Once again, thank you for being so patient with me. As I am on the mend, hopefully the chapters will begin to arrive more frequently.
I would never have made it this far without the constant support of all of you. Every PM and message is cherished. Although I am not good at replies, please know that they have meant so much to me over the last months.
To Team Guardian – thank you from the bottom of my heart x
If Twilight was mine, they would have played Vampire rugby. #rugbyworldcup2011 #wallabies
There in the soft Seattle sunlight stood my Edward with his arms clasping Tanya to him.
The lying, cheating, filthy whore Tanya.
Edward's arm was soothing up and down her back. She was huddled in the crook of his neck in a pose that spoke of the intimacy and sensuality of long held lovers.
My stomach churned with nausea and disgust even as my heart shattered into multiple fractures. Rage boiled over but I was turned to stone. Like watching a car crash, I could not tear myself away from the scene of the crime.
It was a mistake...surely…a mistake? Yes?
And then his words filtered across the room to my desolate and distraught ears.
"It's ok, Tanya. We can't help it. Just let me handle Bella."
Pain scorches my veins, sizzling every nerve.
Memories dance before my eyes.
Edward in my arms, loving me, being with me.
Just thinking back to the way it had been last night causes my stomach to flutter.
Our relationship has bloomed in the most volatile of circumstances, with only the last days bringing the dawn of a greater understanding.
But the scene before me tests all platitudes of faith and trust. As I drowned in the bitter flare of anguish, jealousy blazed.
I prayed that my eyes were playing a malicious trick on my heart.
But on opening them, the sight of Tanya cradled against Edward shatters cherished dreams that had barely drawn breath.
My instinct is to flee and deny this ugly reality.
But I had been there and done that.
I am not that girl anymore.
Edward has begged me to have faith in him and now was the time to show it. Wasn't it?
Drawing a cloak of inner strength around me, I hold onto my nerve. As much as I wished I could restrain my insecurities, the battle is fast being lost to fear.
Loathing hisses through my body like a snake poised to strike at its victims. "Handle me? What the hell do you mean, handle me?"
Edward snaps his head in the direction of my voice, then in a cool unhurried motion slowly disentangles himself.
Shock at his innate calmness pins me in the doorway as the very air in my lungs flees. Eyes dart frenziedly from one to the other as sunlight bathes the three of us in a frozen tableau of jagged breathing and stunned silence.
Up and down. And up again.
His suit is perfect - no telling lipstick marks on his face, no sign of dishevelment.
I have to look away.
And yet my eyes are drawn back to the scene of the crime, over and over again.
A tight fitting scarlet dress and plunging neckline.
Talons of red clutching at Edward's biceps.
Large blotches of redness eclipse Tanya's doll-like features, disfiguring her into a crying mess.
I have absolutely no idea what was going on.
"Bella!" My attention snaps sharply back to Edward as he moves purposefully towards me, stopping but an arm's length away, crowding my senses until there can be nothing else but him.
Our eyes seize upon each other. His accuse, as mine flash fire.
"What are you doing here?"
My chin shoots up in defiance. I have every right to be here. Don't I?
I'm here to supposedly to see the man who is crazy about me - the man who has waited for me and fought for me for months...right?
"Well?" His arms fold across his chest, pinning me with his mesmerising stare. My heart wants to wash away the memory of the scene I have interrupted. But his callousness rams into me like a fist.
"Well what, Edward?" I summon every last shred of dignity.
I'm not backing down. I deserve an explanation. One I was going to get.
"You didn't tell me you were coming downtown." Grimness flavors his tone.
I refuse to cower.
I am pissed off, exhausted from the day's events but most of all, if I am honest with myself, jealous. "What? I need to tell you my every move so that I don't catch you in the arms of that?" I spit, pointing at a flushed Tanya. "The family whore?"
A moan of distress pierces my fury.
"That's exactly what she is!" All the months of closely held secrets; the half – truths and lies; the disgusting sounds of Tanya and Carlisle fucking each other barely feet from Esme, culminated in my condemnation. "And you know it, Edward!"
A sobbing Tanya collapses onto the chair in front of Carlisle's desk and proceeds to weep into her hands.
But no sympathy dulls my rage.
She is trash.
Beneath my dignity but evidently not beneath the notice of the Cullen men.
"What's that supposed to mean, Bella?" Edward's voice is deadly quiet.
I have no idea what mysterious magic she waved over father and son to demand slavish devotion. But the very thought of Edward comforting her, touching her or being anywhere near her makes me seethe with incandescent anger.
"Ok then, tell me! What did I walk in on? Because from where I stand, you're doing a pretty good job of handling her and she's happily replacing father with son!"
"For God sake, Bella! Stop!"
My arms cross in stony defiance.
"Go on! Tell me!"
Sobs escalate in the background.
My world is crashing down but Tanya is bawling her heart out.
Why in the hell was she so upset?
Nervous tension rocks me to the balls of my feet, as I sway back and forth, poised for fight or flight. My eyes flicker anxiously between them as I seek some semblance of meaning in ugly half- truths and murky evasions.
I can't live like this.
The thought of finding peace in Edward's arms for a moment, thinking I was the only one and then to find another there rip at the fabric of my belief in him.
Edward's cold intensity holds for an age as he searches my eyes with reproachful gravity. Calmly, with no signs of paying heed to my distress he turns away without another word.
"Tanya, please! Calm down." He crouches by her side. "This isn't good for you."
"It will be ok." He soothes. "I promise. It will be fine, but I need to talk things over with Bella." Edward remains remarkably cool with no outward sign that I have come upon him in a compromising position or that there can be any reason for guilt.
"Oh...of...of course." Sniffles punctuate her dejected response as he helps her to her feet.
In frustration I turn my back on the tender scene and pace towards the floor length windows to take in the view of Puget Sound. I can't bear witness to any solicitous farewells or consoling goodbyes. But even as I pretend indifference, I strain to hear any evidence of affectionate embraces.
"I will call you this evening. Will you be okay until then, Tanya?"
God, why the hell did he even care? It makes me sick!
"Yes...yes, of course." The door shuts, entombing us in Edward's office.
A click of the lock brings with it a dramatic escalation of tension.
I squeeze my eyelids shut, praying that I have it all wrong - terribly terribly wrong.
My body, long attuned to that of Edward's flinches at his nearness, the hairs on my neck bristling in anticipation of his touch.
Until his voice flung accusations and a masculine arm spun me around in a dominant manoeuvre. My eyes drink in his much loved face, trying desperately to reassure myself that I have overreacted.
"What the hell do you think you are doing, Bella? Storming in here like that? Throwing around insults?"
How dare he!
Fury detonates, turbo fuelling my rage.
Unshed tears that have been threatening to fall, vanish as my temper, long tested on this trying day, ripens to its peak.
I stumble back in dawning horror, tears welling at the sight of red fingerprints marring Edward's beautiful face. My hands envelop my mouth in shock. Throbbing pain streaks through my palm at the impact of the blow.
A rapid tick of his pulse reveals the immense restraint he's practicing.
I fight to gain a modicum of emotional equilibrium as we face off in stillness, locked in an unspoken battle.
The atmosphere in the room grows ominous as Edward draws me to him.
My heart thumps in anticipation at our confrontation; chest to breast, our lips but inches apart; his mouth lingering in wordless promise as a single long finger tilts my chin to look him squarely in the face.
"What exactly was that for Bella, hmm?" The gauntlet has been thrown down. And I am livid enough to pick it up. Anger has stirred and then flared without control.
'How dare you!" I shove at his chest. "How dare you treat me as I am the one who has explaining to do?"
Damn him! Why is he crowding me? Why isn't he talking? Reacting? Anything?
He stands there forbiddingly, regarding me with narrowed eyes that gleam fury and desire even as his thumb caresses my jaw in a soothing motion.
My lust for him swirls but I know what he was about. I am wise to his ways now. Distracting me with the sexual chemistry between us. But this time it isn't enough.
This time, I need answers.
For without truth, there can be no trust.
And without trust, there can be no us.
That much I had learned over the last forsaken months.
"Stop it, Edward!" My breasts heave in turmoil. "Don't treat me like a toy you can pick up and put down on a whim. I want an explanation. What the hell is going on?" I point to the chair as if the ghost of Tanya is present, orchestrating the breakdown of our relationship.
"And don't tell me nothing. That wasn't nothing!" Glaring, I flinch out of his hold and back away, shocking him into immobility.
I have never run from Edward. Before now.
"Bella!" The aggravation in his voice escalates. "Come here." He holds out his hand in demand.
"Don't push me, Bella. I have had just about enough today!"
"Well, so have I!" I snap back.
"For God sake, Bella…!"
My heart races in response to his plea. But I stay motionless, craving some modicum of reasonable explanation from Edward. I yearn for a satisfactory reason for the terrible scene which I have stumbled upon.
We are locked in a battle of wills.
Cullen versus Swan.
Moisture wells in my eyes.
Why did this have to happen? Why now?
Irate at Edward's unyielding stance, tears begin to well in my eyes. I fly to the door, fumbling with the lock, desperate to hide my weakness. There is no way he can take me seriously if I break down like a child.
"Damn it, Bella! Come back!"
Heaving with emotions and now blind from the tears flooding my face I race to the elevator, jabbing haphazardly at the call button, willing it to arrive with haste.
My ears are attuned to any noise of Edward giving chase but instead of urgent footsteps and incensed commands to return, there is nothing.
Only silence marches in a staccato beat to the rhythm of my pulse.
I hear the sounds of files and papers being swept off a desk.
I hear glass being broken.
I finally hear the sound of an elevator announcing its arrival, then...
I lurch on the verge of running away yet again, but am caught immobile as invisible heartstrings tug me back - back to Edward. But I need to do this…don't I? I need to show him that I can't just do anything he asks…blindly. I have my self respect and I need to…...
"Bella…baby, please…I...I need you." The broken whisper halts my flight.
There stands Edward, the office door held in a death grip, eyes closed; the ticking pulse in his jaw a sign of visible tension. His face is bleached of all color and the silent burdens he shoulders weary the lines around his eyes, aging him beyond his years.
Something is terribly, terribly wrong.
Unconscious thought propel me forward until I force myself to stop. My head intones sensible advice but my heart stubbornly refuses to listen to reason.
I know we need to communicate like a couple, not yell and scream. But knowing is easier than doing when feelings are enflamed and a tense stillness lingers between us.
I hunt in Edward's eyes for some sign of the gentle lover of the night before.
"Edward?" Warily I draw near, moving to stand but inches away from him; the elevator and my flight to freedom long forgotten.
He needs me.
Lifting his eyes to the heavens, expletives tumble. "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck."
The hopelessness in his voice and the despondency coloring his behaviour scares me witless. "Edward?" It is my turn to whisper in need.
He massages his neck as if attempting to alleviate the knots of tension before turning the full wattage of his beautiful green eyes upon me. Softly, gently he reaches for my hand.
"You do deserve an answer Bella, but not here." Without looking away, he lifts my hand to tenderly press a kiss to the stinging flesh. "Come with me, baby… please?"
Without hesitation, I follow.
Moments later, we enter the executive sitting area off to one side of Carlisle's office. Remembering our previous heated encounter in this room before the merger talks last year, deepens the blush creeping across my face until the cold glimmer of despair emanating from Edward sends my heart into fearful tremors.
"Sit." He motions to the sofa, facing the windows with expansive views of downtown Seattle.
Unquestioningly I do as he demands. I have never seen Edward so edgy, my eyes tracking his every move around the room as nervous energy prevents him from standing still.
"Do you want a drink?" Wandering over to the fully stocked bar, he pours a vodka tonic and without prompting pours another for me. "God knows I need one." Without further notice, he knocks back his drink in one large swallow, and then pours another.
"Whats going on Edward?" My initial anger has softened but concern begins to spiral at his uncharacteristic behaviour. "Please tell me…I mean," I trip over my words. "I mean...I…I know it has something to do with Tanya. But… but we just need to deal with it together….don't we?"
His head snaps up at my pronouncement. Hope flashes across his face then dies. Slowly he crosses the room to lift me gently into his arms. He searches my dazed eyes for a second before his mouth eases down to cover mine in a tender promise.
My eyes remain fixed on his face but I don't speak for fear of shattering the truce. Gently he ends the kiss and slowly withdraws. The rapid changes in mood are troubling but we at least are talking through this as equals.
His hands track through his hair, sending it wildly in a thousand different directions of worry. "Fuck!"
"Edward?" As his silence lengthens, my nerves are shot to pieces. "Edward…please. You're scaring me!"
A frown mars his beautiful face. "Fuck, I just don't know how to say this but... Tanya?... She's pregnant, baby."
My mind whirls in a thousand different directions, not one of them lucid. Jumbled amongst my thoughts is a distant threat of disaster looming on the edges of my consciousness but I thrust it to one side. "Oh!"
"Oh God!" Understanding dawns. A dizzy sense of relief crashes over me, sending me swaying on my feet.
"Bella!" Concern etches Edward's face as he clutches me closer. "Are you okay?"
Visions flash across my mind, questions half-formed before other questions take precedence. Turmoil reigns until the emotions boil over in to a desperate demand for answers.
"How far along is she?" I fire back, ignoring his question.
"14 weeks." He grimaces. My heart thumps loudly, almost drowning out Edward's responses.
"When did you find out?" I am sure this is what Carlisle had told him in his final papers.
Questions tumble without filter from my mouth. "At the funeral reading?"
"No." He replies cautiously.
"Oh." Now I am confused.
"Here at the office. Late…" His words are apologetic.
"I see." But I didn't…not really… something isn't adding up.
"Do you?" His eyes beseech mine in silent prayer. "Do you really, Bella?"
Did I? Or was I seeing what I wanted to see.
"Of course, Edward! Yes, of course...I mean with Carlisle gone." I pace back and forth. "Oh God…no wonder she is so upset. And alone! Oh! After Carlisle's death! God! Edward?" I ramble on and on, vomiting every last thought. "Does anyone know? Does your mother know? Oh my goodness, Edward! What will Esme say? Does she know? Oh my God… this is going to break her heart."
"Oh God, I feel terrible." I did! I feel like being sick at the harsh words I had hurled at Tanya. But they are true. She had slept with Carlisle and got herself pregnant. Even worse, the affair had obviously continued on even after his retirement. And God knows what Esme knew.
"Oh God, poor Esme." I moan.
"You know I will do anything to help Esme if I can. Oh, I am so sorry Edward. When I walked in but it's… it's just…oh God… I thought it was the ball all over again… and..."
"Bella! Stop!"Devastation lines Edward's face. "Please baby! Just stop!"
I am on a roll and nothing will prevent me from providing comfort to Edward. My hand lifts to palm his cheek, tenderness lining my every caress. ""What? What is it,Edward? Please tell me."
A moment ticks by as his eyes travel over my face. Searching, seeking … memorizing. His hand gently takes mine to lay it tenderly over his heart.
Sorrow drowns out the green flame of his eyes
"I….I don't know how to say this… not without hurting you and God knows I don't want to hurt you Bella, but that baby.." He draws a deep indrawn breath before continuing, while I stand mesmerised in his arms. "That baby is a Cullen…it needs a father and…... and I plan to be there for it."
The room starts to spin. "What?" That catastrophic thought that had lurked menacingly in the shadows of my mind finally reveals itself. "No! No! No way….no way…Edward?"
"The baby, Bella…." A long pause is followed by whispered words that shatter my heart. "The baby is mine."
As always let me know what you think. All is not what it seems….. I for one adore Jealousward!
Thank you for your patience. I promise the next chapter will be much longer!