I just want to say a quick apology for the people that have been waiting such a long time for this next installment. I know there weren't that many to start with and I just hope I haven't lost any of you!
Hopefully my time away (for work) will have helped my writing. I'm sure you will let me know what you think!
To add, I have to say a quick thanks to jezzeria. For being my constant muse. I only hope I can be there for you more, to make up for all the help you have given me. PUFFYHEART! Another muse for this chapter being my new found love of the band Theory of a Deadman, namely the song 'All or Nothing'. Take a listen :)
All of the characters below belong to Stephenie Meyer's imagination.
I was painfully aware that I didn't say one word to Bella as I cradled her gently in my arms on the antique leather sofa in the smaller living area. Even our short walk there, with her in my arms, had been lacking any speech.
How could I ever find the words?
I daren't break the silence, for fear of ruining the moment and her realising that it was a mistake. That she didn't want me to hold her in this way. I was selfish, silent and so much more in love with her than I had ever before noticed.
Understanding how she was doing this to me would require analysis, which I wasn't prepared to undertake for more of my own selfish reasons. This contact, this comfort, this closeness; I seemed to need it more than she did.
I didn't know how much time had passed before her tears abated but, finally, they did. Even though no length of time with her would be enough. Never enough, with a woman that would never be mine...
If I could have sighed, I would have.
I felt my silent heart break a little as she pulled her head away from my shoulder and stared into my eyes. Their deep brown depths threatening to drown me in their beauty. I couldn't stand her knowing stare, as if she could read my mind like a book.
The corner of my mouth pulled itself into an involuntary smile as I tried to read Bella's mind for the umpteenth time since her arrival. Yet again, I received nothing. I had no clue as to what was bothering her, and it killed me. I needed to know. Not just to sate my own curiosity, but so I could help her. To see her suffer was making my heart break all the more.
"I'm sorry," she whispered so quietly that I was sure it was my imagination.
I furrowed my brow as I looked down at her tear stained face. Delicately, she ran a hand through her beautifully disheveled hair and removed herself from my lap. This time, when she repeated her apology, I knew I wasn't imagining it.
"For what?" I had to reply quickly. If I thought too much about the words I wanted to say to her, they would come out all wrong.
"For just barging into your house like this. I mean, I feel so stupid. I thought it might have been Alice, it's usually her opening the door to me. As if she knows I need to see her. I didn't think that, for once, someone else might have come. I'm really, really sorry." Her speech tumbled from her mouth in a messy arrangement, though her meaning was clear. She hadn't wanted me.
"I see." I whispered as I pulled myself up from the sofa and brushed down the front of my now creased shirt. "I'll go and get Alice for you now."
"Wait!" Her command was produced as a squeak while her arm shot outwards and begged me to stop. Bella was so hard for me to read, she was starting to confuse and annoy me. Though my instant reaction to her voice was to halt, to help her with whatever she wanted. A bone-deep need inside me insisted that I do whatever it took to make up for the pain I had previously caused her.
"Yes?" I whispered. The single word almost too shy to leave my mouth, knowing that what she wanted would never be what I wanted to hear.
"Thank you, Edward." The sound of my name on her lips was heaven, but her words kept on coming. Demanding my attention. "And I'm sorry for yesterday. I was rude, there was no need for me to act like such a child."
"It's okay." And it really was. Her apology instantly eased my previous worry, it made me wonder if there was anything more I could hope for... until reason stepped in once more and forced me to push my desire to the back of my mind.
I turned from her and was headed out of the room, though it pained me more with every step knowing that I would probably never see her again. I was about to start up the large staircase when I heard the small sound of protest. Unsure, I put my foot on the first step; until the sound emerged once more.
Looking back showed me that Bella was crying once more. Eyes wide, tears streaming, face crumpled, staring at my retreating back. The only emotion I could read from her face was fear. My insides clenched at the sight of her so broken. I didn't want her to think I was simply leaving her.
"I'm just..." I swallowed, my throat suddenly seeming so dry. "Going to get Alice."
"Please..." I heard a faint whisper from behind me. Thanking God for once that I wasn't human, I turned around and saw Bella coming towards me. "Don't leave."
It was all the incentive I needed. I was back at her side in a second. My heart overpowered my head as I took her in my arms and lay her on my lap on the sofa for the second time.
Neither us spoke. There were no need for words. She needed me, and I was going to provide the comfort. How she saw me wasn't clear, but I was too selfish to care. Her needs coincided with my own. I knew my mind would make me suffer later, when she was no longer here, but I was planning on making the most of the opportunity I had been given.
This was how it was supposed to be.
How things could have been if I had never left...
I bolted upright out of my seat. My vacant mind suddenly filled with the screaming voice. If I were human, I would have said I'd fallen asleep. But that was impossible. I didn't know exactly what had happened; one moment I was smothered by thoughts of Bella and surrounded by her scent, the next there was nothing.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?!" The voice continued to yell.
Blinking, my eyes darted around the room until they finally found it. The source of the noise. My beautifully deluded sister. Rosalie.
"Rose, what seems to be the problem?" I whispered, so low that Bella would not stir from her slumber. It seemed that I was not the only comfortable one. The angel in my arms had been so content sleep had claimed her.
"Get off her, right this instant!"
"Don't you dare..." I hissed.
"Who are you to be making threats? I'm not the one blind to the damage I'm creating!" The voice in her mind continued to scream, bouncing around my mind and shattering all happiness I once had.
I eased Bella's sleeping form onto the cushion beneath me as I stood. Glaring at Rosalie, I strode past her and quickly through the house until I was in the back yard. The late afternoon sun was low in the sky, red beams glinting off my skin in rainbows and reflecting prisms onto the kitchen window behind me.
Closing my eyes, I let the sun momentarily warm my skin; until I felt Rosalie's presence in the yard. Her angry growls reverberated inside my head.
"Now, Rosalie, are you going to explain yourself?"
"Myself?" She screeched. "I think you're the one who owes some explanations."
"Yes?" I raised my eyebrow in disbelief. "And why exactly is that?"
"She is married, Edward. She isn't yours. Also, maybe the most important thing, didn't you leave your school and your family," she drawled the word for emphasis, "because you didn't trust yourself enough to be around her?"
I gritted my teeth as I strode away from Rosalie, too ashamed to admit that she was right. Oblivious to my anger, Rosalie's gloating became louder in my mind as she followed me. I couldn't take it much longer.
"Don't you want me to be happy?" I screamed at the forest, afraid to turn around for fear of striking my sister.
"But, Edward," she sighed. "You know you are only doing yourself more damage by letting yourself get close."
"What now?" Rosalie appeared in front of me, arms folded.
"When did you get so wise, Rose? Not that you aren't still a pain." I had to add.
"I've always been smart, Edward. You've just always been ignorant to everything but yourself."
"I guess there's a little truth in that..."
"You mean, a lot of truth!" The voice in her mind was laughing, more amused than I'd heard her in years.
"I have to get back."
"I know. But, just keep your distance. For all our sakes. She is a family friend, Edward. You may run into each other from time to time, but you can't let that get to you. Be strong."
Her last words echoed around me, but Rosalie was already gone. Imparting her wisdom, then disappearing. Typical. I sighed as I turned around and headed back into the house.
I steeled myself by taking a deep breath before I entered the smaller living area. Building up my resolve. Though everything was shot to hell when I saw that Bella was awake.
"Where did you go?" Her voice held a tiny whimper that caused my heart to swell. She had missed me.
"I'm sorry about that, I just went to see if Alice had finally gotten back home..."
"Don't worry." She interrupted. "I think I've found all the comfort I need."
With her words, she patted the seat next to her. I had to hold ever so tightly onto my composure to ensure that I didn't rush to her side too quickly. As soon as I was next to her, she rested her head unashamedly on my shoulder. Butterflies swirled in my stomach as she emitted a small sigh.
"Is there anything you wanted to talk about?"
"Actually, there is." Bella looked up at me and smiled, eyes sparkling with thanks. "I'm really worried about my Jake..."
I was deaf to the rest of her words as my world shattered around me. She was here about her husband, worried about her husband. Reality dawned as Rosalie's words came back with a vengeance. Bella was not mine. I had to keep my distance.
But how was I to manage such a thing when even the mention of another man made me want to keep her locked up as my own for eternity?
I wanted Jacob Black's head on a platter... But my mind told me I was foolish.
I had more important things to concern myself with.
My first job was to pick up the pieces of my broken existence and put them back together; though I wasn't sure how to rearrange them so that Bella was no longer the central piece of the puzzle, the Queen of my game of chess, the one who had stolen my heart forever...