Author's Note: So this will be a longer author's note...
I had hoped to get this out sooner, but the holidays took a toll on me. And my husband likes to steal my computer. Bah.
Okay... several thanks are in order:
The WC ladies who persuaded me to add the little bit of physical violence towards the end of the chapter.
BexDazzled and LizDesmond who read this chapter for me because I was nervous about it.
And of course all those who read this story. Your reviews mean the world to me, and even if you don't regularly review, the fact that you read this makes me happy :)
Another note about this chapter:
This is one of the scenes I had pictured in my mind when I came up with Part II of this story. In my mind it is fueled by the song that I put in it. Lady Antebellum's "All We'd Ever Need" (Link: http:/www(.)youtube(.)com/watch?v=c-PlAkprhvQ)
Normally I only put a select verse and/or chorus for my songs, but for the full effect, I spaced the lyrics out as they are through the dialogue... Especially the last time through the chorus where Charles and Hillary (the lead singers) go back and forth with each line. You obviously do not have to listen to the song, but I think it'll make better sense to you if you'd listen to it either after or during reading the chapter..
Or maybe I'm just a geek that wishes life was a musical and we'd all just break out in song and dance. *shrugs*
Follow my nonsense on twitter chicabnita519
As always, these characters are not mine.
Chapter 4 – I'm Not That Strong
"Oh Alice! It's gorgeous!"
Cheeks that did not normally become flushed from embarrassment soon reddened. "Thanks, Bella."
Rose smiled serenely at the vision of white in front of her. "I have to agree with Bella. You look absolutely stunning."
Dressed in a white sheath dress, complete with a fingertip length veil, Alice truly was a vision to behold. Her dress had just arrived after being specially made, and she took Bella and Rose with her to see how it fit. Alice also wanted to pick out the bridesmaids' dresses for the only two in her wedding party. Both were her maids of honor, of course.
"It is perfect," Alice commented. "I'm glad I decided to make it simple."
When deciding on a dress, Alice did not know if she wanted many embellishments. Many people who knew her well believed that true to her personalities, her dress would have some flare. Instead, the only embellishment was the row of satin buttons that extended down her bodice and to the end of the chapel train.
She smoothed the skirt down once more before turning to her two best friends. "Why don't you girls go out and browse for dresses while I get changed? I'll join you in a bit."
"You're not getting fitted today?" Bella asked.
"No. It's too far before the wedding. I'll come back like six weeks before. Who knows? I may gain weight," she laughed
So as the door closed behind Alice and the attendant, the two bridesmaids climbed the stairs to the showroom. As they began to browse through rows of dresses, Rose sighed as if she had something to say but was afraid to mention it.
"Something bothering you?"
"No," the blonde shook her head. "I was just wondering something."
"Wondering what?" Bella raised her eyebrow in suspicion of what Rose had to say.
"Just wondering if you saw Edward this week."
"I suppose you wouldn't. Em said that Edward started his residency this week."
"Then why'd you ask me?"
"Well, you do live in the same apartment complex."
"It's not like I constantly stare out of my window, Rose." Bella sighed in exasperation. "What is it that you really want to know?"
"Who wants to know what?"
Bella jumped as her hand went to her heart at the sound of her other friend's voice. "God, Alice! You really shouldn't sneak up on me."
Alice blatantly ignored her as she turned to Rose. "What'd I miss?"
Rose continued to look through the dresses nonchalantly. "Not much. Just that Bella hasn't seen Edward around lately."
Bella rolled her eyes. "And I fail to see the importance of the issue. So why don't you spit it out?"
"Well I was curious how the drive home went on Sunday night?"
Bella scrunched her face in irritation. "It went. He drove home, we got out of the car, and we went to our respective apartments."
"It wasn't awkward?" Alice joined in the interrogation.
"Well, yeah," Bella frowned. "It kind of was. But it was all right."
"What did you talk about?"
Bella shrugged. "Random things. Why I switched from middle to high school and about his move."
"And how did…" Rose began, but Bella held up her hand.
"Please? Can we forget this? Yes, it was a little awkward, but I handled it. It was in the past and I don't think either Edward or I will have any problems."
"But…" Alice attempted to interrupt.
"No," Bella shook her head vehemently. "Drop it. We're here to find dresses, and that's what we'll do."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Whatever."
Bella chose to ignore it.
Mike was not very creative. Although he wanted to make Bella feel treasured, he just could not figure out how to make his gestures romantic enough. Call it a cop out, but that was his excuse. He told himself that Bella did not expect grand gestures; that she enjoyed the relationship the way it was.
But her expression Sunday evening gave her feelings away. Of course, it wasn't until she left to meet her friends at the bar that he realized that his fiancée was not acting her normal self. He remembered her grimaces and the fallen look on her face. He also remembered the beautiful new dress she wore and the way she did her hair.
And that was when it hit him that she was expecting something else.
He hadn't meant to insinuate that the evening was no different than other evenings they spent hanging out, but somehow she misinterpreted what he said. Although it was technically nobody's fault for the miscommunication, he still felt terrible. If it was one thing he knew, it was that he never wanted to make Bella unhappy, no matter the reason. And so that night, Mike decided to act out the evening to what Bella had expected.
He had everything ready. The table was set complete with a tablecloth, two candles, and a bottle of wine. Placed next to Bella's dish was a calendar that reached into the following year. He had some classical music playing in the background, and the lighting dimmed. He did not know how to cook very well, so instead of trying a recipe, he picked up take-out from Bella's favorite restaurant and arranged the dishes on the plates. Lastly, he dressed himself in slacks and a button down shirt.
Now all he had to do was wait for Bella. He didn't expect her to be dressed as she was last Sunday, but that was not what was important. What mattered was that he made up for the mistake he unknowingly made last weekend.
Mike finally heard her soft footsteps leading to his door and then her familiar knock. He practically had to hold himself back from running to the door. Behind the door he found his Bella, casually dressed, but still beautiful.
"Hi!" Mike exclaimed, unable to keep out his excitement.
"Hi…" she trailed off as she took in Mike's appearance. "What are… Why are…?" Bella's expression twisted in confusion at how her fiancé was dressed.
"Come in." Mike grabbed her hand and pulled her inside, closing the door behind them. Holding her hand tightly, he led Bella to the dining room where the dinner was set up.
"What is all this?" Bella breathed, looking at the preparations Mike took.
Lifting her hand to his mouth, Mike kissed the back of it gently. "It occurred to me that there was a miscommunication about Sunday. You were expecting something different. Something like this. I feel like such a dick for how I acted."
"Mike," Bella sighed, cupping his cheek in her free hand. "It's okay. It was mostly my fault."
"Still. I want to make it up to you. You know I can't cook, but I got some take out."
Bella smiled softly before she leaned in to kiss Mike gently. "This is wonderful, Mike. I love it."
"Well, come sit down."
As Bella sat in the chair Mike had pulled out for her, she fingered the calendar that was sitting by her plate. "What's this?"
Mike cleared his throat, sitting at his own place. "We haven't set a date yet, and well," he swallowed, "I thought, if you wanted, we could decide on one."
Bella could not help but grin at his proposal. Although it had only been a couple of weeks since they become engaged, the natural question from everyone after hearing the news was "Have you set a date?" Mike had never brought it up, so she had thought he wasn't in a hurry to plan the wedding.
"When were you thinking?"
"It's up to you, babe," Mike reached over the table to cover her hand. "However long you need to plan the wedding. I don't know anything about this stuff."
Bella raised an eyebrow. "And I do?"
He chuckled. "No, but I can bet fifty bucks Alice does."
Bella's laughter echoed his. "Okay. Then let's pick a date."
As Edward pulled in the parking lot to the apartment complex, he could not help but look for Bella's car. This was a daily occurrence – at least for the days he actually made it home from the hospital. The attending doctors did not waste any time to orient the new graduates into the world of acute care and being the lowest minions on the totem pole. Within the first two weeks, Edward had already worked four 36 hour shifts as well as many 12 hour shifts. When he was off work, all he made contact with was his bed.
As exhausted as he was, Edward could not help but hope to see Bella on his way to and from work. He knew that his friends had gotten together a couple of times in the past couple of weeks, but he was either working or asleep in his bed during such occasions.
As much as he missed spending time with his friends, he was especially anxious to see Bella again.
Because he had made a decision.
Ever since Bella entered her apartment when they arrived home the evening she had joined her friends at the bar, he could not help but wonder about her relationship with her fiancé. She had arrived at the establishment dressed as if she was expecting a formal night together, but something had obviously gone amiss.
Edward knew that he had no right to think poorly of Mike. It was he that left Bella with merely an email address, hoping that she would initiate contact with him once they had separated. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and Edward wished he could kick his own ass for his stupidity. He paid for it by moving to Seattle only to find the woman he still loved engaged to a seemingly good man.
The incident that Sunday night two weeks ago, though, had given him reason to doubt their relationship. Perhaps the happiness Mike and Bella displayed was only a façade created to hide a mediocre relationship. Perhaps their relationship was not as strong as it appeared.
A flame of hope burned in his heart. He knew that Bella had felt something for him during their time in Tahoe. He was not sure how strong the feelings were, but the connection was definitely present.
And now he had nothing to lose.
It was with this determination that Edward walked the fateful day he finally found Bella on her front step, watering the lone flower that stood in a clay pot.
Boy it's been all this time
And I can't get you off my mind
And nobody knows it but me
I stare at your photograph
Still sleep in the shirt you left
And nobody knows it but me
Bella jumped as she straightened and turned to see who had frightened her. It was with surprise that her brown eyes met green before they roamed over his body, taking in his casual appearance. Since all the doctors changed into scrubs at the hospital, Edward made it a habit of only wearing jeans and a t-shirt to work. He never realized how women would stop and stare at him as he walked to and from the locker room. He honestly was not conscious of the effect of his jeans lying low on his hips and his form fitting t-shirt had on the female population.
Bella, on the other hand, was definitely not oblivious to Edward's appearance. A blush expanded over her cheeks as she not-so-subtly eyed him from head to toe. It was only when she saw Edward's smirk that she quickly looked away, towards her front stoop.
Every day I wipe my tears away
So many nights I've prayed for you to say…
"Hey," she whispered back, still embarrassed by being caught ogling her ex-… Her ex-something.
"What are you up to?"
Bella shrugged. "Not too much. Just trying to add a little happiness to my front door. How 'bout you?"
I should've been chasing you
I should've been trying to prove
That you were all that mattered to me
I should've said all the things
That I kept inside of me
Maybe I could've made you believe
That what we had was all we'd ever need
The two stood awkwardly for a moment – Edward with his hands in his pockets, a picture of ease that he learned to feign while in med school; Bella shuffling her feet as she found the crack in the cement sidewalk suddenly interesting.
"Listen, Bella," Edward cleared his throat. "I need to say something to you."
Her eyes narrowed as she looked once more at his face. Although his expression seemed resolute, there was another emotion emanating from his eyes. When she realized it was fear and apprehension, she knew about what Edward wanted to talk to her. Subconsciously, she took a step back and shook her head.
"Edward, no. Don't do this."
"Bella, I need to say this."
"No. You don't."
My friends think I'm moving on
But the truth is I'm not that strong
And nobody knows it but me
I've kept all the words you've said
In a box underneath my bed
And nobody knows it but me
Despite Bella's tone of warning, he stepped forward and reached for her hand, which she snapped back immediately. "Bella, leaving you in Tahoe was the biggest mistake I ever made. I loved you. I still love you."
Bella's expression turned form horror to anger at his words. She could not believe that this man had the nerve to come to her after four years to declare his love for her. On top of it all, she was happily engaged to a man she could see herself spending the rest of her life with.
Enraged, she stepped closer to Edward and leaned up to be face-to-face to him. "How dare you," she seethed, poking him in his chest. "How dare you tell me this after all these years? Do you know how long I wished you would contact me and tell me you wanted something more than a fling? Do you know how much bullshit Alice and Rose had to deal with? Do you know how long Mike had to wait until I even felt like I could go on a date with him?"
Edward scoffed. "Mike is a jerk."
"You don't even know him!"
"I know he did something to make you leave him and go to a bar."
"You don't know shit, Edward," Bella practically spit. "You don't know me, and you never knew me. Mike and I had a little misunderstanding, and suddenly he's a jerk? He never left me without even a good-bye."
"I was scared."
"You were a coward." Bella took a deep breath as she stepped backwards. "You have no idea how Mike even strived to make up for that night. He may not be perfect, but he loves me. And I love him too."
But if you're happy
I'll get through somehow
But the truth is
I've been screaming out…
Edward felt as if he got slapped in his face. There it was. The phrase that confirmed to him that he lost his chance with Bella. Standing there, staring at the irate woman, Edward could not even fathom why he thought this was a good idea. Fifteen minutes ago, he was so sure that this was what he needed to do.
Now he was 99.9% sure that he fucked up any chance of a relationship he could have with Bella.
The couple stood facing each other, both breathing heavily. One had a look of despair, the other, complete resentment.
"Bella, I love you. You need to know that."
I should've been chasing you
Where just a moment prior, Edward only felt as if he had been slapped in his face, he was now holding his cheek where he had literally been slapped. In shock, he peered down at Bella who was looking up at him with fury. He never would have thought she would physically hurt him. "Now."
You should've been trying to prove
With shoulders slumped, Edward finally turned to head back to his apartment. But one thought kept nagging him. He needed to know the answer to one question.
That you were all that mattered to me
"Bella?" he questioned without turning around.
You should've said all the things
Wiping her brow, Bella sighed before answering. "What?"
That I kept inside of me
Edward finally turned around to meet Bella's gaze head-on. "If I were to have pursued something more, do you think we would've worked out?"
And maybe you could've made me believe
"I don't know," she muttered dejectedly as she rubbed her forehead. "There's nothing we can do about it now."
That what we had
As Edward turned to leave once again, Bella stared dismally at his back. Tears stung her eyes as she thought about the answer she gave him. The truth was that she believed that she and Edward could have had a successful relationship. Certainly the attraction was there, but more than that, their personalities had meshed so well.
What we had
But what she said was true. It was too late to do anything about it. And now it looked as if any chance at friendship had went up in smoke.
Oh, that what we had
Choking back a sob, Bella ran back into her apartment and straight into her bedroom. Kneeling in front of her dresser, she dug through the bottom drawer looking for a particular shirt. When she finally found it, she started to stand to head towards the trash can. Her knees gave out, however, and she found herself back on her knees, sobbing into the shirt and desperately trying to smell the scent that had long left the item of clothing.
It was all we'd ever need
"All We'd Ever Need" – All We'd Ever Need