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I've always been the master of packing for a trip at the very last minute. When I was younger, my family would visit our cousins in Volterra, Italy. Alice and my mom would spend weeks planning every last detail of their wardrobes, and we would always pay extra to accommodate all of the bags they would bring. Not I. I don't know if it was laziness or super fucking talent, but I had mastered the art of packing my bags the day of the flight before I turned twelve.
Okay, so it's a shit skill. I admit it.
I zip up the last of my suitcases just as the hour hits. It's five in the morning and I didn't sleep at all last night. Satan's half-ass attempt at an apology kept haunting me.
I didn't want to hear Satan's bullshit fucking apology because I knew where it was going. She was going to launch into a tirade of self-depreciating bullshit that wouldn't change the fact that she made a choice. She chose that bobble-headed, hyped up on steroids, Jacob Black over me. Full stop. I didn't need to hear her attempts to guilt me into forgiving her. I didn't want to hear her try to blame anything and everything but herself.
Everything that had happened in Spain came down to one thing: Satan couldn't take the heat, so she ran out of the fucking kitchen. If she ever wanted me to even entertain the idea of treating her like a fucking human being ever again, she would have to start by admitting that what she had done, what she had chosen, was no one's fault but her own.
I'm actually surprised that I can bear to think about all that had happened without feeling the deep-seated pain and resentment that usually accompanied those memories. A little voice inside my head tells me that maybe my drunken confession has done something to alleviate the pain. I tell the voice that he isn't paying rent, so he needs to get the fuck out.
My uber arrives, and I grab my briefcase before heading to the door. The guy who's picking me up comes out of the cab and offers me a bright smile as he helps me put my two suitcases into the trunk. I hope he's not a talker.
"So, where are you headed?" he asks as he pulls away from the curb. I groan inwardly and reach into my briefcase for something, anything, to make me look busy. My hand closes around a presentation folder. I pull it out.
"East coast," I answer. "Business trip," I add pointedly. He glances at me in the rear view mirror and nods in understanding. I open the folder, hoping that my reading will deter any further conversation.
My blood turns cold when I realize what I've pulled out of my briefcase. It's Satan's bullshit summary of her life. As soon as the cold washes over me, my blood turns hot with anger. I know her better than anyone. Shit, I know her better than she knows herself. This bullshit, twenty-page summary is a fucking insult.
"You know, my mom lives in New York," my driver says. "She's always asking me to come out and visit. But, I gotta grind first. I'm trying to work at Swan Sweets, but I have a shitty resume, you know what I mean?"
I give him some noncommittal response. My attention is on Satan's handbook. I can't help but snort when she goes through her list of favorite foods. I notice that she leaves off Sweets Softies. They're one of our most popular non-chocolate candies. They're soft, sweet, and extremely malleable. Satan used to eat that shit by the tons after I introduced them to her by spreading them over her perky tits, and sucking them off.
"I mean, I would be great there, you know? I've really got an eye for trends and I think I would do good in their sales and promotional departments. Plus, I'd let Isabella Swan tell me what to do anytime, you know what I mean?"
I realize that Mr. Talks-Too-Fucking-Much has been chatting the entire time. I meet his gaze in the rear view mirror. I know he's waiting for me to agree with him, but I'm pissed at the thought of any guy thinking about Satan that way, much less talking about her. He drops my gaze when he catches my glare, and finally, sweet fucking silence fills the car.
He pulls up to the curb of the airport a few minutes later, and mumbles an apology. I know he's trying to save his tip, so I give him one for his efforts.
I spy a trash can by the curb, and I toss Satan's 'About Me' project into the garbage where it belongs. I've barely grabbed hold of my bags when I'm accosted by two guys wearing their Swan Sweet badges.
"Mr. Cullen?" the one on the left asks. He looks like he's trying to sound confident but might shit his pants any second now. The other one doesn't look to be in much better shape. I recognize them as interns from the hospitality department. I nod.
"Mr. Swan wanted us to meet you here and handle your check-in bags. He wants this experience to go as smoothly for you as possible," the kid says like he's reading a script. I nod and wave them towards my bags. These kids are still wet behind the ears, I'm sure that this is like a promotion for them.
I wonder why Satan asked me to be at the airport three hours earlier than the flight if she knew that we wouldn't even have to deal with our check-ins. I want to demand an answer from her, but that would require much more talking than I would like.
I push the doors to the airport open, and I'm immediately thrown into a crowd of blood-thirsty paparazzi. They're sharks who smell blood, and I begin struggling my way through them when I realize who they're here for. They're calling out Satan's name, throwing questions at her about Matthew Hale and allegations against his company. For a split second, I wonder if I should leave her to fend for myself, but apparently, my body has already decided for me. I find myself pushing through the paparazzi to the center of the tight circle. Bulbs are going off so quickly, it's like there's a spotlight on Satan. When I reach her, I grab her wrist. She startles and turns to me, wide-eyed and panicked. She looks like fucking Bambi. I curse under my breath, and again, I find myself doing something I never thought I would do. I pull her close to my side, and she clings to me.
Fuck if it doesn't feel good to have her pressed against me again.
She's the perfect height, and she's soft and warm. Her hair smells faintly of strawberries from her shampoo. It's through sheer force of will that I don't let my body react.
"Isabella, is this your husband?" a particularly obnoxious paparazzo asks. He lifts his camera when Satan looks up, and he snaps a picture. His bulb is so bright, it momentarily stuns Satan, but not me. I'm instantly pissed.
"Hey, fuck off," I tell him. With my free hand, I reach out and yank the camera from his hands and toss it onto the ground. He lets out a slew of curses that definitely makes Satan blush. I pull her closer to me, and begin pushing through the paparazzi. They let us move without much resistance, but I notice that Satan doesn't loosen her grip on me.
I don't let go of her either.
When we get to TSA, the paparazzi fall back and let us go through the security checks in peace. I release Satan immediately, because I know that if I hold on for even a second longer, I may never let her go again. I clench my jaw in disgust at myself. I'm pathetic.
She pushes her hair behind her ears as we move up in the line, and looks up timidly at me. I don't change my expression, because I don't want to talk to her.
"I thought we could avoid them by being early," she says in a quiet voice. "Thanks for..."
I nod in answer. We clear security checks in good time, and it dawns on me that we have two and a half hours before our flight. Fuck. Me.
"Do you want to get something to eat?" Satan asks me. Her moment of weakness has passed. When she looks at me for my answer, I can practically see her icy demeanor sliding into place. I answer that I haven't had breakfast yet, and we're off.
"How about McDonalds?" she asks, jerking her thumb at the food chain as we walk past it. I wrinkle my nose in disgust.
"For breakfast?" I ask. The disdain is clear in my voice, and to my surprise, Satan gives a small smile. She doesn't say anything though, so we continue looking for a decent place to eat. Her next few suggestions are all junk, and I'm growing less and less hungry as I begin to realize that the options available to me are all trash. Beside me, Satan doesn't look distressed at our lack of edible prospects. In fact, she looks almost...amused. She's biting down hard on her lip to keep from laughing.
"What is it?" I ask warily. She pushes her hair out of her face and shakes her head, but she can't control it. She finally gives in, and begins laughing so loudly and so thoroughly, that we're forced to stop. Great. Satan's lost her fucking mind. The people walking by are looking between me and Satan, and I try to look pleasant until Satan can get a hold of herself.
"You're such a food snob!" she chuckles as her laughter dies down. She's even wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. I'm obviously a riot.
"I'm not," I mumble in response. I'm not a food snob. I just like quality food. That doesn't make me snobby. Right?
"You are!" she insists as we continue walking. "You don't even want baked goods from Starbucks. Starbucks is quality food."
"Yeah, at the airport," I answer. I ponder her accusation. Perhaps my palate has grown more mature, but it's not like I'm a picky eater. "I just want to enjoy whatever I put into my mouth," I say out loud. Satan falls silent beside me. I look down at her. She's using her hair as a curtain to shield her face, but I can see the blush creeping up into her cheeks.
As much as I can't stand Satan, I can't deny my physical attraction to her. And the thought of her mind being in the gutter drags my mind down there too. I spy a convenience store that we're passing for the third time now.
"Just a second," I tell her before I go into the store. It doesn't take long to find what I'm looking for. I pay quickly, and return to Satan. She's waiting for me, leaning slightly against her carry on. Her mile-long legs are clad in dark leggings, and she's got on an old Forks High hoodie. Her hair is free to fall around her shoulders. She doesn't look to have aged a day since Spain. Seeing her like this, outside of work, with her hair down and in comfortable clothes, dredges up shadowy memories that I would have rather left forgotten. It's like someone has punched me in the stomach, because suddenly, I have to remind myself to breathe.
"Edward?" she says when she spies me. Her brows furrow in concern and she approaches me. "What's wrong?"
I shake my head to clear my fog of thought, and Satan backs off, interpreting my action as telling her that I'm fine. I'm anything but. I blink, and wonder how I can continue to pretend that I'm not the most pathetic fuck in the world for still yearning after Satan, even after she fucked me over. It's easy to hate her from afar.
A quiet voice in my head suggests that maybe we should consider letting go of the hate. I wish the voice was a real life Jiminy Cricket, so I could crush him under my foot.
"Here," I say to her. My voice sounds colder than I anticipated, but it's better that way. I open my hand to reveal what I've bought from the convenience store. They're strawberry flavored Sweets Softies. Her face immediately turns a delightfully pleasant shade of pink, as she plucks the candy from my hand and shoves it deep into her carry-on.
"T-Thank you," she stutters after a long moment, as if being reminded of her manners. I don't even try to fight the smirk that works its way onto my face.
Our boarding gate finally opens, and we make our way over to wait for our seat numbers to be called. Satan begins to pale, and her voice trembles ever so slightly when she speaks.
Yes, the devil has a weakness. She is terrified of airplanes.
The fact rises to my mind, unbidden. I clench my jaw when I remember how panicked she had been when we decided to fly from Spain to Amsterdam for a weekend. It hadn't been a long flight, but it had taken me hours to calm her down after the flight. Not that I had minded. I had loved her enough to give her whatever she needed from me.
And look how that turned out.
I try to ignore the tug of concern for her at my conscience, but Satan gets chatty when she's nervous, so I indulge her.
"You know, I always think about how funny it is that I studied art history, but I ended up working at Swan Sweets. It has nothing to do with my degree. I don't even know why I chose art history, I didn't have a passion for it. I didn't even like it," she rambles.
"I know you didn't," I answer sagely. I remember trying to convince her to explore other majors, to find what she was passionate about, but she had told me that I was her only passion. I avoid her gaze, and look out at the tarmac.
"You did know," she agrees emphatically. "You were right to try to get me to explore other majors, but I never did. I even got my doctorate in Renaissance Art, and you know what? I just did it to do it. It didn't excite me. It still doesn't."
I'm surprised. I didn't know that she had pursued art history that far, but her reasoning doesn't surprise me.
"That's what happens when you do things just to do them," I answer mildly. I make the mistake of looking at her face. Her eyes are boring holes into me, looking past my body and into my soul. They're wide with an emotion I don't even want to begin to decipher. I want to look away, but I'm trapped.
"Edward," she says softly. "Edward, not you. Never you. I didn't-"
"Do me a favor," I interrupt her quietly. "Don't ever talk to me about Spain again, okay?" My voice is soft, but I know that my words hurt her. I close my eyes and let out a breath before continuing. "We have to live together for the next month. I promise I'll be cordial, but please. Stop bringing up the past."
It's already obvious that just being exposed to Satan has begun to chip at my defenses against her. If she keeps pushing, she'll knock down all of the walls that I've worked so hard to erect. And then we'll be right back where we started, which invariably ends with me being fucked and Satan moving on with her life.
"But I want to apologize," she tries. "I want...I want..."
I don't interrupt her until she fall silent for lack of words. She looks up at me for help. I give a dry chuckle.
"See? You don't even know what you want," I tell her. "But I do. You want redemption. You want to say sorry, and you want me to tell you that it's all okay so that you don't have to live with yourself, so that you don't have to look in the mirror everyday and know exactly what kind of person you are, and exactly what you've done."
"It's not about you," I tell her. "That's what you keep forgetting. From the very beginning, it was all about you, about how you were feeling, about your fears, about what made you feel good. But it's not just about you."
"I know that," she insists. "In Spain, I kept letting things happen to me, Edward. I let my mom choose my major. I let my school choose my abroad program. I let Jacob choose me. I let you choose me. None of it was real until I started making my own choices, and by the time I realized that I had chosen you, it was too late!"
The intensity in her character and in her voice are almost enough to convince me that she's being sincere. But I know better. Satan had taught me better. I shake my head, but I keep silent.
Satan is staring at me, hoping for an answer. What does she want me to say? What could she possibly be expecting? When she realizes that I have no intention of indulging her any further, there's a sharp punctuation of sadness in her features. She deflates in her seat. After a long moment, I speak.
"You're right," I say quietly, avoiding her gaze. "It is too late."
The voice of the attendant over the intercom calling our seats interrupts our silence. It looks like Satan's nerves have been chased away, but as soon as we stand to board the plane, her face begins to pale again. The attendant scans our tickets and smiles brightly at us.
"You two are so gorgeous together," she compliments us with a smile. I thank her. Behind me, Satan stays silent.
My favorite part of flying is the moment of take off, when your stomach drops, and you feel the aircraft rising into the air. The physics of the feat alone are admirable, so I thoroughly enjoy those moments. Satan, obviously, doesn't share my sentiments. She closes the window beside her, takes two pills, and leans her head back. She closes her eyes, and I notice that she's trembling. I can't help but feel bad for her. She's falling apart, and we haven't even begun moving.
The plane fills up slowly, and I spy Emmett heading into the economy section. He gives me a quick wave and I nod in acknowledgement. Finally, after what feels like decades, the aircraft is ready for takeoff, and we begin speeding down the tarmac. Satan's eyes are wide open with fright now. She's trying not to show her horror, but it's clear on her face. I take a deep breath, and I find myself putting my hand on the armrest between us, palm out and open. She looks between my hand and my face. She's almost as surprised as I am. I give her a soft smile of encouragement, and I watch relief wash over her face.
She takes my hand, and for a moment, I think that I might be having a heart attack. There is a dull ache in my chest at the moment of contact. Her hand is a perfect fit in mine. It's as if my body recognizes that we were made for each other.
"You won't have to bear it for long," she whispers, motioning to our intertwined hands. "I took some Benadryl." I nod. At least she knows that I'm making a sacrifice. She's got a death grip on my hand, and I'm almost tempted to rub my thumb over the back of her hand to get her to relax, but that would be taking things too far. And, surprisingly, I don't mind her grip. In fact, to my horror, I find that I'm savoring the way her skin feels against mine.
When the plane takes off, her grip gets impossibly tighter. But after a few moments, it begins to relax. I look over, and I can't help but smile at the way she has begun to doze off. I know that she's drowsy, and she won't think too much about it, so I indulge myself and release her hand to wrap my arm around her. She settles her head sleepily in the crook of my shoulder, and murmurs something quietly. My whole body reacts to the feel of her, the smell of her hair, the softness of her cheek. I relax against my head rest, and I can't help but think how absolutely, positively fucked I am.
I don't fight the sleep when it comes.
A/N: I want to thank you all so much for the reviews, favorites and follows that you've all submitted in the past week. It's been a difficult time, with midterms and my mother going through chemotherapy. I've been stressed and exhausted to say the least, but your support keeps me moving forward.
This chapter is part one of Edward's POV, so instead of bouncing back to Isabella for the next chapter, we'll stay in Edward's head for part two.
Please forgive typos and errors, I'm much too exhausted to beta my own writing, but I wanted to give this chapter to you guys as a thank you for your support.