|Til I Said it to You
Author: GrayMatters PM
ON HIATUS! 3-11-12 She's a serial rescuer with a history of adopting strays. He's selfish and arrogant, cut loose by his family to find himself. Will Bella fall for his act, or will Edward find more than he bargained for? AH/OOC M for language & lemons.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Romance - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 12 - Words: 48,001 - Reviews: 933 - Favs: 558 - Follows: 804 - Updated: 01-16-12 - Published: 10-03-11 - id: 7435257
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
During my three week hiatus, Stephenie Meyer ceded control of the entire Twilight universe to me! Can you believe it? Yeah, me either. She still owns it all.
So yeah, I was going to take a week off, answer reviews and get writing ahead...and that soooo didn't happen! For a host of patently unimportant reasons this chapter was difficult to get out. It's a little shorter than usual, but it does what it set out to accomplish!
So much love goes out to my beta/pre-reading team of pixiekat7, ScottishRose1028, AtHome Jo, BilliCullen, Cullen_Crazy01 and Onebravelamb. These ladies, along with a few select others, help me hold it together when it feels like things are falling apart. Love you all, my wonderful ladies!
Bella tried to brush off Hailey's words as she patted her daughter's back in a reassuring manner. "Yes, Sweet Pea. Mama is yours, but Mama has friends, too."
"Nooooooo!" Hailey started wailing loudly, her mouth so near Bella's ear that her shriek left her ears ringing. "No, Mama! No! No! No!"
"Hailey Johanna, you need to calm down," Bella said sternly in the no-nonsense tone that usually worked with her toddler. She quickly realized that neither her words nor her tone were effective and noted with embarrassment that they were starting to garner the attention of the other zoo patrons as Hailey's tantrum escalated. She glanced quickly at Edward, who stood behind the stroller, staring at the little girl with wide eyes and looking a little dumbstruck by Hailey's behavior.
Bella was flummoxed herself. She was accustomed to short Hailey tantrums about clothing, food, bed and bath time; however, this was easily gearing up into the biggest tantrum Hailey'd had with her yet. She bent over to place the squirming, screaming child back into the stroller, but Hailey clung to her like a spider monkey, her arms and legs tight around Bella. There was no way Bella could strap her back in without using force, and she didn't want to make even more of a scene than they already were.
"What can I do?" Edward asked helplessly, having to raise his voice to be heard over Hailey's screams.
Bella shook her head. "Unfortunately, nothing," she answered, embarrassed by the stares of the other families at the zoo and stressed beyond belief that Hailey would choose now of all times to do this. "Is it okay with you if we leave?" she almost shouted.
Edward nodded quickly, a look of relief on his face as he grabbed the stroller by the handles and turned it back around toward the entrance. Edward's legs were long and he was apparently in as big of a hurry as she was; Bella could barely keep up with his stride. She ignored the pitying looks from other parents as Hailey continued to cry and cling to her, her shoulders and back already aching from hauling the sturdy and thrashing little girl through the zoo.
Once they made it through the exit gate, Bella felt herself relax just a little bit even though Hailey was still in mid-meltdown, knowing that they would be home soon. "Do you…" Edward started to ask, flinching when Hailey screamed even louder. "Do you want me to get the car?" he said over the din.
"Yes, please," Bella said, wanting to weep with relief at the thought of unburdening her arms. He left the stroller by her side and she watched as Edward crossed the lot, her head pounding from the adrenaline rush caused by their hasty trek through the zoo and Hailey's continued cries.
Edward pulled up and quickly opened the door for Bella. Hailey did not want to be buckled into her car seat and started screeching even louder when Bella tried to close the door after she was belted in. Bella quickly folded down the stroller and stowed it in the trunk, and then glanced between the front and back seats, gnawing her bottom lip in indecision.
"Go ahead, sit with her," Edward said.
Bella smiled gratefully and then climbed into the back seat to sit beside her wailing daughter.
The ride back to the apartment complex was strained. When Hailey fell into an exhausted slumber a mile or so down the road, Bella glanced up at the rearview mirror to find Edward looking back at her. The red light they were stopped at turned to green, and Edward's gaze moved away and he continued the drive. She noted that his jaw was tense and his brow furrowed. His fingers tapped an unknown rhythm against the steering wheel, as though he was trying to dispel nervous energy.
Back at the apartment, Edward parked the car in her spot in the alley, his eyes avoiding hers as he opened her door. Bella groaned softly as she leaned over and lifted Hailey out of the car seat, the little girl dead weight in her arms. Edward shouldered the diaper bag and closed and opened doors as they ascended the stairs to her apartment, unlocking the door and stepping aside to allow them entry.
"Come in, please?" Bella asked as he hovered in the doorway, an indecisive look on his face.
Edward nodded wordlessly and stepped into the apartment, closing the door behind him and standing near it, making no move to enter further into the room.
"Let me go lay her down. I'll be just a minute," Bella said. She took Hailey into the bedroom and laid her in her crib, brushing her silky curls from her forehead, studying her daughter's tear-stained face.
Bella herself wanted to cry. She'd had this optimistic picture in her mind of how today would go, with Hailey charming Edward and vice-versa, the three of them enjoying a fun outing at the zoo. A well-behaved Hailey was nearly impossible to resist, but temper-tantrum throwing Hailey was enough to make even her devoted mother want to scream in frustration. How was Edward, someone who had no experience with kids, expected to handle her little angel's inner-monster?
She sighed heavily; hiding in here wasn't doing her any good. She pressed a kiss to her fingertips and brushed them across Hailey's cheek and then covered her with a light blanket. She closed the bedroom door on her way out and found Edward still standing near the door as he had been when she went into the bedroom. He looked to her like he was ready to bolt at any moment.
"Will you sit on the couch with me so we can talk?" she asked, feeling only slightly relieved when he nodded wordlessly. "Would you like something to drink?"
"No, I'm good," he said, his voice sounding raspy, moving toward the couch and sitting on one end. She wanted to sit next to him, but instead perched on the edge of the couch, ready to jump up at any time. It reminded her of the last night, when she'd been so sure that he'd come up stairs to tell her he didn't want to see her again. Suddenly, her self-doubt kicked in. He'd already expressed his worry about how to handle dating someone with a child. Maybe this time he really was going to tell her goodbye.
"Look, Edward, I'm sure that spending a boring day at the zoo with a grumpy and possessive toddler wasn't exactly your ideal date," she mumbled, looking down at her lap. "I know we said we'd try, but really we can just forget about this and go back to being friends or acquaintances or whatever the hell we were before…"
She felt the cushion shift and Edward's fingers were suddenly under her chin, forcing her face up so their eyes could meet. "Bella? Shut up," Edward said, covering her mouth with his.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, clinging to him and returning the kiss with fervor. It wasn't the reaction she'd expected when she'd offered him the out, but she was already too close to being too far gone with this man; she didn't care. She'd gladly take what he offered her while he offered it, and deal with the emotional consequences later.
Edward could feel the edge of desperation in their embrace, the way Bella kissed him as though it might be for the very last time. He slowed the kiss, using his fingertips to softly trace the contours of her face as he gentled his lips. A few moments later, he pulled back slightly, resting his forehead against hers, their noses touching as they both tried to regain their breath.
"So, you've survived your first Hailey hurricane," Bella said in a conversational tone, as if they hadn't just been kissing the daylights out of one another moments ago. "And you haven't run away…yet. But the instinct to jump ship is strong, isn't it?"
"I'm so in over my head," Edward admitted as he sat back and swept a palm over his face. "Bella, she hates me, and I don't know how to overcome that," he said in a quiet voice, his hand shifting to run his fingers through his hair. "They say that kids and dogs are the best judges of character, and if Hailey doesn't like me…I mean, she's your life and you have to do what's best for her, so if that means…"
"Whoever 'they' are, they're idiots," Bella interrupted his self-deprecation. "Hailey has no idea what's best for her. And while I do take her into consideration when making my decisions, my life is not ruled by her. My toddler doesn't make my choices for me, I do."
"Why does she accept her dad's girlfriend so fully, yet look at me as though I'm out to ruin her life?" Edward asked, with what sounded like a hint of jealousy in his voice.
"She's never had to share me with anyone before, Edward," Bella said gently, wishing that he would look at her. Instead, his eyes were closed and he had moved from running his fingers through his hair to pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger as if he had a monster headache building. "And her reaction today is my fault; I should have abided by my own rule of no obvious PDAs because that's obviously what set her off. I honestly had no idea that Hailey would or even could react like this," Bella said, shuddering a bit as she recalled some of the worst moments of Hailey's tantrum.
She smiled tentatively when Edward looked up at her, reaching over and taking her hand in a comforting manner. She could still see the doubt in his eyes, and she knew he needed additional reassurance. "You need to remember that Alice has been a part of this weird family equation since before she was even born. Hailey's always had to share her father's attention with his girlfriend; she's never known any other way. Even though Alice and I cannot stand one another, Hailey trusts her, and I trust Alice with Hailey."
"But Hailey doesn't trust me," Edward said flatly, angry with himself for creating the situation. If I just would have waited for them this morning instead of going up to the apartment…
"If you'll recall, neither did I at first. Hailey doesn't know you yet, Edward. Your first introduction didn't go very smoothly, and she didn't exactly respond the way I would have hoped today, but it was just the first time," Bella tried to soothe him.
"'Didn't go very smoothly'? Nice way of saying I fucked up royally. Bella, that kid wants nothing to do with me!"
"Again, neither did I," Bella reminded him, needing to calm him, and wanting to make him smile again. "God, you were such an arrogant asshole. But somehow you managed to charm me anyway, despite the fact that I didn't even want you to try."
"Yeah, I tend to have that effect on women," he said, suddenly cocky as he winked at her.
Bella groaned and laughed all the same time. "Sure, let's go ask the toddler about your charm, shall we?" she scoffed and then gently reached out to touch his arm apologetically when he looked down, cheeks reddened. She realized she shouldn't have teased him when the experience was so fresh and he was so unsure. "Really, she just needs time to get to know you, to know that you're a good guy, like I do."
"I'm not a good guy, Bella, but for you I'd like to try," he said softly, looking back up at her, his eyes filled with pure, raw vulnerability.
At his words and tone, Bella felt herself fall a little bit more for the man at her side, helpless against the feelings that were building within her. She reached out wordlessly to cup his face with her hands, kissing him with all the emotion she felt, holding onto the glimmer of hope that somehow they would be able to come through this together and end up on the winning side.
Thank you so much for your patience and support. I know I have still not yet replied to reviews for the last couple of chapters, but plan to get on that as soon as I get a grip on everything that's going on in life right now. But please know that I will keep writing - there is a lot of story left to tell!
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Thank you so much for taking the time to read!