A/N: If you're reading this, that means that you haven't given up on me, or my little fic. So thank you. If you left me some love on the last chapter and I didn't respond, I apologize… I'll do better, promise. I posted a little diddy on the BFFF'ers of Fanfic website, explaining what I've been up to, if you're interested. Link is on my profile. This chapter is a little short and sweet, but I wanted to get this out to you the minute I started writing again. Hope you enjoy.
Thanks, as always, to my Beta for this fic, larin20. I did go crazy on the commas this time, didn't I?
My eyes began to flutter open as the sun peeked through the wooden blinds of Edward's bedroom. I was surprised I even knew where I was at that point. I tried to think back to the previous night but my mind was still foggy. My head was pounding, but I was honestly too content to care. I'd got what I wanted, in a sense. I didn't dwell on Charlie's death or wallow in my grief even though I thought I should have. I was thankful for one night I didn't have to. I laid in the company of a familiar yet mysterious man that made me smile, made me forget. Things seemed a bit more tolerable even through my memory was a little hazy. Then suddenly, as I looked over to Edward's sleeping form, fixating on his slow and steady breathing, it hit me.
Oh my god! What did I do?
Scenes from last night burst forth in my mind, like I was watching some twisted reality show. Edward's lips on mine, hands everywhere, clothes everywhere. The want I felt for him... the desire. The lust I could see in his eyes as he looked at me. The intangible shock I felt throughout my body when he touched me. And then, the way it grinded to a halt when he denied me.
The heat that rushed to my face at that moment was damn near debilitating, as I shrank away from the heat and warmth of Edward's embrace. Only moments ago you wouldn't have been able to pry me away, but now I felt sick, humiliated, defeated. I wasn't quite sure why my feelings were so hurt by this guy. I mean, it was a drunken accident. Right? People do stupid and humiliating things all the time when they've tied on a few too many. But there was a deeper humiliation in the fact that Edward, this man that had in no uncertain terms come to my rescue - my anchor and protector, didn't want me in that way. Sure, he said things that most men say when they're trying not to hurt your feelings, and that's what I'd decided it was. Just a way to soften the blow, to protect me once again. But this time, it was from myself.
I sat there on the edge of Edward's bed, thinking of what to do next. Do I leave? Stay and face him when he finally wakes? My stomach clenched, making me feel queasy. I could be hungover, but there was a strong urge to run, fast. Maybe I should leave a note. But what would I say? And wouldn't it make it worse to face him later on? As I sat there contemplating, I thought about Charlie. Lord knows I wouldn't have been able to talk to him about my current situation, but it would have been nice to have his calming presence. It made my face even hotter to think about the monster that killed my father, the soulless bastard that took my daddy away. I shook my head and decided to wait until I was truly alone to brood, and grieve, again.
The decision to leave Edward there in bed was an extremely difficult decision for me. But I couldn't see myself being there when he woke, seeing the pity in his eyes when he looked at me. I'd seen enough of that look, and the one thing that my father always tried to instill in me was strength. I seemed to forget that trait lately, understandably. I needed to learn how to be strong all over again, without the security blanket of having my father around constantly provided me. I needed to figure some things out on my own. I didn't know that much about Edward Cullen, but I knew that he had an underlying pain and sadness in him that didn't need my problems to add to his own. He was broken in so many ways, I could tell by his eyes. Although his eyes had a slight twinkle in them last night, from what I remembered, he was still damaged. He didn't need to save me. He shouldn't have had to shield me anymore.
I slowly climbed out of bed, careful not to wake him, and walked quietly over to the desk in the corner. I grabbed a sheet of paper from the legal pad and opened his desk drawer to find a pen. As I opened the drawer it made a slight squeak, which caused Edward to stir a bit, but not wake. I sighed silently in relief and began to write.
I only hoped that I wasn't making a big mistake.
Day seven of the investigation to find Charlie's killer was much like the previous days. We still didn't have any solid leads, and not a hell of a lot to go on to begin with. There were only a few things we knew for sure. We were looking for a white male, late twenties to early thirties with black hair, according to the two witnesses my colleagues found at the scene. You would think that in this small fucking town, it would be a cinch to find the bastard. But the neighbors of the house to where Charlie was called stated that he must not have been from around here, because none of them recognized him. And worse, an elderly couple, who from the looks of things had never had a domestic dispute in their fucking lives, occupied the address Charlie was called to in the first place. It was like a bad fucking episode of CSI.
Forensics didn't exactly shed any light either. We already knew he was shot at point blank range in the back of the head, and based on the way he was found when the paramedics arrived on the scene, he would've had no chance to pull out his weapon or in any way try to fight. It was a sneak attack. Whomever it was that shot Charlie was waiting there for him, like some kind of sick ass stalker, and struck when he knew he was distracted. There wasn't even so much as a shell casing at the scene. Who ever did this knew what they were doing. It only infuriated me to think that someone targeted my best friend. None of this made any sense at all. If they were targeting Charlie specifically, how did they even know that he would be the one to take that call? If not, did that mean that the bullet was meant for me, or one of the other guys at the station?
The only piece of physical evidence we had, was a single hair found at the scene. It was a dark hair, and it didn't match Charlie or any of the authorized personnel at the scene. We might as well have had a needle, in a big ass haystack.
But the icing on the cake was the fact that it had also been a week since I'd seen Bella face to face. I was kicking myself in the ass for being so stupid with her. Of all the scenarios I played out in my mind about the next morning, I sure as hell didn't count on this one. Even though we hadn't slept together. Well, technically, we did sleep together. Even though we didn't fuck like rabbits that night, the next morning left a bad taste in my mouth. She left. I didn't blame her either. I still felt guilty that I had perpetrated this whole awkward situation, when it could have been avoided.
But I can't say that I regret it. Having Bella Swan in my arms as I went to sleep was, without risking sounding like a pussy, the most beautiful experience of my fucked up life, so far. The mere scent of her, the smoothness of her skin as she lay next to me, the way she held on to me tightly...like she was scared I'd disappear.
It was amazing.
But unfortunately, because God or whoever the fuck is pulling the strings up there hates me, I woke up to a content mind and an empty bed.
I wasn't even sure when she left, but when I realized I was alone in that bed, it felt like I had been punched in the fucking stomach. I shot up out of my bed and went from room to room, hoping that she was in the bathroom, or sprawling out on my couch like she had been last night...but no. She was gone, and I didn't understand why. The only proof that this beautiful girl was even here, was a note on my desk. I picked up the small note, noticing right away her beautiful handwriting, but feeling wretched once I read her simple, yet haunting words.
I was wrong. You shouldn't have to pick up the pieces for me. I'm sorry.
Obviously, something scared Bella. But what? What could have happened while we were asleep to make her run away like this? Usually I was the one to run, running away before things became too personal - too complicated - before I became too involved. But Bella seemed so open, so pure. She wouldn't have anything from her past to make her jaded, make her afraid to be close to someone. All I had were questions about her odd behavior, and no answers.
Thank fuck we exchanged cell numbers the other day, I thought, as I decided to send her a text just to see of she was all right. If she wanted me to leave her alone after that, I would. But I had an obligation to make sure she was okay. I made a promise.
Just making sure you are all right. You were gone.
I sat there for a minute, my stomach churning at the thought of Bella being upset, or hurt, or feeling like she made a mistake by opening up to me last night. And then I was praying that she didn't think I was some kind of idiot for not using that 'text speak' bullshit that the kids use these days. Emmett always made fun of me, calling me an old fogey for not being 'hip' like him. Add this to the list of things he'll ultimately make fun of me for.
I was silently plotting my future revenge on my adolescent-minded brother, when I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket.
I'm okay, don't worry. Just needed some time alone. We'll talk soon.
I breathed a sigh of relief, as I read her message over and over. At least I knew she was all right. But it didn't keep the nagging feeling inside me from easing at all. There was something she wasn't telling me, something that she was hiding. But instead of marching over there and making things worse, I decided to give her some space... for now.
So after a week of trying to find more leads in the case and coming up empty, then coming home to an empty house, my heart felt heavier than ever. The only solace I had was the short texts with Bella, which usually would happen at the end of the night before I went to sleep. Nothing significant- pleasantries, really- but it was something. I wanted to call her. Hell, I wanted to just take my ass over there and knock on her door. But I didn't. I didn't want to pressure her, or make her feel uncomfortable in any way. But something had to give. Now that I'd had a night of dreamless sleep I was aching for her to be in my arms again. In my bed again. It sounded girly of me to say, but I wouldn't even kiss the girl, as long as she let me hold her while she slept. I can't even come up with the right words to describe how that felt, how much that meant to me.
So after the week I'd had of not sleeping, not seeing Bella, and not catching the fucker that killed Charlie, I decided that a run was a good idea. I needed to clear my head, and work off some of this nervous fucking energy that was sure to keep me up all night again. I figured if anyone were to pull me out of this emo fucking state of mind, it was Emmett. When I called him up, he was a little too eager to come running with me, which usually meant that he was up to something. Or he had something to torment me about. Fucking little brothers.
It only took about twenty minutes to hear the booming knock on my front door.
"What's up, big brother?" Emmett hollered as he entered the house.
"Hey," I said quietly.
"What's with the need to run? You got something on your mind? A little brown haired girl, perhaps?" he said with a wink.
"Oh Jesus, Em... give it a rest already," I sighed. He'd been trying to pump me for information all week and I wouldn't budge. I didn't think that Bella would appreciate running my fucking mouth to my family. I knew his heart was in the right place, but it was none of his business.
"Calm down, Edward. I'm just trying to help you man," he said sympathetically. I felt a little bad at that point, but I honestly just didn't want to talk about it.
"Just drop it, Emmett."
"What the hell, Edward? It's been a week since the funeral, and you've been a bigger ass than usual. You better not have done anything to hurt that girl. She's been through enough already," he said.
Wow. Seems like I'm not the only one protective of the brown haired girl.
"I didn't do anything. Nothing happened," I stated finally.
"What does that mean? I know the night of the funeral..." he said, trailing off.
"Look. If you must know, I hadn't seen her since that night. We've texted back and forth but that's it. I'm trying to keep her up to speed on Charlie's case. End of story, man," I huffed.
"Okay, dammit. Spill. What did you do? You haven't seen her in a week. And she lives right next door. What the fuck did you do to piss her off? You better not have fucked that girl. Oh my God! You did! I'll tear your fucking nuts off," he yelled.
And I had fucking had it.
"I didn't fuck her, okay?" I screamed.
Emmett stopped pacing, and looked right at me.
"I didn't fuck her. I wouldn't do that, not to her. Things got heated after we had some drinks, but I stopped it. She was upset over Charlie, and I couldn't do that to her. Are you fucking happy now, dammit?"
It was silent for a few moments as Emmett processed what I told him. God, he could be so damn frustrating. But in all fairness, he did deserve to know what happened. I wasn't the only one who loved Charlie, everyone did. And I knew Emmett had taken a liking to Bella from the second he met her that day. Just as Alice had. Just as we all had. He had a vested interest in Bella too, I supposed.
He sighed and plopped down on the couch, and I did the same, as I waited to get reamed for being the dick that I am when it comes to women. Emmett knows me and my track record. It's no secret that I'd done exactly what he was accusing me of before.
Finally, after a complete change in demeanor from Emmett, he looked at me and whispered, "So, you didn't screw her?"
"So, no Unskinny Bop? No mattress dancing? No naked lambada? No putting the chicken in the oven? No-"
"No, Emmett," I laughed. "None of that."
"Oh," he sighed. I couldn't' help but chuckle at the fact that he could go from being angry when he thought I fucked her, to being sad that I didn't fuck her.
"You ready to go, man?" I asked him, now that he had calmed down.
"Yeah. Let's go, big brother. It's time to show you how inferior you truly are," he chuckled.
I shook my head, and walked out with my little brother, feeling a bit lighter about the situation. It felt good to get things off my chest a little bit. Even though Emmett didn't know the feelings I had for Bella, or how strong a pull I had to her, or the need I felt to just protect her. At least he knew now that she wasn't like other girls.
Not to me.
That night, as I lay down in my empty bed, I had an eerie feeling. Though I tried to put it out of my head, this feeling usually meant that the dreams would be especially haunting.
And that night, I had the worst nightmare yet.
Because not only had I watched my parents die like I had a million times before... but she was there.
Bella was there, in my dream.
And she was dying, too.
It was real. It was all too real as I sat in the back seat of the car and watched. Bella was sitting beside me, laughing at something my mother said. God, my mother would've loved her, I thought. We stopped at that stoplight, the one where it happened. And instead of seeing the blur of a man approaching the car, gun in hand... there was a black haired man. He looked me dead in the eyes as he bent down toward the driver's side window.
He pulled out the gun.
And I screamed.
I screamed and tried to get to Bella, to get to all of them, but I couldn't. I just couldn't. I was too slow. The man fired off three rounds, one for each of them, and I could almost smell the blood coming from the inside of the car. I tried to scream for help, but nothing would come out.
And then, at the end... I leaned over to Bella's blood soaked body, the life draining from her dark eyes, as she whispered something to me, softly.
"Stay here. Stay with me."
I jolted awake, screaming Bella's name.
It was almost as if I had no control over what I did next.
With sweat pouring from my body, I sprang from the bed, and ran to the desk in the corner of the room where my phone was. I didn't even think, I reacted. Reacted to the nightmare, the fear that it would happen in real life, the fear that I would someday be too late to save her too.
I couldn't lose her as well.
I dialed the number with shaky hands, tears poring down my face. After three rings, she answered.
"Bella! Thank God! Please, I need you to come over here. I have to know you're okay. I need to see that you're okay. I'm begging. Please, Bella," I cried. I didn't even recognize my own voice.
"Edward?" she shouted, panicked. "Hold on, Edward. I'm coming."
A special thanks goes out to all my Twitter gals, for making me laugh, pumping me up, and telling me to just fucking write already. You know who you are.