First of all I just wanted to apologise for such a long hiatus. I've needed some time to get over a few very large events that have occurred since the beginning of the year. They're all quite private things that I don't want to publish on the internet for everyone to know about but I will tell you that a couple of weeks after my last update I found myself no longer engaged.
But I am finally back and I can just feel that things are about to come to a huge swell in this story. I've been dreaming about Gummiward a lot lately and he's been hassling me to get his Bella's memory back! So this chapter has been a very very long time coming, folks. I can tell you that it won't be long at all until the next chapter comes!
And let me know what you think, of course ;)
Small fingers untied the blindfold. I could smell jasmine, roses and Doritos mixed with raspberry shampoo. I reached out and rested my hands on Bella's hips, hearing the sigh that I lived for. She always seemed so relieved to have me back.
I opened my eyes slowly.
"SURPRISE! HAPPY NEW BIRTHDAY!" everyone cheered. I couldn't help but laugh at the banner across the room. Alice and the girls had been very busy this morning. The entire room was covered in decorations and pictures of my past birthdays. There were balloons everywhere. There was a table covered in gifts and another with a large tower of gummi bear-topped cupcakes. The tallest tier had star-shaped candles on it. Everyone was here. Everyone from the bar, all of Jacob's crew from the reservation, my whole family, all the film crew and Bella's friends. And most importantly, there was Bella.
To say that Bella looked amazing would be a complete understatement. Her hair had been straightened for the event so it hung down her back, just touching her waist in the front. Her clothes weren't revealing, but she looked stunning in her long purple dress and silver sandals. The scarf in her hair matched the dress. I would have to thank Nat, Chrissy and Alice later – they were certainly the ones responsible.
Bella threw her arms around me, elated at my appropriately surprised response. I hugged her tightly, burying my nose in her hair and whispering my thanks. She kissed my shoulder and pulled back to grin at me.
"You said you didn't like your birthday, so I thought we'd give you a new one," she explained.
"Thank you," I smiled. "Thanks, everyone!" I called, looking around. They all cheered and before I knew it, Jasper was steering me to the pool table that had been set up for the occasion and my favourite songs were echoing off every wall of the inn.
Everyone, even Esme, was feeling a little happier than usual thanks to Emmett and Chrissy tearing it up at the makeshift bar Jacob's friend Seth had built the day before. Everything was going well – Edward was having the time of his life playing the brand new guitar Esme had bought for him.
"It's a Fender Stratocaster..." he murmured reverently, caressing the cherry red body of the electric guitar. I'd never seen him so enamoured with an inanimate object before. It was adorable. "Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Kurt Cobain, John Mayer. They all played the Strat," he informed me, still staring down at the guitar and brushing his fingers over the strings.
"Don't you wanna open your other gifts?" I asked him. Maybe it was a bad idea to have let him open that one first, but there had been no way of keeping him from the obviously guitar-shaped gift when we'd taken him to the gift table.
"Can I hold her while I open?" he asked, his eyes not leaving the Fender. I laughed and plucked the guitar from his hands, eliciting a whine of protest from him. I had a feeling that if anyone had done that they would have been killed.
"You can hold her all night, Edward," I promised as he gazed longingly at the precious cargo in my arms. I placed it gently in its case and locked it. Once satisfied that his new love was safe and sound, he turned his attention to all of the other parcels on the table.
"You should open this one," Natalie told him, sliding over the gift from Alice and Jasper. I stifled a giggle, knowing that this particular gift was going to reawaken the guitar-lust I'd just had to reign in. He noticed my amusement and knelt down suspiciously, tugging at the ribbon while holding my gaze.
"Card first," I reminded him. He rolled his eyes and tore open the envelope attached to the side of the box.
"Dear Edward," I read aloud. Alice shushed me and told me to read it to myself. She blushed as I finished reading the card, which was completely sappy and so totally Alice. I got up and hugged her and she turned her back to me, wiping a tear away as I knelt back down to open the gift.
"No. Fucking. Way!" I gasped, seeing that it was a brand new amplifier straight away.
"It's a Marshall," Jasper winked. I knew that he'd been the one to make the guitar choice for Esme, and I knew that he was responsible for picking such a fucking awesome amp to go with my heavenly new guitar. I know it's girly, but I got up and hugged the shit out of that motherfucker. Jacob and Leah presented me with a card. Inside the card were four tickets to see Kings of Leon.
"You should take Bella," Leah whispered. I laughed and patted her back as I hugged her awkwardly.
"I intend to," I whispered back with a wink. We smiled at each other for the first time in years.
Next I opened the gift from Emmett and Rosalie, which was a brand new game called Band Hero. It looked pretty awesome even though the songs looked quite pop-centred. Definitely good for some drunken entertainment later in the night. Emmett promised to set it up as soon as I was done.
Alice saved Bella's gift for last. There was a card attached to it and she warned me not to read it aloud. I arched an eyebrow at her as I pulled the card out of the envelope. The picture on the front of the card tugged at my heartstrings. There was a young man hiding behind a curtain while people in party hats looked everywhere for him. It reminded me of the time she'd decided to play hide and seek unbeknownst to the rest of us. I glanced up at her, but she didn't show any sign of knowing how much the card would mean to me. There was so much she could remember in the back of her mind – if only I had some way of bringing all to the forefront of her consciousness. The caption on the inside read 'You may think you're avoiding the party, but you're really just playing Hide And Seek'. I smiled and began reading what Bella had penned. The entire card was covered besides the small caption.
First of all I hope you aren't mad at me for throwing this party for you. I just really hated seeing you so sad about your real birthday. No one should be sad on their birthday, especially not you.
I want you to know that even though I'll eventually have to go back to Phoenix, you have made this place home for me. I have never really felt like I belonged anywhere before and when I met you I realised that wherever you are is where I want to be. I belong with you.
The past few weeks have been the best weeks of my life. I have you to thank for that. You've changed my entire world. You've made everything perfect.
So I hope that today is one of the best days you've ever had because if I can give you even a fraction of what you've given me then it makes it all worth it. You deserve that kind of happiness.
I lifted my eyes from the paper and saw that Bella was wringing her hands shyly. I wordlessly tugged her to me and very gently pressed my lips to hers in a thank you that I wouldn't even have been able to word.
"You don't even know what it is yet," Bella giggled, knowing that my kiss was a thank you. I kissed the tip of her nose and told her my thanks was for the card. "Oh, then I'll get another kiss. Good."
I was laughing when I took the large parcel in my hands. I chose to sit down for this gift, feeling the weight and hearing a few things shift around in the box. I furrowed my brow at her as I tugged on the ribbon. She just smiled. Alice was taking picture after endless picture of me, of her, of the box, of the guitar.
I purposefully lifted the lid at an agonisingly slow rate. I kept my eyes on Bella the whole time, watching her nervous look morph into a glare as she caught onto the fact that I was playing with her. She folded her arms, trying not to laugh as I threw her my most innocent look. She lost the battle though, finally grinning and shaking her head at me. I peered into the box.
The box was filled with what would have appeared to be large plastic confetti to anyone who wasn't musically-inclined – but I knew that the box was filled with dozens upon dozens of guitar picks. But the guitar picks only served as filler – there were also several larger wrapped items.
A capo for the Fender.
Five bags of yellow gummi bears.
A blue music book for me to write songs.
What looked to be a hand-made notepad that was already written in. When I went to read it, she halted my movements and shook her head, blushing furiously.
A cigarette lighter that looked exactly like my new guitar.
A novelty phone in the shape of a guitar and amplifier that made everyone crack up laughing.
A brand new leather jacket.
"Bubbles?" I questioned, pulling out the last gift. She reached out and sheepishly took the bottle of bubble juice from me.
"Okay that one's more for me," she admitted, immediately dipping the wand in and blowing a plethora of bubbles my way.
It was like I was right at home. I barely knew these people but I was more comfortable and myself than I could ever remember when I was with them. It didn't only go for Edward, but for everyone in Forks. I didn't ever want to leave this place – it felt like this was where I was meant to be.
When Edward had laid eyes on the party – on everyone who had gathered because he meant something special to them – I had felt a wave of relief wash over me. He wasn't mad – he was happy. I had made Edward happy and it was all I had ever wanted to get out of the day. He loved everything from the paper links to the tower of gummi bear cupcakes I'd made him.
Now he was blissfully drunk, lazing on the lounge with the last of the partiers – Emmett and Jasper, of course – while Alice and I cleaned up around them.
"Bella!" he called. I could picture the lazy grin on his face, a bronze shock of hair covering his eyes. He wouldn't care; he'd leave it there and I'd sweep it away for him later.
"Edward!" I called back, mimicking his tone.
"Say that again!"
"Say what again?" I laughed, tossing the last of the streamers into the trash. I high-fived Alice and shuffled tiredly into the living room. No sooner was I in his arm's reach than I was being pulled onto the lounge with him. As predicted, his hair was in his eyes and I brushed it back as he sighed languidly. "Say what again?" I repeated, nestling into the crook of his neck.
"Say 'Edward'," he commanded, prodding me in the side and chuckling mischievously when my muscles seized.
"Edward," she repeated, effectively sending my entire being soaring up to the stratosphere. She was the only one who could ever have that kind of effect on me. Drunk or not, I could listen to her speak all day. And not only for the fact that I was now able to have a completely coherent discussion with her, but also for the fact that everything she said sounded like music and meant the entire world to me. Because she was in my life. Because she was my life and most importantly because the words were directed at me. She was talking to me.
"Kinky," Emmett slurred, eliciting a giggle from Jasper. I knew they were both thinking it, and I knew neither of them had been passed out like they were pretending to be – no, the fuckers were having too much fun listening in on my private conversations with my girlfriend. My girlfriend... A new grin burst forth at the thought.
"Don't you two have something better to do with your time other than listen in on private conversations between a guy and his girlfriend?" Bella asked, launching a couple of cushions their way and once again proving her uncanny ability to know my thoughts. Or maybe it was just that I had influenced her so much while she was 'growing up' that we simply shared thought processes.
"They're not exactly private if you're speaking in a public area," Jasper challenged as he was being hoisted up under his arms by Alice.
"And if they're kinky they're definitely not private," Emmett pointed, stumbling as he tried to make his way over to the stairwell.
"So you'll be sharing all of your future kinky conversations with your entire family, then?" Bella questioned, sidling over to help him to his room. I stretched out on the lounge, resting my hands behind my head; she would be back.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I will," Emmett answered defiantly, brushing her off and trying to look all indignant as he continued over to the stairwell.
"Well be sure to tell me when you plan on sharing all of that so that I can make myself scarce, okay Em?" I called, throwing a wink in his direction. Bella had made her way back over to him and was helping him up the stairs. I saw him go to brush her off again, but he caught her eye and something in him changed. He grinned and relaxed into her, letting her guide him. He whispered something in her ear, and then they were gone.
There is a distinct difference between the sound of a guitar, and the sound of a piano. No shit, I can hear you thinking. Well you don't even know what I mean yet. Yes, there is the obvious difference in the sense that they are two completely different instruments. But the way the sound emanates through the air is different.
Piano music shimmers, flows, sparkles. I've always been reminded of lakes, rivers and moonlight when hearing piano music. I can see myself on a river bank staring into the shimmering water and seeing the moon and the millions of stars that would be sparkling in the sky if I could tear my eyes away from the ebbs and flows of their reflections.
Music from a guitar is different. While it shares that strange soothing effect as piano music, it doesn't sparkle or shimmer. The only way I can think to compare the difference is that while piano music make me think of a river in the moonlight, guitar music makes me think of a meadow in the sunlight. I often see myself laying in a field and watching the clouds float by. Then again, I can also see myself on the beach watching clouds of smoke from a bonfire, or by a pool on a hot summer day breathing in the scent of the BBQ.
Piano is water. Guitar is air. Both of them are as beautiful as they are essential – water and air, I mean. And I wouldn't know anything about either of them if it weren't for Edward.
"Would you like to have dinner at my place tonight?" Edward asked suddenly.
Well, it was sudden to me. I had gone into a daze listening to him play, but his new guitar was already back in its case when I opened my eyes and it made me wonder how long I had been lying there with my eyes closed before he had spoken to me.
He lowered himself to the ground beside me and scooped me up, waiting for my answer. Dinner at his place? I'd never been before, and he hardly spent any time there – probably because he spent almost all of his time here with me.
"Sure," I replied, trying to sound casual about it but if I was going to be honest with myself I was freaking out a little about the prospect of an even alone with Edward. Truly alone . Not alone in a room with several other people in several other rooms in the same house – but just him and I.
All of my Phoenix crew had left a couple of days ago. The film was done and ready for editing at a new place in Seattle that Jason had been lucky enough to be able to try out. They were leaving for home from there – I'd already said my goodbyes to them. I had a job here, I had my new life and I wasn't going back at any point in the foreseeable future.
Of course, I didn't tell them that. To them I was going to spend a few months here and then go home – start college and begin forging a career. But I had no intention of really doing that. I wanted to find out more about my family here in Washington, and I wasn't leaving until I had come into contact with them. And there was no way I was leaving Edward behind.
"Takeout or home-cooked?" he asked, his fingers finding mine just as I leaned back into his chest. I considered my options, both of them seeming equally appealing. Cooking gave us more time with each other in the kitchen, ordering in gave us more time wherever else...
"Let's order in," I answered quickly with a definitive nod of my head.
"This is Forks – there isn't any Thai," he chuckled, kissing my temple. I frowned and let out a huff, settling in the end for Chinese. "Okay and we'll get some movies as well. And plenty of gummi bears," Edward grinned, squeezing me tightly.
I thought about Nat and Chrissy, and all of my other Phoenix friends. I knew for sure that they would never have approved of me going to Edward's place all on my own. But that was the beauty of it all – they weren't here anymore and I was free to do whatever I pleased with whomever I pleased. And most of all, they weren't around to be all in my ear about finding my family. I knew I would find them when the time was right, no sooner and no later. It wasn't as if I wasn't making any effort – I was constantly trying to track down records. I thought I had come close one time when I found a newspaper article about hospital records in Forks that were found after the death of a doctor – records that didn't match any person in the area. The only thing they knew from the records was that it was a girl about the same age as I was. I had been falling asleep at the time that I found it and I wasn't able to find it again after that. I wasn't in as huge of a hurry now anyway . I knew that I had at least a few months to find them – hopefully more than that – and I wanted to use my current time to enjoy my relationship with Edward in a way that I hadn't been able to before.
It wasn't as if all I wanted to do was jump his bones – though the idea certainly did appeal to me. I also wanted to be able to spend time with him, and only him, if that's what I wanted to do. The others were constantly finding ways to take me away from him, especially because he didn't seem to keen on me researching my family history.
He wasn't being unreasonable about it at all – I could honestly understand where he was coming from – but I wanted to find them regardless. He didn't understand what it was like to not remember. Couldn't possibly understand the frustration of not knowing what you were doing for a great majority of your life. But Edward was afraid that I wanted to find them for the wrong reasons. He was constantly reminding me that all that mattered was who I was now and how I felt about my life and myself now. He was always telling me that the past was in the past for a reason – which kind of made me think that he was a little hypocritical because he seemed to struggle letting go of his own past so much – and always went on to say that finding my family and remembering my past wouldn't change who I am.
But of course I already knew that. I just wanted to know who they were.
"Do you know what we should do?" Bella piped up, spinning around to face me. She was so adorable that I just had to lean forward and kiss her.
"What should we do?" I asked, staying close and taking that gorgeous little face of hers in my hand.
"We should have a super awesome sleepover!" she chirped, giving jazz hands for effect. I chuckled and kissed the tip of her nose before I even realised what she'd suggested.
Bella wanted to stay the night.
"I don't have a spare bed," I apologised with a sigh. It would've been nice, but my lack of hospitable nature in the past led me to shut any potential visitors out.
"Well..." Bella pondered, her brow furrowing in concentration. She had a strange kind of look on her face, like she knew what she wanted to say but was having a hard time getting the words right. I'd seen that look so many times before when she would struggle to remember the right word for something, but Bella pretty much had a full working vocabulary now so it puzzled me to see her searching herself like that.
Bella opened her mouth and shut it again, blushing a little as she shook her head furiously.
"No, nothing... nothing," she insisted when I pressed her.
"Say it," I laughed, amused by her sheepishness.
"I wasn't intending on sleeping in a spare bed..." she mumbled, phrasing it more as a question even though it was clearly a statement. She stared into her lap as the enormity of it all hit me. It reminded me of the time she was so determined to have me kiss her, all the times she didn't understand what she was asking of me when she wanted to be a couple. I thought of how I had to explain the importance of keeping our relationship as non-sexual as possible and of how it had been so black-and-white for her at the time.
Things were different now, of course, but I just naturally shied away from overly sexual activity with Bella because in a way I was still trying to protect her. I couldn't help it. It's not as if I didn't want to take our relationship that little bit further – I mean really she was the most gorgeous thing on the planet and I'd thought about it a lot... and I mean a lot – but I just didn't know if she was going to be ready for that kind of thing.
She was doing that mind reading thing again because when she looked up she got this knowing little smile on her face – the same smile she always got when she understood what was going on in the fucked up brain of mine.
"Bella..." I began. She held up her hand, signalling me to stop talking.
"I don't care if we don't, uh..." she trailed off, letting me finish that particular section in my head. "I wasn't really even thinking about that, to be honest," she admitted, blood rushing to her cheeks again in response to her own dishonesty. I knew Bella, and I knew that was exactly what was on her mind. "I just thought that it would be more convenient, especially with movies and... well, I kind of like the idea of going to sleep with you," she added bashfully, sending me a pleading little smile.
With a sigh, I got to my feet and helped Bella to hers. I hadn't responded yet so she still had her puppy-dog eyes in full force. I gave her a disapproving frown and she simply upped the ante, her adorably desperate pout transforming into a mockingly innocent grin. I shook my head and acquiesced – just like always.
"Go get your clothes."
Really, how was I supposed to resist?
Oh god, how was I going to survive this night?