A/N: I have wanted to write a PI kinda story for years. This story was inspired by the Rock Chick Series (which I've recently been rereading.) and Coldplay's Fix you. There is no update schedule to this story.
Big thanks to my ladies, Sherry, Paige, Tiffany & Cristina.
Chapter 1 - When you love someone, but it goes to waste.
"Edward's here," Alice said as she slid into the opposite side of the booth from me. We were at our favorite bar, Two Doors Down. It was a Friday night. I had just gotten off work. We were supposed to be here to relax and blow off some steam, but all thoughts of cutting loose went out the window as soon as Alice mentioned my ex's name.
"He's here?" I asked, panicking. My eyes instantly darted around the room, trying to find him. Not that I wanted to find him. I didn't want to see him; seeing him hurt too much. It hurt to the point that I had spent most of the past year avoiding him.
Our split wasn't clean. In fact, I hadn't even seen it coming. Edward had completely blindsided me. One day we were happy and together and then the next thing I knew he was telling me that he couldn't do this anymore. It's not like I didn't understand. I admit I wasn't the easiest person to live with and my family, my family were um, complicated. My sister was one step away from a drug addiction and my father wasn't much better. He was an ex-cop, with a drinking problem. You see, I was the only one in my family who had their shit straight, which meant a lot of the time I was the one who had to sort out their problems. Edward didn't like that. Edward didn't like it to the point we argued about it more often than not. He wanted me to let them sort out their own problems, but I refused to because family was family, which meant that Edward often got dragged into their shit too.
Edward was an former marine. He owned his own security and investigation firm. So it wasn't like he wasn't equipped to deal with their problems, but I guess he just got fed up eating shit. I honestly don't blame him. I got it. I really did, and I don't blame him for walking away. When something toxic is draining you, you have to walk away. But just because I didn't blame him, didn't mean it hurt any less. You see, for me, Edward was 'The One'. We weren't perfect, but then no one ever really is. Edward was my light in a world full of darkness. When I was with him I felt like anything was possible. I imagined growing old with him, having our own children, the white picket fence. The whole dream, but then one day that light went out and I had been sitting in darkness ever since.
"He's over there, by the bar," Alice said, her voice piercing through my thoughts.
I gripped onto the table and took a deep breath as I battled with myself on whether I should look. I wanted to look. I wanted to see him. The memory of him was fading. I knew the image burned in my mind would be nothing compared to the real thing, but I also knew that looking at him would hurt. "Is he alone?" I asked hesitantly. I don't think I could handle seeing another woman in his arms, not that he didn't have a right to have moved on, of course he did. It had been a year. Most people would have moved on.
"He's not alone, but he's not with another woman," Alice said, reaching out and squeezing my hand. "I think it's one of his men. They are both dressed similarly." Thank God for Alice. I had only known her the short year since my breakup with Edward when I started working at my new job at the Black Firm. She worked in the coffee shop down the street from my office. We started talking one day while she was filling my order and our friendship had bloomed from there. Alice was exactly what I had needed. She was outgoing and fun to be around. She had been the one to pull me out of my pit of despair. Well, as far as I was willing to come out of it. She knew exactly what it was like to nurse a broken heart. I guess you could say that was what we bonded over. Although, she hadn't actually met Edward, she had been on enough Avoid Edward Missions that she was now an expert at helping me evade him. She never even questioned my need to do this which was one of the reasons I loved her.
"Do you want to go?" she asked, her face etched with concern. I hadn't even decided if I wanted to look at him yet, but she was probably right. We should leave before I dared to take a look. We should go to another bar and salvage our night. There was no way I could possibly relax here, knowing he was just across the bar, and the last thing I needed was to bump into him, especially when I was drinking.
"Let's go," I said, standing up and grabbing my purse. Alice followed my lead. She grabbed her purse and moving to my side. We left our Lynchburg Lemonade's on the table barely touched and headed towards the door. That is when all hell broke loose.
One second we were walking to the door through the busy bar and the next second we were pushed back as the crowd dispersed from the middle of the room. I could hear the sounds of struggling and when I looked over the shoulder of the man in front of me, I saw Edward. I didn't even have the time to think about how I felt about that because I saw he was struggling with some guy on the floor. He had the guy pushed face first against the floor. Edward's knee was in the guys back, holding him down as he pulled the guy's arms behind his back to cuff him.
Apparently there were a few people in the bar who were unhappy about this because they were shouting and pushing to get to Edward. I could see the back of a tall, muscular man, who was dressed like Edward. He was doing his best to push the angry crowd back as Edward pulled the guy, who was now cuffed, to his feet. But as Edward was doing this, one of the angry guys from the crowd got through. He moved toward Edward and swung his fist. I gasped, thinking he was going to catch Edward off guard and hurt him.
But that wasn't what happened. Edward dodged the guy's fist with ease and righted himself. The angry guy ended up punching the cuffed man instead. He hit the cuffed man square in the jaw, knocking him to the floor before he even realized what was happening or who he was hitting. I expected he was intoxicated.
While he was standing there dazed, Edward grabbed his arm and pulled it behind his back, snarling something in his ear. It was about that time that the entire bar erupted into a fight. Arms were swinging left, right and center. People were pushing, either trying to get into the fight or get the hell out of there. It was utter chaos.
I reached for Alice's arm, about to tell her we had to get out of there, when an elbow connected with my face, knocking me clean off my feet. I fell to the floor, banging my head off the edge of a table. One minute I was lying dazed on the floor, staring at the madness in the room and then the next thing I knew I was being picked up bridal-style and carried out of the bar.
When we were safely outside, I was placed on my feet, against the bar wall, two worried green eyes were staring into my face. Edward. "Bella, are you okay?" he asked, lighting cupping my sore cheek.
I opened my mouth to answer him, but I couldn't find my voice. I couldn't even process what had happened. We were supposed to be having a relaxing Friday night out. It was supposed to be just Alice and me. He wasn't supposed to show. The bar wasn't supposed to erupt into chaos. None of this was supposed to happen.
"I'm sorry," he said, softly. "It wasn't supposed to go down like that. Had I known it would go down like that I would have never have done it with you in the bar." What? He knew I had been in the bar? How? I opened my mouth to speak again, but apparently that knock had done more damage to my head than I realized. I couldn't find my voice. "Are you okay?" he asked again, concerned. "You should really put some ice on your face. I saw that you hit your head too, is it bad?" he asked, not waiting for me to answer. He gently pushed my head forward and began looking at the back of my head, feeling for lumps. He saw I hit my head? How? How was that even possible from across the bar? "Come back to the office with me and I'll take care of it," he said, letting my head go and looking deep into my eyes.
"No," Alice said firmly from my side, snapping me from my daze. I hadn't even realized she was there. I had forgotten that anything else existed, other than him. "I got her," Alice said as she walked closer to me. She grabbed my arm, pulling me protectively to her and away from Edward.
I saw Edward's jaw tick as he looked between Alice and me, but he never said a word for a few minutes. When he finally did speak, he sighed and said, "You got her." He stepped away from the two of us and headed across the street to a parked black SUV. His man from the bar was behind the wheel. As soon as Edward got inside, the SUV took off, and he was gone.
Alice and I caught a cab to my apartment after that. I had told that she didn't need to come home with me, but she had insisted that she didn't want to leave me alone. I was kinda glad she had been persistent. I knew I was on edge, very close to a full-out meltdown. I was trying hard to not process what had happened tonight. So what, I had seen Edward and he had seen me, it wasn't that big of a deal, right? Right!?
Maybe if I told myself that often enough, I would believe it.
My apartment wasn't anything noteworthy. It was a small one bedroom apartment, with low rent, in a crappy area of town. It was what it was, but I had done my best to make it my own safe haven. The only problem with the apartment was that it was the same place I had lived in when I had been with Edward. There were a lot of memories here, a lot of good memories. If I could have moved after our breakup, I would have, but I just couldn't financially afford to.
After we broke up, I had done all the usual breakup stuff. I changed my hair. I changed my clothing style. I had even changed my job. Since I couldn't afford to move, I had decorated the entire place the best I could, trying to make it look different. That hadn't really worked. I could still picture him everywhere I looked.
"You need wine," Alice said as soon as I entered my apartment. I made my way over to my couch, throwing myself down on it, as she headed into the kitchen. A few seconds later she came out with a dish towel filled with ice and a glass of rosé wine.
"Thanks," I said as I took them both. I put the dishtowel to my cheek and took a huge gulp of wine. "Well," I muttered, "tonight didn't exactly go to plan."
"No," Alice said softly, as she sat down on the coffee table, watching me. "How are you feeling? I mean apart from the sore face and head."
I shrugged. "I, uh, honestly don't know. I'm trying not to process it all."
Alice nodded. "I still can't believe what happened. The bar went crazy, one minute you were standing next to me and the next you were laid out on the floor. Edward practically appeared out of nowhere. He scooped you up into his arms and took you outside before I could even reach for you."
"Yeah," I sighed, taking another large drink.
"And he apologized. He said that he would never have done that with you in the bar, if he had known it was going down that way. He must have known you were there. Does that mean he knows you've been avoiding him? And what was he even doing with the guy in the cuffs? Didn't you say he was a private investigator?"
"Bond enforcement," I whispered. At least that was what I assumed it was. Edward and I had dated for a year, but I had never actually seen him in action. I had never been to his office. A lot of his work was confidential, which meant he never spoke about it and I never asked. Although, I knew his office provided various services.
"Bond enforcement," Alice said, repeating my words. "Well, all I know is, seeing that shit was hot. I mean, he really knows what he is doing. The guy with him was pretty easy on his eyes too. I can see why you are still cut up about him too, but… I mean, are you sure he was the one to break things off with you because things looked pretty intense back there. If I hadn't stepped in, I'm pretty sure you would have ended up in his bed tonight."
I choked as I took another sip of wine. "Alice," I hissed, "there is no way I would have ended up in his bed. Edward made it perfectly clear to me that we were done. He's not interested in me that way… he was just concerned. There is no need to read into things when there is nothing to read into. We're done. Finished. Over." I sighed, taking another sip.
Alice rolled her eyes. "If you say so… but all I'm trying to say is things might not be as black and white as you think they are. You should talk to him. See what he has to say."
"I don't need to talk to him, Alice. I don't need to see him, ever again. Seeing him tonight, having him touch me, that's going to take weeks to get over. The last thing I need is to talk to Edward or have you fill my head with flimsical ideas. We're over. I've accepted that," I snapped.
"I know," Alice said, looking at me sadly, "but you still love him."
"I know," I whispered, my breathing hitched. I think I would always love him, but sometimes things don't work out the way you wanted them to. Sometimes love went to waste.