CHAPTER FIVE

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Same old, same old.

AN at the bottom, like always. After much ado, enjoy!

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BPOV

Our breathing was synchronized. Every one of our inhales and exhales coincided. Every time we took in air, his rock hard chest would rise and move my head, positioned snugly on his chest, a little before it fell again.

No particle of air was lost in our respiration. Time didn't move. It was just us.

Silence.

I'd never felt more peaceful in my life than I did then.

I felt his warm skin on my hand, the heat permeating through his shirt. He would move his thumb ever so slightly on the back of my neck and I would sigh.

We never missed a beat.

I didn't know how long we both stayed there. It felt like eternity. We were safe in the confines of the elevator, and the world didn't matter, it was just us. It felt like an eternity and it was an eternity I never wanted to let go. I never wanted it to end.

When the first, warm tear fell from my eyes, down my cheek and onto his shirt, I shut my eyes tightly. I hadn't planned on crying.

I hadn't planned on anything.

I hadn't planned on meeting Edward. I hadn't planned on feeling so safe around him. I hadn't planned on being so content when he was around.

I hadn't planned on relying on him.

Now I found myself, so dependent on a person I didn't know. I was attached. I… felt.

I was scared. Terrified.

But at that moment, my worries didn't matter. What mattered was the moment itself. Just the two of us.

Breathing.

The simplest thing in the entire world felt so precious and beautiful to me.

My skin would tingle as the air around us moved. I melted at his touch, his grazes electrifying my skin. I felt it. I felt everything. I felt it magnified. Every sensation was much more intense than anything I'd ever felt in my life.

I felt human. Alive.

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EPOV

Wednesday

It's been three days.

I haven't seen Bella in three days.

Do I honestly have to repeat that to you?

My vision was clouded, my thoughts hazed. It felt like I couldn't function without her…. It was hard to think, it was difficult to behave normally.

Two sleepless nights and three unproductive days.

I was calculated. I was controlled. I was a calculated, controlled person. I took everything into consideration, including my speech. I analyze my words in my head before I spit them out.

But not with Bella.

Everything turns fuzzy when she's around. When she's… doing that thing with her eyes and her lips and her… everything that makes her so gorgeous and irresistible. I have NO social filter around her. I end up saying exactly what is in my head, whatever it is I'm thinking.

Never had I ever had that problem before. Ever.

My problem had always been the exact opposite.

But with Bella, I turn to an open spigot, gushing words out of my brain non-stop. It's scaring me.

I'd never been that way before. With anyone.

Let alone a gorgeous stranger.

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BPOV

Thursday

"Ben, I really have to go."

He looked at me, clearly disappointed. I pulled on my shoes and stepped out the door. He stood there in the doorway, watching me. "Alright… But you know how much I hate it when you leave."

I nodded abruptly, forcing a smile. He leaned forward and kissed me, his hand on the back of my neck. I moved my lips against his and pulled away.

I felt nothing.

-

I thanked Charlie again, like I do every night and walked for the elevator. I pressed the elevator's call button and stepped in.

I waited.

I was tired. Exhausted. Worn out.

I lacked sleep and rest, my entire body felt like it was shutting down. I leaned back on the cold walls of the elevator and sighed. I let my shoulders slump and huffed out an involuntary strangled breath.

Biting the inside of my cheek, I held back the tears that threatened to fall. I couldn't remember the last time I'd cried. It was nearly a year ago, and it wasn't pleasant. I've kept my feelings and emotions non-physical since then.

This felt strange.

I felt gaspy, like I lacked oxygen in my lungs. My breathing came out in tremors and my slumped shoulders shook. Tremors went through my body.

I shook.

And before I knew it, I cried.

It was 2am in the morning, inside a cold elevator. I was waiting for a stranger to walk inside, and I was crying.

Crying because I was tired, crying because I was sick.

I'd had nearly enough, and I didn't know how much longer I could actually keep up with the pretense. This illusion of a life I had a part in creating.

I created this illusion, this fake life. I lived and breathed it. I brought this onto myself. I couldn't possibly blame anyone. This was all my doing.

The elevator doors opened loudly and the world stopped.

I could smell him. He smelled like hospital and musk and male. Like a warm blend of cinnamon and mint… I couldn't describe it. But I knew that the second I inhaled his scent, all hell broke loose.

I lost all sense of myself. Again.

"Bella, are you alright?"

I shook my head and I didn't lift up my gaze. I didn't want him to see me like this.

No one should see me like this.

But he did.

He stepped forward and wrapped his warm arms around my trembling shoulders and I shook in his grasp. I was sobbing in tears and he held me.

He held me.

He held me while I pounded my fist against his chest. Over and over again, my fists met his chest, pounding as hard as I could. I didn't want to seem weak.

I wasn't weak.

I couldn't be. Not anymore.

He whispered soft words in my ear, stroking the hair at the back of my neck. He held on to me while I struggled against his gentle but firm grasp.

I quickly gave up to my futile attempts at pushing away his hold on me.

We stayed there.

I gave in.

I ended up with my forehead on his shoulder, my face a heaping mess of sweat and tears.

He didn't care.

I stopped caring.

We stayed there. For much longer than we probably should have. For much longer than I would let myself allow.

We both stopped caring.

His voice broke the silence. "Bella, love, was it Ben? Did he do anything to you? Did he hurt you?"

His voice was soft and caring, and I melted in his arms, even more than I had before.

"No."

"Then what is it? Love, you can tell me anything, you know that right?"

He kept rubbing small circles on my neck, easing out the kinks that'd formed there.

"Yeah." I paused, clearing my throat, "just not now. Not yet."

He nodded in understanding, his chin moved against the top of my head.

I lifted up my face carefully and my eyes met his.

I sank in a sea of green. His hand moved to my cheek, rubbing slowly.

"Alright. I'll wait."

We had our foreheads to each other, my hand clasping the belt loop of his jeans, fiddling with his shirt.

I felt it.

The weird electricity seemed to buzz all around us. It formed a field around us and we were surrounded by it.

I felt like I could breathe again.

Like perhaps, I was alive.

"Edward?" my voice was cautious.

"Yes, love?"

"Please don't kiss me." My bottom lip quivered.

He nodded, understanding.

"I'll wait." He nodded against my forehead, his lithe fingers tracing the angles of my cheek.

Another tear fell from my eye and he quickly wiped it away. His eyes stared into mine, pleading.

"I'll wait."

-

I let the hot water scald my skin.

Edward. I could feel Edward. Everywhere. On me.

My skin tinged a soft, musky and minty smell. Edward's scent.

I hated it.

I hated the sole comfort his presence created for me. I hated the fact that there was no way of containing myself around him. When he was around, I felt safe. I felt comfort… Contentment. It felt like home.

I ran my hands through my tangled, wet locks. Trembling, I took my head in my hands and placed my bent elbows on the cold wall of the shower.

I remember everything.

Every touch he left, lingering on my skin. The way his fingers ghosted over my neck, massaging softly. I remember the way the small hairs on my head danced when he exhaled. The way I melted into his arms…

I couldn't fathom how I actually felt. I didn't know what it all meant. Everything was so confusing. The vivid flashes of Edward flashed over and over in my mind.

But at that moment, where felt vulnerable and broken and weak, I knew for certain of one thing.

I missed him already.

I was so… close. I tried to hold back the thoughts I knew were real. Edward's touches… they were affectionate. I tried so badly to ignore the fact that I acknowledged so perfectly.

I knew I was scared. I was worse than scared, I was freaked out. I didn't want to know. Some things were just better left unknown and with my knees buckling under the scalding water of my shower that night, that was what I thought of Edward.

My feelings. My actual feelings. My actual, honest and vulnerable feelings about Edward…

They were better left unknown.

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EPOV

Thursday morning.

"Bella?"

She turned around and looked up at me. "Yeah?" She sucked in her bottom lip and caught them between her teeth. So beautiful…

"I, uh… Don't answer this if you don't want to but uh, what… what happened last night?"

My neck didn't change its position. My current vision was of my shoes and the slick pavement.

She breathed silently for a bit, trying to form the right words in her mind.

"I was getting tired. Of everything. I broke down. I thought I was happy, but deep inside I knew I really wasn't. I mean, I don't know. It's weird, I guess…"

I nodded silently, pondering. She seemed unsure with her own answer, but it was sufficient. For now, I let it drop.

I knew that we were running. The discussion about what happened that night never came up. We were scared, the both of us. The questions lingered uncomfortably in the back of my mind.

I knew that I wasn't good enough for her. I was a screw up. I ruin things inevitably, out of instinct. I destroy.

I was afraid of destroying her.

The pieces of ink imbedded in my skin were part of who I was. When I was done ruining everything around me, I ruined myself too.

Bella didn't run.

She wasn't disgusted.

But maybe she should be. Maybe it'd be better for her to be repulsed by me. Maybe she should start running, as far away. As far away as she could. From me.

I was falling. And there was no way I was letting Bella go down with me.

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BPOV

Friday

I slipped on my Ray Bans and walked into the warm sun. Every memory of what happened last night was pushed to the very back of my mind. This was going to be just like any other Friday. Strong, independent and confident Bella was back, for good.

I'd been in my lowest and weakest point last night and I wasn't letting it happen again.

I had actual plans tonight. For an actual weekend. With my actual, well sort of, boyfriend.

Ben and I were going to hit up a small, open-mic-night bar. Of course only for one purpose and one purpose only, real Hollywood hotshots taking their girlfriends to a down-to-earth outing? Publicity.

-

"You really were serious about this, weren't you?"

Ben had been whining about this small-bar outing for the past hour.

"Yes. Now stop complaining." I huffed in annoyance, slipping my ankle boots on with a hand on the wall to keep my balance.

"Give me one good reason why I have to go."

I resisted rolling my eyes and stomping out the door, leaving him there at the door.

"Because, well real boyfriends take their real girlfriends to real dates. Even Hollywood stars. Once the press sees you're down-to-earth… or whatever, they're going to love you…. Yadda-yadda-yadda." I waved around my arms frantically to prove my point. "Can we go now?"

He was smiling again.

Finally.

He picked up the keys from the table by the door and took my hand, dragging me out.

This was going to be a long night.

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EPOV

I pushed at the door with my shoulder and signed my name in the clipboard on the wall. Walking in, I rested my guitar case on the bar and sat on one of the stools. It was a fairly crowded night, but it was a comfortable crowd. I noticed a few locals sitting around, beers in hand.

I raised my hand at the bartender, asking for a beer. My eyes scanned the room once again, closely this time.

Bella.

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AN: The abundance/overuse of profanity in the last bit of the last chapter was really unintentional. But after reading it over, I realize that it actually shows how agitated and annoyed they are about their new feelings they aren't meant to feel.

Thanks to everyone who has waited for this chapter and reviewed the last. Every reader who's decided to remain anonymous, I love you guys too. I'm truly, truly sorry for how long this chapter took. RL hates me and I hate RL. I'm also sorry that I haven't gotten around to replying every single review but I'll start ASAP. Let's hope the next chapter won't take as long. *crosses fingers*

I hope you enjoyed this (super short but difficult to write) chapter, and it was worth the wait. Leave a review on the way out? Thanks so much! :)