Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns it. I'm just playing.
Author's Note: This is my first "Twilight" fanfiction, so any feedback would be very appreciated. Also, I am in desperate need of a beta. I apologize for any grammatical errors you find here. If the first chapter peaks your interest at all and you know what the heck commas are used for, let me know. I could really use a second pair of eyes.
I stood outside the door for a long time.
I wasn't pacing or biting my nails or lifting my hand up to knock before dropping it in painful indecision. I just stared at the warped flaws in the wood the same way a person would look at their own reflection in a mirror. Blood rushed and pounded through my ears much louder than it should. I could feel the flush in my face, the sweat on my palms. But I was very still.
He won't do anything to you. He can't.
I had no idea why he wanted to see me. I was sure it would be a long time before he spoke to me again. I was getting ready, preparing myself for long weeks of silence, alone in this giant space. Not much different from how things were just a few months ago. I hadn't expected to wake up to a note, specifying a time to meet him in his office. A time, and nothing more.
Apprehension coursed through me as I tried to predict what he would say, what he would do. But there was no way that I could imagine. I knew so little about him. Fours years of marriage and I barely knew my husband at all.
This wasn't how my life was supposed to go.
Then I heard it: his voice from behind the door. A single uttered word meant to invite me in.
He knew I was out here, knew I was waiting. How was it possible that he seemed to know me so well? I supposed he didn't - couldn't - but he still saw every move I would make before I made it. He probably knew all along that it would come to this.
Then again, if he had, he probably would have done most things differently.
After all, everyone wanted to be happy. And we certainly were never happy.
My fingers brushed along the metal of the round knob lightly, just barely feeling the cold on my skin. Then I gripped it in my hand, tight and full of a confidence I didn't feel. I turned the knob and pushed the door open.
As I stepped inside, my eyes instantly sought his.
He was sitting behind his desk, leaning his elbows on the wood, his fingers tented over his mouth. He was looking at me calmly, his expression completely unreadable. The same.
"Close the door, please." His voice was quiet, but very steady. Filled with authority.
The door shut behind me with a click, my hand lingering on the wood. We were alone, no one was around to hear our conversation, but he still wanted to shut me in. He always liked me better when he had me trapped.
The silence that stretched between us was long and tense. I dropped my eyes from his face, staring down at the floor. I didn't fidget. Not for him. I shifted my weight onto my left leg and, without looking at him, I waited.
At long last I heard his hands drop softly to the desk, away from his mouth. I glanced up in time to see him lean back in the chair slightly. He hadn't taken his eyes off me yet. His gaze was hard, fixed on me like he could see everything I was trying to hide. Pounding blood, sweaty palms.
"I received a phone call from my sister in Colorado last night," he said at last, his sharp, lovely voice cutting into the silence. "My father passed away two days ago."
I was looking straight at him now, unwavering. I could feel my mouth drop open in shock. Everything I had been expecting him to say, everything I had been expecting him to tell me, I had never expected that.
I felt pain and the release of nerves as my eyes welled up. I tried desperately to quell them, the stinging pangs of tears. I couldn't cry for his father. Not in front of him.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered, clasping my hands tightly in front of me.
His eyes narrowed and he waved his hand, brushing away my condolences. I had nothing to offer him, neither sympathy nor comfort. Nothing he would accept from me.
"I just wanted to inform you that I'm going to the Hartsel house," he shrugged. "I would have simply left you a note explaining the situation but I wanted to give you a chance to prepare. I also thought that it might have been…unkind."
He sneered the word at me. I flinched without meaning to.
"When will you be back?" I asked him, unable to speak with any volume. I think it was his eyes. His eyes made it impossible when they were on me.
He sighed and brushed his fingers through his hair. He lifted himself slowly from his chair, his arms pressed hard against the wood. Unfurling his scrawny, 6'2" frame should have made him more domineering. It didn't.
"You misunderstand," he said and took slow, even steps around the desk. When he reached the front he leaned against it, folding his arms over his chest.
I took an automatic step back, my shoulder blades brushing against the door behind me.
"You're coming with me," his voice still completely calm.
A gasp whirled from my lips, my brows crushed together in confusion. I looked for some indication on his face, in his expression, that he was joking. I knew I would find none.
He never joked.
"What?" My voice was louder than a whisper now.
"Did you not hear me?" He demanded, his mouth twisting into an unfeeling grimace. His eyes were dead and collected as he watched me.
"To Colorado?" I mumbled the question stupidly. "To the ranch house?"
"Yes." His voice was firm. It was all confidence and stability. I hated his voice.
I took a step towards him, away from the door. I could feel all the nervous energy, the desperation running through me, leaking from my pores as sweat and fear.
"You can't do this," I hissed.
His eyebrows rose slightly and I saw the corners of his mouth twitch, the beginnings of an amused smirk. He straightened, pushing his weight off the desk, and took a step towards me in response.
"I think you'll find that I really, really can." His voice was almost entertained.
I couldn't take this. Couldn't stand it, stand him. Talking about my life like it was a joke. Like I was just some kind of pawn to him. He had always viewed me as a possession, not a person.
But I was a person.
"You can't force me to go with you," I snapped with more confidence than I felt.
Something flashed in his eyes for a moment, disrupting the calm. It was gone just as quickly, before I could identify it as anger or hate or violence or anything else he might feel when hearing even a suggestion that I wasn't his property.
"You're my wife. You will do as I say." His voice had never been so cold. Not in four years.
I crushed back the fear I felt when I looked at him. His ice, his anger. No trace of the soft, gentle man who I had agreed to marry. Time had made him into someone I didn't know.
Again, I remembered that I never really knew him.
"Not for much longer," I said, inhaling deep as I pushed the words out.
He took another step towards me and my eyes trailed down his body unwillingly. He was thin and pale, but I could still see the sinews under skin. His emotion would make him strong, his anger would make him deadly. I had never respected him physically. Never once appreciated anything about his body. It had always seemed so plain to me, so ordinary.
He was a lion now.
"Do you really think that's wise, Bella?" His question was almost taunting in its softness.
I was angry again, dissipating the brief moment of fear.
"Why the fuck not?" I ground out, harshly. "I don't love you, you don't love me. This marriage isn't…"
I trailed off, unsure of how to finish that sentence.
I had always been unsure of how to finish that sentence, ever since we first took our vows. What this marriage was, what it wasn't. There was nothing to define it, not any words I could use to explain it. What started it, what held it, what made it work, what made it crumble. And what it had become now.
He was only a few steps away from me, but I didn't back away from him.
"And what will you do? Where will you go?" He asked me, demanding answers to questions that he knew had none. "You have no one."
I had no one.
He was right.
I had given up everything to be with him, given up everyone. I had cut myself off for reasons that were my own. Reasons even he never understood.
He took advantage of my hesitation.
"You're right, Bella. I don't love you," he paused. His eyes were hard on mine, and I found that I couldn't look away. "But neither does anyone else."
I felt the warm of salt tears on my cheeks. I tried to brush them away quickly, but he had obviously seen them. He would know now that he had won.
Everything I had done in my life seemed to lead up to this moment. The moment when I found myself bound inextricably to a man I didn't love, trapped in a life I didn't want, unable to leave for fear of having nowhere to go. If I left him, I would be entirely alone.
In spite of everything he was, everything he had become, he was still all I had.
"Pack your things. We leave tomorrow."
Edward slammed the door behind him as he walked out.