Yes, you've read this chapter before, even this whole story...but have
you? If you've read The Loser before today, August 25th, 2019, you may
want to read it again. Dollybigmomma took the time to polish this up a
bit more, and she has enhanced it here and there, so there is actually a
bit of new content in places throughout the story! So, I encourage you
to go back and read The Loser again, and if you didn't review the first
time, please leave one and let me know if you like the changes. Thank
you, and see you over at The Lesser!
The same dream had plagued me, since the last time I had seen Edward Cullen. In it, the two of us were sitting on the grass in Esme's rose garden, while we played a game called "I wish." The point was to make a wish that was better than the last wish made. Edward would always wish for things like fast cars, or that summer would never end. Mine were usually far more reserved. I never wanted to tell Edward my greatest heart's desire. I worried about what he would say, if I told him what I really wished for. I would say I wished my sister would find a husband and move out as soon as possible, or that my mother would think about me as much as she did about Jessica.
And then, he said it.
Edward stopped and opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He seemed nervous, but this wasn't Edward. Edward was never nervous. A trait I was envious to possess.
"I wish I could kiss you."
My face must have been a picture, because there was no way I had heard him correctly. I must have imagined what he had said, because, for some time, all I had wanted was for Edward to kiss me.
I didn't say a word, afraid I had hallucinated the whole thing. He leaned over, and his lips were on mine. Then, he stopped and pulled back to look at me.
I remembered how cute his chubby face used to look; not at all like the handsome, chiseled one he had grown into.
"Was that wrong?"
I slowly shook my head, my lips still tingling.
"No. It's what I wished for, too."
We were eleven.
Everything back then had been so simple, and yet, after that day, I never saw my best friend again. I mean, of course, I saw him, usually at a distance, but he was never the same again.
Every night, I had this dream. It was one of my most treasured memories, and yet, I now felt I was cursed to relive it. When I would awake, I would inevitably remember Edward's face from the very last time I had ever seen him.
Christmas was quickly approaching. It was supposed to have been when Edward and I were to be married. I felt stupid for wishing I had never said anything at our Blessing Celebration; just gone on with life and taken the harsh words Edward had said about me to his friend...pretended they had never existed. I shouldn't still want him so badly, but after loving someone for nearly my whole life, I couldn't just turn it off.
I had heard he was staying at the apartment he had rented. He had paid rent a year in full and had stocked it, back when he had thought he would need it. Good thing, or else he would have been out on the streets with nothing. At least, for the school year, he had a place to stay. I wasn't sure what he would do after that.
Carlisle and Esme had asked me to move in with them, but I had declined. As much as I didn't want to remain in Edward's grandfather's house, I couldn't stay with Carlisle and Esme, knowing they had lost their son because of me. Carlisle had every right to demand I live with them. After Edward had been denied, I officially became their problem. After all, the Cullen's had purchased me in full. Even though their son had signed the contract, if something were to ever happen after that day, it would be up to his family to take on the burden of caring for me, unless they decided to deny me, too.
Alice came and helped me to change the house, so it was more to my taste. I appreciated the gesture, because I felt as if I shouldn't be the one to make any modifications, even if Carlisle had stated the house was mine to do whatever I wished with until my baby was of age.
Thankfully, the worst of the nausea had passed, but not completely. I was lucky. This baby never made my stomach turn so severely as to cause me to throw up, but it did make it hard for me to eat anything. Even though I wasn't exercising much now, only walking every day with Emily, I still closely watched what I ate, and the nausea helped me lose even more weight than I had when I had been working out with Jacob. It was an odd thing to lose inches from the rests of my body, while having my stomach become more pronounced.
I was eighteen weeks along, with Christmas coming in several days. At my last visit, the doctor asked if I wanted to know the sex of my baby. I declined, but I requested he write it down and put it in an envelope, for when I was ready to know. Since then, every time I looked at that envelope, I felt my nerves creep up. I didn't want to know, because then, I would be able to picture this child who would grow up without their father. Was it a little girl? I could see her pretty brown hair in pigtails, sitting on Edward's knee. Or perhaps a little boy, who would play games out in the yard with his daddy. I would have to shake my head and know none of this would ever be possible.
Most days, I would stay at home and putter about in the garden. I didn't show up to the hospital, for fear my mother would track me down there. My parents weren't allowed to come to my home unless they were invited. Even though my mother had been able to keep her status, I doubted she was happy with me for embarrassing her at my Blessing Celebration. I knew her all too well. She would take on the events at the party as a personal attack. I was sure all of society was gossiping about what I had done. Even though my mother was still well within her rights to court at Kensington, I was sure she no longer went, for fear of the looks she would receive.
Edward and I had always had our ups and downs. Yes, we had probably had more downs since he had come back from England. However, I couldn't just turn off a switch and stop caring about him. My mind would think of nothing else. I wondered how he was doing in school. If he was happy. If he was finding ways to comfort himself, and with whom. Did he hate me? Did he ever think about me? Even with all the time I wasted thinking and worrying about him, I doubted he cared enough about me to wonder how I was doing...how his child was doing. Maybe he thought his father denying him had saved him from the responsibility of being a father.
I knew Edward was a jerk to me, but I wanted to believe that, if I had told him about the pregnancy the moment I had found out that morning, instead of trying to wait until after the Blessing Celebration, he would have worried at first, but then, he would have come through. Maybe he would have even defended me to James. I had faith Edward would have risen to the occasion. Probably misguided faith, but it was all I had to hold onto.
A few days before Christmas, Esme sent a request, asking that I spend the holiday with them; to come and stay at their house, so I wouldn't be alone. I knew it wasn't really a request. It was a demand, even if the flowery writing on her pretty paper made it seem as if she was inviting me. I packed a couple of cases, and Emily help me into the car. I had dismissed the staff for a Christmas vacation, with extra pay, a generous bonus, and an offer of all the perishables in the house for their families, since no one would be here to consume them, anyway. I had also procured a large amount of coins from my account, so Emily and Sam could distribute them amongst the lessers in the city, hoping to spread some holiday cheer that I was lacking.
I dreaded the next few days, having to sit across from the Cullens, on their first Christmas without Edward. Even when he had been at school in England, they would either visit him for the holiday, or he would come home for a few days. His absence would surely be on everyone's mind.
Thankfully, Alice and Jasper were there to save us from the awkward meals, but I found that, during the day, if I stayed indoors, Esme would search me out to see how I was handling everything. It was tedious.
Christmas shopping was a nightmare. I would spend hours online, looking for the proper gifts to buy and never finding anything adequate. I had brought the envelope with the sex of the baby along with me as a last resort on finding something good enough for Carlisle and Esme. But then, I wondered if bringing up the baby of their denied son would be the best idea. So, instead, I stashed it in the book I was reading.
Although, when I would take the book outside for reading, I would feel the envelope near my fingers, begging me to open it. Eager to get away from the Cullen estate for even a little while, I took my book and a blanket down to the pond behind their house, hoping to find some tranquility.
I found the spot Edward had taken me to the night Bree had died, and I sat down, looking out over the water. I recalled some of the happier memories I had from when I had been a child and played in these waters during the summer evenings. I felt my face become colder from the tears that fell.
I could never get away from Edward.
I sighed. Even now, I couldn't escape his voice.
I slowly turned and saw my hallucination was, in fact, real.
He looked the same; exactly the same as the very last time I had seen him. I knew I should get up and go. Move. Run. But I couldn't. Because as much pain as Edward had caused me with his horrible words, I found the pain of him being gone much greater.
"Please, just…give me a chance. I know I don't deserve to ask anything of you. I've thought about nothing else these past weeks except the horrible mess I've made. I owe you an apology…"
"No!" I snapped. "Please, spare me. I can't. I just can't hear another Edward Cullen apology. What's the point? You'll say you're sorry, and then…once again, I'll think everything is okay, and you'll just find another way to hurt me, usually hurting me more than the last time you apologized for hurting me. So, don't say it, Edward. Just don't."
He nodded his head.
"You're right. I've messed up in unimaginable ways. I've ruined my friendship with my best friend. I…God, I was so stupid. I kept thinking, if I kept you at arms' length, I'd keep us from getting hurt, but all I did was hurt us more. Over and over. I took your virginity, and I hate myself for it. I left afterwards, because I hated myself for doing that to you. But then, you tell me you're pregnant, and I can no longer hate myself, because now, there'll be this little miracle out there in the world that'll undoubtedly be the perfect combination of you and me."
"You hated yourself for having sex with me? You're embarrassed…"
"NO!" he barked, and I immediately cowered. He calmed himself, seeing how his tone had affected me. "I hated myself, because it should never have been me. I stole your virginity, and for a second, I believed I had a claim to it because of a piece of paper. But it never should have been me. You deserved far better. You're the girl who sits next to dying children and holds their hands. The girl who puts every single person before yourself, when none of them deserves your loyalty, and I'm just the bastard who couldn't stand up to one asshole who disparaged the person I love most in this world."
I looked away, because I didn't want him to see the effect his words had on me. I wanted to believe him, but I told myself not to fall into that trap once more.
"Bella, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for not standing up to James and throwing him out of my house as I should've done. I'm sorry for saying what I said. And I'm sorry for how I've treated you these past months. I know you have every right to cast me out of your life, to tell me to leave you alone and never come back, but if there's anything I can do or say to…be a part of your life and this child's, I'll do it. I'll say it, and I'll mean it. I'll do anything you demand. Please, just don't keep me away from our baby. Please, let me be in both of your lives."
Don't give in, Bella. You know he'll only hurt you. You love him, but you know he'll just hurt you again. Don't do it, Bella!
I moved to stand up, using a tree for balance. I saw him walk forward to help me up, but I held out a hand to stop him, and instantly, he froze. I wanted to tell him no, but I couldn't.
I loved him.
I also knew I didn't want to be the reason Carlisle and Esme didn't have their son home this Christmas.
"I can't let myself love you…anymore. This pain in my chest…in my soul, it's unbearable. I can't go back to the way things were before." I sniffled and tried to hold back my tears. "But…it'd be wrong for me to deny this child a father. So, here's what I'm prepared to do. If you accept, you can move your stuff back into your side of the mansion. We'll be roommates, but nothing more. I can't do anything more than that.
"You're welcome to see your child when it arrives and spend as much time with them as you want. However, if I feel you're going to hurt him or her in any way, you'll need to leave. I'll tell you to leave. And, I'll even do you one better; I'll make sure this child is raised with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, so you'll never feel the need to be embarrassed, if you were to be seen in public together. I'll save this baby the pain I've had to endure.
"I'm not going to fight with you anymore, Edward, and I am not going to accept one more apology from you. I don't want to be the reason your family doesn't see you. I love Alice, and I know how hard this has been on her, even if she never mentions it. Maybe…someday…we can be friends again. So, now, you can…go ahead and sleep with whomever you like. Get your needs met…but do it outside of the house. Please, don't bring any person around this child…until, someday, when you meet the one; the girl you really love and want to marry…"
I paused, because I feared I just might break if I didn't.
"…then, we can come to a new arrangement of custody. Okay?"
Once again, his face looked like it had the last time I had seen him. I saw him nod slowly, agreeing to my terms.
"Him or her? Do you know?"
My hand went to my book, and I shook my head no.
"You should come to Christmas dinner as my guest. I'm sure your parents would love to see you. I'll let them know about our new arrangement."
I began to walk away, but then I stopped when I had nearly passed him. I pulled the envelope from my book and handed it to him.
"Merry Christmas, Edward," I whispered.
And then, I kept going.
God, I was such an idiot. I caved too easily. I shouldn't have let my feelings rule me, but the guilt weighed too heavily, and I needed a decent night's rest without dreams of Edward ruining me. I wanted to kick myself that I had given up the envelope without ever looking to see what was inside. Now, Edward knew before me whether we were having a girl or a boy.
I spent the rest of my night crying in the shower, and when I could no longer stand the cold water pelting down upon my body, I moved my snot fest out to my bed. I was thankful Alice hadn't come and checked in on me. I wasn't ready to tell her about my run-in with her twin.
I was a bit late for breakfast the next morning. From the looks of it, Carlisle was on his second cup of coffee. He had taken off from work to be home for Christmas. I shuffled into the dining room, and everyone looked up from their plates.
"I was just about to send Rebecca to come and bring you down," Alice said.
"Is everything okay, Bella? You look so tired," Esme asked, concerned.
I nodded and took my seat at the table, pulling the chair out farther this time, to be sure I didn't embarrass myself again, when my expanding hard stomach got caught in between. When I had just been overweight, my fat would easily mold itself into the desired location. Ever since my stomach began to harden, I found it more difficult to squeeze into places.
"My apologies for being late."
Alice smiled at me and replied, "Happy Christmas Eve."
I nodded back at her with a soft smile.
I stared down at my plate, wondering if I would make it through what I was planning to say next. I must have taken too long, because Esme asked if the baby was causing me to be nauseous again. I shook my head and then blurted out, "I invited Edward to dinner tonight."
The look on everyone's faces was practically identical, except for Jasper, whose eyes darted around the room to see the reactions.
"I know. I'm sorry. I…he came to me last night. I've thought about this a lot. As mad as his actions have made me, I can't be the person to deny Edward from seeing his child." I paused and looked over towards Esme. "I also can't be the person who denies Edward from seeing his family."
Esme looked as if she would cry, but she looked toward her husband, to see if he would allow my invitation.
"Are you sure about this, Bella?" Carlisle asked.
I nodded my head. "It's going to be completely platonic. I told him he can move back in and have a relationship with the baby if he wishes. He'll live on his side of the house, and I'll live on mine. I know I must sound naive or incredibly senseless with this decision, but it's the right thing to do, and I hope we can all find a way to…coexist."
Carlisle gave me a look, but then he sighed and nodded.
"Okay, but just know the accounts and house will still be in this child's name when he or she is born. Edward will only have access to any allowance you give him and nothing more. We'll be civil, and he's welcomed to partake in our events, so long as he can remain respectful. If, at any time, he does something to cause harm to either you or the baby, he'll be removed permanently and not allowed back into the house."
Carlisle's words sounded harsh, but I knew he'd said what he had to try to protect me as best as he could. I hoped Edward never gave him cause to make good on his threats.
Edward arrived at the Cullen's house around six o'clock that evening in time for hors d'oeuvres.
I waited out of sight at the top of the stairs, while he greeted his mother and sister. Carlisle hadn't come out of his study yet, but I could already hear the hushed voices from down below. As I slowly descended, Esme and Alice's words were more pronounced, and I heard them making small threats to Edward about hurting me again. I was thankful for their loyalty, but I hoped they could come to enjoy their Christmas holiday, even if I couldn't.
Esme reached up and put her arms around her son, finally squeezing him, wishing him a happy Christmas. She let go when she saw me, and Edward turned towards me. "Merry Christmas, Bella," he said softly.
"Merry Christmas," I replied.
"You look lovely."
I blanched, hating his words, knowing they were a lie, but I didn't respond. Instead, I walked over towards the highbacked chair and took a seat, while Rebecca came over and handed me a small plate with a few food choices dressed impeccably.
Carlisle walked in and stopped short. He looked his son over, and then he extended his hand out to give a polite shake. No hug or kind greeting, but I wasn't expecting much this first time.
"It's my understanding our staff has outdone themselves with the holiday ham. Perhaps we should move this into the dining room," Carlisle said.
Esme reached out to take her husband's hand, so he could lead her into the dining room, and Jasper did the same for his fiancée. I slowly stood, and Edward offered me a hand, but I shook my head and said, "I'm fine."
I began to walk towards the dining room, when Edward called after me, "It's a boy."
I froze in place and turned back to him.
"You should know. It didn't seem right that I knew, and you didn't. We're having a son, Bella."
He came towards me, as the image of this perfect little boy played in my mind. I nearly missed Edward placing his hands on my stomach. When I looked down, I jumped back slightly, cringing at his touch; knowing how disgusted he must have been to have to touch my fat in order to be closer to his son.
Edward stepped back immediately and raised his hands. "I'm sorry."
I shook my head and walked towards the dining room, leaving Edward behind.
With my permission, Esme invited Edward to come back the next day for Christmas. I sat in the corner and watched, as he got along with his family while they exchanged gifts. I knew this whole thing was my idea, but it made it tough being the outsider. I would catch Edward looking at me or attempting to steal a glance, probably wondering if I was glaring at his presence in the house. I believed I'd remained sufficiently passive.
After Christmas day, Edward was to move back into his side of his grandfather's mansion. Thankfully, Alice was going to be there to help make it less awkward. She was coming over to help me decide which room would be best to set the baby up in and then to help me order everything for the nursery.
When we walked into the grand entry, sitting there on the new table Alice had helped me purchase was a large bouquet of flowers.
"I love the flowers," Alice squealed.
Instantly, I stiffened at the sight.
Alice walked over to find the card attached. "They're from Edward. He said thank you," Alice read.
Edward walked into the house carrying his school bag, and I immediately turned on him.
"What's this?" I asked harshly.
"I just wanted to say thank you."
"I told you this relationship was nothing more than roommates. Please, take your flowers. I don't want there to be any confusion as to what we are."
I saw him sigh softly, as he picked up the flowers and carried them upstairs.
"Bella, I know you're still upset, but I think he's trying. Can't you try, too?" Alice asked hesitantly.
"I don't need him to try. I need to keep him in this…box. I can't allow myself to fall for his charms again. I love him so much, Alice. More than he'll ever love me, and I need to remind myself of that often, so I don't get hurt again. I wish I could just stop loving him. I feel silly for allowing myself to feel anything for him anymore. I should be stronger, but I'm not, and so, this is how I need to handle it, by keeping Edward at arm's length. Further, if possible.
"I know once this baby comes, it could become even more confusing. I need it to be clear. I need to know, to remind myself, that Edward will never be mine, even when he does things like this...brings flowers or touches me. It makes me start thinking again that there could be more, and I can't go there. I'll not fall into that trap again!"
I sniffled, and Alice put her arms around me as best as she could.
When school resumed for Edward, I was surprised he didn't move back to his apartment. Instead, he stayed at the house, which I couldn't tell you if I was happy for or not. I had missed him greatly when he was gone, but I found his presence to be troubling, too.
Every breakfast, lunch or dinner, he was there. At first, he made small talk, even though I could tell it was hard for him. I was sure he felt certain subjects were like landmines, with how I would react. When I didn't tense, he would continue with a topic. When my face would cringe, he would immediately change the subject.
My dreams still came every night. It didn't help that the bigger I got, the more uncomfortable I would find sleeping to be. When the baby began to kick at my stomach hard enough to see it move, it took me by surprise, and I nearly doubled over from the shock. Of course, Edward was there to witness it, and he was by my side the moment it happened. I found the closest chair in which to sit, and he began to put his hands near my stomach, but he stopped, realizing his mistake.
I was weak, so I gave in.
"You can feel…if you want."
Edward looked at me, surprised, but he knelt and slowly moved his hands to my stomach to feel our son moving. I saw the amazement on his face. I wanted to cry, as I pretended for just one moment that we were together and content, basking in the happiness this moment would have brought us, had we been married and loved one another. But then, I looked down and saw Edward's hands touching my fat stomach, and the bubble broke. Mine was not the perfect, round stomach his thin, beautiful someday wife would have. No, mine came with extra embarrassing baggage.
I guessed that day was the first step to fixing our relationship. I slowly began to let Edward back into my life. I was due in late May, but I didn't feel relaxed with Edward until about March. One day, I looked up and didn't react, as Edward helped me stand. I wouldn't cringe, when he touched my growing stomach. My face was no longer a mix of sadness or anger. My words weren't as biting. I was slowly allowing him back in, even though I hadn't realized it.
As I walked out to the garden, I saw Edward standing and talking with Seth. He seemed to be explaining something in great detail. My eyes caught sight of the fickle, prickly flowers, and Edward turned around at the gasp I let out.
"Bella. I'd hoped this would've been done already, and I hope you won't be upset. I just wanted to do something nice to commemorate our baby…"
I saw the rosebushes all standing tall, waiting to be planted. The very same roses that beset my dreams every night, as I remembered our first kiss. He waited for me to say something, probably afraid I would be upset, but I couldn't find it in me to do so.
"Is this okay?" he asked softly.
I nodded my head once and reached out to touch a white petal and whispered a thank you. I worried he might see the tears that threatened to fall down my cheeks, so I quickly turned around and walked back to the house.
We weren't roommates.
We never had been.
I could never think of Edward as a roommate. He knew he needed to be patient. He knew I would come around eventually, but if he wanted my friendship again, he needed to wait until I was ready.
It had taken months to even begin to repair what Edward had broken. I didn't know what this would mean for our future, but I knew I would never stop loving him. I think I knew, deep down, that Edward would never give up on me. Somehow, someway, we would get back to what we once were.
The rose garden was planted. I could see it from my bedroom window. It was such a lovely sight. I began to trust the reason behind Edward's garden as being an act of love. If I were going to let Edward back into my life, I would need to absolve him and move on. I needed to find forgiveness. Edward's past actions had been that of a stupid, immature boy. The past few months, his actions had been that of a man.
I went to sleep, finally feeling free of the anger and visions that had inundated my nights. I felt my whole body relax into the bed in a way that hadn't happened in months. I found the happiness I had missed so much. The feeling of freedom from my pain and guilt.
It was a perfect sleep, until it was ruined.
"Bella! Bella! You need to get up, Bella!"
Emily was shaking me and whispering in my ear.
The minute my eyes opened, I could see an orange glow coming from outside the window.
I jumped up from my bed.
"Hurry, Bella. You must hurry!"
Emily had my sleep robe ready to place on my body, as I stumbled out of bed.
"What's happening? What's going on?"
"There's no time. Come. We have to go!"
Emily pulled me out of my room and down the back way towards the side entrance to the house. I could hear a lot of noise and commotion, as if there was an army invading our home. When we got outside, I saw the house was on fire.
"Oh, my God! Edward!" I rushed to try and go back into the house, as I saw it was his side of the mansion that was completely engulfed in flames.
"Edward!" I went to scream, but Emily quickly covered my mouth and held me back.
She pulled me further into the woods behind the house, and I fought her every step of the way, but for a girl so small, she was surprisingly strong. Her grip was unbreakable.
"Emily! Let me go. I have to get to Edward!" I begged through my tears.
She stopped and looked back at me. "Bella, he's not in there."
I looked at her, confused, wondering what was hidden behind her words.
"They took him, Bella."
"Who?" I asked.
Emily's eyes darted back toward the orange glow that lit up the woods for miles around, the dark smoke billowing into the air. My body trembled, and I wanted to reach out and shake her hard, until she gave me the answer I sought, but I didn't have to do it, since she looked back into my eyes and spoke the words that would break me.
"The Resistance. They have him now, Bella."
AN: Thank you so much for reading and reviewing. When I originally had this plot bunny, it was supposed to be a fickle romantic comedy. But then I wrote that first chapter, and it morphed into this. I hope you'll join me for part two.
If you enjoyed this story, please go and vote for it over at TWIFANFICRECS dot com. You can vote once a day until August 30th.
Lastly, a big thank you to Fran for looking this over and taking her time to edit it. You have no idea how amazing she is. Check out her Facebook Group, Twilight Fanfiction Pays it Forward.
A big thank you to DOLLYBIGMOMMA for going through and making this story even better with all her ideas.
STORY IS MINE. CHARACTERS BELONG TO STEPHENIE MEYER.