Twilight belongs to Stephanie Meyers.
Note: Thank you for Astro for her beta work on this and Hadley Hemingway for prereading. I can't thank you both enough for all your insight and time spent on this.
Summary: Sometimes I feel like I might drown in your memories. Their tendrils tug at me with the anguish of the greatest love. Some say that I will get over this, but I know I won't. No one ever really does.
I'm so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
'Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone
- My Immortal by Evanescence
The noise from the TV was loud, intrusive. The faces on it were a blur of color and voice as I slummed it in my old, grey sweatpants, staring blankly at the screen. A cup of black coffee sat cold on the glass side table next to me, but I didn't drink it; I barely ever did.
My morning routine. This was the way my days had served me for months—months that ran past, taking with them moments lost in time, yet I stayed unmoved. Stagnant.
Dr Phil's audience screamed in ecstasy as he addressed some first world problem that I should be interested in. Everything he said was a contrived contraption of nothing. These days, I sat in front of the TV more, and watched it less often than ever.
It all stopped making sense a long time ago.
I saw a movement from the corner of my eye and Edward stalked out of the bedroom and toward the kitchen area. Almost like he couldn't help himself, he paused when his eyes caught mine.
A second of still.
Sometimes when he looked at me like that, it still felt like slow-motion. Hypnotic, like the sound of my heartbeat underwater, when I held my breath and disappeared into the depths of clear; in that misty haze of wet, nothing else but the thick, vivid palpitations were real. I lived somehow in this world, but not really. I was sitting here, but not really. Where was I? Who was I?
Edward was at the dark marble kitchen counter, next to the shiny untouched stove, opening and closing drawers and cupboards with hurried bangs which startled me back to reality. He always did.
Even when damp from the shower, I could see the burnt auburn in the brown of his hair. It had gotten darker with time, and now in his late-twenties there were only hints of red. I remembered years ago, he would stand out in the sun on a tarmac of spiked green on the college campus, and his hair would be all glorious fire and wine. I used to think it was like he had dropped to earth like some Sun God, but all my girlish ruminations about him seemed so long ago. I was silly to think that anyone can be God-like, infallible.
We all fail. One day we will fall.
I watched from the corner of my eye as Edward straightened and leaned over the sink, the tense muscles on his forearms jerking, his eyes vigorously seeking something he'd lost.
I knew exactly what he'd lost, but I wouldn't tell.
Fine hair peeked out from where his black shirt was unbuttoned twice at the top. Worn jeans hung loosely around his waist. He was thinner, yet more toned, than he'd ever been, the product of his rapidly intensifying workouts at the gym. Even through his clothes, I could see where his arm, back and thigh muscles had been to work. I knew his body well … Or I used to. I guess it had been a long time since I'd touched, or even really looked at him.
It'd been a long time since … everything.
It wasn't difficult to see how frustrated he was right now. He was also very late.
Edward ran his hand aggravatedly though his combed hair, messing it up, before finally addressing me—the final resort.
"B, have you seen my wedding band?"
"No," I told the TV.
He sighed and strode toward me in six long steps, to the middle of the apartment where I sat on the cream couch. My arms tingled in anticipation like they always did when Edward was near, although he simply walked past me. I cautioned a glance at the sharpness of his moving shoulder blades as he slid the glass door open easily and stepped out onto the balcony.
We lived on the twenty-first floor of Millennium West apartments and below Edward, at this very moment, was a swarm of multicolor amongst the yellow of cabs and black of asphalt. It was one of the busiest and relentlessly on-the-go areas in New York. In front of him was a crystal clear skyline full of exquisite skyscrapers that shaped Manhattan. The view was a photographer's delight during the day and completely breathtaking at night. Like everything else, I hadn't appreciated it in a long time.
Edward still went out to the balcony for coffee in the morning or a glass of wine after work. Now more than he used to, and sometimes I thought it was just to get away from me.
He was probably checking if he'd left his ring out there.
I knew that he hadn't.
A few seconds later he came back in.
"Are you sure?"
I turned away from the TV and looked at him. He was wearing a frown on his lightly stubbled face, and his clear green eyes, the color of intense pine, were serious. Even after seven years, he still caught me off guard, and everything about him reminded me of so much. Too damn much.
I was suffocated.
I turned back to the TV, blocking him—everything—out.
"I left it on the ledge next to the shower," he pressed. "You know, where I always leave it when I shower."
He was really late for his shift now.
He was never late for work.
"It's probably still there." I picked up my cold mug and took it to the kitchen.
My coffee was untouched and my throat was dry.
It didn't help.
"It isn't." He followed me to the stools, around the kitchen bar, and I could see him from the corner of my eye as I let the cold water run over my palms. "I've looked everywhere. I'm not sure where it would go." He shook his head. "Shit."
I bit my lip and stared at my cup as I rinsed it out.
My heart squeezed hard when he ran his hand over his shadowed chin in bewilderment.
He took good care of his wedding band. I could be scatterbrained when it came to my ring, but Edward … Edward treasured his like it was the most precious possession in the world and, even when he had to take it off during surgery, he'd never misplaced it once.
I placed my cup on the drainer. "I don't know, Edward." I was being dismissive and I knew it. "It's only a ring. You'll find it again … Or you'll replace it."
He didn't say anything as I walked around him and took my spot back on the couch, staring at the TV, the noise from it buzzing loudly in my ears, drowning out the ba-bung beating of my own heart.
He took a couple of steps toward the bookshelf and my heart slammed harder.
Don't look there.
"You're right. It's only a damned ring." I wasn't looking, but I knew that tone. I knew his eyes were a darker shade of pine and his chin was jutted out in annoyance. He was half-blocking my view of Dr. Phil; I didn't even acknowledge him even though it was hard not to. Sometimes, when he was brooding like that, he was even more beautiful.
He didn't move, like he was waiting for me to say something, or to simply look up and recognize him.
I didn't. I was a coward.
"Turn down the volume, Bella," he said stoically, and then picked up his car keys from the shelf and walked out, ringless.
The first time I met Edward, I had wanted to kill him.
I had thrown my text book on the bed and pulled open the door of our dorm room, raging like a she-Hulk. It was one thirty in the morning. The muggings meant the library was too dangerous to be walking to at this time, and both Alice and I had exams next week. The RA had already warned "those boys" upstairs, but apparently "medics these days partied hard just like they studied hard."
Third. Time. In. A. Week. How the hell were any of us meant to sleep or study like this?
"Bella, where are you going?" Alice squeaked from her sticky note enveloped study desk, but she'd already known. Considering the amount of times I had threatened this, I was finally going to do it. I was going to have a word with those too-noisy, forever-partying, obnoxious jerk-culprits that lived above us.
"It's Wednesday night, for God's sake!" I'd growled, before I jogged up to the next floor, past the smoky, overcrowded corridor and right into frat party central.
The door to the offending room was half-open, the bass pulsing and thrumming through my body as I shoved through the crowd of stumbling-drunk students. The speakers were blaring Jay-Z, and I almost tripped over a girl who sat against the couch, her long, bare legs splayed out in front of her.
"Whose dorm is this?" I asked a dazed-looking guy smelling of pot. He pointed sleepily to the back of a boy wearing a burgundy, emblazoned Cornell sweater.
There were two things I noticed about the boy with the bottle of Grey Goose pressed to his lips. His back was long and lean like he was used to playing athletic sport, and his red-brown hair was brilliantly thick and twisted like it didn't know where to go or which color to be.
I took two long steps and grabbed at the cool bottle, pulling it away from his lips, only half-realizing what I had done because those eyes ...
"Hey - oh," I breathed, confused and angry at the same time. And stunned—because damn, he was gorgeous.
He smirked at me, like my sudden breathlessness was funny.
"I don't think we've met. I'm Edward." He held out his hand in front of him and I stared at him, stared at his hand, and stared back at him, before I hurtled back to reality. He was the jerk-culprit.
"Hi … and goodbye."
With a grim face, I pulled the ipod from its socket and stomped out of the room, closing the hottest party on campus down.
Looking back now, maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to act no matter how agitated I was. After all, that certainly wasn't the only time I would be sleep deprived at college.
Yet to this day, Edward still claimed that it was that very moment he'd fallen in love with my fire.
I don't have a posting schedule, although should be be able to post weekly. The next chapter is written up however and will come sooner.
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