This story is rated MA.
The original characters and plot of Twilight are the property of Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended with this story. After the story is completed, all Twilight references and character names will be changed and copyrighted. Copyright 2010-11 by Jenndur. This story may not be duplicated, copied, printed or otherwise reproduced in any way, nor can it be reposted on any other website without the expressed written authorization of the author.
This story contains adult subject matter, strong language, controversial topics, drugs and underage alcohol use, mentions of rape, consensual sexual content, and self-injury.
Summary: Isabella is a troubled teen with self-destructive behaviors sent to live with her father in Forks, WA. Will Edward be the one to help her, save her from this downward spiral? Or will his actions push her closer to the edge? AH/OOC, B/E
Recommended Songs: Switchfoot- "Learning to Breathe"; Kelly Clarkson- "Sober"
"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will."
"Okay, Isabella. Our time is up for today. According to my schedule, I have you down for two weeks from today. Is that correct?"
I nodded, setting aside the pillow I'd been holding in my lap. "I'll be out of town until then."
"If you need to speak to me before then, you know how to contact me," she said, following me to the door. It was dark outside, and the floor to ceiling windows acted like mirrors, reflecting everything under the harsh fluorescent lighting. As I tugged on my jacket and hat, I wished I had thought to grab my umbrella from the car earlier. "Happy holidays, Isabella. Stay safe," she added as I pulled the door open and an icy gust of wind swept over us.
"Thanks, Shelli. See you then," I replied, throwing a wave over my shoulder as I ventured out into the pouring rain.
By the time I'd managed to get to the car, I was soaked to the bone. I was quick to start the engine and blast the heater, letting my car warm up and the window defog. I glanced at the clock on the dash and fiddled with the radio. If I didn't leave now, I was going to be late. Again.
Traffic was horrendous. Along the way, there were a few fender benders, which was bound to happen with all the last minute shoppers and bad weather. My eyes constantly darted from the road to the green-lit numbers and back again, and with each glance, my anxiety of being late slowly grew.
It was only when I pulled into the almost deserted parking lot and saw a light filtering through the office windows that I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Not bothering to use the designated spaces, I parked my car just in front of the building and jumped out. I wouldn't be there long, so I decided to leave the car running.
"You're late again, Isabella," Kendra said in a disapproving tone, standing as I stepped through the door.
"I know," I replied, looking at the owner and director of my son's daycare. "I'm sorry. It won't happen again." It probably would, though. And from the skeptical look on her face, I knew Kendra thought the same thing.
"This has happened four times this month. Please, don't let it happen again. Is there someone else that can pick him up when you can't?"
"No, his dad works late." I shook my head. "I'll try to move my appointments to an earlier time," I promised. This seemed to appease her. I always felt like a bad parent when I'd walk in here and my son was the last one left. I couldn't help it, even though I knew I was late because I was getting help.
These feelings disappeared when I rounded the counter and saw my son sitting in his car seat. "Hey, Brayden," I cooed softly. His face lit up, as I'm sure mine did, when we laid eyes on each other. He started kicking his legs and flailing his arms about as I drew closer. I leaned down so I could pick him up, needing to hold him in my arms. "How was your day?" I asked softly, bouncing him in my arms before placing a kiss atop his head.
"He had a really good day. His daily report is in his bag." Kendra smiled.
"That's good. You ready to go home, bud?" I asked, placing him back in his car seat. He began fussing as I secured the straps and covered him. I hushed him while quickly digging through his bag, pulling out his pacifier.
"Okay," I said, standing up once we were ready to go. "Thanks, Kendra. Merry Christmas."
"You too, Isabella."
My son hadn't been planned, but he hadn't been an accident either. I'd always been good at remembering to take my birth control, but one month, I had forgotten to take a whole week's worth. I shrugged it off, figuring it wasn't a big deal. But after that, I kept forgetting to take them more and more until I just stopped completely. I thought we'd be okay.
I was about two months along by the time I discovered I was pregnant. To say I was scared would be an understatement. I was shocked, terrified, and a little excited. I decided to keep my pregnancy a secret from everyone for another month.
Once I decided to start telling people, I was met with mixed responses. There were people, like my mother, who would immediately ask me if I planned on keeping it while openly gazing with disdain at my ringless finger. Not only did I feel discouraged by that, but it also pissed me off that everyone around me thought I would be a horrible parent. I decided if people couldn't be supportive of my decisions and me, then they weren't worth my time. But then there were others who were excited about my news, congratulating me with huge smiles. These were the people I would allow in my child's life, and the others could go screw themselves.
I'd had a relatively easy pregnancy, minus one incident of dehydration and abdominal pain that resulted in an overnight stay in the hospital. My pregnancy had also been the only time I could recall feeling normal, feeling like I didn't have BPD.
Time flew by, and before I knew it, I finally had my little Brayden Christopher in my arms just after one in the morning on May 26th. Holding him for the first time, watching him as he wailed, I was overcome with a tightness in my chest. I knew this wasn't the same feeling I had experienced years ago, when my chest was caving in, but instead it was because my heart swelled with unconditional love for this tiny human being. I couldn't recall ever feeling this type of love for someone. The kind that brings tears to your eyes and leaves you gasping for air. That was seven months ago, and I still felt that way every time I thought of or saw my son.
He was still awake when we arrived home, but his bedtime was quickly approaching. He happily gurgled in his highchair while I grabbed two jars of baby food. It was too quiet in the house, so I turned on the television for background noise while I fed him. He had me laughing every time he made faces when I gave him the green beans. I couldn't blame him though — they smelled nasty.
"Come on, Bray. Just a few more bites, and then you can have some more sweet potatoes," I said, holding the spoon close to his mouth. I sighed with a smile on my face as he turned away. "Okay. Fine, I give in."
I dropped a few Cheerios on his tray to keep him occupied while I quickly cleaned up the kitchen. He started fussing just as I finished, and I knew he was ready to go to sleep but he still needed to take a bath.
"Let's go take a quick bath, bud, and then I'll put you to bed," I said as a few stray Cheerios fell to the floor when I pulled him out of his highchair. Oh well. I'd get those later.
Within fifteen minutes, I'd bathed Brayden and had him dressed in his pajamas. Like every night, I'd read him a story while he drank a small bottle. Tonight's was Goodnight Moon — one of my favorites. I loved cuddling with him in the rocking chair, breathing in his clean baby scent. We sat there rocking until he fell asleep, but I waited another few minutes before placing him in his crib. I leaned against the railing, caressing his hair away from his face. If I could, I'd stay here all night just watching him, but I knew I had things to do before we left tomorrow morning.
Entering the master bedroom, I grabbed my suitcase from the walk-in closet and threw it on the bed. I wanted nothing more than to climb into my warm, comfy bed and pass out, but I knew if I didn't pack now, it wouldn't get done. I laid all my things I'd need for the week into piles. Not wanting to forget anything, I doubled checked everything before zipping up my suitcase and lugging it to the front door.
I eyed the bed briefly as I wandered back into the bedroom. It was getting late and I was exhausted, but I wanted to watch the news while I waited. I threw on some yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and a pair of fuzzy socks before going back out to the living room. I was sort of hungry but felt too lazy to make food, so I plopped down onto the couch and changed the channel.
I tried to fight the heaviness of my eyelids, but in the end I lost, falling asleep to the new anchor talking about a robbery.
"Isabella. Come on, love. It's time to get up."
I groaned and hit beneath the blankets, burying my face into my pillow. "Don't wanna."
"You've gotta get up. We have a flight to catch, remember?"
"Do we have to? Can't we just stay here?"
"Come back to bed." I felt the covers lift a little and thought he was actually going to listen to me. And then the covers were gone. I shivered, no longer enveloped in warmth. "Ed-ward," I whined.
"Isa-bella," he replied, matching my tone.
I blinked blearily at him. He stood beside the bed, blocking most of the light that filtered in from the bathroom. After my eyes adjusted, I could see his grinning face and half-naked body. He looked so perfect while I, on the other hand, looked like hell.
"What time is it?" I sighed, sitting up.
"Just after four thirty." His smile grew wider as I shot him a dark look. It was too early for me to be awake and functioning. Besides, the plane didn't even leave until eight.
"How are you so awake right now?" I grumbled.
"A shower helped. Why don't you hop in the shower and I'll have a cup of coffee ready for when you get out?" he suggested.
"Okay," I sighed.
"Good. Now get going," he said jokingly, ducking down to kiss me.
I turned away at the last second, muttering, "Morning breath."
"You know I don't care about that."
"And you know that I do. Besides, I thought I needed to get moving so we wouldn't be late."
"You're right," he grumbled before standing back up, moving toward the door. "But you owe me a kiss."
"Yeah, okay. I think I can manage that," I replied, rolling my eyes playfully. I could hear his laughter as he disappeared through the door, and I shook my head at him.
I grabbed the clothes I'd laid out the night before from on top of my dresser and made my way to the bathroom. I was happy that I'd decided to pack last night instead of rushing around at last minute with the possibility of forgetting something important, like underwear. Now I could take a hot shower and just relax, though I wished Edward would join me.
I could remember the look of surprise on his face when he had found me at his doorstep unannounced three years ago. He had looked just the same as I'd remembered him from Forks, but there'd been subtle changes, just as I'm sure there were now. Luckily Alice, who'd been sharing that apartment with her brother, hadn't been home at the time. It was an awkward first meeting for us; I hadn't known how to act around him. I'd felt nervous and unsure, but I'd also wanted to pick up where we'd left off.
I hadn't been sure what my plans had been — to stay in Boston permanently so I could be near Edward or return to Colorado — until I received a call from my therapist's office about having missed two appointments without giving notice. My therapist hadn't thought this move was a good idea, but there was nothing that would've convinced me to go back. I'd wanted… needed to see that I could do this on my own.
And I did.
I'd gotten my own apartment in Boston, signed up for classes as the community college, found a job, and got a new therapist who specialized in treatment of BPD.
Edward and I had found time to spend together in between our busy schedules with work and school. We both knew it would've been detrimental to continue the relationship we'd had in Forks; we weren't the same people anymore. So instead, we slowly got to know each other again.
A smile formed on my face as I towel-dried my hair. I still couldn't believe that because of my impulsive decisions to find him almost three years ago, he was now mine and we had a child together.
Following the scent of freshly brewed coffee, I wandered down the hallway and could hear Edward singing softly. I knew without looking in Brayden's room that he was with his dad. I stopped at the end of the hall and peaked around the corner, holding my breath as I listened. Edward stood in the middle of the kitchen with Brayden in his arms, swaying from side to side. Though I wasn't often awake this early, I knew that the mornings were their special bonding time. It was a heartwarming sight, seeing the two of them together. I realized then that I was no longer holding my breath and I'd been caught.
"Hello, Mommy." Edward smiled as I walked into the room, and handed our son to me.
"Good morning. You're up a little earlier than usual this morning, Bray. Did Daddy wake you up?" Edward glanced over his shoulder at me, shrugging lightly. I laughed and pressed a kiss to Brayden's forehead as I hugged him closer. "Has he eaten already?"
"Yup. Just finished actually," Edward replied, walking over to us. He leaned in to kiss me, but I leaned back, denying him once again.
"Coffee?" I asked with a raised brow, trying to keep from laughing at his mock indignation. The corners of his mouth were threatening to burst into a smile as he leaned in closer and wrapped an arm around my waist. With his other hand, he held a coffee cup in my view.
"Right here, love. Now where's my kiss?"
"Thanks." I darted forward to give him a quick kiss, but the moment our lips met, I was lost in the feeling of love I had for him. It was much different than the love I held for my son, but it was just as strong. Remembering Brayden was in my arms, I broke the kiss and took the coffee cup. "What time are we leaving?"
"In a few minutes. I've just got to finish getting Brayden's diaper bag ready. Do you have everything you need packed?"
I nodded in affirmation as I sat down at the table, still wishing we didn't have to go. I was dreading this trip; my anxiety levels were at the highest they'd been in a long time.
"Okay. Ready to go?" Edward asked just as I finished my coffee.
"Yeah," I said breathlessly.
"Fine." I gave him a shaky smile as I secured Brayden in his car seat.
"Everything's gonna be all right," he promised.
"I know," I sighed. "Let's just get this over with."
"Okay, love." He smiled as he grabbed our bags, and I followed with Brayden.
"Just breathe," Edward reminded me, grabbing my hand and holding it securely in his over the middle console. I did as he said, trying to control the panic attack that paralyzed me.
It had been five and a half years since I'd been diagnosed and sent away from Forks, and today was the first time I'd been back. It was just the same as I remembered it to be. Being back in this small town where I'd hit rock bottom terrified me to the core. While I knew I was no longer that broken girl, I wondered if there was still a possibility of me being her again.
No, I told myself. I'd changed for the better.
"Do you need me to pull over?" Edward asked, briefly glancing at me with concern as he slowed the car. There wasn't really anywhere to pull over on the narrow road leading to his parents' house, and we'd be there in a few minutes anyway.
"I'm okay," I told him, squeezing his hand tightly in reassurance. When he gave me a scrutinizing look, I added, "Really. I don't even know why I'm acting like this." He didn't say anything in response to my blatant lie but resumed his previous speed.
We were both on edge, knowing the reason for my current behavior. The last time I'd been to this house had been the first time we'd had sex, and that ended up being the catalyst for my downward spiral. And though everything that happened that night had been forgiven long ago, it was still a sore subject for us.
I'd finally settled down as the car came to a stop. After turning off the engine, Edward silently waited with me. As much as I wanted to just sit here, holding hands with Edward, I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone noticed our arrival. These people were my family… our family. I could do this.
I was sort of expecting Alice to be lurking around the corner when we entered the house, just waiting to give me a heart attack. I was relieved to find that she was with everyone else in the living room, unaware of our presence. As we neared the entrance to the kitchen, the music and mingling voices grew louder.
"Hey, Mom," Edward called out. "Merry Christmas!"
"Oh! You're finally here," Esme said, rushing over from the stove. She pulled Edward in for a hug before moving on to me as she continued, "You look good. Was your flight okay? How was the drive?"
"Flight was good. Hit a little traffic leaving the airport, but for the most part it was okay," Edward answered, chuckling lightly.
"That's good, darling. I've missed you all so much," she replied with a sniffle.
"Mom, you just saw us last month for Thanksgiving."
"I know, but still, I don't get to see you nearly enough."
"It's about time you guys got here," Alice cut in as she gave both Edward and me hugs. "Now let me see my nephew."
"Nice to see you too, Alice," I said in mock sarcasm before handing Brayden off to his aunt.
"Sorry," she replied, rolling her eyes playfully. "Hi, Isabella. I'm so absolutely elated to see you. I'm just beside myself. Better?"
"Much." I laughed, and added, "Hey, Rose."
"Hey." Rose smiled in response as both she and Esme moved closer to Alice and my son. She held his hand, cooing, "I can't believe how big he's gotten."
"I know. Time's really flown by."
"So, Mom, when's dinner?" Edward asked as he wandered over to the refrigerator, looking for something to snack on. "I'm starving."
"Don't eat too much," Esme warned. "Dinner will be ready shortly. We're just waiting on your father and the boys to return from the store. I wonder what's taking them so long," she sighed and kissed Brayden on the forehead before moving back to the stove.
"Okay," he replied through a mouthful of food. "I'd bet you Emmett's the hold up, Mom."
"And you'd win that bet," Rosalie laughed.
Leaving Rose and Alice to fawn over Brayden, I walked over to where my dad quietly sat nursing a beer.
"Hi, Dad," I said, dropping down beside him and leaning in to give him a brief hug. He returned the gesture, patting my back somewhat awkwardly and drew a long gulp from his bottle.
"Hey, kiddo. How's the little one?"
"He's good. Why don't you go over and see him?" I suggested.
"That's okay. There's plenty of time for me to see him. Besides, I'm not sure Rosalie would be willing to give him up," he said, his mustache twitching slightly as he tried to conceal his smile.
"You're probably right about that," I replied softly, following his gaze. Together we watched in a comfortable silence, letting ourselves get lost in thought.
Something I'd learned about in treatment was forgiveness. For a long time, I blamed everyone else and never took responsibility for myself. Learning to forgive myself was something I still struggled with, but realizing and accepting that the past couldn't be changed, I knew I needed to forgive the people I cared about… the people I hurt deeply. And in return, my family and friends eventually learned to forgive me as well.
"It's okay. I'll feed him," Rosalie offered, pulling me back to reality. Brayden was fussing and squirming in her arms, and Edward stood over them with a bottle in his hand. She took the bottle from him and offered it to my son, who was immediately soothed.
"So…" Charlie began, drawing my attention back to him. "Have you spoken to your mother recently?"
"No," I sighed, wanting to leave it at that.
"Isabella," he said simply. He gave me an expectant look.
"No, Dad. I'm not gonna call her. She wants nothing to do with me."
"It's just a misunderstanding."
"But it's not. She's made her decision to stay out of my life because of my decision to keep Brayden."
"Just talk to her. Maybe she doesn't feel—"
"I don't think so. We've had this conversation many times, Dad, and I really don't want to have it again."
"Sorry," I apologized and he nodded, downing the rest of his beer before getting up to get another one.
Renee was still not a subject I liked to discuss. Like everyone else, I had learned to forgive her during my time in treatment. A few months before I left Colorado, I'd learned that Phil was no longer in the picture and that they'd divorced. She'd left him when he was accused and charged with two counts of statutory rape. It was then that I decided to accept her back into my life, willing to work on improving our relationship.
Things had been going well up until the point that I told her about my pregnancy. She'd told me I was stupid for making the same mistake she'd made — getting pregnant at such a young age. After not being able to convince me to get an abortion, she cut off all contact, basically disowning me.
"We're back!" Emmett's boisterous voice yelled out just before the front door slammed shut. He appeared a minute later with Jasper, both of them carrying a couple grocery bags each. Dropping his bags on the counter, he gave Edward a man-hug. "Hey, dude. Long time, no see."
"Hey, Em," Edward laughed. "How're you?"
"Good, good. Just went to the store to get a little snack," he said, gesturing to the many bags.
"A little?" I interjected with a smile.
"What can I say? I'm a growing boy." He grinned, meeting me halfway before scooping me up into a bear hug. "Hey, Isabella."
"Good to see you, Em," I rasped, adding, "You too, Jasper."
"What is all this?" Esme asked, looking through all the bags. "I sent you to the store for a couple of items."
"All of which are right here," Carlisle said as he walked into the kitchen, handing her his single bag of items. "Hello, Edward. Isabella."
"Thank you," she told him. "Now, can someone set the table?"
Everyone offered to help while Rosalie kept Brayden entertained. I excused myself to the bathroom just as Esme, Carlisle, and Charlie started bringing out the food. I ended up staying in the bathroom a little longer than I planned, getting lost in thought again as I washed my hands. I found Edward standing outside the door, waiting for me.
"Everyone's waiting for us. I just want to tell you that I love you so much," he said, kissing me. I pulled away after a moment, looking into his eyes.
I was happy.
Sure, things weren't perfect and could definitely be improved. I'd always have to deal with my disorder, and there'd be plenty of moments where I'd fail at controlling it.
But right now, I was happy where I was at.
"I love you too."
A/N: I don't even know what to say here. It feels surreal to click the completed button, having spent almost two years working on this story. And just like Isabella, I'm happy with where its ended. I hope you all have enjoyed the ride, even though it got really heavy in the end. Please let me know what you think of the epilogue and/or the whole story.
Not sure when the outtakes will be posted, but they will eventually be posted here. If there's anything you'd like to see, let me know and I'll try to make it happen.
I'll be posting for the TT25 over the next couple of months. If you'd like to read my next story, which will be posting in February, add me to your author alerts if you haven't already.
And now, my thank yous…
To my readers who have reviewed (and those who stayed silent on the sideline), and added Ricochet to their alerts and favorites… thank you.
Violette de Musique, my best friend, was the person who convinced me to write this story. I know you probably won't read this, but thank you for all that you've done.
Angie, my otherhalf, thank you for all your help and for being my late night writing buddy.
And last but not least, Ooza and Taylor have been the best betas. I'd really like to thank them for all their hard work, time and effort they've put into bettering my story. I feel I'm lacking proper words to express how grateful I am to these lovely ladies. Thank you so much! You are both amazing and I love you guys!