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How does Charlie feel about Edward hanging around at the end of New Moon? How does Edward handle the guilt he feels about hurting Bella? And how is Bella doing?
Bella had fallen asleep curled up in my lap on the couch in her living room. I certainly didn't mind. I wasn't about to wake her up. I liked watching her sleep. And right now, she needed sleep.
What have I done to her? I couldn't help but notice the dark circles under her eyes. They were as bad as mine. She'd lost weight, too. Probably about 15 pounds, and she didn't have 15 pounds to spare. I hadn't even noticed in Volterra; it was such a miracle to see her alive. But by now it had become painfully apparent that she didn't look well. Beautiful as ever, but not well.
I turned the sound on the television down to the slightest murmur. I really didn't care about the movie, anyway. I'd rather listen to Bella breathe. Listen to her heartbeat.
When I heard Charlie arrive, I debated moving her. I finally decided that he'd survive seeing the body contact. It was better to let her sleep.
Charlie sighed as he saw me. Then he shut the door. Damn kid is always here, now. He might as well be grounded and living here, too. Only goes home to sleep. He grunted to acknowledge me. He didn't use my name any more.
I nodded to him and raised one hand to put a finger to my lips. When I put my hand down, I mouthed, "She's sleeping."
Charlie approached the couch and eyed Bella. I'm not sure I like the looks of this.
"We were watching the movie and she fell asleep. She mentioned that she's had nightmares lately, and I thought it best not to wake her," I whispered, hoping to mollify him before his anger at me overrode everything else. God knows, she's had plenty of reasons for nightmares. Stalking vampires. The Volturi. Adolescent werewolves. Nearly drowning. Me. I lowered my eyes, ashamed of how much I'd hurt her; of how I'd placed her in such danger over and over again.
She does need some sleep. But he looks just a little too comfortable with her in his arms. Charlie debated, finally deciding to overlook me and let Bella continue sleeping, his concern for her overriding his ever-present anger and resentment toward me.
I handed him the remote. "I really don't care about the movie. Bella wanted to watch it. I'm sure there's a game on." He took the remote silently, turned off the VCR and found a baseball game. He kept the volume low, not wanting to disturb Bella any more than I did.
He didn't pay much attention to the game, however. If she didn't seem better now that he's back I wouldn't allow him in the house. How could he hurt her like that? And what's to keep him from hurting her again?
I deserved it. He could have yelled the words at me and I would still have deserved it.
He left her. Not a phone call, not a letter. Nothing. And she… His thoughts broke down. No more words, just images. Bella in Sam Uley's arms, murmuring "He's gone." Bella lying in her bed, her dead eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. Dr. Gerandy, explaining catatonic states. Renée, angry and full of blame for Charlie. Bella in some hysterical frenzy, throwing clothes everywhere and screaming, "I won't go. You can't make me."
I swallowed and hung my head. I did that to her.
The images in Charlie's mind didn't stop. Bella sitting glumly at the table, picking at her food, but not really eating. Bella speaking in monosyllables. Or not speaking at all. Pain wincing across her face as Charlie said my name. Broken CDs in the garbage.
His anger was palpable. He hates me. And there's so much he doesn't even know about.
Bella screaming in the middle of the night. Charlie rushing into her room to find her crying and repeating, "He's gone," over and over.
Her pain. It hurt him to remember. It hurt me just as much to see his memories play through his thoughts.
Bella smiling, holding Jacob Black's hand as they ran toward Charlie. Bella and Jacob Black studying here at the house. Bella, Jacob Black, Billy Black and some other people I didn't recognize eating spaghetti on someone's porch. Bella, drenched and asleep on a couch, Jacob Black sleeping beside her.
That hurt, too. Not Charlie, but me. I felt the jealousy rise in my throat, just as I did every time she mentioned trying to call him. Although I noticed she hadn't said much about that lately. I doubted she'd stopped calling for him. She'd just stopped telling me about it. And as much as it bothered me that Bella felt so close to him, I could only be grateful to him for saving her from Laurent and rescuing her from drowning. And protecting her from Victoria. When I should have been here to protect her. I'd make myself thank him no matter how I felt about him.
Jacob was good for her. If she'd just had more time. Then I wouldn't need to worry any more about HIM hurting her.
He wouldn't even think my name.
If he hurts her again, I'll kill him.
I looked at Bella, sleeping innocently. I wish that you could, Charlie. If I hurt her again I would let you kill me.
Charlie stared at me, a baleful expression on his face. I gave him a meek, apologetic glance in response. I knew what a monumental mistake I had made by leaving Bella. I wasn't ashamed to admit it. I'd placed her in so much danger. I'd hurt her beyond my imagination. But she still loves me. Somehow, she still loves me.
In my lap, Bella stirred, her face crumpled in pain. "All those people," she murmured.
She's dreaming of Volterra. I rocked her in my arms and whispered, "It's a dream, Bella. Just a dream." This time.
"It's so horrible," she whimpered.
"Shhhh, Bella. Sleep." I began to hum the lullaby I'd written for her, and it seemed to calm her. She relaxed, but I kept rocking her.
Charlie glared at me the whole time. What's that he's singing to her? I wish I hadn't seen any of this. But it looks like it's helping, so I won't complain.
We watched the ballgame in silence while Bella slept. Charlie, occasionally balking mentally at the image of Bella in my lap, wrapped in my arms. He might have nightmares tonight.
At nine, he gave me a stern glance. Bella still slept. I hated the thought of waking her, afraid it might make it that much more difficult for her to sleep later tonight. I nodded to him to let him know I got the point then whispered, "Let me take her upstairs, Charlie. Maybe she'll sleep through it."
Reluctantly, Charlie agreed, watching carefully as I stood with Bella in my arms. He followed me up the stairs to her room and pulled down the covers of her bed. I laid her gently on the mattress, arranging her head on the pillow so she wouldn't wake up with a crick in her neck. Charlie removed her shoes and pulled the covers over her. I hated to leave her sleeping in her clothes, but at least they were her favorite jeans. I knew she'd be comfortable. I kissed her forehead.
Charlie coughed. Time for him to get the hell out of her room. To get the hell out of this house. At least for tonight.
I nodded in his direction to let him know he'd made his point, although I knew I'd be back later that night. He followed me out of Bella's room and down the stairs. He followed me right to the door, in fact, opening it for me pointedly. He watched me sternly as I climbed into my car and drove away.
I drove home slowly, at least, for me. Shallow penance for the deep emotional wounds I'd inflicted on Bella. How ironic that the one time I choose not to give in to my innate selfishness, I nearly destroyed the person I wanted to protect.
After pulling my car into the outbuilding and turned off the ignition, I leaned my head against the steering wheel. I could see it in her eyes, every time I left. She was afraid I might not come back. I would prove myself to her. If I did nothing else for the rest of my existence, I would renew her trust. I climbed out of the car, ready to run back to Bella's house. I'd taken too much time already; I didn't want her to awake without me there.
As I raced through the woods, I worried. She could have another nightmare before I arrived, and once again I wouldn't be there for her. I hurried, relieved to find her still asleep when I climbed through her window.
"Edward," she murmured, and I thought perhaps I'd awakened her. But after listening to her heartbeat, I knew she was talking in her sleep. Her next words broke my heart. "Edward, please don't go."
I lay beside her on the bed and wrapped her in my arms. "I'm here Bella. Right beside you." I felt her body relax at the sound of my voice, and she edged closer to me. "There's nowhere else I want to be."