All things Twilight belong to the awesome Stephenie Meyer, some subtle plot points in the beginning were inspired by V.C. Andrews the song and lyrics belong to the respective band and their record label and the rest is from my strange mind. Proceed with Caution!
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
I am small, I'm needy
Warm me up
And breathe me
Breathe Me by Sia
. . . One Year Later . . .
"Lazy," Izzy laughed, sliding past me with another huge box in her arms.
"Hey, I'm taking a break, our grueling task master gave me permission," I replied with a grin as I leaned against the sink with a glass of water. I also held up two almost identical envelopes and threw them on the counter in front of me. She nodded without a word, knowing that we would be performing our normal ceremonial burning.
The letters were from Renée, she'd tried to blackmail the wrong person and was currently serving ten years in a jail in New York for embezzlement. Neither Izzy nor I were certain of all the details, but we'd received letters from her every month since, after opening the first we'd burned them, her pleads for us to respond went unanswered. Now, in a ceremony we often did together, we sat out by the pool and burned them in the fire pit.
"I'm not a grueling task master," A voice said from behind another box, pulling our attention back to the task at hand. "That would be your dad. I'm all for quitting early and going to dinner."
I laughed and headed to the box hovering in the air. "You're the only one he'll listen to, so if that's what you want to do – what was it you told me once – You have to verbalize it."
I took the box from her grasp and turned so I could wink at her.
"What was I thinking moving into a house with a pair of smart-ass girls?"
"You weren't, you were thinking about our dad," Izzy teased, bumping hips with her.
It was amazing how much Izzy had changed in a year. After telling Dad a couple of home truths, Esme had convinced dad to have Izzy come to her at least once a week for counseling, and she also suggested the non optional route. Mandatory counseling had sent Izzy into a rage, not that I'd noticed. I was too caught up in my own nightmares to care about Izzy. I could barely bring myself to look at her, most of the time I found myself ignoring her in fear of causing bodily harm.
Well, right up until dad suggested I get counseling for myself and a joint session with Izzy in the evenings at Esme's office. I'd refused, but apparently the compulsory went for me too. Esme had obviously got through to him in their "talk".
The first few shared sessions weren't pretty.
Where Izzy had been concerned I said what I felt. I spat the accusations at her and never let her speak to me. I had so much anger toward her for everything she'd done, everything she'd cost me. She never fired back at me though, she sat quietly listening to me rave on about how I could never trust her, that I hated her, that as far as I was concerned I didn't have a sister, let alone a spiteful, vindictive twin. She said nothing and often nodded in agreement. The fire in her seemed to have died, and it was then that I realized she blamed herself for what had happened.
I thought I'd felt the same way, I thought I blamed her too, but it turned out I felt sorry for her. I pitied her. I still hadn't trusted her though. I hadn't thought I ever would again. There were too many memories to conquer.
With each new session, I found myself forgiving her more, but I was still waiting for the ball to drop, for the same old Izzy to pop out and laugh at my vulnerability. It never happened though, and it was Leah who finally tipped the scale and made me see it was never going to come.
Oddly, that was about the time Esme and dad admitted they'd been seeing one another.
It was one of the many weekends Leah had been spending with me that I finally realized she was right. I'd been on a rant about how I wasn't sure I could trust my feelings anymore, and that I knew I needed to be vigilant when she finally interrupted me.
"Bella, she's changed. I hate to say that to you because I know that with everything that happened you feel like you need to be wary. Just think about it though. Esme and her have shared this bond, someone was finally able to get through that wall and see the real Izzy. Someone who didn't break her trust, someone who still hasn't let her down. Now she knows Esme is dating your dad, she has hope. Rosalie was telling me she's even been hanging out with Angela."
That stung. Angela had been avoiding me, still was. If she saw me in a corridor she turned and walked the other way. She blamed herself for her brothers actions apparently. I hated that she thought she couldn't talk to me, but I also understood. I didn't push much, and my attempts at a conversation were shut down as she paled, apologized and run and so I would wait to try again, I was patient, but the time to talk had never come.
Leah's words had made so much sense to me though. On some level I was sure someone would call it unethical for dad and Esme to be together, but there was a sense of family when she came to dinner. Since the incident, dad had been spending more time at home, the old stuffy living room that had looked like a museum had been Izzy's first room for restoration. Everything Tanya had put in that room was removed, and it was shifted into a family orientated space.
When Emmett left for LSU, it was just the four of us, and I could understand why Izzy trusted Esme. Why she was so quick to accept her.
Esme never just spent time at the house when dad was home. Every night she'd come and make dinner for Izzy and I while somehow managing to incorporate both our interests into the discussion. Esme was everything I wished Renèe had been, everything that Sue was. I wanted to be cautious and suspicious of her, but there was no malicious intent. She wasn't spending time with us to get closer to dad, and she constantly turned down dad's offers to buy her new car and countless other gifts he tried to give her; so it was obvious it wasn't the money either.
Before he'd asked her to move in with us, he'd sat Izzy and I down to ask how we felt about it. That was the last time I ever doubted Izzy. She asked that the two of us be allowed to talk about it together, and we had. We'd talked for hours. The conversation about Esme had been an easy decision, but we shifted subjects and talked about everything and cleared the air.
She'd been honest with me about what happened with Edward the night I found them together. She'd told me that she'd taken some of my things that had been stored in her old room and doused herself in my perfume. She had a plan and she'd executed it perfectly, not giving Edward a chance to doubt that she was me, that her hysterical behavior had shifted him into panic mode. He'd told her to lay down and try and rest so she could tell him what was wrong. He'd fallen asleep pretty quickly and Izzy waited.
She was filled with remorse for her actions, and I'd been upset with her, it was hard to hear, I shouted and ranted, but quickly cooled down when she finished her confession. Nothing had happened, and knowing that she hadn't tried anything else because she knew Edward would have discovered the truth seemed to comfort me in a way I hadn't expected. He would have known, I saw the truth in that.
We'd be close since.
The way twins should be.
Even when Kate and Charlie had their baby, she'd been the one to travel with me to see them. They'd had a happy healthy baby boy, and Charlie was positively bouncing as he showed him off. Sebastian was adorable and even though both Izzy and I had been reluctant to leave, we did, with promises from both Charlie and Kate we'd get weekly emails. They hadn't disappointed yet.
Sebastian wasn't the only new addition to the world either. Much to the immense pleasure of my twin, her former best friend had just had Mike Newton's daughter. Jessica's dad was a Catholic, and when she'd discovered she was pregnant he'd talked her into keeping the baby. She and Mike were still dating, but Izzy had found out he was seeing a girl in another school behind her back.
She'd removed herself from that world, but on more than one occasion had lamented on how it could have easily been her in that situation. She regretted so much, but tried not to look backward. It was one of Esme's teachings. You couldn't go back and change the past, but you could change the future. Izzy took a lot of stock in the statement and mostly tried to do the right thing.
"Why are we standing around doing nothing?" Dad asked, distracting me. He was carrying a suitcase and some smaller boxes under his arms. "I thought we were doing this as a team."
"Overkill, dad," Izzy teased as Esme pulled boxes from under his arm. "It's called talking, and it's a good form of communication."
"Oh the wit in this room."
"I vote, we just lock the truck and go to dinner," Esme said, winking at me. "I'm hungry."
"There's only a dozen or so boxes left," dad complained. Shifting the ones he had in his arms. "If we get this done now. We can start unpacking you tomorrow."
"Well if there's only a few boxes left we can still be completely finished by tomorrow," Esme grinned.
Dad rolled his eyes but I knew that he wouldn't deny her. He worshiped the ground she walked on. After the telling off she'd given him in the office he had nothing but respect for her. He hadn't acted on his feelings right away, he'd stayed away and let her work with Izzy and I to try and get us to some level of normality.
His interest in how were were handling our situations was what had finally brought them together. They went to dinner twice a week to talk about how we were doing and how we were coping with our single and combined issues. Then the dinners changed to talking about the past, about their lives, and then they didn't want to stop.
Thinking about my own counseling sessions made me cold. Reliving that night was as bad as going through it the first time. Thinking about that only intensified my need for solace, I hadn't forgotten what tomorrow was and even though the moving had been a distraction, it was still a burning thought in the back of my mind. Dinner really just wasn't on the agenda for me.
"No dinner for me thanks guys, I need a bath and sleep."
"We haven't forgotten," Esme said gently, her hand resting on my arm that was still weighted down with the box. Her eyes told me so many things, understanding, acknowledgment, and support. She seemed to know I needed this time, and exactly what I was fighting the urge to do.
I nodded and put the box on the table. I didn't want to talk about it.
I pushed my hands into my jeans pockets to stop them from shaking and backed away from the group, offering them a thanks but no thanks smile. "I'll see you guys tomorrow."
"Bella? You want some company?" Izzy asked, putting her box next to mine, her eyes full of the sadness they always got when it was brought up.
"No you guys go. I just want to have a bath and maybe watch some movies."
Esme gave me a knowing look and nodded. Diffusing the situation by making the others mind up for them. "Well Lets go get ready guys."
I thanked her silently and backed out the door and made my way to the pool house. Now, it was time to deflect the calls from everyone else. I knew it was just as fresh in their minds and even though their intentions were good, they weren't the ones I needed right now.
Rosalie and I had become closer over the last year. With Emmett at LSU it was hard on her being alone, Alice still had Jasper, so it wasn't like she could feel the same camaraderie Rose and I shared.
Rosalie had already been excepted to LSU so for her it was simply a countdown. I was still waiting for my acceptance letter to Tulane or LSU after applying to both.
Alice and Jasper were both heading to New York in the fall. It hadn't been planned that way, but by some kind of divine intervention it worked out that way. Both of them were happy and I couldn't have been happier for them. They made a cute couple and most of the time they were inseparable, to which I made fun of Jasper constantly.
Of course he would slap my ass and tell me nothing was set in stone, and Alice would die laughing at the look of surprise on my face. I knew he wasn't serious though, he loved Alice, but I guess some people never changed.
Except maybe Seth.
He was dating a girl named Anna from school. She was sweet and completely dedicated to him and it was a nice change to see someone all about him rather than him being the one doing the chasing. Leah, of course, gave the girl a hard time, but surprisingly she seemed to like her.
Leah and Jacob were going as strong as ever. Neither of them had ever really talked about where their relationship was going, but Jacob confided in me that he was saving up for an engagement ring so he could propose to her on her twenty-first birthday. It was the only secret I had ever successful kept from Leah, mainly because she didn't know there was a secret to be kept.
I think with the exception of Seth, Peter had about the most startling turn around. I'd only seen him once since the incident at school, but that had been on my terms after I'd received a letter from him, apologizing for his behavior and the way he'd scared me. I'd visited him in rehab, he was apologetic and tried explaining to me what had happened, but I stopped him and offered forgiveness.
I still didn't feel comfortable around him, but I could see he was making an effort. When I offered him a hug goodbye I'd noticed he had a scar running along his hairline where James had attacked him. I'd found out from Emmett that Peter had been in a bar, when he was attacked by another customer, the vague description much the same as Seth's attacker. Yet I knew who it was.
I shuddered back into the present as the name echoed inside my head. James had been in jail since the attack and would be until he was too old to haunt me anymore. It was the only reason I felt safe, but it didn't stop the icy shudder down my spine.
The moment I walked into the pool house I checked my phone. I knew they only meant well, but talking about the whole thing just felt too much like reliving it. It would be so much easier if I had Edward with me. I could talk to him about anything, but he was gone. I missed him every day, the emptiness like a hole in my chest whenever I thought about him.
I went to the bathroom and filled up the tub, the steam seeming like a purifying haze rather than simple heated water. My mind was swirling with memories, and I needed to pick one before it settled on the one thing I was trying to avoid.
I slid into the tub and let the hot water rush against my body in a cleansing wave. The steam swirled around me as I laid my head on the edge of the tub and let my arms sprawl along the edges.
Edward. He was the only thing on my mind now. He was never far from my thoughts anyway, but with it being a year exactly tomorrow he had the starring role in the forefront. It was one particular memory that stood out though. It too had hot water and steam. My body submerged.
I let my eyes close as my mental imagery filled in the blanks. I was so tired, I felt myself drifting.
I wasn't sure if I was awake or asleep, but my sense of smell reached for the scent that lingered in the air, my skin tingled as though waiting for something electric to happen. It wasn't fear that weaved through my body, it was warmth, desire, and such intense longing I had to fight the need to grip my stomach.
I smiled gently as I felt fingers at my wrist and fought the urge to open my eyes.
"You look delectable," Edward crooned, his voice a whisper on his breath as it danced across my damp skin.
The sound of it was so real in this dream state I had to force myself to keep my eyes closed, I just concentrated on the feel of his skin against mine as he explored it. I shuddered as he hit the spot inside my elbow, the feeling was a heated tickle that left me wanting more. I felt him move to the head of the tub, his free hand giving my other arm the same treatment. Fingers turned to palms as they reached my shoulders, his thumbs pushing gently into the flesh at the back of my neck and rubbing circles that relaxed my shoulders.
"How's the water?" he breathed, his lips brushing my neck, making my head tilt to the side.
"Mmmm." It was the only reply I didn't want to forget this moment.
His hands worked over my shoulders and down my sides until his thumbs brushed against my breasts. "Can I get in?"
I nodded, gasping as his thumbs massaged the flesh under them. I whined as his hands disappeared and let my eyes flicker open to watch him undress.
He stood next to the tub, his green eyes hungry as they roamed over my body.
"I missed you," I grinned. My fingers running over the scar on his stomach. He shuddered at my touch and placed his hand over mine.
"I couldn't be away from you tonight. Emmett's picking up the notes for the lecture tomorrow," he said swooping down to kiss me on the lips.
I knew what he meant. I couldn't lie I had thought of driving up to LSU to spend tomorrow with him myself. Coming so close to losing him had made our separation even harder to bear. I hated that he was so far away, it made every memory so much tougher to live through.
I sat forward and let him slide in behind me, his thick muscled thighs on either side of my body. It had been so wearisome to have moments like this with dad so vigilant. Yet, he couldn't stop me from going to see Edward every chance I got. Nothing could stop that.
The memory of sitting in the waiting room bandaged and refusing treatment seared my mind. The doctors and my dad, who'd arrived a short while after the paramedics had brought us in, were insisting I was seen. Mainly to get my head stitched and my wrist reset, but I hadn't been interested. My only concern was Edward and knowing whether he had survived.
Thankfully, after seeing what had been going on he'd had the foresight to call the cops and paramedics before coming in after me, which was probably the one thing that saved his life. He'd passed out only moments before the flashing lights and sirens woke up the whole community. They worked quickly to abate the bleeding and before we knew it, were shoved in the back of the ambulance and heading toward the closest hospital.
Leah and Sue had sat either side of me. Cooing quietly as they tried to get me to take something for the pain, but I knew it was the pain keeping me awake. Pain, adrenaline and concern. I'd almost lost him. If the paramedics hadn't arrived when they did, he wouldn't be here with me now.
His surgery had taken over eight hours, he'd coded once according to dad who the doctors felt comfortable talking to. His parents arrived while he was still in surgery. They were frantic, and their eyes were on me as dad explained what had happened.
I hung on to the last second. The moment the doctor had come out and said he was in recovery and seemed stable I felt the tangles of consciousness fall away. Unfortunately, I had been standing up at the time.
I'd ended up with a broken wrist, three broken ribs, sixteen stitches and a concussion. Not to mention bruises that practically covered every inch of my skin, including around my neck. It had been difficult to look in the mirror for weeks afterward. It had been a physical reminder of something I was trying so hard to block out.
"Stop thinking about it, babe," Edward murmured, his fingers contradicting his words as they ghosted along the scar on my forehead. "We're here, together. That's all that matters."
His hands dropped to the water and around my waist, his hand spread out across my stomach as he pulled me back against him.
"I hate not seeing you every day," he complained.
"I know. but any day now I should get my acceptance letter, if I have one. Rose got hers a couple days ago."
"You'll get in. And if you don't I'll transfer."
"No you won't," I hummed soothingly, running my hands along his arms and linking my fingers with his over my stomach. "You love it there. I'm not worried about it. We'll know when the time comes."
"You're more important."
I smiled and turned my head so I could kiss his neck. I felt so safe with his arms around me like this, the warmth of him surrounding me made me so at ease because he was here. Whatever nightmare or memory battered and kicked through my head, I could feel him with me.
"I love you, Edward."
"I love you too, baby," he responded, kissing the top of my head and squeezing me gently.
My life had changed so much in two years. I'd come to a crossroads, faced with a decision about my own future, and I'd chosen to find my dad. When I stepped on that bus to discover more about my past, I never once thought about the future rolling out in front of me.
I took a chance, and was rewarded with a larger group of family and friends I couldn't imagine being apart from, and a man I wouldn't ever live without. Everything we'd gone through seemed to come together to bring us here, and I knew I would never let go again.
A/N: Did I get you? Did you think Eddie was dead? lol . . . I hope that gave you all some closure. I know that I probably missed something there but I hope you will ask if you have anymore questions. This has been a long and happy road for me, I've had a blast with each of these characters and I will never be able to thank you all for the amount of love and thought you've put into your reviews.
Of course, I have to thank my awesome Beta, Annabanana. She's amazing and she makes the writing so much prettier and cleaner.
Miztrezboo, Bendingmirrors, Hev99 and Newmoonaholic . . . you ladies are amazing to me! You hold my hand and consistently slap me around when I get neurotic and I love you all for it! Thank you for being amazing friends!
Sabi's sookie! You're AWESOME, and you write one of my favorites Jaspers!
And to all of you who review, thank you, all of you are amazing and your thoughts and passion never cease to amaze me. You back me up and have faith in me and I am going to miss our interactions every week. I'm so sad to say goodbye to the characters, but I will miss you guys so much more. You all make me laugh and smile and your acceptance of this somewhat bizarre situation and of course waiting almost 32 chapters for Bella and Edward to get together has been amazing. I really do love you all!
Thank you so much for reading!
Much love and huge hugs ~Weezy~