Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all recognizable characters and settings. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Selected Best Story for The Break-up Challenge at The Sparkle Awards. Thank you!
Morning always seemed to come too early, but this particular morning couldn't have come late enough. I sat, perched on the edge of my bed, already dressed as the sun broke over the horizon, turning the night sky into shades of violet and pink. I sniffled and wiped my nose, wincing at the jolt of pain as I rubbed the tender skin. My hair was a disaster, so I ran a brush through it and pulled it up into a ponytail. That done, I was ready … well, as ready as I was ever going to be.
I sniffled again as I looked around my room. It was a mess. There were used Kleenexes all over my bedspread, the nightstand, the floor… wherever I had felt like dropping them during all the crying I had done throughout the night. My eyes fell on the stupid clock next to the bed; it was almost seven a.m. I'd stayed up most of the night watching the glowing red numbers, desperately wishing them to change slower. But time had a way of marching on, no matter how much I would have liked it to stop.
I had never thought of time as my enemy until the past few months. But it was. And now, the time I'd been dreading was finally here. My life, as I knew it, was about to make a drastic change… and not for the better.
The purr of a car engine drifted through the open window, and I moved so that I could watch the familiar silver Volvo pull into the driveway in front of my house. Tears that I didn't know I had left filled my red-rimmed eyes as I watched Edward park. He didn't get out; he just sat in the driver's seat, his hands gripping the steering wheel as he rested his forehead against it.
I lifted my hand and placed my palm flat against the glass as the tears dripped down my face.
As if he sensed my gaze, he lifted his head and looked up at me. He smiled crookedly, although even from so far away, I could tell it didn't meet his eyes. I saw him mouth my name, and then he got out of the car and disappeared from my line of sight as he approached the house.
I heard my dad greet him at the door, but my feet wouldn't move. If I didn't go downstairs, I could pretend it wasn't happening, even if only for a few more minutes. Even if it wouldn't make a difference. Soon enough, though, Charlie was knocking at my door.
"Bells? Edward's here."
I tried to respond, but the sound was stuck in my throat, wrapped around a strangled sob. I swallowed down the tears and literally shook myself. I couldn't fall apart yet; Edward was here, waiting for me, and I was wasting time—precious time—by standing around feeling sorry for myself.
With that realization, I ran across the room and threw open the door, startling poor Charlie as I raced by him and nearly flew down the stairs. I was almost to the bottom when I tripped over my own feet. I wasn't scared, though, because I knew Edward would be there, waiting to catch me, just in case.
Sure enough, I fell into his arms rather than hitting the floor.
"You have to be more careful, love," he said, his voice sad but amused, and I looked up into his glittering green eyes as he helped to steady me. "I won't always be here to catch you."
He always said that, every time he caught me, but this time…
Not wanting to cry, I threw my arms around his neck, breathing him in with every inhalation as I desperately tried to contain my emotions. He stood to full height and hitched me up a bit so that our faces were level, bringing my feet at least ten inches off the ground as he walked me into the kitchen. I giggled as he reached into the fridge and grabbed the orange juice, pouring himself a glass without ever releasing me.
"Are you hungry?" I asked into his neck.
"Are you cooking?"
I nodded. I always cooked for him on Saturday mornings—I wouldn't let this one be any different.
"Then I'm eating. Want some help?"
I smiled and shook my head, then squirmed for him to let me down. He squeezed me tightly to him for a moment and then lowered me until my feet touched the floor. I looked up at him expectantly until he leaned down to press a kiss to my mouth. He paused, taking in my splotchy face and puffy eyes, and then cupped my cheek with his hand before kissing me again. His own smile wavered as he sat down at the kitchen table and watched as I made his favorite breakfast—French toast with a side of scrambled eggs and bacon.
Usually when he came over for breakfast, he and Charlie would talk sports—or tease me—as I cooked, but today, Charlie stayed in the living room. I loved my dad, but at that moment, I really, really loved him; he understood my need to be alone with Edward.
I felt Edward watching me as I cooked, but neither one of us said anything. Being together was enough. As soon as everything was done, I put it all onto a plate and then set it on the table. His mouth curved into the lop-sided grin that, even after more than a year as his girlfriend, never failed to take my breath away. I watched him eat, shaking my head as he offered me a bite. I just wanted to watch him, to memorize every detail. His bronze-colored hair was crazy, as always, and I wanted him to hurry and finish eating so I could wind my fingers through the wild locks. He was, by far, the most handsome boy I'd ever seen. My gaze travelled along his beloved features, lingering on the familiar angles and planes. My eyes stopped at his mouth and then closed as I relived the memories of his lips moving against my own.
"That was delicious, Bella. Thank you," he said, and I opened my eyes to see him wiping his mouth with a napkin, his plate empty. Then he held out his arms, and I shot out of my seat and into his lap. He buried his face in my hair, and I could feel the tension in his body as he valiantly tried to stay in control of his emotions. "I don't want to leave you," he whispered as his lips brushed against my forehead.
"I don't want you to go." There were no tears, not when I was in his arms.
"I'm so sorry. I wish I didn't have to… I wish my dad hadn't…" He trailed off, tightening his arms around me as he lowered his head and pressed his face against my neck.
We sat there, holding each other, for what seemed like hours but could only have been a few minutes. Edward's dad had been offered a job in Phoenix as the head of the children's hospital there. It had been an offer Carlisle couldn't refuse. So despite the fact that Edward only had one more year of high school before he graduated, the Cullens had decided to leave Forks… and me.
I didn't blame Carlisle for taking the job—it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him, one that might not come around again. Edward, on the other hand, was furious with his dad. Carlisle had promised him when they'd moved to Forks that they wouldn't move again until after he had graduated from high school. They had moved every two to three years since Edward had been a little boy, and he'd always had a hard time making friends because of it. His dad's promise had allowed Edward to flourish here in Forks, to forge deep friendships with people, to fall in love—and he was livid that Carlisle had broken his word. Edward hadn't spoken more than a handful of words to his dad all summer. Carlisle was a nice man—I really liked both him and Edward's mom, Esme—and I knew he felt bad for breaking his promise to his son, but it didn't change anything. They were still leaving.
And today was the day.
"I have something for you," Edward finally said, his voice suspiciously hoarse.
If he cried, I knew I would totally lose it.
He leaned back slightly and reached into his jeans pocket. "I'd like to ask you to wear this, if you don't mind." He took my hand in his and then dropped something metal into my palm. I glanced at him curiously before looking to see what it was.
He nodded. "But not just any necklace. A Mizpah."
I studied the delicate silver chain. Attached was a small silver charm in the shape of half a heart, the center portion jagged as if it had been broken. "Mizpah?"
He reached up and pulled out the matching necklace from beneath his shirt. Attached to a silver chain was the other half of the broken heart. "It's sort of a promise," he explained. "It's from the Bible, see?" He held his half to mine until the broken heart became a whole. Then he turned it over so I could read the words etched into the back.
The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.
"Will you wear it?" he asked again.
I blinked back tears as I nodded vehemently. "Of course I will."
He smiled my favorite smile and took the necklace from my trembling fingers so he could put it on. His fingers brushed the back of my neck as he closed the clasp. "There. Now my heart is with you, and yours is with me."
"It's only half, though," I reminded him as my fingers brushed against the silver token that was lying against his chest, just over the rhythmic beating of his heart.
His smile turned sad, and he said, "Without you, I only have half a heart."
It was such a cheesy thing for him to say, but I melted anyway; I knew he meant every word. I hugged him, then, with everything I had. What was I going to do without him? He was everything to me. Everything.
We continued to hold each other, whispering "I love you" over and over, until I heard Charlie enter the kitchen and clear his throat.
"It's nine o'clock, son. Your folks are expecting you."
I felt more than heard Edward's sigh. He moved to stand, and I shifted off his lap. He didn't let me go far, however, wrapping one arm around my shoulders and tucking me close to his side. His other hand reached out to shake Charlie's, and I was amazed—and touched—to see tears in my dad's eyes.
"Take care of yourself, Edward. And… ahem—" Charlie paused to clear his throat again. "You're welcome here any time. Just say the word."
Edward looked pretty choked up himself. "Thank you, sir. I appreciate that."
Charlie nodded, and then his gaze slid to me. "Time to say good-bye, Bells."
Good-bye? How was I going to say good-bye to Edward? He wasn't just my boyfriend; he was my best friend, my soul mate. We were two halves of a whole. How was I supposed to live everyday alone, without him?
I didn't notice that Edward had led me to the front porch until I felt the more humid air hit my skin. He pulled me into his arms and kissed me chastely on the lips before quickly releasing me and bounding down the stairs. It was so sudden that I swore I felt something being ripped out my chest—my heart, my soul … something … a part of me that he was taking with him. The tears returned in full force as I watched him jog toward his car.
"No," I sobbed. "No, no, no." And then I screamed his name as loudly as I could and ran full speed down the stairs and across the lawn. "Edward!"
He turned around just as I flew into him, jumping up and wrapping my legs around his waist before kissing him as if my life depended on it. One arm held me to him while his other hand anchored the back of my head. With lips and teeth and tongues, we poured everything into that single kiss, knowing that it would be the last we shared until we were reunited.
Our mouths parted only due to the need to breathe, and Edward rested his forehead against mine. "I love you, Bella. I love you so much."
I clung to him, tightening my arms and legs. Through my tears, I could only say his name over and over and over. "Edward. Edward."
He swallowed—hard. "It's only a year, and then we'll both be at U Dub. We can do this."
I wasn't sure who he was trying to convince more, me or him, but I nodded anyway. "I love you," I finally managed to say.
He clutched me to him and then loosened his hold, allowing me to slide down his body to the ground. One long finger tilted my head up to meet his kiss. A tear trailed down his cheek as his fingers tucked a wayward lock of hair behind my ear before touching the silver broken heart resting against my chest. "Take care of yourself for me, love. I'll call you soon."
Later, I wouldn't remember stepping away from him, nor would I recall him getting in the car. That night, I would lie in my bed and behind closed eyes would only see the silver Volvo driving away. I would remember the feel of Charlie's hands on my shoulders, turning me so that he could hold me as I sobbed my heart out into his shirt.
All I knew for certain was that Edward was gone.
The next few months were difficult, to say the least. Time, which had seemed to be on fast forward from the moment Carlisle had announced he was moving his family to Arizona, had slowed to a crawl. It seemed like it would be forever until Christmas, when Edward had promised to visit during the break from school. We had hoped to see each other at Thanksgiving, but my mom, Renee, had insisted that I spend that holiday with her and her husband, Phil, in Florida. So, Christmas it was.
In the meantime, we emailed and instant messaged each other constantly, and Edward was sure to call me every day after school. We still talked about anything and everything, and he even helped me with my calculus homework—as he should have, considering it had been his bright idea for me to even take the stupid class despite the fact that I'd already completed my high school math requirements. What I treasured the most, however, were his letters. There was something about the sight of his handwritten words that made me feel close to him.
One afternoon, I came home from school to find that he'd sent a CD of him playing the lullaby he had written for me last summer. Edward was an amazing composer and pianist, and every time I heard the piece he'd said I inspired, it felt like a hug—well, almost.
But even with all the emails, letters, and phone calls, I missed him terribly. I missed his smile and the way his eyes sparkled when he looked at me. I missed the feel of his hand in mine as we walked down the hall at school. I missed the way he could make my heart race with a single glance and the feel of his rumbling laughter beneath my cheek as I rested my head on his chest. And even though I'd never have admitted it, I missed arguing with him over whether or not he would carry my book bag between classes. I even missed his stubborn insistence on spoiling me for my birthday.
I missed him.
My friends tried to help, but Rosalie and Emmett were pretty much attached at the lips every time I saw them, which only served as a reminder of what I was missing. Alice didn't have a boyfriend at the moment, but she was almost as bad. She'd taken it upon herself to attempt to distract me… meaning that she was monopolizing every free moment I had, which usually meant shopping. I knew what she was trying to do—keep me from dwelling on how much I missed Edward—but it wasn't working.
I still thought about him all the time. And I missed him, so much it hurt.
Christmas came and went, bringing January and a desolation I'd never known. Edward had come to visit for a few days during the break, and while I had been beyond ecstatic to see him, parting again had been even more painful than it had been in August. There hadn't been enough time together—not nearly enough.
Edward had been worried about me. He'd said I looked too thin, too tired. I'd told him I was fine, just missing him. He'd pulled me into his arms, pressed a kiss to the top of my head, and said, "Oh, Bella. What am I going to do with you?"
He'd touched the Mizpah necklace that constantly resided against my heart. "Always," he'd replied.
That sounded just about right to me.
"Are you going to be able to come for spring break?" Edward asked one day in February, during our daily phone call.
"Yeah. Charlie said it was okay." I allowed myself a goofy smile, knowing he couldn't see what I dork I was being about the idea of spending spring break with him.
"Thank God," Edward breathed in relief. "I was worried he'd say you couldn't come."
"I think he's tired of seeing me mope around the house," I teased and lay down on my bed so I could be comfortable while we talked.
"Bella—" he said, worried.
I quickly interrupted before he could get too worked up. "I'm kidding, Edward. I've been… better since Christmas."
That wasn't exactly true. I was getting used to him being gone—not exactly a good thing—but I still missed him. I still wanted him to be here in Forks with me rather than in Arizona.
He sighed, and I knew I hadn't fooled him.
He knew me too well for that.
Spring break, for lack of a better word, sucked. It wasn't all bad; the first three days were actually pretty great. I met a few of Edward's friends, and he showed me around Phoenix. And we were together. It was perfect. We spent the last three days, however, fighting. Edward and I rarely argued, but when we did, it was awful. I hated it when we fought, but I wouldn't back down and I wouldn't compromise. Not this time.
I sat out by the Cullens' pool, my feet dangling in the cool water as the sun began to descend below the horizon, setting the desert sky ablaze with color. It was beautiful, but I couldn't enjoy it. A tear slipped from the corner of my eye, and I wiped it away as I heard the sliding door from the house open and shut.
I closed my eyes, my spine stiffening at the sound of his voice. "Edward."
I felt him sit down beside me, and then he sighed. "I'm sorry."
"No, you're not." I really didn't think he was sorry. He'd been so sure, so adamant, despite my protests… as if it were what he really wanted.
He sighed again and lifted my hand, his fingers tracing meaningless patterns in my palm. "I am sorry, love. I didn't mean to make you mad, and now I've ruined spring break."
I turned my face to look at him; he looked miserable. I couldn't help but relent a little. "You didn't ruin it. I'm still here with you. That's… well, that's enough for me."
He smiled a little, though it didn't reach his eyes. "It's not for me, though. I wanted us to have fun together, to just enjoy being together. I didn't mean for us to argue."
I nodded and leaned into him, resting my head on his shoulder and breathing in the unique scent that was Edward. We sat quietly for a few minutes before I finally asked the question I'd wanted an answer to since he'd first brought up the ridiculous idea. "Why did you ask me that, Edward? Why would you want me to do that?"
He didn't answer me right away; instead, he kissed my temple and nuzzled his face against the top of my head. After a long moment, he finally said, "I didn't want you to miss out on anything just because I'm not there."
"Shh," he hushed me gently. "Let me finish, please."
I reluctantly agreed and shifted closer to him, until he wrapped an arm around my waist, settling me firmly against his side.
"You only have one high school prom, Bella. Your senior year isn't something you can do over later. Ten years from now, I don't want you to be sitting around thinking, 'Gee, I wish I had gone to prom after all.' I don't want you to have any regrets."
"So your brilliant plan was tell me that you thought I should see other people?" My heart hurt just remembering that conversation.
Edward cringed. "All right, so it wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done."
"Ya think?" I said, sarcasm dripping from the words.
His arms shifted, and then he was lifting me into his lap. "I didn't mean to hurt you or make you doubt my feelings for you."
"I don't doubt—"
"Yes, you do," he said, tapping the end of my nose with his index finger. "I know you, Isabella Swan, and me and my big mouth made you wonder if the real reason I was pushing so hard was that I wanted to date other people."
I sniffled a little, causing Edward to kiss the top of my head and hold me closer. "I might have wondered about that… a little."
"I don't want anyone but you. I don't even see the other girls, because all I can think about is you. You're the only one for me, love. I promise."
Nodding, I placed my hand against his cheek and looked into his eyes. "Then you should understand when I say that you're the only one for me, and that just the thought of going to prom with someone else makes me feel sick."
He moved his hands so that he could cup my face. "I love you, Bella."
My hands drifted to his chest, and my fingers toyed with his Mizpah necklace, the metal warmed from his skin. Then I leaned in to press my lips to the silver half-heart. "I love you, too."
April was a blur of nonstop schoolwork. I would have thought that the teachers would have cut us some slack, considering that the year was almost over. Instead, it seemed like they were piling on the work. I had two English papers, a report for my advanced chemistry class, and a presentation for American government… all due on the first of May.
Edward complained that his workload had also increased. We decided it was some sort of vast teacher conspiracy to keep the seniors too busy to cause trouble.
Unfortunately for Edward and me, the only thing it kept us too busy for was each other. Our daily phone calls soon dwindled to three or four a week. Emails that used to fly almost nonstop turned into one every day or two. I was worried at first that perhaps we weren't making enough time for each other, but Edward assured me that as soon as May arrived, things would get back to normal. He promised that we'd make it through the month unscathed… it just meant that he missed me more.
That was good. Because I was missing him more and more every day.
Being terribly busy had one benefit: time sped by. Before I knew it, it was May, bringing with it milder weather and the one thing I'd been dreading all year—prom. This year, it was being held the first weekend in May—just in time to celebrate the end of the enormous workload the teachers had thrown at us all through April.
Edward wanted me to go, even if it was only with the girls, but… well, Emmett and Rose were going together, of course, and Alice had decided to go with Mike Newton, of all people. I shuddered even to think of it, but Alice had said that she wanted to go to prom and if that meant going with Mike, so be it. I thought she was nuts, but that was Alice for you. Anyway, I didn't want to be a fifth wheel, so I decided to stay home.
They were all meeting up at Rose's house, so I went over, too, and took pictures before I waved them off, telling them to have a good time. Alice saw through me, though, and pulled me aside to tell me that she knew I was missing Edward and how sorry she was that he couldn't be here for me. Then she said if I wanted, she'd skip prom and she could come over to my house and we'd watch cheesy movies all night. I told her to stop being stupid and to go and have fun… or as much fun as she could have with Mike for a date.
I went home and spent the evening holed up in my room, rereading all the letters Edward had sent since he'd moved while I clutched my Mizpah necklace and sobbed. When I'd cried all I cared to cry, I put on my best (and only) dress, turned on the CD of my lullaby, and slowly danced around the room, clutching my pillow to my chest and pretending it was Edward.
I knew it was beyond pathetic. But I missed him like crazy, and never more than right at that moment, when we should have been dancing together at our high school prom.
What with finals and all the end of senior year activities, graduation came quickly, and I was thrilled; while I was happy to finally be done with high school, more importantly, the end of school meant that there were only a few more months before Edward and I would be reunited.
After the ceremony, I skipped the party the student council was throwing and headed home to call Edward.
"I did it!" I squealed into the phone as soon as he picked up, causing Edward to chuckle.
"Congratulations, love," he said, and I could hear the smile in his voice. "How did the ceremony go?"
"Great! I didn't trip or anything!" Thank goodness for small favors.
He laughed again, and then his voice turned serious. "Valedictorian. I'm so proud of you, Bella."
I blushed and mumbled, "Well, I couldn't have done it without your help in calculus."
"Don't be ridiculous. You would have done just fine."
I knew that wasn't true, so I changed the subject. "I wish we could have worked out a way for you to be here, but at least I got to be there for yours, right?"
Carlisle and Esme had given me the best graduation present ever—a plane ticket to Phoenix so that I could surprise Edward by showing up at his graduation ceremony. It had been the previous Sunday, and I had been so excited to spend some time with Edward. It had been a short trip—just the weekend—but it was better than nothing. I only hoped that summer would pass by quickly—we were so close to seeing the end of our separation.
"It was the best surprise ever. I can't wait to see you again, Bella. It seems like forever until August."
"Another two and half a months—an eternity!" I agreed. "So… what are you doing this week? Any plans I should know about? Hot date?"
"You're the only hot date for me," he drawled.
If I hadn't already been lying down, I would have collapsed; he'd turned my knees to jelly.
"Actually," he continued, "Riley is having a party on Friday night. I don't really feel like going, but Mom thinks I should since I don't know when I'll see any of these people again after I head back to Washington."
"Yeah. You know what? You should go."
"Really?" he asked, surprise coloring his tone.
I rolled my eyes. "Why not? Esme is right. Riley has been a good friend to you, and what else are you going to do? Lock yourself up in your room all summer? Go, have fun. Just don't do anything I wouldn't do," I teased.
"I'd really rather stay home and call you."
He sounded so sincere, so honest, that it brought tears to my eyes. "I miss you," I said, my voice turning wobbly.
"Oh, Bella. I miss you, too. So much."
I was a wreck. Edward had been acting so strangely for the few weeks, since right after my graduation. His calls had been sporadic and brief. It didn't matter if I called him or he called me—he was always running out the door to his summer job or heading out to help Carlisle or Esme with something. He wasn't… right. He wasn't himself. He sounded off, and while he always said he loved me, he would hang up the phone before I could say it back.
Something was wrong.
I told myself it was nothing. He was just busy. Not only was he working, but he had to get everything ready for his move back to Washington. He still loved me, which was the important thing. Still, in all the months we'd been apart, I'd never wanted to see him more than I had over the past few weeks. If we were face to face, he could never get away with not telling me what was wrong.
Charlie and I sat at the kitchen table, eating breakfast and chatting about our plans for the day.
"So, Bells. What's on the agenda today?"
"Work," I muttered before taking a bite of toast.
Charlie laughed. "I don't know why you keep working there if you hate it so much."
I just shrugged and chewed my toast. Working at Newton's wasn't so bad—it was a job, at least, which was hard to come by in Forks. Still, it was mind-numbingly boring, and I had to put up with Mike and his endless attempts at flirting. But those were just minor annoyances. I could deal with them in order to have some cash in hand for when I started college in the fall.
"I'm off, then," Charlie said, wiping his mouth with his napkin.
"Leave the dishes, Dad. I'll get them." I stood up and took our plates to the sink.
"You're a good kid, Bells. I'll see you at dinner." He grabbed his gun from the lockbox in the hall closet and put it in the holster beneath his jacket.
"'Kay. Be safe out there."
I smiled and started doing the dishes. There were just a few since it was just the two of us, so it only took a couple of minutes. I was getting ready to head upstairs to take a shower—I had to be at work at ten—when the doorbell rang.
I hurried into the living room, peeked through the curtains, and saw Alice and Rosalie standing on my front porch. That was odd—they were never up before noon during the summer. I opened up the door and knew immediately that something was wrong. Alice's face was red and splotchy, and her eyes were all puffy as if she'd been crying. I looked to Rose in alarm, only to be confronted with her stony expression.
"What's going on? What happened?" They were scaring me.
"Let's go inside, okay?" Rosalie said calmly.
I nodded, and we all went into the living room. I sat down on the couch and wrung my hands, my leg bouncing up and down nervously. Alice and Rose sat on either side of me, and then … we just sat there. I waited for a few minutes before I'd finally had enough. "What is going on?" I practically screeched.
Alice put her hand on mine and looked at me, her eyes anxious. "Bella, my mom talked with Esme last night."
I blinked, my mind going completely blank. "Okay." The two women were good friends; what was so awful about them talking that it could make Alice cry?
Alice glanced at Rose before continuing. "I have something to tell you, and I don't want you to freak out, okay?"
Rose sighed dramatically. "She's gonna freak, Alice. Telling her not to isn't going to change that."
Alice just glared at her before looking back at me. "I really don't know how to say this, Bella…"
She was really starting to freak me out. And then it hit me. "Oh, God. He's dead, isn't he? Edward's dead." I started to hyperventilate, imagining all sorts of horrible things: a car accident, a botched robbery, a serial killer.
"Bella, no. Listen to me. Edward is fine. He's just fine, I promise."
Rose snorted. "He's fine, all right."
I looked to her in confusion, my heart rate slowly returning to normal after their assurances that Edward was okay. "Well, then what is it? What's going on? Would you just spit it out? You're scaring me."
My mind couldn't process what Alice had just said. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?"
Alice looked at me, her eyes filled with sorrow. "Edward got married… last night."
In an instant, I was angrier than I could ever remember being. "That's not funny, Alice."
She pulled back as if I'd hit her. "I wouldn't lie about something like—"
I jumped to my feet and turned to face the two girls who had been my best friends since middle school. "Shut up! How could you? You guys think this is funny?"
Rosalie stood up and put her hands on my shoulders. I tried to knock them away, but she tightened her grip and shook me a little. "Alice isn't lying. She's telling you the truth. Edward got married last night."
I couldn't breathe. Why were they doing this to me? "Edward should be at work, but I'll call and talk to Esme. She'll tell me that you're lying, and then both of you can go to hell."
I was furious. Tears pricked my eyelids, but I managed to keep them under control… barely. I knew what they were saying couldn't be true, but they were my friends. They'd never lied to me, not ever. Doubt began to creep in, especially when I recalled Edward's odd behavior over the past few weeks. But then I reminded myself that he loved me. He loved me. He would never do such a thing. It just wasn't possible.
I walked across the room and picked up the phone, dialing the number I knew better than my own. It rang three times before someone picked it up.
My stomach dropped to my toes as I heard Esme's raspy greeting. No, she's just sick. A summer cold, I told myself.
"Hi, Esme. It's Bella. How are you?" I hoped she couldn't hear my teeth chattering—I was shaking so badly.
"Oh, Bella. It's… it's nice to hear from you, dear."
I chose to ignore the tinge of sadness in her voice, and I jumped right in. "Esme? I know this is going to sound really bizarre, but Alice and Rose are here, and they're saying the craziest thing. It's hysterical really." I laughed nervously.
"Talk about hysterical," Rosalie muttered, but she closed her mouth with a snap when I glared at her.
"Bella… is this about Edward?"
Oh, no. No.
"Yeah," I pressed onward. It had to be some kind of joke. It had to be. Edward would never do this to me. Never. "Alice says that Edward got m-married last night. Isn't that insane?"
Oh, my God. No. This wasn't happening. I couldn't breathe; my lungs refused to take in air. I couldn't think. My vision blurred, and I could hardly hear anything over the roar of my racing heart in my ears.
And then, Esme said the words that sealed my fate and would forever alter the world as I knew it.
"I'm so sorry, Bella. I know I should have called you, but it was completely unexpected. Everything just happened so fast, and Edward refused to call you himself." She paused for a moment and then said, "I was also a bit of a coward, I'm afraid. I didn't want to be the one to break your heart. I'm so sorry, sweetheart, but it's true." I could hear the tears in her voice.
A low keening filled my ears as the phone slipped from my hands to the floor. It was a heartrending, mournful sound, and I knew it would haunt me for the rest of my life. It was only when I heard the distant voices of Alice and Rosalie as they hung up with Esme that I realized the sound was coming from me, from deep inside my very soul, as my heart shattered into a million pieces.
"Why? Why?" I pleaded with Alice and Rosalie to explain how this could be happening. But I knew before Rose even opened her mouth; there was only one possible explanation.
"The girl is pregnant."
And just like that, my life was over.
My legs would no longer hold my weight, and I sank to my knees. I don't know how long I wept. I vaguely heard Rose as she called Newton's and told them I wouldn't be in that day for work. I felt Alice's arms around me, holding me as I cried and screamed and begged God for it not to be true. It seemed like it went on for hours or days or months or years… for an eternity.
And when there were no more tears left to shed, when I had emptied everything, when all that was left was just a shell, I reached up with trembling fingers and released the clasp on the Mizpah necklace. I clutched it in my hand, pressing until the edges of the broken heart cut into my palm; the physical pain was nothing compared to gut-wrenching agony I felt. Then I slowly walked to the desk in the kitchen, opened up a drawer, and pulled out an envelope. Hastily, I addressed it before dropping the necklace inside. I sealed the envelope and then, with my hands still shaking, attached a stamp.
Turning to Rose and Alice, I whispered, "I need to take this to the post office. Can you drive me?"
I said good-bye that day. To Edward. To Bella. To us. To love.
All I wanted from then on was to be alone.
A/N: A huge thanks to my beta readers, GinnyW31 and DeeMichelle. For now, this story is complete, however, I may choose to revisit this storyline at another time. If you'd like, add it to your story alerts just in case. Thank you so much for reading!