A/N: After a long period of hibernation, I finally gathered enough pent up emotions to add another chapter to this story. I hope it doesn't disappoint. I've been so busy with Destroying Typecasts that I failed to update for such a long time. I hope you read that story too. It's quite entertaining and not as emotional as this one. So, without further ado, I hope you like this chapter. :)
Chapter 27: Clearing Vagueness
We were tangled together as we lay in bed, the moon visible through my slightly open window. After what seemed as a very long day, what with all the new revelations and realizations that happened at the Cullents' house, I should have been sleeping— tired out of my wits. But I was wide awake and had no desire whatsoever to sleep, or even to think of the cursed word.
He sighed as he leaned his forehead against mine, his eyes were closed. "Nothing."
Maybe he was mentally drained as I was physically, but still, it bothered me on how quiet he was. Everything seemed normal a while ago in the Cullent house— Edward had took it upon himself to be permanently glued to my side. He insisted on running me back home and as I rode on his back, his rhythmic breathing calming the thumping of my heart, we laughed together as the trees blurred past us. And it felt unreservedly right, my laughter sounded right, the smile that seemed etched on my lips was naturally right… everything fell into place— the moment was perfect.
The complete and utter bliss I felt earlier was still flowing through me, keeping my eyes wide open. But as Edward's silence dragged on, I realized something wasn't okay. Something had changed this evening, and it wasn't supporting the happiness I should be feeling right now, in Edward's arms.
I pulled back and held his cold hand in mine. "You know that I know you better than that Edward."
"Please, Bella. Not now."
He started to get up but I refused to let go of his hand. I only got him back, he couldn't go away yet. I don't know if my heart could take the pain of his absence again.
"Don't go." My voice broke as I tugged at his arm. "Please."
He sighed and as he sat back down, his eyes were unreadable. But then all of the sudden, it was laced with concern. Not a second later, Edward hugged me against his cool marble chest, whispering words of comfort in my ear as he stroked my hair gently and placed light, sweet kisses on my forehead. I didn't realize that tears had already spilled out of my eyes.
I crushed myself into him, holding on as if my life depended on it— and truthfully speaking it did.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. "I shouldn't have… it was wrong for me to do that."
"Stop that." I snapped.
"Blaming yourself. Not everything's your fault."
He kissed my forehead and he leaned down to look into my eyes. "But I hurt you. That was very wrong."
I sighed and brushed my lips softly against his. "Just don't leave me again. I don't think I can survive through something like that anymore."
He nodded his head and leaned down to nuzzle my neck. "I won't… I can't leave your side. It's extremely painful for me too." Edward hugged me as tight as he could without crushing me. "I need you Bella— to the most unfathomable degree. My life is nothing if you aren't by me, if you're not with me."
I snuggled against him, not willing to have even a moment of non-contact. I was afraid that if I let him go, I would wake up and discover that this was all a dream. I couldn't live through that anymore.
"That's funny." I smiled.
He looked down and concern laced his features again. "I'm not joking, and I don't think there was any humor in what I just told you."
I laughed at his bewildered expression, and I think his eyes softened at the sound. "That's not what I meant. It's just, well, what you said, it sounded more like me than you." I frowned. "I'm not making any sense, am I?"
A small smile formed on his lips. "No, I understand what you're saying."
I traced his lips, my fingers barely touching his cold skin. I felt him shudder against it, and I cupped his cheek instead.
"I've never seen you so sad." I murmured.
He widened his eyes innocently. "I'm not sad."
His crooked smile appeared, but my heart didn't miss a beat like it used to. Something was wrong, the smile was not natural… unforced. I sighed and tried to wiggle myself out of his arms, but Edward only tightened his grip, sadness overtook his features again.
"Don't… Not yet. Please." Edward's voice was as soft as a whisper, but the way it twisted, strangled and broken, made my chest ache. The pain his scorching eyes gave out was unbearable.
I melted against his strong arms as I brushed his cheek with the back of my hand, desperate to comfort him. "I just want to know what's bothering you. I hate seeing you this way."
His topaz eyes smoldered as he looked into mine. "I just… I can't bear it, seeing you walk away from me, pulling away so easily, so soon." He drew in a staggered breath, making such a simple act seem so painful. "Bella, my heart hasn't beat for over 90 years, but now, with you in my arms, it feels like it might leap out of my chest. And just the thought of losing you again, when I just barely got you back… I don't know if a heart can stop beating for twice in a lifetime, but it seems mine can. I know it sounds insane…"
"Edward," I held his face in my hands, looking unblinkingly into his eyes, "I can't leave you. I'm not pulling away from you. And you won't lose me— not unless you want me to get lost." I smiled slightly at his hesitance, "Why are you still so unsure about your hold on me? I should be the one worrying."
He shook his head and a wry smile formed on his lips. "I'm still not certain on everything that concerns you, Bella. I can't see why you would accept me back after what I've done, how you could still love me so deeply after so much unnecessary pain I've caused you."
I felt my eyes flash with conviction as I told him, "You only left to protect me. I understand that. And my love for you will never change. Edward, why can't you still see that? You can even ask Jasper to read me, if you don't want to believe what I'm telling you."
I expected him to be appeased, but doubt still prevailed in his eyes. "Bella, you do know that I love you? That I'll give you anything you want as long as it will make you happy?"
I frowned at him, I was now thoroughly confused. "Of course, Edward, where is this going?"
He ignored my question. "You do know that, if you don't want me anymore, I won't take it against you? That I'll let you go?" Hurt flashed in his eyes, contradicting what he was saying.
"Edward… what?" My heart started to beat frantically against my chest. I was afraid of where this might lead, it sounded so much like a goodbye. And I couldn't lose Edward again. That was selfish of me, I know. But would wanting to live again be really a selfish act?
"Please, Bella. I just want to know the… truth." He took in a deep, unnecessary breath. "Did you move on like I intended you to? Does your heart belong to someone else now?"
"What? Edward, no."
"Because I could leave, I could stay away if that would make things easier for you. If you don't want me, I can go." Edward looked so torn, my heart ached. I wanted nothing more than to wipe away the unnecessary pain he was feeling.
I kissed him lightly, and allowed my lips to linger on his, savoring the sweetness. My memory really hadn't done him justice.
"You might be able to leave me, but I'm not strong enough to have you stay away from me."
He smiled slightly at this, but a hint of doubt still remained in his eyes.
"Where did you get that ridiculous idea anyway?" I kept my voice light.
He smiled sheepishly now, but his eyes were still the same. "Like I said, I'm uncertain when it comes to you, Bella." He frowned slightly. "It's slightly disconcerting. I've never been so unsure before."
"Well, it's good for you to experience that once in a while."
His smile dwindled, again. "Are you absolutely sure there isn't anyone else you want?"
I almost laughed at his insecurity. "Of course."
Then suddenly, all the doubt vanished in his eyes, all the uncertainty gone. They became flat black. "What about Patrick?"
My heart stuttered slightly at the mention of his name. And as if this was what all Edward needed to hear, his face became as still as stone.
"What about him?" I asked hesitantly.
"You care about him."
He stated this more like a fact than a question. But he waited for an answer. I looked at him, uncertain whether telling him the truth would be beneficial for him, or whether he might stop breathing altogether. But I didn't want to keep anything from him.
The silence that stretched on was almost unbearable. Then I saw it. Edward's eyes flashed as his grip around my waist tightened.
I almost laughed out with relief as I finally realized what was happening. "Wait. Don't tell me you're jealous?"
His eyes flashed with contempt before he averted his gaze from me, murmuring under his breath before he finally answered. "Maybe."
This time I did laugh. Seeing him as jealous as he was, was quite entertaining. He glanced back at me, his eyes disapproving, slightly embarrassed even.
"I think I like making you jealous. It's entertaining." I grinned.
"Well, it's good to see that you find my discomfort so amusing." He grimaced as he murmured.
My eyes softened as Edward continued to avert his gaze from mine. It was obvious that this emotion was so new to him, so foreign. I slightly felt guilty as my teasing must be making things harder for him.
"I do like Patrick," he started to stiffen again, and I raced to finish my sentence, looking straight into his eyes even though he wasn't looking at me, "but it's you I can't live without."
As this realization sank in, a heavy weight lifted itself from my shoulders. All those moments of hesitation with Patrick, the sudden moments of absurdity that left me thinking maybe I was falling in love with him— everything became clear.
I only felt comfort with Patrick because he reminded me so much of Edward. Having him beside me, having him there for me, was almost like having Edward back— like Edward never left in the first place. Sure, there were differences, but they were blood related. So maybe the connection I felt with Patrick had something to do with the connection he had with Edward. Patrick sort of served as my link to Edward, so no matter how much I forced myself, I could never truly have moved on.
The changes Edward brought in my life would never be erased, covered, nor replaced by another. I wasn't in love with Patrick. All those times… I was just reminded of the love my heart would irrevocably hold for Edward.
I was grateful that I was given the chance to be loved by Patrick, to be cared for by him. But no matter how similar he and Edward may be, they were different personas altogether. And now that I was back in Edward's arms, I could clearly see that the feelings I had for Patrick would never be comparable to those I had for Edward.
Maybe that was why I tried so hard to deny it, to block the emotions I felt for Patrick. Because deep down, I knew that no matter how much amount of time I would have been given, any feelings that would have strengthened would never be enough to bury my affection for Edward. They would never surpass my love for him. Nothing would have been great enough to overcome all that I felt towards Edward. My heart would forever belong to Edward.
And now, everything was clear. Edward would truly be the only one for me— the only one I would love for eternity. And somehow, as he finally looked into my eyes with pure adoration and love, I knew that it would be the same for him; that he was as completely changed by me, as I was by him.
"I love you." I whispered, smiling up at him.
"As I do, you." His face was a portrait of tenderness, his eyes so soft but all the more so scorching that I all but melted against his chest.
I reached up and kissed him, my fingers instinctively tangled in his smooth, silken hair. He sighed against my lips and he instantly drew me closer to him. One of his hands cupped my cheek, while the other slid down my arm. I felt myself shiver against the gentleness of his touch. Edward, thinking I was getting cold, started to pull away. But I threw my arms around his neck, and I pressed my lips against his again, eagerly. My hands slid down his front and started a course of their own, playing with the buttons of his shirt, debating whether they should remove the barrier that disabled me to feel and see his perfection.
My heart raced as I unclasped the buttons unthinkingly, and surprisingly he allowed me to do so as his lips travelled down my neck. He growled softly as I freed him from his shirt and traced the planes of his marble chest. I was amazed at the perfection I felt as my fingers traced patterns on his chest. My hands continued down his chest and I felt Edward shiver against me. Edward moaned and his lips vanished from my neck, hungrily capturing my lips instead. I gasped as his hands slid under my shirt and traced the contours of my waist. This was far beyond the restrictions he put up for my safety, but I didn't care. I was too far gone to think— I would gladly take what I could. Just as my fingers shakily tried to lift my shirt up, his cold hands trapped them and he sighed, leaning his forehead against mine.
"Bella," he whispered, "I'm already having trouble controlling myself with you fully clothed. Why don't you help by retaining all your articles of clothing?"
"It's not my fault if I loose control so easily." I murmured, trying to catch my breath at the same time. "Unlike you, I have trouble keeping my hormones in check."
Edward chuckled darkly and threw the covers over me. "You have no idea how wrong you are."
My cheeks warmed as I saw his eyes darken ever so slightly. He smiled, finally, my favorite crooked smile and brushed his fingers across my cheek. "I really missed that."
"And I really missed this."
I smiled as I snuggled closer to him, which was quite a feat, I might add, considering I was all but molded against Edward's body.
He sighed contentedly, and started to stroke my hair in a soothing manner. "You've had a long day. You should be resting."
Edward started humming my lullaby and my eyelids started to drop.
"No, I don't want to go to sleep yet."
Edward chuckled as the words must have sounded garbled already, the letters strung to each other. "I won't leave you, love. Sleep now, my sweet Bella."
And at those familiar words of endearment, all the worry that bubbled in the back of my mind earlier was erased. My fear of him leaving me again seemed foolish now. And with those fears appeased and with the calm that settled in my chest, I finally allowed myself to be whisked off to unconsciousness, the sound of Edward's voice stringing together a peaceful night's slumber.