A/N: I HATE WRITER'S BLOCK! (I just had to let that out).
By the way, do you guys prefer long or short chapters?
Thank you! We've surpassed 100 reviews. That made me smile.
And we're off again. I hope you all like it…
Previously : And that's the last thing I saw before my eyes closed.
Despite what everyone says, my life didn't flash before my eyes when I was staring death in the face. That's right. I didn't get the blinding white lights, or the reels of happy memories to send me off into the next world. Hell, I didn't even get singing angels or a crappy 'Go into the light Bella'.
Nope, what I got was a total and utter rip off. I got the splatter of mud being flung into my face, and the slight stinging of my knee that I had grazed as I fell over.
I clenched my eyes shut, one arm reflexively coming up to shield my face - as ineffective as the gesture may be. The screeching of tyres continued and I waited for my life to end.
Figures - it would be because of my inability to stand on my own two feet. Damn it.
All of this had transpired within half a second, and only a heartbeat after that I was flying through the air. I let out a scream at the surprise and opened my eyes, only to find myself face to face with the concrete with somebody's weight pushed into the back of me.
There was heavy breathing in my ear and in the distance I could hear the ragged sound of air being drawn harshly through panicked lips. The repetitive drone was insistent and getting louder and louder, it didn't seem to want to stop. It was only when I realised that it was me that I managed to prevent the action from happening, and I calmed slightly.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I registered being turned over and examined for damage, and I could hear a thumping echoing in the back of my head. There was one voice that was closer than all the noise, and I tried to focus in on that, allowing it to pull me gradually back to the surface of my lock down, until I broke through.
"Bella, oh god Bella, tell me you're alright."
I knew that I recognised the person speaking, but as hard as I tried I couldn't put a name to the voice. My eyes shifted restlessly in their sockets as I searched my mind, but it was to no avail.
"Don't do this to me Bella. Come on, please. Not so soon after I've met you!"
That brought back some sense of remembrance. I hastily ran through the activities of the past few days in my head, hoping to find a new face - a new name. Going over to Alice and Rose's apartment, reading the letter, being driven over to the new house, getting up the next morning and opening the door to three complete strangers -
It clicked. Edward.
Memories came flooding back, and I sat up, gasping. The instant I did so I could feel a jarring pain down the side of my body and I let out a quiet moan, instantly regretting it as I perceived a movement beside me. I was crushed gently into someone's body, and I stiffened initially, only to recognise Edward's comforting hold.
I pulled back so I could survey myself for damage, letting out a quick sigh of relief when I noted that there was no visible injury that couldn't be fixed by a band-aid and a pain killer. I was pulled out of my self inspection by a cough from Edward, who was watching me with worried eyes.
I smiled reassuringly yet meekly - trying to apologise for essentially throwing myself in front of a car.
"Well, sorry about that. But there's no harm done, so shall we be heading home?"
I made to stand up but a firm grip on my arm kept me stationary. I looked down at Edward inquisitively, but his expression was hard and unreadable.
"Bella, I'm not letting you go anywhere until you've been checked out. That was quite a traumatic experience, and besides - you hit your head pretty hard. I think you might have hurt your side as well."
"I hit my head?"
He nodded sombrely and I lightly touched a hand to the back of my head. I winced as it hit a sensitive area and I swear I saw Edward flinch when noted my discomfort. I stole a glance around us - apparently our little spectacle had gone unnoticed by the few people out and about at this time of the day.
It was then that I realised just where I was. I was curled on the ground on the pavement, with Edward kneeling next to me anxiously. Embarrassed I tried to get up once again, but hesitated when Edward's reaction warned me to comply with what he wanted for now - after all, I must have given him quite a fright.
Was it just a little ridiculous that I was happy that he reacted so strongly to the thought of me being hurt?
I shook my head swiftly back and forth to dislodge the thought, but winced when that caused more pain. Apparently moving wasn't a good idea at the moment, it just enraged the headache that seemed to have set up camp in my head.
"Okay, so no shaking. Shaking is not good." I mumbled to myself under my breath. I had though I was being quiet, but Edward's exasperated sigh at my casual reaction proved otherwise. His hands reached up to flutter uselessly trying to find something to do that would help, but they settled reluctantly back to grasping my own hand when nothing could be found.
"Bella, I'm getting you to a hospital. You need to get checked out."
Instead of being to animated with my reply, I just raised my eyebrows at him instead. But before I could even voice my objections he had scooped me gently into his arms, bridal style, and was walking down the sidewalk, making sure to compensate for every movement his body made so as not to hurt me.
I rolled my eyes, making sure he caught the disdain in the expression. This was totally ridiculous. Okay, so I'd almost gotten hit by a car. But I didn't. And yes, I may have hit my head and maybe acquired another bruise or two to add to my increasing collection. But that was not out of the normal for me, so why was he reacting so…pained?
I struggled in his arms, the realisation that I must be weighing heavily in his arms suddenly my top priority.
"Put me down Edward, I'm heavier than your average backpack."
He merely barked a humourless laugh at my statement, before looking me fixedly in the eye.
"Bella, believe me, you're not heavy. You're actually extremely light. I have no trouble carrying you."
I scoffed - both inwardly and out - and continued my attempt to get out of his arms. Edward looked at me for a moment, trying to determine if I was serious, and something in my facial appearance must have convinced him because he let out a resigned sigh, turning swiftly on his heel and walking back to the park where, minutes ago, we had been happily enjoying the evening.
Once we had travelled twenty or so metres back into the grounds we came across a bench, and he set me back on my feet, allowing me to settle - as gracefully as possible - onto the seat. When he didn't sit down as well I shot him a questioning glance but his eyes were closed, his head tilted back as one hand ran distractedly through his bronze hair and the other pinched the bridge of his nose.
He seemed to be trying to control his breathing, and when he eventually opened his eyes to look at me they were strained, and when I looked deeper I suddenly saw overwhelming fright threatening to overcome his calm exterior.
I stood up, any pain in my side and head forgotten as I broached the few steps between us. "Edward?"
My voice came out in a whisper, questioning him softly. There was no response.
I tentatively wrapped my arms around him, pulling him closer to me into an embrace. At first there was no response but slowly he reacted and firmly crushed me to his chest, burying his head in my hair and lightly placing kisses across the top, as though reassuring himself that I was actually here. I was partially satiated for a moment, until a trembling caught my attention.
"Edward! You're shaking!"
I felt his ministrations pause above me. He gripped my forearms momentarily and pulled me away from him so that I could see his eyes, and I tried to smother a gasp as I saw the raw emotions burning in his eyes once again.
He opened and closed his mouth several times, trying to find words that just wouldn't seem to come to him.
He sat me back on the bench without a word and then knelt in front of me, his head bowed. Although I was sitting on a higher level, his face was now at the same level as my own.
When he raised his head again I could see he was now in more control than before, but I was scared. Had I done something wrong? Was he regretting pulling me from the path of the car?
"Edward, whatever I've done I'm sorry, please just-"
I was cut off by a sudden burst of anger and understanding flash behind his eyes. His finger came up to stop my lips from moving, and this time he had no trouble finding the correct thing to say.
"Isabella Marie Swan, don't think for a minute that you have done anything wrong."
"Then what.." I mumbled half a question against his finger, trailing off as I became unsure how to finish it. Fortunately Edward seemed to know what was on my mind. Removing his digit he used both hands to put pressure on his temples, trying to alleviate some of the tension.
"You have no idea how close I came to losing you, do you?" he took a breath before continuing, the shaking still making him convulse slightly.
"Bella, I saw the car, and then you were in the way and I-I thought I'd lost you forever. You could have died," he choked over the last word and raised his head from where he had been scanning the floor intently.
"I was so scared. I didn't think I could get there in time, and all I could hear was your voice in my head, and all I could see was your terrified expression, and all I could think about was how the car was coming closer and closer and I just had to reach out a little bit more."
This was a side to Edward I hadn't seen yet. He was vulnerable, and he'd just admitted he was scared. I got the impression that this wasn't something he did very often.
"Oh." I breathed.
"Yeah, oh." he got up from the floor to sit next to me on the bench and I kicked off my ballet flats, curling my legs underneath me and then tucking my head into the crook of his neck.
After several moments of sitting in silence, his hand running down my arm and across the back of my neck in a comforting manner, he seemed to recollect himself, and shifted in his seat. I opened my eyes from where I had been resting and shot a look up to his face - checking for any signs of vulnerability that may still remain.
There was nothing and his eyes were calm, with only a slight hint of worry still marring his features as he met my gaze.
"Edward I'm fine. I promise."
He sighed once again, running one hand through his hair and momentarily distracting me as I longed to perform the very same action.
"I'm sorry I overreacted Bella. It's just…you can understand, can't you?"
"Yes, I suppose I can." I said after a minute of contemplation. "But only because I can imagine that if the situation were reversed - if I had been the one in your place, and you in mine - then there would be something worth saving. Worth worrying about."
A mask of confusion swept briefly over his face before he understood the meaning behind my words, and then his grip around me tightened slightly.
"Don't even speak about something like that Bella. You are worth it. I refuse to even have this conversation. Do you understand?" His short sentences were a clear indication of the stress he was feeling.
I shrugged noncommittally at the anger in his tone, refusing to give an answer to his statement, and we dropped the subject. Looking around the little area where we were sat I was suddenly aware that I would much rather be back at the house, relaxing at the end of what had been the perfect day, marred only by the near death experience.
Ok, so maybe that wasn't everyone's definition of perfect, but apart from that slight hitch I had really enjoyed myself.
As if he could read my mind, Edward stood from where we were seated, jostling me only slightly. He held a hand out to me with a smile on his face, indicating that he wanted to just forget about what had happened, and go on without mentioning it. I was only too happy to oblige, and so used his outstretched palm to pull myself up and closer to him, where he snaked an arm possessively around my waist.
"Come on, lets go home."
I paused outside the front door, inclining my head as I listened to the muffled shouts coming from inside the house. I could vaguely hear yells of excitement, and the occasional muffled curse. I felt Edward shake his head in mock solemnity before pushing open the door and leading me towards the shouts.
I don't know what I was expecting, but the scene that greeted me from the front room was definitely not what I had in mind. The first thing to bombard my senses was the loud shouting that seemed to be consisted of mainly Emmett and Alice's voices.
Emmett was lying face down on the floor, his head pressed sideways into the carpet while Jasper restrained him by sitting on his legs. Alice was perched on top of his back, seemingly relaxed, while childishly ignoring his cries of "Alice! Get off me! Aww come on, two against one is no fair!" by placing her hands over her ears and repeatedly humming "Nah nah nah nah nah, I can't hear you".
As if that wasn't enough, Rosalie was sitting languidly on the sofa in front of the bundle, flicking through a magazine with one hand and distractedly throwing small objects at the group which, on closer inspection, turned out to be half defrosted raspberries.
I leant in towards Edward and whispered in his ear, gaining a small amount of satisfaction when I noticed him shiver minutely and the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
"Do we even want to ask, or do you think we could just leave before they notice us?"
He barked out a laugh in good humour, but this unfortunately distracted Jasper long enough that Emmett was able to shift his weight from his legs and send Alice sprawling onto the sofa next to Rose. Before I was able to turn and run, Emmett had taken three large bounds across the room and grabbed me around the waist, pulling me from Edward's grasp.
My side let out a groan of protest as Emmett unintentionally increased the pressure on the side that had been hurt earlier, and I expressed the pain as a sharp exhale accompanied with a low moan. Too caught up in the excitement and noise, which was not helped by the fact that an Ipod was blaring from the side of the room, Emmett didn't notice and began tickling me repeatedly.
As hilarious as the situation would have been usually, my head was beginning to pound from the swift movements and I could feel a throbbing where it had come into contact with the concrete road. Through no fault of my own my eyes started to tear up and I managed to let out a low gasp.
"Em, please stop."
I would have gone on, but suddenly I heard the angered shout of Edward, and the Emmett's presence above me was gone. I shifted my weight in the seat I had ended up in, and looked over at what had happened. Edward was currently pinching the bridge of his nose while glaring at Emmett.
"She told you to stop."
His voice was low and more serious than I had ever heard it when he was talking to Emmett, and I could see the taken aback look on everyone's faces. The music had been switched off and the mood in the room had dropped suddenly, like a switch had been flipped.
I started to get up to place a reassuring hand on Edward's shoulder, but he looked over to me, his expression softening when he caught a look at my face.
"I knew I should have taken you to the hospital."
Not this again. I sighed internally, reminding myself that it was only because he cared that he was insisting on this.
"Edward, it's a bruise and a slight headache. I'd rather put up with this than the other option."
Because, lets face it, I'd prefer to live, Rather than be decorating the road.
He still looked undecided, and I relented slightly.
"Ok, I'll let you have a look to discern the damage for yourself, but I flat out refuse to leave the house. Is that clear?"
He smirked at my tone, but could see I wasn't going to budge on this decision. With a final glare at Emmett he turned back to me and moved past the defrosting fruit littering the ground to kneel next to me. I threw the others an apologetic glance at Edward's mood swings, and then realised that they had no idea what was going on. I knew Alice and Rose would ask me later, but I really didn't feel like recounting the tale more than once, so I figured that informing them now would be the better option.
Ignoring the way that Edward was slowly inching my top up over my torso to lightly prod the bruising, I had to smile at the shocked expressions on the faces of my friends as they tried to figure out why I was letting Edward undress me in the front room.
"I might have had a little accident today."
Alice rolled her eyes while Rosalie commented dryly.
"Obviously. That doesn't explain Edward's whole 'touch her and die' routine though."
I had to stifle a laugh at that, but shot Edward a look that showed him I didn't mean it.
"It might have been a bit worse than falling down the stairs this time. I kind of - nearly - well, I might have almost got hit by a car."
I said the last part of the sentence as quickly as possible, but they were able to catch it and the Alice's demeanour changed. she bustled over to Emmett, where she promptly hit him round the head and gave him a glare. Rubbing his head he pouted slightly, but Rose just grinned at him, showing that he deserved it.
"You know what you've got to do Em." Rose said to him evilly. "Just like I told you earlier when you hit Alice over the head with the TV remote."
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and clasped his hands behind his back ridiculously. I merely lifted an eyebrow at the behaviour, and even Edward stopped his ministrations on my torso to asses the situation. Emmett heaved a sigh but the humour in his eyes a sign that he wasn't mad.
"Bella, I'm sorry if my insensitive actions caused distress to you in any shape or form. It was not my intention to inflict injury on you. Please forgive me."
I bit my lip to keep the laughter in, but it was in vain. I held my tongue until I was sure I would not show the amusement at the obviously forced apology, and then shook my head to show he was forgiven.
"It's fine guys, you didn't know. Besides, Edward is just overreacting. I have a minor bruise and a slight headache."
The room settled down again, and Edward - finally content enough to allow me to relax - gently pulled my top back down and sat next to me. The half an hour was spent talking about what had happened, and try as I might I was not allowed to escape having to recount, as Jasper so eloquently put it, the tale of my almost-but-not-quite demise.
It was only about an hour after that, when we had all drifted off into separate conversations the I was pulled from my reverie by an excited squeal from Alice's general direction. I turned my head inquisitively, but she and Rose were exchanging pointed glances from each other, to my hand which was securely clasped in Edward's.
Dammit. The observant pixie had spotted how touchy feely I was being with him. And if I knew her at all - which I did - then she would not be best pleased that I hadn't immediately informed her of my newest relationship status.
Her next words should have been warning of the inquisition that was sure to follow.
"GIRL TALK!" the screech was followed by simultaneous groans from all three men, and a whispered prayer from myself. I could feel Edward vibrate next to me with laughter, and I punched him in the arm with my free hand.
The shocked look on his face was the most adorable thing I had seen, until I saw the pout he was giving me. Without a second thought I had placed a peck on his lips, but was brought back to reality by Emmett's yells.
"Finally! Get in there Eddie!"
Pulling away, Edward clenched his hand into a fist.
"I thought I told you not to call me Eddie?"
"Aww, come on Eddie, it's just a bit of fun. And," he paused before he carried on, waggling his eyebrows suggestively, "I bet you'd let Bella call you Eddie."
He groaned under his breath, and whispered so that only I could hear. "Go with Rose and Alice, it'll save you from the crude jokes I'm certain these two immature humans are going to make repeatedly in the next coupe of hours."
When I shot him a pleading look, he merely shook his head and carried on.
"Go on, I admit I may have overreacted a bit about the extent of the injuries. I'll allow you the win this time, but only this once. And anyway, I'm sure the girls will be the lesser of two evils."
A wink accompanied his statement and I hopped of the seat with a muttered, "Wanna bet?". His only answer was to sigh in resignation, and the last thing I heard before we started climbing up the stairs was a lewd comment from Emmett.
The way that Alice and Rose were looking at me at the moment, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the last thing I ever heard, because at this precise moment in time, I was wondering how much more mischievous their smiles could get.
Lord, what have I let myself in for?
Four and half hours, three different changes of clothes, a hell of a lot of taking and countless incidents involving me blushing later, I ended up sprawled across Alice's bed in a pair of shorts and a camisole, nursing a bottle of water and giggling about a story that Rose had just finished telling.
When we had got up to Alice's room earlier, the girls had wasted no time in sitting me down and demanding every single detail from my mind. Although at first I had tried to deflect the topic, self-conscious to the point of the extremes and not wanting to let my guard down fully, even though I had know them for years, after a while I had relented, and recounted the story of my night under the stars with Edward, right up to the moment when he had pulled me from the path of the car.
They had gasped in all the right places, and when I told them about the words he had used to describe how he felt about me I swear I saw even Rosalie tearing up. Alice had muttered something about claiming her winnings from Jasper, and I moaned once again as I realised that everyone had been aware of our attraction towards one and other, apart from ourselves.
After that topic was over we diverged into meaningless reminiscing, childlike board games that Alice had stashed in her room, and then the inevitable make over had begun. I had insisted that there was no point in doing my make up or clothes, because I would be going to sleep soon anyway, but that didn't deter them from attacking my nails and hair, fashioning it into plaits so that in the morning it would be "extra wavy."
There was only one more thing I wanted to discuss with the girls, and I was hesitant to bring up the topic, not knowing whether I was being paranoid.
"Guys there was something I wanted to…"
They both turned their attention to me, calming down after the giggling.
"Yes?" the answer was well rehearsed, practiced to perfection.
"There's this guy at work, and I don't know how -"
I was abruptly cut off as Alice stood above me, her hands placed daintily on her hips and a half scowl on her face.
"Isabella Marie Swan, you cannot seriously be thinking about going after another man already! You and Edward just got together, and so help me god if you ruin it I will hit you!"
Her vehemence shocked me into silence, but once I had recovered I saw the funny side of the outburst. Rose tugged gently on her elbow and guided her back into a seated position, where she continued to narrow her eyes at me.
"Ali, I don't think that's where Bella was going with the sentence. Why don't we actually give a chance to finish?" She comically rolled her eyes at me over Alice's head, and I nodded my thanks, a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth. This was quickly diminished when I remembered what I had wanted to talk to them about.
"My boss, James, was acting a bit … weird today. When I met him originally I thought he was really nice, but then once he hired me it kind of changed, and now it's a bit creepy and I don't know how to act because it could just be my imagination, or it could be that I'm being paranoid. But I don't think it is."
My ramble trailed off into nothingness, and the girls looked deep in thought. It was Rose who finally spoke up.
"What kind of stuff was he doing?"
"It was the way he was acting you know? Creepy. Strange. And he kept leering at me, I felt him watching me whenever I did something."
"I don't know, sorry Bells. Keep a look out, don't let your guard down. And I tell you what, we'll have an alarm system. If you ever need our help, or if you think something bad is going to happen, then send us a text saying 911. If any of us ever receive it, then we know the person is in trouble, agreed?"
Alice and I nodded in consent and after that we let it drop. Deciding it was time to call it a night, I grabbed a spare comforter off of the floor next to Alice's bed, and let her and Rose share the bed. I was quite comfortable on the floor, and I really didn't feel like going back to my own room. Tonight had been a girls night, like we used to have.
I lay awake with my thoughts as the other two dropped off to sleep, and I couldn't stop them racing around my brain, too energetic to stop.
How much had my life changed over such a short time span?
I had moved without any planning or objections on my part, from one city to another, which was at least a 3 and a half hour drive, probably more if I were the one driving. Alice drove like a maniac after all.
I had agreed to date a man I had known less than a week, and yet I felt completely safe in his presence, if not a little out of balance at the obvious differences between us.
I had found a job that would offer me at least a little bit of money, and yet I was seriously considering quitting if James started acting any stranger than he was at the moment.
That last thought pulled me up sharp. Was I really outgoing enough to do that? Could I stand up to James and tell him that I quit, after such a short time at the job? I lifted my head to look up at Rose and Alice's sleeping forms on the bed, and then thought about the guys, somewhere in the house. I let myself think about how much all these people would be willing to protect me, and how they would support my decision, and I was able to answer my own silent questions.
"Yes, yes I can do it." I breathed my answer into the silence of the night.
So that was my mind made up. If James acted weirdly again, then I would leave. Simple as. Until then, I would just see how things went.
I sighed in contentment then, but before I allowed myself to drift off to sleep there was one more thing I had to do.
I softly got up and retrieved my phone from the seat it had been flung onto earlier, and then returned to my pallet on the floor, careful not to disturb my friends. Flicking it into life I scrolled through the menu's until found the name I was looking for, and then typed out a short message.
Good night, I'm thinking of you. - B x
I hit send before I could think about how needy I sounded, and just hoped that he wasn't freaked out. A couple of minutes I was beginning to get worried, but ad if it had read my mind the phone buzzed in acknowledgement of a message and I hastily seized it, reading the message.
A calming wave spread through me, and I was finally able to settle down to sleep, a smile on my face, content in the knowledge that, at least for now, things were looking up for once in my boring, mundane life. The screen of the phone dimmed and then switched itself off beside me, but not before I was able to look at the message once more time.
As I am of you. Good night and sweet dreams. Mine shall be of you. - E x
I'm sorry! I really am! I had no idea what to do with this chapter, and I hate it. I honestly do not like it, but I felt like if I could just work through this one then the next one would flow nicely. I've yet to see if that is the case, but I thought I should give you guys this.
I know it's short, it's one of my shortest for a while. I was going to carry on into the next day, but that seemed painful and I'd rather do it when I'm in a writing mood. It's better that way, right?
Please review, tell me what you think. I know it's not much, but just review. I'm planning to be more frequent now, and people's thoughts encourage me like you wouldn't believe.