Chapter One

I opened my eyes slowly and looked around the room. This was not my bedroom.

A cold nose nuzzled my shoulder and the warm arm around my waist tightened.

"Mmmm," James hummed sleepily. I waited a few seconds for him to slip back into a deep sleep, and then carefully extracted myself from his grip.

Another incredible decision by Bella Swan, I thought with dry humor.

It only took me a few minutes of searching around the familiar apartment to find all my clothes—dressing as I went along—then I let myself out with making too much noise.

As soon as I was in the hallway again, memories of how I'd gotten here in the first place surfaced.

FLASH!~"Oh, Edward... harder," Tanya moaned from the other end of my apartment right as I'd opened the front door. I clenched my teeth and exhaled loudly then stormed into the bedroom to find the two of them fucking in my bed... again. Tanya screamed, Edward swore, I snatched a shoe up from the ground by the door and threw it at his head. "You fucking disgust me!" I snarled. This was the fourth time I'd walked in on such a scene in one year and it would certainly be the last. I spun around, marched back down the hall—snatching my handbag off the buffet as I went past—and went back out the front door, slamming it behind me.~FLASH!

I cringed away from the memory then held my head as it violently spun from the sudden movement.

"Urgh, fucking hangovers," I moaned.

"Hey, Bells, where you goin'?!" James called out from inside the apartment.

I sighed and waited while his unsteady footsteps thumped down towards the door. I turned around and the door opened, exactly the same image appeared before me now as it had last night.

FLASH!~James, shirtless, boxers hung low on his hips, face scrunched up after just having woken up. "Hey, sup? It's like... one a.m." he asked, squinting in the bright light from the third floor landing. I stepped forward and pushed him backwards with my hands on his chest. "Fuck me," I demanded and kicked the door shut. He fumbled with my shirt, trying to yank it out from the tight waist of my skirt. "What about Edward?" he asked quickly. "He can go to hell!" I growled then kissed him roughly. "Okay," he agreed before unzipping my skirt.~FLASH!

"Home," I answered. "I've got an ex-boyfriend to kick out and a bed to burn."

He exhaled slowly then looked back up to my face. "Z'at what you really wanna do?"

"That's what I need to do."

"Can't you do it this afternoon?"


"Because I want you to come back to bed," he said without hesitation or concern for whom of his neighbors could be listening.

"I get one day off a week and this is it. Not only do I have a hangover, but I have shit to attend to," I explained. 'Shit' being the code word for 'Assward Masen'.

James sighed and absentmindedly rubbed his eyes. "One hour? It's pretty rare that you come looking for me."

"You're good for sex, not relationships," I stated, that being the reason why me seeking out him was not a common event.

"Baby, I'm the longest relationship you've ever had. I think that means I get a few perks; like morning sex."

I couldn't help but smile at the casual tone he used. It was almost playful—one of the things I liked about James was his almost playful side. He just got down to business, but was somehow light about it.

Sighing as my resolve crumbled, I looked down to my watch. "Forty-five minutes," I stated.

"Best head for the shower then. Kill two birds with one stone," he decided and reached out to pull me back into the apartment. Before the door was even shut James had my shirt up and over my head, then me up and over his shoulder as he kicked the door the final inch into the latch and headed to the bathroom.


Three hours later, I finally dragged my tired and probably bruised ass out of James' apartment and walked the twenty-five minutes downtown to my place.

I was pleased to find the door was locked when I got there, bringing a little hope to me that Edward wasn't inside waiting for me to get back. The last thing I needed was him trying to justify his actions and making empty promises that it would never happen again and telling me that it meant nothing.

Gladly, my apartment was indeed empty, leaving me to do what I should have done ten months ago in peace. I gathered up all of Edward's possessions; all the pictures with him in them; and finally the soiled sheets that were still on my bed. Piled the lot in a garbage bag with his name scrawled on the side, and then placed the trash in the hall outside my door.

Feeling much better, I began my weekend ritual of cleaning while ingesting a pint of Redbull and singing along to Radiohead. It wasn't until I was just about to sit down and call Alice that I noticed the fifteen missed calls and voicemails and the thirty-seven text messages. It took about ten seconds of internal debate for me to decide that he would likely use all his grovelling skills on these voice messages and if I listened to them I would be more than prepared for the real thing when he undoubtedly came around in the next few days to beg for mercy.

"You have fifteen new voice messages. Message received at 8:22pm. Bell! Shit, I'm sorry. Please answer the phone. She just showed up and . . . I messed up- Message deleted."

I took a long breath and steeled myself. His voice alone made me furious, but also made me want to cry.

"Message received at 8:24pm. Answer the phone, Bella. I have to talk to you. I'm sorry, I swear it will never happen again. I'm never going to see her again-Message deleted."

"That's what you said last time, asshole," I muttered as I pressed the option to delete the message.

"Message received at 8:29pm. Where have you gone? You have to call me back. You have to let me explain. I'm not going to stop calling until you answer me, Bella! We're not going to let this ruin us! - Message deleted. Message received at 8:35pm. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell, I just really . . . really need to talk to you, Bells. You're all I have, baby. I never meant to-Message deleted."

The next three were him crying and singing Never Tear Us Apart by INXS.

But then there was the eighth one. The one that convinced me once and for all that he was utterly fucked in the head.

"Message received at 9:03pm. Bella, I love you sweetheart. My angel. I can't believe I did this to you. I'll never hurt you again. I'll never hurt anyone again. Someone that can hurt you shouldn't be allowed to live . . . Won't be allowed to live. I won't be able to hurt you ever again, Bell. It'll be over soon. I just wanted to tell you that I'm thinking about you and I'm sorry. I'll be sorry until my last breath . . . Message received at 9:09pm. Where the fuck is your heart?! I tell you I'm dying because of you and you still don't call? Do you hate me that much? Do you want me dead, Bel-Message deleted."

I hung up the phone and dropped it on the couch beside me. My breaths were nothing more than shaky gasps as if my lungs had been cut down to the size of eggs and my whole body was freezing all of a sudden. I knew my body was trying to cry, but it stuck in state of shock too binding to escape from.

My head started to spin. I looked down to where my hands were still open in front of me and noticed that they were shaking like I was having a seizure.

Why would he do that?

Would he do that?

Is that what the other messages say?

What if he's dead?

My cell rang beside me then and brought my mind back to the present moment. I looked over, still physically stuck, and saw Alice's face on my screen. It rang for a few more seconds before I could make myself move just seconds before it would have gone to voice mail.

"He-llo?" I whispered, still breathing the tiny breaths.

"Bella?" Alice sounded instantly worried. "Are you okay?"

I knew I wasn't. Knew I wouldn't be. I had to tell her to come and help me. "No," I answered even quieter than before.

She started freaking out. "What's happened? Is it Edward? Has he hurt you?"

"No," I repeated since she would mean has he hit me. "Alice . . . " I pulled in another short breath. "He . . . he said."

"I'm coming over, Bella. I'll be there soon, okay? Don't hang up. Stay on the phone."

I let myself fall down sideways on the couch with the phone still pressed against my ear and pulled my arms in to my body to try and stop the shaking. "Okay."

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