Author's Note: No recognizable characters belong to me. They all belong to Stephenie Meyer.
I held my breath as he inched forward once more, his face coming closer towards mine. I liked it when he did that. I wanted to feel his lips on mine; his breath mixing with mine, the sweetness of it lingering in the space between us.
I liked it because it never had to end. It never had to end, like it did in real life.
Edward wasn't really in my room. This was my coping mechanism. My mind had to protect itself from the harsh truth so it conjured up a substandard likeness to Edward. But it was good enough.
It was…soothing to have him near again. I held up my hand, wanting to cradle his jaw. It almost made me feel whole again; complete.
No matter how hard I tried, the gnawing ache in my heart wouldn't go away and it suddenly hurt so much for me to have Edward by my side. I let my hand fall and he disappeared, just like that night in the forest. He left me. He said he didn't want me anymore and our love was nothing except a phase for him. It hurt so much, so very much to the point that †he pain became numbing. I couldn't feel anything else.
I didn't want to feel. Not if the only thing I could feel was this.
And then, I opened my eyes.
I blinked back the tears that were stinging my eyes. I couldn't help but tear up whenever I got angry. How could Jacob be so immature? Why wouldn't he just answer my calls? Why didn't he open the door when I came knocking? Why was it that he couldn't even look at me? Did he hate me so much now that I was back with the vampires?
The vampires. Right. I was with his sworn enemies now. Of course he wouldn't want to be with me anymore. But that didn't mean it didn't still hurt.
It was funny and sad how Edward and Jacob could hurt me where it hurt the most; right in the heart. It wasn't in the same proportions, as I didn't feel for Jacob the same way I did for Edward but it was still painful. Knowing that he was at home when I was pressing the doorbell and him blatantly ignoring me, I just couldn't help but let my mind wander back to those bleak, awful days when I was all alone.
Alone… Damn! I had to hurry back. Edward didn't know I had gone over to Jacob's. It had been weeks since he last hunted and so when Emmett and Jasper dragged him out, I seized the opportunity to look up Jacob. Charlie had no objections of course; he'll take Jacob over Edward any day.
Edward wouldn't be pleased at all. He had insisted I not go look for Jacob alone. He said young werewolves were dangerous and that Jacob could hurt me. But I didn't believe him. How could I? Jacob was my best friend and he was suffering because of me. I had to try and help him any way I knew how.
I pulled up in our driveway and killed the ignition. I got out of my truck and looked up to see a shadow in my room. I had a pretty good idea who it was and it definitely wasn't Charlie. He had gone fishing with Billy and they were going to catch a game later on at the Clearwater's. He said he would be back pretty late.
I opened the main door and was greeted with darkness and silence. The door closed behind me with a soft click as I made my way to my room slowly. I formulated possible arguments in my mind, trying to anticipate what Edward would say and what my defences would be.
Surely the fact that I was still alive counted, even if Jacob hadn't seen me at all.
He was sitting in the rocking chair when I entered my semi-dark room. He kept quiet the entire time when I took off my jacket and kept my stuff from my bag. He didn't say a word when I was done and sitting on my bed. He continued staring at me as I crossed my legs and waited for him to reprimand me.
Anything was better than this awful silence. It was like I wasn't even worth the energy he took to speak. I decided I might as well be the one to give in but I kept my eyes down the whole time. "I made it home alive."
Finally, Edward sighed heavily, rubbing the bridge of his nose. I breathed a sign of relief. This was good. He was at the very least, reacting. It wasn't going to be a cold war.
"Bella." His voice came out to be a throbbing ache and I suddenly felt guilty for finding Jacob. "Did you have any idea? Any idea at all what I went through today?"
"I just went to see Jacob." I whispered timidly, fearing to face his deep golden eyes.
"I come home from a hunt." Edward continued as if he hadn't heard me. "Already anxious from being away from you and I don't find you in your room. I had no way of contacting you and Alice couldn't see your future at all. Did you have any idea how worried I was? I would have tore La Push apart to find you if it hadn't been the treaty stopping me." His words came out in a rush, the way it did when he was frustrated and angry. I worked up the courage to look at him and I saw that he was staring at me with such intensity; I should be cowering with terror.
"I just wanted to make sure he was okay. Charlie said he was suffering."
"And you didn't think that I wouldn't be okay with that?" His tone of voice was full of accusation. He was going to turn this into a competition. He was going to make it sound like I cared about Jacob more than I cared for him.
"You know that's not true." I hoped my voice would sooth and calm him down. "You know I care about you. I care about how you feel."
Edward sighed once more and got up from the rocking chair. I thought that was it and that he had enough. I was waiting for him to open my window to leave but he didn't do that. Instead, he came and sat down on the bed in front of me and took my hands into his.
"I love you too much to lose you to some immature werewolf." I flinched ever so slightly at his harsh words but kept still otherwise. "Can you understand if I told you that there's no way I can lose you again?" He rubbed his thumb gently over my hand. I knew what he was talking about; that there was no way we could be separated again. The first time was a death knell.
"I don't want to lose you too." I murmured as I leaned in to place my head in the crook of his neck. I breathed in his scent, sweet and pleasing. I was still irked that Edward believed Jacob would hurt me and by extension, I wasn't allowed to see him anymore but I tried to live in the moment. Edward wasn't mad at me anymore and that was all it mattered.
I pressed my lips against his neck, the same way he often did to me and started kissing him. I remembered to take it slow and easy because I had a tendency to go overboard and that would push Edward away; something I did not want tonight.
I used my fingers to trace his jaw line as I slowly kissed my way up to his earlobe. His skin was cold and smooth and it never failed to give me a chill. But tonight, it was a different kind of chill that ran up my spine.
I heard Edward taking a deep breath and he brought his face closer to my own neck. He laid his face near the hollow of my throat and breathed in once more. I was sure he could hear my heart rate speeding up. But I wanted this. This was good.
If he was going to make me marry him, I might as well get some demands in as well.
My hands gently pulled his shirt out of its tucked placing and I ran them lightly up his chest. He sucked in a shaky breath but to my delight, he did not stop me. I supposed for once, he wanted my body more than my blood.
"Be careful, Bella." Edward warned as his fingers gently raked through my hair. My lips left Edward's ear and I decided to push the very dangerous line of kissing his lips. I knew he wouldn't be pleased but his oh-so-sweet breath was tempting me.
I kissed the curve of his lips and my shaking fingers undid the first button of his shirt. Before I knew it, Edward leaned away from me quickly and had already re-buttoned his shirt.
Rejection washed over me. I felt unwanted. Worthless.
"I told you to play nice." Edward growled as he gave me an angry stare.
I scooted further back on the bed and crossed my arms. "Obviously, I didn't listen." I muttered and stared on a spot on my bed. I refused to let the angry tears spill from my eyes. I wouldn't show how much this was hurting me.
"And why is that?" Edward's voice lowered a notch in anger but I could still hear the hardness in it.
He leaned forward and tried to hold my hands but I shifted out of his reach. "I don't understand." He frowned. "This isn't the first time we've…"
"That's the problem!" I burst out angrily. "This isn't the first time so why are you still so stubborn?"
"I? Stubborn?" Edward was incredulous and a flash of anger crossed his face. "I'm trying to keep you alive!"
"What if I don't want to be alive?" The tears were staining my face now but I didn't care anymore. "You said you didn't want to lose me again. Prove it!" I was hitting below the belt like that, throwing his words back at him but I was angry. I wanted to hurt him, like he hurt me.
"You're being preposterous!" Edward got up from the bed and stared at me like the raving lunatic I was acting as.
"I'm not being preposterous! You are!" I jerked a finger in his direction. "First you want me, then you don't, and then you want me back because I was with Jacob and now that I want you still, you don't want me anymore!"
Edward didn't bother to conceal his rage anymore. He was gritting his teeth and openly scowling at me.
"Is this because of that dog?" He spat out the word like it was filthy.
My first instinct was to deny it. I was trying my best to keep Edward and Jacob apart. The fact that they were nemesis made it worse that they now considered each other's rivals for my affections. Of course I knew how my affections belonged to, but Jacob didn't and Edward's return only served to confuse me on my friendship with Jacob.
But then, I remembered how hurt I was. How broken Edward left me and how Jacob had to fix me piece by piece. How Edward was giving me mixed signals. I knew he thought that he was protecting me but I didn't want it. I didn't need his stupid protection.
"Yes!" I yelled across the room as he had since backed up against the wall. "He wants me, you don't!"
The moment I said it, I could see the pain that he was trying to hide, surface and I regretted my words. But it was too late to take them back.
"He's dangerous." That was all Edward would say.
"Yea, well, so are you. The difference is that he wants me and as long as he can control his temper, I can be with him too."
Edward gripped the headrest of the chair sitting behind my desk and it snapped from the seat under his strength. He was still trying to control his temper but I was too far-gone. All the bottled up hurt, resentment, anger; everything I felt when he left, they all came up to the surface.
"That's why you don't want me to see him. Because you're afraid I'd figure out that I could be happy with him too. Not perfect but happy enough!" I wanted to scream at him, throw things at him; I was that mad but I refrained. It wouldn't be such a wise decision in the morning.
The headrest crumbled into dust and my desk lamp snapped into half. He was still trying to be logical, trying to appeal to my rational side; even if neither one of us was behaving as such. "How many times do I have to tell you? He's dangerous to you! I know you don't believe it when I tell you but he can hurt you."
"Just like how you did?"
That was the final crushing blow. Edward's fist slammed into the wall behind him and the painting I had hung on it crashed to the floor. I flinched at the sound of glass reverberating across the room but he didn't. "Damn it, Bella! I did it to protect you!"
"I hate you!" I screamed, my throat turning hoarse. "I hate your stupid over-protective ways! I wish you'd want me like I want you. I wish you'll turn me already!" That part was true. I was more than ready to become a vampire too. I knew whom I couldn't live without.
Edward sprinted the length of the room and pushed me against the headrest of the bed, the front two legs of the bed collapsing under his pure, unadulterated force. I now knew what he meant when he said he had to be careful always. His eyes had become as black as night, the evidence of his earlier hunt gone. His hands pinned my wrists on the bed and his lips pressed firmly against mine.
He was being more forceful and less guarded. It was completely animalistic. He was kissing me the way I always wanted him to but this was different. I had never seen him like that before, bordering on absolute hysteria. I really pushed him over the edge this time. I winced slightly, he was going to leave bruises on my wrists but his anger was beyond the point now where I knew that he didn't even realize how hard he was grasping me.
His lips parted mine, drawing heat from it, taking everything and anything I was willing to give. All of a sudden, it dawned on to me what this whole thing was about. Edward was staking his claim on me. He wanted me to belong to him and no one else.
His kisses marked a trail from my lips to my neck as he paused at the hollow of my throat. "I want this. You have no idea how much I want this." He growled, almost panting heavily, his breath tickling my skin.
I angled my head, baring more of my neck towards him. This was my opportunity, my moment. I wanted Edward to change me so badly. "Prove it." I whispered into his ear.
I gasped when Edward pressed his lips more firmly into my neck and parted his lips. I closed my eyes, thinking that that was it. I was finally going to be like him.
Edward's hands gripped my wrists a little bit harder as his mouth broke contact from my skin and he leaned his head against the crook of my shoulder. He let out an anguished howl and I knew he was in physical pain. The vampire and the human in him were wrestling each other and it was hurting him.
Good Lord. I was a horrible person. I brought this upon him.
Seconds dragged into a minute and his hands finally let go of mine. He retreated slowly off the bed and I saw the torment on his face. I finally understood that he wanted me too but something was holding him back. I just didn't know what.
"I'm sorry." I spoke softly; I didn't want to aggravate him further. I truly was remorseful. I shouldn't have agitated and instigated him.
It was a while before he replied eventually, but it wasn't with the forgiveness I was hoping for. "I've thrashed your room and I've hurt you." He stared at my bed that was now standing rather wobbly and the bruises he left on my wrists. Even with the dim lighting in my room, I knew that his vampire eyes wouldn't miss a detail.
"I deserved it and you didn't mean to." I shrugged. The bruises weren't hurting yet.
"But I did." He seemed shocked at his own words. "I was so mad at you, I thought…" He looked down upon his hands and shook his head.
"Why didn't you change me? I know you wanted to. We could be together forever." I cut him off. We were so close, so very close.
His voice hardened once more as he lifted his head to look right at me. "You don't know what that means. The word "forever". You humans use it all the time, you don't know what it really means." He sighed, frustrated. "Not like I do."
"I do know I want to be with you." I stood my ground, making sure to drill that detail into his head. He was going to have to accept it, whether he liked it or not.
"I don't like this conversation. I think I should…" He was making his way to my window already.
"Don't leave." I begged. After how I behaved tonight, I wasn't sure if he was going to leave me again for good. I knew I had been stupid, completely reckless and Edward had every right to leave but I was clinging. I just got him back; I couldn't let him go again.
He must have seen the fear on my face and heard the desperation in my voice. He walked slowly back to the bed and he kneeled in front of me. "Silly Bella." He gave a weak smile. "I'm just going to go home. We need some time apart to think."
"Don't leave." I begged once more and Edward nodded. He gently tucked me to bed and kissed my forehead lightly.
"I won't leave." He assured me. "I'll be right here." He started humming my lullaby and I must have been exhausted from the night because it wasn't long before I drifted off to a soundless sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, Edward was nowhere to be found. I immediately felt angry with him for breaking his promise. He always did that. I hated that he thought himself above us, where his word was not his bond; for making promises he couldn't keep.
I was about to fling the comforter off me when I noticed a note on it in Edward's hand.
Charlie has been checking up on you the entire night. I decided it was better that I left first. I've since replaced your chair and lamp and mended your wall. I'll get you a new bed later.
I love you and I'll see you soon.
I must have been dead asleep for him to replace my furniture and fix my wall without me stirring. I wondered where he got the new furniture. They weren't identical to the old ones, but it was close enough to not invite suspicion.
I sighed at the turmoil of my own feelings. One moment I was mad at Edward, the next I wasn't. This wasn't good for my heart.
It was the weekend so obviously Charlie had made plans to do more fishing. It was fine with me as that was to be expected. I was making myself some breakfast when I felt someone standing behind me and I turned around swiftly.
"Hello." Edward greeted me politely.
"Good morning." I did likewise. I didn't want any awkwardness between us so I continued with my task. I poured milk and cereal into a bowl and I brought it into the living room with me, knowing Edward would follow me. I pulled out a chair and started eating while he just sat in front of me watching.
"Did you mean what you said last night? About…that boy?" Edward asked, his eyes narrowed at me.
I kept my head down the whole time. "I was angry. I said a lot of things I didn't mean."
"But you'll still be going off to see him." It was a statement, not a question. I looked up and saw that he was frowning. I frowned too but not quite for the same reason.
"That is if he'll even look at me anymore." I grumbled. Jacob's rejection was still fresh in my mind but he would be something I would deal with later. Edward was my priority now.
"How are your hands?" He asked softly after a pregnant silence. His negligible wince didn't escape me but I chose not to bring it up.
"Sore but fine." I replied truthfully. "How was your night?" I asked before taking the last spoonful of cereal.
"Interesting." He smirked a little. "I went shopping for furniture."
"Must be fun." I offered.
"Yes. I'll be getting a bed later."
My heart delighted at the fact that he could still joke about last night. It certainly wasn't one of my more…charming moments.
"Are you done?" He extended a hand to my now-empty bowl. I nodded and he took it to the kitchen to wash it. I waited patiently and when he came back, he offered me his hand. I took it and he walked me to the couch.
We both sat down and Edward turned towards me. "I'd like to be honest with you now." He told me in a calm, serene voice.
I nodded. "What would you like to be honest about?"
"Last night." He cleared his throat. "You asked me why I was so stubborn." He paused for a while before continuing. "I suppose you can say that I'm…I'm waiting. I love you very much, Bella, more than you can ever know but…"
"But what?" I prompted. It was not often that Edward struggled with his words. I could sense that this was extremely important. He was going to tell me why he didn't want to change me.
"I'm afraid. I'm afraid you're going to change your mind." He gingerly took my hands into his. "I'm waiting for you to realize that you don't want this, that you don't want me. Because I don't want to change you, and then have you realize that this isn't what you want and you're going to regret it. You'll hate me. You won't love me anymore." Edward lowered his head but I lifted it. I saw his eyes glistering and I became aware that it was the venom trying to work as tears. It must be so difficult for him, to never be able to express his sorrow adequately.
"I could never hate you." My right hand went to rub his cheek gently in a bid to soothe him.
"You just said you hated me last night." He smiled feebly.
"Because you wouldn't change me." I objected. "I would never hate you for changing me."
"You have to be sure, Bella. You must be." He implored me. "I'd rather lose you to Death than have you walk out on me."
"I promise you. I know whom I can't live without."
His face tensed with emotions as all thoughts went through his mind to comprehend my words. I think he finally acknowledged that I wasn't going to let him go.
"Very well." His thumb circled the back of my palms. "I will be ready when you are. You can take all the time you want to make your goodbyes and when you're ready, I'll change you."
"Thank you." I whispered as I leaned in to hug him.
"Silly Bella. I should be the one saying thank you." He stroked my hair. "Thank you for letting me keep you."