Breath In, Breath Out

I cannot believe this. I should not be this nervous. This is supposed to be the happiest day of my life. It is the day that I have dreamed about since I was five years old. It was my wedding day. Yet here I was, completely freaking out. You would not be this nervous if you were truly in love with him. I feebly attempted to block out these irrational thoughts that were constantly floating through my mind. The notion that I was not in love with the man that I promised my life to was completely preposterous! Of course I love him…right? Before I could get too carried away with my thoughts, a sharp knock on the door shook me out of my reverie.

"Sweet heart, are you ready?" my father's voice floated through the door of the bridal suite.

"Yeah, Dad, come in," I called back. I heard the door creak open, and I watched through the mirror as my father walked in with my mother at his side.

"Oh, Bella," my mother gasped as she came to stand by the vanity where I was sitting, "you look so beautiful."

"Prettiest damn bride I've ever seen," my dad grumbled as he placed his hand on my shoulder. "We just came to tell you that it's time. Everyone's ready, and we're just waiting on you, now. Are you ready?" The air rushed out of me with these words. Deep breath in, deep breath out.

"Uh, y-yeah, I'm o-one hundred percent ready," I said as I attempted to steady my quivering voice.

"Are you okay, Bella? You're looking a little green," my father said.

"Yeah, it's just pre-wedding jitters, nothing to worry about. Let's do this." I said with a confidence that I did not feel.

"Before we go, would you mind giving the two of us some privacy, Charlie?" my mother asked.

"Oh, of course, I'll just be right outside when the two of you are done," Charlie said as he exited the room. My mother began to fuss with my hair, making sure that every strand was in its place.

"Sweet heart," she tentatively began, "you know I love you, right?"

"What are you talking about, Mom? Of course I know that," I replied.

"I just…I want to ask you something, and I know that you won't be happy about it. I just need to know the truth."

"You can ask me anything, Mom. What is it?"

"I just need to know that you're happy. Are you happy, Bella? Do you really love Jacob?"

"Yes, I love Jacob!" I defended myself, "Where is this even coming from?" I had just spent the past few days convincing myself that this was the life I wanted. There was no way that I am going to let my mother ruin this for me. I made a commitment and I was going to stick to it. I was happy. No you're not! You're not happy, my mind screamed at me. Once again, I was quick to block out these thoughts.

"Are you sure, Bella?" my mother whispered.

"Yes Mom, I love him. I want to marry him. I promise you that this is what I want," I lied through my teeth.

"Alright, then I guess there's nothing else I can do. I hope that you've made the right decision." There was nothing else to be said. The two of us walked to the door in silence, exited the bridal suite, and made our way to the church.

Deep breath in, deep breath out. Staring at the church doors, the world came crashing down. My lungs felt tight, I could feel my teeth clacking together, and my heart was erratically pounding in my chest. The panic that I had been repressing for the last couple of days was once again settling. Before I knew it, the bridal party had made their way down the aisle, and the sound of The Wedding March was filling my ears. I linked arms with my father and we slowly began to walk. I scanned the crowd hoping to discover a face that would bring me comfort. However, I knew that my attempts were futile. I had ruined any chance of ever seeing the only person I desired ever again. As I continued my descent down the aisle, my mind took me back to the day that would forever change my life.

***

Ring, Ring, Ring! Ring, Ring, Ring! I took my hands out of the soapy water. As I hurried to get the phone, I dried my hands on my pants.

"Hello?" I answered breathlessly.

"Hey, Bella, it's Edward!" A radiant smile graced my face as I heard my best friend's voice through the phone.

"Hey, Edward, what's up?" I asked.

"Nothing really, I was just about to go to Starbucks to get a cup of coffee, and I was just wondering if you wanted to come with me?"

"I would love to, Edward. Jacob is out with his friends tonight for his bachelor party, so my only plans tonight were to spend some quality time with my good friends Ben and Jerry. As tempting as that sounds, I think I would rather be with you," I laughed.

"Great! I'll see you in twenty minutes then?"

"That sounds perfect, I'll see you then," I said before I heard the click on the other end of the phone line.

Fortunately, there was a parking space right in front of Starbucks as I pulled into the parking lot. I quickly walked into the café, trying to avoid the unusually chilling winds of March. When I walked inside, I was hit with the potent aroma of coffee. Before I could walk any further, a strong hand enclosed itself on my elbow and gently tugged me backwards.

"Hey, Edward," I smiled as I turned around. When I looked at him, I could not stop my heart from beating faster. He was dressed casually in a light blue pull over, with a white t-shirt underneath and a pair of dark wash jeans. Even I could not deny that he had always been a very good looking man. With his apple green eyes, perpetually bronze "sex-hair", and a lean frame, Edward was a desirable man. I forced myself out of my daydream and back into the present when I noticed his lips moving.

"Tall double chocolate chip frappuccino?" he questioned as he held up my favorite Starbucks drink.

"You're a man after my own heart, Edward," I giggled. I took a giant gulp of my drink, before looking up at him. I was shocked to see that he had a serious expression on his face. However, as quickly as it was there, it was gone and he was smiling down at me. I was beginning to doubt that I ever even saw any trace of a frown on his face.

"So, Bella, how have you been?" he questioned.

"I've been pretty good, a little stressed out. It's been pretty hectic for me these past few days. I have a lot of last minute wedding details that I have to attend to."

"Well, then I guess it was a good thing that I asked you here tonight, isn't it? You deserve to have a break, Bella. You look like you are about to keel over!" he joked, but I could see that his smile did not quite reach his eyes.

"Enough about my wedding drama!" I said as I rolled my eyes, "let's talk about something else. How have you been?" We continued to sit and talk for hours, easily going back and forth with silly banter, and simply catching up on each other's lives. I had not realized how much I had missed Edward until just now. I had known Edward since we were in diapers. I used to see him every day for eighteen years. I had been so busy the past few months planning my wedding that I only realized now how little we had seen each other recently. I felt more relaxed and comfortable than I had in months. I felt like I was home.

We left the café at eleven-o'clock. Not by choice, though. We would have stayed talking even longer if they had not closed. Now we were left standing in the almost completely empty parking lot. Edward walked me over to the car in comfortable silence.

I titled my head slightly to the right to take a peek at him. His whole body was tense as he walked, and in the faint light of the parking lot I could see the muscles of his jaw spasmodically jut out. I could not help but feel as though something was not right. As we reached my car I turned to face him and began to speak, "I had a really great time tonight, Edward. It was great to see you again. I didn't even realize how much I missed you until just now." He didn't say anything back. The silence permeated the air. "Edward? Are you okay?" I asked.

"Bella, there's something I need to tell you," he nervously began, "and I know that my timing sucks, it really does, but I need to get this off of my chest. If I don't, I know I will regret this for the rest of my life." Edward was rarely, if ever, serious. His words shook me to my very core.

"What is it, Edward?" I questioned, "you can tell me anything." Again he was silent for a few moments.

"There really is no good way to say this, Bells, so I am just going to come out and say it…I-I love you, Bella. I always have, ever since we were kids. I know that I'm probably too late. I have wasted so much time. I just couldn't watch you get married without telling you." For a moment, time ceased to exist. I could not breathe, I could not think. How could this have happened? My friend, my best friend, Edward, was in love with me. No. This was not possible. I would have noticed. I definitely would have noticed something as important as that. The world around me was spinning, and I could not make it stop.

Somehow, I was able to find my voice, again, "You're right. You are absolutely, one hundred percent right."

"What?" Edward asked, perplexed by my statement.

"You are too late," I said. "You have had years, Edward. Years! Why did you choose to tell me three days before my wedding? What were you expecting me to do?! Run away from my fiancé, and the life that we have planned together? Are you crazy, Edward?!" I yelled. I felt moisture on my cheeks, and realized that at some point during my rant I had started to cry. Edward just stood there for a moment, his head hung low. When he lifted his head up, the first thing I saw were the tear tracks on his face.

"Nothing, I don't want anything, Bells," he whispered brokenly, "I just needed you to know how I felt before…" he trailed off, unable to finish his sentence.

"Bella," I whispered, my voice cracking, "I can't. I can't do this. I'm getting married. I made him a promise."

"But, you're not married yet, Bella," he cried, "we could still make this work, if we tried." I did not answer him, but the tears continued to pour down my face. "Please, Becky, please. I love you, so much, Bella. Tell me you feel the same way," he pleaded.

"I can't…"

"Yes, you can! Tell me you don't feel the same way about me, Isabella. Tell me that you don't love me. Say those four words, and I'll go. I'll leave you alone."

"I-I don't love you…" I stuttered, and for some reason I felt as if I were lying.

After a moment of silence, Edward spoke up once more, his voice thick with emotion,

"I, um, I think I'm just going to go now. Good luck, Bella." With that, he turned and walked towards his car. Deep breath in, deep breath out. This could not be it; it could not be the end. It was all just a nightmare. I would wake up soon, and none of this will have ever happened. I desperately wanted to call his name while he was still here. I longed to hold him and tell him that everything would be okay, even though I knew in my heart it wouldn't be. My world shattered into a million pieces as he slammed his car door shut. When he drove away, my heart went with him.

***

"Who gives this woman away today?" the priest questioned my father. I had been so lost in thought, that I did not realize that we were at the altar. I looked up and looked into the eyes of my soon-to-be husband. I was shocked that I felt disappointed that it was Jacob standing up there and not…Edward. I could not believe this. I was floored by this revelation. As I looked up at my groom once again, my world came crashing down. I was not in love with this man. I was in love with my best friend, Edward. Oh, my God. This was not happening. Before I was able to get too lost in thought, the priest was addressing me.

"And do you, Isabella Marie Swan take this man, Jacob Elliot Black to be your lawfully wedded husband?" I began to sweat profusely. My hands were clammy, and I swayed on my feet.

"I…I…," I stuttered. And then I uttered the two words that changed my life forever, "I don't." The wedding guests took a collective gasp as I spoke these words. I could almost feel my bridesmaids and best friends Alice and Rosalie's stares burning through my head. I turned once more to Jacob who wore a shocked and heartbroken expression on his face. "I'm sorry," I whispered to him. And then, I ran.

***

I don't know how long I ran, and I didn't really know where I was going, until I found myself stopped in front of a familiar building. It was Edward's apartment. Deep breath in, deep breath out. I began a brisk walk towards the building and hit the button for his apartment. I waited for a response with bated breath.

"Who is it?" his melodic voice questioned through the intercom.

"It's me," I whispered, hoping he could hear me. He did not answer at first. I was about to turn away, dejected, when I heard the Buzz indicating that I was welcome inside.

I slowly walked up the stairs to his door, trying to figure out what I would say to him when I finally saw him. When I reached his door, my heart was beating so loud, I was surprised that he could not hear it from where he stood. I tentatively knocked on his door, and it immediately flew open. There he was in his pajamas, unshaven, his hair as messy as ever. There was never a time where I thought he looked more handsome. I was so in love with him. I could not believe I had been so thick my entire life. I have had this amazing man in front of me, yet I was too naïve to notice. I could slap myself for being so foolish.

"What are you doing here, Bella?" he questioned harshly, "Shouldn't you be at your wedding right now?"

"I couldn't go through with it," I said with a surprisingly steady voice. "I realized something today, Edward. Something I should have figured out years ago."

"Oh, yeah?" he asked, "and what might that be?" I took careful steps towards him, closing the distance between us.

"I realized that I am so in love you, Edward. I must have been blind not to have noticed how much I love you. I think maybe I somehow always knew, but I was too scared to admit it. I was so afraid that it wouldn't work, and I would end up losing your friendship. I know that I'm probably too late now, that it's too late to fix things between us, but if you'll ever forgive me, I'd like to try, because I really do honestly and truly love---" I never did get to finish what I wanted to say, because in that moment, Edward cut me off with a searing kiss. As he pulled away he pleaded for me to say it again.

"I love you, Edward," I whispered.

"I love you, too, Bella."