A/N: A HUGE thank you to all the reviews. You readers rule my little world.
Yeah, I completely sucked at the fast updating thing. I don't know, maybe it's just not in my armour. I apologise! But, in good news, this chapter is here and the next is on its way. It is just being finished up and edited. I will upload the next during the course of the weekend. I felt I owed you guys that much, if not a little more.
I hope you like this one! Thanks to the awesome people that reviewed even though they haven't got an account!
The little hand in mine was warm, like a little candle, a little fucking glow after a raging fire, just enough to keep you at a good temperature, but not too hot to make you sweat. It was nice in comparison to the cold surface on my cheek, that had fucking stung when I first laid my cheek there. I wasn't certain if my cheek had moulded into the wood, it fucking felt like it. And my arm ached a little fucking too much for me to tolerate usually, but circumstances were different now, and I wasn't going to let go of this little warm hand, because there was too much hope in that hold, too much progress.
I watched peacefully as I listened to the clock hands tick by on the kitchen wall. I'd breathe in for three seconds and then exhale for four, counting as I watched the site before me – The fucking adorable little site that I was holding onto the hand of.
She was so peaceful, my little Bella, glowing like a little flame in the dark kitchen. Blue light from the night outside glowed in through the window and casted shadows around us that looked like some freak shit from a movie, but I couldn't turn the light on. I didn't want to risk waking her up.
I couldn't hear any noise from the room where the others were, I guessed that they'd turned the volume down so it couldn't be heard in the kitchen where Bella and I were. At least, Alice would've. She was caring and all that shit, she wouldn't want any more upset for the night. We'd had too much of that kind of shit already. I'd told them all to keep out of the kitchen, told them it was none of their fucking business.
Of course, they all knew something was wrong, knew that there was something up with Bella, something that wasn't fucking normal. But who were they to call things normal. They were all fucked up in some way or another, no persons fucking perfect. I could just imagine them all in there right now, gossiping or trying to pick out the problems with Bella, my little Bella – my little glowing warmth.
It wasn't like I'd tell them anyway; they wouldn't get their shitty gossip fix from me. Bella was the one that mattered here and I knew she'd be horrified if I told them all of what I knew. It was out of the question, a way too fucked up move to make. Yet, I couldn't be sure if Bella herself would tell them in the end, she was bound to be embarrassed and panicked about what they knew as it is. I doubted telling them would make anything better. Alice could be trusted. I knew that, I could trust her with my whole fucking life. The others I couldn't be too sure of.
She stirred a little, just after two in the morning, her shoulders rising a little faster than from her last breath and her hand giving a little twitch in mine. Luckily it came and went though, I wouldn't want a nightmare thrown into tonight's concoction of disaster. That's one of the reasons I was there, in the kitchen, watching her as if at any minute she'd just disappear. I didn't want her to sleep badly tonight and knew that sleeping in the other room with Alice, Emmett, Jasper and Rose was out of the fucking question. If she accidentally freaked in the middle of the night because one of us looked like a duvet monster I'd never forgive myself.
But, sleeping leant over the table with her face against where her arm was rested upon the table and her free hand in mine wasn't exactly the best fucking sleep option. I could imagine the immense numbness she'd have when she woke. Really, I should've fucking asked Rosalie to let her sleep upstairs or something, but I didn't want to wake her, or leave her to ask Rose, or bring any more attention to the situation in fact. I'd told them all to stay away from the kitchen already, told them that I'd fucking sort it, because I knew was I was doing. They'd probably only cause more shit.
It had been a bit of drama for a movie night that was for sure. Bella had just fucking freaked. I don't know why, but I could make a decent guess. It had something to do with the fucked up film we were watching. I couldn't even remember what was happening on the screen at the time she freaked. All my memories really possessed were the images of Bella, crippling away into the sofa as she continued to scream, her tears making the skin around her eyes look fucking raw as she refused to let anybody touch her, even me.
It was a stupid thing to be pissed off by. So what, she hadn't let anybody fucking touch her or try to help her, but I'd thought Bella and I had this connection that we were working on, we were getting better. She'd let me help her before. I just tried to tell myself that it wasn't my fault this time. I hoped it wasn't.
Rose was freaking out, grabbing her hair and looking close to tears, waving her phone at me and threatening to phone 911 or her parents every time Bella belted out another scream. Emmett looked pretty scared of the situation, his eyes fixed on Bella as if she was a fucking mutant. But he tried to calm Rose down, pulling her into one of his bear hugs and hiding her face from Bella's twisted, screaming form.
Alice was another matter, crying as she knelt by the sofa. Her hand would constantly move to hold Bella's, trying to hold Bella down, trying to comfort her. She had good intentions, but that shit wasn't fucking helping and I think Jasper realised that. He stood quietly at first, watching distantly, but then made a move to get Alice away from Bella.
He led Alice over to the sofa where his duvet was and sat her down, comforting her and trying not to cause anymore hysteria in the room. He told her to let me deal with it, that I knew what was going on. I thanked him with just a solitary look, hoping that he understood how grateful I was for allowing that. Because I knew what was going on and I think they'd all mostly come to terms with that now. About fucking time too. Because I was the only one in the room who hadn't at first been trying to touch Bella or shout at her. I sat calmly, trying to get the others to calm down too so I could probe Bella out from the little shitty dark web she was caught up in.
"Bella?" I'd whispered calmly, carefully, quietly. Only she could hear it, I was sure.
She had stopped her screaming by now, just breathing heavily and hugging tightly to her blanket, hiding her face from everyone. But she was still shaking a little, probably from the shock of coming back to reality.
"Bella, it's me, Edward." I whispered.
I saw a little flinch from under the blanket.
"You're okay. We're in the living room and the lights on. Nobody is going to hurt you," I told her. "I won't let anyone fucking touch you."
She flinched under the cover at my swearing and I heard Alice telling me off in a whisper. All our friends were watching now, waiting for me to tempt Bella back, the real Bella, the happy Bella that would hold my hand and tell me about when she was younger, about the happy memories. I knew that Bella was there; just hiding behind some kind of fucking shield that wasn't allowing anyone in, even her memories, only ever glimpses would creep through.
"Bella," I whispered again, edging a little closer on the sofa, my legs crossed. "Nobody will hurt you. You are okay."
This time it worked and I saw the cover move a little, four finger tips poking over the side, but not pulling the cover down to reveal her face. She was embarrassed, but why wouldn't she be? She must've thought she looked like a fucking freak and to freak out like that in front of friends wasn't even fucking fair for someone like Bella. None of it was fair.
I managed to get her to walk from where she was on the sofa to the kitchen, sobbing into a blanket as she went. The others had at first followed, but I threatened to fucking kill them if they took a step closer to the kitchen. I'd only wanted to get Bella some water for her throat, which had become hoarse from the screaming and crying, but we ended up sitting at the table.
We were still sat there later, Bella asleep after a few sips of water and thanking me drowsily. She obviously hadn't wanted to discuss it, she'd sobbed out most of the embarrassment whilst I watched, unable to hug her or comfort her, only watch, like a fucking useless dick.
Although, just when I thought it'd be a hell of a long night, she started to calm down from her shaking aftermath and drift slowly in and out of sleep, reaching her hand out across the table hesitantly towards where my hands were resting. She touched one finger to one of mine and then did the same with her other fingers, slowly and steadily taking the whole of my hand into hers until she was holding it, the glowing feeling igniting in my palm and the drowsy happiness helping her to get to sleep.
I didn't want to wake her, but she couldn't sleep forever, especially not against a kitchen table. I would have to try and wake her up without touching anything but her hand. It was more difficult than it sounds.
The soft feeling of a hand squeeze mine was enough to wake me. It was a little movement, barely enough to be classed as a squeeze, but I felt it, through the haze of the dream I was in. In a way, I did not want the hand to wake me; the touch would only open my eyes to the unpleasant situation I was in. In my dream, things were so much calmer. There was sun, open spaces and laughing, all around. Sprinklers were in the gardens and younger children played under them, trying to dodge the random falling droplets, their summer shorts, shirts and swimming outfits covered in specks of water. The parents and guardians would stand by, watching the show, laughing with the children and enjoying the day of sun whilst gossiping with friends on the veranda. Tree swings were in full use and gardening had become the hobby of the day for adults.
I'd cycle past on my bike, the tinsel strips on the handlebar grips wavering in the wind as I turned corners on the path, ringing my bicycle bell and giggling as I caught up with the young girl just ahead, her bleach blonde hair cropped in a bob, the lengths a little awkward and wonky in some places where I expected her mom had tried to cut it. We'd skid to a stop on the path by a large tree in the centre of someone on the streets front garden, then racing across the grass and up the steps to a front door where we'd knock, giggling and waiting for a response whilst straightening out our cute little summer dresses, both matching but in a different colour.
Yet, I never managed to get any further than that in the dream. I'd always just stop there, at the door, the younger girl next to me, waiting with me. I'd had this dream a few times now, a pointless little series of happiness flowing through my mind like a river, sloshing around and dragging the unhappiness away, just for a night. Then I'd awake and the river bed would be dried out, only the unhappiness left for me to pick up and try to sort again into some kind of order that made sense.
Just when I thought I'd actually get to find out what or who was on the other side of the door, I was awoken once again. Usually I'd wake up myself, as if my body was warning me and putting up a little warning barrier to refuse my dreaming to progress to anything more. This time the barrier hadn't gone up, the door had started to open – progression was made. However, progression of my luck had not.
I drowsily lifted my eyelids, my senses rushing back to me and causing me to have vertigo for a while before I could move again. My blurred vision became acute as I took in my surroundings, a sense of unknowing around me for the first few moments of waking.
The hand in mine was loose again, that belonged to Edward. I had remembered holding it across the table before I had dosed off. The hard surface was making my arm and limbs ache, sleeping whilst lent against a table was not a good idea. I could not remember whether we had spoken or just sat around, my memory was thin, waiting for a reminder to jog the memories. Until then, I worked through things slowly.
I yawned, blinking a few times and then looking up through my lashes to where Edward was – his elbow on the table and chin resting in his palm. He seemed tired, as if he hadn't even had a nap within the last twenty four hours. He gave me a lazy smile and then looked away, worried or hiding something. I tried to search through my memory, desperately for something bad that could have happened, but nothing. I remembered the movies in Rose's house. We had watched a few and I had held his hand under the duvet, secretively and pretty smugly. I remembered the scary film and how nobody spoke through it all, the pure fright that it gave me as I would squeeze a little on Edward's hand, just to remember it wasn't real, just to remember that he was there for me. And then…
Oh, then I remembered. That's why we were in Rose's kitchen. That's why Edward looked a bit worried. That's why it was all a bit blurry. I had freaked out… again. But this time it was different. Not a good different. Instead it was a different that was so bad that I wasn't sure I'd be able to talk to my friends anymore. I had completely freaked out in front of them. Completely, the whole screams and cowering away, I could remember vague feelings in my limbs, trying to pull myself inwards, fold my legs into my stomach and hoping to just mould into nothing to hide away. It was much worse than the times before when they had actually seen them. Nobody ever spoke of the freak out incidents much, probably just passing them off as a rare occasion. They were so wrong.
"Did they see?" My voice was hoarse and painful. I needed a drink.
Edward glanced at me for a while, his expression uneasy before he nodded.
I sighed. What else could I expect? Of course they had seen. How could you ignore a girl screaming her lungs off near the end of a horror movie when it wasn't even at the supposed good part yet? It was painful to think of, but the memory of this freak out was suddenly rushing back to me, paranoia of my friend's reactions filling me, because I only remembered seeing Edward there, there was me, the screen of the television and the face and then Edward.
I remembered his voice, breaking through the memories, images, whatever you wanted to call the strange happenings in my head. He sounded frightened, but not for him self or anyone else there, it was for me. There was a slight edge of calm, calm and collected, much more so than the other voices around me. There was panic and screaming back at me as if I were in a horror movie. I had thrown my blanket on my head by now, trying to block out the image as if it were in front of me and not in my mind. I can remember the suffocating heat under the blanket as I cringed from the images.
I could still feel myself shaking, Edward's voice whispering over the screaming in my head. I wondered if I was still screaming, if I was in pain or anything. Surely if I were in pain Edward wouldn't be so calm. At least I hoped.
"You're okay. We're in the living room and the lights on. Nobody is going to hurt you," he told me. "I won't let anyone fucking touch you."
The emphasis of the last words was what brought me back, the strength and knowing of it as he spoke it. And I believed it, I believed it all, but as strong as he had been with his words and as certain of them he was he couldn't change the past and he couldn't stop people from hurting me. I knew too much now, the horror movie had revealed too much in my own mind and I was vulnerable and scared. I hoped Edward could keep to his word for just a little longer, because otherwise I didn't know how I would make it through the rest of the night.
The kitchen table was more than a little uncomfortable under me; the memory of last night was too dense here. I wanted to just forget it, stride back into where the others were and sit down to enjoy another movie, but I could just imagine their talking, the glances my way, the panic that just wouldn't leave me throughout the rest of the night, the deliberate choices of easy going films that they obviously didn't really want to watch. I needed to be somewhere I felt a little safer.
"I don't want to be here anymore," I spoke croakily, wanting Edward to just say something. He hadn't spoke since waking me up.
"You want me to drive you home?" He raised an eyebrow, his voice was a little croaky, but it was obvious that he hadn't been crying.
It must have been early morning. It was still dark and quiet – cold. I sat up a little, untangling a few loose knots from my hair and thinking about the offer. It was dark and Charlie was bound to be questioning if I got back home in the early hours of the morning. So I couldn't go there. Apart from home there wasn't anywhere else to go.
I shook my head, no. Going home was definitely out of the question.
"You want to go back in and watch a movie?" He seemed a little worried about that idea, as if it would affect him too, as if he'd feel just the same amount of discomfort as I.
I shook my head again, no. That was the most preposterous thing. Why would I want to go back in there when they'd only stare and want to ask questions?
He sat in thought for a moment, rubbing his chin and looking up at the ceiling before looking straight at me, thinking about something or other not revealing a thought or emotion, just the fact that he was thinking. Then suddenly something sparked in his eyes as he pushed his chair away from the table, standing up and holding his hand out to me.
"I have an idea," he smiled reassuringly.
I stood up and reached my hand out hesitantly to hold his. I wondered if since my last freak out whether it would go back to the beginning, where I was freaked out by just a simple touch from him. But his tingly skin on mine felt soothing and calming, nothing to panic over at all.
I allowed him to lead, his hand loose in mine, but me never getting skittish over the feeling of domination, of him leading me. I was learning to deal with that and at the time it didn't even affect me once.
He led the way up the darkly lit stairway, the upstairs hallway darkened from where Rose's parents were still out at their friend's house. Rose had mentioned something of a 30th birthday party and them probably not returning until the late hours of early morning. So it was like we had the full reign of the house until their arrival home. Edward seemed to be using that to his own advantage, roaming freely down the hallway – he'd obviously been here before.
There were photos aligning the walls, each holding people smiling and posing, some of a younger Rose, a little chubbier with short hair and stumpy little legs. There was one that really caught my eye of her stood in the sand, waving a red spade in the air triumphantly at her built sandcastle. Another one just along the hall was of Rose and a few other recognisable faces. Rose, Alice, Jasper, Edward and Emmett all smiling at the camera, arms around each other and all dressed in baseball outfits under a banner that read 'Forks High School Charity Baseball Tournament'. They all looked so happy together and triumphant, just like the photo with the spade.
At the end of the hallway Edward pushed open a door that was already slightly ajar, revealing a dark room. I waited on the opposite side of the threshold whilst Edward fumbled around in attempted silence for the light switch, eventually finding a pull lead to turn on a lamp in the corner which managed to illuminate the rest of the room in a warm orange glow, immediately changing the atmosphere from dark and dull to warm and soft.
He led me in and closed the door, turning back to look at my reaction as I looked around. The bookshelves reached from floor to ceiling, some older looking ones with tattered covers and faded writing upon the spines and others were newer looking, as if just purchased and never read. I gaped in wonder at the collection all aligned in alphabetical order and almost bigger than Forks' own library.
"It's pretty cool, huh?" Edward smiled, walking over to a little table where a pile of old books were stacked.
I nodded, speechless.
"She showed me it when I first moved here, when we spoke about liking books. Rose may not seem the type, but she's a sucker for reading. Give her a summer reading book and she's gone for hours," Edward smiled, lifting a book to inspect the cover. "We'd trade books in the first summer I was here."
I liked how it was completely random, completely off topic and irrelevant to previous events. He was telling me just a little about himself, Rose and just showing me something special which he knew would be special to me too. I liked how it was just calming; the whole room had that effect. Edward seemed to be relaxed and easy going, looking through books and just mumbling about little memories. He was never the type that I imagined to like books, maybe even love them?
"It's beautiful," I whispered.
He nodded and placed the book he had been holding onto one of the shelves. "Rose wouldn't mind if you wanted to look around."
"It all seems so secretive, preserved."
"True, but what's the use in preserving things when people can't enjoy them, right?" He picked up another book and examined the inside cover, placing it on another shelf in between two thick, dark, heavy books.
He smiled and sat down on an old looking mat next to a brick fireplace where a small crate of wood lay, waiting to be lit to warm the room in cold winter months. I went and sat a little way away from him, my legs crossed and arms in my lap, him mirroring my actions and facing me, juggling another book awkwardly from palm to palm.
"Dolly and Bear are getting on well it seems," he mumbled, attempting conversation.
"Pardon?" I asked confused. Dolly and bear – had he gone mad?
"Oh, I said that out loud?" He winced, a little embarrassed.
I nodded, laughing a little.
"That's my nicknames for Rose and Emmett," he shook his head. "Nobody else knows that I call them that. Don't tell them?"
"It suits," I smiled, because it was true – it did. Rose was so perfect and pretty and like the kind of dolly a child would beg their parents to buy for them, no matter the price, because she looked expensive and classy. Whereas Emmett was big and bear-like, cuddly like a toy bear yet competitive and built like a grizzly.
"It's a secret though."
"It's safe with me," I smiled, pretending to zip my lips and throw away the key.
It was a little silent after then, a pause in our little tangent that we'd got lost on. It had been nice to just be a little lost in general conversation with him, but the sudden stop created an awkward atmosphere, making me fiddle with the material of my pyjamas. Edward appeared to be concentrating on a thought, his brow creased.
"Bella," Edward spoke quietly and calmly, the book gone from his grip and lying by his side, his hand out a little in front of him, palm up and asking for my own smaller hand to be placed in it.
I conformed, the warmth rushing back to me as I relaxed in the feeling of happiness that was brought to me from a simple holding of hands. I sighed, certain that other people didn't react so absurdly to holding hands, but it just felt special. I gripped it a little tighter, his hand moulding around mine. That was nicer. But there was something in me that wanted more, I wanted to hug him. I wondered how he'd feel about that…
"Bella," Edward whispered again, bringing me out of my little daze to focus on his eyes instead of his hand and the way I could imagine feeling his chest on my cheek. If anyone could read my mind, they'd think I was insane. "An explanation of earlier would be kind of nice?"
Oh, earlier. How could I forget it? I scrunched my lips awkwardly, watching Edward's questioning eyes gaze back into mine. I wanted to tell him, but it was complicated, more complicated than the times before. No, I had to tell him. I had to let it out. He wouldn't tell anyone. I could trust him.
I squeezed his hand again, realising how hunched my shoulders had become, letting them drop as I breathed in and out slowly, trying to not let any emotions overwhelm me. I had to tell him the story and I didn't want to muck up or wind into an emotional outburst. I would be grown up about it.
"Okay," I breathed out. "The memory thing I had, well…This time it was different. I—He—"
I could hear myself cracking up already, my throat aching as the words got caught in a web somewhere between my lips and throat. I felt Edward's hands squeeze mine ever so lightly, the feeling sending little currents of happiness through me. Happiness, that's what Edward represented right now and he would still be my little handful of happiness right through the telling of my memory glimpse. He wouldn't let go. And maybe after, just maybe, then we could work on the hugging thing, because I'd like that. His heartbeat in my ear, his chest warm, his toned muscles upon my cheek, his arms around me in a little protective shell – it was all so warm and I craved for it.
I shook my head, first things first. I breathed in again, blinking away the tears from my wobbly eyes.
"Its okay, Bella." Edward whispered soothingly.
I nodded to reassure him that I was fine; biting my lip as I aligned the words I wanted to say in my head. Through panic, complete shock of the memory and a little twinge of something else rushing back to me as it all registered, I managed to speak a deformed version of what I had planned to say, leaving some parts out. "He was there, Edward. In an alley, it was dark. He—He broke my arm. I—"
A/N: Of all the ways to leave you after such a failed attempt at updating. I apologise again, but more is coming very soon. And yes, we may just find out some juicy information on the man haunting Bella...
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