Donna is the best.
I own none of the things.
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Chapter 6: All Heart
Charlie buys more whiskey.
I don't know why this is more offensive than the copious amounts of beer he consumes daily, but it is different and I snap.
This is the man that made my life his whole life after my mother bailed and then gave me the entirety of his savings for college so I wouldn't start adult life up to my eyeballs in loans, but currently he is screaming at me as I dump a handle of amber alcohol down the drain and it gets difficult to remember to be grateful.
"You spent all my money on a fucking English degree and now you just keep wasting it!" he shrieks. Charlie is a mean drunk and my hands shake as I place the drained bottle in the center of the kitchen table. "That's money you just poured down the drain! You can start paying me back for school in booze, you ungrateful brat."
I am struggling to be grateful, but it is so very difficult when he pulled me back to a town I hate. When he's buying whiskey and beer by the damn gallon. When he seems to be eagerly racing towards heart attack number three or some other booze related disease.
Most of my meager paycheck is going towards bills for the house and Charlie's hospital stays. I am more than happy to help out, but not when he treats both me and his fragile heart like shit.
And I am keeping his secret, pretending like Charlie is coping with retirement with all the grace and dignity befitting the beloved former police chief. I haven't even told Billy about the cases upon cases of beer my father goes through in a week.
"I'm not buying you booze!" I yell, finally buckling under months of pressure. "You are a fucking alcoholic with a heart problem!"
This is the first time these thoughts of mine have been verbalized, and Charlie is gaping at me. Taking the job in Reñaca was my first moment of defiance and this is my first moment of verbalized, brutal truth.
Before I lived abroad, I would never have even considered shouting at my father this way. For a long time it was just Charlie and I. He could do no wrong, even when he was wrong.
But the ruddy-faced drunk currently blinking at me is not my father, not the same man that dutifully took me to every poetry reading in Port Angeles – no matter how awful – and was always in the stands during my brief obsession with swimming – even if I always came in last place. The man before me is not the same person who bought me tampons when I was thirteen and had Sue Clearwater teach him how to properly apply foundation when all the girls in my class discovered make-up.
"I'm not an alcoholic." His face is puce.
"Prove it," I reply.
For one glorious moment he looks like my real father, the one I left to go to South American rather than the sad, sick version that's been twisted into something mean while I was gone, but then he smirks at me from behind that mustache and my heart sinks.
"I don't have anything to prove," he says, deliberately taking a beer from the fridge, popping the top, and chugging the whole damn thing in one go.
I feel sick, all the strength that had me yelling abruptly gone. "No whiskey," I murmur, trying to get it back.
"Oh yeah?" he asks, continuing to smirk. "And if I don't listen? Are you going to leave me again? Like your mother?"
I drop my gaze to the floor, a chastised child. Suddenly I'm eight and somehow I just know that Daddy can't look at me without seeing her and it hurts that he compares me to the woman who abandoned us both.
"I'm not going anywhere," I murmur, fighting tears.
Charlie is back in front of the TV with another beer, and I text Jacob. He shows up half an hour later with Billy and fish fry. They watch some sporting event while I steal all the beer in the fridge and Charlie's keys.
Outside I remove a spark plug from his ridiculous midlife crisis of a sports car, just to be sure.
It's trying to rain and the mist feels good against my skin. I have no desire to go back inside, so I walk. It's nice. I keep walking. I walk a lot, until I'm shivering, and then I walk some more.
On my third pass down the same block I realize that the Stanleys live on this street. After passing the house a fourth time Edward emerges, and I turn off the sidewalk, trekking up a hill and into the woods.
There is no need to check to see if he's followed me.
I walk until the whole world is green. This forest could be anywhere and I pretend that we're a thousand miles away in a different, mystical, new country where whiskey doesn't exist.
It only takes a few minutes for Edward to find me.
"Jesus, Bella," he says, frowning down at me. "You look like a ghost. Where's your coat?" He is slipping out of his own before the words are fully formed.
I don't realize how cold I am until he has me all wrapped up.
"You're freezing," he says.
"My dad's an alcoholic," I reply.
He echoes my thoughts exactly.
Edward pulls me into his chest and I am crying. The tears don't do much to add to my general wetness and Edward gathers my soaked hair, pulling it free of his jacket on my shoulders.
"I'm ruining your sweater," I say into his chest. The thing is lumpy and strangely patterned. Between my tears and the rain, the wool is starting to smell.
"Fuck the sweater," Edward says.
I laugh and then calm, safe and secure with my face pressed into Edward's chest, his arms heavy around my shoulders.
"Have you told anyone before?" he asks quietly as he rocks me. "It's why you're back here, right? That and the heart thing?"
"I'm so sorry, love."
Under the musk of wet wool, his smell brings me comfort. It reminds me of adventure and long bus rides and spending all day in bed back in my minuscule apartment in Reñaca.
In this moment I don't care that he is six years my junior, a student to my teacher. In this moment, I need him and here he is.
"He's killing himself, Edward." I squeeze his waist and steal his heat. "And he expects me to sit back silently and watch."
"It sounds like he truly needs help, Bella," Edward says. "And there is no one else to give it to him but you."
"He told me not to tell anyone."
"If he's killing himself, he really doesn't get to decide that."
And I know Edward is totally right. It shouldn't be this hard, but blatantly ignoring my dad's wishes – like I did when I dumped Jacob and took the job in Chile – is hard. But I did it then for selfish reasons. Surely I can do it now to save his life.
"What about his best friend? Your ex's father. Billy, was it?"
We stay wrapped around each other in the misty forest until the sun goes down and losing an appendage to the cold becomes a real concern. Even then, I don't want to leave.
Edward kisses my cheek. I squeeze his hand and murmur a thank you.
I go home and tell Billy. He is unsurprised, but sad. Jake is more surprised, but Charlie is asleep on the couch at seven so it can't be that much of a shock.
Billy pulls me down into an awkward hug from his wheelchair.
"We'll figure it out, Bells," he says. "I promise. You're not alone in this."
The words make breathing easier.
On the way to the hostel we get lost.
Of my three companions – Emmett from the bus is now somehow part of the group – I am the least well traveled and I get stressed as we wander the streets of Mendoza, Argentina.
I don't see the cute little shops or tile piazzas. I don't people watch with wonder or hear the reggaeton blasting as we pass the doors of a basement club.
Rose and Emmett don't notice my silence but Edward does, and he takes my hand even if it is tricky to navigate the crowded sidewalks like this. Everyone seems to be enjoying this balmy Saturday night.
Emmett and I hang back as Rose and Edward find a local that finally seems to know what she's talking about.
"There's two hotels with the same name," Rose says. "That's why the directions are fucked."
"And why everyone we've talked to is sending us in different directions," Edward explains.
"I am assuming we are staying at the cheap one?" Rosalie asks, looking at me.
I nod my confirmation.
"Brilliant," says Edward, grinning. He takes my hand again. "We're just a few blocks away."
The hipster teenager manning the front desk of the cheap hostel speaks English so I handle check-in.
"So you have one private room and one bed in the bunk room, yes?" He slides two labeled keys across the counter.
Rose immediately grabs the one to the private room.
"Dibs," she shouts, already dragging Emmett up the stairs.
"What just happened?" asks Edward, blinking down at me.
"Is there another private room?" I ask the hipster teenager.
"No. There is another bed in the bunk room."
Edward and I pout on each other for a moment.
"Okay," I say, sighing heavily and turning back to the teen who is unimpressed by our plight. "Yes. Thank you."
"What just happened?" asks Edward again as I drag him away.
There is only one other occupant in the bunkroom, leaving twelve or so empty beds. We take the bunk bed as far away from the sleeping man in the opposite corner as possible, absolutely failing to be silent.
Edward gropes me in the dark as I pull out toiletries and sleepwear. The attentions are just cruel given the room's other occupant. I will absolutely not bang Edward here, even if it's been three long months of aching for him.
His lips find the side of my neck, that spot just behind my ear, and I groan as I struggle to lock our bags up in a cubby next to the beds.
"Edward." My intent is to scold him but his name comes out as an encouraging moan.
I am going to murder Rosalie in the most barbarous fashion conceivable.
His hands find my hips, pulling my back flush against his chest. He sways slightly and I follow him, my eyes drifting closed and he continues to kiss my neck. The occasional scrape of teeth makes me sigh.
"Fuck, did I miss you," he whispers in my ear, his fingers slipping under my t-shirt and tracing my ribs.
My breath hitches. "Yeah. Me too."
"God, you smell divine."
"No I don't. I was on a bus for eight hours."
"You do though." He drags his nose up my jaw. "Better than I remember. It's all better than I remember."
I turn, wrapping my arms around his neck as he fiddles with the clasp of my bra. I kiss him to keep him quiet. Somewhere in my mind I know quiet is important, but I can't recall why. Edward surrounds me and it's better than I remember, too.
It's his taste my memory had wrong and he opens his mouth, allowing me to slip my tongue between his lips so I can work on memorizing it for the next time I have to go without it.
The thought of going without it makes my heart hurt so I tangle my fingers in his hair and refuse to think about the end of the week.
Kissing Edward is so very different than kissing anyone I've ever kissed in the past – Jacob, Jasper when we were ten but that obviously does not count – because I feel it everywhere, not just my lips but from the ringing in my ears to my toes that try to curl even though I'm standing, even though I'm wearing shoes.
I want to be horizontal and without shoes, without clothes.
There is a bed near here and I push into Edward, grinding into him a bit until he stumbles back. I reach out blindly until I find the rickety metal bunk bed.
And then the ringing in my ears is interrupted by a hideously loud snort.
We break apart, confused for a moment before remembering just where we are. The sleeping man shifts and snorts in his squeaky metal bed. Edward and I stare at each other, chests heaving, and we burst into giggles.
"What do we do?" Edward whispers.
"This is disgusting," I mutter, clutching my towel closer and surveying the shower. "So much mold."
"Maybe we could still—"
"—and not touch anything?"
I am so very thankful for my shower shoes.
"Well, we could at least wash the eight hour bus ride out of your hair," he says, pulling his shirt over his head.
I get momentarily distracted by the tan, sculpted planes of his chest, but then I remember the mold.
"Do not distract me with your sexiness and push me up against that moldy tile or I will freak out."
Edward grins and kisses me, setting all our stuff on the counter and walking me into the spray. The water is warm and the pressure is acceptable. Edward washes my hair and I sigh, hating stupid, horny Rosalie and her private room thievery.
There is groping and kissing and thankfully avoiding the walls. My shower shoes stay firmly on my feet. I manage to get Edward off but the angle just isn't working for me and I am firm in my conviction to avoid the mold.
He hitches my leg up around his waist and I moan, closing my eyes and letting my head loll against his shoulder. My hips move in time with his hand.
And then the water abruptly turns icy. We stumble over one another to get out of the painfully cold spray.
"This is a nice counter," Edward says as I wrap my towel around myself.
"No," I say, my teeth chattering. "It's fine, Edward. Let's just go to bed."
He pouts at me for a moment but I used my most stern of facial expressions and with an epic sigh he pulls on his PJs.
An hour later and I cannot sleep.
I'm on the top bunk. It's too narrow and I don't even shift around trying to get comfortable for fear I'll roll right off, breaking my foot before I can go on the bike tour through five vineyards we have scheduled for later in the week.
The room's other occupant is snorting away. Edward stopped rustling around in his thin, scratchy blankets twenty minutes ago.
I sit up and slide out of bed, using my own scratchy blanket to make a curtain. I tuck it in under the mattress of the top bunk and let it hang down to give the bottom bunk a bit of privacy. If snoring guy wakes up, he won't see anything.
I step out of my pajama pants and only trip a little bit. My t-shirt is discarded with much more grace.
"Why, Miss Swan," Edward whispers as I crawl into his bed. I can't find his lips in the dark and I end up almost kissing his eye, his jaw. "I do believe you are trying to seduce me."
"Trying?" My teeth sink into his earlobe.
"Succeeding. Always, love."
"I thought you said you were fine."
"That was obviously stupid. But I maintain that the shower was gross."
"Hush, Bella. We wouldn't want to wake up an audience." His hands find my naked skin. "Oi! Are you naked?"
"Hush, Edward," I say, pulling his blanket more firmly over both of us. I nibble on his lower lip. "Wouldn't want to wake up an audience."
The bed is far too squeaky but by the time I get him as naked as I am I no longer care because his hands are on me, in me, touching me in that divine way of his that has my hands tugging at his hair. I groan out my pleasure in his neck, just below his ear, and I know it's important to be quiet but I can't recall why.
"Edward," I whisper, sitting up when my muscles once more are (mostly) back under my control. There isn't much room in the narrow space between upper and lower bunk, but it is enough. Above my head, my hands curl around bars. "Hurry," I say as he lines us up. "Edward, hurry."
And then I am sinking down onto him, rolling my hips, trying not to groan, trying to keep my eyes open to see Edward's eyes in the dark. His gaze is so intense and he tries to watch all of me at once, following the path of his own hands as they travel up my thighs to my stomach before taking my breasts in his palms, fingers warm and perfect.
I lean forward into his touch and lose the battle to keep my eyes on the wonderful boy beneath me.
The bed squeaks in time with my movements and one of Edward's entirely pleasing hands comes up to cover my mouth, giving me something to groan into, and I am thankful that I no longer am forced to concern myself with silence. I suck on the skin I find beneath my tongue.
It does not take long and when I come apart for the second time I do so thoroughly, moaning "Edward" into his palm.
I kiss him when I have the breath for it.
"Good morning, sunshines!" Rosalie finds Edward and I at a café directly across from the hostel in the morning.
From behind my sunglasses, I glare at her with everything I've got. Edward chuckles at my expression, resting his hand on my thigh beneath the rickety metal table.
"Oh, stop your bitching," Rose says. She can't seem to stop grinning. "Look at you. It's not like my little switcheroo kept you from getting it on."
"Oh, how can you even tell?" I demand.
"It's written all over that pretty little face. Under the dictionary definition of well-fucked there is a picture of Isabella Marie Swan."
"They added well-fucked to the dictionary?" Edward asks. He grins in a way that makes me far less cranky with Rosalie. "Brilliant."
"And it would totally be your face in the dictionary," I say.
"Oh, how can you even tell?" Rosalie asks, mimicking me in a way that is definitely offensive.
"You have a hickey on your neck, Rosalie. Who over the age of seventeen gives a hickey?" I immediately regret my words and I freeze with my coffee almost to my lips. I stare straight ahead and don't move in the hopes that no one was actually paying any attention to me.
I doubt I will ever be able to look at Edward again. Such a shame. He is so beautiful.
"So," says Edward, sounding as serious as I've ever heard him. "Is this your delightfully unsubtle way of requesting I give you a hickey?"
I gape at him for a moment and don't realize he is teasing me until both he and Rosalie abruptly burst into an unrestrained fit of laughter.
"Oh my God, Bella," says Rose. "Your face. Perfect."
Groaning, I turn to hide my face against Edward's shoulder. He laughs again, tangling his fingers in my hair and dropping a kiss on my forehead.
"Thank you for not giving me any visible hickies," I murmur.
"Visible?" says Rose.
I am forced to once more hide in Edward's shoulder and I am thankful that Emmett appears, bearing coffee and pastries.
"What did I miss?" he asks, taking the seat next to Rose and slinging an arm over the back of her chair with a whole lot of ease for someone who just met her yesterday.
"Bella is offended by your hickey," replies Rose.
"Rosalie!" I squeak.
"And Bella's face is in the dictionary under the definition of well-fucked."
"Nice," says Emmett, sipping on his coffee.
"Can I be a footnote?" Edward asks me.
"Edward," I say, reaching for my own drink. "You are the entire entry."
"Aw," coos Rose.
"You know, I think its conversation like this that has that dude over there staring at you guys," Emmett says. "Unless you know him."
Edward and I turn to look at said dude. He is quite old and bearded. I have never seen him before, but when he sees Edward and I he waggles his eyebrows, giving us a thumbs up.
I blink at him for a few moments. Edward returns the thumbs up. And then I understand.
"Oh no," I say, turning around. "That is our bunkmate. We have to go. This is now a to go breakfast."
Emmett and Rosalie laugh the whole way back to the hostel. I may never stop blushing again.
But, on the plus side, Edward somehow manages to get the key to the private room from Rose.
"So dinner?" Emmett asks.
We are sprawled out in the lounge, back at the hostel after a day spent hiking the Andes. I have yet to summon the energy to brave that terrible shower, every time I move my t-shirt scrapes my sunburn and I am too hungry to think about getting dinner.
All and all a nearly perfect day.
"Bella, love?" says Edward. "Pass me your laptop. I will find us an ideal dinner solution."
I do as he says and cuddle into his side on the threadbare couch, watching as he takes to Yelp.
"So far pizza is looking like the way to go," he says.
"Pizza!" echoes Emmett.
"Wait," Edward says, frowning at the screen. "Something's happening. Why is it beeping at me? Is that Skype?"
"Yes, silly," I reply, taking my laptop from him. "Oh, shit." My adoring smile falls right off my face when I see just who is calling me.
"Who the bloody hell is Jacob Black?"
I ignore Jake's call and drag everyone to downtown Mendoza for pizza. It is a subdued affair. Everyone is exhausted by our ultra active day and the call from Jake still has me rattled.
This is the first time he's tried to contact me since I broke up with him last summer and it was a direct call, not an email I could ignore until I get back to Reñaca, courage bolstered by piscola and ice cream, but a direct call that I was forced to ignore with Edward looking on.
As we walk back to the hostel Edward tucks my arm into his and slows our pace until Rose and Emmett are a full clock in front of us.
"So you never did tell me about this Jacob Black character."
"He's this guy from back home," I reply, knowing I should tell him at this point in our relationship but not sure how to start.
"Do you go ghost white and slam your laptop closed whenever a guy from back home rings you?" He is working very hard to be nice and gentle, but I can hear the annoyance in his tone.
There might be a bit of fear in there too.
"No, I was just surprised," I attempt to explain. "I mean, yeah. We dated. For a while. I broke up with him right before I moved to Chile."
That response is far from encouraging.
"It was kind of… rough. I surprised him and he was pretty hurt. I haven't heard from him since we broke up. And I'm not sure what he wants and I hate that I hurt him and you were sitting right there and maybe I feel a little guilty for not missing him," I say in a rush.
"Wow, okay," Edward says. "Are you going to call him back?"
"Probably not. I'll answer an email, maybe, but I don't want to call him."
"Do you regret it? Breaking it off?"
I laugh. "No. Not at all. But before we were together we were friends. I've known him my whole life and I wish I could just snap my fingers and make us go back there, to when we were just friends," I say, blushing again.
"I can't imagine it. Friends you've had your whole life," Edward murmurs. He looks sad.
It takes me a moment to get it but when I do I feel the need to put my arm around his waist. Edward called himself a child of the world when we first met and that sort of upbringing might have made him mature and wonderful and interesting, but not good for long-term relationships.
"I'm so glad I met you," I tell him.
He smiles, back to himself. It makes me feel better, too.
When we get back to the hostel I get on my computer while Edward takes a shower.
I have three emails from Jake, but I don't open them. Instead I stare at the little unopened digital envelopes and bite my lips for a full five minutes before I get another Skype call.
I freak out all over again and ignore him.
He instant messages me and I can't help but read that.
Jacob Black: goddamn it bella! video chat with me right the fuck now.
My mouth falls open with my shock. Anger paints my cheeks red.
Jacob Black: it isn't about us it's charlie get on video now
Jacob Black: please, bella I don't want to do this through this fucking instant messager
With shaking hands I do as he says.
His familiar face fills my screen a few minutes later and I get a little home sick for the first time since Christmas.
"Hey, Jake. What happened?"
Jake sighs and digs the heels of his hands into his eyes. "He's fine, okay? Your dad is okay. He is going to be okay."
His words do not calm me and I can feel panic clawing at my throat. "What happened?" I ask again.
"He's in the hospital, okay? He's fine, just sleeping and resting, but he did have a heart attack."
While I've been on this side of the equator, loving every new experience and banging the perfect (minus the age thing) person, my father's heart has given out on him.
"Oh," I reply.