Disclaimer: I don't own the Twilight series; that right is reserved to Stephenie Meyer. I also don't own any musical pieces that may be presented in this story, unless I say otherwise. I do write my own song lyrics.
IMPORTANT: Please read note at the end of this chapter for helping the people in Haiti.
In Love and Music
Chapter Eight: Drink To Forget
"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent."—Victor Hugo
October 12, 1890
A soft repetition of keys echoed throughout the corridors. The slow, grave melody carried gently into the cloudless night. Her right hand kept true with the sonata's original path, the ostinato triplet rhythm flowing from her fingertips with ease. Much like the misunderstood movements of the sonata, she poured her heart within the piece. The very pitch evoked a flurry of emotions within her heart, emotions that she desperately tried to lock away.
The movement eased into the second movement, continuing with a more conventional pace of minuet and trio. Listening, she bent her head, enveloping the melody deep into her soul. The sound was haunting, yet tragically beautiful. Each note had brought her to tears. To her, this one piece defined where and who she was in the world, but he had sorely tainted this particular musical piece for her. It was this very song that resonated the very same night she learned of Alexander's deception. Despite it all, Bella had found the piece lovely, for it simply held no specific meaning. It was not solid, not tangible; it was never something that mankind could actually label.
In that, she found comfort in music. People may compose music. People may be able to perform each piece flawlessly. But people could not make sense of the notes. To each their own, had been her philosophy on music. As her nonno taught her, each key, note, pitch, tone, or whatever one may fancy, held a different meaning to different people. There were exceptions, however. Nonna Swan had taught her that, much like love, music would always find its right path in a song, just as the perfect man would find his woman.
A blush crept to her cheeks as her thoughts carried to a more brazen metaphor she had developed. The interaction between a piece and its melody was equivalent to the act of love between that of a man and woman. When in Paris, she learned carnal desire from books and operas. The description had her think of music, how certain beats and pulses coincided, how each steady resonance sinuously moved to an ardent rhythm. Though as a young lady in the court of France, she banished the idea, hiding it away into the deepest corners of her mind. At such an age it was hardly appropriate, to lie back and think of England was something done on a brides wedding night.
Though at the moment, at this place of time she was at now, things had changed. The actions of others had a tendency to influence those around them.
Thus leading Bella to sit in the recital hall, absentmindedly playing into the night, not caring of the lecture she would receive if she would be caught. It had all been so futile, for time always continued on its journey. It never stopped. Not for anyone.
Like the dreary months of endless rain, time passed.
It had been exactly one week since Rosalie and Emmett departed from Pierce Academy. Exactly one week since they had been married. Exactly one week since things had changed. No one was told of the pregnancy, and no one had been wise of their hasty nuptials. Rosalie's form had yet to show any signs due to her lithe, slender frame. Having the potential to be the biggest scandal of England, the child would have a premature birth in the eyes of society. Only those who knew the truth were the ones who would not judge.
They were lucky, in her opinion, to have escaped the unforgiveable treatments of this harsh society.
No. What had happened to Rosalie and Emmett was a blessing in disguise. God did not make mistakes, but instead people made mistakes. God offers his children opportunities to turn an unfortunate situation into a fortunate one. Society preached of sinners and saints. Sinners would be sent to hell. Saints would ascend towards the heavens. In some sense, those words were true, but had everything society considered a sin, the entire world would be engulfed in flames and brimstone.
Had there been any justice, most of the men in England, Alexander including, would be prodded by fiery pitchforks. How was it acceptable for a man to lay with another woman, but inappropriate for a woman to lay with another man. Though she did not believe the act of infidelity as moral, the inequity between both sexes irked her. The preaching from the pastor during morning prayers, along with the lessons her mother spoke, seemed to be hypocritical. If prostitutes and whores were damned to hell, what is to happen to the men that lay with them? Were they not just as, if not more, guilty of such a transgression?
Heaven forbid she spoke freely of her thoughts on society. She was but a silly little girl who had almost ruined the reputation of her family though the fault was not hers alone. He was as much to blame as her. After all, it was he who pulled her into the vacant room, allowing her to indulge on his choice of liquor. He was adamant, exclaiming his raptures of the blush that appeared on her cheeks from drinking. And when she escaped his advances, unmarred, he had seemed so collected. Though later that night when she searched for him to fulfill his promise of dancing the last waltz of the evening, she had learned that things were not as the fairytales promised.
She never did get to dance the last waltz.
Stumbling across the next set of keys, the melody fell into uneven notes. A broken stream of breaths fell from her lips as she shook, distraught from the recollection. Her arms wrapped around her waist, body gently rocking, willing the tears not to fall. Enough had been shed in times past and more would have been in vain. As she rose to leave, Bella found it difficult to move, for two hands pushed lightly down upon her shoulders.
"Never leave a song unfinished, Miss Swan." Edward slipped behind Bella on the bench, straddling her body. "At times, it seems as though the things that come easy to us become impossible." His hands slowly ran from her shoulders to the length of her arms and finally reached their destination. "That doing such tasks will cause us an unimaginable amount of pain." Palms rested upon the backs of her hands, his fingers entwining through hers, curling in a comforting manner. "But they are not as hard as they seem."
"They are when you are alone," her voice quivered as the threat of tears tightened her throat.
"Where am I? I am here, sitting with you. You are most definitely not alone."
"You do not know my pain, Mr. Cullen."
"No, but I do know of pain. I have had my fair share. But remember that my heart beats as does yours, drumming to the same tune. Without this melody that our bodies create, we could not live." He rested his head upon her shoulder, resuming playing the sonata. "Never leave a song unfinished, Miss Swan, because at any moment in our short lives, our hearts will forever stop, and without our recitation, as does the life of the song."
He hummed along with each chime, smiling when she slowly continued each set, mimicking his movements. The lingering sound of their hurt resounded against the walls, yet for once they shared their pain with another person. Gradually, Edward pulled his hands away, allowing Bella to carry on without him.
As the ending approached, Bella smiled through the heavy flow of anguish, absentmindedly leaning back into his chest. Sniffling, she bent her head, listening to the sound of their breathing. "Thank you."
"There is nothing to thank me for, Miss Swan." Edward lifted one leg from around the bench, facing Bella with a solemn grin. "I know you hurt, but you cannot let this overcome you. You told me that you have not found your strength. I believe that is a lie, for without strength, you could not have endured what haunts you."
"It feels as though I am drowning…that I am stuck beneath an unforgiving storm, gasping for life through the murderous, azure waves. I try so desperately to hold onto something, but there is nothing." Bella pulled her robe tighter around her frame, shivering from the flood of emotions. "Nothing but water…nothing but succumbing to their demands."
"Miss Swan, please close your eyes for a moment." Sighing, she complied with his request. "Now relive what bothers you. Step away from those memories, yet watch as they pass by. Remember the fresh ache you felt at those moments of time." Cupping her trembling face within his hands, Edward whispered to her. "Open your eyes, Miss Swan."
The glisten of unshed tears vanished from her stare. She exhaled, finding it easier as the tightening in her throat had left as well.
"It does not seem so scary now, does it?"
Bella inhaled deeply, offering her body relief. "No, I suppose not."
Smiling fondly, he brushed his thumb from beneath her eyes, wiping away any trace of tears. She fell into Edward's hands, accepting the warmth they provided. A deep sense of comfort washed over her due to his presence. But a whisper lay between their bodies as they unconsciously leaned towards one another.
She felt warm. A rush of Tuscan air swept her face like the summers she would spend in Italy. Her heart would soar, like at this very moment, when the sun would wrap her in affectionate embrace as she ran through the soft sand.
Their lips met with the softest of touches. She sat still, unsure of what to do, clumsily following his movements. His fingers ran down the side of her face, tracing the curve of her jaw, tilting her head towards his, beckoning a response. The thrumming of her heartbeat echoed in her ears; she swore that it was embarrassingly impossible for him not to hear the incessant pounding. But she cared not if the thumping caught his ears. She did not even care as Edward's head slowly lowered to her neck, his nose skimming the flushed skin, however the contact evoked a gasp.
Edward stiffened, ceasing his actions, his breathing erratic and wild, warming the flesh of her neck. He pulled back, not quite catching her eye. A hand ran through his tousled bronze locks, and in an instant, the air had turned. "Miss Swan, I…"
She awaited a response, but received only silence.
He stood quickly from the piano bench, placing distance between him and Bella. Cursing, Edward began pacing around the room, hands fisting the fabric of his wrinkled attire. "I apologize," he said, vehemently.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I—I apologize for my conduct. It was very foolish of me—to think if an Instructor had entered…God forbid one of our pupils…"
"—what I have done is simply unforgiveable—"
"Mr. Cullen," she interrupted, her head shaking with disdain. "If I recall, I did not see you begging for penance when you assaulted me in The Red Room—"
"That was hardly an assault. If I recall, I was saving you from a man's less than honorable intentions. I kissed you for your own safety."
"Your heroics were less than chaste."
"And you call me insufferable," Edward growled, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Yet you are the one patronizing me for apologizing for my impropriety!" Muttering under his breath, he whispered, "You cannot win with people."
"Well, I apologize if this whole debacle was so horrendous for you. Goodbye!" Bella abruptly stood from the piano bench, attempting to march off towards the door, but found her feet tangled in the skirts of her gown. Mere inches from the wooden floors, she found herself being pulled back an upright stance, staring into a pair of surprised emerald eyes.
"I swear, woman, you are truly mad."
"I am not the one raving like a lunatic! Are you sure you are not some actor in a play, Mr. Cullen? Not a professional liar who performs for spare change like a pillager in the ghettos of London?" Bella sniffed angrily, forcefully removing his hands from her shoulders. "All of you men are the same."
Edward's eyes glazed over with an emotion not quite definable, his hands clenched at his sides once more. "And you claim not to make haste with judgment? That is quite laughable, for I am witnessing firsthand the very fallacy you find hypocritical." Turning, his fists pounded softly against the wall. "Do not even think that you know of my person, Miss Swan, for you will be sorely mistaken by your unjust opinions."
"And what have I seen to not form said opinion? From the moment I met you, you have done nothing but given me false impressions with your insidious flirting and cryptic semantics!"
"Pardon, but were you not the one who followed my actions, toying with me for your own amusement? I did not hear you protest."
"You began this whole mess—"
"Do not go pointing fingers at me as though you are some pertinacious child!"
"Unbelievable!" she nearly screamed, though her voice was muffled as Edward's hand clamped over her mouth. He pressed a finger to his lips, silencing both of them, listening. The distinct groaning of the floorboards could be heard from outside at the other end of the hall. Bella's eyes widened with panic, prying his hand from her lips so as she could speak. "Surely they will come in here!"
"I know that," he hissed in return, his gaze shifting back and forth to formulate a plan. Grabbing her hand, Edward opened the door, slowly peaking out, surveying for clearance. He tugged her wrist, beckoning her to follow, and quietly stepped down the dark corridors. As they met at the dividing crossroad that separated their rooms, he dropped her arm, staring angrily at the floor.
Before she could speak, Edward held up his hand, not quite meeting her gaze. "I do not need to hear anymore of your insults, Miss Swan. I merely ask that you forgive me for my conduct tonight. Quite frankly, you frighten me with the amount of power you hold over me. Your friendship is something I value immensely."
She stood, shocked, unable to find the words.
"Surprised? Yes, I know. I find it hard to believe myself." His hands ran through his already tousled hair, tugging the strands with frustration. "From the moment I first caught your gaze on the beginning recital, I knew there had been something quite different about you. Your eyes, your very stare, separates you from the rest of these fools the academy labels as our peers. When in the right mind, you see people for who they truly are, disregarding appearance and status. On that first day, you saw me, noting my devilishly good looks—"
"I did nothing of the sort—" Bella protested.
"Yes you did, and it is quite all right. But you pushed that aside. You did not waver in the least bit when I challenged you, or by my abrupt opinions of you." Turning his back to her, Edward's head dropped, chin touching his chest, breath ragged. "There are many things in my life that I am not proud of, Miss Swan, and for that you deserve much more than what I could possibly offer you."
"Surely, you can stop the indulgence of spirits and smoke."
Mirthlessly, he laughed. "Oh, how innocent you are, Miss Swan. No, I do not speak of our late night excursions to various billiards and pubs. I speak of things that may be far beyond your comprehension." Footsteps echoed through the corridors, slowly approaching closer to their hall. "I bid you goodnight, Miss Swan."
Bella stood, staring at his retreating figure, whispering, "If only really knew, Mr. Cullen…"
With that, she returned to the comfort of her own bed, but could not help the echoing of the same song within her mind. It both lulled and haunted her, and slowly she drifted into a quick, uneasy sleep.
Anticipation ran its electric current throughout her body. She positively hummed from the surge of energy, almost unable to contain herself from her mother's distasteful glare. But she could not help it. Tonight was another ball to attend, yet it was not just any mere gathering held at an insignificant person's house. It was at his house. The man who stole her heart the moment they met.
"Now, Isabella, I expect you to be on your best behavior," Mrs. Swan said, her tone filled with warnings. "I will not be subjected to embarrassment due to your appalling mannerisms. Thus far you have done well in charming the Mackenzie family, but tonight is of extreme importance. Being courted is a game that you must let the man win."
"For pity's sake, breathe, girl," Mr. Swan growled, his face etched with irritation. "Your face is nearly burning crimson. We cannot afford such foolishness from you." Grabbing her jaw in his hand, he roughly pulled her forward to stare into his venomous eyes. "Mark my words, Isabella, you have cost this family far too much. Now is time to repay. We expect a proposal."
Bella refrained from touching her pained face, worried that it might bruise. "Of course, Father. I will not disappoint you."
"You've disappointed me the moment you first took a breath from this world," he sneered coldly. "But, you may redeem yourself for the burden you have caused this family."
Guilt consumed her body as her father's words sunk in. She had been the only child in her family with no boy to carry on their name. Her unfortunate birth was a constant reminder of their lacking, causing anger towards their only daughter. From the moment she could comprehend as a young child, the day her grandfather drew his last breath, her parents made it known that she was a curse upon the family.
Their friendship from the previous summer spurred into something more. Time passed, and just two months prior did she first receive Alexander's letters of pretty words that were then followed by jewelry and visits; she finally found a way to be redeemed for her troubles.
By being courted by Alexander, by accepting his gestures, Bella found clemency from her parents. No longer did she hear mother's words dripping with disdain nor was she on the receiving end of her father's withering glares.
She found her redemption.
The scene blurred to the moment before they had entered the building. Her mother held both her arms in a vice grip, pulling her close to disguise the action of motherly affection, as whispered viciously in her ear. "Keep up with this charade, Isabella, and perhaps we shall see a wedding within the year." Mrs. Swan pushed her daughter away, taking the arm of her husband, and walked into the building without her.
She almost laughed at her mother's words. Little did they know, she herself was smitten with Alexander. In fact, she had fallen in love with him. Knowing that this was their last week in France, Alexander made haste with his romanticism, staking his claim upon her. The moment the words spilled from his lips, she could not help but let herself give into him then. Boldly, he bent his head and pressed his lips against her. Surprisingly, she in turn allowed the gesture.
Brought out of her reverie, the night passed with a whim. She was greeted lovingly by Sir and Lady Mackenzie, by Alexander, and was whisked in a series of dances by her suitor. He whispered sweet nothings in her ear, exclaiming that the crimson on her face resembled a sunset in the horizon. He attempted to pull her in a vacant room, wanting to repeat of what happened the previous day, but Bella denied him.
Shrugging, he stalked back out of the room. As he went to fetch for some punch, she clasped her hands with his, audaciously staring at him, "Promise me the last waltz, Alexander."
His eyebrows rose at their joined hands, amused by her forward actions. "Of course."
She stared after him with a smile, until she heard a girlish voice squeal her name. Turning around, her smile broadened, embracing the other girl. "Anna!"
"Oh, Bella! How are you fairing, Cousin?"
"Quite well, actually. France is everything I hoped it would be. I cannot believe we are to leave tomorrow for New Orleans."
Bella frowned at her cousin's words. "You will not see my debut at the Royal Academy of Music?"
"Unfortunately not. The ship leaves to the states leaves around the time of your debut, but the blasted things are always delayed." Anna pouted, tapping a finger to her chin. "Are you to stay the whole time?"
"We have an extra ticket. Cordelia is to stay with Auntie Delphine." Anna rolled her eyes at the statement, sighing at her sister's antics. "Cordelia has exclaimed that she met the love of her life, and she is not going to give it up. Thus, mother obliged, leaving us with an extra ticket…perhaps if your debut finishes early enough, you could summer with us in New Orleans?"
"That sounds lovely," Bella said, her voice hesitant. She could not possibly leave Alexander's side for the whole summer, but continued to humor her cousin. "Tell me about your first season in New York?"
The scene faded once more, and Bella found herself ascending the staircase of the Mackenzie Manor. The ball was almost over, and the last waltz of the night would be played in the minutes to come. She heard noises from a half closed door. Silently, she pushed the doors to peak in, and was frightened by what she saw.
She immediately pushed the door open, disregarding the other members of the room, and knelt by Alexander's side.
But he did not meet her gaze. He continued to inject the needle into his vein, hissing in delight. Sweat covered his body, his hair matted from the perspiration, clothes clinging to his form. Rapid breaths puffed from his mouth followed by a low moan.
"A—Alex?" she stuttered.
A gasp erupted from her mouth. Stumbling back upon the ground, she stared at him as he lifted his head.
Wild, hungry eyes met her own, a lazy smirk forming on his lips. "Isabella, my pretty, innocent, Isabella," he crooned, crawling towards her.
"Alex, are you alright?" Bella asked, her voice soft with concern. She picked up his hand within her own, noting the clammy feeling. "Are you ill? What was in that needle?"
"I am perfectly well now, Isabella. Do not worry. It was merely a vial of cocaine."
Her eyes widened slightly. She recalled the doctor once mentioning that cocaine had been used to treat morphine addicts. "Oh, Alex, you could have told me. I would not think any less of you for your addiction—"
Alexander bellowed with laughter, advancing closer to Bella, pinning her down with his body. Sloppily, he placed kisses around her face, burying himself at her neck, toying with the strands of hair. "Sweet, Isabella, I am not taking cocaine for treatment. It is for recreational purposes." His smirk broadened. "Would you like to try, pet? It is quite exhilarating. You will feel so good."
"No, please, just stop. Alex, there is something wrong with you. Let us go fetch your parents—"
"Shut up!" He growled. Anger replaced the amusement on his face. "You will do no such thing. No one will believe that I would be capable of such a thing. You will look like the fool here, Isabella, and I will not let my future wife be subjected to such a thing." Alexander snarled as she began to cry, delivering a slap to her face. "Did I not say to shut up? You will ruin everything that I have built!"
"W—what do you mean?"
"Did you actually believe that our meeting last summer had been one of coincidence? Let me tell you a story, Isabella, since you so obviously are a child. Once upon a time, France was my permanent residence. Music bored me, so I sought out other activities to amuse and humor me. Laudanum quench my thirst. After some time, I was introduced to a new substance. I heard of the effects of cocaine from the courtesans of Paris, and I dabbled in the various ways of having it in my body.
"I learned that through needle injections that it worked faster. The feeling is so divine, Isabella. But my parents saw it otherwise. Upon a visit, they noticed my transgressions and threatened to disown me. I could not have that, so I silently obeyed. I was then told of a girl whose mother and father approached my parents. They bragged of her exceptional piano playing, and they offered their daughter as dowry to enroll in the Royal Academy of Music. At this point, my parents told me to pursue this girl, and if I succeeded in wooing her, I could continue with my vice."
Bella stared, horrified, swallowing Alexander's spiteful words. "No…"
"Now, pet, be silent," he pawed around the area, grabbed for a syringe, and twisted her arms to him. "And stay still…"
"No, no, no, no…"
"Bella!" Alice grabbed for her wrists, avoiding her slapping hands, and continued to shake Bella awake. Once her eyes opened, she froze, taking in her surroundings, her chest heaving as she gulped for air, and stopped. Tears pooled in her eyes and her body wracked with heavy sobs. "All is well, Bella. It was just a nightmare. You are safe."
But I am not safe. She thought, rubbing her forearm. The prick of the needle was almost tangible. "What time is it?"
"It is nearly five," Alice responded, smoothing hair away from her friend's sweaty face. Sympathy poured from her heart for Bella. It seemed as though things were slowly becoming more of a trial. "Would you like to speak of it?"
"No…I cannot remember most of it," she lied.
Staring at her for moments longer, Alice left Bella at peace, claiming that they should ready themselves for breakfast and another round of courses. Bleary eyed, Bella rose from her bed, but stopped as she glanced at Alice's stocking clad feet. Faint purple bruises marked the delicate, pale flesh, blisters marring the tips of her toes. When asked, Alice merely shrugged at Bella as if the wounds were nothing of importance. "The repercussions of a ballerina."
After no other elaboration on the subject approached, Bella sat at the vanity, pinning her hair unruly hair into a messy bun. It was not until a quarter till six where they exited their dormitory and entered the dining hall. The hall had been a scarcity of people, yet once food had been set on the tables, students filed in and took their seats. Morning post had been passed and after prayers were said, everyone began filling their ravenous stomachs. All except Edward had been present.
"We are being called to Derbyshire," Jasper murmured, reading the piece of parchment firmly grasped in his hands. "All of us."
"It appears as though both Emmett and Rosalie are settled in Chatsworth with our great uncle's blessing. They are to be remarried in three weeks, for they wished for their kin and friends to witness their marriage."
Alice laughed, took the parchment from Jasper, and shook her head at the letter. "Married in St. Werburgh's Church, no less. This is Rosalie's doing, though a holiday in Derby does not seem to unappealing."
"Derby?" Edward asked quietly, stopping behind his chair, cautiously throwing glances between both Alice and Jasper. "What of Derby?"
"We are all to attend a proper ceremony in the city."
Their silent exchange of stares and conversation did not go unnoticed by Bella, but she could not pry. The incident from the previous night paired with the hellish nightmare had been more than she could bear. It had all been so fresh. So concrete. Then again, dreams were only a reflection of our lives. And it hardly helped that she constantly received letters.
"Oh, Bella. We shall have our hair pinned with pretty, netted pearls—feathers as well! I cannot wait—"
"I do not think I—"
Edward's gaze veered to Bella's almost immediately. His face had paled an almost sickly tone of alabaster. Distress lay on the curve of his slackened jaw, and his body, Bella noted, was shaking. "You are coming to Derby?"
"No need to be rude, Mr. Cullen." Alice glared angrily at Edward, seething with disapproval. "Of course she is coming. She is a dear friend of ours and is part of our lives."
"Pardon. I did not mean to sound rude."
Bella flushed crimson at his underlying tone. The alarmed façade from before had been all but erased, replaced with a worried, charming smile, and she merely nodded and stared at her preserved coated bread.
"Bella, are you not going to open your letter?"
She gaped at Alice for a moment before shaking her head. "It is nothing of importance."
"You have been saying that quite a lot lately. Oh, dear, is it from that wicked mother of yours?" Alice whispered, eyeing her friend. "I hope she will allow for you to join us in Derby. I could have my mother ask if it would help."
Thanking her for her offer, Bella denied Alice. She did not have the heart to tell her that her mother had very well been informed of Alice's cousin and Lady Mackenzie's heady words of staying clear from that Brandon girl. "It is not from my mother, and I am sure I can persuade her for permission."
Breakfast passed within the hour and so commenced morning classes. They day began with a somewhat tense lesson with Instructor Rochford, Edward, and their younger peers. The following course contained verbal in Russian, Latin, and French, but luckily Jasper had been in the same period. Subsequently, she saw Edward yet again during voice lessons, but both Alice and Professor Shields had yet to appear.
"It seems as though schooling has become quite more bearable now that bad company is no longer kept," Cecelia said all too loudly, her followers shrieking with laughter. "The blonde beast is here no longer."
"Miss Ismay, might I say that you are a most exceptional actress."
Cecelia lifted her eyebrows at Bella's statement, her permanent sneer upon her face. "I do not understand what you are insinuating, Miss Swan."
"It is quite simple, really. Here you are, polished and well-bred, coming from a decent family, but you lack both appreciation and grace." Light snickers came from the room. "You speak ill of Miss Hale—oh, pardon—Lady McCarty, yet was it not her family who helped fund your father's last shipping endeavor? Perhaps you would not be wearing that pretty little coat of yours or that diamond brooch? A real lady takes each gesture with grace. But you are forgiven."
"You do not need to explain yourself." Bella stepped closer to Cecelia, pulling her into a hug, feigning remorse, whispering tersely in her ear. "I know exactly who you are, Miss Ismay. You are a gossip mongering tart whose only purpose in life is to marry and bed a man of wealth. Do not pretend that no one can see through this front you so desperately try to hold. This pretty little mask, yet underneath is an ugly and black heart. Your cheap, tawdry words are rich with vitriol, and they are no better than what actions you withhold." She pulled back to face Cecelia, a tight smile on her face as she murmured. "Do you honestly expect to gain Mr. Cullen's favor by slandering his most beloved cousin? I think not. Head my warning, Miss Ismay. This act of yours will surely slip when the time calls for it."
Bella strode to her position up front just as Alice arrived along with Professor Shields. Lessons began, but all she could think of was the quick glimpse of Edward she had caught. Traces of intrigue and mirth were all she could catch, but she did not dare look back for a second look.
Yet another storm approached the horizon of London. The days of sun passed long ago, but he fiercely yearned for summer nights in the country. Those were the times when he was truly happy. Days spent at his mother's side during his infancy, toying with the ivory keys as she taught him his first song. Although difficult to learn as a young child, he eventually fulfilled his mother's wish. It was Elizabeth's hope that one day her young boy would fall in love, much like she had. In her just opinion, everyone deserved a true romance.
He remembered how his mother would carry a large pocketbook with her everywhere. In it contained various musical pieces she had collected over the years. On that summer day, she opened her pocketbook, pointing at a specific piece that was freshly composed only years prior.
"Liebesträume," Elizabeth chided, running her delicate fingers through his tousled bronze hair, "is the song of love. Listen to me, Edward. One day you will be a fine pianist just like your Mama, and one day you will meet a young lady. She will be different from all the young ladies you will meet. She will neither deny nor accept your friendship—an intelligent move on her part. This is the girl you will love. This is the song you shall play."
His nose scrunched with distaste at his mother's words. Inherited, emerald eyes from his mother stared helplessly as his five-year-old eyebrows furrowed a first of his brooding outburst. "But, Mama, I do not want to be friends with girls! Rosalie always trips me and that Brandon girl won't leave Jasper and I alone when we play marbles!"
"Rosalie is a spirited girl and your kin. She is much like your sister. No matter her mood, you will treat her with the utmost respect." She smiled fondly at the mentioning of the other children. "And little Alice Brandon follows you because she loves Jasper."
"But Jasper is a grown boy! We are five and she is just turning four!" He exclaimed wildly, his four, chubby fingers waving before his mother as if to prove a point.
"Sweet boy, love knows when it has found its match. One day you will know." Elizabeth stared at her child, pulling him into her lap, laying her hand atop his head. She rocked back and forth, savoring the warmth of her child. Pressing her lips upon his curly-haired head, she pulled him back to face her. "Can you make me a promise, my son?" Edward nodded to please her, confused at the sudden change of his mother's mood. "Promise me that you will not be what this society accepts men as. Do not stray from the ideals I have taught you. Grow into a handsome young man. Play the piano to remember our time together. Enjoy your life. Take risks, but only those that you can accept to lose. But most importantly, promise to be good, Edward."
"I promise, Mama."
Edward fisted the glass of scotch in his hand and hurled it angrily against the wall with a vicious snarl. His chest heaved in deep, anguished breaths at the thoughts from his past. Nothing seemed to have been working. He stared at the fire, its intensity liquefying the emerald gems of his eyes. Another night claimed Pierce Academy, setting yet another heavy toll upon his head. No one would have heard the noise. They would all have been dining on their suppers, mindless and careless creatures of God.
Promises. Made and broken.
Ruined like the glass of scotch.
Shattered, much like him.
"I am sorry to have failed you mother." Edward hunched forward in his chair, cradling his face within his hands to muffle the choked sobs wracking from his throat. Only he was to blame for his past indiscretions. For his reckless behavior. For not being good.
After losing his most beloved mother, home had simply no longer been home. His father would dare not to look at him, his own son. It physically pained Edward Sr. to stare at a reminder of what he had lost. The same unruly, bronze mane and haunting forest, green eyes made Edward Sr. feel as though God had been taunting him. In only the moments he lost his wife did Edward Sr. realize how much his son looked liked his mother. He had always prided himself in saying his son inherited his bone structure, nose, ears, personality…now he was nothing but a bitter reminder.
Not a week after his mother passed did Edward find his father in the study of their cold, empty home. The setting was all too familiar. Roaring fire. Empty bottles of scotch. Inebriated sobs. Except the man in the chair had been Edward Sr. instead of his son. Broken hearted, Edward walked into his father's study, attempting to make conversation.
"Elizabeth," Edward Sr. sobbed over and over again, as if repeating her name were a benediction. A photograph lay in his lap, tearstained, the edges licked brown with age while an empty glass dangled in his hand.
Edward walked into the room slowly, grabbed another chair, and sat it next to his father's. The screeching from settling his chair caught his father's ear, and for the first time since the funeral, their eyes met.
Through his drunken state, he stared curiously, whispering, "You look like my darling Elizabeth."
"Father…it is me…Edward, your son."
But it did not break the induced state his father had been in. Edward Sr. merely filled his glass and another, handing one to his son. "Take it, boy," he said gruffly, staring at the dark, oak floorboards.
Hesitantly, he took the glass, lifting the liquid to his nose. He was but a boy of fifteen. The only time he drank was sweet wine on holidays and when Emmett had snuck some from his father's stash. "Father—"
"Go on, drink it. You are a man now."
Staring at the glass, he lifted it, trying to down it as his father had. He sputtered, violently coughing, his eyes watering at the burning sensation in his throat. "This is awful."
"No, boy, it is redemption." Edward Sr. lifted his gaze, hollow eyes boring into his son's. "Drink to forget."
Soon after Edward found that the only way he could speak to his father was when they were both drunk. Not a perfect ending, but one at that. It was a vicious cycle of theirs, one that Edward did not want to break. They refused invitations for visitation. Lord and Lady Cullen begged with Edward Sr., but could not get through. Turning to their nephew, they offered to take him in, explaining that his father could find solace from his craving of alcohol. But Edward refused their help, screaming of their faithlessness. His father was not a drunk, he argued. Yet two months after the funeral of his mother, Edward found his father lying in bed, empty bottles liquor shattered on the floors of his room.
Edward Sr. had been cold as the murderous ice that left beautiful, lush trees dead in winter. Another funeral was held.
That was the second time Lord and Lady Cullen offered Edward a place to stay. But he did not hear their words. He could not hear. All Edward could hear were the haunting words of his father.
Drink to forget.
He needed redemption.
And so Edward ran far, far away, seeking other means of freedom and salvation, but what he found had been short-termed. He sought relief through any means necessary…and he fell.
Shaking his head, he cleared the flask of scotch, not bothering with the shattered mess. He walked towards the door, though immediately hid behind a desk once the door flew open. Holding his breath, Edward prayed not to be caught, for he direly required sleep. Watching the figure walk towards the fire, he noticed, to his surprise, it was Bella.
She withdrew a letter, the same one Alice argued about with her during breakfast, and threw it in the fire. Without another word, she exited the room, walking up the stairs to her dormitory.
Edward quickly ran back to the fire, prodding the parchment out from the flames, but could only see one distinct mark. He stared, watching as the wax melted away the last remnants of its symbol, and strode away with one thought.
If Miss Swan is so distraught by Alexander Mackenzie's name, why was she receiving letters with the Mackenzie family crest sealed upon the envelope?
I am sure most of you by now know of the catastrophic events that have occurred in Haiti. They really need help, so FF very own MsKathy has organized a fundraising event. Go to her profile and check it out. For just a $5 donation to the charity of your choice, you will receive a compilation of different lengths from different authors. I myself have donated such story to help on the efforts. You can find more information on MsKathy profile, The Fandom Gives Back, or the link at the top of my profile. Anything helps, guys. It is so easy to donate.
Authoress Note: So, to explain the lack of updating, let me sum it up as: Car accident (not my fault), back pain, dislocation of a disk in my lumbar region, hip-bone shifted downwards, painkillers, Xanax, Organic Chemistry, studying for PCATs/MCATs, and applications. Trust me. I would rather be writing than be in the position I am in now. I am still recovering and unfortunately I start school again. I hope this nice, big chapter makes up for it. Lots of drama. Yup. Told you! For those who review, I am thinking of posting outtakes for this story, such as Emmett and Rosalie's backstory, Alice's dancing, elaborating on Bella/Edward's pasts, etc. If you are interested, let me know. What do you want to see the most?
Recommendations: Hydraulic Level 5 by Gondolier, High Anxiety by Edwardsbloodtype, Living Backwards by Ciaobella27, Edward Wallbanger by feathersmmmm, Bonne Foi by Amethyst Jackson, Scotch, Gin, and the New Girl by Jandco/withthevampsofcourse, Bella Swan: Kidnapper by Kambria Rain, and Holding Out For You by ObsessingOverEdward
Big and major props to my girl and beta Leiahlaloa. She keeps me sane, kids. It isn't beta'd at the moment, so bear with me :)
+Cocaine was used to treat morphine addiction
+Nonna and Nonno mean grandmother and grandfather in Italian
+The phrase "to lie back and think of England" was a phrase told to young women before they got married. It is meant that on their marriage night, before sexual intercourse with their husbands, they are just to lay down and let the man do his work.
+Some parts of this story are based on true events in my life
+The song Bella is playing in the beginning is Moonlight Sonata