A/N: Thanks for all the reviews last chapter. I know you were all eagerly awaiting Lauren's departure. She'll make an appearance here and there of course, but now we can mainly focus on B & E. Huge thanks to Heather for dealing with me and my comma hatred.
By eight the following morning, I was awake and ready to meet Edward for breakfast. We hadn't specified a time, so I wasn't sure when he was going to show up. At a quarter after, my phone buzzed, and I was surprised to see a text from Edward asking if I was up and wanting to go eat. I replied and then saved his information in my phone. I wasn't even aware he had my number.
We met downstairs in the common area, and he was a beautiful sight to see first thing in the morning. He looked much more rested than he had in weeks, and I was greeted by his beautiful smile.
"Hope you don't mind that I got your number from Alice."
I shook my head. "Not at all. Although, I was a bit surprised to see a text from you."
We began to make our way toward the cafeteria when Edward stopped suddenly.
"Want to go out for breakfast?" he asked, and I couldn't have said no if I had wanted to.
"Sure. Where to?"
"Come with me," he said with a sexy smile, and I had a feeling I'd follow him to the end of the earth if he asked me.
We got into his Volvo and pulled out of the parking lot, arriving at our destination less than ten minutes later. Edward pulled the Volvo into a parking spot, and I grinned when I saw where we were. IHOP. I freaking loved IHOP. I practically skipped my way to the door, thanking Edward when he held it open.
Twenty some minutes later, I was shoveling waffles with syrup, peanut butter, and powdered sugar into my face.
"That looks so gross," Edward said before taking a bite of his French toast.
"It's not," I mumbled through a mouthful. "It's amazing. Try some."
I held out my fork and almost moaned in delight when his lips wrapped around it. He chewed for a moment, and I watched his face.
"Not bad," he said after he'd swallowed.
"Not bad? Please, these are freaking awesome."
We were talking and laughing over our meal when I saw Lauren and Bree walk in. I didn't bother to hide my sigh before I informed Edward. He let out a groan, warning me to brace myself. I really didn't want to deal with Lauren first thing in the morning, and I was afraid things were going to get ugly.
"Well, well. What do we have here?" she asked in a snide voice as she stopped in front of our table. Her eyes were shooting daggers at me as were her friend's, but I did my best not to react to her.
"A couple of friends eating breakfast. Is that a problem?" Edward asked, arching a brow in her direction.
Lauren scowled as she put her hands on her hips. "Friends. Right," she scoffed.
I let out a sigh. "Yes, friends. Believe it or not, friends eat food together all the time," I told her. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we'd like to finish our meal in peace."
I could tell she wanted to say more, but thankfully, our waitress stopped by to see how we were doing. I asked for more orange juice while Edward said he was fine, and then our waitress turned to Lauren and Bree.
"Are you joining them?"
They both shook their heads and stalked off toward their own table, shooting us dirty looks over their shoulders.
"For a second there, I thought we were going to have a problem," our waitress, an older woman with shocking red hair, said.
"Me, too," I agreed.
Needless to say, Edward left her a very large tip once breakfast was over. I'd tried to pay for my own meal, but he'd told me no.
"You got the pizza last night, so please let me get this."
So, I'd relented. It almost felt like we'd been on a date, but I knew better than that. It was like we'd told Lauren. We were just friends having breakfast together.
After breakfast, Edward decided to show me around Seattle. It wasn't like I'd never been to Seattle prior to attending school there, but my parents and I hadn't spent a lot of time in the city. Edward took me to a couple of museums and a park with a carousel. I hadn't been on one of those since I was three or four, and Edward encouraged me to take a ride.
"No," I said, shaking my head. "I'd feel stupid."
He rolled his eyes at me as he paid the man for a ticket, and then he gently shoved me forward.
"Go!" he urged, and I gave in.
I found a beautiful white unicorn and hopped on its back. I felt a bit foolish, but when the carousel began, I forgot all about my embarrassment. It was wonderful and made me feel so carefree and young. It was fantastic. I was almost sad when the ride was over.
"Have fun?" Edward asked as I made my way over to him.
"I totally did. Thanks," I told him, reaching out and giving his arm a squeeze. He flashed me a grin, and once again, my insides turned to mush.
Later in the afternoon after a lunch from a food truck, I got a text from Alice asking where I was. I told her I was out with Edward, and that we'd be back soon. She told me to stay and enjoy myself and to tell Edward she said hello.
"That was Alice," I told him. "She says hello."
He rolled his eyes. "She couldn't have told me that herself?"
I shrugged. "You know her better than I do."
By six, it began to rain, so we agreed to call it a day, and it had been a wonderful one. I couldn't remember having a better time with anyone. I'd certainly never had that good of a time with Mike; that was for damn sure.
"Thanks for today," I told him as we pulled into the dorm parking lot.
"No problem. It was fun, wasn't it?"
"Definitely," I agreed, and we gave each other smiles.
We walked into the dorm together, and I noticed a few people looking at us and whispering. Edward shot them dirty looks and shook his head in disgust.
"They hang around in the same circle as Lauren," he muttered which certainly explained a lot. I had a bad feeling that some rather interesting rumors would be circulating come tomorrow, assuming, of course, that they already weren't. It was pretty obvious that Lauren and Bree had come back to campus and told a few people they'd seen Edward and I together. I almost felt guilty about hanging out with him, but I quickly shoved those feelings down. We'd done nothing wrong, and even if we had been on a date, it wouldn't have mattered. Edward was single and so was I.
Ignoring them, I followed Edward up the stairs, and we made our way toward my room. It was still early, and I wasn't ready for the night to end, so I decided to invite him in. I unlocked my door and found Alice and Jasper tangled up in her bed. Immediately, I closed my eyes and shut the door. I loved them both, but there were some things you just weren't meant to see.
"I think I've been blinded," Edward said quietly, and I opened my eyes to look at him. There was a look of horror on his face, and I found myself giggling especially when I heard Alice tell me to go away and come back later.
"You and me both," I told him. "Well, I … uh … well, I don't know what I'm going to do now."
"You can always hang out in my room. We can watch a movie or something," he suggested, and I eagerly agreed.
Once in his room, I took a seat on his bed as he dug through the movies in the entertainment center he and Jasper had. He pulled out a horror movie I'd seen before, and I readily agreed. We sat in silence for a few minutes as the movie began, and I was hyper aware of him being a few feet from me on the same bed. I had to admit, it made me slightly nervous, and I had butterflies in my stomach.
Halfway through the movie, my phone rang, causing me to jump, and I answered when I saw it was my mom. I mouthed to Edward that I was going to take the call and stepped outside his room.
"Hey, Mom!" I said, glad to hear from her.
"Hey, baby. I'm sorry to call you so late," she said, and there was a tremble in her voice. Something had happened. I just knew it. "There's been an accident."
My stomach clenched at words. "What happened?" I asked. My first thought being that Dad had been shot.
"Let me just say that your dad's going to be fine, but he was hit by a car while doing a routine traffic stop."
"Oh, Jesus! Are you sure he's okay?"
"I'm sure," she swore. "He has got a broken leg and has a few scrapes and bruises."
"Did they catch the person who hit him?'
"I'm coming home," I told her. I had to see for myself that he was okay.
"No, Mom," I interrupted. "I need to see him."
"Fine, but you're not driving tonight. It's late, and it's a long trip. You can leave in the morning."
I agreed, and after telling her I loved her, I hung up. I sat on the floor outside Edward's door and did my best to hold back my tears, but it was impossible. Pulling my knees up to my chest, I wrapped my arms around them and buried my face. I never even heard the door open, so I was startled when a strong arm settled upon my shoulders. Seconds later, I was being held against his warm chest.
"What happened?" Edward asked in a soft, soothing voice.
"My dad was—" I took a deep breath to compose myself before continuing. "My dad was hit by a car."
Edward swore under his breath, and his arm tightened around me. "Is he going to be okay?"
I nodded against his chest. "Mom said that his leg is broken, and he has some scrapes and bruises, but he's fine. At first, I thought she was calling to tell me he'd been shot or something. Instead, he was hit by a car while he was writing a driver a speeding ticket."
"I'm sorry," he said, placing a kiss to the top of my head.
"I'm going home in the morning to see him. I probably won't be back until Monday afternoon or possibly Tuesday," I told him.
We stayed like that for a while until we heard footsteps coming down the hall. I pulled away from him, wiping my eyes, and stood up with Edward's help.
"Sorry about earli—" Alice began to say, but stopped when she saw my face. "What's wrong?"
I told her that my dad had been in an accident, and I'd be heading home the next day. She gave me a huge hug, and it took everything in me not to start crying again. Deciding that I needed a cup of hot chocolate and some quiet, Alice gently began to maneuver me toward the stairwell. I thanked Edward before saying goodbye to him as well as Jasper.
Back in my room, I changed into my flannel pants and thermal shirt before crawling under the covers. After drinking some hot chocolate, provided by Alice, I burrowed in and tried to fall asleep. Unfortunately, sleep didn't come easily. I spent most of the night tossing and turning before finally getting up at around five. I quietly got dressed, packed a bag, left Alice a note, and sent a quick text to Edward before making my way out to the parking lot. I'd only been in the car for a few minutes and was still in the parking lot when my phone buzzed.
Be safe, the text read, and I smiled as I read it.
Thanks. I will, I replied back to Edward before setting my phone aside and putting the car into reverse.
The three hour drive home seemed to take forever and not even listening to my favorite band, Stereophonics, helped. Eventually, I passed the Welcome to Forks sign, and my body sagged with relief. I was home, and I'd be seeing Dad in a matter of minutes.
Turned out, it was more like twenty minutes by the time I pulled into the hospital, found a parking spot, and got through reception. I practically ran down the corridor that led to Dad's room and heaved a sigh of relief when I pushed the door open.
"Dad!" I cried out when I saw him in the hospital bed. I rushed over to him and did my best not to fling myself at him.
"Bells! What are you doing here?" he asked gruffly, but not unkindly.
"Seeing you, of course."
He sighed before holding out his arms, and I flung myself into them. The tears flowed freely as I was wrapped up in my dad's embrace, and I swore I heard him sniffle a bit as well. Pulling away, I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand before taking a good look at him.
He looked tired, his left arm was bruised, and his left leg was sporting a green cast. God, it could have been so much worse. He could have been killed, and that thought terrified me.
"How are you feeling?" I asked him, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"Sore, but the doc is going to let me out in an hour or two," he told me. "Now, I've got to learn how to walk on those damn crutches."
Mom let out a snort as she came into the room and hugged me. "And what fun that'll be. Good thing our bedroom is downstairs; otherwise, you'd be sleeping on the couch for the next six to eight weeks."
"The hell I would," Dad growled, and I giggled at them. Sometimes my parents were so weird.
"I don't like the thought of you missing classes," Dad said with a frown over dinner later that night.
"It's one day, and I haven't missed any classes yet. It'll be fine, and I can get notes from someone," I told him.
He continued to frown, but he nodded in agreement.
After dinner, the three of us watched a movie together, and it was great to spend time with my parents. Sure, I'd seen them not too long ago, and I'd be back in two weeks for Thanksgiving, but it was still nice seeing them. More than anything though, I was relieved that Dad was going to be okay.
Two days later, I was traveling back to school with a Tupperware container full of some weird cookies my mom had made. Mom wasn't known for her cooking or baking skills, and she was constantly experimenting, much to our disgust, but we loved her for trying. I, however, wasn't about to eat the cookies that were in the seat beside me. She'd said something about seaweed and pumpkin before shoving the container at me, kissing me, and telling me to drive safe.
I arrived back at the dorm a little after five in the evening, and I grabbed my bag and the cookies before heading inside.
"Hey, Bella!" Emmett hollered as soon as I'd entered the dorm, and I waved as I made my way over to him. He and some guy were playing a game of ping pong, and it looked pretty intense.
"How's your dad?" he asked, swinging the paddle wildly and almost hitting me.
"He's doing well. A bit cranky, but he's fine," I told him, ducking when the little plastic ball came flying my way. The game was beginning to get dangerous, and I feared I'd get hit if I stuck around. I said goodbye to Emmett and headed upstairs to my room, knocking softly in case Alice and Jasper were in there together.
Alice flung the door open and pulled me into a tight hug before passing me along to Jasper. I had been right about them being in the room together, but at least this time, they were clothed. Jasper gave me a gentle hug and a brotherly kiss to the top of my head before asking how I was.
"I'm good. Much better now that I've seen my dad."
"How is he?" Alice asked.
"Cranky," I said with a snort. "He's complaining because he has to use crutches, because he has to be on desk duty, because, because, because."
I loved my dad, but he was the world's biggest baby. He was a horrible patient, and I had a feeling Mom would end up beating him senseless at some point because of all his whining.
"What's that?" Jasper asked, spying the container of cookies that I'd sent on my desk.
"Incredibly disgusting cookies my mom baked. Help yourself at your own risk," I told him as I began to unpack my bag and put stuff away.
From the corner of my eye, I watched as he opened the container and sniffed the cookie that he'd taken out. He must have decided it smelled okay because he took a huge bite, and then his eyes bugged out of his head. I was freaking dying. I started laughing so hard at the look on his face that I could barely stand up. Alice was right there with me, giggling like mad as Jasper grabbed the trashcan and spit the remainder of the cookie out. He dashed out the door and into our bathroom and immediately began rinsing his mouth out with Alice's mouthwash. Tears were streaming down our faces by the time he came back into the room.
"God, Bella! Those were just nasty! Why didn't you warn me?"
"I did," I said, wiping my cheeks dry with my hands. "I warned you they were gross."
"No, they're beyond gross. I'm sorry, but your mom shouldn't be allowed to bake."
I let out a laugh as I agreed. I informed them that my mom was an experimental cook who made up her own recipes on a whim. He shot me a look of horror and asked how my dad and I had survived.
"Take out, plus I'm a pretty decent cook. Like always, I'll be cooking Thanksgiving. If we left it up to my mom, we'd probably all die of food poisoning."
"I've gotta go brush my teeth, but I'll meet you ladies for dinner in a bit?" Jasper asked, and we both nodded.
Once Jasper was gone, Alice shut the door and turned to face me with a serious look. Something was definitely up.
"Last night Lauren showed up drunk at Edward and Jasper's room. She began to scream and holler at him, calling him all kinds of names and even accused him of cheating, and then she accused you of being a whore. Edward ended up having to call campus security to come take her away."
My mouth dropped open in shock, but I really shouldn't have been that surprised. Lauren seemed a bit unstable to begin with, but add in alcohol, and you've got a mess on your hands.
"She kept yelling that she loved him as they dragged her away. It was horribly embarrassing," she continued.
"Do you think she really loves Edward?" I asked.
"No. I think she loves the idea of loving Edward, and she loved the money that he spent on her, but I don't believe she truly loves him. I know he didn't love her, and he's better off without her. Besides, he has you now."
"We're just friends," I told her for what felt like the millionth time.
"We'll see," she said before prancing over to the mirror to fix her hair before we headed to dinner.
We met Jasper and Edward in the hallway ten minutes later, and Edward gave me a quick hug and asked how my dad was doing. I told him Dad was doing fine and driving Mom insane.
"Whatever you do, Ed, don't eat any cookies Bella's mom makes," Jasper warned him, shuddering at the thought.
I let out a laugh as I explained to Edward about my mom's horrible cooking and baking skills.
"They were horrible," Jasper told him.
"What did you expect? They were seaweed and pumpkin flavored," I told him, and I swore Jasper turned a bit green.
"So I hear you had an interesting night," I commented to Edward as we followed behind Alice and Jasper.
Edward looked a bit pained, and I was instantly sorry I'd brought it up.
"Yeah, it was a bit embarrassing for everyone involved. At least, I hope she was embarrassed by her behavior. I haven't seen her since because she wasn't in class today. I'm just hoping that campus security taking her away was a wakeup call, and she'll realize she needs to let go."
"Mike wasn't very good at letting go either."
I nodded. I hadn't told any of them about Mike except that he was my ex. I think part of me was afraid they'd think I was weak for staying with him when he belittled me.
"Yeah, he was pretty controlling."
Edward put a hand on my arm and pulled me to a stop. I looked up at him, and he had a very serious look on his face.
"Did he hurt you?"
I took a deep breath before responding. This wasn't exactly how or where I'd planned on telling him about Mike. Granted, I hadn't even been sure I was going to tell him or the others.
"Eventually," I told him, moving toward the bench that was near the sidewalk. If I was going to tell him the story, I at least wanted to be semi-comfortable. I saw Alice and Jasper stop and look back, but I waved them on.
"He was the popular guy at our high school who never paid any attention to me until I started working at his parents' store. It took some time, but he finally wore me down, and I let him take me out. Before I even realized it, we were a serious couple with some serious issues. He began to try and control every aspect of my life. He had to know where I was at all times, who I was with, and what I was doing. He criticized everything about me from my clothes to my hair to my breast size," I told him, pausing to take a deep breath.
"I know it was stupid to stay with him, but I did. At first, I didn't even realize he was doing it, and then I'd find myself thinking maybe he was right. It was demoralizing, and I'm ashamed that I let him control me like that. Then one night about six months after we'd been dating, he asked me to marry him. I told him no."
"I guess he didn't like that," Edward said quietly, reaching out to clasp my hand in his. I clung to his hand tightly, hating that talking about Mike still got me worked up.
"Yeah, you could say that. I never thought in a million years he'd hit me, but he did. He slapped me hard, and when I started fighting back, it just got worse. By the time I managed to get away, I had a broken nose, a busted lip that required stitches, and more bruises than I could count."
"Jesus," Edward whispered, running his free hand through his hair. "Please tell me he's locked up."
"He was, but he got off light. His father is politically connected, and Mike only had to serve one hundred and eighty days, and he got probation for two years."
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Edward gaped, and I shook my head no.
"He was released this past September, but I haven't heard from him or seen him. There's a restraining order in place, but Dad is always keeping an eye out. We were told that Mike was sent to live with family in California when he got out."
"Why didn't you tell us?" he asked me with a hurt look.
"I was afraid you all would think I was weak or pathetic for staying with him for as long as I did. Plus, it's not something you just blurt out, and the timing never seemed right."
"You're not weak," he told me, pulling me in for a hug. I held onto him, and it took a lot for me not to cry. He was so sweet and wonderful.
"Thanks," I said, pulling away and sniffing a bit. Looked like those pesky tears were going to show up after all. I blinked a few times until I felt like I could look at him and not burst into tears.
"I won't say anything to the others. You can tell them when it feels right, okay?"
I nodded, and then my stomach let out a loud rumble. I turned ten shades of red as Edward let out a laugh.
"Let's go feed the beast in your belly," he said, standing up and tugging me with him. We made our way toward the student center, and I was hyper aware that my hand was still in his. He let go of me to open the door, and I felt a sense of loss and disappointment.
"Everything okay?" Alice asked once we'd gone through the line, gotten our food, and sat down at the table.
"Yeah," we replied, and I could see she was dying to ask questions, but Edward shook his head at her.
Later that night as we lie in our beds, Alice finally asked what Edward and I had been talking about.
"I know it's none of my business, but you both looked so serious. You promise everything is okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I promise I'll tell you what we talked about, but not right now. Talking about it with Edward has really worn me out."
"Well, tell me when you're ready. I'm here for you. We all are," she told me before saying goodnight.
a/n: So now Edward knows about Mike, and things are slowly moving along.