The next chapter of Secret should be posted tomorrow, barring any major dilemmas. There is an author's note at the bottom. I was going to write a blog but I know not everyone reads it so I wanted it to be accessible.

Also a note: The Eddie and Bellie Awards started accepting Bellie award nominations today. Nominate your favorite stories! I'm going to be nominating a whole bunch of my own. Make limona and wtvoc feel super appreciated for dedicating their time to the awards. It's more time-consuming than you can imagine, and I'm sure a great response is the best way to show your appreciation. limona is a great supporter of Secret! A link to the awards is on my profile.

I don't own Twilight...obviously ;)


Edward Masen

- Interlude -

Resignation.

It seemed to be the only word that had significance in my life. I was resigned to living. I was resigned to being an officer. I was resigned to my responsibilities as said officer. I was resigned to life without Bella.

Was it really even life?

I clenched the steering wheel once more and thought about something my mother had once told me.

"Sometimes we try so hard for things to happen and they don't turn out the way we want them to. You put in all the effort and strength to keep something from happening, or make that thing happen, and in the end you end up where you didn't expect to be..."

I didn't realize until later on in life that she had been discussing my father. She had done everything in her power to stop her marriage from falling apart, but in the end she was left high and dry. She had nothing to show for their 11-year marriage aside from a rambunctious nine-year-old.

I sighed.

When did life get to this point? How did I let things get this far?

I was being controlled by a foul-tempered Police Chief. I was alienating the most important person in my life.

She probably would never want to see me again. Bella was forgiving, but until what point? I knew she didn't take things lying down. I hadn't expected her to let me go without a fight. I was honestly in shock when I hung up the phone that day.

Maybe I had miscalculated the nature of our relationship.

It was a house of cards honestly. Lies, whether by omission or not, were not the basis for any stable relationship. I'd been lying to her for months about the way I felt. Not to mention the excuse I'd given her about her safety. That was another lie on the list.

Sure, after the explosion I had been shaken up but what man wouldn't be? The truth was that Bella could take care of herself. She was tougher than nails. She was tougher than me. If I was trying to do anything about our relationship, it was only trying to protect her from me.

It was clear that I couldn't protect myself. I figured it was like Carlisle's motto, "the plumber lives in a house with busted pipes." I was the officer that could protect a small army but I couldn't save my ass for anything. My car had been bombed and I'd gotten at least two more death threats since then. None of it mattered though. Because if I was a different person I'd use my new FBI contacts and place Bella in witness protection or something if I had to.

But I wasn't.

I was Lieutenant Edward and that was more destructive than anything Danny Fiori could come up with.

Bella deserved a perfect gentleman. She deserved someone who would come home every night with a smile—not a new scar. Bella deserved someone who didn't let her father control him like a submissive puppy. She deserved a guy who could be man enough to finally say "I love you." Bella deserved someone who didn't spend their life in constant violence.

The witness protection option would never come up for those reasons. There would never be a relationship. Bella didn't love me. Her easy defeat last month was proof enough. We certainly weren't friends anymore. I'd done a stand-up job of destroying that as well.

It was something I'd never realized about myself until recently.

Everything I'd done in the months I'd known Bella was under the pretense of "protecting her." It was to protect her from danger. It was to protect her identity. It was to protect her because Charlie asked me to.

It was all bull. All fake pretenses I hadn't realized before.

I was subconsciously pushing her away. I knew myself. I knew I couldn't give her the chance to love me back. So I forced her away.

Again, I had no idea when this had happened. I didn't know when I'd become this Lieutenant-person instead of Edward. The Edward I used to know didn't push the people he loved away. The fact I had Esme, Carlisle, Jasper, Alice, Emmett, and Rosalie in my life was proof to that fact.

Yet I felt helpless to change it. It felt like I didn't remember the Edward I used to be. I was resigned to being this person.

I remembered the second part of Esme's little monologue from years ago.

"…but then you wonder. What if I hadn't done anything? I'd still be in the same situation, wouldn't I? Or would fate have altered its course and brought me to the place I expected to be without any of my own intervention? It's like the silly theories you come up with when you're driving. You know the bridge typically has traffic, so you skip it. You take the freeway and then encounter a freak accident. You're stuck in traffic and late to work anyway. But what if you took the bridge and made it to work on time like you expected to by taking the freeway? Should you or shouldn't you interfere in life?"

I didn't have the answer to that question yet. Esme had mentioned that conversation in passing, once, a couple years ago and told me she had the answer. I had chuckled and told her to share, but she declined. She told me I'd find out the answer in my own time.

To be resigned or not to be resigned—that was the question.

The question that I avoided at all costs these days.

I glanced ahead and slowed down a bit as I approached a light. I looked out my windshield and noticed something pink towards my right. I squinted but couldn't make it out because of the harsh rain. The headlights on my new Volvo were strong but were no match for the torrential rain I was driving in. The light finally changed. I drove slowly towards the pink object.

I narrowed my eyes and noticed that it seemed to be the body of a truck. There was something deeply familiar about the pink blob. I stopped the car and put it in park. I seriously doubted anyone was around anyway. I leaned over towards the passenger side to get a better look but couldn't get a good visual.

I slid the passenger side window down slightly and grabbed my flashlight. I ran it over the body of the truck. I realized it was actually a rusty red color instead of the pink I had first noticed. I pulled the flashlight back and raised the window in a semi-catatonic state.

A red truck.

I scurried out of the car faster than I could think. I knocked on the window once.

"Bella!"

I couldn't stop myself from yelling out and as soon as her name left my mouth I realized I was an idiot because she was probably in one of the homes on this block but—

The car door flew forward and nearly took out my stomach. My eyes were in disbelief. Bella yanked me forward into the cab and I slammed the metal door behind me.

Eventually after we settled into my car, on the way to her house, the talking began.

"Edward?"

"Yes?"

I didn't look at her. Why should I look at her? I had ruined her. What was I going to do? Destroy her even further. Destroy the beautiful woman who had been on my mind every second of every day since the last time I'd spoken to her?

"I know what happened," she said quietly.

I stopped the flinch. What did she think she knew? She didn't know anything about me and if I could ride this pretense of me being dangerous for her to be around she never would.

"I know what happened with you and Charlie. He told me the truth and I just wanted to say I'm sorry."

Charlie.

My whole body tensed. Of course he'd make himself out to be the good guy in this situation. I mean he might as well. I wasn't going to try and make myself the good guy. I was already about to lie to her.

"There's nothing to be sorry for. He was right and I made my own decisions," I replied evenly, hoping to make my voice sound as emotionless as possible.

Becoming emotionally invested was the problem to begin with. I'd become emotionally invested in someone who didn't love me. I was invested in someone that would never get the opportunity to. I was a poor excuse for a man.

"So you don't regret what happened at all? You really meant it? You want me to stay away from you."

I sighed.

Stop pushing, Bella. You don't know who you're dealing with. Has the last month not shown you anything? You. Deserve. Better. It doesn't make me want you any less, but it doesn't change the fact.

Enter: Lie #2

"I just…I'm trying to protect you, Bella. I practically got demoted recently and there are at least 50 people who wouldn't mind me showing up dead tomorrow. The FBI has completely taken over my case and I don't want you involved anymore than you need to be. Your father hates me. I'm just trying to change that, and seeing you doesn't help my case. I don't want to lose my job."

Okay, so the last two parts were true. Charlie did hate me. I did want to keep my job. Having Bella wasn't an option, so I figured if I should be "dedicated" to anything in my life it might as well be my job.

"I don't want it to be this way. I care about you and—"

Strike Three.

"Stop," I cut her off, "Please stop. I'm going insane here, Bella. I don't need or want your pity. I made a choice. After I drop you home, that's it."

There was truth in that as well. It didn't make me redeemable but it was still honest.

I didn't want or deserve her pity. It made me feel even worse for what I did to our relationship. I internally groaned. I needed to stop calling it that. It wasn't a relationship. I did things like alienate her and cut her off. "Friends" didn't do that.

I loved her unconditionally.

By those standards, this situation was completely unfair. But when considering the terrible person I was, I couldn't bring myself to do anything about it. I'd just continue living my life in this manner, pushing away the one thing that mattered most, and asking fate why this happened this way.

I would be condemned to walking this earth with a wasted heart and crushed spirit. In a bittersweet way, it made sense. It would be the punishment for me falling in love with someone who didn't need it. I figured the only thing I could do was to resign myself. I would resign myself to continue thinking about her. It was the most I could do.

She needed someone better than me.

I retreated within myself as I'd grown accustom to doing lately. No more strategy—just Bella. I chose my favorite Bella moment and lingered on it as I continued the drive to her house.

"Will you text me when you land?" I asked, "Just to make sure you're safe," I clarified.

She smiled at me and nodded. I grinned back and brushed her flyaways once again.

"Merry Christmas, Bella," I whispered.

"Merry Christmas, Edward."


And there you have it. The interlude.

So, Edward lied? I bet no one saw that coming.

You're probably hoping for some clarification about the things he says he lied about. He didn't lie at first when he told Bella they shouldn't be friends or anything because of the danger factor. When he called her and spoke to her, he truly believed that. The reason why it becomes a lie later is because he realizes how silly the concept is. I didn't include it in the interlude, but a few days after the "break-up," Edward starts to think about what he's done to his relationship with Bella. He starts to contemplate her response. And he realizes his fatal error. He was both lying to Bella and himself about the danger factor because of how shaken up he was. Later on, when he has a clearer mindset, he realizes that,

A. it's absurd to think that Bella can't handle herself,

B. ridiculous to think he's incapable of doing his job, and

C. he got totally snowed by Charlie's overreaction

As all you Secret readers know, Edward is brilliant at his job. It's the one thing he's truly successful at. Given a new determination, I'm sure Edward would be able to keep Bella safe. After all, it's not her that Fiori is after. It's Edward. They're not dating and you have to keep in mind the one-shot seems like something that would happen in an alternate universe. As far as Edward's concerned, they'll never be anything more than what they are because Bella isn't in love with him. Should things continue that way, Edward just needs to keep Bella separate from his work. He knows Charlie has stopped Bella from working for the department by that point so that's taken care of. Hence the reason why his initial action turns out to be a lie.

The other lies…well, they're pretty self-explanatory. The entire conversation in the car during the end of last chapter was a lie on Edward's part. His responses were to brush Bella off. He sees himself as this low person that isn't even a fraction of what Bella deserves. Edward hates that he's the person he is but he feels helpless to change that. He's resigned to being Lieutenant-Detective Edward Anthony Masen. He feels like it's his punishment for being the person he is. It'll be during the one-shot that Bella reminds him of the Edward that exists inside of him.

From the one-shot:

"Don't say anything. You'll ruin it. Just accept what you feel Edward. You're not Lieutenant Masen. You're Edward," she counters.

In Edward's mind, he's just constantly taunted by fate. Bella is the ultimate bait but he won't allow himself to get hooked anymore. He won't allow her to return whatever it is that she may feel for him. He's accepted his "punishment."

One more major thing this chapter that I feel I should mention is Esme's monologue. That question will be answered sometime after the one-shot. The question of where Bella and Edward expect to be after they finally consummate their relationship will be answered as well. Will they get everything they expected out of it or will things continue to fall apart? Will Edward continue to push away Bella even though they've declared themselves? What will Bella do now that she's finally placed the last proverbial nail in her coffin as far as her relationship with Edward goes? Is Edward really correct in his assumption that as long as he keeps Bella separate from his work things will work out? What about Charlie?

I hope this chapter better shows Edward. I'm trying to liken these characters and their behaviors as much as possible to the people we encounter in the one-shot. I will warn you though that at times, reading the one-shot may seem redundant. You'll have to understand that when I wrote it I needed to explain the situation to a larger audience. All you beautiful and supportive readers know and understand the complexities and emotions of the characters already and you know all the events that have led up to that point. I ask that you just bear with me. There are minor details that have been adjusted or omitted but in general it's the same exact original one-shot. It's still in present-tense. I considered changing that but for some reason I like it best in present-tense. It makes everything more real in my opinion. You feel like Edward in that moment.

Anyway, this "author's note" has gone on way too long. I'll be happy to answer any questions so review please and share your feedback on the interlude or your thoughts on what I've shared. The only thing I ask is that you don't ask me what the next chapter is about.

It's the one-shot!


What's your favorite Bella and Edward moment from Secret?