Our Detrimental Effects

Chapter one: Evasiveness

BPOV

"Bella? Bella!"

My body remained limp under the heavy duvet cover as I snuggled further into the comfort of my bed. Nothing could drag me away from sleep today- not even the delivery of the latest classic that I had ordered online.

Footsteps pounded up the stairs and the following slam of my bedroom door notified me that he had taken advantage of his door key. Why had I given him one again?

Because I was a fool and an easy pushover.

Moments like these were rare…a lie in on a Monday morning. Why did he insist on disturbing my peace? His footsteps neared the edge of my bed and I feigned exhaustion; he could wait a little longer.

"Bella, I know you don't sleep with your head underneath the pillow, you're too afraid of being suffocated."

He was right.

As per usual.

"Well, maybe I changed my mind, smartass," came my muffled response.

"And that right there proves your consciousness." I could practically see the smirk that spread across his face and I delved a little deeper into the covers. I wasn't going to budge. It was quiet for a moment and I became aware of his silence- that was never a good sign.

"No…please…not-THERE!" His hand grabbed the back of my knee and I jerked from under the covers with a shriek. The tickle spot. Damn him.

"E-Edward! Please!" I rolled from side to side as he continued with his torturous mirth.

We were twenty seven going on five.

"Say it!"

"No!"

"Say it, Bella."

"Bastard."

"Nope, try again."

The strength of his hold was admirable, however, he always left the left side of his body free and I struck with my right arm- aiming for the gut.

"Low blow, Bella. Low blow," he grunted as he sank to the floor. My victory dance on the top of the bed woke my muscles for the day and I hopped down from the tangled sheets and sauntered into the adjoining bathroom.

Bathroom hampers still littered the shelf by my shower and I fumbled though the many lotions and potions to find the favorite freesia shampoo that I adored.

"Bella, what's this?" I heard Edward call from the bedroom, my mind flitted to the numerous items that I had taken to bed with me last night. Christ, I hope he hadn't found my Harlequin romance I'd borrowed from the library, it was bad enough receiving the 'look of disdain' from the century old librarian.

"What's what?"

"Why is your laptop displaying a five thousand word editorial piece that you've been forbidden from working on?"

Crap.

As cowardly as it may seem, I jumped into the shower and avoided answering at all. His groans and complaints continued but I let the sound of the running water drown out his nitpicks. We'd been the same as children, fighting over Play-Doh and trading innocent jibes that would send the other crying to their mother.

Though we had our ups and downs and several arguments that made us Edward and Bella- we were best friends. We shared ice-cream; we could name every single Care Bear and we could still remember the steps to our Michael Jackson dance.

We were an unbreakable duo.

Two peas in a pod.

"What are you doing?" I shrieked as he sat on the edge of my bed, typing with a determined fury. One of his hands rose to stop me from asking any further questions and he typed with the other before making an obvious final tap and slamming the screen down.

"You better have saved that!"

He shrugged.

"Work leave, means that you take leave from work," Edward huffed.

"I was- that was just a…will you stop prying!" I moaned, he knew I hated his interference.

"Too late; I emailed your company and prohibited them from sending you any further work. It's for your own good," he finalized.

My fists wanted to punch him.

My mind, however, wanted to embrace him for being so caring.

"What are you doing here anyway?" I asked frustrated, he usually visited in the evenings and at the weekends-whenever he was free.

"The hospital granted me a days leave so that I could move into the new apartment near Emmett and Rose. I was hoping that you'd like to visit it- make the regulatory checks."

His face was beaming and he ran a hand through the bronze strands of his hair.

How could I deny him?

"Sure," I replied, grabbing a cotton blanket from my fresh laundry pile and waltzing down the hall. I felt his presence behind me as I opened the door closest to my bedroom and crept in with Edward at my heel.

"How did she sleep last night?" his voice asked gently, his breath sweeping across the expanse of skin on my neck.

"Perfectly, I had to wake her for feeds," I assured him, draping the blanket over my shoulder and peering at the crib we had stopped by. My hand tentatively reached out and stroked the bronze curls that adorned the top of my daughter's head.

"Want me to get her ready?"

I nodded and he lifted her from the crib and cradled her for a while as I watched from afar.

I felt guilty for denying him the time he deserved with her.

Grabbing the door handle, I backed out of the room and closed the door gently behind me as his coos woke her from her slumber.

"Daddy's here."

~~**~~

Edward finally appeared with our daughter in tow as I finished eating the breakfast I had prepared.

"When did she start smiling?" he asked somewhat hurt as he bounced her in his arms.

I cringed; I'd promised to text him or call whenever she reached a new milestone.

"Last weekend," I offered a smile, "Emmett was playing with her- but I was pretty sure it was just wind."

He sighed and took a seat at the kitchen table as I collected the dishes. Our relationship was odd and as some liked to call it- 'unconventional'.

We weren't married.

We had never lived together.

We weren't in a relationship.

Yet we had a daughter.

Our baby Elizabeth.

People usually commented on our relationship and some would ask us for an invite to our future wedding. They were always mortified when I told them that there was no chance in hell that we would ever tie the knot.

Ever.

We lived separate lives- he had his job as a Consultant in the Cardiology Department and I was an editor for an international newspaper, dabbling in journalism from time to time. We were bound by our friendship and by our daughter.

He proposed.

I declined.

He offered to move in.

I declined.

He understood...eventually.

I was vehemently terrified of marriage and the mere thought sent my brain into defensive mode. Alice couldn't quite figure me out and she'd tried in vain to change my mind, though to no avail. My father blamed it on my mother's side of my genes; commitment was always her downfall, thus my parent's almost immediate divorce.

I blamed her too.

Renee remained in Forks after the divorce and befriended Edward's mother, Esme. Growing up, I was warded off by the idea of marriage and fairytale romance- it was just non-existent as my mother liked to drill into my skull.

Then she met Phil.

Her ideas changed and she began to unveil her fairytale romance.

I was left confused and thoroughly doubtful that it would last. But it did.

I was a wreck.

"Are you coming or are you just going to stand there?" Edward called as he dangled the Volvo's keys from his forefinger. I chucked the dishes into the dishwasher and grabbed the baby's bag from the table.

"Coming."

Edward drove us to his new apartment not even a mere ten minutes away, lowering his usual 'over the limit' speed to a bare few miles per hour with the addition of Elizabeth. His cell trilled a loud tune and he flung it into my lap and asked me to read the message.

We had always been open like that.

I flicked the screen upwards and pressed the button to open his text.

I almost slammed the phone back down.

Be there to help in ten,

Just trying to find something to wear- any preferences?

Jess x

"What did it say?" Edward asked casually as I flipped the screen firmly shut.

"Who's Jess?" I asked disgustedly.

"Just a friend from work," he answered, "what did she say?"

Friend from work? My mind screamed whore.

"Why is she coming?"

"Is that what it said?"

I shrugged.

I tossed the phone into the console and banished it from interrupting again. Hopefully, he wouldn't be able to reply to the whore's text and demand that she wear a maid's outfit. Bitch.

"You're actually mad aren't you?" he teased as I turned in my seat and watched Elizabeth. In truth I was livid, though I couldn't do anything about it. I was the one who refused his proposals.

"She's just a friend," he laughed.

I grimaced.

"So, friend's ask you what you prefer them to wear before you meet?"

His face tinted in embarrassment and he suppressed a smile, "Jess is just having a laugh, that's all."

I bet she was.

"Well, it's inappropriate around Elizabeth- I won't stand for it." Now I was being the bitch. He snapped his head towards me incredulously.

"Bella, it was a joke. Elizabeth is barely two months old- I severely doubt that she even understands anything we talk about," he exclaimed.

"I don't like her," I admitted.

"I didn't think you would."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

He stopped the car.

"You won't let me date you, you won't let me move in with you and you even shot down marriage before it was out of my mouth. Yet you're the first person to complain whenever I make a new friend or even attempt to date." Did he have to list it that way? I played with my fingernails.

"You're complicated, Bella. I love you and you know that-"

"It's not the right kind of love-"

"So you say. Maybe we should give each other a bit of a breather, time to think and to be away from one another. I've got the month in Chicago with some interns soon- maybe that will give us time to sort ourselves out."

My heart slowed to a dead beat.

"You're breaking up with me?"

"We were never technically dating, Bella."

It felt like he was.

Elizabeth was the product of our 'non-relationship' relationship. It confused our family and friends to no end and others who we would explain it to. In a nutshell, we turned to one another when loneliness became too overbearing and we were happy with that arrangement. No strings attached sex. The pregnancy was a surprise but we agreed to raise the baby together- despite our abnormal situation. Then the proposals mounted and I felt overwhelmed.

I declined and he bit his cheek.

Resulting in our current predicament.

I wasn't shocked at the fact that he was leaving for a month- next month to be exact- that escapade had been planned before Elizabeth had even been born. He offered to postpone it but I refused.

Maybe a break from one another would do us some good? All we'd ever known was each other and maybe that was why we were so entangled in our own little problems.

"Is Jessica going on your little trip?" I couldn't help it; I had word vomit.

He sighed and then laughed again, shaking his head at my angered state, almost as if saying 'I told you so'. He stopped after a while and nodded.

"Possibly."

I felt a pang of jealousy rip through my system.

I grabbed the nearest door handle and turned back to face him, "Have fun with your whore, I'll be here tending to the baby." I unbuckled Elizabeth's seat and grasped the handle so that I could storm my way to where Alice and Emmett were stood by a U-Haul truck.

"Trouble in paradise?" Emmett smirked as Edward slammed his door and stomped his way over to our group.

"You know it isn't like that!" he bellowed. Alice simply took Elizabeth and her seat from my hold and walked away from the heated argument that Edward and I had fallen into once again.

I felt so confused.

One moment I wanted Edward, the next I wanted him to vanish from the very face of the earth. Maybe the break would benefit the both of us.

Emmett watched as we entertained our anger with a staring contest.

"I'm fed up with your arguing," he grunted before gripping me about the waist and hoisting me over his shoulder, "Edward! Unload the truck!"

Resistance was futile with Emmett, I let him carry me and dump me in an emotional heap by the entrance to Edward's new apartment.

I felt a large hand grasp my chin and lift my head.

"Chin up. You'll work this thing out, I'm sure." His hand scuffed my hair and brought me in for a hug.

"Rose and Alice are upstairs with Jasper, you're on painting duty," he chuckled, handing me a paintbrush and a paint pot.

"What are you doing?" I asked conversationally.

He cocked an eyebrow.

"I'm on heavy lifting duty, these guns haven't been worked in a while!" He smirked, flexing his biceps with a masculine pride.

I punched the button for Edward's floor in the elevator and wasn't at all surprised to find Elizabeth awake and being passed around like a parcel. She adored every minute of it.

"So, Elizabeth," Alice crooned, "How do you like your daddy's new apartment?" she asked whilst walking her around the room.

"She hates it," I interrupted.

I wasn't in the best of moods.

"How can you tell?"

"Mother's intuition."

Rose laughed and Alice shook her head. I dumped the painting tools by a bare wall and nonchalantly walked over to the window that overlooked the private parking lot where Edward's new tease would be appearing.

My eyes locked in on the target.

Blonde. Thin. Tall. Gorgeous.

My polar opposite.

Good luck to the parasite.

I quickly checked my appearance, noted the white spit-up stain on my left shoulder, the way my top clung tighter than it had ever done before and the way my breasts felt like a pair of watermelons.

All in the aid of Elizabeth I told myself.

I had Elizabeth- the only person I ever seemed to be able to commit to.

But she had Edward.

Whore.

This Jessica had begun an animosity and she was completely unaware of it.

Edward soon introduced his workmate to our gang and I watched each person intently as they interacted with her. I'd secluded Elizabeth and myself to the corner of the lounge, where I rocked Elizabeth in her seat with a foot as I painted a section of wall.

I was the last one.

Edward lead her over and I continued to ignore his presence.

"This is my daughter Elizabeth," I could hear the fatherly pride in his voice and I warmed slightly, "and this…this is Bella, my best friend."

"She's so cute!"

I really hoped that she wasn't referring to me.

"She's asleep," I hissed. A cranky baby equated to an even crankier Bella.

"I'm sorry, I'll leave you to it then…" Jess trailed off and I simply continued painting. I could practically feel Edward's burning gaze of resentment on the back of my head and I refused to let it deter me.

I watched them through my peripheral vision; the way their hands would meet when they traded pieces of furniture and the way that he would pick her up and place her side when she was in the way of a heavy lifting zone.

I imagined his hands back on me.

Trailing through my hair, grasping the flesh above my hipbone, leaving memorable pathways across my skin with an irrefutable fire; igniting the sensitivity of my body and leaving goosebumps coursing along the expanse of skin that he claimed as his own.

I knew him better.

He was my best friend.

Maybe my committing issues were holding me from falling into the inevitable.

From falling in love?

By allowing myself to be consumed by my worries…I was pushing Edward away and further into the arms of the whore.

Jasper helped Emmett to lift Edward's piano and I watched as they lowered it to the floor and then placed the metronome on top. The needle oscillated and my eyes followed its evenly timed swings.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Time was running out for Edward and I.

I looked forward to the month that we would spend apart.

I would have time to process thoughts and untangle the mess that my issues had thrown my life into.

Elizabeth deserved better.

Little did I know that the following month would be the worst month of my life.


This plot was relentless in my brain- I wrote it for fun. This shall be updated alongside 'Park Bench Portrait'. This is different from what I normally write. I took Bella's commitment issue from her unwillingness to marry Edward in Eclipse, I suppose this chapter has raises a lot of questions- all of which will be answered in future chapters. Prepare yourselves and don't follow your instant perceptions...Update will be soon, Happy New Year! Neica x