A/N Sorry I haven't updated in forever. I took a vacation and enjoyed other things. This story is unbeta'd but when it is, I'll edit it on here.

So here is the new chapter.

Chapter 23

"My reflection as that shadow's
blessing my death
Lost soul in agony meet machine tragedy
God if you love me,
then why won't you set me free"

– Less Than Zero, Type O Negative


Charlotte, NC

A week after Nashville, TN

The second I had ran from Cullen's suite in Atlanta, it felt as if I had twisted myself apart. It didn't matter the rage I had for him, a huge part of me wanted to run back to him - except I knew if I had, nothing would ever change and I would lose all self-respect. During the two weeks that I had nothing to do with him, I literally hated him…and myself. Hated myself for thinking that I could possibly change him and hated him for drastically changing me, all the while knowing I wouldn't have traded my experiences.

The night of their Atlanta show, I had tried to flirt with other guys. The one boy was nice and funny and he made me laugh, but there was no connection. Having Cullen attack him was unexpected. It never crossed my mind he would react that way. Him acting jealous after what he had done pissed me off. In that moment, I had wanted him to leave me alone.

It was harder than I expected it to be to ignore him whenever we were in the same room. I wasn't accustomed to doing it and it never got easier. Each day I felt myself weakening until I could no longer deny my eyes the sight of him. Then I was mad at myself for being weak. It was a never-ending cycle. If Cullen hadn't came to me when he did, I would have gave up but not without any reservations.

The pretty words he spoke that day in the massage room, the poem, for an instant infuriated me. It seemed to me then that he thought he could just walk in, spill words of love and I would run back to him. When I grasped the idea that he was serious, all the walls fell down and I fell with them to my knees. He was there to catch me.

I had missed his lips, and I realized I missed them more when he placed them upon mine. It was a beginning, but a beginning of what I didn't know. The moment I had needed someone to speak to, I caught Alice peeking around the corner of the doorframe of the lounge in the bus. Her pretty, ethereal face sparked with silent questioning if she could come in. Everyone was at sound check at the club, so we wouldn't be interrupted. I nodded to the empty space beside me on the couch and asked if she wanted to take turns polishing our toes.

"Sure, what colors do you have?"

I rummaged through my bag and pulled out four colors ranging from pink to black.

"Okay, let's be rebels and do black and the electric blue."

"Alice, I don't think black is being rebel, a lot of musicians and sorts paint their nails black. But if black is being a rebel to you, then you should wear it and I'll wear the electric blue."

"That's fine."

She took off her flats and took the polish pot from my fingers. We stretched a foot into one another's lap and started polishing, although she had to remove the pink from my toes that Cullen had done weeks ago. That moment seemed so far into the past, even though I knew it hadn't been.

"So, Jasper told me Cullen begged him to give up his massage so that he come groveling back to you. Apparently, it worked, but how did the reunion come about if you don't mind me asking?" She asked as she dabbed the cotton ball over my toe.

"I don't mind you asking. In fact, I'm actually glad I can talk to you about it."

"Shoot, although I don't know how much help I can be."

I stared down the polish applicator, taking a moment to gather what I wanted to say. There was no better way to say what I needed to than the state his declaration.

"Cullen declared his love for me."

Alice stopped dabbing at my toes and I knew she would be boring holes into me if I looked up. So I kept my head down and started applying coats of black polish.

"Is that all you're going to say? You're not going give a girl more details," Alice whined.

"What details do you want? He walked in, pleaded his case, recited me an Irish love poem, and professed his love."

"Bella, I don't know Cullen too deeply but I know it wasn't that cut and dry."

"Well, I didn't exactly go running to his arms. I had reservations about his intentions. Even now, I don't know what we have is called and I really don't want to put a label on it. Neither of us knows where it is going to go but we do know that we can't be away from each other. For now, it is what it is and we're taking it as it comes." I explained the moment without going into intimate detail and without breaking my concentration.

Alice continued on removing the old polish while I applied more coats of black. I was on the third toe when she started painting mine. The comfortable silence lingered on for a while, but I knew she wanted more details. Instead, she dropped it.

"Him saying he loves you is a huge step for him. So, it's good y'all are taking things as they go. Hey, Bella, can I alternate your toes with this bright blue and the bright green?"

I nodded and heard my bag rustle at my feet. Alice's laughter pierced my focus on her toes as my eyes darted up to see what was the catalyst for the hyena noise. She was holding the economy size box of condoms that I had forgotten I had. The sight of them made me for an instant miss Jessica.

"Um, Bella…how long have you had these?" She asked through snorts and hiccups.

"They came with me. I just forgot about them."

"It's kinda late to be asking, but do you plan on using them?"

"It is kinda late, but we do need to be using them. I'm stupid for not using them all along but what can I do now except to start using them. Even though I have an IUD in, I don't want that chance of a pregnancy and well…we just need to start using them."

Alice patted my foot, dropped the condoms back in the bag, and went back to painting my toes. The rest of the afternoon we talked in easy conversation and watched several home and garden shows.

Alice joined the others at sound check, leaving me on the bus, although she had asked if I wanted to go. I politely declined, turning my attention back to HGTV. While in the middle of watching House Hunters, my cell phone rang- it was Charlie. In a split second, I eyed the phone, sighed, muted the TV and answered his call.

"Hello, dad. How are things with you?"

"I can't complain except I miss you. I'm worried about you, Bella. Your phone calls have gotten fewer and fewer. I know you're grown and everything, but a little more communication wouldn't hurt."

Logically, I knew he was right, but at the moment I didn't want to deal with him.

"Dad, I'm sorry. It's just been hectic and busy. I was actually on my way out. Can I call you back later?"

"No, Bella, you can't call me back later. Because I know you won't. You can spare a few minutes to talk to your old dad. Is Carlisle's boy treating you okay? He hasn't talked you into doing something I wouldn't approve of?"

Stuck in the conversation, I leaned my head back on the sofa arm and closed my eyes. I was not in the mood to deal with him.

"Things are fine dad. Everyone has been great. I'm having a lot of fun out here."

"Bella, you're not supposed to be having fun. You're supposed to be out there working, not partying. You better not be drinking or worse yet smoking. Please don't give me cause to come to you."

"Dad, please…"

"No please, Bella. I mean it. Do not do anything that will jeopardize your life or your reputation or mine for that matter. Do you understand me?"

I had nothing to say to him. I wanted to fling my phone across the room and hope it would shatter into a million pieces. Moving my arm to across my face, I decided I need to end this call before I say something I couldn't take back.

"Dad, I really have to go. Goodbye."

Before the call fully ended, I heard Charlie screaming my name. I knew this wasn't over, but that it had just begun.

Tossing the Blackberry to the end of the sofa, I got to my feet and felt the need to leave the cramped bus. As I walked towards the front, the sound of computer keys clacking filled the empty bus. From the hurried, aggressive pattern of the typing I knew it was Cullen. Whatever he normally typed had him engrossed and oblivious to anything else, hence the hard typing.

I stopped at the end of the sofa opposing him, watching him intensely type and pinch his face in deep concentration. Not wanting to him to think I was spying, I deeply cleared my throat and walked over to sit next to his feet. He nodded at me, faintly smiling but never really leaving the screen of the laptop.

He was barefoot and the frayed leg edges of his jeans must've caused a tickle as I sat down because he brushed the heel of his other foot across the top of the other one. I picked them up and placed them in my lap. Out of habit, my thumbs started applying light pressure to the ball of one his feet. A soft moan rumbled through him.

"I'll take you anywhere in the world as long as you don't stop what you're doing," he sighed, not sounding full relieved of tension.

"Can I bank on that promise later?" I asked playfully as I glided my thumb up the side of his foot.

"Sure. Just let me know in advance. What did you do today?"

"Alice and I painted each other's toes while watching HGTV."

Cullen briefly looked up from his typing to give me a smirk before looking back down- that only made me giggle.

"How very girly of you girls. Did you two do any man bashing as part of the female bonding?"

"No. We just talked about what was on the shows and what we were going to wear tonight. Do you mind me asking what you're always typing? I don't mean to pry, I'm just curious."

He was silent for the longest time after I asked. I thought I had crossed a line and I had just about given up when he finally answered.

"How shitty my life is and what I fuck up I am. That's what I'm always typing."

There were no words to answer back with, so I left his explanation as it was. The silence wasn't unbearable. He furiously clacked away and I quietly massaged his feet, wondering if he would ever completely open up to me.

The show had been one of their best ones I had seen so far. The guys signed autographs after the show and outside by the bus. Most of the fans seemed happy and we were running on adrenalin and alcohol. And I knew Cullen was running on more than just those two. I had seen a fresh track mark on his left arm about an hour before the show. I wanted to help him, but I knew it would be futile until he decided he wanted help.

Trying to not let those thoughts dampen my mood, I pushed my laptop over to the other side of the sofa, pulled my skirt back to its proper length, and stood up to join the others in the lounge. When I was about to leave, I noticed Cullen leaning against the arm of the other sofa, staring at me with his arms crossed against his chest. His tongue ran over his bottom lip as he roved over the length of my body, paying extra attention to my bare legs.

"You didn't need to adjust your skirt; it was fine where it was. Walk over here, pretty girl."

There was no chance I would say no to him. My body wanted him, my mind wanted him. It had been so long, everything in me was craving him. When I reached within arms distance, he pulled me to him, almost crushing me. I didn't mind the tightness, it fueled my desire more.

"I can feel your heart pounding hard. Does something have you worked up?" he asked, brushing his lips against mine.

My breath staggered a few times before I gathered myself to close the tiny distance between our mouths. He tasted of peppermint and chocolate with a faint hint of beer. If it had been any stronger, the taste would have been troublesome. He sucked and nipped softly on my lip, eliciting breathy sigh alongside his mouth. I felt him strain against the zipper that was ground into my belly. Squeals of laugher pierced through my drunken state of lust.

"Wait, Cullen, what about the others? Won't they interrupt us?"

He groaned out of frustration of me sharply ending our make-out session before quickly kissing me.

"No, they won't. I told the guys to keep the girls busy and my dad is busy talking to Esme. We have the front all to ourselves. Now, where did we leave off?"

We went back to kissing and nipping, but not long afterwards he pulled us to the sofa with me on top of him. He pushed my legs apart so they'd straddle his hips and give him better grinding leverage. We pulled at our clothes, trying to get as naked we possibly could without moving. He told me purple was my color since my top and skirt were varying shades of the color. He had been more than thrilled to find the tiny strip of lavender fabric that Alice had called a thong, which had barely covered me up front.

While he had been kissing my neck, I had looked up and saw the bag I had when I was with Alice and I knew the condoms were in there. And they needed to start being used. Before breaking away I gave him a soft, quick kiss and raised up to where I sitting atop him. He looked confused as to why I stopped.

"Cullen, I know it's a bit too late for this, but I think we need to start using condoms. I know you say you're clean, and I mostly trust you, and I do have the IUD in to prevent a pregnancy, but there is still always the chance of anything happening. From here on out I would just feel safer if we started using them. I hope I didn't ruin the mood."

"No baby, you didn't. As it does seem late to start using condoms, I understand your concerns. I have some but they are in my bags underneath the bus."

"Actually, I have some in my bag that's in the floor."

I crawled off him to stretch myself across the floor to pull my bag to me. As I pulled the huge box out from the bag Cullen's eyes widened in shock as he looked up from the box to me.

"Um, did you come prepared to do a lot of fucking?"

I laughed as I opened the box and slapped the row of foil packaging against his bare chest.

"No silly, my friend Jessica bought those for me. She said I needed to have them just in case I did start having sex. And well, I sort of forgot about them."

"Don't worry, pretty girl. I plan on using every one of them on us."

"Well then, how about we start right now?" I ripped one of the packets from the foil chain, throwing the rest in the floor.

We made haste of our clothes. It was awkward at first to find a comfortable position on the sofa. Eventually, we found one with one of my legs placed on the back of the sofa and the other one off the edge of it. He felt heavy against my naked skin and his kisses felt hotter than they had been as he placed them on my breasts and neck. When the time came for him to enter me, our eyes never left the other. He entered me slow and smooth, knowing I would be somewhat tight. After he was in all the way, I felt full as he stretched me wide. I didn't want the sensation to end, so I told him I was okay. It took him little time to find a rhythm that was hard and deep, making me sigh blissfully and moan softly. Our bodies had found the dance that had become familiar and welcoming. It felt as if we had not lost any time.

After making love several times, I had fallen asleep against Cullen's belly, almost against his thigh. I drifted out of dreams of our tangled bodies and us laughing to distant clicking of what must had been his computer keys. Whatever had been haunting him for most of his life seemed to be making its presence more often. Hours later when I woke, I heard him softly breathing with his eyes closed. Everything was dark except for the glow of the lights on the laptop. The top was left raised with a dim screen and a low battery. The charger was next to it so I plugged it in. I saw a box down at the task bar that had the symbol for Microsoft Word. Curiosity was eating at me. I knew it was infringing on Cullen's privacy, but damn it, I wanted answers that I was tired of waiting for.

So I moved the cursor the minimized window, hesitating to click it open. Several minutes ticked by and the clawing feeling of not knowing shit dug deep. Counting to three silently, I clicked on the Word doc. There were many words, but what caught my attention was the blinking cursor and the sentence behind it that read, "I hate my name."