~ The Weight of Us ~
The gentle wind curled around us, fluttering through my hair and making the strands dance across my face. It skittered along my skin, causing a shiver to ripple down my spine. Goosebumps raked across my flesh.
Without saying a word, Edward unbuttoned his tuxedo jacket and placed it on my shoulders. The jacket enveloped my body in its warmth. His scent lingered on it—wine, cologne, grass, and surprisingly, no cigarettes.
"Did you quit?"
"Quit what?" he asked, his brows sketching a look of confusion on his face.
"Or did you just not smoke today?"
"Oh, that." He crossed his arms against his chest and leaned back against the chair. "Yeah, I'm trying something new."
"What? Did you not want me to quit?" His eyebrow arched.
"No. It's…it's not that. I'm happy you quit. I'm just—forget it."
"Women are always so confused," he said, an amused smile curved his lips. "You people don't know what you want." He shook his head.
"It's just…it's weird not smelling it on you. Or seeing you without a cigarette. You always have something in your hand."
"I do have something in my hand." He brought out his hand from his pocket and held up a pen.
"Or in your mouth," I continued.
"That sounds so wrong."
"You have a dirty mind, Mr. Cullen."
"You make it sound dirtier when you call me that—like I'm some old man." He punched my shoulder lightly.
"You are some old man." I giggled.
"I'm getting old, there's a difference. Same way you're getting old, too," he said, still smiling. "Besides, I chew gum now."
I laughed at his substitute for cigarettes. "And this helps with the quitting thing?"
"Yes…" His brows drew closer together on his forehead, as if he was thinking deeply. "No," he finally said, relaxing. "Not really. It's complicated." He folded his arms across his chest.
"As with everything else." I sank back into the chair.
"I broke up with cigarettes," he said, tapping his left arm with his thumb and smiling.
"What? Finally found out they weren't good enough for you?" I teased.
"Yeah." He nodded, laughing, and then got serious. "No, I just…" his brows creased in thought. "I figured if you'd ever want me back, you might not want the cigarettes, so I quit."
"Edward, I'd still…" I paused, and then let my sentence drift into the air. I wasn't sure what I was going to say.
"Yeah, but you know, just in case. Things are different now." He turned away.
"Besides, it's more for me than it is for you." He looked at me and smiled. "I'm still selfish," he joked and I smiled, turning away.
The air was indented with silence and the sound of crickets punctuated it at intervals. The wind whistled as it blew past the trees of the park.
"Alice made a beautiful bride," I said. "She definitely knows—"
He cut me off. "You were always a beautiful bride." His voice was as soft as a whisper, that I almost thought I'd imagined it.
I glanced at him, but his gaze held the gazebo. "Yeah." I turned away. "But not beautiful enough. My grooms—"
"—were fucking idiots and cowards not to see what was in front of them."
A bird flew away from a tree and ascended into the dark sky, flying diagonally across the moon.
"This park holds so many memories." I pulled his jacket tighter around my arms. "It's one thing that has always been constant in our lives. It's the place you proposed. The place where you asked me to choose between you and Jake the night before my wedding. The place Alice and Jasper got married. The place you…" I trailed off, recalling his grand gesture that happened earlier this evening.
That one gesture seemed to bring back everything at once.
Edward sighed and leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees. He ran his fingers through his hair. "What the fuck are we doing, Isabella?" The sound of his voice was synonymous with exhaustion.
"I don't know," I answered honestly. I didn't know anything anymore. "This isn't easy for me, Edward." My voice was on the verge of breaking. "This…" I gestured to the space between us, even though he couldn't see what I was doing. "…was not the plan. You weren't supposed to walk away. You weren't supposed to leave me. You promised you'd love me." I bit my lip.
"And I still do, Isabella," he said, his head turned to the side so he could look at me. The intensity in his green eyes unraveled me. "That hasn't changed a fucking bit, you know that."
"But you've hurt me constantly." My voice cracked.
"I love you." He sat up straighter.
"You hurt me." I repeated.
"I love you." He said the words, as if they were a balm that could cure or lessen my wounds, as if love could ultimately make things better.
"Stop saying that," I whispered. I didn't have the energy to argue. I had no fight left for him.
"How can you say that you love me when you keep leaving me?" I asked in a soft voice. "My wedding day—"
"I thought you didn't want me. You were getting married to that guy, I couldn't handle it."
"His name is Jake," I said. "And even still, our wedding day—"
"I was fucked, Isabella. I didn't want you to marry a fucked up guy."
"You aren't that fucked up."
"I thought I was doing the best for you. I thought—"
"Was it really?" I asked, looking straight at him. He turned away, not providing an answer. "You're always thinking. That's your problem. Always making decisions for me, as if you know what I feel. It's like you think I can't handle things. You shouldn't get to do that. I don't make decisions for you. I don't tell you how you feel. It should be the two of us making decisions together, not just you. When did I ever tell you that I didn't love you? Or that I couldn't handle it? When have I told you that I didn't want you?"
"Many times." He sighed.
"That was after you left me. After you showed me that you didn't love me," I replied. "I'm allowed to say that. You left me on our wedding day for crying out loud. I can tell you whatever I want." I turned away from him, staring at the gazebo. "People think it should be easy to walk away from the person that hurt them, but it's not. It's not easy. And maybe it's because I've loved you so much and for so long that loving someone else seems wrong, or I don't know…abnormal. Maybe it's because I don't make plans at all, but in a way, I planned to live the rest of my life with you. And now that that ultimate plan didn't work, I can't live it with anyone else because I have no fall back plan. It was you or nothing. You were the one thing I was sure of. Maybe I'm just one of those people who will never let anyone else in because they've lost so much."
"I know…" He exhaled, looking at his hands that were joined together on his lap. "I know we can't go back to the way things were before…before I left. I know we can't go back to the Isabella and Edward of our childhood. We've grown a lot. I'm not the same person and you aren't either. But fuck, Isabella. I just… I've tried living without you and I can't. I don't want to. I've done it and it was fucking hell and I don't want to go back." He was still staring at his hands, like he was afraid of what he might see on my face. It was as if he was anticipating rejection.
I looked away, glancing at the park.
"And I've done many fucking terrible things in my short life. Things I'm not proud of. Things I wish I could fucking take back because they've hurt you. And I wish I could take away that hurt but I can't. I'm fucking selfish for being here, asking you to be with me—for chasing you when you don't want to be chased. But if there's the slightest chance that you still want me back, I'll be here begging until you agree." He paused. "But if you don't. If you can't…." I heard the cracking of his knuckles before I felt his gaze on me. "What I'm trying to say is if you don't want me, if it hurts too much and we can't get past this, I'll walk away. I'll leave…right now. No matter how much it fucking hurts, Isabella, I will walk away. I've hurt you too much and I can't do that to you anymore. But I'm not going to walk away easily. I'm not going to make this easy for you. I'm not making decisions for you anymore, Isabella."
At the sound of my name, I looked at him. "I'm not fucking leaving until you tell me to."
The determination in his voice caused me to break away from his gaze. "That's the thing, Edward," I said, my fingers running along the edges of his jacket. "This is us. This is how we work. You leave and I stay. It's our dynamic. Now, what am I supposed to do when you won't leave?"
Edward's right hand covered my fingers and pulled them away from his jacket, his fingers caressing my hand. "Stay with me. Or let's leave together," he replied. His hand moved to my face and his fingers brushed away the tear drop that had unknowingly slid down my cheek.
He drew closer to my side and his hand curved around my neck. "I want to stop making you cry," he said, and that sent a wave of emotions through me.
Suddenly, it seemed like the dam of sadness that I had managed to keep locked spilled out in the form of tears. He pulled me to him, his arms circling around my body. Sobs wracked my body as I thought of everything that had happened today.
I had been doing so good, keeping all my emotions locked because I didn't want to ruin Alice's day. And it was hard. It was hard seeing the wedding, because I'd once wanted the big cake, the laughter, the wine, the speeches, the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and most of all, the groom. But not just any groom. Him.
But that wasn't what made me feel jealous, which made me feel disgusted at myself for being jealous of Alice. The truth was I never wanted to be a bride again. I just wanted the opportunity to feel security. For someone to promise me they'd love me. For that kind of love that was easy—that didn't hurt, as much as it did now. That didn't make you feel like you had to choose between living with the person you loved and not living with them.
And then there was a dull ache that was attached to the sight of Jake today. I thought about when we were together, and how easy it was, and how it would never be easy again. And we'd never be able to talk like friends again. And how he'd probably never forgive me for what I'd done to him.
But most of all, I thought about Edward. I thought about him singing in that gazebo and pouring his heart out and I felt nostalgic.
Edward lifted me up from the chair and placed me on his lap, rocking me back and forth softly as I broke down and let it all out. A part of me wanted to push him away. The last place I wanted to seek solace from was his arms but my head rested against his chest. Edward's hands tightened around me while I cried onto his shirt.
He'd done so many things. He'd hurt me so many times. And I had forgiven him. I'd probably never forget, but I had forgiven him. And I was finally letting it go. I was letting it all go.
The only thing I'd probably never let go was the fact that I loved him. And I would never love anyone else as much as I loved him. And if I let him go finally, if I went on living the rest of my life without him, I knew that no one would ever fill that space. I had accepted that.
After a few hours, maybe it was minutes, or even seconds, of crying on his shirt, I removed my head from his chest and he looked at me. His green eyes were slightly watery and his face was drawn with sadness. He turned his head to the side, and then looked back at me.
When I looked at him, gone were the traces of tears in his eyes. It was as if he had blinked them away or I had imagined them.
He cleared his throat. "Are you all right?"
"Okay." He smiled a little.
At that moment, I realized that I was actually sitting on his lap and our faces were probably a couple of nanometers away from each other. So that when he breathed, I could feel it against my lips. And when that happened, my eyes involuntarily glanced at his lips. His tongue caressed his lower lip, and before I could move closer to taste that lower lip, I pulled away.
I slowly stood up and tucked my hair behind my ears. I needed air. I stepped away from him, the chair, his eyes, his smell—and then I realized, I could still smell him because I was wearing his jacket. I took off the jacket and handed it to him. His facial expression sank as he stared at it before collecting it.
"I just need some answers before I say anything else."
"Okay." He leaned back against the chair, clutching the jacket and staring at me.
"Why did you bring Tanya back to Forks if you were coming back for me?" I asked, biting my nail and watching him carefully.
He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his palms and took a deep breath. "You have to know Tanya meant nothing to me, nothing more than a friend."
"Yet, you brought her home with you? That action says otherwise, Edward."
"I didn't bring her home. I didn't even introduce her to Esme. You weren't supposed to meet her. She was a friend when I needed one during the years I was living without you. She wasn't a replacement. She was just a friend. I'd lost all my friends…and she was just…there."
"A friend you had sex with."
"And I'm not proud of it. If I could go back, I wouldn't have had sex with her if I knew it was going to hurt you this much. It wasn't my intention to hurt you. I just didn't think I was ever coming back."
"You were trying to move on without me."
"Yes, I was trying. We've been over this, Isabella." He dropped the jacket on his lap, placed his elbows on his knees and ran his fingers through his hair. "I can't take any of it back, no matter how much I want to. I can't. And I'm not blaming anybody, but myself. Because I fucking did this."
"I just want to know what's different now. You were such an ass to me when you came back. I know you're usually an ass, but you came back acting like I owed you something. You owed me, Edward. You were acting like I was some object that you could use and discard and then pick it up again whenever you wanted to."
"I was fucking scared. I didn't know what to do. I knew you had moved on, but I didn't know you were going to get married. I stopped being an ass when we went to the lake and I brought you home when you were drunk. I saw how much hurt I had caused you then. When I came back, I was sure you had moved on. I was sure you didn't feel anything for me…and that's partly why I acted so cruelly, even though I was the one who caused it. But then that night I saw that you still cared, and I was still hurting you, so I backed off."
I thought about the week when he had avoided me before the wedding. And then I thought about the night Alice had dragged me to Jasper's place and I had caught him playing the guitar, the night he congratulated me on my wedding to Jacob.
"But I was still selfish then and I was still a coward. Because I should have never come to you on the morning of your wedding. I put that doubt there. I should have never seen you or—fuck," he ran his hands through his hair, "even spoken to you. I should have stayed and made sure you married him, if that's what you wanted. And I should have stayed for the wedding just as you asked me to, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't watch you marry him so I left."
"You can take the blame for everything else, Edward," I said, wrapping my arms around my torso. "But you can't take the blame for what I did to Jake. That was my mistake. I caused it. I wasn't ready. And I was in love with someone else. I shouldn't have let it get that far. I thought I could move on without you. I wanted to show you that you weren't that important to me."
"But if I hadn't come to see you that morning, you would have married him, Isabella. You would have had everything you wanted, and I fucking took that from you." He looked at me right then, his green eyes reflecting the agony of his words.
"But that's where you're wrong. Everything I've ever wanted was you. You took you away from me. Can't you see? None of this would have ever happened if you hadn't run away, if you hadn't left me. You excluded me from your problems and then proceeded to make it a big deal, when it wasn't even your problem in the first place. You make everything a big deal, Edward. Everything but me. I keep getting left behind because you're careless. You're careless with the things you care about. And I know it's not just me, because you do it to your family, too, and your friends. The things you don't care about, you're careful with them—which is so ridiculous, because it's supposed to be the other way around." I turned away from him, staring at a nearby tree. "Look at what happened when you came back home. You brought Tanya. If you had thought about it—if you had really thought about it, just as you over think everything else—you would have known that was a bad idea. You would have known how much it hurt me. You wouldn't have brought her home."
He didn't agree or disagree with me. He just kept silent. I took a deep breath, brushing my hair away from my face.
"You're not an object," he finally said and I turned to look at him. "You're. Not. An. Object."
He stood up, his jacket falling to the ground. He didn't even glance at it—his eyes were fixed on me. "You're not something that someone can discard and pick up again." He started to approach me slowly, carefully and I stepped back impetuously. "And I'm fucking sorry if I've ever made you feel that way." He stood in front of me, his finger pushing away the strands of hair blowing across my face. "You're not an object, Isabella." He held the side of my face gently. "I'm so sorry for hurting you."
I closed my eyes at the touch of his hand. "Tell me what has changed, Edward." I felt him kiss the back of my hand and I opened my eyes.
"I have. Everything has." His green eyes pierced mine. "I'm different."
"How do I know that you won't leave again when something bad happens? How do I know you'll completely let me in? How do I know you've stopped running? How do I—?"
"You don't, Isabella. You don't know. And I'd give you reassurances but you won't fucking believe me unless I show you that I'm here now and I'm never leaving you again."
"If I let you in this time, Edward, and you leave me"—my voice faltered—"I won't be able to take it. I'm not strong enough to lose you again." I gently extracted my hand from his soft grasp and turned away. "So if you're going to leave, you should leave now." My head tilted to the side. "Don't be careless with me."
His hand brushed my hair away from my neck, and then he turned me gently to face him.
"I'm never leaving you again." He whispered his promise against my lips.
My hands curved around his neck and our foreheads rested against each other. "I've missed you so much, Edward."
His hands wrapped around my waist and he pulled me closer to him. My head settled against his chest and I could hear his heart racing.
"I fucking missed you, too," he whispered against my hair. "Let me take you home."
The drive to Emmett and Rosalie's place was silent.
I was too exhausted to say anything else, so I stayed quietly in the front passenger seat and stared at the window as he drove past all the green lights.
And whenever we reached a red light, I'd feel his gaze linger on me before he'd start driving again.
It was almost 4:00am when we finally arrived at the house. I watched him open the gate and drive into the driveway. He stopped the car and removed the keys, staring through the windshield.
The air between us crackled with tension. Now that we had talked about almost everything, it seemed as if we had nothing left to say. My mouth opened to tell him 'goodnight' but closed again without actually saying the word.
What was I supposed to say? What were we supposed to do now? What was going to happen now that we had decided—now that I had decided to give him a second chance?
My fingers moved to open the door but stopped at the sound of my name.
"Isabella." The tone of his voice was soft and unsure.
"Yes?" I answered, staring at the dashboard.
He breathed. "May I please come in?"
My gaze moved to him and the words came out of my mouth in a whisper, carrying an uncertainty. "Yes."
I opened the door and got out of the car, taking a deep breath. I heard him close the door as I reached for the house keys in my bag. When I got to the door, I placed the key into the keyhole, completely aware of the man standing behind me. I gently opened the door, trying not to wake up the members of the house.
Edward moved quietly behind me as we walked toward the guest room. When we reached the room, I closed the door and flicked the lights on.
"It smells like paradise in here," he said, taking off his shoes.
My cheeks reacted to his compliment with a blush. I dropped my keys on the dresser next to the mirror. "I'm going to go…change and use the bathroom. Make yourself," I swallowed, "comfortable."
I quickly entered the bathroom, closing the door behind me. I went to the sink and turned on the tap, splashing water on my face. My hair looked like a bird's nest when I looked at the mirror. My mascara had darkened the area around my eyes due to my tears. I decided to take a shower and buy myself some time before I went back to the bedroom, where Edward was currently in.
When I came out, I noticed he had opened a few buttons of his shirt. He was lying on the bed with his back to the headboard, watching me. I put my hair in a ponytail, flicked off the lights and moved to the bed, when I could no longer put it off any longer.
I lay down cautiously, facing the wall with my back toward him. His body shifted closer to mine, his arms wrapping around me. He placed the bedcover on us and planted a soft kiss on my hair.
"Goodnight, my Isabella."
Then, he reached over and turned off the bedside lamp.
I stared through the darkness and clung to Edward's arm wrapped around my body, as if the moment I closed my eyes, it would disappear.
I woke up, startled, around 7:30am and found out that Edward wasn't on the bed. I rubbed my eyes, yawned and then glanced around, searching for him.
I started to wonder if what had happened after Alice's wedding was suddenly a dream when the bathroom door opened. Under the beam of light escaping from the bathroom, he appeared and answered me.
He closed the door and joined me on the bed. "Shh," he whispered. "I'm here. Go back to bed."
"I thought you left," I said with a yawn, relaxing back on the bed when I felt his arms around me.
"I told you, I'll never leave." He kissed my forehead and a sigh escaped me before I was out again.
When I woke up again, it was around 11:00am. Edward was fast asleep, breathing deeply. One of his arms was above his head and the other lay on his stomach with the bedcover tangled between his legs. He looked completely dead to the world. I smiled at the sight. The last time I had seen him sleep this peacefully was…well, it was a long time ago.
I walked to the closet and got out a robe, then left the room quietly.
Rosalie was in the kitchen, making coffee. "Sleep well?" she asked, not taking her eyes off the hot, steamy dark liquid being poured into a mug.
"Yeah," I replied, reaching for another mug in the cabinet.
"I see you brought him home," she continued.
I glanced at her and found her staring at the window, precisely at Edward's car.
I poured some coffee into my mug.
"You're only setting up yourself for disappointment, B. I don't know why you keep doing this to yourself. You deserve better. So much better than this. So much better than him. All he'll ever do is hurt you. Why would you ever want to be with someone like that? Who constantly puts you in that position? How could you trust him again?"
At that moment, I guessed that was the conundrum.
I suddenly realized that today I'd have to face the decision I'd made yesterday. Last night, it was just me and Edward, but this morning—today, it was everyone else who was coming to terms with my decision.
I knew I deserved better, much better than him. I knew he had the possibility of hurting me again. I knew that any normal woman who had been through what I'd been through would have left him at the park last night. I knew I shouldn't trust him and I didn't even trust him now.
I knew all that.
And yet, I was here and he was in my bed, sleeping.
And yet, I had told him I'd take him back and give him another chance.
And yet, a very small part of me believed that when he said he'd never leave me, he was saying the truth this time.
Or maybe that was what I hoped for.
I turned to look at Rosalie and brought the mug to my lips. "Because I love him," I said, before taking a sip of my coffee.
I knew this reason wasn't logical enough for Rosalie to accept. To be honest, it would never be enough for anyone to accept. And maybe I was content with that because they'd never understand how I feel about Edward Cullen. And maybe no one else could understand because we all loved differently.
I had given my heart to Edward a long time ago and he had never returned it.
"I've loved him for a very long time, Rosalie." I swallowed, checking for more sugar in the cupboard. I wasn't a fan of coffee, but I still drank it. "Even when I hated him, I loved him. I've loved him so much that I don't know how to love anyone else." I found the sugar and poured a little into the coffee.
"Maybe you just don't want to love anyone else," she murmured.
"Maybe," I replied, placing the pack of sugar back into the cupboard.
I turned around to face Rosalie and found Edward behind her, leaning against the door with his hands in his jean pockets. He looked completely exhausted.
"He's like a drug for you, Bella," Rosalie said, and then my gaze was drawn back to hers as she walked toward me, completely oblivious to Edward's presence.
I could see the concern written all over her face, and I thought that maybe when Edward broke my heart on the altar, he had broken hers, too.
"And he'll be the death of you," she said, pulling me into her embrace.
My gaze held Edward's. He stared at me intensely for a moment, before his brows knitted together on his forehead and he looked away.
"I just don't want to see you get hurt again," Rosalie continued, pulling back a bit to look at my face.
"I know." I looked at her, hoping she could see that I was okay. When she pulled away, I glanced at the door and Edward was no longer there.
I opened the door to my room and found Edward sitting at the edge of the bed, appearing to be deep in thought. His head whipped to my direction at the sound of the door shutting.
I ran a nervous hand through my hair and diverted my gaze to anything else in the room but him. I couldn't understand why I was so tense around him. I'd thought about what it would be like if we were ever back together again. And I'd thought that there would be a sense of relief. That, maybe, things between us might be easier.
But they were still complicated, like Edward Cullen was.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and then opened them again. Tucking my hair behind my ears, I said, "Look, you shouldn't be upset about what Rosa—"
Before I could even finish my statement, he got up from the bed and walked toward me. He placed his hands on my waist and slowly backed me against the door. Then, he tilted my chin up to catch my gaze, brushing his fingers gently across my cheek.
Slowly, he bent his head toward mine. Leaning closer, his lips interlocked with mine, like the pieces of a puzzle. He captured my top lip and I captured his bottom lip. His lips moved slowly, tentatively. His mouth was warm and tender, but firm, sending a delightful sensation coursing through my body. The stubble on his unshaven jaw brushed against my skin, rough meeting smooth.
Edward's fingers laced through my hair, pushing it away from my face as he sucked gently on my bottom lip. His hands cupped the sides of my face, pulling me even closer to him. And my body melted and lost all control when his tongue slipped into my mouth, my arms snaking around his neck. It seemed as if everything in my body opened up to him. He was pouring himself into me, filling all the holes inside me, and somehow removing an emptiness I didn't know existed.
I felt him everywhere—his leg between my thighs, his hands on my face, his body pressed against mine. I clung to him desperately, afraid that even though his kiss gave me warmth right now, it might get too warm and start to burn. I needed to let him know that now that I was letting him in again, I was never going to let him leave. I needed him to know that I was still scared, that he couldn't make me feel whole like this and then take half of me with him again.
He finished the kiss, placing sweet, light kisses on the corners of my lips, like signing a signature at the end of a letter.
I swallowed and opened my eyes to the million dollar grin overshadowing his face. I smiled, feeling a bit lightheaded.
"Sorry, I've been wanting to do that for a while now," he said, smirking when my eyebrow arched in response. "Come." He took my hand and pulled me to the bed.
He lay down on his side of the bed and I lay on my side, wondering what he was up to.
"Let's spend the whole day together."
"On this bed?" I asked. "For the whole day?"
"Yes, why not?" Edward smiled. "I've spent almost half of my life without you, and right now"—he took my hand that lay on top of the pillow and held it delicately, his eyes burning into mine—"I want to spend today with you." He brought my hand to his lips and stared at me as he planted soft kisses on my fingers. "Just give me today, Isabella. We can worry about everything else tomorrow."
Green eyes, as green as fresh leaves, stared at me. They glittered like emeralds when he smiled. They were very penetrating when he was curious about something and cut like glass when he was furious. Green eyes. Now, they were warm and staring at them sent tingling sensations through my body. Even after the years of separation between us, I was still a sucker for his green eyes.
His bronze hair was a contrast to the green. It was so much shorter than I remembered. However, the strands hadn't grown obedient over the years—they still looked like thousands of fingers had run along them.
My eyes studied his face. It had changed. He had lost that boyish expression that made girls crush so hard on him in high school, now they'd probably just want to marry him. Age had firm, masculine lines running along his face. It had also planted little hairs on that once smooth jaw.
I recalled the countless thoughts I once had of slapping this face I was admiring right now. I'd once thought of using my fingernails to claw out his skin, just so he could feel at least an ounce of the pain he'd made me feel when he left me. And then I thought of those nights when all I'd dreamed about was kissing his face. And then there were nights when I wished I could stare into his eyes so they'd give me comfort that everything will get better.
I wondered if that was how love made you feel—like wanting to kill your beloved, but knowing that a life without them was insufferable.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked, still grasping my hand.
"About how shocking it is that after all we've been through, after everything you've done, you're still so important to me. So much has happened since we were teenagers, since we were engaged…since you left," my gaze dropped to our hands, "and yet, here I am and here you are—looking at me, like none of it happened. Like we were never separated. Like we're continuing from where we left off."
His other hand moved to my face, tucking my hair behind my ear. "A lot of things have happened. I don't think I'll ever forget what I did, how much I fucking hurt you. And although time passed when we were apart, it didn't change how I feel about you."
I closed my eyes and let the words settle in my head.
"Is green still your favorite color?" he asked, and my eyes opened to meet his.
His question dug up a memory from a crevice of my mind. I'd forgotten a night when two teenagers—a boy and a girl—sat on the porch steps of my parent's house, under the moonlight. They were staring at the blanket of darkness decorated with stars, just after their very first date. The boy had decided to linger for a while before going back home and so they sat together, talking about anything and everything. He had asked what her favorite color was and she had replied that she didn't have one. She didn't have favorites, even though he was her favorite boy.
"What is the point of picking one thing out of millions when you can have all of it?" she'd said. "It would be unfair to the others."
"Yes. But then nothing would ever feel special. And if nothing feels special, then everything's just normal…ordinary. We have to have a preference in life—some things need to stand out." The boy had reasoned.
They had been best friends since they could remember but they had never discussed their favorite things. They knew intimate things about each other—all the things that mattered. For instance, the boy knew that when she was nervous, she tended to play with her hair or her fingers. And if she was lying about something, he could always detect it in her tone and her eyes. But he didn't know what her favorite color was.
This trivial detail seemed like an evolution of their relationship. After all, they knew each other as friends did. But now, they were becoming something more, and she thought that maybe something more meant being with someone and learning new things about them in a different way.
So the girl had looked into his eyes and said, "If I had one, I'd choose green."
"Why green?" the boy had asked, curiosity evident in the furrow of his brows.
She had turned away from him, feeling shy and vulnerable—like her emotions were naked on her face. "Because green symbolizes nature…growth, life, the rebirth of something." Her voice dropped down to a whisper. "And because it's the color of your eyes."
I looked at the man lying in front of me, who had once been that boy who had claimed that some things needed to be special, distinct.
"No, it's not," I said, trying so hard not to smile when a look of disappointment crossed his face. "I'm over it now."
"You're lying." He smiled.
It was so hard to stop the smile that spread across my face. "I'm not."
"You so are," he said, grinning fully now. "You've forgotten that I know when you're lying."
Edward's hands found the sides of my body and he started tickling me. Each place his hand touched made me jerk, and soon, I burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter and giggles.
"Ah, you're still ticklish." He cocked a brow, showing no mercy as his fingers lightly poked my body.
"Oh God, Edward." I squealed, laughing and at the same time, trying to get away from him. "Stop, please…I can't…oh my God." I tried to pry his hands away from my body, but it was futile.
Edward finally stopped as I lay almost at the edge of the bed, trying to catch my breath. I blew a stand of hair away from my face. He pulled me to the middle of the bed to keep me from falling.
Propping his head on his elbow, Edward's gaze caressed my face. "My Isabella," he said in a husky tone, his fingers tracing the outline of my lips.
My heart almost skipped a beat. "Are brunettes still your favorite?" I asked, panting, probably due to the tickling exercise or maybe because I was anxious to hear his answer—his reassurance.
Leaning toward me, he said, "Yes, but only one."
And then he kissed me again.
Song for this chapter: Find Love by NLX.
Dear Readers: Thank you so very much for everything; your patience, your messages, your reviews, and most of all for reading. Extremely sorry for the wait.
And I'm very grateful to my betas: Vakuntrygal & MrsBoyscout.