"Told me you love me, that I'd never die alone. Hand over your heart let's go on." Cold Desert, Kings of Leon
"She's gone Edward..."
I stared at Angela and shook my head. "No... she... its like six o'clock in the morning."
"Bella left last night. She came back from... the party and we packed up her things and she left," Angela explained.
I looked at her, saw her mouth moving and heard words coming from her lips, but I didn't understand anything she was saying. Bella couldn't... wouldn't leave me. I pushed past Angela and walked straight through their house and into Bella's bedroom. It wasn't completely empty, there was still furniture and a few other items... but it was true. She was gone. I stumbled to her bed and slowly sat down. I leaned forward and pulled at my hair while slowly rocking back and forth. I noticed Angela in the doorway and I reluctantly looked up at her.
"Where?" I asked quietly.
Angela shook her head and lifted one of her shoulders. "All I know is that she's at a hotel somewhere. She sent me a text message about an hour ago letting me know she was stopping to sleep."
She's really gone... Bella was gone.
** *** **
If there was such a thing as Hell on Earth, then I was in it. It had been six days since Bella left. Six days of her ignoring my calls and text messages. Six days of hell. I didn't know where she was or if she was even okay. All I knew was that she had been texting Angela every couple of days, and thankfully Angela felt enough pity to at least let me know she was checking in. I felt useless and helpless, only being able to sit and hope that she was okay and that she would eventually come back. The worst part was that I didn't have anyone to blame for all of this but myself. I had been the one to lie to myself and to Bella. All she had done was try to help me... love me... and I had fucked it all up.
I was sitting in my parent's living room, just staring at nothing and waiting for the phone to ring, when Jasper basically burst through the front door. I heard him yell for me, and closed my eyes. I had been expecting this, waiting for it even. I stood up and turned around to face him as he stalked through the doorway, Alice and Emmett following behind him.
"You selfish son of a bitch!" He yelled before his fist collided with my jaw. It hurt, and I won't lie and say it didn't, but I welcomed the pain. I didn't fight with him as he pulled me up by the front of my shirt and shoved me against the wall. "Do you even know what you've done?! We have no idea where she is!"
I just looked at him, ignoring Emmett trying to make Jasper let go.
"J, come on, this won't help anything," Emmett said calmly. His hand was holding onto Jasper's shoulder.
He shoved me against the wall again, but let go of my shirt and took a step backwards. I looked down at the floor and nodded while Jasper continued to yell at me.
"She just left! She won't answer any of our phone calls! I don't even know if her parents know where the fuck she is, Edward!"
"I've tried..." I said slowly and shook my head. "I've tried to call and apologize. She won't talk to me. I know she's okay though, she's been texting Angela. The last one she got was this morning, about three hours ago."
"We want to know what happened," Alice snapped from the doorway. I looked up at the sound of her voice and watched as she sat a box on the couch. When she looked back at me, I had look away. I couldn't handle the look of disappointment and anger in her eyes. "Tell me the truth Edward. All of it."
"I... fucked everything up," I explained. I looked up at the three sets of eyes that were looking at me. "I lied to everyone, especially Bella."
"Lied how?" Alice asked and took a step towards me.
I just shook my head and looked back at the floor. It didn't matter anymore. I had messed things up well beyond repair.
"Edward you need to tell them," Emmett said quietly. I looked up at him as he gave my shoulder a reassuring squeeze, but I just shook my head again.
"Either you tell them, or I will," Rosalie said from the back door. I glared at her, but I knew it wouldn't do any good. "Edward, I told you the night that all this shit started! You either start telling people the truth or I was going to do it for you!"
"Rosalie..." Emmett groaned.
"Emmett!" She warned. He shook his head and sat on the couch.
"I don't give a shit who says what!" Alice yelled and all of us looked at her. "Someone tell us what the fuck happened while we were gone!"
Jasper nodded and crossed his arms across his chest and looked at me.
"I lied to Bella," I said quietly and leaned back against the wall.
"We gathered that much," Jasper muttered and looked back at Rosalie. "Lied to her about what?"
Rosalie looked at me and I shrugged. It didn't matter who told the story, the end result was the same.
"Edward came back from Nashville and... well look at him! You can see a difference," She waved her hand at me. "Emmett asked if he was... you know..."
"Snorting coke," I finished for her. I slid down the wall till I was sitting on the floor and rested my arms on my knees.
Alice looked down at me. "So it's true?" she asked quietly.
I reluctantly nodded. "Only a few weeks," I muttered, answering her unasked question.
"Bella said you were doing it in New York," Jasper said. I watched as he pulled a folded piece of paper out of his back pocket and held it up. "She left me a letter explaining everything."
"Everything?" I asked.
"Since... your stupid..." he sighed and looked at me."Since the two of you came up with your little arrangement. She explained New York... Katie... what happened at the Christmas party."
I looked at Rosalie and then back down to the floor. So they knew.
"Tell them Edward!" She yelled and my head shot up again.
"What's the fucking point?!" I yelled back at her. "It isn't going to change a fucking thing, Rosalie! She fucking left!"
"Tell us what?" Alice moved in front of Jasper and looked down at me. "Edward, don't lie to me."
I shook my head as it leaned forward. My hands ran through my hair and pulled against it. I didn't even want to admit this to myself, let alone to anyone else! I had been forced to tell my parents, Emmett and Rosalie, why did anyone else need to know? What fucking good would it do?
"Edward loves Bella!" Emmett blurted out. All of us looked at him, and then everyone looked back at me.
I took a deep breath and rubbed my forehead. Hands down, this is the worst Christmas ever. First I come home to the fucking Spanish inquisition about what I had been doing in Nashville, and then I get a five hour long lecture from my brother and his girlfriend about my lack of feelings and consideration for Bella. That's when I lost it and blurted out everything. Every repressed feeling, every God damn mistake that I had made since all of this started.
"You love her?" Jasper asked quietly. I kept looking at the floor and slowly nodded. "I'm no master of emotions Edward, but if you loved her why the fuck did you sleep with someone else?"
"I didn't," I muttered slowly.
"Wait, I'm confused," Alice shook her head and walked in a small circle around Jasper. "So number one, you love Bella. Number two, you tell her that you slept with Katie but you didn't. Is all of that correct?"
"You are the dumbest asshole I know," she said with a dull laugh.
"Explain," Jasper demanded.
Laughing quietly, I shook my head. How the hell am I supposed to explain this? How do I explain something that I don't even fully understand?
"How long have you loved Bella?" Alice asked.
I looked up at her. "I don't really know… probably forever. I just didn't realize it until…"
"Okay let me rephrase. When and why did you decide to lie to her about Katie?" Alice sighed.
"In Orlando," I said quietly. "We… Bella thought that I was asleep but I wasn't. I heard her say that she loved me. I guess that's when I started pulling away…"
"You didn't realize it before then?" Jasper asked me. "Edward every one of us realized she loved you years ago. You're telling me that you didn't see any of this before Orlando?"
I shrugged my shoulders and looked up at him. "I didn't…I mean I guess I knew she loved me. She was my best friend. I didn't realize that she really loved me until that night."
"So you find out she loves you and you realize you love her," Alice stared at me. "Why not try to have a real relationship? Why lie about Katie?"
"Because Bella can do a hell of a lot better than me," I answered quietly.
"Stop with the self deprecating bullshit, Edward," Jasper yelled. "Tell me the fucking truth!"
I looked up at my friend, trying to fight back the anger that was burning my chest.
"The truth Jasper? That is the fucking truth! I'm a fucking druggie! I can't even take care of myself, how the fuck can I take care of her?!" I yelled back. "The fucking truth is that I watched my best friend fall in love with me and I had to turn her away! I had to stand there and break her God damn heart so that she would leave me!"
I pushed myself up off the floor and interrupted Jasper trying to talk to me.
"I acted like I forgot her birthday; and like it meant absolutely nothing to me that she was there! I walked into that hotel room and saw her on the verge of walking away, so I did what I had to do. I lied and told her that I slept with Katie because Bella could do a hell of a lot better than loving someone like me!"
The room got quiet, eerily quiet. My chest hurt, not from yelling, but because my heart was broken. I was empty, and worthless. Because of my inadequacies, I had lost my best friend and the one person who had loved me… unconditionally.
"Is that why..." Alice said quietly. "The drugs?"
I nodded and looked back down at the floor. "She accused me of it in New York. When she left I started again. I just… wanted to forget. I didn't want to feel anything…"
"When Edward got back from Nashville and he explained all of this, we tried to convince him to tell Bella. Even mom and dad did," Emmett explained quietly. "I didn't even know Edward was at the party until I heard the two of them arguing up stairs."
"You didn't tell Bella any of this?" Jasper asked.
I shook my head and sighed. "I knew when Bella walked in that room that she… She would have done anything for me. She would have stayed and held my hand the entire way, just like last time. I couldn't… I didn't want her to have to do that. She deserves a hell of a lot more than anything I can offer her. So I said the one thing that I knew would make her leave… forever."
"He told her that he didn't need her," Rosalie explained quietly.
"Edward," Alice sighed. "Why… How could you do that?"
"Because sometimes you love someone so much that you have to make them leave," I explained quietly.
** *** **
"We need to leave in the morning by six," Alice said quietly. I nodded my head as she slid a piece of paper across the table. "That's a list of things you're allowed to bring. If you want, I can hold on to your cell phone until you get back. In case anyone calls you."
I sighed and read over the list she had given me. "Yeah, remind me to give it to you tomorrow."
"How long will he be… gone?" My mother asked.
"It just depends," my father answered. "No one person is the same. I think that if Edward is as determined as he seems, then he will make a world of difference in his recovery."
I looked up, immediately feeling guilty when he gave me a kind smile. I didn't deserve their support… or love. The only thing I had been to my family was a constant headache. But here they were, being supportive. Through all of my life's fuck ups, they had stood beside me. It had to be embarrassing for my father to call his colleagues and find out what the best rehab facility was. It couldn't be easy for my mother to watch me make the same mistakes she did, especially when I just ignored her advice or help.
"What about the studio?" I quietly asked Alice.
"They know what's happening, but as far as everyone else is concerned, you're working on your next album. You've rented some random cabin somewhere and holed yourself up," she explained.
"Okay," I sighed and looked around the table. "Is that it?"
Alice nodded and I pushed myself away from the table. I promised my mother that I just needed to go pack and excused myself. The truth was that I didn't give a shit about packing; I just wanted to be alone.
After shutting the door to my bedroom I took a deep breath. I checked my phone even though I knew there wouldn't be anything there from Bella. Jasper had told me he talked to her, and that she seemed okay. It made me feel better to know that she wasn't sleeping in her car on the side of the road somewhere.
Like I had done the past two days, I started going through the box of CDs that Bella had given back to me. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me that she would keep all of them; she was such a pack rat. But it hurt like hell when Alice gave me the box and I realized what they were. I read the titles I had scribbled across the tops of the CDs and rolled my eyes at some of the lamer ones. I picked one of them out of the box and put into the stereo, listening to the songs that had become the soundtrack to our lives. I stared at the ceiling of my bedroom, letting the music and lyrics wash over me.
If I wanted Bella to leave, if I wanted to push her away from me… then why did I feel so bad about it? Why didn't it make me feel better that she was somewhere else, probably far better off than she ever was with me? If this was what I wanted, why didn't I feel like I had accomplished anything?
It should have comforted me to think that she would move on. She would find someone else, someone who was good enough for her. But instead of providing any sort of comfort, it just made me mad. It made me mad at myself, mad at the situation… mad at whoever was lucky enough to have Bella love them.
There was a slight knock on the door, and I lifted my head as my mother slowly opened it. "Do you need any help?" She asked quietly. I shook my head, but she walked in the room and shut the door behind her.
Making room for her to sit down, I sat up and leaned back against the headboard. She gently patted my arm and I had to fight to not pull away from her. It felt wrong to have someone comfort me. I didn't deserve it.
"Honey, I know you can't see it now… but everything will work out." She encouraged. I nodded my head even though I didn't believe her. "Please talk to me, Edward," she whispered quietly.
"I just…" I tried to explain. My voice cracked from emotion and I shook my head. "I don't know Mom… I just…"
"You just what?" My mother asked.
"I…I miss her so… so much," I quietly admitted. "I always missed her when she wasn't there… but now it's like this hollow… aching. I can't see how I am going to do this… any of this… without her. I don't know how…"
I looked up when my mother reached over to wipe tears off of my cheeks.
"Edward you are stronger than you give yourself credit for," she said softly. "But you have to understand that before you can fix anything with Bella, you have to fix yourself first. You have to show yourself that you can do this."
"I don't know how," I cried quietly.
She smiled and held one of my hands in both of hers. "You will, Edward. It won't be easy, but very few things in life are. I believe in you, and so does your father and brother. We love you Edward. But you have to want to do this for yourself. If you don't… then it won't ever work."
I nodded and hugged her back when she wrapped her arms around my shoulders. We sat there for a few more minutes, just talking. I realized that it had been months since I had actually had a conversation with either one of my parents. Lately all I had done was try to push people away from me. It felt weird to let someone inside of the wall I had built.
"We should all get to sleep soon," my mother said. She stood up and gently ruffled the top of my head. "It's almost midnight, you should finish packing."
Reluctantly, I smiled and told her goodnight. When she shut the door I nervously looked around the room, trying to decide what to take and what to leave here. I couldn't take my cell phone or computer, and to be honest I was a little surprised that I was allowed an iPod. The list hadn't mentioned anything about musical instruments. I wondered if I could at least bring a guitar.
Almost everything was packed when I looked at the clock and realized that it was past midnight now. It was a new year, a new beginning and a chance to learn from past mistakes. I dropped the clothes I had been holding and picked my phone up. I typed the message quickly, and stared at what I had written.
I love you Bella.
I shook my head and deleted it. I might be an idiot, but I knew that the first time I told her that I loved her definitely shouldn't be through a text message. I took a deep breath and started over.
I miss you… and I'm sorry
Even after the message was sent, I kept staring at the screen. It was foolish to think she would send a message back. I put my phone down and nodded. I had no idea where she was or if she would even get the message tonight, but I needed her to know.
"I'm going to fix this," I said quietly. I walked over to one of the guitar cases sitting in the corner, and flipped it open. I pulled out the letter Bella had written me, along with the couple of pictures that I kept with it. I slipped it into my bag and closed my eyes. "I have to fix this."
A/N: Well… does this answer some questions? Bring up new questions? I hope so! There will be some other EPOV outtakes, and maybe even a few Bella ones. We will just have to see. There is a very specific reason why I chose this song. My friend Christina told me that I had to use Cold Desert and I didn't really agree with her, until I saw a video of Caleb from KOL explaining the song. I am going to post a link for it on my profile (I'll also post it on the Twilighted thread), and I think everyone should check it out.