K - First of all, THANK YOU so much!!! To you all for reading, reviewing and simply giving us the time of day! LOL. When I started this with Becca I never imagined the kind of response we got. I love you guys forever!!! Thank you for the nominations for the Indies and the votes!! (We didn't win, some very tough competition out there... check out the winners! their stories are awesomeness!) Soooooooo, this is it! The final chapter... not much to say, except I hope you read from beginning to end and enjoy it.
Becca, darling... what can I say?? It's been a pleasure!!! *tear* I 3 you biatch!
B - OMFG! This is the end ladies, the moment ya'll have been pestering us for!! God, this makes me so incredibly, insanely, fucking crazy happy! I first and foremost want to thank YOU GUYS. You are amazing and deserve Rob's forbidden bits! The support, the love, and the hate we got was overwhelming and just so... GAH. You made this shit happen and I bow down to you. I love you. Like K said, I hope you'll read this from beginning to end because Masen, Cullen, and Bella deserve that. :)
Karla, not only did I get to be apart of this amazing story, but I found my best friend in the process of it. I FUCKING LOVE YOU (almost as much as RPATZ beanie porn). 3.
READ THE END NOTES, FOLKS. WE HAVE A SUPRISE FOR YOU. ;)
To Moon920, Admittedly Obessed, and to everwondering: you are simply amazing. Without you, none of this would be here. And for that, we thank you from the bottom of our cold hearts. :P
Disclaimer: WE DON'T OWN ANYTHING TWILIGHT-RELATED. However, Karla owns an emo Twitter account (muhahah!) and I own a newly neutred, Penn-Penn.
Don't follow us on Twitter? You should!
"No, that'll be all, Rhonda. Thank you," I said into the phone.
Rhonda, the management secretary had just finished listing several pending messages I had accumulated while I was out 'playing sick'.
"Make sure to tell them that I'll be taking care of everything via email for a few days. I really don't want to get anyone sick," I explained, putting on a hoarse voice and praying that she bought my on-going bullshit.
I was using last week's hell-of-a-cold to get away from going into work, again. I knew that at this point my sick leave was already spent and I was tapping into my vacation hours, but fuck, I could care less. Last week's emotional rollercoaster ride had been too much for me and I couldn't even fathom trying to actually go into the place. Besides, I was desperately trying to hide from all the whispers and office gossip that were surely circulating at Twilight Publishing.
"No problem, Ms. Swan," Rhonda answered, her tone completely apologetic. However, I could very well detect the slight pity that was laced within the kindness of her tone. However, before I could hang up, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to ask the question that had been nagging my brain all morning.
"Has... is…" I stuttered. Taking a deep breath I blurted out my question, "Has Mr. Masen asked for me, at all?" I asked my voice small, curious, and slightly frightened.
--Really, Swan? My inner voice taunted.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Swan, he hasn't," she replied nonplussed.
"And Mr. Cullen?" my voice was barely a whisper.
"I'm sorry…" she hesitated.
"It's okay," I interrupted, before Rhonda could say anything more. Really, what did I expect?
Before I could say my polite goodbyes, Rhonda continued on, lowering her voice. "Mr. Masen was here earlier, he had a brief meeting with Mrs. Summit then he left."
"Ah," I said, not really knowing how to respond. "Um, thank you, Rhonda. You can reach me on my cell, if needed." With that notion, I ended the call, plopped down on my office chair and sighed looking at the unfinished work that lay in front of me.
I tried my damnedest not to think about Masen and Cullen, but I knew that it would be nearly impossible. Last week had been, hands down, the worst fucking week of my life. Why; one would ask… Well, in less than a week I had managed to get engaged, break up with my lover, break it off with my fiancé, get the cold from hell, was outed as a slut in front of an entire party and more importantly, I had managed to break three hearts – Masen's, Cullen's and my own.
--Wow, way go there, Swan.
My selfishness had affected us all and now I had no idea how to fix things. I cowardly thought staying away from the two men I loved would erase my mistakes - would help every party involved. I snorted as I remembered my stupid, God-awful decision.
Yeah, that was a brilliant idea, Bella.
I shortly found out that staying away did not do them or me any damn good. If anything, staying away had led to the stupid fight that had humiliated us all in front of a crowd of about fifty people. And, not to mention, the depression it brought on while I was sick. All of this was huge indication of what was to come if my life didn't involve the man I truly loved; staying away was not an option.
The problem was... I was scared; too scared to move forward.
--Damn it! Are we on this again? You drank yourself to a stupor yesterday trying to figure it out.
Yes and we didn't reach any conclusion, did we? Maybe we should try it again…
--Vodka is not our friend, never has been and never will be. May I remind you how you woke up this morning?
I didn't hear you bitching last night.
I shook my head, willing the internal voices to stop. The faint traces of a headache I sported this morning were coming back full-force, making my eyes water and my neck tense. I sighed, remembering the brilliant plan that I had come up with last night – Vodka, vodka and yes, more vodka.
Big surprise: brilliant plan, it wasn't.
I happily took a huge swig directly out of my Absolut bottle as I walked towards my living room, hugging my bed comforter to my body. The cool fall weather made my apartment feel like a fucking freezer and I was too drunk to fumble with the God-damn heater- believe me, I tried. Instead, I settled for wrapping my pink, fluffy comforter around my body to keep myself warm.
As I prattled around the apartment, dragging E.J who was playfully biting on the edge of the quilt, I nursed my vodka bottle all while whining to myself about the devastating effects of my love life.
Bella Swan – the poster woman for Spinsterhood.
Bella Swan – the poster woman for 'how to fuck up everything good in ones' life.'
Once I reached my living room, I tripped on my own two feet and stumbled to the floor. Thankfully, I was able to salvage the liquor while my knees suffered a pretty big blow. It was only my luck that my alcohol level was high enough to keep me from feeling any real physical pain from the fall.
After my collision, I concluded it would be best if I just stayed where I was. Nevertheless, my boredom got the best of me and I quickly spotted the control for my stereo. I crawled to it, promptly snagged it and hit the play button. The silence was replaced by Lady Gaga's most recent hit.
"Let's have some fun, this beat is sick; I wanna take a ride on your disco stick!" I sang, much to E.J.'s dismay.
As a few quirky songs came on after that my mood lifted somewhat. I lay against the hard carpet humming along and faithfully sipping the tilted bottle. I shivered as the cold liquid passed my sore throat and settled inside me. Hugging the comforter closer to my body, my intoxicated mind concluded the coldness I was currently feeling could've been prevented if I had his strong arms around me, holding me close, keeping me warm.
I sniffed, trying my damnedest to contain the sadness that had suddenly swept through me. I believe I would have succeeded, if it were not for my iPod's deliberate mission to fuck with my mind and emotions.
"If I… should stay…"
"Oh, sweet, baby Jesus," I groaned, instantly recognizing the song
"I would only be in your way
So I'll go
But I know
I'll think of you every step of
Why does it feel like we've been through this already?
--Because we have… 'All by Myself' ring any bells?
--Well, at least they're classics!
Love you, oohh
My darling you
I hummed along with the tune, wondering if the universe was trying to send some sort of code signal for me to get off of my ass and finally go to the man I loved. Without realizing it, I started singing along with Whitney Houston, passionately waving my arms around, wiggling my body all while still draped over my carpet.
That is all I'm taking with me
Please, don't cry
We both know I'm not what you
Will always love you
Will always love you
While the music drowned on, I took the last big swig of the bottle before hastily discarding it.
life treats you kind
And I hope
you have all you've dreamed of
And I wish you joy
But above all this
I wish you love"
Using my quilt as a kleenex, I wiped away the errant tears that fell without my knowledge and took a deep breath as I prepared to sing my heart out along with Whitney.
Will always love you
Will always love you"
What the fuck am I doing?
--Um, singing? Very badly I might add…
No, why am I here? I know who I want!
--I don't know…
I have to go… I have to tell him!
Suddenly the idea of lying here singing like some maniac was not appealing at all. I lay frozen for a moment, letting images of bronze hair and warm eyes invade my thoughts. I vaguely realized that E.J. had started howling along with the lyrics, mimicking my horrible singing.
"I, I will always love
Darling I love you
As the music drawled on I decided I would not waste another second without the man I loved. I hastily moved, fighting to disentangle myself from the pink cocoon I had created. I pushed myself up, fighting the wave of nausea that came from being completely inebriated. The only thing I could think of at the moment was running to my Edward and beg him to take me back.
However, fate had other plans.
When I was finally able to set myself straight, I was unable to take one single step without tangling my feet within the mess of pink that resided on the floor. E.J. had enough sense to stop his howling and move his ass before my body fell right on the spot were he was sitting on.
The second fall was painful enough for even my inebriated-self to feel. I immediately noticed that my hand cushioned my fall in a not so favorable angle. Thankfully it wasn't broken, but the pain along with the vodka induced emotional uproar, the song and my inability to pick myself up reduced me to a crying hysterical mess on my carpeted floor.
The very last thing I remembered of last night was lying in the tangle of sheets on my hard cold floor, clutching my throbbing hand. I ended up cuddling with E.J. as he howled with me. The poor pup had been my beloved companion through my crazy emotional rollercoaster. Next thing I knew, I woke up this morning with a horrible headache and a severely bruised hand.
Embarrassed and defeated, I picked myself off the floor, deciding to forget about everything and try to lose myself in work; that plan was turning out to be as unsuccessful as the first.
Two hours later, I groaned in frustration. I closed my laptop and ultimately gave up on any hopes of getting work done. After straightening up my desk a little bit, I walked back into my room and decided a hot bath would be the best way to ease the tension from the remains of my hangover.
While waiting for my tub to fill up I walked back to my room and sat down next to E.J., who was lazily perched on my mattress. The indolent pup opened his eyes to look at me, but made no move whatsoever.
I gave him a small smile, patting his head. "I miss your daddy," I said sadly to him.
E.J. groaned, lifting his head and giving me a look that I swear said, 'Well, do something about it!'
--See! Even the dog knows you're being a coward!
I just don't want to break the other one's heart.
--You already have… and he wants you to be happy… he said so, remember?
I turned my head indignantly, to which E.J. responded by plopping down on the bed again and going back to his napping. Walking back into my small bathroom, I undressed and settled in the hot water filled with freesia-scented bubbles.
I washed my hair and body methodically all while replaying the events of my last meeting with the two Edwards. Two days ago, I had left my mother's with the purpose of talking with both men separately – Renee had made me realize that I couldn't ignore the situation anymore. Yet, I was more confused than ever, I chickened out and flipped a coin to decide whom I would see first.
Fate decided that it would be Cullen. I had called his office to see if he could maybe meet me for lunch and I was slightly surprised when Jasper told me that Edward was working from home that day. With that news, I had made my way to his house, willing my body to push back the nausea and butterflies that resided in my stomach. I kept taking deep breathes willing my feet to move forward onto his doorstep and demanding them not to run away. The moment that Cullen had opened the door, I was greeted by his battered body and slightly surprised expression. I honestly wanted nothing more than to tenderly kiss every bruise and take care of him as a lover should. Alas, I resisted those urges and pressed on my quest for the truth – about everything.
Hearing his tale and seeing the pain in his beautiful features, made my heart deeply ache for him; I intently listened to him while he admitted his territorial need to protect me. His blatant love was also obvious as well his ongoing reluctance to forgive James for his affair with Tanya.
After Cullen's confessions, I made my way to Masen's loft. I knew that he would be there, since I had called Rhonda earlier that day and slyly asked whether or not Masen had made it in to work. When she had politely told me that he had not, I knew that he must be in bed, nursing his wounds as Cullen was.
Opening the door and taking note of his appearance, I winced. Both men had really done a number on each other. Masen led me in to his loft and started to confess to everything. I had to bite my lips in order to hold back the oncoming tears when he retold me his side of the story. I knew how much I had hurt him and it was something I would never forgive myself for. I wanted nothing more than to take him in my arms and comfort and soothe his nerves; but I was very much aware that I didn't deserve any of his love or forgiveness, so I had stopped myself from doing so. Instead, I listened as he retold his past mistakes with Tanya and how those mistakes had taught him never to let go of love again. I realized as he held me that he had already forgiven me for my selfish actions; and as I explained to him everything that had happened with William, I could no longer contain the traitorous tears that shamed me. I also gave him back his beloved leather jacket and the incredible engagement ring. It just didn't feel right to keep them when I wasn't even brave enough at that time to face my true feelings for either one of them.
By the time I came back to my apartment I was thoroughly exhausted. My mind was reeling with my newly gathered information. I found myself thinking of Tanya constantly, and the key role she had played within my relationship with these two men. I went over every single word they both said over and over again – their conversations were haunting me.
I groaned leaning my neck against the edge of the tub.
--What is so difficult? You know who you want! Just fess up and do it! Fucking get up, call him and tell him you can not phantom the thought of living without him.
What if it's too late? What if he's moved on… without me?
--Only one way to find out, Bella.
They were right; for once the voices in my head were making complete and utter sense. I needed to get off my ass and do it – just call him. Determined, I leaped up from my bathtub and practically ran to my room to grab the phone.
Due to my clumsy nature, I slid across the tile-covered floor, but caught myself just in time to reach the soft padded carpet of my room. Once I snagged the phone, I quickly dialed the familiar number and tried to quell the butterflies in my stomach. I looked over to my left and swore E.J. looked at me like was a crazy naked woman - which I was – but atlas, I was determined not to get sidetracked.
What if he says I missed my chance… what if he realized I wasn't worth it? What if..
--Calm the fuck down! Deep breaths…
I can do this… yes, I can… he loves me, everything will be fine.
--Just say 'Hi Edward, could you come over so we can talk?' or better yet 'Edward, I love you, I choose you. I'm naked, come over…'
That sounds about right.
--Great! We finally agree on something.
I waited impatiently for his voice to pick up, every ring making me even more anxious. I was just about to hang up when a recorded voice came on.
"We're sorry, the number you're trying to reach has been disconnected. If you feel you've reached this message in error, please hang up and try again."
Completely aggravated with my lack of number coordination, I hang up the phone and took my time dialing every single number.
"We're sorry…" the voiceover said again.
"What the fuck?!" I couldn't help but yell, making E.J. jump in surprise and bark at me.
"I'm sorry!" I whined, glaring at the offending phone.
Did he change his number? Why…
--Try him at home!
Snapping out of my sudden hatred I quickly dialed his home phone, just as a precaution, I would try his office if that didn't work. I didn't care how, but I was going to speak to him, come hail or high water.
This time, I was completely unprepared for the quick response. "Hello," a friendly female voice said from the other end.
My stomach dropped and a moment of confusion made me forget any sense of manners. "Who the hell is this?" I yelled into the receiver.
"Bella?" the warm voice of Esme Cullen asked.
I felt the blush heat my wet body and for a moment I wished the Earth would take pity on me and swallow me whole. Only I would yell at my – hopefully - future mother in-law.
"Esme! I'm so sorry… I didn't recognize your voice," I said sheepishly.
"It's okay, dear. How can I help?" she said politely. I resisted the urge to bang my head against the wall.
"Is Edward there?" I asked, biting my lip nervously.
I could hear the pity in her voice. "Oh, Bella, I'm sorry. He didn't tell you?"
"T-Tell me what, exactly?" my voice quivered with uncertainty. But I was determined not to let my mind run wild with nonsense; I needed to speak with him, regardless of what he had to tell me.
"Honey, I'm just here packing some boxes. Edward… he's flying back to England, today. He said that he needed some time out of the country."
"Because of me?" I interrupted her explanation. I felt the hot tears sting my eyes.
"I don't know, Bella," Esme replied softly.
"You know what happened, then?" I asked, already knowing her answer.
"I do," she said, her voice sounding slightly disappointed; her tone completely broke me down.
"I'm so sorry, Esme. I didn't mean to hurt him… or either of them! I didn't even get a chance to tell him that… I'm in love…"
"Bella, his plane hasn't left yet," she interrupted hastily. I could hear her shuffling around on the other end. "Maybe you can still tell him, sweetheart. His plane leaves in an hour from JFK Airport… you can still catch him."
Hope sprained within me and my tears stopped as I focused only on getting to the airport before it was too late. "What terminal?"
Once Esme gave me the information, I chanted it and memorized it like my life depended on it - because in a sense it did.
The moment the call ended I was a driving force with a one track mind - GET TO EDWARD - I only had enough sense to stop myself from leaving the apartment completely naked - which I nearly did. I ran back into my bedroom, threw on some black yoga pants on - sans panties - I couldn't even bother with those. After putting on a matching sports blouse, with built in bra and my baggie NYU hoodie, I snagged my blue converse and threw them on without bothering with socks. After quickly grabbing my wallet I made a run for it.
The elevator would take too much time, so I prayed I wouldn't break my neck as I ran down the stairs towards the lobby. Once there, I made asked Jake to take E.J. out for his daily walk and feed him - offering him an extra hundred dollars. I was out of my building before he even had a chance to react.
Luckily, just as I ran outside an old lady was just getting in a cab.
"I'm sorry, but I need this cab!" Not minding how rude I was being I quickly pulled the old lady out of the cab and got in.
"Drive! JFK!" I barked.
Offering yet another extra hundred cash incentive to the driver, he vowed to get me to airport as soon as physically possible. However, even with the driver's mad skills this was still Manhattan and getting to the airport took me a little over forty minutes. The whole time I tried to prepare the most romantic speech I could think of. I recalled poems, quotes from my favorite authors, then his favorite authors. I decided I would quote Austen and Shakespeare; I would get down on my knees and tell him to me there would never be another one like him. I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I almost didn't notice when the driver pulled up on the departure gates.
Throwing more cash than necessary, I sprinted out of the car trying my best to avoid the immense crowds. I stopped in front of a general monitor, looking at all the unfamiliar lists for the one flight I couldn't afford to miss.
There! American Airlines! On time, Terminal 8!
--GO, GO, GO!
I ran up to the first ticket center I could find, realizing I would need one if I wanted to get all the way to the terminal. I cut right to the front of the line, earning a few glares and some curses from the other pending passengers. After buying a random ticket to Haiti, I took off ignoring the lady's requests for any luggage.
Thankfully I was able to bypass through the first check point without any drama. Once I had stripped off my shoes and jacket the first security guard was pleased with my lack of weaponry and he let me go.
As I was running, I caught sight of the clock and noticed I had less than two minutes before they started boarding first class - which, let's face it - was totally what Edward would buy. If I had time, I would've totally gone into full-blown panic mode. However as I was pressed for time the only thing I could do was thank God the taxi dropped me off near the terminal, so I wouldn't have to run that far. Pushing myself harder, I bypassed the first part of the lobby and entered into the second check point for international travel.
From there - everything went straight to hell.
The line was enormous and there was no way in hell I was going to wait for my turn.
"Excuse me… sorry… emergency… sorry." I sidestepped people who were too shocked by my actions to say anything.
Once I got to the front of the line, I assessed my surroundings. The second check point had a metal detector as well, most of the people running it were airport employees and the only security officer was the chubby, middle aged man who was currently checking passports.
"Next," the bored officer called.
Just act cool!
-- Easier said than done.
"Good day," I panted, still not able to catch my breath. I handed him my ticket and my ID.
"Your passport, miss," the officer eyed me curiously.
My eyes widened and my mouth opened in shock. "Oh, God, my passport!" I cried, palming my pockets with a dramatic flare. "Where is it?!" I yelled looking around my feet.
"Now, calm down, miss… I'm sure its somewhere."
"What is it now?" an angry lady from the line interrupted the officer.
I took it as my chance. As the officer turned his attention to the exasperated flier, I made a run for it. Faster than I ever though possible, my tired legs flew under the metal detector and ran away from the second check point. The airport employees and the officer were stunned for a second, allowing me enough time to distance myself thoroughly. I vaguely heard the chubby officer yell at me and prayed that he did not own a tazer gun, I'm sure that shit would hurt like hell. I quickly glanced over my shoulder and grinned when I saw the officer a few yards behind me, his lack of fitness giving me a lot of advantage.
Oh shit! You are sooo getting arrested.
-- Guess who's coming with me, bitch.
Fuck…. Run, Bella, run!
Just as I thought my legs were about to buckle beneath me, a sign with an arrow pointed me to the correct direction for Terminal 8. Making a sharp turn to the left, I finally reached my destination.
Luck was definitively on my side, for as soon as I turned the corner I was able to make out a perfectly disheveled mop of bronze hair. Edward was just stepping into the hallway that led to the plane.
"Edward," I panted my voice barely audible. "Edward!" I tried again, using my last breath.
I stopped immediately after that, my body demanding the much needed air. I doubled over gasping, fighting the dizziness and nausea that plagued my body. I rested my hand on a nearby glass wall, trying to balance my exhausted body so I wouldn't topple over.
I was able to see myself in the reflection of the glass. Even in the simple glass pane I could see the furious blush that practically resembled sunburn over my checks; my hair, still somewhat damp from my earlier bath was matted and frizzy. My appearance was a complete mess and I knew it would not come in my favor once I tried to convince the cops I was not a crazy terrorist intent on bombing the airport.
"Bella?" the soft velvety voice that made my heart clenched called to me. "Is that really you?" he asked with incredulity.
Taking one last deep breath, I slowly straightened up and met the pair of burning eyes I was dying to see.
"William," I said, still out of breath. "Edward, I…" my voice was horse and I desperately needed water if I wanted to continue speaking.
"What are you doing here?" he asked; his features completely confused.
And just like that, the perfect speech with literary quotes and heartfelt apologies was forgotten and I blurted out the first thing that came into my mind.
"I love you," I said, as loudly as my voice allowed me to. "Please, don't leave me."
Edward stared at me in shock, his mouth slightly open and his eyes wide and hopeful. I was unable to stop the thoughts in my head from falling right out of my mouth without any filtering whatsoever. I just hoped he would make sense of my debauched sentiments.
"Don't leave…" I begged. He closed his eyes and shook his head, as if preparing to say something.
I spoke up before he could reject me completely. "You once said that you liked me just they way I am… despite my flaws, my smoking, drinking, verbal diarrhea." I took a deep breath, "Despite my obvious inability to love properly and my selfish nature… you love me. Or at least you used to love me," I chuckled nervously at the thought of him rejecting me; my off humor masking my inner worst fears.
"And I can't let you leave without telling you… without you showing you that… I feel the same." My voice broke and tears welled up in my eyes.
"You're not perfect. Despite the fact that you are obviously one of the most beautiful men I've ever met, you are flawed… You are so anal about your opinions and so closed minded it's really fucking impossible to agree with you on anything. Sometimes I see you act like you're so superior to anyone else, and I hate that," I growled.
"You're haughty and you act on impulse whenever you can't deal with shit. 'Jealous bastard' is not even a good enough term to describe your possessiveness. You hold grudges longer than anyone I've known and you can easily hate as you can love a person - Masen is a great example of that…" I rambled on; his amazed expression became blurry as tears fell from my eyes.
I paused, trying to find the right words. "But you can love harder than anyone I've ever met," I amended, hoping he would catch on to my pained voice. "You were always there, prepared to catch me when I fell, or give me advice when I made stupid decisions. Not to mention giving me the best fucking orgasms of my life." I heard someone snicker in the background but I couldn't bring myself to give two shits.
"You were always there… as a friend, as a lover, as anything I wanted you to be…"
I looked down for a moment, willing to overcome my shame as I realized just how bad I had treated him. "I took advantage of the love you offered me… and for that I am sorry."
"I want to rectify that." My brown eyes lifted to gaze into his hazel ones, without knowing it, he gave me the comfort I needed to finish my little speech.
"I don't want to take from you any longer. I want to give you whatever you want, because I want you. I love you… and I want you stay with me… at least until we figure this out… or forever… whatever you want… just stay," I finished, biting my lip in anticipation.
My heart was beating so fast I swore even he could hear it. Silence drawled on for a second and I could practically see the wheels turning in his head, the struggle within. Perhaps it was only a few seconds… but the silence felt like an eternity, and the longer he took the harder my heart ached.
Just as Cullen opened his mouth to say something, the amazingly rude stewardess interrupted. "I'm sorry, Mr. Cullen, we need you to board the plane now," she said a little too sweetly, eyeing me like I was the plague.
If I hadn't been waiting for the most important response of my life then I would've kicked her skinny ass.
Cullen looked as conflicted as ever, and I knew his hesitation would not lead to a happy ending.
Then, everything happened at once. In a second I saw Cullen slightly turn towards the stewardess, while a booming voice yelled.
Both Cullen and I glanced back to see two huge guards accompanied by the chubby guard from the passport checkpoint, running towards me. Before I knew it, the air was knocked out of me and one of the guards tackled me to the ground. The sound of my body thumping against the hard, cold floor of the terminal was not a pretty one. I glanced upwards; however, it just made the pain in my head grow exponentially bigger. Almost immediately after the impact, I heard a deep velvety voice yell in anger and my world suddenly turned to black.
Later that evening, I woke up feeling like I had a stick shoved up my spine. My neck ached like hell and my body was tense. I was momentarily disoriented, convinced that it had all been some sort of dream. Nonetheless, the white walls and generic cot I was currently laying on told me I was in some sort of holding room.
I slowly sat up; trying to figure out how much time had passed. It was hard to tell since the room had no windows or anything that would indicate the time. I tried opening the only door in the room, but I was not too surprised to find it locked.
Sighing, I went back to the cot and sat down. I could not begin to describe the devastation I felt at the moment. Cullen had obviously left, and now I was most likely at the airport holding cell and surely about to be charged with some sort of terrorism act.
The worst part was that I didn't give a damn about the charges, or my obvious need for a lawyer. All I cared about was the fact that Cullen was not here with me.
Still I did not regret my decision. Somehow, I always knew it would be him whom I chose.
I was so lost in my thoughts I almost didn't notice the door opening. "Oh, good! You're awake," the chubby officer from before said. He looked tense and was obviously being sarcastic when he said he was glad that I was awake.
"What happened?" I asked, confused.
"You hit your head and passed out when we tackled you. The staff doctor said you would be fine," he explained nonchalantly. He was holding a clipboard and shuffling around with some papers.
"Oh," I responded, he didn't even look up.
"Lucky for you, there was no real disturbance and the particular plane you interrupted was able to take off a few minutes after we got you into the medical center. So, no real charges will be filled."
The plane took off…
--He left me.
I closed my eyes and hugged my arms around myself. I felt like I was shattering right before this man's eyes. He however, didn't seem to care however.
"Everyone got in the plane safe, then?" I asked in a small voice.
The officer lifted his head to look up at me for the first time, quirking an eyebrow he replied, "Ms. Swan, that's probably not the best way to word your question. And for the record, bypassing security checkpoints and running around like a crazy woman in an airport is generally not a good idea at all," he scolded. "It raises suspicion and gets you arrested."
I felt the angry blush rise on my cheeks. "Sorry," I mumbled.
He shook his head, glancing back at the clipboard he continued. "I'm glad you understand. Now in regards to your question, yes, Ms. Swan, everyone made it on the plane okay."
I was determined not to cry in front of this man. But the confirmation that Cullen had in fact left me was too much. Trying to hide my embarrassing pain I rested my head in my hands and silently let the tears fall.
The stupid officer paid no attention to my gestures, as he was still engrossed in his paperwork. He then set off to give me a speech on the importance of airport security and following 'the standard secure procedures for boarding a plane'. Particularly emphasizing that no matter the 'love-crisis' circumstances one is facing, 'procedure must always be followed.'
"I must really stress the severity of your actions, Ms. Swan. If it wasn't for your boyfriend you would be dealing with a lot more…"
Wait! Did he say…
"Boyfriend?" I asked, looking up hopefully.
The officer seemed taken aback by the tears in my eyes, nevertheless he responded. "Mr. Cullen… your lawyer?" he said hesitantly, as if doubting his answer.
"What are you talking about?!" I shouted. He jumped unexpectedly, probably frightened by my tone.
"Mr. Cullen… he's the one who convinced us everything was a misunderstanding. He's been here with you, I thought he would be here so you could sign the release form but…"
"Edward was here? He didn't board the plane?" I asked, my voice shrilled and panicked.
"No, I didn't," a soft voice said from the doorway.
My head snapped to the direction of the voice so quickly I knew I would have whiplash later – like I really cared.
There he was, my Edward, hair standing up at odd ends - as it would often be when he was stress or worried; perfectly pressed suit and coat on. His features were of curiosity and concern, a total contradiction to his regal posture.
My legs moved without me asking them too and before I knew it I was standing right in front of Edward. I stopped myself inches away from his chest.
"Please tell me you didn't stay just to make sure I didn't end up in Guantanamo," I whispered.
Chuckling, he shook his head and slowly raised his hands to cup my face. "That was a big part of it." He wiped away my tears and gave me the shy crooked smile that I loved. "But not the sole reason, Bella."
I couldn't help the stupid giddy smile that escaped me. Nor was I able to contain myself from jumping into his arms, locking my hands around his neck and my legs around his waist. Edward stumbled back from the impact, but managed stay upright as his hands instinctively grabbed my ass to keep me from falling.
The moment was so surreal that I couldn't bring myself to say anything or do anything else but hold on to him desperately, my stupid ear-to-ear smile never faltering as I rested my head in the crook of his neck. I could feel Edward do the same, as he kissed my hair and rested his cheek against it.
He stayed! He loves me!
I felt Edward move us but I couldn't bring myself to care, even as I was suddenly reminded that we weren't alone. The officer - probably uncomfortable from our display - quickly murmured something and exited the room closing the door with a sharp bang behind him. Edward sat down on the cot, leaving me straddling him.
"I'm sorry for everything that happened," I said, slowly pulling away to see his reaction.
Edward chuckled. "Only you could get into this much trouble," he said, his expression turning from amusement to concern. "Who told you I was leaving?"
"Esme," I replied. "I cracked today and when I called your house she was there." I shrugged.
He seemed confused by my comment so I decided to explain - as best I could - what brought me here. "I was too scared," I started, unclasping my hands from his neck and resting them on my lap.
Too ashamed of my confession, I looked down so I wouldn't see the disappointment in his eyes. Nevertheless, I was determined to explain.
"I was too scared to take what I wanted. I've known for a while now that you were it for me. But I didn't want to hurt Masen and I didn't want to be the bad guy in the story…" I trailed off, looking up to see and unreadable expression in Cullen's face.
"Since the moment I met you… it's like, all odds have been against us. Either you were being an ass or I was being a bitch," I joked, trying to ease the tension. "It wasn't easy, yet, the pull between us was so great we were able to overlook everything and start a friendship. And later a relationship."
"It was like, since the beginning, my heart couldn't stay away from you. And when I finally gave you a chance, I discovered how truly wonderful you really are. And since that moment my heart couldn't let you go."
Edward shook his head, as if he didn't comprehend what I was saying. "You've always wanted James, Bella. Even with the whole Heidi ordeal you took him back. You left me because he proposed… what changed?" he asked, running his hands through his hair. I could see he was afraid of my answer, but he needed it to understand my feelings.
"Masen is a charming man," I shrugged, trying to overlook the way his posture stiffened in immediate jealousy. "I'm sorry, but I have to be honest, and you would know if I lied to you."
He sighed and nodded, urging me to continue. "I love your brother, William. As he told me the other day, I don't think we ever really stop loving someone. Love changes, it grows smaller or bigger with time. People's actions affect or nurture it, but it never really goes away. Falling in love with Masen was quick and easy, almost too easy."
Edward closed his eyes, his features full of pain and reserve; I knew my words hurt but I needed to make my point clear. "Then, why?" he asked, his voice low and desperate.
"Even if Masen will always have a part in my heart, you're the one that owns it. Falling in love with you was not easy… but it felt so natural I knew it would've happened no matter the circumstances."
I placed my hand on his cheek, feeling his six o'clock shadow and smiling at the way his features softened with my touch. "I was already in love with you before the Hamptons. I always looked forward to our time together, and I found great comfort in knowing you were my friend. That night in the wine cellar just made me realize how much I really needed you… mentally and physically."
Cullen smirked at my confession. Growing more confident his hands moved to my waist pulling me closer to him. My arms wrapped around his neck as he rested his head on mine.
"I've been too scared to admit my feelings and this morning I realized I was fucking tired of running away from you. I called your cell phone, then your house. When Esme answered and told me you were going back to London, I completely lost it," I said shaking my head.
"I got offered a promotion of sorts; it's an international case that is based in London. Because I'd already lived there, I assumed it would be easier for me to go instead of Jasper or Rosalie. It was an easy decision." he explained. "I was positive you were going to choose James," he whispered, his voice so low I almost didn't catch it.
I shook my head frantically and opened my mouth to tell him so stupid he was when he spoke up. "But you're here… with me and I would be lying if I said I wasn't amazed. But I know you're here because you want to be, and you don't know how much that means to me."
A single tear escaped from his eye and I wiped it away gently. I was always astounded at how much emotion he would show me and I would always be grateful that he opened his heart to me and me alone. I kissed each of his eyes chastely, silently thanking him for the gesture.
I bit my lip, trying to mask my giddiness. "So… does this mean you're staying then? With me?" I asked, wanting to hear it from his mouth, even though his actions spoke for themselves.
He nodded pulling away to look into my eyes. Tucking a strand of hair behind my ear he answered, "I'll stay as long as you'll want me."
"I'll want you forever," I said, my tone serious yet a smile crept up on my face.
"Forever it is, then," he agreed, raising his hands to cup my face once more and pulling me towards him.
Our lips met tenderly. His mouth was soft and reverent; he took his time, kissing my upper lip then my lower one sweetly. I followed his lead, enjoying the softness of his lips contrasting with his rough stubble. My hands flew to his hair, grasping its strands and keeping his face locked with mine. My body moved forward, wanting to feel him closer I didn't stop until my breasts were pressed tightly against his chest. I unhooked my legs from his waist and set the soles of my feet on top of the cot, using them to leverage myself further into his body. I gasped as my actions grind my center into the bulge in his pants.
I recognized his arousal immediately and couldn't help but push myself onto him more and more. My actions sparked Edward out of his tenderness and in a flash his dominant nature took over. His tongue tasted my lips before entering my mouth and brushing my tongue with sweet reverie. His hands moved from my face to my back and onto my ass, helping my movements against his cock.
"Ahh," I moaned, pulling away from his mouth. Edward took advantage of the movement and moved his kisses down my jaw and onto my neck. I let him nibble and suck on the tender skin, too lost in the feelings to care about him leaving any type of marks.
My own hands roamed under his heavy coat. My nails clawed his back over his smooth white dress shirt. Edward was past all decorum, as the sudden cool air alerted me that he had unzipped my hoodie. One of his hands the left my ass to cup my clothed breast and pinch my already taut nipple.
He kissed me once more and I eagerly kissed him back with fervor. At that moment, I didn't care where we were or who might suddenly enter. My only concern was to touch him, to feel him. With a lust filled haze, my hands flew onto the waistband of his pants, quickly un-tucking his shirt, unbuckling his belt, and unzipping his pants. I dipped my hand on to his boxers, palming his length and cupping him. Edward practically jumped at my touch, his mouth falling open in shock; his eyes dark with lust - he looked simply beautiful. I wrapped my fingers along his girth and pumped him a few times, getting reacquainted with his cock. I licked his lips slowly, urging him to kiss me as he enjoyed my ministrations.
Edward quickly snapped out of his shock, his full blown smirk making an appearance. Before I knew it, he returned my kisses hungrily, squeezing my breast and pinching my nipple with enthusiasm and purpose. His other hand left the contours of my ass to rest on top of my belly. Letting his fingers brush the skin between my blouse and my yoga pants tentatively, I moaned, encouraging him to move lower.
My left hand grasped his shoulder to maintain my balance while my right kept pleasuring him. His kisses urged me on, and I didn't notice the movement of his right hand before it was too late. Edward groaned as hand dipped into my yoga pants and cupped my sex, feeling the warmth emanating from me.
I gasped as his middle finger brushed against my slit, spreading the juices over my center. "No panties, darling?" he asked against my lips.
I didn't care for his teasing but since I was at the mercy of his fingers I told him the truth. "I was in a hurry to leave my apartment."
Edward nodded wordlessly, kissing my neck once more as his fingers moved over me and circled my clit. My own hands had stopped; I was too lost in his touch to continue. I moved my hands to remove my hoodie completely, letting it fall to the floor; just as I was about to press myself harder on to his hands, Edward suddenly stopped and retrieved his hand from my most intimate place.
"What? No, don't stop," I begged, kissing him again, the palm of my hand cupping the head of his member.
Edward shuddered in pleasure but grabbed my hands and pulled them away, resting them on his chest. "Darling, you have no idea how much I want you…" He kissed me chastely to prove his point.
"There's a camera in here," he interrupted motioning with his head up to one of the corners of the room.
I turned my head to see a single camera strategically facing us. I gasped, my face heating up with embarrassment. "I'm sorry, Bella. I thought you knew," Cullen quickly said, apologetically.
I looked at Cullen for a moment, he was panting, his tie was hanging loosely on his chest and I had no idea when I had done that. His hair was a complete mess thanks to my hands - as I was sure mine was as well. His shirt was un-tucked, even so I could see his arousal between us, straining for my touch. He was panting and even if he was trying to be a gentleman I could see the lust behind his hazel eyes. My own arousal made it hard for me to pull away - my swollen clit ached for his hands and my center begged for his cock. My nipples were too tight, too aroused as you could obviously make them out through my thin blouse. And the blush on my body was not entirely due to the embarrassment from the camera, it was mostly from his touch.
A devilish thought entered my mind. "I don't care," I simply said, before pulling him towards me once more. My kiss muffled his protest; reluctantly, I could feel him give in to my request.
"Bella?" he asked between my kisses.
"I want you," I replied huskily, kissing his jaw and playfully biting his earlobe. I was too far gone to care.
"You'll be the death of me," Edward replied, breathlessly.
I vaguely wondered if I was pushing him too much when I felt him cup my ass again and lift us from the cot. I gasped when I felt him move us quickly to the corner of the room, right bellow the noisy camera and out of its immediate view.
I smiled teasingly as he pressed me forcefully against the wall. "You're just as bad as me," I whispered into his ear, moaning as he nibbled my neck.
Edward set me down on my feet, covering my body with his. He took a deep breath before asking, "Bella, are you sure?"
I smiled warmly at his protectiveness, but it just spurred me on. "Yes," I said decisively, pulling myself up on my toes to kiss him hungrily.
It was all he needed; pulling back from the kiss he grabbed the edge of my yoga pants and pulled them down, hastily helping me remove my shoes too. In less than two seconds I was naked before him from the waist down and I couldn't be happier.
Edward quickly stood and I helped him push his own pants down. He cupped my ass, helping me up and wrapping my legs around his waist once more, he pressed me against the wall completely, and I noted he maneuvered me so his long coat would hide my naked lower half.
I looked up at him as he aligned himself to my center, panting profusely. We held our gazes as he pushed himself upward, burying his cock deep inside me. I gasped in pleasure, throwing my head back and tightening the hold on my legs.
"Oh, Bella… baby, you feel so good," Edward grunted, pressing me against the wall and moving inside me in a slow measured pace.
My fingers tangled within his hair, and my face buried in his neck and he stepped closer to gain a better leverage. I could smell his fuckscent - his clean aroma of soap and honey that both comforted and drove me wild with passion all at the same time.
In no time at all, Cullen's thrusts became more forceful, his pace grew quicker and I moaned in pleasure as he filled and stroked the sensitive spot deep within me. My pleas grew, urging him to go faster, harder, begging him not to stop.
His fingers dug into my ass, pushing me against him. I could feel the way his muscles strained beneath me, and I found great pleasure in the way he shivered as I moaned into his neck, biting and sucking on his skin.
"Argg, Edward… I'm coming," I moaned, barely containing the soft cry that rippled through me as my body tightened and a great shock spread from my center on to my limbs.
"Bella," Edward moaned. He rode my orgasm, finally releasing himself just as I was coming down my high. Feeling his cock twitch inside me gave me the ultimate pleasure I could wish for.
He slipped out of me, but made no move to put me down. With a shy smile, I pulled back from his neck to look at him. I smiled as I recognized the sheer love that radiated out of us, looking up at his brilliant eyes I knew they mirrored my own sated expression - nothing made me happier than to know we gave each other that peace.
"I love you, Isabella," Edward whispered, leaning down to kiss my lips chastely.
I giggled, unable to contain my mirth. "I love you too, Edward. I always have."
Epilogue: Second Chances?
It was December in New York and the harsh winter wind gave no pity on me as it blew roughly across my athletic frame, smarting my face and ruffling my messy hair. Out of habit I inhaled the lit cigarette, taking a moment to relish the feeling of the toxic-yet-soothing smoke settle into my lungs.
Nonchalantly, I glanced down at my watch.
Perfect - just enough time to grab a double espresso from my favorite French café that was conveniently around the corner from my spacious loft.
As I walked the small distance, I tried to focus on something – the sound of my expensive Italian dress shoes on the pavement, or the sounds of bustling traffic; however, nothing seemed to push her out of my mind. Frustrated, I ran my over-eager fingers through my haphazard hair, not giving a toss about how it must look by now.
Fuck, I mean - I wanted to believe that I was okay… that I wasn't fucking losing my God-damn mind. But, in reality I was a fucking downright mess.
Bella had chosen him – William. My brother, my flesh and blood and I couldn't get over it ever since the day Bella had phoned me. Taking one last long inhale of the cigarette I threw it towards the ground, stepped on it, and put out the lighted end. I wrapped my hand around the golden bar of the door, opening it and stepping into the quaint café. I closed my eyes for a moment, relishing in the sensual smell of coffee and freshly baked goods, hoping it would help soothe my emotional wounds. Unfortunately, it was only a temporary relief. Opening my eyes, I slowly made my way towards the familiar counter.
"Hi, Mr. Masen! The usual today?" Amelia asked, her cheerful smile making me feel ever more somber.
"Sure, Amelia, thanks." I said, my voice somewhat monotone.
The young girl seemed to notice and frowned. "Care for an extra shot today, Mr. Masen?"
I politely shook my head at the offer. "No, I think I'll be on the bloody floor if that happens." I responded, trying to put on my best smile – it seemed to work as she laughed softly and left the counter to make my daily order.
I sighed, taping my credit card on the smooth surface as I heard the soft sound of heels behind me. Usually, I would turn around, my curiosity getting the best of me. I would be wondering that kind of legs those heels held – long, thin, shapely, perhaps? But today, I just didn't fucking care.
"Here you go, Mr. Masen." Amelia said, placing the coffee on the counter. I handed her my card as she shook her head.
"It's on the house; you look like you've had a tough morning."
I half-heartedly smiled. Was I that fucking obvious?
"Thanks, love." I said, grabbing my cup and turning around. I took two small steps when I bumped into something soft, womanly, and warm.
"Omph!" I said tipping my cup of hot coffee onto the obstruction in front of me.
"Ah!" the young woman squeaked, leaping back. I quickly grabbed some napkins from the counter and started to blot up the stain I had created on her elaborate ivory lace dress.
"Shit, I am so sorry! I didn't see…" I started to mumble. But then, I looked upwards towards the woman's face and my heart decided to skip an extra beat at the site before me.
Talk about déjà-fucking-vu.
"Tanya…" I whispered. The woman, who was busy cleaning her newly coffee soaked dress, looked up. Her lips parted slightly.
"James…" she whispered back. It took a moment, but she seemed to recover quickly, regaining her composure.
"How have you been, Edward?" she asked, her lips curving into a smile, the coffee-soaked dress momentarily forgotten. I sighed, rubbing my morning-stubble covered cheek for a moment.
"Actually, I've been fucking miserable." I said, my own confession shocking me.
She cocked her head, ordering herself a vanilla latte. "You seemed happy last time I saw you with Bella."
My face fell with the mention of Bella's name; Tanya seemed to notice as she handed Amelia some cash.
"Oh, I didn't realize. I'm sorry," she recovered quickly.
Narrowing my eyes, I studied her for a moment. She looked absolutely… breathtaking. She was wearing a fitted black satin trench coat that shimmered slightly underneath the café's low lights. Peeking out from lapels of the trench seemed to be an extravagant lace beige-colored dress.
"James?" her sweet voice asked, breaking me out of my inner ramblings. I shook my head and apologized once more.
"I'm sorry; I was just… looking at your er… um, dress. I think I've bloody ruined it."
Tanya grabbed her latte and shrugged, stepping out of the line. "It's okay, really. I'm sure my dry cleaner can get it out. Besides, I have another dress at the gallery."
"The gallery?" I asked curiously.
She smiled, nodded and looked at her watch. "Yes, I work at the Art Gallery down the street. Look, I have to go… I'm sorry about everything, James. You deserve to be happy."
Happy… I missed that fucking feeling.
With slightly more confidence, I stood straight up and did something I never thought I would have a chance to do again. Reaching into my coat pocket, I pulled out my stark white business card.
"Take my card, Tanya. Let me pay for your dress to be cleaned, I can at least do that," I said as innocently as possible, holding out the simple business card to her.
She eyed the card, then me carefully and took it. "Only for the dry cleaner's bill, James."
I held up my hands innocently and tried my damnest to put on my crooked smile. "Of course, Tanya; just a dry cleaner's bill. It's not like I'd ask you out for dinner or anything."
"And, it's not like I'd say yes or anything," she responded, walking towards the door; her womanly hips shifting from side to side.
I never got tired of that sight – even after all these years. Before she reached the door, however, she turned around, her strawberry blonde curls swinging off her shoulder.
"I'm really sorry about Bella, James." She walked out of the door with a small, 'ding'. I stood there for a moment longer – still mesmerized from her presence.
Bella… in the few moments that I was conversing with Tanya, I had completely (well, not fucking completely) forgot about my state of absolute misery. Taking a sip of the coffee, I realized the temporary relief of my heartache was gone and it was back with full force. I sighed, making my way to the door and out towards the callous cold.
This day was going to be hell - however, it already seemed to have a little silver lining– Tanya. A halfhearted smile tugged at my lips and my heart at the mention of her name. Maybe... this whole 'Bella picking William' ordeal was my second chance with Tanya – my first love. Maybe, this was all meant to be.
Or maybe… I was just losing my fucking mind.
K - I hope you guys liked the final chapter of this installment of ATOTE. Wait! Did I say 'installment'? Well yes... but Becca will tell you more of that. I have to say this chapter did not come easily at all. Most of you know, this decision haunted us from the very first chapters; for a while there it was practically impossible for us to decide how the story was going to end. But, I am happy to say we reached a solid agreement - that was carefully considered. I really hope everyone understands Bella's decision and I hope you join us in out next endeavor. Either way.. LOVE IT... HATE IT... please review... it's the last chance we got to hear from you On this story. AND PLEASE VISIT THE FORUMS IF YOU FEEL LIKE YELLING OR TALKING TO US!! Much love!! XOXO
B - *tears* I'M STILL TEAM MASEN, GOD DAMNIT! But, Bella ending up with Cullen was a mutal decision and I thought it wrapped up the story beautifully. So, please leave us your goodbye reviews and truly let us know how you really feel. Loved it? Hated it? Just so-so? LET US KNOW! Once again, this wouldn't be possible without you, so thank you.
BIG CRAZY ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!
When Karla and I started this story we made one big agreement - no sequels. Yes, you heard me ladies - no ATOTE 2. Sad? Yes? Well... so were we.
After much thought and consideration (and watching Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason gazillons of times) we have come to the conclusion that the tale of the two edwards isn't done being told. Yeah, you heard me.
Karla and I are continuing this brilliant story and it will soon be posted to this lovely site we call, 'Twilighted'! Old characters will be back and new ones introduced! It will be just as amazing as this one - hopefully, we can make it even better! So, as a final, 'thank you' for all your amazing support, we present the title and the summary for 'A Tale of Two Edwards: Moving Forwards and Backwards'. Enjoy.
A Tale of Two Edwards: Moving Forwards and Backwards
Spinsterhood bounded Bella Swan has finally found the love of her life, Edward William Cullen. Both are committed to making their new-found relationship work, but exactly how much are they willing to give when certain situations threaten to tear them apart?
Meanwhile, playboy Edward James Masen has finally found hope within his pathetic love life when an old flame reappears. But, how much is he really willing to sacrifice for his first love? And how much is his first love really over her troubled past?
Only time, trust and love will tell. This simply is a story of four people who are trying to find and keep what everyone desires – their true love.
Thoughts? Excited? Over it? Let us know! And please, add both K (kARLOTITA09) and myself (XShear) to your updates, to make sure you get notice when the new story goes up!
And, we can never say this enough... we fucking love you, bbs. :)