Hello m'dears. Sorry this took so long to update!!! I had a whole chapter written and beta'd. Then I decided I hated the chapter and had this whole angsty breakdown and struggled to re-write it then scrapped the whole chapter. According to my wonderful beta, Evil Black Poppies, (who btw had every right to fly over and beat the tar out of me for killing off a long ass chapter she had just edited) this one is much better and flows easier with the rest of the story. Do you see why I'm not worthy?
You should check out my beta's story Equines and Delerium. There's tragedy, horses, and a darkward with issues to be confirmed/revealed. She just started and I can't wait to see where she's going. It's in my favs if you want to have a look!
A big HUMONGOUS thanks to Sunfeathers for promoting Rain Season on twitter. The influx of traffic on that day was wild...I walked around with a big sappy grin.
Enough rambling. I don't own these characters, all of the genius is Stephanie Meyers.
Play List for this chapter includes: I know: Jude, Cold Water: Damien Rice, Wandering Stars: Portishead, Breathe Me: Sia
Small Warning: there are scenes towards the end that some people may find upsetting or disturbing to read. No offense is meant. (no rape or cutting...just some darker stuff.)
I went in ahead of Edward, back into muted lights and dancing couples. The piano player was still singing into the mic, but this number was more upbeat.
I couldn't pay much attention to it, my nerves were on fire, my body singing from Edward's kiss. My brain was too fuddled to really make sense of it. I wasn't sure what to think about what he'd said. What the fuck is this between us?
Was he angry with me? Had I kissed him wrong? Between taking care of my mother and then my father over the last couple of years, I hadn't had much time for boys. He probably thinks I'm some virgin loser who can't kiss.
Which I am.
I felt myself go red and tried to make it back to my seat before I fell on my face. I noticed the table was empty except for Esme who was watching Emmett and Rose on the dance floor with a soft smile on her face. Alice and Jasper were up dancing as well, and I spotted Carlisle speaking with a group of men. I made it safely back to the table with only a small stumble and sat down rather ungracefully, wringing my hands under the table.
Esme looked over as I sat down and smiled at me. I tried to return her smile but it must not have been very convincing. Her eyes shifted to the back of her other son, who was at the bar waiting to be served. She looked back at me and got up, shifting over to the empty seat behind me.
"How are you doing, sweetheart?" Her eyes looked into mine, searching.
I struggled to put words together. "I…I'm fine, I guess. Just still tired. I think the jetlag is hitting me hard. I don't know my up from my down." She nodded and put her arm around my shoulders in a small hug.
"You don't have to stay down here if you're tired, honey. Whenever you're ready to go up to your room, that's fine. It's mostly Carlisle's thing tonight, anyways," She nodded towards the rest of the room and continued, "Most of the men in this room are either doctors, surgeons, or junior doctors. They meet each year for this charity bash, I guess. Carlisle was invited during one of the many rounds of golf he's played non stop since we've been over."
At that moment, the group of men Carlisle was standing with burst into loud masculine laughter. Carlisle smiled at them, but his eyes strayed to Esme for a brief second and raised his glass to her. Esme smiled and raised her glass of wine.
"What charity is it for?" I asked.
Esme turned back to me, "Oh…something to do with heart research," she answered.
"Oh." And just like that, my mind filtered backwards. Mom had settled in Phoenix after the divorce. She explained the heat was welcome after spending so many years in upstate Washington. She had tried her best for me but it ended up me always taking care of her. Then when I turned 16 and was a junior is high school, my dad had a heart attack. While he was recuperating in the house, he needed someone to take care of him. As soon as word reached me, I told mom I was going and that there was nothing she could do to stop me. She eventually let me go and I moved to Forks, Washington permanently to look after my father, who was the current chief of police. That summer before my senior year I cooked and cleaned and my father was much better after rest.
My senior year, my mother had been making trips more and more frequently to make sure I was ok. I think she missed me and missed how the house was kept running while I was in it.
I felt my eyes burn at the memories and realized I was going to start crying. I blinked rapidly but just as I managed to hold them back, Edward sat down. I immediately felt myself go scarlet again. I couldn't even look at him, I just stared at the table. One of his hands was on his pint glass of beer, the other hand was drumming his long fingers on the table.
His voice, soft and warm as whiskey, floated over, "Would you like to dance, mom?" I looked up as Esme smiled and rose from her chair. Edward stood and took her arm as she came around the table to meet him. I watched as he led her onto the dance floor with the other couples. They were dancing as gracefully as the others. Alice and Jas floated by them, Jas said something and Esme laughed in response. The song finished and changed to something just as rhythmic as the last dance and the couples moved in response to the rhythm.
Alice and Jas suddenly separated from the crowd and moved off of the dance floor towards the table. Alice took Esme's vacant seat next to me. Jaz smiled down at Alice and she smiled back at him happily as he kissed her hand.
"Would you like something to drink, darlin' ?" His soft southern drawl enquired.
"A glass of wine, Mr Whitlock," she looked at him from beneath her lashes and smiled so her dimples showed.
His eyes shifted to me and flashed me a melting grin, "And for you, Miss Swan?"
I smiled slightly back at him, his charm irresistible, "Just water for me."
"Are you sure, just water?" he looked at me expectantly.
"Please, with lots of ice," I answered. He nodded and turned to make his way over to the bar. Alice turned to me and took the chair that Esme had vacated.
"Well Bella, what do you think? Any hot doctors catch your eye?" she winked at me and scanned the room.
I bit my lip, the only person who caught my eye probably thought I was a total moron. "Not really, I think I'm still on Washington time, my brain is kind of asleep still."
She giggled, "Well don't look in the corner -don't look! - I think that young doctor has his sights set on you!" I tried not to glance over and failed. A blond man with handsome features nodded in my direction. My eyes widened and I looked at Alice's face.
"Oh my God, I think he's going to come over." I said, horrified.
I looked up and saw that he was. He was very handsome, and up close even more so. Blond hair, blue eyes, sharp patrician nose, he was even better looking up close and he seemed to know it.
"Would you care to dance, Miss?" his Scottish accent was thick, and there was a delay as I sifted through it to understand what he had asked me.
Alice leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Go with it, Bella!" and nudged me out of my chair.
He offered his hand and smiled down at me. I took it, not really knowing why. I felt I should explain to him as he led me out to the dance floor.
"I should warn you, your feet will more than likely be stepped on," I said, embarrassed as he led me onto the floor. He found a quiet corner towards the back of the floor near a window.
He chuckled and said, "It's all in the leading." I placed my hands on him where Edward had shown me previously and allowed myself to be led through steps.
"I'm James, by the way. And you are?" He smiled down into my eyes.
"Bella Swan." I answered simply. It was a novelty to me, dancing with two handsome men in one night. Neither one caring if I stood on their feet. Although dancing with James was not as smooth as dancing with Edward. James did not seem as graceful whether I was on his feet or not.
"I'm pleased to meet you, a beautiful name for a beautiful woman." I blushed under his appraisal and looked down.
"So, you're American, then?" I looked back up into his eyes as he smiled.
"Yes." I didn't know what to say, I was still confused as to why he would not only want to dance with me but talk as well.
"What part of America are you from? I've only been to New York."
"Ummm," I licked my lips nervously and his eyes followed the action, "I'm from Washington State originally, but I grew up in Phoenix."
"Arizona?" he asked. I nodded.
"I've heard it gets quite hot. Is it quite different from Scotland, then? It must be, it's a desert," he chuckled at his own conclusion. The more I spoke to him, the more I noticed he slurred his words as he spoke and his eyes were hooded as he looked at me.
"Where Phoenix is dry and arid, Scotland is lush and green, just like Washington. Although Arizona has it's own beauty which is separate from the greenery other people find appealing. There is something in the wide blue skies, the mountains dry and brushed by the wind, lonely cacti like tiny fingers on the landscape."
"Wow, it sounds amazing. I would love to go someday."
"You should. Make sure you do the whole tour, there's more to Arizona than the Grand Canyon." I was like some sort of tourist booth. Change the subject. CHANGE THE SUBJECT.
Before I could, I suddenly noticed that he had danced us outside and again I was in a dark corner with a handsome man. Only this time, his fingers weren't gentle and the lips that descended on mine tasted of stale beer. His smile which I had mistaken for warmth was actually a sneer and I gasped as his fingers bruised my arms. I tried to call out but his mouth sealed off any protests that I tried to make.
"Bella? Bella what the-" It was Edward's voice I could hear. James was on me and then he wasn't. Edward had him by the throat against a wall, his chest heaving.
"I don't know who the fuck you think you are. If I see you near her again, I will fucking end you. Got it?" His voice was low and furious as he held James against the wall.
James sneered, "Fuck off, mate. Have you fuckin seen her? I was only havin a bit of fun. She led me out here."
Edward's hands tightened on James throat and said softly, silkily, "Don't even fucking go there. Get the fuck out of my sight and stay away from her!" With that, he let James go and shoved him towards the door.
The air was heavy and still and Edward turned to me, panting with adrenaline. "Are you alright?"
I nodded and rubbed my arms. I shivered as his eyes fastened on the red marks that James had left. His nostrils flared as he quickly moved to my side, examining my arms. He touched me gently, and his fingers caressed the marks James had left. "No, you're not. C'mon I'll take you up to your room." His voice was dark and low.
"You don't have to, I can make my own way upstairs." I protested as he turned me and guided me, his hand at my back.
"As if I'm going to let you wander in the hotel all by yourself with that asshole on the loose." he guided us through the room. Esme and Carlisle were dancing at the edge of the floor. Edward stopped and briefly explained to Esme that I was tired and he was going to make sure I got in my room ok. Esme nodded her ascent and looked at me.
"Goodnight sweetheart. We're in room 702 if you need anything."
Edward led me out of the room and towards the elevators in the hall. He jabbed at the button and the door pinged as it opened. He followed me in and jabbed the floor button.
I watched him as we stood in the elevator. I was cold and started to chafe my arms, my teeth started to rattle and I tried to clamp my jaw shut. He took a deep breath and turned to me. He took in my wary expression and noticed that I was shivering. His eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened as the door pinged. He guided me out of the elevator, his hand burning through the material of the dress at my back. I took my key out of my clutch to figure out what room I was in. The numbers 725 were printed in black across the plastic card. I was staring at the numbers when suddenly the card was snatched out of my hands by Edward's fingers. He started walking down the corridor towards my room towing me along.
Edward kept up a quick pace and since his legs were longer than mine, I was tripping over my feet trying to keep up with him, his hand still at my back. My jaw hurt from clenching it and I opened my mouth to try and work out the soreness. I took a deep breath to calm myself down and Edward glanced down at me, his eyes full of anger.
Was he angry with me? He glanced back down the hallway, leading me. We arrived at my door and he slid the card into the lock and the little red light flashed green. He threw the door open, dragging me behind him. He flicked the light on and the door closed behind us.
He turned back to me. His eyes studied my arms, my face, my lips. He made a movement, like he was going to reach out to touch me but then stopped himself.
"Bella?" he asked, his voice tight, controlled.
"Yes," I croaked softly.
"Distract me, please." he ordered.
"I'm sorry, what?"
He exhaled sharply, running his fingers through his hair.
"Just prattle about something unimportant until I calm down," he clarified, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.
"Um," I wracked my brain for something trivial. "So I've never really had vodka before and it has a weird taste. People always seemed to go on about it in college but I don't think I'm much for it. It makes me feel all funny and it makes the coke taste horrible. I wonder if rum is nicer. Or I suppose whiskey. I've heard Jack Daniels and coke is nice but I've never had that either."
He smirked, but his face was still tense, "Jack Daniels and coke is alright. Bella have you ever drank before?"
"I had a small sip of beer at a party my friend Jess dragged me to last summer. That's about it. I had to take care of my dad and then I started college. I was the first in my family to go to college and my dad was so proud. I worked so hard at my studies, I just didn't have time for the usual stuff most people get up to at college." I shrugged my shoulders.
He took in a deep breath.
"Better?" I asked him.
"What's wrong?" I whispered.
"I have a fucking temper, Bella," his voice was strained and low, his eyes narrowed into slits as he glanced back at the door to the corridor, "You have no idea how much I want to go back down there and introduce his fucking teeth to his tonsils," He struggled for a moment, his hands clenching into fists.
"Oh." Was all I could think of to say.
"Bella-" he looked me in the eye and his jaw flexed again, "I have to go back down and speak with Emmett. Will you be ok?"
I nodded. He made a movement to move closer to me and then stopped himself. Then he turned and without another word quit the room, closing the door with a firm click. The atmosphere left behind by that noise was louder than any slam.
I sighed, and chewed on my lip, not quite knowing what to do with myself. I was so cold and I wanted to wash the awful taste of James from my mouth. I brushed my teeth twice and decided that Pjs and bed sounded heavenly. I felt so heavy and so tired by the time I slid the covers back. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
It was in the small hours of the morning when I finally staggered to my room. I stripped off my shirt and the sporran. I was sitting on the edge of the bed and looked up, noticing there was a door in front of me that wasn't the entrance to the room. I vaguely recalled Esme saying something about an adjoining room and realized the door was to Bella's room.
I pulled off my shoes and drunkenly pulled the flashes and socks off. I was going back over my earlier conversation with Emmett. I had told him about James and Emmett had talked me out of beating the shit out of him for being such an asshole. Emmett kept telling me it wasn't worth it and that we would never have to see the fucker again. I had let it go and he had led me to an adjoining bar in the hotel, away from the party where we sat down and had a few Jack Daniels while we talked about random shit.
I looked up suddenly as there was a strange noise coming from Bella's room. It sounded like loud crying coming from the other side of the door. Then there was the muted thump of stumbling foot steps, then a loud thud, as if someone had fallen and landed on their knees. Then I heard a door slam.
I put my ear to the adjoining room door, the crying was softer but there was the distinct sound of water running…the shower maybe?
I knocked softly on the door. I put my ear to the door and could still hear muffled sobbing. Was she hurt? Was someone in there? What the fuck?
I tried the knob and found it unlocked. I quickly opened the door and strode in, but the room was dark and I bumped into a table.
"Ow, FUCK!" I rubbed my leg, and spotted a sliver of light coming from the bathroom. The sobs were louder now and louder still as I opened the door.
Sitting in the corner of the shower was Bella, crying her heart out.
"Bella? What the fuck? Are you hurt?" She didn't hear me, I realized as I got closer to her. She must not have known I was there. She was curled up in a ball, in a black tank top and little black shorts. She was getting soaked and her hair was half frizzy from the steam.
She sobbed harder and started to tremble as the sobs shook her entire being. My heart fucking broke for her in that moment.
I crouched down, not caring if the water hit my chest or the kilt and put my hand on her back. She flinched and scooted closer into the corner. She was getting all wet and I knew she was going to catch a chill if she got any more soaked from the spray. I angled an arm underneath her knees and wrapped my other arm around her. She turned then, and slammed into my chest wrapping her arms up around my neck. Her sobs muffled into my chest and neck.
I picked her up and pulled her out of the shower. My chest was slick from the water and from her as I carried her towards the bed so I pulled her tight against me. I tried to put her down, but she wouldn't let go of me. So, kneeling onto the bed, I sat up scooted us against the headboard and held her in my lap as she continued to cry.
In between her sharp breaths I could only make out that she was talking, softly. It was ragged and I could only catch slurred parts of it:
"My fault…my fault. It was all my fault. Always has been. Mom hated Forks…left because she didn't want to be there after she had me…my fault dad was alone…my fault they weren't together for so long…my fault mom couldn't look after herself when she had me to worry about me…Phoenix was my fault…my fault…my dad…only two weeks a year…my fault…my dad so hurt…then-then…they started talking once I was away at college…they finally got it together once I was out of the picture…and-and then…camping…oh GOD oh GOD oh GOD!" The trembling against me got worse her breaths coming in sharp painful cutting gasps as she tried to keep herself from crying. Her whole fucking body heaving with the effort as I realized she was about to spiral into a full blown panic attack.
"Shhhh…Bella you're only going to upset yourself more." I reached to turn her face up, "Bella, look at me. Focus on me. I'm here, you're in the room, it's ok. Nothing's going to happen to you here."
Something in what I said seemed to make it worse. Her eyes widened and she started to mouth the word ok over and over again. She unfocused on my face and her breaths came in shorter, her whole body shuddering. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she was grabbing for breath like a fish out of water.
"Bella!" Her eyes came back and focused on me briefly but then became unfocused. I will never forget that for the rest of my fucking life, that awful shift of her body as she desperately grabbed for air.
Jesus Christ! I thought back to when I used to get panic attacks and remembered that sometimes breathing in a paper bag helped. Where the fuck was I going to get a paper bag?! I got up and carried her into the bathroom. I sat her on the toilet lid and saw a small white bag on the counter near the mini shampoo and soap. Thank FUCK! I knelt in front of her as she continued to grab for air.
"Bella, have you ever had to breathe into a paper bag? You do it like this. Take small breaths and focus making the bag deflate and inflate. Like this, see?" She focused on me again and watched. She nodded minutely and I handed her the bag.
After what seemed like a goddam millennium in that bathroom, she finally got the bag to work. She breathed out and in, the sound of the bag crinkling the only sound in the room. Her eyes were still huge but they weren't bulging.
After what seemed like another long drag of time had passed us by, she was finally calm enough to drop the hand holding the bag to her face. Her whole body shuddered and she slumped and nearly fell onto the floor.
I moved towards her and without asking, I lifted her up to carry her back to the bed. The bed sagged as I sat on the edge with her in my lap.
I rubbed her back and realized she was completely soaked through. She was shivering and her teeth started rattling.
"Bella, do you have anything you could change into? You're all soaked," I looked down at her bowed head and she shook it, "I'm going to get up and get you one of my t-shirts. I'll be right back, alright?" I started to move and she tensed. I reassured her I was only going through the adjoining doors and she relaxed enough to let me deposit her on the bed.
I walked back through to my room to get my bag on the bed. I pulled out an old t-shirt I had packed for tomorrow…or was it today now? I didn't really have much else. I usually slept naked. I grabbed my ciggies and my lighter from the dresser and walked back through the doorway. She was sitting on the bed where I had left her but her eyes were unfocused on the rug, her mind far away somewhere. She jumped as she became aware I was standing in front of her.
I held out the t-shirt to her and she sat there staring at it. It was my favorite blue color and was one of those old t-shirts that had gone all soft. She stood up slowly and took it from me, she walked over to the bathroom, quietly shutting the door behind her.
I went back into my room and managed to figure out how to get the kilt off without ripping it. I fished a pair of black tracksuit bottoms out of my bag. I put them on and went back into Bella's room.
She was still in the bathroom. I took the moment to open up the window that looked out onto the sea. I lit a cigarette and blew it out slowly as I watched the dull gray light of morning lift the mists off of the Isle of Arran across the sea. The cool morning air blew gently through the window as I took another draw on the cigarette, raising goosebumps on my arms. I rotated the ring on my middle finger with my thumb, and I turned my head, listening intently for sounds from the bathroom.
She emerged moments later in my t-shirt, the hem touching her midthigh. She had put her hair up in a messy bun on top of her head . I imagined going over and take it down and run my fingers through her hair, cool and dark on my skin.
She stood in the middle of the room and I could tell she wasn't quite sure what to do next. I walked over to the bed and sat down, swinging my legs up so I was sitting on top of the blankets, my back against the headboard. She watched me, wide eyed, every now and again a hiccup making her body jerk. Her eyes glanced at my bare chest and then she looked away, blushing again. She was so fucking adorable when she did that. I patted the space beside me and moved my head to indicate she should come over and sit next to me.
She hesitated and I snorted, "C'mon Bella, I'm not gonna bite you. Move your ass over here." Finally she moved and got on the bed.
There was something that was in her, something that obviously had a hold of her in real fucking torture hold and I was dying to know whatever that shit was. I remembered the feeling, like it was alive and fucking clawing at your insides and knew that she needed to talk to someone about it.
I decided to start, knowing this was going to be hellish but there was something about her that I knew I could share this shit with her. We just clicked, there was something between us and as cheesey and fucked up as it sounds, I felt like I knew this girl. Knew her longer that I had actually physically known her.
"Bella when I was 10, I found my mom after she had hanged herself. The look on her face will never fucking leave my mind, no matter how much I tried to make it go away. After the police found me, I was put through the system." I made a finger quote gesture at system and continued, "The first woman they placed me with was really nice. She wanted to be a mom but couldn't have kids or some shit. But I couldn't stay there forever and they moved me on to somewhere else. I ended up with this crazy fucking bitch and her guy. From when I woke up in the morning I was expected to wait on them hand and foot. I was slapped, kicked, punched for no reason on a daily basis. Her guy's name, Felix, he cracked one of my ribs once because his coffee wasn't fucking hot enough. When I woke up at night from nightmares, sometimes in the middle of a panic attack, they would beat me until I passed out." I took a deep breath, rubbing a hand over my face, remembering those darker days always made me feel fucking horrible.
"I stayed with them the longest but it didn't matter when I left. I was someone's cheque, some meal ticket, someone's punching bag. I started using drugs when I was 14. About a year later, Carlisle came to lecture at my high school. Six months later, he adopted me. He fucking changed my life and I know that sounds like some kind of hallmark bullshit but it's the truth." I dragged in another deep breath.
"I guess I'm telling you this shit because I know what it's like to go through things. I know that it isn't easy to talk about it but if you need to, I'm willing to listen to whatever it is you need to say." I finished and looked at her. She was staring straight ahead.
Her hand reached over and found mine. Then in a shuddering breath she started talking in a monotone voice.
"My parents divorced when I was little, my mother moved away from the podunk town in Washington to Phoenix, Arizona. I would see my dad in the summer for two weeks each year. My mother," she stopped as her voice caught, "my mother was erratic and flighty but she was my best friend." She bit her lip as she said this, her hand flexing in mine. Then she continued, "When I was a junior in high school, my dad had a heart attack and needed someone to look after him. I had been taking care of my mom so much and my poor dad didn't have anyone. So I decided I would make the leap and move in with him for my last year of high school.
My mother visited from time to time while I was in Forks. When I graduated, my mom flew up to see the ceremony. She and my dad, for the first time in 15 years were not only talking to each other but laughing and getting along. That Fall, I went to Washington State, my father insisted I live on campus. While I was there, mom and dad must have rekindled their feelings for each other.
I came home at Spring Break in March, and my mom and dad announced to me they wanted to get back together. They wanted to renew their vows. My father had always loved camping and fishing and was planning a trip to celebrate his and mom's reunion. I suggested that he and mom should renew their vows while they were out in the wilderness. I offered to plan the trip to Goat Rocks Wilderness and dad agreed readily. What I didn't realize was that it was a bad area for-" she took a deep breath in and let it out tightly, I saw tears start to glitter in her eyes, and the breath she let out was ragged, "a bad area for bears.
We had been hiking for sometime when I tripped. I went over on my ankle and dad decided we should stop where we were for that day, to let me rest it, hoping it might be better in the morning. I hobbled off to go to the bathroom. That's when I heard it: The most horrible sound I have ever heard in my life. A bear the size of a small horse charged into camp. My dad grabbed the shotgun but before he could fire it he had a heart attack and died in the middle of the camp. The bear mauled him first. When my mom had tried to save him, not realizing that he was already dead, the bear attacked her. I tried to run, but kept stumbling. My ankle was so sore. I could hear my mother screaming and calling for me to run. She kept calling my name. Then it was quiet.
It was night time, and I could hear the bear charging through the woods. I scrambled trying to find somewhere to hide. I remember the stars were so bright that night and the moon was glaring. I saw a large rock ahead of me as I ran and tried to scramble up it. There were tree branches above it that looked climbable. I kept reaching for the tree branch but I couldn't quite get to it. The bear was getting closer, I could hear it charging over dead leaves, growling and snorting. I fell off the rock and must have hit my head. I passed out.
The next morning, my friend Jacob found me. Somehow the bear left me alone and I'll never know why.
And now you know how I killed my parents."
And how about that? What did you think? too much...not enough? Let me know...please review, they really do make my day. And I respond to your reviews as well. Wow!
Also, just a quick soapbox rant: can we talk about anti-depressants real quick like. I mentioned in a previous chapter that Bella is on citalopram. This is one of the big hitters and while medication is sometimes key in treating anxiety and depression, you must be very careful with it. One should also watch one's alcohol intake with such powerful medication. I think too much stigma is attached to mental illness these days and if you are recovering, managing, or need help, I commend you for taking the steps and doing what you need to do to handle your shit. You're my heroes. srsly. xo