30. Gone with the Wind

EPOV

I tried to contact Bella over and over again, but to no avail. I called the only person I could, the only person that would know what to do. I called Alice. I hadn't talked to either her or Jasper in well over 4 months, and even then it was just a quick hello. I hoped she would want to help me, or at least get a hold of Bella and talk to her for me. At this point, I felt like she would be my only chance.

"Hello," Alice greeted energetically on the other end of the phone.

"Hey Alice, it's Edward."

"I know who it is, I'm just surprised." Her voice confirmed what she said.

"I know I haven't been keeping in touch like I should. My priorities have been all out of whack, but I have them in order now. I need your help Alice." It wasn't really my intention to just jump in and ask her for a favor, when I know very well I am undeserving, but the fact of the matter is; I need help.

Her reply was confusing, just what I expected. "What do you need my help with? Shouldn't you be talking to Jasper or Emmett?"

"Well, the kind of help I need has to come from a woman, especially someone who Bella trusts."

Alice's tone turned from confused to worried, "What's wrong with Bella? Where is she?"

"She was here when I got home and so was Emilee and now they're both gone. Bella wasn't answering my phone calls, and when she finally did, she told me she was at a hotel, and that she wasn't going to tell me because she doesn't want to see me right now." I had to take a breath before the next words could be coherent coming out of my mouth. "I think she's left me Alice."

"First thing is first," she cleared her throat, "Edward Cullen, you have been a complete ass for too long."

"I know, but.."

"You have put your work before you family, which is the biggest no no you could do."

"I know, but I…"

"You have got to change your ways or your family is going to abandon you, just as they feel you have abandoned them."

I had to speak quickly or she wasn't going to let me get a word in. "Alice, I know. I know what an idiot I have been and I know that my family means more to me than anything else ever could." That was more like it.

"You need to tell Bella that, she needs to hear it from you. It also wouldn't hurt if you showed her what words can't."

"Like the fact that I refuse to live without her, and that my mind, body and soul is useless without her."

"Yeah, something like that." She sighed, "You call the hotel's and try and find her. She will probably be at the last hotel you will expect, so I recommend calling all the trashy ones first. I'll head out now, and call me when you find her. I'm going to have to talk to her in person."

"Thank you Alice, you don't know what this means to me."

"Just don't make me regret it Edward or I will never forgive you," and she hung up the phone.

I opened my laptop, for something other than work for the first time, and looked up the hotels in Seattle. I started out with the ones that I'd never heard of before and went down the list. Each call ended with the same result.

"I don't have any Isabella Cullen, or Isabella Swan checked in. Sorry sir."

I started to lose hope that I would find her, that Alice would be able to help me. That was until I made the last call I needed to make.

"Thanks for calling the best value in Seattle, The Airport Inn. How can we help you today?"

"Hi, I'm trying to get a hold of my friend. She told me she was staying at this hotel, but unfortunately forgot to mention the room she would be staying in. Could you look her up for me?"

"Sure, what's the name?"

"Isabella Swan," I wasn't sure whether or not she would use her maiden name or not, so I always tried it first.

"I don't show anyone here by that name, sir, could it be under another name?"

"Oh, I forgot she got married, Isabella Cullen."

"Ahh, yes, I have an Isabella Cullen, in room 307. Would you like me to transfer you?"

"No, thanks," I had to contain my excitement, "I'll just come by and see her in person. Thanks for your help."

"Not a problem, you have a great day."

I called Alice the moment I ended the call. She said she knew where the hotel was and that she was on her way. I advised her that I was going to go there, too. I didn't want to wait to see Bella. I wanted to see her now, and that wasn't soon enough. She talked me into letting her talk to Bella first, and maybe take Emilee to her place so we could discuss things without Emilee having to overhear. I knew it was best, so I let it be. But I didn't wait long to leave the house. I couldn't be there without them in it. It wasn't the same, it felt empty, all the love and comfort went with them when they left.

I drove for 10 minutes before I got a call from Alice.

"Bella says you can come and talk to her, but she's really shaken up about everything. She didn't know what else to do. She felt leaving was her only option."

"I'll be there in a few minutes. Thank you Alice. I owe you big for this one."

"You do, and all I ask is that you not break her heart again Edward. She's been through so much with you. I'm surprised she still wants you, I wouldn't."

"Thanks for the encouraging words Alice."

I sat outside the hotel for more than a few minutes. I didn't know what to expect when I knocked on the door. Better yet, I didn't know what to expect when I saw her face. Would she be completely sickened by me? Would she hate me so deep that there would be no fixing it? Or would she still love me, still want to make it work?

I hoped wholeheartedly for the latter as I walked up the stairs to room 307.

I knocked lightly on the door and waited for her to open the door. No answer. I knocked again, but this time, I called to her. "Bella, please. I'm begging you to let me in."

The door opened a crack and Bella peeked out it. I watched her look me up and down, taking in all of the stress and despair I have been besieged with. She looked down at the floor and it seemed that she didn't see what she liked. That maybe she really had given up. I wasn't going to let that happen, not without a fight.

"Can I come in…please?"

BPOV

"Where are we going mommy?" Emilee asked when I say her in her booster seat and buckled her in.

"Just go back to sleep." I brushed her bronze curls away from her face and her eyes closed at my touch. I looked at the house for a long moment, all the wonderful memories attempting to drown me. Then all the bad memories came in their place, and I forced myself to get in the car. I turned the key and backed out of the driveway in one fluid movement. Once I was on the road, away from the house, that's when the impact of what I was doing hit me. Not that what I was doing wasn't the right action to take, just that the decision I made was an impulsive one and I didn't even think about what it would do to Emilee.

I turned on the radio to try and distract me from thinking about what I was doing. Of course, the song that would come on would be the only one that could tear me down. Rachel Proctor, "Me and Emily."

Just a cheap hotel,
With a single bed,
And cable TV:
Is good enough for me an' Emily.

Perfect time for this song to come on. I continued to drive through tear filled eyes to the last hotel in town. I had some cash on me so I wouldn't have to use the card and give away my location.

Will it break her heart?
Will she understand,
That I had to leave?
That's what was best for me an' Emily.

I turned the car off the moment I had it in park because I couldn't stand hearing that song any longer.

The hotel was one that acted as an apartment, there was one bed and a mini sized kitchen. It was a real dump but I wasn't sure how long I would have cash, so I didn't want to spend a lot on a hotel. Emilee, was excited, she wasn't tired any longer in the least. I told her she could skip school tomorrow and that's when she became curious.

She was lying on her stomach on the bed, her elbows up and her head resting in her hands. "Where is daddy? Why isn't he with us?"

"Your daddy is at home, we had a little fight so we are going to stay away from him for a little while until we can agree on something." She is 7, she wouldn't understand and it would only confuse her and make her upset if I tried to explain any further.

"Okay," her feet were flipping around in the air, she didn't suspect a thing. What a relief it would be to be 7 again.

Emilee fell back asleep shortly after and I laid in my bed, tears rolling down my cheeks. Why does this life have to be so hard? What happened to change the way we felt about each other? I tried so hard to bring us back together and he just pushed all of my attempts away like they were fruitless.

He had forgotten about his family. Forgotten about me and Emilee. I couldn't help it, but the hate for him I hold is so strong. I remember a time when we were nothing but happy. Our family, young and impenetrable. We laughed often and smiled more than not. Edward ate dinner with us every night because he loved my cooking and spending that time with us. Emilee has always been infatuated with him. She is most definitely a daddy's girl through and through. She always hung on every word he said. Edward returned that infatuation, but not anymore, or so it seemed.

Now work has been more important and his old lonely ways come back to haunt us all. He always told me I was all he needed. Once Emilee came into our lives, he changed that remark and said we were all he would ever need. Obviously he didn't know what he was saying before he said those things. So I'm left with empty promises and pain as a reminder.

I watched our daughter sleep on the hotel bed, the table light on next to her and the book she was half reading under her head. Her bronze river of locks were flowing rapidly over her face, so that I couldn't fully see through to it. My chest tightened at the thought of us never being a family again. But what else was I to think? Edward didn't care anymore, I thought he was going through a faze, but it has now been made more obvious than ever. I couldn't think too far on the subject—I needed to stay strong for Emilee. Though this is what I was worried about from the beginning. Becoming nothing in his eyes.

I never dreamt that Emilee would, too. How he can look away from the beauty and innocence in her eyes, or the plea in her voice I will never fully comprehend.

There was a shrill, but low sound that came from my pocket and my heart accelerated to its maximum speed while I dug hurriedly to retrieve it. I finally got it free and opened it as Emilee's eyes shut again.

"Hello?" I knew the voice on the other end would only be one person. I don't know why I answered it—why I didn't just take the battery out a long time ago—but I did.

"Bella, where are you," Edward's voice was strained on the other end. I was relieved to hear his voice, but my heart hurt too much from the years of pain he has caused to fully enjoy it.

"How could you do this Edward?" I whispered. "You promised me, you said forever…but you lied." The tears fell and there was no stopping them. I'd held them in for Emilee but now, her being sound asleep, they fell like rain drops down my cheeks.

"No Bella, you've got it all wrong. Please come home so we can talk about this." He pleaded and I wanted to give in, but I couldn't. My mouth opened but no sound came out. "I love you…I never lied. You have to believe me," he continued to beg and plead but my mind and heart were closed off to him. The walls back up sturdy, as if they have not been down for six years. "Say something Bella, please."

Then there was silence. No breathing, no panting like moments before, just silence.

"We're at a hotel Edward," I said through glossy eyes and clenched teeth, fighting back the sob that wanted so desperately to escape. "I won't tell you where because I don't want to see you right now," lie, "I need time to think about this and I think you need time to think about what you really want." My voice hitched as I said the words. The thought of him not wanting me was worse than anything I've ever experienced. "Whether you really want me." I managed to choke out before I flipped the phone shut.

I held it close to my chest, next to his mothers locket that still held his childhood photo but across from it a photo of us. I let my head fall to the pillow next to Emilee and cried soft silent tears into the pillow. I wanted him to find us, that was certain, but what I didn't know was whether he deserved it. Could Edward ever change for good? Was he destined to be this man that cannot commit to his own family?

There was a frantic but light knock on the door that woke me from a light tearful slumber. I instantly thought it was Edward and I hesitated. I didn't want to fight or argue with him in front of our sleeping-soundly child. She didn't need to see us fighting, that would do no good for her and she deserves the best life, life can give.

There was another knock before a voice I wasn't expecting came through from the other side of the door. "Bella, it's Alice."

I hurried out of bed and unlocked the door. Alice looked confused.

"What is going on?" she asked louder than I anticipated.

I held my finger over my lips and pushed out the door, leaving it open a crack behind me.

"Emilee is sleeping," I said as I grabbed her arm and led her down the walk a few doors.

"Edward called and said you were here. He asked me to come see if you needed anything and to see if he could come and talk to you." She paused and looked at me with an expression I couldn't decipher in my current state of mind. "What happened?"

"I got sick of him ignoring us and doing nothing but work, work, work. He made Emilee a promise last night and then he broke it…just ran right out the door. I didn't know what else to do. I can't take the abuse any longer Alice, it hurts so much." I cried and Alice wrapped her pixie arms around me.

"Let me take Emilee so you two can discuss this. There's no need for her to be here for that," she offered and I shook my head against her shoulder.

"I don't want her out of my sight, she's all I have left." I trusted Alice, but Edward is smart and if he wants her bad enough, he'll go and get her.

"I'll take her to my friends, but I'll tell Edward she's with me at my place. Bella, I won't let him take her like that."

I agreed, and Emilee left with a smile on her face. Alice was taking her to McDonalds and then her friends place not too far from here. She sent me a text after she called Edward, said he was on his way and to expect a knock on the door soon. I waited, sitting on the edge of the bed, starring at the door knob, my phone in hand. I didn't know what to expect or what to see but I knew I would soon find out.

15 minutes later and I heard three light knocks on the door.

My heart started to race and my palms started to sweat. I pushed myself off the bed but couldn't grip the door handle hard enough to open it.

Three more knocks and then, "Bella, please. I'm begging you to let me in." He pleaded from the other side of the door.

I didn't respond, but I opened the door and peaked out the crack provided by the sliding lock. He looked bad, worse than I have ever seen him. His eyes were puffy and red, his hair more disheveled than ever before. He was still in the same clothes as yesterday, so it was safe to assume he hadn't slept. I could tell by the languid look of his stance and dark circles that looped around his eyes.

I looked down toward the floor because I couldn't look him in the eyes, not yet.

"Can I come in…please?" he asked softly. I could feel his gaze on me as I stepped aside to let him enter. The door opened just enough for him to open it and then shut its self with a loud click. The lights were off and I pressed my body up against the wall to be as far away from his hum as possible. It was eating me alive, making my hands sweat and causing my heart to thump hard against my chest.

"I know what you must be thinking," his tone was the same as when he asked to come in. "I can't imagine how hard it's been for you. I know you probably won't believe this but it's been hard on me, too."

I kept quiet, but he was right—I didn't believe him.

I could feel him step closer, his breathing deep and vigorous. I cringed from numb feeling that was coming over me. I didn't want him to melt my heart, I didn't want him to chase away my pain. I wanted to know the truth and I wanted him to feel my agony.

"Don't touch me," I breathed as soon as I could find my voice.

"Bella," he cried," please, you have to believe me, I love you." He grabbed my hand in the darkness and I pulled it back hard, against me. He fell to his knees and laid his head against my stomach, wrapping his arms completely around me and crushing me against him. "I can't live without you, everything I've done has been for you. All the lonely nights, all the long days at work. All for you Bella, please don't throw that away. I swear, I hated every moment that we were apart. I thought it was what I needed to do. I know now that I was wrong, Bella, please stay with me."

He was looking up at me with eyes full of tears and agony that shot through me. I knew, in the depth of my soul, beneath the hurt and the anger, that I couldn't live without him either. The trust was gone, that would have to be rekindled with time. The love was still there, never left, never faltered. Doubt, was the strongest emotion I could find, and doubt wasn't a good thing to have.

"How can I trust you?" I asked because I couldn't find the answer myself. "You haven't touched me this much in months Edward, why do you hold on to something that doesn't interest you anymore?" I fought back the tears as the words escaped my mouth. For it to be true would be something worse than death.

"No," he denied, "You are the only person that holds my interest, you have it all." He climbed to his feet and put his hand against my cheek—his other hand held tight at my waist. His fragrance flowed off of him as if it was attracted to me. "Bella," he called for my wandering eyes, they rested everywhere but on his. I didn't think I'd be able to fight that intensity. "I swore to love you forever Bella and that isn't long enough. You are the most beautiful thing to me, the most beautiful person inside and out."

My tears fell onto his hand and he wiped them away.

"Please don't cry Bella, please. Let's just put this behind us. I can show you I'm done with being so distant. I've given my manager my new terms, no late nights, no work while I'm home and I'm done when our contract is over. I can show you the email I sent, and his response. Our life can go back to the way it was, we can be happy again Bella. Please give me the chance to show you."

I looked into his eyes—saw the sincerity I was looking for. If anyone knew Edward, it was me, and he was telling the truth. But my heart was still ripped open from the precious wound. He had some major healing to do.

"Prove it," I said and his eyes widened with hope. I'd said that once before and he went the extra mile to do it and he did it right. I was banking on him doing it again.

He let out a deep sigh and his hand fell to my shoulder. The tips of his fingers traced down my shoulder until he reached the palm of my hand. He squeezed it gently and then pulled me up into his arms, lifting me off the floor. He inhaled deeply and planted light kisses along my neck.

"I won't let you down, I'll prove it. I did it once, and I can do it again."

The thought of him touching me so willingly and the heat of his breath on my neck sent me into a whirlwind of emotions. We haven't had this kind of contact in who knows how long. I wanted to know if this side of us was back, I missed it so much sometimes I couldn't breathe when I remembered how much we were in love.

I fisted my hand in his wild hair and his kiss on my neck was hard and I heard his deep intake of breath.

He pushed me back against the wall, letting me slide down until my feet found the ground. His hands pushed up against the wall on either side of my shoulders and his breathing was wild to match my own.

"I've missed you," I said in a lust filled whisper before his lips could find mine in the dark.

He stopped and looked into my eyes, the best he could with the lighting.

"I've missed you so fucking much Bella, you don't know how hard it's been to keep you off my mind." His hips swayed against mine and I could feel how much he meant what he said. It felt like an explosion inside of me, so much bottled up sexual frustration and so many emotions clashing at once. My back arched to get closer and his left arm wrapped around the small of my back to hold me in place. His lips were back on my neck and my hands back in his hair. One hand fell to his back between his shoulders and I dug my nails into it.

He groaned and picked me up by my thighs, this time my legs wrapped around his waist. his lips found mine but didn't touch them. He hovered there, teasing me.

"I've never stopped loving you and I never will," he said so close to my lips I could teach out and lick them if I wanted to—and I did.

"I love you, too," I said desperate to feel the connection I've been jonesing for. It's like a drug to me and I've been sober for so long. It was time to indulge.

"Forever," slipped between his teeth just before he pushed his lips to mine and his hips. He didn't hold back his feelings and he didn't hold back his need. It was almost like experiencing the first time all over again.

He pushed back against the wall and leaned me against it for a support. He hiked my long skirt up to my waist and gripped my hips with his hands, pulling me unbelievably closer to him. I unbuckled his slacks and he let them drop to the floor. Once there was only thin fabric between us I could really feel him. I gasped when he pushed himself hard against me a second time and my head fell back and hit the wall—not hard.

Panting and sweating we got the fabric out from between us and Edward thrust inside me. It was rough at first because it's been so long. But too soon, it was pure bliss and I don't think anyone was sleeping anymore. Edward was seductive, he caressed my body while focusing all of his attention on me. It was slow and sensual, mind-fuckingly so I couldn't keep myself contained.

"I. Cant wait any longer," he grunted and pulled me away from the wall. He laid me on the bed, never breaking the connection and his movements became hard and fast. He released inside me at the same time I climaxed for the second time. He relaxed on top of me and let out a ragged breath, wrapping his arms around my neck.

"Oh my god," he breathed before he kissed my neck, my collar bone and my lips, in that order.

"I'm really happy you're back," I said winded when he stopped to take a breath.

He raised up onto his elbows and gave me his crooked yet saddened smile, "I never went anywhere and I never will." He stared into my eyes, as I stared back into his. "I know things have been bad, and I know things need to change, and they will. I want this Bella, more than I need anything. I meant what I said and I will prove it to you if it takes all of my life." He rolled off onto the bed and encased me in his arms. We fell asleep that way, wrapped in each others embrace, just like we used to, when life was great.

There are still things that we need to discuss but we were okay—better than before. At least I had Edward back, the Edward that brought me flowers to say he was sorry about being jealous. The Edward that knocked out Michael Welch for putting his hands on me. The same Edward that gave me his most prized possession; his mothers locket.

Edward had told me a long time ago, back in the field beside the group home, that we had a connection stronger than time, wider than fucking space and tougher than love. At one point in time we hated each other and blamed each other for what happened. Our love out shined that. Our love also lasted a span of 15 years, stayed strong and continues to grow stronger as time passes. We, together, have moved through life swifter than either of us ever imagined. We have had our ups and downs but it seems nothing can penetrate our connection, that unyielding invisible shield that surrounds us, that holds us together. It felt like we were home again.


Well, I managed to get this done...surprisingly! I don't know that I'll get the epilogue done in a timely manner but it will get done. I appreciate all of your feedback and I'm so thrilled that the majority of people who have been reading this from the beginning are still here and are still being supportive. You don't know how much joy it brings to me. This will most likely be my last fanfiction, as I can hardly find the time to finish this one. I've had a great time writing and hearing your thoughts...of course the stories will still be listed and if you ever want to drop me a line, I will definitely respond.

Thanks again everyone...look for the epilogue to come.

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