Chapter 17: Taken

Edward and I walked out his front door hand in hand. He unlocked the Volvo and opened my door for me.

"Your chariot, m'lady."

"You're so weird. Why can't you just stand there and look pretty without saying a word?" I teased. Edward stood tall and met my eyes.

"Because whenever I see you, I'm overcome with the urge to talk in prose and recite love poems," he whispered.

"That was incredibly cheesy. I've lost all respect I once had for you." I slipped into the seat and looked up at him.

"Mm, but you love me," he said as he closed the door. I couldn't help the giant smile that spread across my face. I thought of how amazingly lucky I was to have Edward. Nothing could ever compete with the joy he brought me.

"Mm, that I do," I agreed as he got into the driver's seat and started the car. We pulled out of his driveway and headed to my house. I'd talked to Charlie before we left and agreed that Edward would drive me to the house and then the airport. Charlie would be waiting for us at the terminal.

"So what's the first thing you're going to do once you settle in?" Edward asked.

"I don't know," I said as he took my hand in his. "Honestly, I'm probably going to mope around in my room and Charlie will have to drag me outside to do touristy stuff."

"Bella, I don't want you moping around. Go out and make some friends, visit tourist attractions, art museums," he ordered. "Just don't lock yourself away. It would be such a waste."

"Edward…."

"I'm serious, Bella. You need to go out and explore the world. Take this chance to do something extraordinary with your life."

"You're starting to sound more and more like a fortune cookie, Edward. All you need to say is something like, 'You will prosper in life' and the transformation will be complete," I quipped.

"Ha, ha. Why do you bully me so, woman?"

"Because I love you and I can. So why are we leaving your house so early?"

"Bella, it's 3:42. You have to be at the airport at six. Trust me, if you didn't leave now, Alice would've never let you step out of the house," he said. "And besides, I thought you needed to finish packing?"

"Nope, I finished right before Jasper picked me up."

"So what shall we do for the next…two hours?"

"Well, I know what I want to do, but someone doesn't want to so…how about we stop by Renee's and pick up my stuff, then go visit the high school for old time's sake?" I suggested.

"Are you sure about that, Bella? I mean the school…"

"Is where James attacked me? Yes, it is. But it's also where I met you and that's why I want to see it one last time," I calmly explained. "If I focus on all the bad things in my life, I'd be locked in my closet for the rest of my life, Edward."

Edward drove in silence. Soon we pulled up in front of my childhood home.

"So, what you're trying to say is that you want to come out of the closet?"

I gasped. "What the fuck, Edward? I'm not lesbian!"

"I know," he laughed. "It's just that you chose a poor location for your metaphor. You'd be in the closet, Bella?"

I punched his arm. "Shut up!" I laughed. "It's not funny!"

"Ow! Then why are you laughing?" he spoke through his laughter. I punched his arm again. "Stop punching me! You know what, I really don't like people who laugh at my jokes, then say they're not funny, then punch me in the arm!"

"Well, I don't really like people who insinuate that I'm gay."

"Do you have a problem with gay people, Bella?" Edward questioned, changing his demeanor so abruptly I was lost for two seconds. "There's nothing wrong with being homosexual."

"Oh God, there's no winning with you!" I groaned. "Just shut up, Edward. Shut up and get my bags from my room."

"You didn't answer my question, Bella," he continued.

"No, Edward, I have nothing against gay people. There's nothing wrong with being homosexual. Now be a good boy and fetch my bags."

"I'm not your damned servant boy, woman," Edward complained, even as he unbuckled his seat belt while getting out of the car. "Come on, princess, show me your room."

I followed after Edward. Once we were inside, I took the lead and ran up the stairs to my room. It was bare, everything of importance already packed into my suitcases. It was kind of funny how my life could be packed away into four medium-sized suitcases and a carry-on.

"Is this it?" Edward asked. He took the handles of two of the cases and shouldered my carry-on.

"Yeah. Will everything fit in the trunk?"

"We'll make it fit," he grunted as he dragged my stuff down the staircase. He stopped at the door. "Do you want to say goodbye to your mom?"

I snorted. "Say goodbye to that bitch? Hell no."

"Bella…she's your mom."

"And she's a bitch. I don't want to talk to her, Edward. Let's just go."

He pursed his lips but listened to me. We walked out of that house and put everything in his car. We got in and Edward drove down the street to the school.

I never looked back.

~/~/~/~/~

"So remind me why we're spending your last hours in Phoenix in my office again," Edward said as he spun on his chair. I was sitting on the other side of his desk with my feet propped up. I watched as he kept spinning right into the wall behind him.

"Smooth," I snorted. "We're here because I want to be here. It reminds me of good times."

"Bella, you were only in my office once. Three weeks ago."

"Well, the one time I was here, I had fun. So please don't question me."

"I just…I don't want to look back on this day and regret not having done something more with you," he sighed. Picking up the black stapler in his desk, Edward held out to me. "You see, here, the most I can do is lend you a plain stapler. If we were somewhere else, I could probably find an office supply store and buy you one."

"You won't even give it to me? I have to borrow it?" I smiled.

"Well, it isn't mine. It's school property and you know I'm not about to go around stealing school property."

"Such a stickler for the rules," I teased.

"You know it." Edward sat up in his chair. "But seriously, Bella, are you sure you wouldn't rather be somewhere else?"

"For the last time, Edward, no, I want to spend my last hours in Phoenix sitting in your office in my former high school. Now, shut up and let me enjoy the silence."

"So damn bossy," he muttered.

"I heard that."

"You were supposed to."

"So now you insult your girlfriend?" I asked. "Real nice, Edward. Way to be a mature adult there."

"Seeing as I have Alice for a sister, I think my behavior is totally justified. Especially considering that she shows her affection by insulting the objects of said affection."

"I'm an object now, am I?"

"Yes, but you're my object and I love you."

"I love you, too."

We spent another ten minutes or so in silence. I had my eyes closed and head back, just relaxing when…

"Bells."

"What, Edward?"

"Please let me take you out. Let's go do something fun. I'm going to feel bad once you're on the plane."

"Fine," I sighed. "Take me to get frozen yogurt."

Edward jumped from his seat and all but ran out of the school and into his car with me trailing after him. We drove around downtown in search of a frozen yogurt place. He finally spotted one and pulled into the parking lot. Edward opened the door for me, held my hand as we got our yogurt, and even tried to feed me some of his toppings. I immediately put a stop to the feeding. That was bound to turn into a disaster with my luck.

"C'mon, love, I won't have the chance to do cheesy, romantic things like this in a matter of hours. Please, let me feed you," he said.

"Do you realize how weird what you just said was? Totally ruined your argument," I said.

"How hard is it for you to let me feed you some frozen yogurt?"

"I'm not one year old, I know how to feed myself." Edward sighed and hung his head in defeat.

"Fine. You win, Bella, I won't try to be romantic anymore. Are you done with your fro-yo?"

"Yeah, I guess." I stood up and threw away the cup. Edward did the same. "And, by the way, what grown man says the word, 'fro-yo'?" I teased.

"Okay, look here," he said. Edward started counting off on his fingers. "First, you call me weird when I try to revive chivalry. Then, you force your luggage on me and now when I try to be romantic, you ridicule me. Why are you so mean to me? I thought you loved me?"

"Why do you have to take everything so personally?" I asked.

"Because I love you but I refuse to be in a relationship where I am put down for my actions, cheesy as they may be," he said in mock seriousness. My smile faltered a bit as I remembered my only other relationship. Edward noticed immediately. "Bella, what's wrong?"

"It's nothing."

"Love, tell me. What's wrong?"

"It's nothing, really, Edward. It's just some stupid little thing that I remembered," I tried.

"Isabella, stop. What did you remember?"

I hugged Edward and spoke into his chest, hoping that he wouldn't hear me.

"Well, whenever I tried to do something romantic with…James…in the beginning…he would just kinda laugh at me and say that it was stupid. And here I am doing it to you."

"Bella, I'm sorry."

"Why are you sorry?" I mumbled against his shirt. "I should be the one apologizing."

"You shouldn't have to apologize for teasing me a little. I know you don't mean it. But you had to deal with a sick bastard who put you down for no good reason," he said. "And here I am reminding you about it."

"You are not reminding me of it," I said. I pulled away to look at his face. "I'm reminding me of it. You're not doing anything other than being yourself. I'm just…"

"You're just amazing and unbelievably strong and brave," he interrupted. "You're beautiful and I'm so lucky that I have you in my life. I love you."

"I love you, too. I just want to move on, you know? I want James gone."

"So do I, love." He pulled me closer, holding me tight. It almost hurt to be in his arms but it would hurt even worse when I wasn't in them anymore.

"I'm scared," I admitted. "I'm scared that James will go after you even if I'm not in the country. I'm scared that one day you'll wake up and realize that you don't have to deal with this, with me. I'm so scared that I'll lose you to someone who deserves you, Edward. I'm scared that the only thing keeping my dad with me is guilt."

"Isabella Marie Swan, don't you dare think that your dad is only with you because of some sense of guilt. I mean, he might feel guilty about some of his decisions but he loves you. I love you. I love you and I'm with you 'til the end."

I fought back tears at his words. A couple minutes later, I remembered where we were and cleared my throat. "We should probably be on our way to the airport."

"Yeah, I guess. Let's go."

Edward swung our joined hands as we walked to his car. His head was down so he never saw the white van pull up in front of us until it was too late. The door opened and a masked man jumped out and reached for us. For a split second, I thought this was it. James had finally come for me. I tensed, prepared to struggle. But it wasn't me he wanted.

The man swung a bat at Edward's head. There was a sickening thud and then Edward just…dropped. His hand fell out of mine. I screamed, but that wasn't enough. The man turned to me. I fell to Edward's side, still screaming. The man gripped my arms to pull me off Edward.

"No!" I shrieked. "Edward! Help! Someone help him!"

I struggled but he was too strong. With one last pull, the man threw me to the side. My head hit the bumper of a nearby car. The world wobbled and shook and blurred as the man dragged Edward into the van and slammed the door shut. The tires screeched as the van sped away. A few seconds later, I felt hands try to pull me up as voices joined together in a group.

"Are you okay?"

"What happened?"

"Did you get that van's plate number?"

"Did anyone see what happened?"

"Call the police!"

No…I thought. NOOOOO!

EDWARD!

"Ehwar…" I mumbled. "Eh…"

"Her head is bleeding!"

"Did you call 911 already?"

"The police are on their way, miss. Can you stand?"

"No, don't pick her up," someone protested. "You don't know if she's injured."

"She just hit her head, I saw the whole thing."

Edward…James…Edward Edward Edward…no no no…please…find Edward find Edward save him! Edward!

"Move out of the way, please!" Gentle hands pressed against the back of my head. I winced and tried to pull away. "Miss, please stay still. I'm just going to put this around your neck until we get to the hospital, okay?" I felt a neck brace around my neck. I think I might have spaced out because the next thing I knew all the talking was cut off by a closing door and I was moving. I tried to talk and beg someone to save Edward because James had him and he was going to hurt him

But I couldn't. Because I was weak and James had won and he had Edward.

Edward…no.

A/N I'm sorry. I'm awful and deserve to be pelted with tomatoes and cabbage and whatever other vegetables are at hand. It's okay if you hate me for taking so long because I most certainly do. If you're still there after all this time, thank you! To those readers that decided that Prayer and I were worth adding to their alerts, I'm sorry that it's been almost nine months *winces* since I last updated. I'm so sorry that it took so long. No excuse. And for all my readers both new and old, I promise to finish Prayer. I won't let it collect dust on a shelf labeled "Unfinished WIPs by Lame Authors Who Don't Update Regularly." Review?