Hello again. It's been a long time since my last story. RL got a bit crazy since then with a new baby and going back to school but I finally got back into the swing of things.
The original idea for this story came years ago from a dance on So You Think You Can Dance set to If It Kills Me by Jason Mraz. If you haven't seen it, google it! It's one of my favorites, beautifully done. The rest of my inspiration (and the title) came from Sam Smith's song Not In That Way. If you are not listening to Sam Smith, you should be. Seriously, his whole album is amazing. This story begins in EPOV but there are a few chapters in BPOV as well. This story is looking to be around 25 chapters and is only a chapter or two shy of complete so there should be no long breaks in posting. I'm planning on a Mon, Wed, Fri posting schedule.
So, that's that. All mistakes are my own and unfortunately for my bank account, I do not own Twilight. I just play with the pieces.
"I'd never ask you
Cause deep down I'm certain I know what you'd say
You'd say I'm sorry
I love you
But not in that way"
Not In That Way- Sam Smith
June 2014- EPOV
"You're seriously not going? I thought for sure you would change your mind."
"No, Alice, I'm not going. I've told you, I've told her, I've told everyone." I exhaled loudly and pinched the bridge of my nose, feeling a headache coming on. Arguing with my sister always tended to give me one.
"But, but, she's your best friend. You have to go!"
"I know who she is and I'm still not going. I don't have to do anything."
Alice glared at me, her arms folded defiantly across her chest. She looked like an angry kitten in a formal dress. "Bella is getting married and she needs your support, Edward."
"I can't support this, Alice. I've already had this discussion with her so I'm not sure what you're hoping to accomplish."
Alice's facial expression went from a look of anger to one of disappointment. It didn't matter. Her disappointment paled in comparison to the disappointment I felt with myself. I was disappointed that I was too much of a coward to go after what I wanted. Disappointed that I'd become so wrapped up in my own pain that I couldn't support my oldest and best friend on the biggest day of her life. Disappointed that my absence would most assuredly cause her some pain and confusion but I didn't know what else to do.
"I can't believe you could be such an asshole! You don't have to like him but you can respect her decisions and be there for her!" Alice was seething.
"Darlin' that's enough," Alice's boyfriend, Jasper, spoke up, coming to stand next to Alice. "Yelling at the man isn't going to change his mind. Why don't you go and help Bella and I'll be along in a few minutes."
Alice glared at me one last time before giving Jasper a light kiss and walking out the door. She assumed I was acting out of protest. Everyone did. It was no secret that I didn't care for James, Bella's fiancé. I thought he was an arrogant asshat. Bella deserved much better and I knew, deep down in my gut, that he was going to break her heart sooner than later. It also bothered me that she wasn't herself around him, instead she was this carefully crafted ideal of herself. She was a living façade and this marriage was a disaster waiting to happen.
What Alice, or anyone else for that matter, didn't realize was that it wasn't just a protest. More than anything, my refusal to attend the wedding of my best friend was an act of survival. Just knowing that the marriage was taking place in a matter of hours caused an unbearable pain in my chest. Standing there and actually watching her exchange vows with that piece of shit would be more than I could handle.
Jasper came and sat next to me on the couch. "So man, what's really goin' on?"
"I just think she's making a mistake."
"Don't bullshit me, Edward. There's something a little deeper going on here."
"Geez, you get one psychology degree and you think you know everything huh?" I said, attempting to deflect his questioning.
"Yup, that's what the PhD means. Now quit trying to change the subject. You can talk to me, man. I think you need to talk to someone. We can keep it just between us, doctor patient confidentiality and all that jazz."
"You're not my doctor."
"No," he said with a small smile, "don't mean I can't keep a secret though. Pretty good at it actually. Part of the job and all that. So, what's the real reason you're sitting here wallowing in booze and self-pity instead of going to the wedding."
I took a large sip of the beer I'd been holding and set it down on the coffee table before taking a large breath and exhaling. "I love her, Jazz." It was the first time I'd said it aloud but it didn't lessen the pain any.
"Thought as much," he replied matter-of-factly.
"I just…I can't be there, man. I can't watch her marry someone else. Just the idea of it shatters my soul but to stand there and watch it happen, to pretend I support it? I just can't. I don't think I'd ever recover."
"How long?" Jasper asked.
I had to think about it for a minute. It wasn't as though there was one exact moment where I'd woken up and decided to fall in love with the girl I'd known since second grade. I'd always loved her but those feelings had evolved from a friendly platonic love to something much deeper over the last several years. "I don't know. I think I've always loved her but I guess I first realized it in college."
"Jesus man, that long?" There was a momentary break in his Dr. Whitlock persona as Jasper resurfaced but he quickly snapped back to the more professional, psychologist mode. "Why do you think you never told her?"
"It would make things weird. It would change our relationship forever."
"Isn't that the point?" he asked.
"Yes and no. Just because I want something doesn't mean she feels the same. Hell, it's obvious she doesn't feel the same. She's never even hinted at it and now she's marrying someone else so that's a pretty big indicator. Me telling her would just make things awkward and strained, especially now. I'd rather have her in my life as a friend than not have her in my life at all."
"Ok, I get that, but are you really just going to pine after her forever and make yourself miserable?"
"Look Jazz," I said, grabbing my beer and finishing it off. "It's not like I haven't tried to move on. I've gone out on dates, I've had girlfriends. It just never works out."
"Because you're in love with someone else?" Jazz interrupted.
I exhaled loudly. "Look, if I thought for one second that she felt anything more than friendship for me, I would confess everything to her but she just doesn't feel that way about me and I'm not going to make it weird between us."
"But you are. By refusing to attend her wedding, you are making it weird. She doesn't understand why. All she knows is that you aren't there for her and she may not forgive you for it. Your relationship may not survive this anyways so what have you got to lose?"
Not knowing how to answer his question, I simply didn't respond. Instead, I rose from the couch headed to the kitchen and grabbed two beers. I opened one and chugged close to half of it before heading back to the living room and offering the other to Jasper. He waved it away, politely refusing my offer. I simply shrugged and finished off the open bottle before cracking open the other.
"You know what I think?" Jasper asked, watching me intently. "I think it's easier for you to lose her like this than to confess your feelings and be rejected. Now you can say you lost her because she was mad at you rather than risk hearing her say that she doesn't love you in that way."
"Fuck you!" I snarled. "You think I haven't already been rejected? You think I wasn't rejected the moment she agreed to marry that asshole? Or that I wasn't rejected each and every time she went out with some new guy and then came home and told me all about it? I'm not afraid of rejection. I'm afraid of losing her completely."
"Yes, but you haven't actually heard the words from her own lips yet and I think that scares the shit out of you."
"You think I never thought about it? You think I never wanted to tell her? Of course I did but it's not that easy. We've been friends for twenty years. Twenty years, Jasper! She is practically all I know. I can't risk that. I won't risk that."
"Alright, alright but sometimes we have to risk everything to get what we really want."
I was ready to be done with this conversation. "Don't you have a wedding to go to?
Jasper smiled and stood, taking the hint. "Yes, I guess I do. You gonna be ok here?" He gave me a long careful look as though he was debating whether I was a danger to myself.
"Jesus Christ, I'm drunk and depressed but not suicidal, Jazz. Go on."
"Ok, but you call me if you need to."
"Sure, sure," I said as he headed for the door. "Oh, Jazz," I called out just as his hand turned the doorknob. "If you say anything to anyone, especially Alice…" I trailed off. He knew my sister well enough to know that she couldn't keep a secret to save her life, especially something like this.
"Not my secret to tell, man. Still think you should tell Bella, though."
I couldn't help but laugh. "Little late for that don't you think?"
"Never too late, man. Never too late to tell someone how you feel." With that, he was out the door, leaving me to wallow in my own self-pity.
I attempted to watch a little TV but nothing could hold my attention and cable seemed to conspire against me as every show or commercial that came on had to deal with weddings or declarations of love. I finally couldn't take anymore and shut the damn thing off.
The silence was no better. The clock was ticking away loudly and with each moment that went by I couldn't help but imagine what Bella was doing at that moment. I pictured her sitting in front of a mirror having her hair done as she sipped a small glass of champagne to calm her pre wedding jitters. I could see her laughing and smiling with Alice, her brother's wife, Rosalie, and both of our mothers. But, it was the image of her slipping into a beautiful white dress that finally brought me to tears.
I pulled myself from the couch and stumbled into my bedroom, heading straight for the back of the closet. There I pulled out the small box I kept on the highest shelf and tucked it under my arm before heading back to the living room. I put some quiet music on the stereo to combat the stifling silence and sat back on the couch, box in hand.
As I lifted the lid, I was immediately struck with a tidal wave of memories. The box contained the pictures I'd gathered over the last twenty years, mostly of Bella and me. There were pictures of us standing in front of our elementary on the first day of school every year. Pictures that we'd taken of each other in junior high that made me groan. Now I could see that we looked ridiculous, but at the time we thought we had looked so cool. There were pictures that my mother had taken of us with our respective dates before leaving to the prom. Pictures of us at graduation, both high school and college. Us moving into the apartment we shared all through college and even for a few years after that. Fuzzy pics taken by drunken friends at parties that I couldn't even remember.
Our entire life together was in this box and I realized that Jasper may be right. She may never forgive me for not attending her wedding. Until now we'd done everything together and I was upsetting the status quo. Plus, her knowing I disliked her husband so much was sure to cause a rift in our friendship. Eventually she'd have to choose and I knew I would be the loser there. This box was all I had and now I realized that we probably wouldn't be adding to it. I slammed the lid back on the box and headed to the kitchen for another drink.
When I returned to the living room and settled back on the couch I realized I'd left one picture out. It was Bella and I as children, taken only a few months after we'd first met and I couldn't help but smile as I remembered the day Isabella Swan entered my life and changed it forever.
"This is stupid, mom! Why did we even have to move?"
My mother gave me an exasperated look, sighed and returned her attention to the stack of paperwork on her lap. "Edward, we've been over this. Your father was offered a new job and we felt this was a better place to raise you and your sister. It's smaller and quieter than Seattle. I think you'll like it once we get settled in."
"Nuh-uh, I'm never going to like it. I liked my old school. This school is dumb."
"I like it mama!" Alice piped up from the floor where she'd been coloring.
"Well, you're a suck-up!" I said and pushed her paper away.
Mom set down the stack of papers and turned her full attention on me. This wasn't good. "Edward Anthony Cullen, you do not talk to your sister like that. Where did you even hear that term?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "I don't know, TV?" I'd heard it from my friend Demetri who'd heard it a million times from his big brother. Even though Demetri lived way far away now, I still wasn't going to tattle on him. That's not cool.
Mom sighed again and shook her head. "Ok, well I don't want to hear you talking to your sister or anyone like that again. Do you understand me?" She didn't wait for my response. Instead she grabbed her stack of papers and stood from the small blue chair and handed the pile to an old lady behind a huge desk. "Here you go. I think I've got it all filled out."
The old lady looked through the papers and typed a bit on her computer before standing up and coming around from the desk. "Alright, let's get you both to class."
Mom had already gathered up Alice's crayons and papers and followed the old lady out of the office, motioning for me to follow as she took Alice's hand. We stopped in front of Alice's classroom in the Kindergarten hallway and I watched as the old lady took Alice into the room and spoke to her teacher quietly. Then the teacher called out to the class, told them all Alice's name, and made them all say 'hello' to her together. I hoped and prayed that my teacher wouldn't do that.
The old office lady came back out and we finished walking down a hallway until we stopped at another classroom. "Ok, bye mom." I said, just before the lady opened the door. I knew she would hug me and I didn't want my new class to see. Mom gave me a small hug and told me to have a great day. The old lady opened the door and I followed her through it, watching all the eyes of my new classmates turn to see who'd just walked in.
The old lady whispered to the teacher who was older than my mom but not as old as the office lady who turned back to me. "Edward, this is Mrs. Cope, your new teacher. She'll help you get settled in, alright?"
I nodded and the office lady turned and walked out. I saw my mom wave from the door but I didn't wave back and then the door closed and she was gone. I didn't want everyone to think I was a mama's boy.
Mrs. Cope turned to me and smiled. "Class, this is Edward Cullen and he's new here. I expect you all to make him feel welcome and help him out until he gets the hang of things. Now Edward, why don't you go and sit over there next to Jane."
She pointed at a tiny blonde girl who was sitting alone at a table. She was so little I thought she should be in Alice's class, not second grade like me, and she was staring at me scrunching up her face like she thought I smelled bad or something. Right away I decided that I didn't like her and I guess she didn't like me either because she made a loud groaning noise.
"Ugh, I don't want to sit next to him! He has red hair!" She squealed.
My hand flew up and touched my hair but I quickly dropped it. I didn't need to bring more attention to it. She was wrong anyways. It wasn't red. Ok, it was a little red but it was mostly brown. My mom called it bronze and I thought that was cool because bronze is a metal and I thought it sounded tough to have metal hair, like a robot or something.
"Jane, I fail to see why his hair color is a problem," Mrs. Cope said.
"My big brother said that people with red hair are called gingers and that gingers have no soul! I don't want to sit next to someone with no soul!" The stupid blonde girl said.
"I'd rather have red hair than no hair color at all!" I yelled. It was true her hair was so light it was almost white, as if God had been coloring her and forgot to color in the hair.
"Enough! Jane, I think you need to stop believing everything your brother tells you. I can assure you that hair color has no bearing on a person's soul."
"Mrs. Cope!" A small quiet voice called out from near the back of the room. I turned and saw a girl with brown hair raising her hand back and forth. "Mrs. Cope!"
"He can sit with me. I think his hair is cool!" The girl smiled at me and then stuck her tongue out at Jane. The rest of the class laughed.
"Alright people, calm down. Isabella, thank you, that's very kind of you. Edward, why don't you go take your seat? Jane, I'd like to see you at recess to discuss how we treat our classmates."
I shuffled to the back of the room and dropped my backpack on the floor next to me. "Thanks," I whispered to the Isabella girl.
"It's cool. Jane is a total butthead. No one likes her anyways." She whispered back and I smiled.
Mrs. Cope started to pass out some worksheets. When she got to our table she knelt next to me and whispered, "Edward, I'm not sure what you were working on in your old school. If you have any problems, I'm sure Isabella would be willing to help you out or else you can raise your hand and I'll come walk you through it, ok?"
I took a look at the paper, it was all simple math problems. "Oh, I've done this stuff."
"Wonderful," she replied and stood up, walking back to her desk.
"So, you're Edward?" The girl asked me quietly.
"Yup, and you're Isabella?"
"Yeah, but everyone calls me Bella. Did you just move here?"
I nodded as I wrote down the answer to the first question. "We moved from Seattle. My dad got a new job here. He's a doctor."
"Cool, I went to Seattle with my parents once. It's so big! My dad doesn't like it though. He's a cop and he says there's too much bad guys there."
I didn't know anything about bad guys in Seattle but I guess everyplace had some bad guys. "Your dad is really a cop? Like with a gun and everything? That is so cool."
"I guess," she said. "Dad always takes off his gun and locks it up when he comes home so I never see it. He says it's dangerous."
"Oh, it is!" I said, my voice deadly serious. "My dad is a doctor and he told me a boy died in his hospital because he was playing with a gun. I just think cops are cool cause they catch bad guys and stuff."
Bella didn't say anything. She just worked on a few math problems and I did the same until I heard some snickering and saw Jane looking at me and whispering to another girl. "Hey," I whispered to Bella. "That Jane girl, what's her problem?"
"Oh, she thinks she's cool because she has a big brother in high school. She's stupid though because half the class has big brothers or big sisters in high school so she's not special or anything." She dropped her voice lower and leaned in closer to me. "I heard my dad talking about her brother to my mom once though. He called him a loser pot-head."
We both started laughing until Mrs. Cope cleared her throat and looked right at us, shaking her head. "What does that even mean?" I finally whispered when Mrs. Cope looked away from us.
Bella shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I've seen him with a hat on his head but not a pot. That would be really weird. I think their whole family is weird, though."
"Well, I'm glad I got to sit next to you instead of her." I said.
She just smiled at me. "Me too."
I never had friends that were girls before but Bella was cool. She walked with me to lunch and told me which lunches were good and which were totally gross. We'd just sat down at a table when a huge boy came and stood behind Bella. I thought he might be a junior high or high school kid but I didn't know what he was doing here. He scared the heck out of me, but Bella didn't even flinch when he covered her eyes with his humongous hands.
"Hey there Baby Bells, guess who?"
Bella pushed his hands away and turned to glare at the huge boy. "Ugh Emmett, knock it off."
He plopped down on the bench next to her and nudged his head in my direction. "Who's your friend?"
"This is Edward. He just moved here, from Seattle," she said and then took a big bite of her sandwich.
The guy she called Emmett looked at me, his eyes wide. "Serious? That's cool."
"Edward, this is my stupid brother Emmett."
"Uh, hi," I croaked out, still intimated by the hugeness of her brother. She was so little, I couldn't believe they were brother and sister.
"So, Baby Bells, remember we gotta walk home today. You meet me out front by the flag pole, ok?" he said, snatching the apple off her tray and standing up.
"I remember. See you later Em."
I continued to stare at him as he walked away. "Your brother is huge! How old is he?"
"Eleven. He's in sixth grade."
"He's a freak of nature," she said with a laugh.
As we ate, I told her about Alice and how lucky she was to have a big brother instead of a little sister. "Little sisters are so lame."
"I always wanted a little sister. Emmett is stinky and he eats, like, everything."
"Looks like it," I said and we both burst out laughing again.
After that, we always hung out together at every lunch and recess. By the end of the first week, my mom had met her mom in front of the school and they made plans for us to hang out outside of school. The next weekend, my mom drove me over to Bella's house. Her house was a little smaller than mine but they had a Super Nintendo. I'd begged my mom for one but she refused. She said I would rot my brain by playing it all the time. I think she made that up though because Bella played it and she was still plenty smart.
Bella's backyard was way cool too. They didn't have a fence like we did and her backyard just turned right into a forest. We weren't allowed to go too far into the woods but we could go back enough to play all sorts of cool games in the bushes and trees. It was way awesome.
The next weekend she came to my house. When she walked in her eyes got real huge. "I didn't know you were rich!" she said.
"Yeah-huh. Your house is like, the biggest one I ever seen. You must think my house is dumb and little."
She looked sad and I didn't want her to be sad because of something stupid like a house. "No way, your house is way cooler! You guys have a Super Nintendo AND a regular Nintendo and your backyard is way more awesome than mine. Ours has a fence and it's all flowers and stupid stuff like that. I wish I had woods in my backyard. Plus, you have Emmett. He's way cooler to hang out with than my baby sister."
"Yeah! Come on, let's go play."
From then on Bella and I were always together. She was the coolest girl I'd ever met. She liked the same movies and stuff that I liked, not that girly princess crap that Alice liked. We played video games at her house and board games at my house. She always beat me at Operation but I was way better at Jenga than she was.
One day when it had snowed a lot we came in from building a snow fort and my mom made us hot cocoa and soup and then we watched some cartoons before I finally worked up the nerve to ask her the question I'd been wanting to ask. "Bella, will you be my best friend?"
"Duh, I thought I already was." She said and threw one of the little couch pillows at me.
"Oh, cool. So is it like official then?"
"I dunno? Last year Emmett and his best friend Garrett cut their fingers and smooshed them together to make them best friends. He said they were blood brothers or something like that."
"Ew, that's gross," I said. "I don't think that will work for us. We can't be blood brothers if you're a girl."
"Yeah, you're right. Plus, blood grosses me out. Hey, I went to my cousins wedding last year and they like made promises to each other to make them married. Maybe that would work?"
"You want to get married?" I didn't like that idea. I didn't want to get married ever. Bella was cool but other girls were totally dumb.
"No, that's gross," she said and squished her nose up. "I just think we could, like, say our own promises to each other like they did. Not marrying promises, just best friend promises."
"Oh, ok. We should say it and write it down so we can't forget."
"Good idea! Ok, I'll go first because I know how it's supposed to go." I nodded and sat up to face her as she started talking. "Ok, I, Isabella Marie Swan, you have to use your whole name or it doesn't count," she added and then started over. "I, Isabella Marie Swan promise to be Edward's best friend forever and ever, and I promise that I won't let that stupid Jane make fun of his hair and to never ever fight with him even when he eats the last cookie. Ok, it's your turn."
"Oh um, I, Edward Anthony Cullen, promise to be Bella's best friend forever and ever and to protect her from the stupid older boys when they call her clumsy and to let her beat me sometimes when we race even though I'm way faster. Oh and I promise I won't eat the last cookie anymore."
Bella smiled and held out her hand. "We have to shake to make it official." I took her hand and shook it a few times like I'd seen my dad do with people at the hospital.
Since Bella had better handwriting, she wrote down what we'd said on a piece of paper and we hid it in an old shoe box in my closet so it wouldn't get lost. I found a big black marker and wrote, 'Bella and Edward's box. Do Not Throw Away!' in big letters on the lid and sides. The folded paper looked so small in there by itself so we took the box downstairs and searched for things to add to it. Bella found some pictures that my mom had taken of us at Halloween and just playing around the house. We added those to the box and then shoved it back in the closet.
"Ok, so does that make us best friends forever now?" I asked, still not sure how this all worked.
"Yep, forever and ever."
Would love to hear what you think!