the water.
I closed my eyes and made a wish.
I wish for a boy with blazing emerald eyes who will help me be brave in my beautiful mistakes.
Without opening my eyes, I let the coins fall from my palm. It was only when I heard the splash that I allowed my eyes to open, and when they did, they settled on a boy standing on the other side of the bridge. He was gazing at me as he let his own coins fall from his grasp.
"Wow, this wishing well really works," the boy smiled in my direction.
I swallowed nervously as he made his way over to my side of the bridge. His eyes never left my face.
"How do you know it works?" I asked quietly as Madame Katerina's words echoed in my ears.
"Oh, he is handsome, with beautiful green eyes. His hair could use some tidying."
"Because you're here," he said, offering me his hand. Without a second thought, I placed my palm in his.
"You have blazing emerald eyes," I whispered.
"You have a heart-shaped face with warm, chocolate eyes."
I blushed as he lifted my hand to his lips, and I gasped when his gentle kiss against my skin caused desire to erupt in my veins.
"I wished for you," he breathed.
"I wished for you, too."
An hour later, we were making out in the sanctuary of his Volvo canopied by the trees of the Olympic forest. Thanks to my father, I knew the back roads of Forks – the places that were rarely seen and never patrolled. The fact that my father was the sheriff in town should have convinced me to leave my clothes on, but he was too cute, and we were both too eager.
We didn't even make it to the back seat.
We were both virgins and I knew it would probably hurt, but I didn't care. Edward was handsome with wild copper hair and blazing emerald eyes, and I would never doubt Alice or her crazy gypsy friend ever again.
Bella Swan was now a devout believer.
Breathless and panting, he placed sweet, gentle kisses along my face.
"You're going to be my wife someday," Edward whispered against my lips. "Say you will, Bella."
"I will," I promised him, and I knew it was true.
His face transformed into the most breathtaking smile, and in that moment, I lost my heart to a boy, and I never got it back.
"Edward are you listening?"
My secretary's voice pulled me back to the present. She was having to do that a lot lately. These days, my mind was consumed with memories of the first time Bella and I made love.
"I'm sorry, Carmen. What did you say?"
"Your eleven o'clock is here," she repeated softly. "You don't look well. I can clear your schedule for the afternoon. Maybe you should go home and get some rest."
"No," I replied icily.
"Edward, you work too much."
Carmen was always saying this to me. What she didn't understand was that I was good at this. I wasn't good at home. I was an absolute failure at home.
"Show her in," I replied firmly, and my long-suffering secretary sighed as she made her way out into the lobby.
"Ms. Tanya Denali," Carmen made the introductions, and I stood politely, offering the woman my hand. She was sex on legs – long, creamy legs nestled into the sky-high black pumps. She fluttered her eyelashes and tried to professionally flirt before beginning her presentation. Later, she seemed surprised when I resisted her invitation of lunch back at her hotel. She was undeniably lovely and undoubtedly willing, but she wasn't my wife.
I might be a failure as a husband, but I was still a faithful one.
Instead, I had lunch at the small park across the street. It was a lovely day and couples were taking advantage of the weather. I watched, envious, as happy couples walked hand-in-hand along the cobblestone paths.
That used to be us.
Bella and I had fallen so hard and so fast, and eight weeks after losing our virginity, we learned that she was pregnant. We had no way of knowing if our first time had been the night. We'd made love so many times that first few months that there was really no telling. Her father had threatened to shoot me unless I married her, which had been music to our ears. We'd married in a small ceremony in a little country chapel before she even started to show, and we were gone to college by the time the twins arrived.
Our families rallied around us, and we both graduated with college degrees within four years. I began a paid internship at Seattle Financial while she worked part-time for a literary agent. Within a year, I was promoted to a six figure salary, allowing her to quit her job and stay home with our children. We bought a beautiful house in Bellevue where Bella nurtured our children during the day, and at night, we would read fairy tales to our kids and tuck them in at night before escaping to our bedroom where we would sometimes make love until the early light of dawn.
We were blissfully in love and ridiculously happy.
At sunrise, our day would start over again, and I would drag my tired, happy ass to work as I climbed my way up the corporate ladder. My hours at the company became erratic and inflexible, and I began missing family dinners and late-night bedtime stories. Eventually, I stopped making excuses, and most nights, I was enjoying my leftover dinner by myself when the clock struck midnight.
The long hours and dedication paid off, and I was named CEO by the time the twins were enrolled in Kindergarten.
Unfortunately, with great power comes great responsibility. It was Masen's favorite line from Spider-Man and it was my life's motto. Before I could blink, my twins were six years old and my wife was despondent. We never argued. I would have to be present for an argument to even take place. But her eyes – the warm chocolate eyes I'd wished for – were now cold and hard. It was clear that I had devoted too many of my waking hours to my job. My kids were growing up without me and my wife was a stranger. But I was the boss, and I was trapped in the ivory tower I'd created for myself.
I missed my wife. There were nights that I would lie awake and watch her sleep. So many times I'd wanted to wake her, just to see her eyes and hear her voice in the still of the night. But she always looked so peaceful, and I just didn't have the heart to wake her.
I was so afraid that it was too late – that my children didn't love their father because he was a stranger and that my wife didn't love her husband because he'd neglected her for far too long.
My eyes were swimming with tears as they focused on the newspaper in my lap. Bright red letters reminded me that it was September, and a carnival was in town.
Had Masen and Makenna ever been to a carnival? They would love it.
Determined, I pulled my Blackberry out of my pocket and texted my secretary.
Clear my schedule for the rest of today and all day tomorrow. I'm taking my family to the carnival.
I was in a blind panic when the bus didn't stop at the end of our driveway. With trembling fingers, I quickly dialed the school.
"Mrs. Cullen, the children were picked up by their father," the secretary replied calmly.
Just then, I heard the garage door open, and within seconds, my children's sweet laughter greeted me at the door.
"Hi Mom!" Masen smiled brightly.
"Hey, Mase," I whispered shakily, and then my eyes fell upon my daughter whose arms were wrapped tightly around her father's neck.
"Daddy picked us up!" Makenna giggled softly.
"I see that," I smiled, despite the fact that I was completely stunned. It was four o'clock in the afternoon and Edward was home.
"Is something wrong?" I asked him softly.
Edward gently lowered Makenna to the ground.
"Yes, something's wrong," Edward murmured quietly, and I gasped as his knuckles trailed across my cheek. "But I'm going to try very hard to make it right."
His eyes were burning with sincerity as he continued caressing my face.
"Daddy's taking us to the carnival!" Makenna shouted excitedly.
"That's right." Edward grinned down at her. "Why don't you and your brother go get changed."
Makenna grabbed her brother's hand and I watched in amazement as they rushed toward their bedrooms.
"You're taking them to the carnival?"
"I'm taking us to the carnival."
In spite of my shock, I giggled.
"I haven't been to a carnival since…"
"Me either," Edward whispered. His body was so close – closer than it'd been in months…maybe years, and I felt the electricity pulsating between us.
I wanted to drown in it.
"I love you," Edward said softly. "I don't tell you enough, but I do. I love you and our kids more than anything in this world."
"I know you do," I murmured.
His eyes were blazing, and I felt my pulse quicken under his gaze. His hand had woven its way into my hair, and I trembled as he brushed his nose against mine. My breathing sped, and his lips were inching closer just as tiny hands tugged at my skirt.
"Later," Edward breathed softly, and it was a promise that ignited my blood.
Memories flooded me as we made our way through the web of carnival rides and games. Of course, this was Seattle, so this carnival was massive compared to the fair we enjoyed as kids, but the smells were just the same. I found myself longing for pink cotton candy and a time when things were sweet and innocent.
Edward squeezed my hand, pulling me back from my memories and bringing me back to this wonderful moment with our family. Our kids played games and rode the rides, and their smiling faces warmed my heart.
"They're so beautiful," I whispered.
Edward wrapped his arms around my waist and hugged me close to his chest as we watched them on the carousel.
"They look like their mother," he murmured against my ear. I closed my eyes as his lips made a trail from the shell of my ear down to my shoulder. "You smell so good, baby."
How long had it been since he called me that? I couldn't even remember.
"They're so big," Edward marveled as our children waved at us from their multi-colored horses. "I can't believe how much I've missed."
"They miss you when you're gone."
His arms tightened around me.
"I won't be gone so much anymore."
"What about your work?"
Edward sighed as he pressed a kiss to the back of my neck, and I shuddered. "I think I've made work my priority long enough, don't you?"
I remained silent as Makenna and Masen grabbed us by the hand and led us to the Ferris wheel. The smiles on their faces were infectious, and I found myself being manipulated into riding the one carnival ride that scared me the most.
"Oh no." I giggled at Masen's pouting face. "Daddy loves the Ferris wheel. He'll ride with you."
"He will?" Mase looked up at his father, and my heart clenched. They really were carbon copies of each other. Masen had his father's crazy hair and deep green eyes.
"I'd love to." Edward smiled down at his son before looking up at me once again. "You'll be okay?"
He leaned close to kiss my cheek before handing the attendant enough tickets for the three of them. I waved at them as they made their ascent into the sky, and my eyes caught a flash of a shining crystal ball outside one of the nearby tents.
"It can't be," I whispered as I made my way closer to the sign, and I gasped as Madame Katerina's name sparkled in the sunlight. Stunned, I paid the man and made my way inside, taking a seat at the table where the crystal ball was proudly displayed.
"Bella," Madame Katerina's voice drifted through the beaded curtain.
"You remember me."
"Of course." The fortune teller smiled warmly at me. "Your little friend isn't with you?"
I smiled. "No, Alice now lives in Texas with her husband."
Madame Katerina nodded. "She was lovely and so gifted."
"Yes," I breathed softly.
"You found your true love?" The woman asked, and I nodded. "Was he as handsome as I promised?"
"Even more so," I grinned. "We have been married for six years now."
"Twins," I confirmed, and she smiled brightly.
"And have you been brave?" The gypsy asked gently as she gazed into the crystal ball.
"I'm not sure," I admitted with a sigh. "I always wondered what you meant by that…to be brave in my beautiful mistakes."
"The two of you have been happy?"
My face fell. "No, not really. We were at first. We found out we were pregnant about eight weeks after the night we met."
"The night of the carnival," Madame Katerina replied, and I nodded. "So you made two beautiful mistakes that night."
"My babies were not mistakes," I snapped harshly, and the woman frowned.
"Poor wording," Madame Katerina apologized. "But things couldn't have been easy."
"They weren't," I agreed. "But we had amazing parents who helped us get through school. Edward is now the CEO of his own company."
"But your marriage is not strong."
"I love him, and he loves me," I murmured.
"Love is a powerful emotion," Madame Katerina said softly. "It can make you blind. It can make you endure things that you never dreamed you'd have to endure. It can make you complacent."
I had been complacent. I had spent the last six years playing the role of the passive wife. I had been lonely, but had I made an attempt to change anything? Had I explained to Edward that I felt hurt and alone? Once the kids were enrolled in school, why hadn't I gone back to work? Why had I chosen to spend my days in a house that was too big for just me? Why had I allowed my marriage to blend into the background instead of making it my focus? I could blame the failings of my marriage on Edward's long hours at the office, but I was just as much to blame because I hadn't tried to change a thing.
"The crystal ball is a fascinating object," Madame Katerina whispered as her hands hovered above it. "It doesn't show everything. I get little glimpses, and from those glimpses I can make my predictions. But there are cracks in the crystal, sweet Bella. Those cracks signify times of trouble and heartache. They are in everyone's lives. We all want to live happily ever after, and in some cases, we can. But we have to be brave and weather the inevitable storms. We all make mistakes, and we have to survive them. We have to learn from them. We have to thrive because of them. That's what makes our mistakes so beautiful."
I remembered her words from that night.
"You told me that I'd lose my heart and I'd never get it back."
"And did you lose it?"
"Does he still have it?"
"He'll always have it."
"You should tell him so," Madame Katerina nodded. "He misses you, too."
I couldn't resist hugging her before I left, and as I made my way out of the tent I saw my husband and my children walking toward me. They were smiling and laughing, and the sight of my children each holding their father's hand was more than my heart could handle.
"Did you have fun?" I grinned down at them. Their eyes were beginning to droop.
"I think we're tired," Edward said, smiling at me, and I nodded as I pulled Masen into my arms. Edward lifted Makenna, and she nestled her head against his shoulder as she closed her eyes.
"Look baby," Edward whispered as we made our way toward the exit. "It's a wishing well." He reached into his pocket and pulled out some coins, offering a few to me.
We walked across the small wooden bridge, and I took a deep breath and closed my eyes before dropping the coins into the fountain.
When I opened them, he was gazing at me with a look so smoldering that I nearly combusted, and I knew that we'd wished for the exact same thing.
"Do you think they're happy?" Bella whispered, her face illuminated in the moonlight.
Our children were tucked safely into their beds, sleeping peacefully.
"They seemed happy today."
"Today was a happy day," she nodded as she gently pulled the door closed. How long had it been since I'd given my family a happy day?
I nervously followed her back into the kitchen. There was so much I needed to say, and I wasn't really sure where to begin. First and foremost, I had to apologize and promise that today was only the beginning of many happy days.
"Would you like some wine?" Bella asked as she made her way toward the cabinet. As she reached for the glasses, I couldn't ignore the way her blouse exposed a tiny sliver of skin along her lower back, displaying the two dimples that I loved so much. Desire flowed through me as I watched my wife – the woman I loved more than anything – pour each of us a glass of wine.
I loved her so much, and she had no idea.
And that was my fault.
"Bella," I said softly, and her warm brown eyes found mine as I gently lifted the glass out of her hand and set it aside. "Thank you for today."
"Thank you for today. It was a wonderful evening. The kids needed it. They miss you so much, Edward."
"Do you miss me?" I wondered anxiously.
What if I'd destroyed any feelings that she had for me at all?
"I miss you every single day."
"I've been a terrible husband," I admitted, and her eyes closed as my fingers drifted across her cheek. "But please believe me when I say that I have loved you every second since I met you at that carnival six years ago. I wished for you, and there you were, and it was the most amazing night of my entire life. I think about it all the time."
"I think about it, too," Bella said sweetly as my hands drifted across her shoulders and down along her arms.
"We've been together a thousand times since then," I whispered against her cheek, "and every time has been incredible, but I will never forget that first night. I'll never forget the way it felt…and how you whimpered my name…"
Bella gasped as I lifted her onto the counter. Her eyes were frantic with need as I pushed her skirt up her thighs, letting my fingers dance along the creamy skin. Swiftly, I unbuttoned her blouse and let my other hand play with the lace of her bra as she roughly pulled my tie away from my neck.
"I love this tie," Bella sighed breathlessly.
"I know," I replied roughly as my slacks fell down to the floor. "Why do you think I wear it so much?"
I pulled her closer to the edge of the counter, and we both groaned as our lips feverishly collided. These were no soft, sweet kisses. These were urgent and burning and so much like the kisses from that very first night.
"I love you," I murmured against her mouth before parting my lips, and I groaned as her tongue met mine.
"I love you. I've missed you. I've missed this."
"God, I've missed you," I rasped.
I knew I should take my time. I should take my wife to bed and make love to her, but the desire to consume her was too great, and with a shuddering moan, I lifted her slightly against the cherry cabinet. We both gasped at the intensity, and I stilled my movements as our eyes locked. Suddenly, a soft, relieved smile crept across her face and with a groan that echoed off the kitchen walls, we began to move.
"It's close to dawn," Bella whispered softly. Our legs were wrapped like ivy…our heads close together as we snuggled against our pillows. The small rays of sunlight were spilling in through the curtains, causing light to shimmer against her skin.
"Best sleepless night ever," I murmured, letting my fingers ghost across her face. She still had the softest skin.
We had spent the night making love, and after the initial countertop sex that we both admitted was the hottest sex we'd ever had, I had carried my beautiful wife to our bed. We talked, apologized, made love, talked some more, apologized through our tears, and made love again.
I was ashamed to learn that there had been moments through the years that she'd believed that I didn't love her anymore. Bella had cried when I admitted the same fear, and we spent hours reminding each other that there was no one else on this earth that could make us feel what we feel. We apologized with tender kisses and whispered promises while rediscovering hidden places on each other's bodies that could make the other moan.
The alarm shattered our perfect stillness, and as mommy and daddy, we woke our children and helped them get ready for their day. As husband and wife, we made breakfast and enjoyed it with our children before sending them off to school.
And as soulmates, we spent the rest of the day in each other's arms…loving, whispering, and promising.