A/N: Sorry for the wait, but as with the previous chapter I've had a hard time putting down my thoughts to paper and I haven't had the time or energy necessary for writing.
I'm a bit sad to announce that this is the last chapter of The Air I Breathe. When I first started this story over a year ago I had no idea it would be perceived so well, and I'm blown away by all the kind reviews. At the moment I don't really have a story in the making, just fragments of ideas floating around in my head, and not all of them are Twilight stories, so it's a huge possibility that it's going to take a while for me to post anything new. Again, thank you so much to everybody who has read/reviewed/added to favourites.
Peace and love,
The Air I Breathe
"That went well," Edward mused, sitting down on my bed.
"Surprisingly well," I agreed, shutting the door behind me and leaning my back against it. Carlisle's story had most definitely explained his behaviour towards our relationship, and I sort of fell sorry for him. "Did you know all that about his mother?"
Edward shook his head. "No, I only knew that she died when he was young."
I thought back to just over an hour ago, when Edward and I joined Esme and Carlisle in the living room for what I had prepared myself to be a very uncomfortable conversation. And it was, at least partially.
"The first thing I'd like to say is that I'm sorry for how I intervened in your relationship, and the part I had in your break up," Carlisle said as Edward and I had situated us on the couch opposite from where he and Esme was sitting. He was leaning forward, his forearms resting on his knees, and it was with a startling realization that I noticed how haggard and worn out he looked. Maybe this whole ordeal had taken more of a toll on him than I'd realized before. "I was out of line, and it wasn't my place to judge your relationship. I hope you can forgive me."
"I already have, Carlisle," I said. "I don't understand why you did it, but I forgive you."
"I don't." It was Edward who had spoken. I looked at him, surprised. Carlisle had been a father to him since he was 14, but he still couldn't find it in him to forgive him? "You had no right to meddle into our relationship like that, we're both consensual adults. You also didn't have any right to say those things to me, knowing what my apprehensions about our relationship were. I trusted you with my life Carlisle, and you broke that trust."
Carlisle swallowed tightly, and Esme laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Edward, you're being unreasonable," she said softly, her eyes pleading with him.
"No, I'm not!" Edward fired back, and I could feel the hand that was on my thigh tense up. "Because of his meddling into business that didn't concern him, both Bella and I spent three months in agony. And for what reason?" His eyes shifted to Carlisle. "That you didn't trust that we knew what we were doing? That you didn't trust me not to break her heart? What the fuck gave you the right to decide over our relationship?" I covered his hand with my own, silently comforting and calming him down.
Carlisle sighed. "When I was eight years old, my mother killed herself."
I gasped, and a tightening feeling in my stomach made it hard to breathe. His mother had killed herself. Just like Renée had.
"It was on a Saturday, and I was at a friend's house when my father came to pick me up earlier than he was supposed to. He said I was going to stay with my grandparents for a little while, but didn't say why. I was confused to say the least. I stayed with my grandparents for little over two weeks, and my father came to visit a few times. One of the times he told me that my mother had gone to Jesus in heaven, and wouldn't be coming home again."
I didn't realize I was shaking until Edward wrapped his arm around my shoulders and pulled me into his body, kissing the top of my head lovingly. "I'm sorry about that Carlisle, but what does it have to do with my and Bella's relationship?"
Carlisle sighed again and took a deep breath before speaking, his eyes on the magazine that lay on the coffee table. "My parents met when my mother was started high school. My father was more than ten years her senior, and worked as a janitor at her school. When she was a junior they started to date, and they got married the week after she finished high school. My maternal grandparents disowned her for marrying so young, and to a man so much older than her. You see, my mother was very hardworking; she had straight A's, did a lot of extra curricular activities, and was all in all a very smart young woman. She was going to attend Harvard after high school, but she never got a chance to go. That summer she married my father she became pregnant with me, and so her dreams of Harvard were crushed. She was now an eighteen year old mother to be with no family other than her husband, she had no job and all her friends abandoned her. She became depressed, and my father had to take care of me when I was little because she would only sleep all day. I don't remember it all very clearly because I was so young, but I remember that I used to make her drawings, trying to cheer her up. Needless to say it didn't work, and she only slipped more into her depression. One day it was too much for her to handle, and she hung herself." He looked up and met my eyes. "Do you understand now why I reacted like I did? I blew over the top, I admit that, but when I saw you together all I could think about was my mother, who never got to experience things a woman her age should because of the choices she made."
We were silent, and Edward's body was tense next to mine. "You think I would do that to her?" His voice was shaking with rage, and I felt so utterly helpless because I didn't know if I could calm him down. I didn't want him to fly off the handle and say something he'd regret later. "You actually think that I would hurt her like that?"
"That's not what I meant, Edward. I have no doubt in my mind that you love her very much, and that Bella feels the same way about you. I just want you both to be cautious about the choices you make. You have a whole lifetime of being together, don't rush into things you aren't ready for. I'm simply asking you to be careful."
My face turned the shade of a tomato when I realized what he was implying, and I averted my eyes to my lap, where my and Edward's hand still lay entwined.
"Off course," Edward answered, and his voice sounded much calmer now.
"We need to decide what will happen now," Esme spoke up, and I raised my eyes to look at her.
"What do you mean?" A panic started to rise up within me, that they wouldn't allow Edward and I to be together after all. I didn't know what I'd do without Edward, he was my everything.
"Honey, while we are not stopping you and Edward from being in a relationship, we need to set up some rules, mostly for your own protection. Despite that you're eighteen, Edward is still a teacher. He could lose his job if your relationship was made public."
"What should we do?" Edward asked, but he was looking at Carlisle, not Esme.
"I think the best cause of action is to keep things under wrap for a while, at least until Bella graduate. Then you can over the summer slowly make your relationship known. I think the best approach is to pretend you're just starting to date, in which case no one can say anything about Edward being a teacher and Bella a former student. I take it no one outside this house knows about your relationship?"
"Alice knows, of course. Jasper knows, and Angela." I said, and Carlisle nodded.
"Good, that's good." He hesitated, and I could see he wanted to say something more, but probably didn't know how to.
"Is that all?"
"There's one more thing," he quickly looked at Esme before averting his eyes back to me. "Until you can make your relationship public, I think it's unwise for you to spend time at Edward's house other than a few hours at the most. Neighbors talk, and there's only so much you can blame on help with homework or hanging out as step siblings."
"I agree," Edward said. "I've seen Mrs. Crowley around looking too nosy for her own good. We're lucky we didn't get caught driving over here."
"So we'll hang out here instead?"
"It will be more inconspicuous for a number of reasons, the main one being that Carlisle and I will be here," Esme said, smiling gently at me. "Also, that we don't have any neighbors is a great benefit."
"So we keep it a secret for another month, and then start coming clean? It's not like we haven't kept it a secret up until now, another month isn't really going to change anything."
"I'm so glad we solved all this," Esme said, her smile radiating happiness and joy. "I'm going to go start preparing lunch, I'll call you down when it's finished."
I pulled myself out of my thoughts and looked over at Edward, who had lain down with his legs hanging off the edge of the bed. I couldn't help the smile that broke out on my face, and I quietly walked up to him. He didn't appear to have heard me coming, so I let out a yelp of surprise when he sat up and pulled me down onto his lap. I wrapped my arms around his neck and rested my face against his neck.
After promising she'd be back for my graduation Alice had left, saying she needed to get on the road soon so she wouldn't arrive in Seattle too late. I hugged her tightly and again thanked her for what she done for me and Edward this weekend. Alice's parting words to Edward were threatening, but the way she said it wasn't serious. Edward's response was that he'd never hurt me again, and if he did he'd gladly let her inflict all sorts of pain on him.
"What are you thinking about?"
"You," I answered. "Us." I raised my head to look at him. "That we only have to hide for another week. It's going to feel strange when we can be open about our relationship."
Edward nodded. "I agree. I've become so used to the hiding and sneaking around; it's going to be a big change. But a good change. I want to be able to shout out to the entire world that I love you. That you love me."
I smiled and kissed him softly, feeling his fingers grip my waist a bit tighter. "I love you," I whispered as I pulled away, leaning my forehead against his.
"I love you too," Edward responded, and my heart did the somersaults it always did when he said those words.
I graduated two weeks later, sitting in the gym with the ugly mustard yellow robes on and listening to Angela give her valedictorian speech. I got teary eyed when she spoke of the memories of high school, and clapped the loudest when she was done. It was a fairly quiet affair back at the house after graduation; Only Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie and Edward were there. I didn't mind; they were my family and the only ones I cared about being there.
That summer was one of the best in my entire life because I got to spend it with Edward. In the middle of July, we spent two amazing weeks in New York, doing little else but make love and walk around Central Park. It was when we got back to Forks we let people know of our relationship, by not so discreetly kissing at the Thriftway where we knew that Mrs. Stanley, the biggest gossip in town, could see us. It wasn't easy holding in laughter when my phone started filling up with texts from Mike, Jessica, Lauren and Tyler only an hour later, all wondering about me and Edward. Rumors started flying, but we told them what we agreed too: that we started dating after graduation but had liked each other for longer than that. It kept everybody satisfied, and they were none the wiser.
That fall I attended the University of Seattle, which was a lot different than high school. Edward and I took turns coming to see the other one on the weekends, and a system made by Alice made sure that when Edward was in the apartment, Alice spent the weekend at Jasper's place.
I felt like I was on top of the world, but not everything was a walk in the park. I was starting to get so busy with school work I couldn't see Edward as often as both of us would like, and it caused a strain in our relationship which I hadn't encountered before. We worked it out though before it got too serious, and soon our relationship was stronger than ever.
The night I graduated college Edward got down on one knee in front of all our family and friends and asked me to marry him. I choked out a yes between the tears and spent the rest of the evening glued to his side.
This brings me to now; standing on a beach in Hawaii with the sunset as our backdrop and with Edward in front of me. I hear Esme sniffling quietly behind us, and tears are gathering in my eyes as well. Edward is the very picture of calm, though his eyes look a little glossy as he says 'I do'. My voice breaks when I say the words back to him and the next thing I know I am being kissed, passionately and lovingly by my husband. Husband. Who would have thought that when we started out on this road over four years ago it would lead us here? I for sure didn't, but I'm glad it did.
I get to spend the rest of my life with my lover, my best friend, my soulmate. What more can a girl ask for?
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