AN: I own nothing but the story line.
I have no beta, so constructive reviews are appreciated. Thank you.
The only sound in the car on the way to Charlie's house was the quiet music coming from the car speakers. I didn't know who it was this time, but it was soothing. Edward knew me so well. I tried to collect my thoughts, and plan how we could broach this subject to Charlie.
Marriage. It was a word I'd shied away from all of my life. And now here I was going to tell my father that I was planning on doing it. I glanced over at Edward. His face was composed as he drove with one hand, holding my hand with the other.
The ride was all too short, and we pulled up to the curb in front of the house. I heaved a sigh.
"Bella? Are you sure?"
I answered him with another small sigh, and reached over to open the door before I lost my nerve.
"Bella?" Charlie's voice came from the living room.
"Ya Dad. It's me and Edward."
I went into the kitchen. It was late enough to start dinner, and doing something would help me plan things out a bit. Pancakes. Charlie loved breakfast foods and we hadn't had pancakes in a long time. And I'd have to stand at the stove to cook them for a while, so it would give me some time to think some more.
Edward stood silently by my side, measuring out milk and handing me eggs. He looked relaxed but I could see the worry around his eyes. I wanted to ask him what he was thinking, what Charlie was thinking, but the only noises in the house were me stirring the batter and the muted sound of the TV coming from the living room. It was too much to break.
Too soon, everything was ready and I called Charlie in eat. "It's now or never," I muttered to myself. Edward squeezed my hand and kissed my hair before he sat down at the table with us.
"So Bells, what did you do all day?" Charlie asked.
My throat suddenly dry, I panicked and blurted it out. "Edward asked me to marry him." Oh God, why didn't I lead up to it?
Charlie's fork froze halfway through its journey, his mouth hung open as his face suddenly purpled. "He WHAT?"
Although I'd expected something like this, it was still enough to send me into my own rage. I couldn't help it. When he used that tone…
"Charlie! I am not a child!" I began, my hands balling up into fists on the table.
"Charlie," Edward's voice was quiet and unexpected. I froze and looked at him. He reached over and took my hand while Charlie moved his glare and focused on Edward.
"Charlie, please let me say something, and then I promise to leave and let you and Bella talk things over."
Charlie dropped his fork to the table and leaned back, folding his arms. At least his mouth was shut.
Edward paused, looking at my hand in his.
"I know that you are still angry with me over the way I treated Bella last September. It was inexcusable. I agree. Even if I live 100 years I will regret that time every day."
"You never even called her," Charlie began.
Edward looked up at him. "Yes I know. Please, let me attempt to explain myself.
"I know that we are young, and it felt like we were so involved so quickly. I knew that Bella was everything I'd ever wanted, but I worried for her sake.
"I worried that I was not the best for her. So when our family went to LA, I decided to end things with Bella. I hoped that she would forgive me, and forget me, and be happy with someone else. Had I known…" His face was anguished.
"I wasn't better off myself," he continued. "Jacob told me about Bella's depression. If you would like to ask Alice or my parents, you'll find that I was much the same. I didn't care to eat or move. I just took up space and waited for everything to be over. My only hope was that Bella would be happier without me in her life.
"When Alice came to visit, I heard of Bella's cliff diving incident, and feared the worst. I couldn't imagine a world without Bella. I became suicidal."
Charlie's eyes widened at this confession.
"Bella came with Alice to see me, to try to help me. Charlie," he leaned slightly forward, "when I saw her again after all that time I thought I was seeing an angel. My parents have said that we came back here because LA didn't agree with Esme, but really they came back for my sake. Even if she wouldn't have me, I needed to be near her.
"I was overjoyed that she would have me back. I still cannot believe my good fortune. I know you may not forgive me, but she has, and it's more than I ever hoped for.
"Charlie… Sir…" his voice was rough with emotion. "I need her. I need to see her every day and be with her every night. I need to make her happy in any way that I can. I know that I don't deserve her. I know this. But I need her."
It was quiet again. All during this speech I sat holding his hand and drinking in every word from his lips. I couldn't trust myself to speak. He smiled gently at me and kissed my hand.
"I'll be back later," he said.
"Edward," my voice was thick.
"No Bella. You two need some time to consider things now."
I sat staring at my hands as he left the room. The only sound was the snick of the door as he closed it.
I looked over at Charlie. He picked up his fork, looking at it like he'd forgotten what it was. He opened his mouth, closed it, and got up from the table. He paused in the doorway with his back to me, his hands in his pockets, his head bowed.
"Bella, I have to think about all of this. I know when you first… fall in love with someone, that you see how perfect they are and everything seems all wonderful." He sighed. "I don't suppose Renee and I ever got much past that part. I think you're supposed to see a person's faults and love them even more than you did when you thought they were perfect. I can see that with you two, but I need to think about this some more. Just give me a little time."
I couldn't take anymore. It was all too much. I ran from the table, stumbling up the stairs into my room.