Almost done with vacation : (
We've had a great week, but I've missed you all! Next update will be the final chapter of Me and You. The sequel to that won't go up until I have a few more chapters of this one done.
Aiming to update again before next Friday. See you soon!
Often times, I was too busy to think about what had happened in the past and the mistakes that I had made. I had thrown myself into my studies, welcoming the distraction. Law school was even more time consuming, and we hit the ground running the very first day of the semester.
I think that a lot of people had been surprised when I had shifted my focus at the University of Washington to Pre-law. And it wasn't just Alec's influence that had made me interested in it- I had been studying in the quad one rare sunny day and had happened to find a flyer about environmental conservation. And environmental law was something that I ended up becoming very passionate about. I'd had the opportunity to grow up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and had never realized how lucky I was. I had always appreciated the beauty of nature, and now I wanted to dedicate myself to saving it.
I slammed my textbook shut, deciding it was time to call it a night. Alec had fallen asleep on the couch hours ago, but I decided not to wake him and went to bed alone.
And once I was there, I allowed myself a moment to think about Edward. I knew that I was thinking about him more and more since moving to Chicago, something I felt increasingly guilty about.
Tonight I couldn't help but replay the last conversation we'd had in my mind, over three years ago.
"This isn't really getting any easier, is it?"
His question seemed to hang heavy in the air, like we both already knew the answer.
We had never quite recovered from my immature spell the spring after he had left Forks. I hadn't spoken to him in months, and even though I had finally apologized and we had managed to keep in touch better over the last two years, it just wasn't the same.
"I'm sorry," I said quietly. "I know things have been weird, and that-"
"Bella, just…don't. It's okay. I thought I could do it, that we could bounce back after that weird period right after I left. But I think that maybe I asked too much of you after not giving you enough in return. But now it just feels like we're dragging it out. I hate wondering if you'll answer the phone, or trying to figure out time differences and finding the time to call when I'm busy. Because it's so hard to think about you. And I do, you know. I think about you all the time and I don't think I'll be able to stop unless…"
We had agreed on a clean break, but sometimes it wasn't that easy.
My life had changed entirely since I had last seen him, but every once and a while I caught a glimpse of the old me. But I had been eighteen then, and entirely unprepared for what Edward Cullen could do to my heart and my mind. I had felt aimless back then- unsure of what I wanted and feeling like I'd never figure it out.
Now things were planned out, and even though I had craved that sense of security, I still felt a nagging sense of unrest.
His number was disconnected.
I frowned down at my phone, wondering when he had gotten a new number even though part of me felt that I had no right to wonder about him at all.
I was, after all, an engaged woman.
Fiddling with my beautiful engagement ring had become a nervous habit, and I was doing it now. I loved my fiancé. He gave me the sense of security I had wanted so badly, and through him I had found strength in myself. We didn't come from the same world, but we looked forward to building a new world together.
He knew about Edward- I had drunkenly cried about him to Alec back when we were just friends. But I don't think that he understood the intensity of my feelings, because it was just one of those things that I couldn't put into words.
I had blocked Edward on Instagram after we had agreed to stop talking, and now wasn't the first time I'd thought about unblocking him. But this time I actually did it, even though I might have hesitated for a moment.
His page had grown. My eyes widened when I saw the number of followers he had, and how many pictures he had posted. I scrolled through the most recent ones, and my heart stopped when I scrolled to a picture of Wrigley Field on the North Side of Chicago. It was posted six days ago. I went to a more recent photo, seeing that he had tagged a location. It was a photography studio just a few blocks off Michigan Avenue- I didn't know Chicago very well yet, but I had gotten to that area already.
I didn't even hesitate to save the address in my phone and make my way there as soon as I was out of class the following day.
The bell above the door chimed when I opened it and stepped inside.
It seemed empty, and I took a few steps further before looking down the side hallway.
And time stood still.
He moved towards me, looking just as uncertain as I felt. His hair was a little longer and his facial hair was heavier than it had ever been five years ago. The sea of tattoos on his arms was more dense, explosions of color covering more skin than before. But those beautiful green eyes were the same, and so was the brilliant smile.
I didn't even hesitate to hug him when he got close enough, and suddenly felt at home.
"Holy shit, Bella," he breathed, squeezing me tight. "What are you doing here?"
He ushered me to a couch near the front window, and sat down close to me.
"I just started at the University of Chicago. I…I finally worked up the courage to see where you were at, and I couldn't believe we were in the same place at the same time again."
"Well, I'm glad you did. It's so good to see you."
I smiled, so grateful that he seemed so enthusiastic about seeing me again, especially with the way we had agreed to part ways three years ago.
"What are you in school for?" He asked. "I have so many questions, but that's the first."
"Oh, um, I'm actually in law school. I just started but I want to go into Environmental law."
"Wow. That's incredible, Bella. Law school, damn."
"And you? Is Chicago…home now?"
He laughed, shaking his head. He looked bashful, almost. "No. This is a friend's studio, actually. I'm just here through the end of October. He's letting me use the space while I'm in town."
I tried to ignore the part of me that was so disappointed to hear that he was still wandering, but I couldn't. But I also felt awful about it, because I had absolutely no claim to him at all. I did, however, have a fiancé at home.
Maybe I shouldn't even be here.
"I can't believe you're here. It's…you have no idea how happy I am to see you again."
His enthusiasm surprised me a bit, but also made my heart ache and wonder what we might have become if things that been different.
"I've been thinking about you a lot since moving here," I admitted. He squeezed my hand at my words, and I found myself hating what I knew I had to say next. "Especially when my fiancé and I started to look for a photographer to do our engagement photos."
Edward froze for a moment, but recovered quickly. He reached for my left hand, running his thumb over the ring on my fourth finger. "Wow. Congratulations, Bella. Really. I've always wanted the best for you."
My voice sounded so hollow to me, and I had to force myself to smile.
"I guess you probably know that Alice and Jasper got married last year? I did their wedding pictures, and thought that maybe you would have been there."
"Oh, I did know. We were invited, but couldn't make it down to Texas because we were studying for the LSATs at the time."
"My fiancé, Alec, and I are both in law school," I explained. "But I wish we could have gone."
"I see. Well, they're expecting a baby now- I don't know if Rosalie had mentioned that."
"Oh! No, I didn't know. With my studies being so crazy and now that Rosalie has Henry and Vera…we haven't been the greatest at keeping in touch."
"Alice is obsessed with those kids. She's a nightmare aunt, though, so hopefully Rose is able to get some payback when the baby comes."
I smiled, but I was also struck with how odd it was that we were at this point in our lives. It hurt, but Rosalie and I weren't close anymore. She and Emmett had gotten married shortly after our high school graduation, and Henry had been born right before I had left for the University of Washington. Now she had baby Vera, too, and I was over a thousand miles away from Forks. She and Edward were related through Alice and Jasper, and I felt like the odd man out.
"What have you been up to?" I asked, changing the subject. "Where has your work taken you?"
I listened as he launched into his story, just as enthralled by him as I had been five years ago. He hadn't lost his ability to spin stories and make his adventures seem like they were unfolding right in front of you, and I found myself wishing that I could have seen all the things he had.
"How crazy is it that we're back in the same city?" He asked, shaking his head. "I've missed you, Bella. I spent a lot of time wishing that things were different."
I nodded, knowing that I felt the same way but also that I had built a different life for myself and was committed to it. It wasn't right for me to wish things were different, because I had Alec and school and a whole future planned.
"Can we start keeping in touch again?"
His question didn't surprise me as much as it should have, but I still didn't know how to answer.
This was a slippery slope- I was allowed to have friends, and in another month Edward would be leaving again. But I wasn't sure that I could ever see him as just a friend. I had this idea of him in my head, that he was the one who got away and someone I had felt so incredibly strongly about. I thought about my fiancé; how I loved him and had committed myself to him.
But despite of all that, all the reasons to say no- I said yes.
What do you think?
Is keeping in touch innocent, or will they be able to keep it innocent? Are you surprised at the way they reacted to seeing each other again?
I'll be back from vacation on Monday, so another chapter won't come until then. Part of me wishes I could stay on the beach, but it'll be nice to get back into the swing of things!