New idea. Plot that just wont die. Review if you please! Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of their affiliations.
Park Bench Portrait
Previously: (Because, admittedly, it has been a long time)
If there was ever a doubt in my mind that he felt differently than to what I admitted, it was instantly diminished by his final break of our silence.
"I love you too."
There was no doubt in my mind that he would create his best work yet.
Tonight, he would paint his masterpiece and once again…I would be his muse.
Chapter Thirteen: Paper Mache
My eyes were entranced as Edward's long fingers deftly trailed a spectrum of color across the clear canvas. Stroke after stroke painted the pathway to creating a carbon copy of our most intimate declaration. We had no use for a camera when Edward's skills were so profound. Here, right now, he was creating a beautiful momentum of us.
I lay perfectly still, as instructed, and watched as he determined the length of his strokes. His eyes bore a gaze that never lingered, yet observed for the perfect amount of time in order for him to paint without fault or pause. I was in awe. He was in his element.
I also felt a slight pang of jealousy as I watched his meticulous movements. Edward's talent was already making a difference in this world…he was capturing people's hearts and minds through visual depictions, stopping people in their tracks and enticing them to think for just one more moment. What would I have for people to remember me by when I was gone? A few signatures on a measly pile of 'R.L.H' checks? A pile of unfinished files? Working for Rosalie was all I was ever going to amount to?
The mere thought terrified me.
"What are you thinking?" Edward asked, creasing his brows at my apparent moment of inadequacy.
I sighed and shrugged from my position on the chair I resided in. My fingers found the hem of my jersey and I twirled a loose strand of cotton around my index finger as the inane feelings drowned my happiness. I'd always been this insignificant little thing, a lonely, average being who book- wormed her way through trouble and strife. Nothing more and nothing less. Just Bella.
My life was as imperfect as the next person's. I was the product of a hasty, thoughtless teenage couple who divorced after mere months together. I was the perfect cliché: the high school recluse who suffered in silence every single day. The same recluse who had to practically wrestle her mother from the 'Merlot' bottle after another failed relationship.
I had just told someone that I loved them and it was only, at this minute, hitting me.
I had told Edward that I loved him. Just like my mother who had told so many others that she had loved them.
Happiness was always accompanied by sadness, and I had lived by this moral religiously. I'd been too engrossed in this thing with Edward to realise that I was straying from this moral. Something that I had adamantly refused to deter from.
"Tell me," Edward pleaded softly, steadying the paintbrush in his right hand and lowering the palette to the desk beside him. I shook my head.
"It's pathetic really, just…keep on painting, I like watching you. Please?" He nodded, but not before shooting me another worried glance and he continued to paint. His strokes were infinitesimally slower and less precise than the others and he cursed as a stroke veered off course. He chucked the paintbrush from his reach and began dabbing at the canvas with a clear liquid before huffing and dropping the palette back onto the desk.
"I can't concentrate while you're upset," he admitted.
"You've done it before, do it again…" I almost snapped. He tightened his lips into a frown.
"What is wrong with you?" His voice was ever so slightly raised and I bit my lip in frustration. It was at times like these that Charlie's dominant genes surfaced. We shared the same anti-verbose personas, especially when it involved anything too personal. We hated to share our innermost fears and this always proved to be our downfall. This is how Charlie lost Renee.
"Nothing is wrong," I snapped harshly. Lies. Everything was wrong and it was all crumbling around this perfect moment right now. It was as if my life allowed a minute moment of happiness before it decided that everything should be drowned.
I was so engrossed in thought that I hardly felt Edward's lips against my own. For the moment, I was lost and he seemed angered by my lack of response.
"What have I done? Looked at you in the wrong way? Said something?"
I bit my lip harder. Although his questions were perfectly curious, it felt as though he was mocking me for all the times I had been angered by his silence.
"Are you okay?"
"Is it something I've done?"
He was mocking me. I was sure of it.
His eyes roamed over my still form and I could do all but look him in the eye. It was unfair to him really, he'd got to know the 'happy, lonely hearted Bella' without knowing about my other side. The side that prevented me from being optimistic and which left me over analytical in the case of commitment and relationships. He knew the basic Bella, not the complex pessimist who was tainted by the chaos of human love.
In relationships, my mind worked against me.
Flashes of my mother crying over continually failing relationships sifted throughout my mind. Images of when she refused to leave her bed for days in order to console herself over the grief of another man lost. Nothing had ever been the same since she and Charlie had split. She was eighteen and caring for a six month old, whilst trying to make something for herself. She never did really, she became a hair- brained vulnerability for cheap dates and a string of unworthy men until she finally settled with Phil.
"It's late, I should be leaving," I pushed up from the chair and swiped at the angry tears building on the rise of my cheeks.
"Bella! What the hell?!" Edward followed me out of his studio and down the steps to his lounge with loud and angry steps. My mind screamed for me to stop being so childish and pathetic but my throat constricted painfully. It was a familiar pain that trademarked my inability to talk about my deepest fears, thoughts and feelings. I'd never been able to truly voice anything as intimate as "I love you" before. I choke- I am a choker. Words usually fail me. The fact that I had willingly allowed myself to say such an intimate phrase terrified me to the core.
"Bella, talk to me. What is wrong with you?"
My mouth hung dry and agape.
"I..I.." The words refused to form and I clutched my jacket in my hands and they began to clam under the pressure. There were too many personal memories flooding my brain and I was having a hard time reliving them.
I glanced at Edward wordlessly.
When I was eleven, my principal asked me why I had been late every morning for two weeks. To me, the fact that my mother had recently been deserted by her boyfriend of 18 months and chose to spend most mornings crying over his picture was exceedingly too personal to regale to him. I tried to explain, but I choked. He misunderstood this for an attempt to formulate an excuse or a lie and claimed that I was truanting. My choking meant that I had to suffer a week in isolation. As if I hadn't already been isolated enough.
"It's late, I should be leaving," I repeated again. I turned and swiftly left Edward's apartment, running down the stairs with no regard to my lack of co-ordination. This was the real me…an avoider.
I flee, just like my flighty mother.
Edward's shouts of confusion flitted after me but were soon drowned out by the heavy hum of my truck's engine. I left Edward standing on the pavement, much like when he had first dropped me off after Alice's birthday celebration. I chanced a glance in the rear-view mirror and regretted it. He looked stung and knowing that I was the reason for it made it worse.
My hands clenched around the steering wheel in anger as I cursed myself for not being able to speak what I really felt. The anger radiated the length of my body and the tears streaked my hot cheeks. I swatted them away as I reached an intersection. The roads were clear and I allowed myself to sink back into my seat and catch a few breathes to stem the intense ache in my throat.
"Dammit!" I screeched, slamming my fists against the wheel. I collapsed against the side of my door and reveled in the coolness of the condensation against my cheek. It was only when a loud honking began to sound that I realized that I was still sitting at the intersection. Without fully realizing what I was doing, I drove home robotically and climbed the stairs to my apartment. Jasper's music was blaring through the hall as I began to unlock my apartment door and I could hear the faint cussing of Mr. Hooley in 203.
I skidded on a piece of paper as the door flung open and tried to recollect when I had last been home long enough to read my mail. However, the piece of paper boasted an untidy scrawl that I had recently become acquainted with.
Party at mine. You in?
Us drudges need to stick together, just come over.
P.s. Hooley is being a bastard again, ignore him if he threatens you.
I glanced at the clock and noticed that it was midnight…Edward and I had managed four hours of happiness before my inner pessimist had kicked in. I looked back at the crumpled piece of paper torn from the latest phone directory and sighed. Anything would be welcomed if it offered loud music and alcohol…anything that would help me to forget my latest round of self -sabotage. I flung my jacket onto the couch and headed back out into the hall.
After all, what could it hurt to spend another night wallowing in self pity?
"Well, well, well…Look what the cat dragged in, you got the message dalin'?"
I laughed as Jasper winked and grabbed the bottle of tequila from his hand.
"I got the message."
I'd deduced that Jasper only had a few friends that attended his parties as I only ever saw two or three enter his apartment. However, I severely misunderstood the severity of his partying when I walked into his lounge crammed with inebriated party goers.
"Dalin'!" Jasper's southern drawl called me over to a couple who he introduced as Peter and Charlotte and then to a pair of barely legal boys who he named as Paul and Jared. He motioned to others who I could barely see through the throng of people and I nodded in an act of understanding. Jasper himself wasn't very sober, his eyes were glossy under the dim lighting of his apartment and I slammed back another shot of god knows what when he offered it to me.
All feelings of guilt, self loathing and anger seemed to dissipate under the influence of alcohol and I found myself enjoying the party scene. No wonder my mother turned to alcohol when she was depressed…it made everything seem so much more mellowed out. So distant and far off. No matter how much I hated to admit it, I actually liked the feeling.
I watched everyone as they lost themselves to the music and gasped when I felt a pair of arms grab me by the waist.
"In here you have to party, Dalin'. We don't mope in here, we dance…"
"What if I can't dance?" I turned to face Jasper and he shrugged.
"Then I make you," he answered with a suave smirk. I lifted my brows and he shook his head before grabbing my hand and dragging me into the center of the room.
"Dance, jump…do whatever it is that you feel like and let it go. Don't hold back, you've got to just let go…" he winked and began to dance along perfectly to the erratic beats. I couldn't help but to let a laugh escape and he threw off a couple of crazy moves just to prove how stupid a person could look.
"Get in there Jazz!" Emmett's voice boomed from somewhere deep in the crowd and I blanched. Emmett…Emmett was a reminder of Edward.
"Just. . Go," Jasper repeated, for emphasis, he grabbed my hands again and twirled me on the spot. His hands grasped at my hips again and I finally felt myself responding to the music. We danced with abandon and never once did a thought about my flight cross my mind. I was lost in the haze that was Jasper's party and it felt undeniably refreshing to be able to lose myself in a sense that I no longer cared about tomorrow for a few hours.
"That's it Bella Baby!" Jasper cheered. If possible, the music grew even louder and the dance floor in Jasper's lounge became so full that it was now impossible to dance without being dry humped in every direction. Jasper's aviator glasses had now slunk to the bridge of his nose and he cast another smirk as he ground his hips into mine. For the moment, I felt alive and I was somewhat free.
I was about to steal Jasper's glasses when I felt someone else grab at my waist and fling me over their shoulder. For a fleeting moment I was terrified that Edward had hunted me down and sought me out for an explanation that I was surely unable to give. That was until I heard the phrase "fucking dip-shit" and I suddenly realized that it was Emmett. Frankly, Emmett Cullen was the most muscular and brutish male that I knew of and so I knew it was fruitless to try and fight him into putting me back on the dance floor with Jasper.
I let him be the cave man he was and he carried me out of Jasper's apartment and into the hall where Mr. Hooley stood with a pair of police officers…one of which was my father.
"Shit,shit,shit!" I cursed, slamming my fists against Emmett's broad shoulders, "Put me down, Emmett!"
"YOU! Get your goddamn punk hands off of my daughter!" Charlie boomed, reaching for his holster and glaring straight at Emmett.
Emmett suddenly released me and I slumped to the floor in surprise.
"I think a night in the cells will do you some good, son," Charlie continued to voice his rage, pulling a pair of cuffs into view. I quickly glanced at Emmett to gauge his reaction and blanched when he began to laugh hysterically. Charlie hated the feeling of mockery and Emmett's sudden outburst of laughter was only inciting him further. Little did Charlie know that this was one of Emmett's uncontrollable tics.
"You think this is funny, son?!"
Emmett coughed and bit his lip to stem his chuckle.
"Dad, seriously, he just-"
"Fuck you!" Emmett boomed.
Shit. Emmett, drink, police…not a good combination. Especially not when one of the officers was head of the Forks Sheriff Department and father to one of the party goers.
"I'm sorry, really sorry," Emmett back tracked nonchalantly, as though everyone was aware of his condition.
"I think the town will be appreciative to know that you won't be roaming the streets tonight, cuff him, Dave."
"Dad, no! He can't help it, it's the Tourettes!" I cried, shielding Emmett from an ever approaching Dave Stanley.
"We've heard that one before, Bells. Drinking is becoming of anyone, especially young punks like him, get in your apartment now, before I take in you too." Charlie's face was the color of pumice and I could see the look of determination across his face.
"Can I help you officers?" I heard Jasper ask politely as he closed his apartment door behind himself. Mr. Hooley began to spout off some incoherent gibberish and I huffed at the sight.
"Ah, shut up ya' old bastard," Jasper shouted in his general direction and Mr. Hooley slammed his walking stick on the floor. The whole scene was a pathetic recreation of a frat house police raid and I sighed in annoyance as Charlie started raving at Jasper about the noise and irrational behavior from the youth of today.
"Ok, Chief Swan. I'll turn the music down as long as Emmett here is allowed to go home. I'm sure Carlisle Cullen will be happy to confirm his son's case of Tourettes and this can all be put behind us?"
"Until the next party starts!" Mr .Hooley whined from behind Dave Stanley. I rubbed my fingers across my temples and groaned, the alcohol was starting to settle in and I wasn't feeling all that great, especially with my father threatening to arrest the mere few friends that I had made in Forks.
"Please, dad. Jasper will turn the music down and I'll go to bed. Lecture me some time in the morning and I'll even tell Renee about my reckless behavior for good measure, okay?" I would do anything to get him off of my back for the night.
"Damn right you will, no daughter of mine is getting pregnant before she's at least forty!"
"Yeah, yeah. No drugs, drink…anything else before you shame me into another round of mortification?"
"No. But I'm leaving Dave here to make sure that the music is kept to a suitable volume and to make sure that no one enters you apartment under any circumstances. You can never be too wary with all of this male testosterone," he warned, glaring at both Jasper and Emmett. I bade him farewell and grimaced at Dave as he watched me enter my apartment and lock the door behind me. I traipsed over to the sink and grabbed a glass of water before collapsing on my bed and clutching the duvet. Jasper's party seemed to have died down and I could hear the raucous partiers leaving the building and walking down the street to the nearest night club.
I winced when I saw the clock and knew that 2:00am was a severe warning to go to sleep before a six am start tomorrow. Closing my eyes, I allowed sleep to overcome me with a final feeling of guilt encompassing my mind as I drifted into a deep sleep.
When the alarm clock sounded at five thirty in the morning, I knew that the day ahead would be grueling. My body ached from the long and tiring events of yesterday and my head pounded from the combination of alcohol and the severely dangerous volumes of music that Jasper had allowed to be played.
I stumbled around the apartment, grabbing clothes, towels and toiletries before showering under the uncomfortably hot spray of the shower. I'd no clue as to what Rosalie may have wanted over the past couple of days as my pager was still road-kill from where Edward had decimated it.
I hadn't allowed myself time to think about my irrational behavior yesterday. Even as I stood with five minutes to spare and within reach of a cell phone, I still couldn't bring myself to call him, or even lower- text.
I dared not to look at the answer machine and instead raced out of the apartment before I was tempted further. The journey to R.L.H Enterprises was faster than usual and my truck ensured that I arrived with plenty of time to spare. Plenty of time to begin the morning rituals and to keep my mind off of Edward. Plenty of time to forget.
As soon as I entered the building, Rosalie was raving about Jasper arriving in yesterday's wear and forgetting to take home an invoice to complete. In all honesty, I hadn't completed my workload either but I wasn't about to give her any ammunition.
"Whatever, sis. Keep your panties on!" I could hear Jasper bellow, causing Rosalie to huff and slam her door. I was severely doubting whether hiring Jasper was a good idea or just the wrong move of the century. Whatever the case, I dropped my bag by the desk and logged onto the company e-mail system before dragging a large pile of first draft reports onto my lap.
"So, good time last night, Dalin'?" Jasper called, casually tapping away at his keyboard. I blushed under his scrutiny and nodded my head, though somewhere in my mind screamed that I felt nothing but guilty.
I tried to avoid Jasper after that, though it was a particularly hard feat considering the fact that he worked mere feet from my own desk. I knew something was amiss last night and swore that I would have never been so close to Jasper had I not consumed every alcoholic beverage handed to me.
It was at lunch that I was finally left in peace and I chose to eat in the solitude of my shared office, Wuthering Heights clasped firmly in one hand and a tuna salad sandwich in the other. I was enjoying my comfortable silence until Emmett tripped ungracefully into the room, carrying a small box.
"I, err…fuck…Edward told me to give you this," Emmett spoke, holding it out to me. I took it cautiously and he watched, rocking back and forth on his heels. I could sense that there was something he wanted to talk about and I offered him Jasper's seat which he kindly refused.
"I just wanted to tell you that Edward loves you. I mean, really loves you. That's rich coming from Edward, because, if I'm honest…Edward doesn't love anything."
"Emmett, it's not as simple as you thin-"
"What you were doing with Jasper last night was uncool, Bella. Edward deserves some shit happiness and you messing with his head isn't helping. Do you love him?"
"Emmett, it's complicated. Love isn't-"
"For fuck's sake, Bella. Love is love- there are no ifs or buts about it. No sappy connotations, meanings and all that shit. Stop acting like a child for one minute and ask yourself, do you love Edward?"
"I-I.." There it was, the choking. Emmett's pressuring wasn't faring well on my vocal chords and I could feel the familiar constriction. He was prying too personally.
"He's my brother, Bella. Whatever you did to him has turned him all mopey and shit and I can't stand it. He was practically suicidal over breakfast this morning-"
"Suicidal?!" I screeched.
"Okay, overreaction," Emmett sighed, "But he was pretty down. Give the guy a break girl, Edward deserves some happiness, and looking at your sorry ass this morning, so do you."
"This is so messed up," I groaned into my hands. Emmett chuckled and turned on his heel.
"Aren't we all?"
I was about to agree when I heard his cry of "Shit" down the hall and I let out a hearty laugh instead. Looking back down at the package, I opened the box and couldn't help the smile that crept across my face.
There sat a new, shiny black pager with a note reading "Sorry" in a beautiful calligraphy.
Allowing myself time to think, I finalized that it wasn't that I wasn't in love with Edward. It was the fact that I was unsure if my fears would allow me to love Edward without doubting our relationship with every hurdle that surfaced.
I loved Edward.
But could I overcome the influence of Renee's mistakes?
Rosalie was relentless for the rest of the working day and I had a secret suspicion that Emmett had confided in her about last night. Even Jasper-who had accidentally shipped three Ferraris to London instead of Luxembourg- didn't feel her wrath as harshly as I did. Once Jasper had left and Emmett had arrived to escort Rosalie to her car, she thrust the keys to lock up at me and practically dragged Emmett to the elevator.
I cussed under my breath when the key refused to turn in the lock in Rosalie's office door. The key was the wrong cut and I assumed that she had already driven off with the correct key attached to that of her precious BMW.
"And she calls me bloody Bird Brain…"
"To be fair, I did ask her to give you the wrong key so that I could stall you for a little bit."
My gasp echoed through the office as I dropped the key and snapped around to face the voice I was so familiar with. He leaned against my desk, arms crossed and sporting a devilish smirk at my sudden fright.
"Edward, you scared the hell out of me," I gasped, clutching a hand over my rapidly beating heart.
"I'm sorry," he apologized with a genuine smile of sincerity.
"What are you doing here?" I didn't deserve his presence.
"Well, you get upset and I come running, remember?" He continued to smile his oh so brazen smile, releasing a chuckle at my confused expression, "Are you okay?"
I scoffed, am I okay? Shouldn't I be the one asking him?
"I-I'm good," I swallowed uncomfortably.
"Good. Want to tell me why you ended up running for your life last night?" He asked softly, "I mean, was it something I said?"
As the unease mounted, I began to grab a few things that were out of place around the office and I moved them to their correct places. He watched me as I filed several pieces of paper into a filing cabinet and endured my silence for as long as I was willing to uphold it.
He waited patiently as I began to alphabetically order the few books on Jasper's shelf and toyed with the new pager in his hands.
"You got my gift then?"
"I-uh, yeah I did, thanks," I mumbled, searching the room for anything else to claim an abomination to all cleaners alike. Alice, think Alice, I chanted mentally. I considered drawing a ruler from my desk drawer but Edward was leaning against it so that option was thrown out of the window. I even considered leaving the office to go to the thirtieth floor to get batteries for my new pager but I knew that avoidance would only incite Edward further.
"I still love you, y'know. Even though you are acting scatter brained and frighteningly anxious at the moment," he chuckled softly. My mouth began to dry again and the tell tale tickle in my throat became more pronounced.
He waited, waited for my 'I love you too' but the room remained silent as I hung my head in shame.
"So, you don't love me anymore? One minute you're all 'Let's make this work, we can do this' and the next you're queen of avoidance? What's wrong, Bella?!" he was frustrated, I could tell. I lowered myself in Jasper's desk chair and clutched at the file that I had stolen from the depths of his drawer. The silence ensued.
"I thought I knew you better than this, Bella," Edward sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose in an obvious act of annoyance, "I thought we trusted one another, I thought you could talk to me."
From the spot in Jasper's chair, I allowed the quietest of words slip from my lips in a whisper.
"You don't know me."
His face, seraphic as it was, fell under the weight of my statement.
"So, who are you then, Bella?" He asked mockingly, "Who have I been talking to over the past few weeks? Months?"
"That's not what I meant and you know it-"
"I don't! That's it, Bella! I don't know what you mean!"
"What do you know, Edward? My favorite books? Music? Food?" my tone was harsh now and I could feel the hot tears emerging, "You might know them, but you don't know anything."
"What don't I know? Huh? What haven't you told me that makes this whole relationship idea seem so ridiculous and unworthy to you?!"
His tone was callous and intended to hurt. I'd never rendered our 'thing' as ridiculous or unworthy. It hurt that he felt that way. Hell, it all hurt. Period.
"One minute you love me and the next you're escaping out of the door. It doesn't make sense! Don't tell me that you've got a Multiple Personality Disorder, because, seriously, I think my family has seen enough crazy to last them a lifetime," Edward seethed.
I stood, taken aback.
"I'm sorry, that was a unforgivable. But you have to realise that this is killing me," he spoke softly. He exhaled a deep breath and looked up to look me in the eye. "I have no more secrets to tell, you know everything about me, I hide nothing."
The silence resumed and I was clutching the file so tightly to my chest that I could feel a numbness overtaking my hands. Edward's ragged breathing had slowed to a smooth exhale and he refused to look at me any longer. The mere fact that this whole ordeal could have been avoided had I told him about my past played on my mind. He was in pain because of me and I bit my lip in sheer frustration at not being able to voice what I had kept so privately to myself.
"Okay, I can see where this is going. I can't sit here like this for the rest of the night, not when you can't even look at me, Bella."
I saw his body shift in my peripheral vision and head towards the door. I felt a pang of sadness overwhelm me as he neared the door with each step. He had taken it upon himself to enter the lion's den and offer himself as bait to get to the bottom of my unexplained leave.
He loved me. Still.
Renee's men wouldn't have thought twice. Once she was gone…they were gone. Edward was here, fighting and willing to solve our differences.
He was different from them.
But was I different from her?
He took his last footstep before enveloping the door handle in his hold and pushing it open.
I could make the choice to be different. I could choose not to choke.
It was at that moment that I dropped the file and clambered to my feet in a haste to make the difference between mother and daughter. I would be the apple that fell so far from the tree it was as if I never belonged to said tree. I would become Bella for definite.
"It was my mother," I finally stuttered, wringing my hands together as Edward halted in his tracks.
"She was a million different people from one day to the next, a housewife, a …she changed for every man she met. I was the one who had to sit through every failed relationship, I was the one who had to pick up the pieces of her broken life. I-"
"Shh." I felt Edward's arms wrap tightly around my shaking body and the angry tears I pressed into his shirt.
"Just make it go away," I sobbed.
!I'm here for you, always," he whispered, kissing the crown of my head as I continued to recite the rest of my secret into the comfort of his embrace.
Well, I'm back with a muse and I hope that this has sated your thirst for more! I apologise profusely for my long absence but 3D life was certainly very busy as of recent. Now, in explanation of this chapter: Bella and Edward aren't perfect and they definitely can't be written as Mary Sues. There has always got to be something that grounds them, something that makes them feel anger. We're all human and not everything is Hunky Dory all of the time. Bella is a private person and very open about things that aren't too personal. Therefore, it is hard for her to explain how she feels sometimes when she relives certain personal moments. Edward has learnt how to talk about his past but Bella is still learning how to communicate in that sense- I always wondered how Renee would affect Bella considering how young she was when she had to care for her. Bella was a recluse for a long time, of course she needed some 'finding herself' time. Hopefully, I shall be free for a while, so updates should be more frequent... I can't promise anything, but I can damn well try!