|The Fiercest Sun
Author: BiteMeNowPlease PM
An erotic mystery. When Bella is seduced by a mysterious stranger with a dominant lifestyle, she unknowingly becomes embroiled in a dangerous situation. Ice hotels, Nazi art theft, dead submissives and one man worth a woman's surrender. M/AHRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Mystery - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 28 - Words: 82,227 - Reviews: 2,059 - Favs: 1,185 - Follows: 1,654 - Updated: 02-21-13 - Published: 10-30-11 - id: 7507406
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Some thanks are due to some people for their encouragement: eb2000, baby98 and so many others. And of course, the ever-fantastic faireyfan! Last chapters are coming and the next hiatus won't be as long. Thanks to all for sticking with me.
Two hours later she was sitting on the hospital bed, dressed and ready to go. Her few belongings were gathered in the disposable bag the nurse had given her. She sat with her hands clasped, staring out the window, and waiting for the latest dose of the stress medication to kick in.
There was a hesitant knock on the door. Emmett stood in the doorway, holding a small bunch of flowers with a haunted look in his eyes. He was so familiar to her, her eyes traced the lines of his face like returning to a well-known road. The rounded curves of his eyebrows, the lines where his dimples appeared when he grinned, the glossy swirls of his hair, all were as intimate and as well known to her as the creases of her palm.
The haunted look was new, however, and in it she saw the same tentative insecurity that gripped her. She stood and turned. "Hi."
Emmett's eyes swept up and down, before lingering on her face. Inexpressible longing colored his face. "You don't seem surprised to see me," he said, shifting his grip on the flowers.
"They told me you were coming."
He nodded. "I got on a plane as soon as I heard."
"What did you hear?"
He took a step forward. "That you'd been shot." He swallowed hard as he grimaced. "At Edward Cullen's house." She could see the effort it took him to say those words.
She ignored the blush of embarrassment and shame that spread across her cheeks like a guilty stain. She realized that he knew everything: that she'd taken Edward as a lover, that she'd fled with him to his home in Texas, that she'd betrayed Emmett and their marriage again and again. She raised her chin, fighting back hot tears. "And you still came?"
His face twisted into a half-smile. "I still came."
She stood watching him. Here was a man who she'd hurt deeply. Now, when she was alone and bereft, he'd arrived to stand with her. "Why?" she whispered.
"Because you need a friend."
She started to laugh, but it came out as a sob instead. "I do," she admitted, hanging her head.
The bouquet he carried dropped to the floor and she was in his arms. The sense of security and safety she felt in them released something in her and she began to weep.
She bowed her head against his broad muscular shoulders, fighting to get control of herself. God, she'd taken so much from him,
"Bella," he whispered, cradling her head against his chest. "Don't you know me? We have fifteen years of history. I can't ignore that."
His kindness only made her cry harder.
"You're the mother of my child. Adam needs you to be there for him. Right now, he needs me to be there for you."
She set her hands on his chest to put some distance between them. "I'm, I'm sorry." She wiped at the tears in her eyes. "How is Adam?"
"He's good, great actually. He misses you. He wanted to Skype with you, but I promised I'd bring you home."
"I miss him so much," she said, trembling with emotion. Emmett's hand slowly stroked her hair. His gentleness and understanding were almost more than she could take. Somehow, she could have withstood his anger and blame easier than this tenderness. She put a hand over her eyes. "How can you be so… so kind to me?" She sniffed violently.
He took one of her hands into his own and clasped it gently. "You weren't the only one."
She looked up at him with questions in her eyes.
He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together. "I, uh, need to tell you something."
"Go ahead," she said cautiously.
He looked at the floor, at the walls, anywhere but her eyes. Her stomach churned with the fear of what he was going to tell her. "You were right," he finally admitted.
"Right about what?"
"Me and, ah, Rosalie Hale."
"You and Rosalie…" The woman from the mining company. The texts. I miss you already. She struggled to understand. "But that day at the beach. You denied everything."
"I know. I know." He dropped her hands and took a step away. "You just surprised me so. I'd been working so hard at keeping it from you…"
He turned and walked to the window, leaning against the sill. His broad shoulders flexed under his shirt and he put out a hand to steady himself. "I should have told you then…"
She shook her head. She doubted it would have made a difference. Edward had unleashed something in her by then and she would have had to follow it regardless of what Emmett had done or not done.
He turned to face her, his face twisted with guilt. "Bella, I am sorry. I should have told you the truth then. Maybe you wouldn't have felt compelled to run off with that − that…"
Her eyes flashed a warning at him.
"Okay, okay." He held his hands up in surrender. "I'm sorry. I'm going about this all wrong." He paced the room, rubbing his forehead. He came to a stop in front of her and took her hand in his own. "I don't want our marriage to end this way. Adam deserves more, we deserve more."
Her face must have reflected her skepticism because he began to talk quickly, trying to override her concerns. "We'll go to see someone, a marriage counselor or something. We can work this out, I know that you still love me and I still love you and isn't that the important thing?"
Her eyebrows drew together in surprise. "You'd go see a marriage counselor?"
He nodded. "For you, I would."
"It's not that simple, Em." She couldn't stop her hand from reaching out to caress a dark curl of his hair. He reminded her so much of Adam. "I don't know−"
"There's something else you should know," he said, turning away.
God, she didn't know how many more revelations she could take. Her mind felt like it was reeling, even the room started to spin. She abruptly turned to sit on the bed. "What?"
"I've started seeing a, uh, counselor."
"Really? What kind?" Even more than the confession of infidelity, this surprised her. He'd always dismissed the idea of any kind of mental health intervention.
"Well, he's a therapist, really. He works with, uh…" His shoulders seemed to cave in on himself, and even with this back toward her, she could tell the pain it cost him to confess. "Uh, survivors of abuse."
She held very still, trying to process this information. What she knew of his family flashed through her mind, his brothers, his father, their home in the mountains of Appalachia. From outside the room, the rattle of trays and the murmur of hospital announcements echoed in the hallways, reminding her that the world continued on, despite her feeling that it was being shaken to its core. "Abuse?" she whispered.
He turned his head to nod at her, and over his shoulder, she could see the bright pink spots on his cheeks. His embarrassment and shame were evident.
"Oh, God, Emmett. You never…Never…" She trailed off, trying to wrap her mind around the immenseness of it. It began to make sense though, his reluctance to address sexual matters between them, his inability to talk about certain subjects. She'd known there was a deep river of guilt and shame in him; she'd assumed it was just the aftermath of a religious upbringing. "When? Who – "
"Mark – he's my therapist – says that it's not unusual for repressed memories to surface at some trigger, like a sound or situation. For me, it was seeing my son turn the same age as I was when…when it…"
"Who was it?" she asked, her fists clenching in her lap.
"Please don't ask me." His voice was low and thick. "I can't. Not yet."
"All right. Sure," she said, afraid to push him. "Whatever you need." The silence in the room felt deafening. The clock clicked as the minute arm moved a tic and voices in conversation passed by the door to the room. "That's good that you're seeing someone," Bella finally said. "That's… good."
Emmett turned around, the back of his hand sweeping his eyes. "What I need is for you to come back with me."
It felt unfair. Not when she was already so shaken and exhausted, not when he'd hit her with so many revelations. She'd had no chance to sort out her feelings. She had no idea what the future held for her, she couldn't even say what it was she wanted, with the exception that she knew what she didn't want: everything to be like it was before she'd met Edward.
An older man in the blue uniform of a custodian opened the door. "Oh, sorry. I thought this room was ready to be changed."
"We'll be gone in a minute," Emmett said, not taking his eyes from her.
The custodian glanced from one to the other, catching the tension in the room. "Take what time you need," he said, shuffling backwards. "I got nothing but time."
Bella looked at her hands as the door quietly swung shut. Emmett took a step toward the bed and held out his hand. "Come home with me, Bella."
"I can't go back to the way things were," she said, hoping he would understand. 'I just can't…"
"I'm not asking you to. I just want the chance to change with you."
And because she had no place else to go, she said, "Yes." Still, the voice inside her head promised, But only for a while.
Next chapter will have a prison visitation scene...