February 14, 2014

2:05 PM

Franklin Street, Chicago, Illinois

I heard her voice. Above the music and countless conversations between strangers, it was her voice. I knew it. It may have been three years and fourteen days since the sound invaded my thoughts, but it wasn't something I could easily forget. It was burned into my soul and had continued to haunt me every second of my pathetic life. I've driven myself crazy searching for her and that voice. Now it was here, in this restaurant, and within my reach.

But I was frozen, unable to breathe or move. I just listened.

"This has gone too far, do you hear me? You can't keep doing this."

The wall between me and that voice couldn't disguise its frantic tenor. She was scared. I ached to hold her in my arms until the fear was gone. I willed my legs to move for the billionth time.


They refused. I tried over and over again, one step closer to the door.

"You have to leave me alone. It's over," she whispered the last bit before hanging up the phone.

My heart raced and my hands clenched. I'd been waiting for this moment for so long, needing to see her again, kiss those lips, and ask her that one question: why did she leave? Why did she disappear without a word and fucking gut me? I wanted those answers, but more than anything, I needed her.

I was starting to get feeling in my legs when the phone booth door slid open, but it was too late. She was gone by the time I skidded out of the bathroom. The scent of her perfume remained, and I followed it out into the crowded restaurant. Through the sea of people, I caught a glimpse of the top of her head as she rushed out into the street. I yelled out her name, weaving through bodies. I finally came to the entrance and shoved the door open. The cold Chicago air brought me back to reality.

She escaped me once again and vanished into thin air.

I gasped, feeling the pain, so close to mending, rip apart at the seams.

A million people in this world but only one that mattered to me and I wasn't allowed to have her. It was a cruel joke. And what killed me was the fact that I got a small taste of a one in a million kind of love. It wasn't enough to satiate the need or anything. It was just enough to get me hooked. Life now without it was like food without taste, sex without the orgasm, and music without the sound. It was an empty existence, but for years I deluded myself into thinking that was what I wanted and deserved. Things had changed. She was here. I heard her. I smelled her. Fuck, I could almost feel her. It was too late to rewind and go back. I couldn't even pretend to act like not living was better than being broken.

"Edward." There was a hand on my shoulder and I turned around. My best friend, and soon to be brother-in-law, Jasper, was staring at me. "Are you okay?"

I glanced in the direction of her fading scent. Gone and disappeared. All I smelled was fresh rain and asphalt. My hopeful heart plummeted. "I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

No, not really. I wasn't fine or okay, that was a lie. A lie I've been telling myself for years. Through years of denial and endless kisses to my fiancee, my pseudo life was starting to unravel.

One call, one voice, one girl had changed everything.

But Jasper didn't need to know how far down the rabbit hole went.

"Yeah, man," I put on the smile that no one questioned for three years, "of course, why wouldn't I be?"

"You just, I don't know."

I narrowed my eyes. "What?"

"You look like you've seen a ghost."

I laughed because he wasn't far off.

She's a Phantom.

This woman came in like a flash of lightening, illuminating everything in my life and disappearing within the next second, only to leave a cold darkness in her wake. It was brief, but her impact on my past was lasting. It shaped me into this man who loved without boundaries, fully and recklessly. When she left, I was destroyed, lost to the grief. It didn't matter who filled my bed at night, I was never able to get that part of me back. She may have been a voice in my head, a forgotten apparition, but her sudden emergence had steamrolled her ghost right back into my present. She was real to me now more than ever, and I knew there was no way hell I was going to let her slip through my fingers twice in one lifetime.

My mind was made from the moment I heard that voice.

I was going to find my Bella.

A/N: So, I was watching Wicker Park (awesome movie, if you haven't seen it, you should) and needed something to get me out of my writing funk. I'm hoping the brief break from Chopping and Changing will get me inspired to write it again. As for now, I am doing this. It'll be close to the movie as much as possible. The plot and whatnot, but the rest will be mine, and I am sure it'll evolve into something else. It always does. If anyone is reading this, thank you, and let me know what you think.

And to my girl, Brina…you're as amazing and funny in person as I've always knew you to be. I had an awesome time with you and the girls (not your boobs, but Miranda, Jodi, Kristin, Dee, and Karen). I hope we can hang out again really soon.