Disclaimer: None of the characters in this story belong to me, they are the sole property of the great Stephanie Meyers and belong to her alone.
A/N: Just a fair warning here for all my readers. This story will be much different from the norm for me. For trigger warnings... there will be mentions of abuse and vivid descriptions of brutality as part of the story itself. If this is hard for you to read, I would advise you to stop now. Timeline set in the middle of New Moon. Only Edward never returns for Bella or runs off to Italy. Instead, Bella takes her own future in her hands.
They say love is never meant to hurt, but that was all I knew it to do. The pain was a reminder to me of it's so called presence. The two coexisted without effort in my life, never one more prominent than the other. Both of them shown to me in equal measure on a daily basis.
It had been almost a full year since I had left home in Forks for College life in the big city of New York. The fast paced lifestyle was a big adjustment for me at first, but like anything else, I got used to it quickly. My goal upon leaving had been to follow my dream of becoming a journalist, my love for writing something I discovered after Edward had left. When I wasn't spending time with Jacob, I had sought comfort in pouring out my feelings on paper and found I had a talent for it. Charlie had been leery of me moving to New York at first. He was concerned for the lifestyle it offered me and the distance it placed between us, but after the first few months, he saw how easily I had adjusted to it and how many new friends I had made, and his mind was put to rest. I kept in touch with him regularly, calling his cell each week and catching up. The move had been daunting and the hardest part for me was leaving Jacob behind. He was a huge part of me now. When Edward left, I had taken refuge in his friendship, in his sunny smiles and his caring nature and since then, we had become so much more than friends. Both of us had blurred the lines more than just once and when I told him I was leaving in the Fall for Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York, he had asked me to stay. His words still ringing clear in my mind today.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want you to stay here with me, Bells... but I'd be even more selfish to ask that of you. I would never want to hold you back from your dream."
I knew he would have come with me if he wasn't tied to La' Push for the pack. They needed him there and Jacob would never leave that responsibility behind for the others to carry more of in his absence. That wasn't Jacobs character. He was loyal and true to those who needed him.
The morning I left, he showed up at dawn and helped me load all of my things into Charlie's cruiser, his face full of sadness when he placed the last suitcase I had into the trunk. He hugged me tight and told me to call him as soon as I made it to the schools campus, his arms pressing me closer to him with his whispered words.
"I'm gonna miss you so damn much. You don't even know..."
We were nearly out of the driveway before my tears spilled over and I asked Charlie to stop, my eyes fixed on Jacobs figure still standing on our porch and my heart feeling as if it was being broken all over again. The pained expression he wore, almost enough to make me change my mind and stay for him, the agony on his face alone looking as if me leaving was causing him physical pain. I begged him to ride with me to the airport and he did, my head resting on his shoulder and our fingers laced together the entire ride there. His thumb stroked the top of my hand and the rigidness in his body only grew the closer we got to the airport. When we arrived and the call came for my flight, I hugged them both, telling them I would call and that I loved them. Charlie's tears came when I kissed his cheek and gathered the rest of my suitcases from him, his words strained with emotion. "Go live your dream, kiddo. I love you- forever. See you at Christmas, alright?"
Jacob looked away from us as we shared our goodbye, his jaw flexing and his eyes growing misty when I pulled back from Charlie and reached for him. "I'll call you- all the time. I promise. Tell Billy I love him?"
"Yeah, honey. Sure thing." He replied, his eyes meeting mine with a silent plea in them not to go.
"Thank you. For everything, Jacob. I love you."
He pulled me to him, his body tense and his voice rough with his reply to me. "I love you, too Bells."
My flight had gone smoothly and I arrived there with an eagerness for the future. I had even been fortunate enough to afford the dorm rate at first, thanks to Charlie's monthly aid with the overwhelming cost of my tuition. Finding work had been fairly easy in the big city. I had applied to a local coffee shop and was hired only two days later. The work there was always busy and kept me on my toes and often burning the candle at both ends.
That's where I met him... Damien.
My shift was running later than normal because a coworker had called in sick with the flu, leaving us short staffed on a busy Friday night. We struggled to keep up with the rush. All of us trying to manage the best we could until closing time crept in. I was wiping down the tables and dead on my feet when he strolled in. The sound of the bells chime coming from above the door causing me to turn. He was tall and well built. His strong, but somehow still slender frame, flattering the grey business suit paired with a black tie he wore. His sandy blonde hair purposefully disheveled and gelled in place. He looked as if he had stepped fresh out of a corporate office of some kind moments prior. His outward appearance alone, demanding respect from others around him.
"Are you closed yet?" He casually asked, his eyes roaming over me in appreciation from across the café.
"No, we close at nine, sir."
"Good, then I made it just in time." He replied, taking note of his wristwatch.
I nodded, silently carrying the pile of dirty plates in my hands outback for washing before returning to take his order.
"What can I get you?" I asked, hurriedly reaching for the pen that was tucked behind my ear as I awaited his answer.
"Well..." He sighed, glancing down at my name tag with a mischievous grin in place. "Isabella- I was going to ask you your name, but lucky for me, you still have your name tag on. Tell me- do you like Isabella or do you prefer to be called something else? A nickname of sorts? Like just Bella? Izzy? Or Bells perhaps?"
"No." I said sharply to him, the irritation in my tone easy to hear, as he so confidently spoke the nickname that only Jacob used for me. "Isabella is just fine."
"Isabella it is then." He coolly replied, glancing up at the menu options listed in order above my head. "I'll take two large caramel latte's please. One with whole milk and the other with skim. Thank you."
"Certainly. I'll get those for you."
I could feel his penetrative gaze on my backside as I tended to his order, placing the two freshly made latte's in holders and giving him his order total, which he paid for with a black credit card.
That was the beginning of his nightly visits to the café, always requesting me when he came in. Sometimes alone and other times with work colleagues who looked to be as wealthy as he was, yet didn't appear to be more than a few years older than myself. He was mysterious, and full of charm. Leaving every person, male or female, in his presence to be captivated by him. My two female coworkers, Mindy and Caroline, who had become my close friends now, thought his grand gestures of affection were something romance novel worthy and they gushed over his wealth, filling me in on his job title as a Wall Street CEO who took home a handsome pay package. They both beamed whenever he would walk in with a single red rose in his hand, leaving it on an empty table with a note addressed to me placed under it. His writings to me were short but his words were artistically chosen to have the most impact. He would tell me I was beautiful, that the roses he brought in failed in comparison to my kind of timeless beauty. He did this every day for weeks, despite my near constant rejection. He continued on with this pursuit, his gifts changing from roses to jewelry and his notes becoming longer and more detailed to me. His words would make me blush and slowly but surely, I let down my guard just enough- just enough for him to become important- for him to matter to me more than my phone calls back home- more than my texts and letters to Jacob- more than my grades which were near perfect before him. My GPA high enough to make the Deans List once already, something I had been immensely proud of. When Valentine's approached, he asked me to dinner on a first official date and I gave in, unable to resist his charm any longer.
Damien picked me up in a black Porsche outside the college dorm at precisely eight on Valentine's evening. He was anything if not punctual and thorough. His gentleman like demeanor making me feel as if I was someone of importance to him already. He opened doors, placed his hand on the small of my back whenever passing through a doorway, requested more wine for me at dinner, and gave me his suit Jacket when my own proved to be too light for the falling snow and diving temperatures outside. My weariness of his wealth began to change when he took me to his office on our third date, the large space he called his own located on the sixth floor and set up much like a home would be. The walls were stark white, and the furnishings elaborate and polished throughout. It reminded me of the Cullen's crisp way of living, the open glass windows looking to be much the same as theirs had been. He had shown me the work he was doing with several children's charities across the state and further. This giving side of him made me soften toward him all the more, seeing how he cared for those who were far less fortunate than himself. We went on a dozen more dates before I took him up on his offer to go back to his house late one night. My sudden confidence and ease with him no doubt coming from the liquid courage flooding through my system after our dinner. Every restaurant he took me to was elaborate, the plates expensive, no matter the food, and the wine some of the finest to be bottled. When we arrived at the gate to his home, he took my hand and this time, I didn't pull mine away. I looked on in awe at the size and beauty of his home, the adequate space of it doubling that of the Cullen's and the landscape breathtaking to behold. I had never seen anything like it before.
"Come." He asked, opening my car door and reaching for my hand again as he led the way up the concrete steps. All the lights turned on the moment we stepped inside and my eyes grew wide at the interior décor. The smell of leather and bleach heavy in the air when he ushered me in further. We were soon greeted by an older woman with silver hair and a beautiful smile, her dress attire telling me she worked for him. I bit back the nagging feeling of unease that tried to crawl over my skin when she reached out to take my coat, her tone sweet to us.
"Hello Damien. Is this the Isabella we've all heard so much about?"
"Yes... excuse my rudeness. Clareese, this is Isabella Swan. Clareese is our maid. She's worked with my family for over twenty years now, Isabella."
"Nice to meet you." I replied, shaking the womans hand before glancing around at the chandeliers hanging above us. The diamonds in them casting their brilliant ambient hue down around us. The sparkling affect taking me back to a time when I had seen another shine in the same captivating way once in the sunlight.
We spent the night together and that was the first of many to come. I gave all of who I was to him. Every intimate part of myself that had never been touched by another, Damien claimed as his own. His passion making me feel things I had never experienced and leaving me craving for more from him. He told me he loved me. Swore he had never loved anyone the way he loved me. Everything that mattered to me became second best. My job was the first to go. After only three months of dating him, he had told me he would always provide for me and that I didn't need to work anymore. I allowed him to talk me into quitting and moved in with him a mere week later. This left me at his mercy in every way. He supported me financially, hiring me a tutor to improve my grades and covering the entirety of my tuition in one payment. Things moved fast and I had become so disconnected from my own reality that I hadn't even spoken to Charlie more than twice in the last few months. All of my messages going unanswered and unheard from both he and Jacob in the meantime.
I had lost touch with who I was entirely.
It wasn't long before Damien's colors began to show, his previous care turning into something more possessive and controlling as the months carried on and Winter faded into Spring and Summer, bringing out a whole new side to the monster disguised as a prince I'd been living with. The first time he slapped me, it had happened so unexpectedly that I reeled from it for days after, the faint bruise coloring my pale skin just below my left eye. I couldn't leave the house without sunglasses and a hat, hoping no one would notice the reason for my wardrobe change while it healed. From then on, it became a routine for me to lie to those I cared for when they called and I answered. Charlie's tone only got more worried every time we spoke. He asked a million questions, wondering why in the hell I hadn't kept in touch with him better and why when he called the University to make his tuition payment, he had been informed that the remaining balance had already been paid in full. He had demanded to know what was going on with me, and where I had got that kind of money in the first place. He even went as far as to ask whether or not I was on drugs. He was, after all, a cop. It was his job to interrogate like this when things didn't add up and I knew he was getting close to figuring this out. I had tried to reach Jacob shortly after that, but he hadn't been answering my calls as of late and I couldn't blame him for it. I had neglected him for weeks that had turned into months. I missed the sound of his voice so much that my body physically ached from it now. Damien's outbursts had only gotten worse when the months of July and August came and went. It didn't take much to set him off. Anything from me not answering my phone to his suit not being ironed the right way, would be enough for him to lose it. He would apologize every time. Follow the textbook pattern that I had heard Charlie speak of in warning to me years ago when I first became a teenager. He would plead with me to forgive him and promise me he wouldn't ever do it again, but no true change would ever come from his promises. I had learned to be quiet around him, not to speak unless I was spoken to, and when not to push him any further. He would control me with threats to keep me silenced about how his fists showed his love for me far more than his words ever did. I was careful with my actions, always looking over my shoulder to be sure he wasn't there whenever I called back home, but last week I had failed to be cautious and he had caught me leaving a message for Jacob. I had paid the price for it. The evidence of it left on my face as I stared at my reflection in the broken mirror before me. I winced as I gingerly touched the cut on my cheek from his hit, the blood dripping down into the steel sink.
I reached out a shaking hand and locked the bathroom door, cringing at the sight of the bloody print left on the handle from my own fingertips that were now stained with the thick crimson color.