"Did you ever do something you totally regretted?"
"Mmm." Edward had lain back down, not exactly shrugging off my chin and warmth, but not accepting them, either. He had tossed a sheet over himself and put his hands under his head, staring at nothing. I had simply waited for him to begin. Mostly because I didn't know what to say.
I mean… to be crude, we had just fucked. Good and proper, too.
I could've yelled, I suppose.
Whined, pleaded. Begged for answers.
But the truth was- I was tired. So tired. Over it, really.
Was it fair to me to just let everything slide?
I desperately wanted to, though. Desperately. Sometimes it seems like the conversations that you know you need to have are just destined to break you. And I didn't want to be broken anymore.
Fix me, Edward. Let's fix Us and move past it all.
God, if it could only be that simple. Please, let it be that simple.
"So, you're saying you regret what we just did?" He had closed his eyes and the wrinkle between his eyebrows was deeper than it had been back before- well, you know. Before babies and ex-girlfriends and their girlfriends had intruded on our Moment.
"Don't be silly," I said uncomfortably, chuckling and nervously running my hand through my hair while fingering the sweaty sideburns on his face. He leaned into my hand slightly, his lips brushing my wrist as I looked down at him, trying desperately to figure out if maybe he was feeling a little regretful.
Not that I was regretting the sex. God, no. More like… kicking myself over months of inaction and stupidity.
But I wasn't going to tell him that. Hell no. I might be a stupid girl, but I still have my pride.
"Oh…well, then why do you ask about regrets?" Edward asked, and he propped himself up on his elbows, making my cheek slide down his chest before I sat up.
He looked at me with full…concentration. Like he was concerned or maybe worried or just intent on listening to me—which made all of this suddenly seem like a big deal.
And it was a big deal, but I couldn't just say it was a big deal—could I?
His head cocked to the side and I sat up, folding my legs Indian-style directly across from him, keeping my eyes on his.
I wouldn't look down to where the damp, freshly sex-worked sheet just kind of tangled across his lap, not really hiding the dark, sparse hair that—I just wouldn't look down.
"Bella? Look. Like I said before we, uh, did this, I could have understood if I was too late—"
He said the words that set it off.
Because he wasn't too late for this, and if I was honest with myself, I knew he could've walked into a senior home forty-eight years from now and I probably still would've saved a spot for him on my dance card—but dammit.
He was late nonetheless.
"You were late," I repeated, cutting him off and then his head snapped straight and he rubbed his left eye with the back of his right hand before he spoke again.
"I was saying I could have understood if you told me to take a hike before we got into bed."
I shook my head and closed my eyes to gather my thoughts so that although it wasn't probable, I'd stand some kind of chance of coming across as coherent.
"I'm not saying you're too late for us. I'm saying…I'm saying…where the hell were you?"
He blinked at me and I was fairly certain he thought I was crazy.
"I was in San Fran—"
"I know where you were!" I shouted, much louder than I intended to, and he kind of jerked back, his eyes wide, but his mouth trying not to smile. "Why didn't you call me? You didn't even call me and God, I liked you. A lot—"
"I still like you. A lot," Edward offered, and now he was seriously losing his battle with laughter.
"I still like you. A lot. But that's not the point! I went out and got a maybe boyfriend! I hurt that poor kid's feelings. I baked pot pies and I mastered Mario Kart and I can knit now! Probably not a full sweater, but at least a pretty decent scarf. I have more rock candy than Willy Wonka, and I drove myself crazy, and, hell Edward…all you had to do was call."
I breathed an embarrassing pant for about five seconds while I looked around at everywhere but him and if he didn't say something very soon, I was pretty certain I could make a nice life for myself underneath my comforter.
While I was staring at my knees, I felt the bed shift and the sheets pull, and really?
He was going to leave?
I probably should've been prepared for this. I've noticed Edward has a knack for leaving at the most inopportune times.
Heck. He didn't even call me for seven months when he was sitting idly, preparing to be a father to a child born to lesbian parents. Who did this guy think he was, anyway? I jerked my head up to let the nonsensical rage fly again, but he wasn't leaving.
He was getting comfortable.
In my bed.
He leaned back on the pillows and put one hand behind his head and he looked so at home there, nestled in my spot.
He looked like he belonged there and he looked like…like…like he wasn't going to leave any time soon.
"You wanted me to call?" he asked with raised eyebrows. "And say what, exactly? Still in San Fran.? Still having a baby with a lesbian and her militant life partner? Still regretting the poor decision to ever let Jessica Stanley in through my door? Still wanting to regret ever bringing you into this mess, but somehow I can't because thinking back on you is the only thing that makes me remember I used to like my life?"
I looked up and I looked at him and he was staring at me—actually waiting for an answer.
"Well. The last one would've been nice," I mumbled, folding my knees up to my chest.
"Would it, though?" he asked. "I mean, Bella, if I had done that, if I had called and said 'Hey, Bella, I think the biggest regret in my life is not having the chance to be with you'—if I said that, would it have helped? I think it would've just made it…tangible. It would have made it seem so much more just out of reach."
"I was just…left here. Hanging. Waiting," I said, fully aware of how selfish it sounded. I mean, granted, he was obviously going through huge shit—but I was also aware of how pissed I was getting the more I thought about this.
"I'm sorry," he said, and he sat up from the pillows and poked at my big toe with one finger.
"What the hell was your master plan, anyway? I mean, were you just going to be celibate and live with lesbians until this kid turned eighteen? What exactly were you thinking?"
He withdrew his hand and sat up straight. A thick lock of hair fell into his right eye and I waited for him to put his hands in his hair, but he didn't. He seemed frozen.
"I was thinking I had seven months to adjust to the fact that I was having a kid with someone I don't even love. I was thinking let me just get this kid born happy and healthy. I was thinking how the hell am I going to not resent an innocent, tiny, seven pound person? I was thinking how had I managed to fuck up this badly, and how will I ever manage to not think of Bella? I was thinking as long as I physically put my priorities in order, it didn't matter much where my mind was. I didn't think about six months from now or two or eighteen years from now. I spent that time just trying to get through each minute."
And that made me really pissed.
Because it didn't matter when he would've came back—he would have and I would've taken him back. Even if I'd been committed to Jake or anyone else. Even if he had a Kindergartener under his arm. Even if he was flanked by lesbians—I would have taken him back.
I was always waiting, and he. Should. Have. Called.
He should've saved us all of that time and hurt and knitting and Mario Kart.
"So…you're saying that whole time you were thinking of me? You were thinking of how much it sucked and how good we could've been together?"
"Yes. God, yes."
"Then. You. Should. Have. Called," I shouted, and I just knew somewhere Rosalie was out there, cheering me on.
"You could've called me," he said.
Oh, that did it.
I blindly grabbed out and picked up the first thing my fingertips touched-- then I threw it at him.
Edward ducked quick to the left as a crack echoed in the room.
He stared at me wide-eyed while I stared at the discontinued Bath and Body Works Sheer Freesia Body lotion dripped and clumped on my head board, slowly making its way down to my pillows.
A high-pitched noise came out of my throat.
"Fuck! They don't make that anymore!" I croaked then scrambled forward, leaving the sheet behind in an attempt to save my lotion.
I used the edge of my hand to squeegee the lotion down into my other waiting palm. Edward's hot shoulder was touching mine and he was watching me frantically trying to salvage what was left—and then I was suddenly crying.
The painful kind of sobs that sound ugly and come from nowhere—the kind that you can't stop and come on so fast that you don't even know when or how they started.
It was just too much. It was just that all the time and all of those feelings that I should have, then shouldn't have and now it was okay to have them again…and all that time…and just…all of it.
I felt his hand, warm and firm on my back and I just kept crying and now blindly gathering lotion.
"Hey," Edward said, low and smooth over my loud, throat-ripping cries.
"It's…it's…just…such a w-w-w-waste," I cried and snotted.
His other hand came to my face and he used two fingertips to wipe wet, sticky strands of hair from my cheeks while I stayed put, leaned over, with my eyes squeezed shut.
"It could've been," he said. "Look."
I blinked and hiccupped, then used the crook of my elbow to wipe my eyes, which was pointless. I was still crying.
Edward was holding up a half full cracked bottle of lotion. Without a word, he unscrewed the top, then took my hand and lightly scraped each of my fingers over the lip of the open bottle. He used his forefinger to gather the lotion in my palm, then he stuck his own finger in the bottle…and together, we put most of it back.
Quietly, Edward put the cap back on and let the bottle drop to his side, then he looked up at me.
And I looked at him.
Expressionless but tired, we just looked at each other and even though he should have called, and even though I was angry and overwhelmed—and maybe he'd been wrong. But maybe he'd been right, too.
He was back.
He came back.
And despite everything, that's all I ever really wanted out of this whole thing.
If he was here, we could cope with the bullshit. We'd have to. Because I wasn't letting go again.
Then in a truly ungraceful but quick move, I lunged at him with my arms out and he caught me, and he didn't let go, either.
I kept my arms firm around his neck while I scooted and worked my legs until I was straddling his lap and my face was pressed into his neck.
His hand slid under my hair and his palm curved around my neck while his other arm stayed firm and warm around my bare back, holding me close.
Quieter, hot tears dripped and leaked onto his neck and he just kind of rocked us while I got it all out.
Yeah, for now.
"Look at me."
I wiped my gross face and looked at him, all perfect and not crying and gorgeous despite the dark purple smudges under his eyes. I tried to smile, but it felt false, because how could I be sure he would stay?
"I'm not going anywhere."
Stop reading my thoughts.
"I'm serious. Do you have any idea what it's been like for me? Being there, being a responsible person, being who I thought everyone wanted me to be? It's exhausting, Bella. Utterly exhausting. And all I wanted to do was play my damned piano and smell your hair and tell everyone to let me be. But now that's what I'm going to do. I'm tired of it. Tired of all of it. Everything but you. I will never be tired of you. Do you understand?"
I nodded solemnly, accepting what he said but not really hearing it. I was suddenly exhausted, too. Deep down inside I felt guilty- righteous and indignant, but guilty.
"Can we just make out or something, and forget my little breakdown here?" I sniffled and laughed, and it sounded gross but I didn't care anymore.
"I don't know, you're all puffy and wet," he said, and when I looked up quickly to see if he meant it, his eyes cracked with sparkle and amusement, and it was like a freaking beacon in my suddenly too-small room. I weakly smacked his side, my palm still gooey with lotion and sweat and sex.
"Crap, I'm going to smell like a hot chick for days," he said, looking down at his skin. I noticed streaks of lotion on the two of us and sniffling once again, I laughed, a watery sound that grew stronger as my chuckles filled my throat.
"Marking my territory," I said, the previous guilt being melted away at amusement and relief. Even though I was feeling like, a thousand things at that moment, the strongest and most acute feeling was that he was there, in my bed. Between my legs and right next to my heart.
"Mark away, Beautiful," he whispered, once again wiping away the tears that had seeped down my cheeks. "It's not necessary, though. Do you know that?"
I nodded, but he tilted my chin up, making me look right in his eyes.
"Do you know that?" I nodded again, and he kissed the tip of my nose.
"I love you, Isabella Swan. I think I always did. How could I not? You pour yourself into dresses for costume parties and correct Rosalie's grammar and turn into Martha Stewart when you're depressed. How could I not be utterly charmed by you?" I laughed weakly, not wanting to believe. Desperately wanting to believe.
"I'll spend as much time as possible making you love me back. I have the time now; I'm a relocated piano player and former doctor. I have time." He kissed each cheek and then my forehead, and dammit. The tears started pouring again.
"Why are you crying now?" he asked, sounding exactly like a guy exasperated with his girlfriend. Which I know he was, and the thought just made me laugh and cry, laugh and cry. What the hell is wrong with me?
"Just… we're so stupid. So stupid." The laughter and relief bubbled up, pushing the anger down. God, I suddenly felt good. Too good. Without thinking, I wiggled around, kissing him on the neck.
"Hey, now," he said, his relief apparent and giving way to some movement underneath me. I became quite aware that I was making him hard again, and the irritated Bella in me wanted to say Really? Now? But the Rosalie in me kind of wanted to fuck him again.
Before I let that happen, though, I had to make something clear.
I leaned right into his neck, resting my cheek on his shoulder and tilting my mouth so that it was directly at his ear.
"I love you, too. No more lesbians, okay?"
He laughed softly, wrapping his arms around me and shifting my body so that we were better placed for Round 2.
"No more lesbians. Just Bella and Edward."
An indeterminate amount of time later…
"Stop it. Dammit, Jasper, just stop!" I was doing everything I could to contain my glee, but it just wasn't possible. We were going to be a family, like hugely deliriously happy family!
His sister was finally tying the knot with Emmett, and my best friend on the planet was so… content with my cousin that it was like they were married.
Sure, I secretly wished they'd shit or get off the pot already, and I had offered to go ring shopping with Edward like a thousand times in the last year or so, but he stubbornly refused to let me in and told me not-so-politely to "butt the hell out". Humph. If he wanted to make some sort of permanently egregious jewelry error, that was his business.
"I wanted to make Edward my maid of honor, but I don't want this to turn into some fucking sappy chick flick where he finally realizes he's loved me all along and Bella gets dicked over," Rosalie was saying. I turned my attention back to the gorgeous blonde holding a huge fishbowl-sized junebug out to us, flashing her bling and grinning like an idiot.
"Not on your life, Barbie," Bella sniffed, knocking back her Newcastle and slapping a hand on Edward's thigh. "Mine. Besides, Emmett would try to kill Edward and they'd both end up in body casts. For months. Doctors don't make provisos for hospital sex. Then where would we be?"
"See, I knew I liked her for a reason," Rosalie said, clanking her huge glass with Bella's bottle, the sound ridiculous and loud in the already noisy restaurant. I grinned appreciatively, leaning on my husband (God, I'll never get tired of calling him that) and toning my mega-watt grin down when Jasper rested his warm palm on my middle. We were expecting, but no way in hell I'd interrupt Rose's engagement dinner and tell everyone that. She'd kill me for one upping her.
"So, Eddie," Emmett said, spearing a chunk of rib-eye and pointing it at Edward. "When're you two gonna…" He trailed off, waggling the meat from Bella and back to Edward. "Fucking make an honest woman out of her already."
Edward rolled his eyes and Bella giggled into her hand. Every time the subject was brought up, I would flicker my eyes to Bella's real quick, checking to see if it really pained her. And it didn't. I had asked her forever ago- back when the two idiots had come to their senses and screwed each other's brains out before admitting their love- if they were like, forever. I had tried to keep the desperate longing/hope out of my voice, desperately hopeful for my friend's happiness, and I think she still heard it because she had patted my arm and smiled a sphinx-y Bella smile, but she never answered.
A while back, I had asked Edward if he had run into Jessica and Lauren since… "the incident". Rosalie could joke about the gold-digging girlfriends, but even after all this time, I just didn't think it was funny, at all. Anyway, Edward had said he hadn't seen them, but his mother had shipped him the present Bella had bought for the baby. Apparently, Jessica had sent it back along with a note, but Edward never told me what the note said, and I guess I didn't need to know. I guess I had been worried that he would have felt like, obligated to the kid or something, but I'm pretty sure he closed that bad chapter of his life pretty thoroughly.
Will they get married? God, I hope so. I know neither is against it, and I'm not sure what they're waiting for, but if they're happy, then I suppose I am, too.
It was a long time coming, the two of them. I always knew they were meant for love; I had seen it clearly, especially that day they had met at our crazy costume party. I'm just content knowing that they're together, and well… one day, they'll do it. I had faith.
Bella and Edward were together, and that was all that it mattered.
Holy crap, my first fic is finally finished.
Seriously, if you're still here, thanks for stickin' around.
I learned a lot about my writing doing this. A few close, trusted people are all "Dude, it's so not you in the beginning of this fic," and I quite agree. I mean…. I didn't even know jandco when I started writing this one. Sheesh.
Anyway, this story is now done, and I hope you guys all enjoy the next new endeavor. That's the only teaser you're getting. Those of you on the Gazebo have seen me hinting, and well. It's coming, I promise.
We're announcing the winners of the Bellies this week, keep checking out the website (linkage on my profile) and I'll see you at the live chat!