8

I'm the one who likes Gardenia
I'm the one who likes to make love on the floor
I don't want to hang up the phone yet
it's been good getting to know me more

Gardenia

EPOV

My cart was overflowing with plastic action figures, stuffed animals, video games, trucks and a deluxe train set. I had no idea there were so many variations of Legos so I grabbed five of the one I would want to help put together. Shopping for a little boy was so much more fun than I expected. Emmett was hooting around the corner, a set of Hulk hands on his fists. I watched as he bashed them together, laughing to himself.

"Em, on task here," I reminded him.

"Oh, yeah, sorry. Dude, these are so cool."

I pointed to the power wheels. "Which one do you think he'll like?"

"The Jeep, get him the Jeep." Emmett replied, smirking.

"No, you want him to have the jeep."

"So, you'd want him to have some grandma car, if they even sold that, which they don't." he retorted.

I sighed heavily and looked over my options. "Okay which one, the Escalade or the Kawasaki?"

"Rollin round, sittin on dubs. Countin the urs, Was high on shrubs. Coolin in my Escalade." he sang loudly.

I punched him in the gut. "Hey, there are kids around, man," I reminded him.

"Oops, sorry," he said, grinning sheepishly.

I grabbed the slip for the Kawasaki and walked up to the check out. The teenage girl widened her eyes at my cart.

Whoa big spender, he doesn't look that much older than me. He's cute too…Whoa, that guy is huge.

She took in Emmett's size, as he was trying on a princess crown. "Hey, should I get this for Rosalie? She is my queen."

"Unless that thing is diamond encrusted and platinum, I wouldn't bother," I told him, chuckling. I hand her my black credit card and she examined it, looking at the front and back for a moment. She slid it and handed me the receipt.

We wheeled the cart out to the Volvo and loaded the back full of toys. I may have gone a little over board. We climbed into the car and I started towards the hotel.

"So, you and Bella?" Emmett asked.

"Yes?" I shot him an innocent look.

Dude, I know you can hear me. Don't make me say it out loud.

"Say what?" I teased.

You two are moving in together. That's a big step right?

"You and Rose lived together from the start," I reminded him.

That isn't the same and you know it. She's human, it's different.

"True," I replied.

So she's the one, isn't she?

"Yeah, she is. I've known for years. I waited a long time for her." I sighed happily.

And it's cool she has a kid. He's fucking adorable, man.

"Do you really need to say fucking and adorable in the same sentence?" I asked him. He shrugged his shoulders at me.

Maybe not, but I do. That's just the miracle of the Em-Dog.

"Fine, I guess."

"Are her hooters as nice as I imagine?" he asked, visualizing what Bella looked like and then comparing them to Rosalie's.

"What the fuck, man? Don't picture her boobs," I shouted.

"Oh, chill the fuck out man. I'm a guy, that's what we do," he said shrugging.

If you don't want to know, stay out of my head.

"Asshole," I muttered under my breath.

"Sure am," I confirmed. He raised his arms up in a victory pose. "King Asshole and King Douche bag to the rescue!"

I punched him in the arm, trying to shut him up.

"You didn't answer my question," he reminded me.

"And I'm not going to. You don't need to know about that," I stated.

Fine, have it your way. I guess I'll just have to let my imagination run wild…

He thought about Bella and Rosalie. I let the day dream go on for about two seconds before I stopped him. "Yes, okay. They're nice. Happy?"

"As can be, little brother," he replied, sauntering away whistling.

Walking down the hallway, I could hear the hum of voices through the walls. Rosalie and Esme were crying and Alice's thoughts were scared.

What is Edward going to do? How could she just leave like this? He's going to kill me. Why won't he pick up his phone?

I ran down the hall and fumbled with my key card. The door swung open and Carlisle's concerned face was all I saw. His mind was blank. He wasn't going to tell me what was happening. I stormed in.

"Alice, what's going on?"

"I tried to call you, you didn't pick up," she answered.

It's bad, this is so bad…

"I asked what happened," I repeated.

So sorry, so very sorry.

How could she? What would make her?

I'll kill that girl if she's hurt him.

"I couldn't understand, I only saw flashes, some blond guy talking to her, Names thrown out. James, Riley, Alec. And then…" Alice trailed off, he voice breaking if anguish.

I saw it in her mind. Broken bits of conversation, single words. Bella yelling at him. Bella grabbing Ryland.

"She left, Edward. She ran away."

BPOV

But me, I'm not a gamble
You can count on me to split
The love I sell you in the evening
By the morning won't exist

I was planning on driving back home, but Ryland began to whine in the back seat— reminding me that I promise him that we would go to the park if he was good. After several high pitched words and more than a few forced tears I relented. What was the harm? Obviously James had no child, to pretend he had today. I parked and bundled Ryland up in his jacket before setting him off to the playground. He raced up the ladder and slid down the slide, giggling. The December air was brisk against my arms. I sat on the bench and rubbed my arms.

"You have ten minutes, Buddy," I called out. Ryland shot me a thumb up. I watched him, playing so carefree on the slide. It was amazing how only a few weeks prior I thought I could never experience that level of happiness. Now, with Edward, I knew exactly how he felt. I felt as if I had won some incredible prize to get lucky enough o have this kind of love in my life. I didn't think there would room in my heart after Ryland; I was content with the idea of celibacy. As long as I had Ryland I would be okay. How wrong I was. If I only knew how much love I could handle, how I could love them both equally, just in different ways. In such amount of time was completely, head over feet in love with Edward Cullen. It was as frightening as it was exhilarating.

"So we meet again," a slick voice behind me said. I snapped my head around. James stood there, his hands in his pockets. He had a cocky grin on his face as he plopped himself down next to me.

"Ugh, what do you want?" I snarled, narrowing my eyes at him. I was not going to show him my weaknesses.

"Aw, now don't be like that. Can't old friends just chat for a while?" he asked, nonplussed by my demeanor.

"Look, if my knee to the groin wasn't message enough, I don't want you!" I hissed, standing up quickly. "I know you don't have a niece too. You lied about a lot of things, asshole."

I began to stomp away, to grab Ryland. "So do you, Bella," he called out.

"You have no business talking to me that way, dickwad," I retorted, spinning around to glare at him.

"Sure I do, I know things, things you would rather stay hidden. Things that you've been, dare I say…running from." He got up and sauntered over to me. For some reason I was frozen. I tried to comprehend his words. What could he know? He was just some slick git. He stopped in front of me and brushed a hair from my face.

"Don't touch me." I slapped his hand away. He chuckled at my anger. I scowled at him as I turned to walk away.

"You really are quite cute when you're mad. Alec was right." I stopped in my tracks, my whole body rooted to the sidewalk. Did he just say…? He laughed again, coming up behind me. "Ah, yes, that got your attention, didn't it?"

I watched Ryland on the swings now, pumping his legs, attempting to go higher. To fly high above the ground, how I wished I could fly away with him at the moment.

"It really was on accident, honestly. You see, Alec and Riley are my cousins. I, certainly, am far closer to Alec—Riley is a bit of pussy, if you ask me. We all grew up together, before I moved away, of course. So here I am, walking in the park one day and I see a beautiful girl, so I chat with her, maybe spin a tale or two. Nothing I haven't done before, to get a girl in my bed. I wasn't going to pursue you. I can have plenty of women, whenever I wanted them. That was before the little incident in the parking lot, you remember that don't you? The one where your sickly boyfriend acted all macho."

I nodded slowly in fear, trying to get my bearings about me.

"So, anyway, I'm telling my cousin the story and when I say your name he stops me. Apparently he knew a Bella Swan. A girl with brown hair and brown eyes. A girl who was going to marry my dear little cousin. And this girl disappeared. Just up and left, never to be heard from again. Isn't that odd? Broke my cousin's heart, that bitch did. Can you believe the nerve? Alec said he had been looking everywhere for this girl. Said she had some bad shit coming to her. This all happened little over four years ago. How old is your son again?"

"Four," I whispered. My blood felt cold and tears were silently running down my cheeks. After all these years, of hiding and running, just when things were looking up…

"He looks just like his daddy. Riley is such a handsome young man."

I slowly turned to face James, my fists clenched at my side. My face was wet with tears, but I was not going to allow him the pleasure of seeing my fear. "Stay away from me and stay away from my son," I warned.

"Tut, tut, Bella. Don't threaten me, please," James goaded me playfully. "The way I see it, we have two options here. One; I can tell Alec about you and your precious son and he'll come down to visit you. Or option two; you can play nice with me and it will be our little secret."

He laid a hand on my shoulder, squeezing it roughly. "What'll it be? Are you going to do this the easy way or the hard way?"

I tensed my fist, testing it. I remembered to hold my thumb across the top of my fist and planted my feet. Quickly I pulled my arm back and knocked James across the face. He stumbled back and I took off running, grabbing Ryland off the slide and hurried to my car. James shouted after me.

"It's the hard way, Fucker!" I yelled out the window. I thrust the car into reverse and peeled out of the parking lot. Ryland wasn't even buckled into the car seat but I wasn't going to stop. Ryland laughed at the speeds, not realizing my apprehension. I flew into the carport at my apartment. I thanked God that I hadn't unpacked our bags. I ran up the stairs, fumbling with my keys. I pushed the door open and within seconds I was back down in the car, buckling Ryland in and throwing our bags in the trunk. If James knew where I lived, I wasn't going to sit around and wait for him to come find us.

I got on to the I-10, going west towards the airport. I was minutes from Edward's hotel when I slammed on the brakes. The rocks hit the undercarriage of my car as I coasted to a stop on the side of the freeway.

What was I doing?

I couldn't bring this kind of trouble around Edward. I had dug this mess, I needed to fix it. He deserved better than some woman with crazy baby daddy drama. I couldn't ask for his help on this. What was I thinking he was? Some knight in shining armor? He didn't need to be responsible for me and my mistakes. Sobs racked my chest as I cried into the steering wheel.

"Mommy, why are you crying?" Ryland asked his voice soft with concern. "Do you want my Nessie?"

I wiped the tears from my face and shook my head. "No thank you, Baby— I'm just a little sad, that's all."

"Are we going to get Edward? Are we leaving now?" he asked, oblivious.

"No, we're not getting Edward. We're going to visit a friend of Mommy's for a few days."

I knew what I need to do. I hated myself for it. For bring this kind of shame down on myself, on Ryland. For letting Edward down. I hoped he would understand—I wanted him to be able to have a good life, one that I wasn't going to fuck up with all my baggage. He deserved that. I shifted the car into drive, put on the blinker to merge on to the light afternoon traffic.

I took the I-10 east. I drove the opposite way that I had—only hours before, been driving down with Edward, singing along to the radio and thinking that all my problems could be solved by simply loving someone. Foolish, foolish girl; such a stupid, silly woman I was. By the time I got to Tucson, the sun had set behind the mountains and the street lights were on. A thin layer of snow covered the road as I drove towards Texas border. I wasn't going to stop until I got out of the state. My phone vibrated nonstop until it finally went dead. I wasn't ready to give anyone an explanation until I was in El Paso. Stupid clichés and my God damn mistakes, in that moment I had never felt so alone.

Bright Eyes-Lua

Mandy Moore-Gardenia

Per usual, here you are.

Was I just a fool to think that I could keep running? One look in the rearview mirror reminded me of my purpose. Until my dying day I would do anything to protect Ryland. Even if that meant giving up all that I loved the most—Jacob, my dad, Forks and —I could hardly handle thinking about it— Edward.