A knock at the door; it was time. Pulling this off would be simple. But the only thing I could think of was their safety. I needed to know if the two most important people in my life were okay. I trusted both Emmett and Rosalie to take care of Bella and Emma, but I rather it were I with them.
I could hear Esme's soft voice all the way from downstairs. I could hear Carlisle's mind mustering up enough gusto to reek out enough emotion in his voice. But most of all, I could hear how broken Charlie was.
Mind reading put aside, I could hear their conversation clear as day:
"Hello, Charlie, please come in." Carlisle greeted as he opened the front door for Charlie.
"Thank you" was the haggard reply.
"Hello Charlie." Esme greeted whole-heartedly.
I could hear them move to sit on the couch; the near-silent movement of my 'parents', and the unsteady shuffling of Charlie.
Charlie cleared his throat before speaking. "I just wanted to, uh, see how you all were. I know I blamed your son for what happened to Bella, and it was wrong of me. I want to apologize."
One didn't need the power of reading minds to know how hard it was for Charlie to speak those words. In the event of such a tragedy of losing a child, everyone must have someone to blame. Even if it is wrong. But for him to admit that he didn't believe I was at fault for Bella's 'accident' was extraordinary if not admirable.
"Oh, Charlie, we were never angry with you for blaming Edward. We knew the grief you were going through." Esme reached out to touch Charlie's knee. "Edward, too, thought of himself guilty." She added for good measure.
Charlie's head snapped up out of his hands, which had fallen there while he was apologizing, to look at Carlisle and Esme.
"That reminds me," he paused to suppress a sniffle, "may I speak with him? May I speak with Edward?
"Of course you may. He is up in his room." Carlisle pointed to the stairs.
But of course Charlie knew where I was. It was part of the story we had told him. That I was so depressed that I never left my room. To keep up appearances, Alice came in with a bowl of 'soup' that she'd cooked herself and pretended to try to feed it to me.
"Charlie is on his way up." Alice stated the obvious in a quick whisper. I nodded.
"What is this?" I asked, just as quietly, gesturing to the bowl.
"Soup!" She whispered excitedly, obviously very proud of herself.
I sniffed it. Even if I had been human, I would have been revolted by its smell.
"I'm not even going to ask what's in it." Alice's smiled dropped a little, but she soon found a way to get revenge by shoving the putrid liquid into my mouth. But before either of us could make a sound, Charlie stopped walking down the hallway.
I heard a soft knock on my door. I didn't answer; here come the acting skills.
"Edward?" I heard Charlie say as he slowly, cautiously opened my door.
I kept my expression blank, comatose.
Alice silently excused herself, but stopped to place a sympathetic hand on Charlie's shoulder. "Just call if you need anything." She said before gliding out of the room.
Charlie nodded at Alice then looked down at his feet, and continued.
"Edward, I don't know if you can hear me, but I just want to say I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for blaming you, for being angered with you. At first I thought Bella's accident was your fault. But I know, now, that no one can be blamed for what happened." He buried his head in his hands once more.
As much as I pitied him, and wanted to tell him it was all right, I couldn't. I had to keep up my act. I only responded by blinking in a slow, labored way. I could hear Charlie shift uncomfortably. I decided to explore his mind a little.
Oh God, I miss Bella. I wish I could hear her voice, just one more time. She would know what to do.
Then I heard him walk out of the room. He was right, Bella had a way of making things better. No matter what the situation was, she could handle it. I realized I started to zone out, thinking of Bella. What was it about her that caused me to go to these measures to be with her? Love. I answered my own question. I loved her like she was the reason I lived. She was the reason I lived. Though I used the term 'lived' loosely in my mind. Before I met Bella, I was simply an existence. Something to roam upon this earth and help with population control. The thought disgusted me, but it was true nonetheless. But when I met Bella, I had something to keep on existing for. There would never be any question in my mind.
Only the gentle exchanging of words and the soft click of the front door knocked me out of my reverie. I swiftly stood up from my couch and listened to Charlie get into his car and drive away.
When I was sure Charlie was a safe distance away from the house, I ran down the two flights of stairs, past Alice, Esme and Carlisle, and out the door faster than I could have thought. I heard Esme and Carlisle's conversation as I ran to the meadow.
I feel a little bad for Charlie. It's terrible that we must lie to him.
I know, Esme, dear. But if it's what keeps Bella and Edward together, then so be it.
Yes, but couldn't there have been some other way? Couldn't we have told him she just…oh, I don't know.
If there had been any other way, we can't change that now. Hopefully Charlie got his 'closure' today and we won't see him for a good long time.
But, Carlisle, do you think, maybe, this could have the opposite effect? Do you think Charlie might be visiting more and more?
I doubt it. It was obvious it was hard for him to come here in the first place. I don't think he could handle being here more than once.
Why is that?
He's jealous. Jealous that we got to spend more time with Bella. Got to know her better.
Surely he can't believe that! She was, is, his daughter.
Regardless, he believes he wasn't a good enough father to her. He now believes the 'accident' was his fault.
Poor Charlie, why do we torture him so?
It's for the best, dear. It's for the best.
By now I was too far from the house to listen any more, but I didn't care. I willed my feet to move faster. I needed to see Bella and Emma. I reached the meadow in record time. I rounded the last tree and saw what my eyes yearned for: my girls.
"Bella…" I breathed.
Rosalie and Emmett took this as a sign to leave. They knew their duty was finished.
Bella took her eyes off of Emma to look at me, and our eyes locked for what seemed like an eternity. I knew for certain, she was what I lived for.