Surprise! I know it's been forever, and I'm sorry, but I really do plan to finish this story. I'm still getting a lot of hits on it even after all this time, so I'm wondering if someone is rec'ing this? If you are, or if you know someone who is, please let me know who to thank! So, I had this chapter mostly written for a long time, and thanks to a power outage at work that gave me an unexpected day off, here it is. I know it's not the most exciting chapter, and I honestly can't say when I'll get the next one out, (it might be a while again) but here you go anyway.
As always, it all belongs to the great Stephanie.
I didn't leave Bella's bed all night, save one brief moment early in the morning, when Charlie popped his head in to check on her before leaving for work. It was a wonderful night for me, getting to hold her in my arms as she slept. She often pulled herself close to me in her sleep, pressing her body against mine. It was hard for me to allow it to sink in, that I was really here, really home, and I had her back, and she said she'd consider marrying me someday.
She slept late, and said very little, with the exception of some mumbling and whining, nothing I could make out. It was nearly 10am when she finally awoke. I was glad she was getting the rest she needed. Yesterday had been an exhausting day for her.
"Bella, I want to talk to you about something." Charlie said as they sat down to dinner. Bella had planned to break the news to him that I was back and we were back together, but he already knew we were back. He was worried she'd go to school on Monday and be surprised.
"Oh?" I could tell by her voice she was completely thrown.
"Yeah. It's about….well" Dammit, just spit it out. "….it's about the Cullens. I heard today that they are back." There.
"Yeah…Dad..." She sputtered. "Yeah, I know already." She took a deep breath.
"How did you hear?" She doesn't seem upset by it. Maybe she's over him. He picked up his fork and started eating.
"Um…Edward contacted me." I could see her deep blush in his mind.
"I hope you told him to shove off."
"No, actually, I didn't. Um….Dad….actually, we're back together, Edward and I." She said the last part very fast.
Charlie's thoughts went red. There were no words, but images flew through his head, each one wounding me. Bella crying. Screaming out in her sleep night after night. Waif thin, even thinner than she is now, with dark circles under her eyes. Day after day of Bella sitting listless staring into space. Bella sprawled out with Jacob and homework on the floor. Bella finally smiling and laughing with Jake. "Oh, no, Bella, why? WHY?" He whispered to keep from yelling. "And what about Jake? I thought you two…" Another image, the two of them, far away on the beach walking hand in hand, then Jacob pulling her into a hug. I didn't recognize the beach. It must be La Push. My breath caught. The whirl of emotion stunned me. The pain of seeing how Bella suffered, the acute jealousy of seeing her in Jacob's arms. I wanted to run from it, but I knew I deserved this. If only I could be the only one to suffer. I should never have left her.
"Jacob and I….that's complicated. I've already told him. He's hurt and angry, and that's my fault, and I have to live with that. But I want to be with Edward." Her voice was suddenly steady.
"I can't believe you are setting yourself up for another fall with him. You are smarter than this. He will hurt you again, Bella. You have to know that…."
"He won't hurt me again." She answered simply.
"I don't understand. How can you trust him? Ever? What magical explanation did he give for breaking all contact with you?"
"He did it for me." I hadn't realized she had a plan for answering this question. "He didn't want me putting my life on hold for him. He didn't think he'd be back. He thought it would be easier for me that way."
"Well it wasn't." Charlie was barely controlling his temper.
"He didn't know that. He thought I'd just get over him and move on. He was suffering the whole time too." Bella seemed very calm. She must have been angry too, because her heart was pounding, and I could see in Charlie's thoughts that her face was red, but she kept control.
Can I forbid her to see him? It would probably make her want him even more. I'm powerless. How can I protect her from him? He took a deep breath. "I don't know what to say except that I think you're making a mistake."
"Well, you're free to have that opinion, but it won't change my mind."
"Please, Bella. Please don't do this to yourself, to Jake. You have a chance at something real and wonderful with him. He loves you. You have to see that. I thought maybe…" Maybe you could love him too, if you ever healed.
My heart lurched at that thought. Charlie knew she didn't love Jacob. He knew.
"I have a chance at something real and wonderful with Edward." She looked only at her plate as she spoke. She had stopped eating.
"A slim chance." Charlie was at a loss of how to convince her. If I tell her he's not allowed in the house, she'll spend all her time out with him. I won't get to see how he's treating her. He could take her anywhere, do anything. An image of me pushing her up against a nondescript brick wall in an alley somewhere popped into his head, though I'm sure there are no alleys like that anywhere in Forks. "C'mon, you know I love you Bella." The Edward in his thoughts whispered in her ear as his hand started up her shirt. "If you keep me happy I'll never leave again." Why does everyone think I want to force myself on her?
"That may be, but it's a chance I'm taking." Bella answered, shaking both Charlie and me from the terrible vision.
"This is a mistake, Bella. Edward doesn't love you. He could never care for you like Jake does. I'm afraid for you. Terrified of what will happen when he breaks your heart again." Images of her taking pills and slitting her wrists flickered through his mind. Searing hatred of me colored his thoughts. There doesn't seem to be much hope that Charlie will accept my relationship with Bella. I couldn't see him walking her down the aisle someday to my waiting arms.
Bella only shrugged. They ate the rest of their meal in silence.