I do not own Twilight.
Hi. Originally, this was posted under the Fictionista WitFit story, so forgive the confusion. For ease of reading this, I've moved it over here.
So, this first chapter started out as a one-shot only in response to Fictionista Workshop's WitFit challenge prompt to the word "abracadabra" (12.2.09), but then a story emerged from there.
Hope May Vanish is a casual fulfillment of the remaining Daily WitFit prompts. It's something I am exploring based on awesome reader encouragement and wild imagination. I will finish it.
For those with questions about Fictionista Workshop's Daily WitFit: the word prompt series uses multimedia writing prompts with two levels of difficulty; one for those short on time, and a second for those that have more time to explore. Writers will then ruminate over their prompt and challenge their imagination to create an entry every day. There is no editing and I am in the process of heavy novel editing, so if you see a typo, a repeated word or any of those types of things a thorough author capable of doing more than one revision would usually catch, please feel free to PM me. I am the typo queen and I hate them, so I appreciate it. This is dark and a little raw, but I hope you enjoy.
"Life may change, but it may fly not. Hope may vanish, but can die not. Truth be veiled, but still burneth; Love repulses, - but it returneth."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
It was a gray Thursday morning. He was still taking the train; the short assignment she was on placed her in his path.
This was before his recent success, before his latest acquisition; before his fortune was made. He was so tired that morning, having been up all night preparing the proposal that made him rich, wanting nothing more than to fall into his newspaper. For the most part, he succeeded in ignoring his surroundings until a loud sigh from across the aisle caught his attention. Looking up from his paper, he saw her. A pretty girl had stepped onto the train looking exasperated, anxious to find a seat, searching through her bag for something. She had long dark hair and he couldn't look away.
The rest of his commute was spent pretending to read, hers avoiding the handsome man a few seats away, their eyes meeting once and then occasionally across the aisle, though neither wanted to be rude.
She left as furiously as she had entered, and although the whole exchange was relatively unremarkable, he thought of the sighing girl for the rest of the day, wondering what her name was, why she was so frazzled, where she lived, and where she worked. But pouring over the details he had gathered during that brief moment wasn't enough for him, and the end of his workday found him hoping to see her again.
That following morning he dressed in his best, and headed to the train at the same time to wait for her. Common sense dictated that it was ridiculous to be so nervous when he didn't even know her, knowing that he would be disappointed if she weren't on the train. He told himself he was just lonely, not knowing quite how true that was.
For the whole ride to her previous entrance, he tapped his foot, skimming the sports section with excitement he hadn't felt in a long time. When she entered the train, there was a pull and then a summons. They both felt it: attraction, curiosity, electricity.
He hadn't asked a woman out since college, but the prospect of letting her get away pushed him to move. Brazenly, Edward took a chance and followed her from the train, stopping her with a polite "excuse me" on the platform. Her eyes were so beautiful, shining with relief and curiosity as she accepted his invitation. His heart swelled, knowing he had made the right decision.
Weeks later, lying bare and naked on the floor of his apartment, she confessed to choosing his route by mistake, yet returning the next day just to see him. Hoping that he would make a move.
That Sunday, they shared coffee and discovered that "love at first sight" was exactly what they had felt, though not in the way most people expected. That moment was just the bait, while their second meeting pursued by mutual magnetism was the catch. Neither of them ever looked back.
Running his thumb across the image of her face soothed him, the simulation of touching familiar features was as comforting as anything could be. She hated this photograph, and now, more than anything, he was glad he had taken it. This was his candid Bella; pure and beautiful.
Their vacation last summer was their first together, and after driving for miles in the wind and the sun, he had caught sight of an incredible field of colorful flowers. After marveling from the roadside, he insisted they stop and that she pose for a picture. He knew she hated taking pictures of herself, but he was unwilling to barter. Their digital camera was new and he wanted to use it with her.
The sun was bright in the photo, highlighting her shiny hair as she sat in the field, dressed in a simple green tank top and shorts. Her eyes held a reproving look reserved for reluctant photographs, her frown almost humorous. But that wasn't where he focused; it was the way her eyes were so alive in the picture, with the lens focus capturing the corner of her lashes, so clear he could see little lines of previous laughter.
"Edward?" he heard a familiar voice.
His thumb stopped.
Slowly, his head lifted, his eyes blurry and unfocused on the sharp eyes of his sweet sister staring back at him. He was so tired.
"I'm sorry, but it's late and the investigators are back. It's time to get up," she whispered, her eyes flitting back and forth with concern.
For as long as she could remember, her big brother had been a pillar of strength. Seeing him this way broke her heart. He needed rest, but getting him up and to his room was no easy task. The last few nights he'd been more insistent on waiting for Bella. "Let's get you to your room," she tried again.
"Our room," Edward corrected, saddened anew by the oversight. She was right, though, and he knew it. It wouldn't be long now until sleep took him, but he wasn't ready yet. He wanted to stay and wait, remembering Bella and California flowers.
"I'm sorry." He heard Alice say, her previous slip forgotten already. He wanted to apologize for being so weak, but could not form the words. His throat was dry from the sedatives.
Tomorrow, he promised himself, staring at the picture of her dark brown eyes. Tomorrow would be the day. Tomorrow he would find her. He could feel it.
And when she came back, he would tell her how beautiful she was, how this photograph, and her smile, and his memories of her kept him sane. There was so much he hadn't told her, so many moments not cherished properly.
"No!" Bella screeched, tumbling onto the bed with the picture in her hand. He tackled her, landing on top of her with force, laughing breathlessly too. She giggled, vibrant and winded from running up the stairs.
"You're faster than I thought you'd be," he said, settling comfortably between her legs, his hands clasping her wrists above her head. "I love that picture. Give it back," he insisted, staring at her mouth as she caught her breath.
The photograph she despised was held hostage, the delicate paper pinched between two fingers, just barely in her grasp. He wanted it back, but she had a list of excuses for keeping it: the sun too harsh on her already-pale complexion, the clothing she had worn for driving was unflattering...
In his opinion, she was wrong on every count.
"No," she smirked, daring him to try again.
"Give it back."
"No..." she teased. He decided then that if she was taunting him, he would do the same. Knowing her weakness, he kissed her neck, breathing against her skin to make her shiver.
"Edward..." she said, knowing his tactic would succeed. They kissed then, but he didn't go for the photograph, nor did she let go, enjoying the moment, neither of them surrendering yet.
But soon, they were getting worked up, kissing between shuddering breaths, serious lust driving his hips into hers. The way her soft body yielded to him was incredible; like nothing else.
Slowly, he wrapped his fingers around both of her wrists, enjoying this control, pressing her more firmly into the bed.
"Edward..." she whined, actively squirming. "I can't stand being pinned."
He laughed. "Too bad. Give me the picture or I'm not letting you up."
She sighed and stilled, giving up then, the photograph slipping from her fingers and landing on the bed. He was victorious.
"Thank you," he smiled, kissing her pouting mouth.
"You're not taking it to work," she reminded him.
"I'll do what I want," he chuckled. "It's mine now."
Snatching the photograph from the comforter, he kissed her throat again, relaxing her now, more focused on the way she felt underneath him. In her struggle, her shirt had slipped higher, her bare skin pressing warm and taut against his own. When she whispered his name, trailing her hands lovingly down his face, the photograph was forgotten, their groans and moans the only sounds in the empty bedroom. That night, in their new home scattered with unpacked boxes and bubble wrap, Edward made love to Bella. On their bed.
He had forgotten the photograph that night, finding it under the bed the morning after she didn't come home to him. Now, he would never let it go.
"It was our room... our bed. We..." he tried, the memory of her laugh crushing his chest with slashing sadness. Shaking his head to both forget and remember, he recalled the playful staccato of her joy, again and again, praying it was a sound he would hear once more.
Regret arrived like clockwork, not diminished by repetition. He should've told her how beautiful she was, how happy she made him, how every morning since their first he had thought of nothing but her. He hated that so much had gone unsaid, that so many times he had fought for words, to tell her what she meant. And now that she was gone, all that he felt and saw seemed to be cut with sorrow. The deepest pain. The fear and understanding of lost chances, never to be repeated.
"Edward... it's going to be all right," the familiar voice reassured. Lies, he thought. Lies and empty promises.
The sedatives he fought agains brought on a wave of sleepiness, but he held his eyes open, staring into the abyss of her dark gaze in the photograph.
Come back to me, Bella, he pleaded silently, praying again that someone was listening.
Wherever she was, was someone was pinning her down? he feared, picturing it. Those horrible thoughts ripped through Edward anew, the small cry he released at the thought of her dead a feeble response to unimaginable horror.
Soon enough, sullen tears fell from his tired eyes, the kind of tears that sapped the soul. Staring at her face, he touched her photographic smile, his anguish and fear for her, his love for her, his agony over the unknown stabbing deeper than he could bear.
And for the thousandth time, he wanted to ask more questions, to think harder about what he knew, what he needed to know.
To recite again her schedule, their last conversation, her plans for the evening before meeting for dinner.
To just fucking do something. Anything to bring her back.
But this time, he didn't. Couldn't. There was no alchemy, no abracadabra incantation that would magically return her to him.
Confusion and grief were on the tip of his tongue, unable to find purchase in words too small for his unfathomable pain.
The lack of sleep, the medication, all of it only made him worse, and when his sister's hand touched the clammy skin of his neck, he broke. With his head crumpled into his hands, the morbid horrors of his worst nightmares emerged, and he truly cried for the first time since last Thursday, the night she vanished.
He sobbed, and hard, breathless and defeated, tormented by one recurring thought after another.
"Shh..." Alice tried in vain, wrapping her small arms around his much-larger frame.
Nothing she said mattered and deep loss washed over him, like a tidal wave breaking ground, weakening his resolve to stay awake, to stay downstairs to wait for Bella, to touch her face. But this time, he didn't resist Alice or pretend to be stronger than he was. He let her hold him.
"We'll find her, Edward."