Author: Melissa Treglia PM
Darkward/Victimella. All-Human AU. Quiet and shy Bella can't believe the popular Edward Cullen wants her. He seems quite the catch but, as his moods become more frighteningly erratic, she wonders if this is the only love she deserves. NOT ROMANCE.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Angst - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 3 - Words: 12,459 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 05-20-13 - Published: 02-23-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7865030
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: See Part 1 for explanation and warnings.
Also, to the Anon E. Mouse: "Practically victim hating/blaming by having her disregard Edward's roughness"? You fail at basic reading comprehension, kiddo. I explained my intention and Bella's characterization for this story at the note in the beginning of Part 1. Also, this is Bella's perspective on the abuse, not mine, as she is the narrator. I don't share her opinions on the matter, nor do I blame her for having been abused; the opinions of the characters I write are not my own. I honestly didn't think I'd have to explain that, but there ya go.
*sigh* Anyway, folks, onward and upward.
To my immense surprise and delight, Edward returned before Christmas. I was also upset because, in all that time, he hadn't bothered to contact me. He "explained" that things back with the rest of the Cullen clan in Merrie Olde England had been completely messed up; the phone service was crap, they didn't have internet access and a hand-written letter would've taken too long and could've easily gotten lost.
Foolish girl that I was, I forgave him. I also felt moved to confess that I'd been less than faithful to him, although not saying with whom, because I thought he'd forgotten all about me.
Rather than appreciating my honesty, as I'd hoped, instead he slapped me. Hard. The force of the blow caused me to stagger back. I lost my balance and fell onto Mrs. Cullen's glass coffee table. It shattered when I landed on it.
The result was an artery in my arm sliced open, and a panicked Edward called Dr. Cullen straight home from his practice to tend to the injury. Dr. Cullen told me I should be in the hospital, but I replied that there was nothing the ER could do for me that Dr. Cullen couldn't do right there in his own home, and with less waiting time.
Besides, it was just a stupid accident. If I had been more careful, if I hadn't upset Edward...
Those self-recriminations would become a major theme in my thought processes for some time.
Edward took to monitoring my movements after that. When he couldn't follow me somewhere, I'd get the Spanish Inquisition the second I came back from wherever it was I went.
He'd frequently take my cellphone from me to see who I'd called, and who'd called me. If he didn't recognize the number or the name, he'd demand to know, in the most belligerent tone I'd ever heard, just who the fuck it was.
Edward hit the roof when he discovered, through other sources, my affair had been with Jacob. After that, he was more prone than ever to dark sulks, and one of the questions he'd instantly hit me with upon my comings and goings was if I was going to or had seen Jake.
I wanted to visit my mechanic friend again, just to talk to him, but I was afraid. Going to Angie's house was my only respite. I was terrified of angering Edward; but worse, I thought I deserved his rage because he loved me and I'd been unfaithful in his absence. And I was afraid to tell Angie, because I didn't want her to be a new subject of his ire.
If only I'd remained chaste in his absence, if only I hadn't convinced myself he'd had forgotten me, if only I hadn't slept with Jake...
Edward's sexual appetite became insatiable, and the sex was frequently rough rather than tender. But he developed a new habit: insulting me while we fucked, calling me a bitch and saying I was his whore, and the only cock I should ever take was his goddammit. You know, the sort of stuff you hear in cheap gonzo porn, and wonder if the girl is enjoying herself only because she's being paid for it.
Strangely enough, as a girl who was not being paid to take verbal abuse during sex, I did enjoy it very much. Perhaps because, in a completely bizarre way, I believed he was right on the money to call me those names. That I was a bitch and a whore.
But I missed the times before when, in the heat of the moment, he used to tell me he loved me and that I was the most beautiful and sexy woman on the planet.
Due to my problems with Edward, my focus on school had diminished considerably, and I was failing most of my classes. I was informed by the school that I had to do something about improving my grades, or I'd either end up in summer school, repeating the year, or having to drop out and get a G.E.D.
It didn't help matters that Edward constantly berated my intelligence, his insults varying from using fifty-dollar phrases like "exceptionally unobservant" to flat-out calling me stupid.
My health, which he'd once been so concerned about, now prompted him to call me everything in the book from a greedy cow who constantly stuffs her fat face to a skinny-ass weakling who thinks people should drop everything to pick up her shit.
The one time I said I wanted to go to the Quileute reservation to see a newly-wed friend of mine, Emily Young (now Mrs. Uley), he'd pulled a part out of my truck so it wouldn't start. Then he told me he knew I was really going to see Jacob, and that wasn't going to fucking happen.
I suppose you're wondering at this point why I still stayed with him. As I said, I thought I deserved it. And, more confusingly, there were plenty of times when he was back to the old sweet Edward I'd fallen in love with, giving me flowers and picnics in our meadow. Apologizing for his shitty behavior and promising not to do it again.
I fucking fell for it every time. Hook, line and sinker.
I didn't know which Edward was the real one, and kept hoping the nice, romantic Edward I loved so much would be here to stay this time. But he never did, always making room for his other, nastier self when things didn't go according to what Edward Anthony Masen Cullen hath decreed.
I stopped dressing up and wearing makeup because Edward said I looked like a hooker.
I did whatever he wanted during sex in the hopes he'd get his anger out of his system that way, even if it wasn't something I particularly enjoyed. Some girls out there like some seriously kinky shit, and that's totally awesome for them. Not me, though – I'll happily take loving "vanilla" sex any day to this aggro BDSM crap.
Then again, my experience – and my partner – probably wasn't the ideal for sexual experimentation. The livid bruises he gave me in the process didn't help, either.
Whoever wrote the song that says "you always hurt the ones you love/the ones you shouldn't hurt at all" is just making excuses for guys like Edward. I may've not had much experience on the romance front, but I definitely know now from the harsh tutor of personal experience that love and pain are seldom friendly with each other.
But back then, I simply expected it. I didn't know anything different, and I honestly loved him. And I thought he loved me.
I ended up dropping out of school. I watched Angie, Alice and Edward accept their diplomas, all the while regretting that I wasn't among them to throw my cap up with the rest of my class. Instead, my butt was parked among the audience of friends and family.
Dad was very disappointed in me. Almost as disappointed as I was in myself. Angie tried to console me, telling me that I could always get my G.E.D. and go on from there. Edward said I wasn't the bookish type anyway, and that I didn't need any of that because he'd always take care of me.
But I had been a bookish person, once. I mourned the loss of that Bella.
A month after my epic failure to graduate with the rest of my class, Edward proposed. I realize now that, by that point, I was so beaten down emotionally that I resigned myself to whatever fate Edward had in store for me.
Funny, getting proposed to by the man you love is supposed to be the happiest day of a woman's life – second to actually walking down the aisle, of course. On the outside, I probably did seem happy. But that happiness was a lie. Not merely because I was trying to convince others, but because I was trying to convince myself.
I could tell from the look Dad had on his face when we told him of our impending nuptials that he was worried for me. And he told us that he thought our marrying right out of high school seemed a little too hasty.
When Edward went out to the car before me, as we were about to leave to meet with our wedding planner, Dad pulled me aside to say something that got me right in the heart.
"It's gonna be strange not having you under my roof." There was a slight pause, before he added, "You know this'll always be your home, right?"
I grabbed Dad into a tight bear hug on impulse, and told him I loved him.
I'm so glad he said that then. It was exactly those words that came back to me at exactly the right time.
My idea of a dream wedding was something completely low-key, on the beach wearing a purple sundress and no shoes (purple's my favorite color, so why the hell shouldn't I get to wear it on my wedding day if I want?). The guests would be in bathing suits, just a small party of our immediate families and closest friends. Everybody would jump in the water and have a swim after the whole "kiss the bride" bit, and the banquet would be a potluck supper.
I didn't get my dream wedding. Edward insisted that he wanted everybody who was anybody to come to the wedding. It was high-class all the way, and elaborate as all get out.
I relented because Edward insisted, denying myself the low-key and simple luau of my dreams so Edward could show me off the way he wanted. And I wore the blindingly white Vera Wang dress and matching Jimmy Choo stilettos Alice picked out for me, clinging to my father's arm the whole time because I'd never worn such dangerously high heels before and I was afraid I'd fall flat on my face in front of everyone.
It was his dream, not mine. Never mine.
I thought having a baby would change him.
I named our daughter Vanessa, because I really liked the singer-actress Vanessa Williams and thought Ms. Williams had a beautiful name to go with her beautiful face and singing voice. And I gave the baby a middle name inspired by my dad: Carlotta, the feminine Italianate form of Charles.
"Vanessa Carlotta Cullen." Well, I thought it sounded nice... until Edward took to calling her Nessie. You know, as in the Loch Ness Monster. Then I realized I'd probably set my kid up for a lifetime of mockery.
It's still a pretty name, though.
It was a difficult birth; my health problems mean I was prone to high-risk birthing. I had to stay in bed for most of the time to keep my strength up. Edward claimed to our gyn/ob that he understood, but he really didn't. I could see in his eyes that, as far as he was concerned, I was a fuck-up for not even being able to do pregnancy right.
My beautiful little Vanessa was born by Caesarean-section; she had to be. I lost a lot of blood, and the doctor wasn't sure I'd make it, so they had to give her a quick exit. In the end, they also had to remove my uterus, as the labor had caused it to prolapse (medical jargon for slipping out of its proper place), and give me a major blood transfusion to prevent exsanguination (that's the term for bleeding to death, if you were wondering).
I can still have sex, but I'll never be able to have another child. So, I better get this Mommy shtick right the first time.
When Vanessa was six months old, I went to visit my friend Emily on the reservation. I took "Nessie" with me as part of a playdate for Sam and Emily Uley's baby son, Perry, with my daughter. I didn't have Edward's permission to go; I'd snuck onto the rez while Edward was at work.
If he found out, I have no idea what his reaction would be. His moodswings gave me whiplash. He could be completely unaffected by it... or fly into a rage the second he heard.
It made me feel like I was doing something wrong... to want to see my friends, to have a life outside of Edward. I think that was really the point that the reasoning part of my brain demanded to be heard.
But it was the conversation I had with Emily that did it, I think.
We were sitting on a blanket on her front lawn, our babies on our laps and toys strewn about us. She turned away from me for a moment, at the sound of some older kids down the lane shouting at each other in a street hockey game.
I saw an angry bruise on the back of her neck, that looked like she'd been belted with a wooden dowel. My loud gasp brought her attention back to me.
"Did... did Sam do that?"
"He's done worse," she replied, all too calmly. "He's threatened to take Perry from me if I leave him."
"My Dad could..."
Emily sighed. "Your dad's out of his jurisdiction here. I'm alone in this, Bella; tribal law is on Sam's side." She had a look on her face like she could cry, if only she had any tears left. "I don't have a choice in the matter, Bella. I have to stay with him."
The thought made my blood run cold. And, it also made me think: was I really forced to stay with Edward? Could I leave him, if I chose?
The thought terrified me. Edward, abusive bastard though he was, was none the less the devil I knew. I had no idea what would lay ahead of me, and the thought of change scared me.
Could I leave Edward? Did I even want to?
Edward found out about my flouting his rules. His impossible, ever-changing rules.
The icing on the cake was that I didn't have dinner ready and waiting on the table for him. I had just put the water on to boil, and Nessie in her highchair, when he came home.
Edward flew into a rage. He shoved me onto the couch, tore off my shirt and took off his belt. I thought he was going to force me to have sex, but no... this time was different.
He hit me with his belt. Repeatedly.
I jumped as the leather made sharp contact with my bare skin, and the metal buckle left its marks on my body.
He shoved my head down into the cushions and, when I reached behind me to try to catch the belt, to try to stop the beating, he changed direction to hitting my arms with it.
The pain was nothing compared to knowing my Nessie could see me from the kitchen. Hearing her cry out "Mama!" should've made me proud, as it was the first time she'd ever spoken.
But the memory of her first attempt at speech will be forever tainted by this.
"Mama!" she wailed. "Mama!" She was too young to understand. She could only voice her fear and confusion – at Daddy's voice being so loud, as he did hurtful things to Mommy right before her very young eyes – by crying out for me.
I wept, not from the pain of the beating, but from the realization of the life I would be condemning my little Nessie to if I stayed. She would grow up watching her mother be routinely beaten by her father.
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
I didn't care what happened to me, but what if he turned on her? My sweet, innocent little baby daughter?
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
What if this life convinced her that this is what love is, and she grew up to find a man just like her father?
"Mama!" As he continued to beat me, her cries became progressively higher-pitched and protracted.
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
What if, one day, he beat me so bad I ended up hospitalized? Or dead? There'd be no one to protect my daughter.
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
My beautiful little Vanessa. I can't let this happen to her.
"MAMAAAAA!" This last sounded more like a scream, as if it had echoed from the bottom of her soul and into mine.
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!
I couldn't stay. For her sake, I had to leave.
About a half-hour after Edward went to work the next day, I called Angela. I told her I couldn't stay with Edward anymore, that I had to leave him. I ended up sobbing, and I'm sure I didn't make a lot of sense amid my tears. But something I said apparently was obviously, horribly clear to her.
"Edward hit you?" Angela fumed. "I'll be over in fifteen minutes. I'll help you pack and you can stay at my place till we figure out what to do."
She came over promptly, as she promised, and helped me pack up mine and Vanessa's things. I took only the things that had sentimental value, and a few changes of clothes. For Nessie, I packed all her clothes, necessities and her favourite toys.
The result was three suitcases, a duffel loaded down like one of Santa's sacks, and Nessie's diaper bag. Angela quickly helped me load them into the trunk of her car, and switch Vanessa's carseat from the Mercedes he'd bought me for my nineteenth birthday – a status symbol, Secret Service-style piece of shit that I no longer wanted any part of – into the backseat of her car.
That Mercedes wasn't me, had never been me – but he'd deep-sixed my beloved old Chevy months before, claiming he didn't want his daughter in such a dangerous, unreliable old vehicle. I was angry about it now, because Edward had taken from me something that had been a gift from my father. Dad didn't have a ton of money being a cop, granted, but he'd given it to me out of love. The car Edward had given me was just another way of owning me, of making me feel I owed him.
Already a mother at nineteen, and already separating from the father of my child. What had I done with my life? What kind of example was I setting for my daughter?
The passing of the day at Angela's house was fraught with tension. I was scared of what would happen when Edward came home to find me gone.
Vanessa was perfectly fine. She garbled playfully and patted at all the objects within reach in Angela's home. Seeing my little girl happy made me smile. It would all be okay. I would make it okay for her.
After all, I'd already taken the first step towards a brighter future for her, and the first step was always the hardest, right?
Angela'd set us up in a spare bedroom of her home, and did the best she could to babyproof her house. The house had been hers ever since her grandmother, her legal guardian, had died of heart failure shortly after her eighteenth birthday. Grandma Weber hadn't lived long enough to see Angela graduate, but her grandmother's love was a thick perfume around the house. You could feel it, as if Grandma Weber was watching over her granddaughter still.
The house had been paid for, completely, well before Grandma Weber's death. Angela had been listed in the will as sole heir to all her belongings, and recipient of everything else under Grandma Weber's name; the house and everything in it – and the money her grandmother had set aside – was all Angela's to do with as she wished.
Angela had told me she'd rather saw off her right arm than get rid of any of her grandmother's things.
The peace and love I felt in the house did help me relax a little. For the first time in a long time, I was beginning to feel... safe. Yes, that was it. I finally felt safe.
Maybe Grandma Weber's spirit would protect us against Edward.
When darkness fell, Edward showed up. He was clearly drunk, from his ravings as he pounded upon Angela's front door.
"Bella? Bella, come on! Come back to me, baby!" BAM. BAM. BAM. "Come on, Bella. I know you're in there! BELLA!"
My first instinct was to head for the door, but Angela stopped me. She interposed herself between me and the door, and silently shook her head.
"Bella? BELLA!" His tone was becoming more desperate now, and the volume of his shouting increased. "BELLA, COME ON! COME ON, BELLA!"
A long pause, then pleading, "Bella, I just want to talk to you. Come on baby, please. Don't be like this. BELLA!" BAM. BAM. BAM. "BELLA!"
My hand went to my mouth, silencing the cry that nearly fought its way past my lips. Goddamn the man, I felt guilty for leaving him now. But he was the very same man that had beaten me in front of my daughter, I had to remind myself. He doesn't deserve your forgiveness.
"BELLA!" There was silence, then a BOOM! of his shoulder colliding with the door. "Open the goddamn door!"
"She's not here!" Angela shouted back at him through the plank of wood separating them, as I quietly fought back my tears.
"BULLSHIT!" BAM. "BULLSHIT! Open the door! Open the..."
There was the sound of rapid pacing and scrabbling, like he was trying to find a means to either peer his way in or another way to open the door. His voice had become piteous and hoarse. "Come on, Bella, please... Bella, please!"
Angela went for the phone. "I'm calling the cops. He's gonna break down the door, if this keeps up."
I caught her hand, trying to ignore the pain twisting in my stomach as his ravings nearly deafened us from conversation. "No! No cops. I don't want my dad to know."
Angela sighed. "Alright, no cops." She then smiled grimly. "I've got another idea."
She called her boyfriend, Ben Cheney, a bona fide Navy SEAL to aide us. They had been together since senior year and, with Ben spending most of his time overseas now that he'd gone into the Navy, they'd had little opportunity to see each other. He'd been visiting his mom today, and trying to spend a little time with his family, but he immediately came through for Angela.
I watched, peering through the venetian blinds, as Ben strong-armed Edward away from the door. Angela was nearly six feet, herself, but Ben was even taller and much more muscular. Local magpies didn't call him Big Ben for nothing, y'know (of course, the gossip-mongers often wondered if he was big all over which, according to Angela, was a definite "yes").
Ben physically manhandled Edward into his Hummer to take Edward back home. As, in Edward's current state, he was clearly in no condition to drive.
Seeing Ben handle Edward so assuredly gave me a strange boost of confidence. Edward wasn't the biggest and baddest on the block, after all. And, if need be, Ben would likely be willing to give a little protection detail.
That little bit of reassurance helped me sleep that night.
The next step to take was seeing a divorce lawyer. Angie knew just who to call; Eric Yorkie, one of our old classmates.
"Really? Eric's a divorce lawyer now?" I dimly remembered him as a lanky Asian kid with emo hair who was really enthusiastic about... well, everything. Like a human version of a Yorkshire terrier.
"Yup. Mike's really proud of him, that Eric's got such a successful practice," Angie replied. "And Eric doesn't just specialize in divorce. He does child support cases and other family-related issues, too."
Wait, what was this about Mike being proud of Eric? I'd been out of the loop for so long, due to my problems with Edward. Was there something going on there that I'd missed?
"Mike came out of the closet about a year ago, when he and Eric went public about their relationship. They make a cute couple, and seem really happy together."
Ok, Eric I'd always suspected. He was the most flamboyant member of our grade in school, so it didn't surprise me he was as gay as the day is long. But Mike? He didn't seem like the type.
Of course, homosexuality isn't like a scarlet letter or anything, but Mike had always seemed so... masculine to me. And he'd always been very nice to me. If I hadn't been wooed and won by Edward, I would've been tempted to try my luck with Mike. And probably failed miserably to in the attempt, from the sound of it.
But at least they were happy together.
Eric (who, as it turned out, was still a bit flamboyant in personality, but had traded in his emo hair and ripped jeans for a more conservative buzzcut and a dashing pinstripe suit) was very happy to take my case on, and sympathized with me on my situation. I confessed all to him, and he hugged me when I broke down into tears in his office.
Trying to change the subject for a minute, I remarked to him that it must be strange to be a divorce lawyer when those who shared his sexual preference were fighting for the right to have legally recognized marriages.
"I believe everyone, no matter who they are, have the inalienable right to be Masters of their own destinies," was Eric's sage response. "Even if that means watching them screw up and cleaning up the mess myself."
There must have been something in my face, because Eric was quick to reassure me. "Bella, you're not the problem here. It's Edward who's the screw-up. He had something fantastic and wonderful in his hands and, rather than treasuring it and handling it with care, he walked all over it. Love is worth more than all the gold and precious gems in the world, and it does not make me a happy camper to see it used and abused. That's why I'm here."
I wish I could say the divorce gave me a happy ending. But there are no happy endings, because nothing ever really ends.
Edward fought with me every step of the way, during the divorce proceedings, and I had to drag out every painful memory of how he treated me for public consideration. His lawyer's official defense was, basically, to claim I was a gold-digger who was lying about the beatings and sexual assaults.
The judge, thankfully, was a man with little patience for abusive assholes and deadbeats in his courtroom. The divorce went through, and Edward has to pay me damages in addition to alimony and child support.
My dad and Angela have been with me every step of the way. With Ben providing the occasional heavy-lifting, of course.
I've moved back to my dad's house, and am working on getting my G.E.D.
I've used a little of my alimony to get a new car. This one's an Impala Jake refurbished and sold to me for a song. This made me happy 'cos I'm definitely a Chevy girl.
I've had to file several restraining orders against Edward.
I've been looking for a job to help Dad out in paying the bills but, without having obtained my G.E.D., no one will hire me.
I'm trying to look into colleges, particularly ones that have scholarships for single mothers. There's a few promising ones – not Yale or Harvard, but pretty good quality schools – that might take me in. And, hopefully, provide a play area for my daughter.
Alice has yet to come around to the fact that her twin brother was abusive to me. Her new boyfriend, Jasper – a tall drink of Southern Comfort – has been using his psychology degree to try to reason with her on my behalf.
He also is the one who suggested writing down my thoughts will help give me perspective and provide a release. (Thanks, Jas!)
Emmett, when he found out about the divorce, socked Edward in the jaw. And, I've been told, when Em found out why I divorced Edward, Rose and several of his teammates had to hold him back from giving Edward a beat-down.
I've resuscitated my friendship with Jake. He seems pretty happy now, and is dating Leah Clearwater, one of the girls from the reservation. She doesn't seem to like me much, but I think it might be because Jake still carries a torch for me. I'm okay with that, and I try to keep my distance to avoid upsetting their domestic bliss. But sometimes, I still miss Jake and can't resist calling him.
I'm not dating anyone, because I'm still trying to get over Edward... and I'm a little scared that not a lot of guys will accept a twenty year old mom as girlfriend material. But I know, whenever I do finally decide to date, my prospective mates will have to pass muster with Vanessa first.
Nessie's getting so big, and has hit the terrible twos. She's really fond of telling me "no." It's aggravating sometimes, but it's also comforting because I want my daughter to have the power to say "no".
As long as I don't give her everything she wants, we should be fine.
And we will be fine.
Author's Note: This is the only real ending for a relationship like Bella and Edward's. The only true happy ending is a clean break from that life, and Bella's now in for years of counseling and coming to terms with the past to work out a magazine rack's worth of issues.
For those of you wondering, I've read all four books and Das Mervin's sporkings of the series. Oh yeah, I definitely did my homework. THE KIND OF BEHAVIOUR EDWARD DISPLAYS IN CANON IS NOT ROMANTIC IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.
Anyway, I hope you found yourself thoroughly engrossed in this realistic take (All-Human, no sparkle) on Bella and Edward's True Wuv.