The Black Balloon Contest
Title: "Cottages at the Cove"
Your pen name: Mrs. Robward
Characters: Bella and Edward
Disclaimer: I have no intention of infringing on any one's copyright. In other words, this isn't mine.
Warning: This fic is labeled ANGST for an ANGST contest, if you don't like it a lil' on the dark side:
(depression, sadness, suicide attempts, etc.) You might not wanna read this (but I wld like for you too)
To see other entries in the Black Balloon Contest, please visit the C2 page: http://www. fanfiction. net/c2/78669/3/0/1/
"Ancient lovers believed a kiss would literally unite their souls, because the spirit was said to be carried in one's breath."
If I were to say that I hadn't been anticipating this trip since the last time I had driven away from the cove, I would be lying. Every year that I'd visited and then left, a little bit of myself got left behind, and someday, all of me would be lingering here. No matter where I would be in body, all of my heart and my soul would still be lounging on the warm sand, breathing in the salty air with my thoughts lost in the wispy clouds above.
Cottage number four had become my little piece of heaven on earth - my personal sanctuary. It was a getaway I had taken year after year, a hideaway from the trials and stresses of life. When I had come here, all of that baggage was checked at the door and forgotten. This cottage had belonged to my grandparents, and then as soon as my parents were divorced, Grandpa Herb had given it to my mother. He hoped she could generate extra income by renting it out and supplementing what she already was making at the diner. Renee ended up liking the process so much, she had taken night classes and now owned her own travel agency. Every year she offered me as much vacation time as I wanted, regretfully though, I only took a week. I knew how much she needed the money now that Phil wasn't working full time.
My summer break from college had just begun. I had been attending Oregon State for three years now, and I was still trying to figure out a way to move here permanently after I received my degree. This was where I wanted to be.
I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel along with the beat that blasted from my radio, and turned left toward Sunrise Cove. This narrow road led to the small resort that sadly had been expanding year after year. I would have preferred it stay small and undiscovered, but last year the first major hotel chain had moved in and built a condo high rise. It wouldn't be long before the cove became overpopulated and crowded. The circumstances were unfortunate for me, but my mother would be singing all the way to the bank.
As soon as the brush on either side of the road began to thin, the dull roof tops of the small cottages came into view. I turned off the radio, rolled down the window and slowly rolled to a stop. I breathed in the distinctive smell of the ocean and heard a few seagulls squawk as they claimed their lunch at the seashore. My stomach churned in anxiousness as the sound of the waves crashing against the jagged rocks drifted into the car. I slowly let my mother's Audi roll toward my destination. The sun seemed to glow in the sky and emit more heat the closer I got to the ocean.
My ponytail whipped around my head, gently smacking me in the face as the wind of the sea picked up and blew through the car. Over and over I inhaled the fragrance of the salty mist. I longed to feel the sand under my toes, the warm sun on my face, and the bubbly water as it tickled my skin.
As I eased past, I waved at Mr. and Mrs. Cooper in cottage number one. She was bent over a huge flowerpot, and he looked to be pruning a bush. Their white hair was in sharp contrast to their cocoa skin. They had lived here at Sunrise Cove for as long as I could remember. I recalled years ago attending their sixtieth anniversary celebration at the Cove. They both waved back and continued tending to their plants as I drove by. What a life.
Cottage number two seemed to be empty, and as I eased past cottage number three, I noticed an unfamiliar silver car parked in the driveway. Whoever was staying there must have just arrived because the trunk and front door were wide open as if they were unpacking their things.
As I pulled into my parking space, I blew out a breath of relief. No one looked to be home at the Black's place--cottage number five. I silently pumped my fist at the thought of a vacation without Jacob Black breathing down my neck and pestering me into a relationship of 'more' that was NEVER going to happen. I made that mistake once, and I'd kicked myself for it every time I was reminded of him.
I quickly jumped out of the car and ran for the door. I stepped through the threshold--the smell of suntan oil and chlorine flooded my senses--it was just as I remembered. The cleaning crew must have already passed through today.
I twirled around like an amateur ballerina in the open space and giggled at myself. I felt the same excitement that a five-year-old child on Christmas morning--waking to a present induced high--would. Except my drug of choice, was the ocean and all that accompanied it. I looked around the small room and nothing much had changed. Mom may have hung a mirror here and a picture there, and I was sure she replaced the covers on the bed. There were new drapes shielding the over-sized windows that looked out to the beach.
I tied them back to peer out the window at the first sight of the beach; the wonder and simplicity of it all, took my breath away. There was nothing to compare it too. I could stand here all day and lose myself in the rhythmic motion of the waves, the lullaby of the rolling tide whispered to me as if it were welcoming me back.
Suddenly, a door slammed, making me jump from my daze, and I decided it was as good a time as any to bring in my luggage. Next door, I caught a glimpse of a tall guy entering his cottage. I was disappointed that I had missed introducing myself and meeting him and his family.
I trudged back and forth, toting my belongings into the cottage. I began to unpack, placing my things into their temporary home. The room suddenly became darker as the natural light from the outside dimmed. I walked over to the open window and noticed a dark cloud had moved in covering the once clear, blue sky. I opened the back door and stepped onto the small deck--the patrons on the beach were bustling to pack up their things before the bottom fell out.
As my feet hit the edge of the porch a loud clap echoed through the air. I heard a small child begin to cry, and her mother reassured her she would be alright. They reminded me of the summers spent here with Renee, except she would have been dragging me off the beach as I begged to stay.
I ran back inside and rummaged through my open suitcase. I grabbed my red one piece and changed in the bathroom.
The rain was barely beginning to fall as I ran out to the beach and onto the warm and rough sand. I dodged the rocks and broken shells as I trotted toward the water. A few surfers, a lone fisherman, and a couple of teenagers were still out braving the brief summer storm.
The clouds above lit up seconds before another deafening sound of thunder cut through the atmosphere. I paused when I felt the cool water lick at my ankles. The air around me was charged with energy as a rumble faded into the distance. I reached behind me to pull my bathing suit down on my ass cheeks and then adjusted the straps on my shoulders before taking off into the water. A wave rolled toward me, and I dove in head first. I was instantly bombarded with years of memories of swimming around in this ocean. I had often pretended I was a mermaid and the sea was my home.
I swam under the water as long as my lungs would allow. I felt the slight sting of the tiny grains of sand skid and graze over my skin as I swam along. I then allowed myself to crest and relaxed atop the water for a moment before I turned back to see how far from the beach I was. I apparently had been swimming parallel to the shore. I looked at my destination and began to stroke toward the large rocks to the left of the cove.
Just as I felt my muscles begin to burn throughout my body, my leg was tugged on by an unknown force. I let out a small scream as I sank underwater. I kicked my legs, and my foot connected with whatever had grabbed me. I swam up to the water's surface, and as my face emerged, I gasped to fill my lungs with the much needed oxygen. I twisted back and forth looking around for the source of my struggle. The storm was moving on, the rain now a simple drizzle. The thunder was barely audible, and the setting sun peeked out as the gray clouds moved back out to sea.
Suddenly, I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and screamed as I spun around in the water.
"Hey! Are you alright?"
At arm's length in the water, in front of me, was a stranger. As he drifted toward me, I noticed a look of worry on his face. The water splashed around us as we tried to stay afloat in the rough tide.
"I was fine until you almost drowned me!"
The water had pulled him close, and as I scissored my legs, I kicked him.
"Are you.. are you wearing your jeans?"
"Yeah," he answered as he looked away from me. If there had been more light, I'd bet I would have seen him blush with embarrassment. He looked back up at me and smiled. "I, um, saw you and a flash of red," he nodded toward my suit, "and I panicked. I thought you were struggling and needed help." As he talked, I noticed how attractive he was with his hair wet and plastered to his head. He must have stripped his shirt before jumping in to save me. His shoulders were broad; his neck and facial features were very defined.
I was momentarily awestruck and couldn't speak as we floated awkwardly. "Um, thanks?" I laughed. "You know, for trying to save me even though I didn't really need it."
"Huh. No problem."
I quickly sank into the water and threw my head back. I resurfaced and pulled my hair out of my face. "I was just swimming out to Jagged Rock, if you want to join me." He was still really close, and I tried not to kick my legs too hard. "Since you're already wet and all."
He raised his eyebrows. "Lead the way."
I turned and began my swim again. Jagged rock was not too far away. Every few strokes I looked back over my left and saw he was matching my pace.
When we reached the isolated rocks, I was slightly out of breath. I was out of shape; it had been too long since I had swam that far. I cringed when I thought about crawling up the rocks ahead of him in my bathing suit. I was sure it wouldn't be a pretty sight to see. I took a deep breath and began the small ascent to the top. He wasn't far behind me. I found a place to sit on the slick rock, and he sat beside me, his knees pulled up. He wrapped his arms around his jean clad legs and rocked back and forth slightly.
I fidgeted my arms not knowing where to put them. When I looked down, I realized the cool breeze from the passing storm had hardened my nipples which were distinctly peeking through the thin material of my top. I quickly crossed my arms over my chest and looked away.
"I'm Edward by the way, Edward Cullen." He nodded as our eyes met.
"Nice to meet you Edward, I'm Bella Swan."
"Um, if you don't mind me asking, why are you out here swimming in this awful weather?"
I smiled. "It's my favorite time to swim. Such excitement and danger. It's like sitting in the palm of Mother Nature, at her mercy." I looked out to the setting sun brimming at the edge of the horizon. "Look," I pointed.
"Wow." He whispered, and I looked at him as he sat silent, marveling at the awesome display of natural beauty before us.
I ended up staring at him instead of the sky. He really was the most gorgeous guy I had ever seen. His jaw was slack as he ran his hand through his hair to rake it off his forehead. His chest was firm, but not overly cut. He stretched out his legs and crossed his feet. His wet jeans sat low on his hips, and I didn't see any trace of anything under them. His knee poked out of a worn hole and his feet were long and slender. I slowly let my gaze travel back up, and when I reached his face, a crooked grin was on his lips.
"That's just.. breathtaking."
I looked back out at the disappearing sun before I spoke. "Yes, yes it is." Although, I wasn't talking about the sunset.
"So do you live here?" He asked.
"No, my mother owns one of the cottages, I'm just here on my vacation."
"Oh, which one?"
"Hmm, I'm in number three. I guess I'll be seeing a lot of you then, neighbor." He smirked.
"So, you're the guy in the silver car huh? You arrived not too early before me today. Are you with your family?"
His face went blank before he answered. "No. I mean they will be here later on in the week. It's just me now. I needed some time to myself."
I laughed. "That sounds like me."
The silence around us was suddenly uncomfortable.
"So why do they call this place Sunrise Cove when you get to witness beautiful sunsets like this?" Edward asked as he watched the brightest star dip below the skyline. His earlier smile gone, a solemn look now took over his face.
"Legend has it the first settlers lived right over there, quite a distance from the beach. Every morning the sun was so bright and so close that the way it rose into the sky made it look as if it were coming right out of this cove. They were afraid to get close enough to find out if it actually did. Scared they would burn up or something, I guess. But even after they found out the truth, Sunrise Cove stuck."
He bit his lip as he listened to me talk.
I shook my head as I thought about how unlike me it was to be so attracted to him. I wanted to look away, I really did, but I couldn't. My eyes were drawn to him as if he were the only thing to observe. Our surroundings didn't matter, the picturesque backdrop appealed to me no more than if it had been a random snapshot. This was dangerous. There was a carnal desire in me to attract, pounce, and devour this poor, unknowing male beside me. What is wrong with me? I snapped my head in the opposite direction as he turned toward me. Abandon rock!
"I gotta go." I didn't want this. Well I kinda did, but I had banned myself from summer flings right after I made the mistake of screwing around with Jacob Black.
"Wait!" He called out to me as I stood. "What is there to do around here for fun?"
"I guess I'm not the best person to ask because I always hang out at The Hut. It's the little bar around the corner with the straw roof. You'll know it when it gets to be dark, it will be the only place for miles with actual life. Just follow the crowd."
I swung my hands back before I jumped, and he snatched my wrist. I stopped, inhaled sharply, and looked at him.
"You'll be there?"
I might have whimpered as I answered him, "Yes, yes I will."
I sat at the ocean side bar outside of the small club where the music wasn't as loud. The local band was decent--they played some nice cover songs--but it would take more than that to draw me away from the warm night air. After our swim earlier, I'd taken a long, hot shower, then dressed in a casual tank and short denim shorts. I tried to wash Edward Cullen out of my mind, but trying not to think about him only made me think of him more.
I had reached an impasse; I was a young, nice-looking, twenty-two-year-old woman. I came to Sunrise Cove to have a good time, and if that happened to involve a sexy ass, tall, brown-haired stranger, so be it. Why the fuck not? I sipped on my pina colada, determined to not over do it on my first night here. So help me God, if anything were to happen, I wanted to remember it. All of it.
On my way back from the bathroom, I licked my teeth when I saw him leaning on the bar. He was chatting it up with Aro, the bar's owner. Aro nodded at me as I approached. Slowly Edward turned his head to find me, and I watched as his gaze examined my body before he displayed that irresistible smirk.
"There you are." He picked up his beer bottle and turned to rest his hip on the edge of the bar.
"I'm sitting outside. Do you want to join me?"
He nodded once. "Of course," I turned to lead the way. Behind me, he leaned forward and spoke into my ear over the music, "You're the only reason I'm here."
Oh. My. God.
I turned to face him and walked backwards for a few steps, returning his gesture of a sexy grin. I raised my eyebrows and turned back around to find our seat.
We talked nonchalantly as the night wore on, but as the minutes ticked by I realized I didn't want to just talk. With each brush of his hand, his arm, his leg, whether it was intentional or not, he'd stolen my breath. When he stretched over behind me to chat with some guy that had walked up to us at the bar, I found myself leaning into him. When he practically yelled in my ear because our surroundings were too loud to talk normally, I closed my eyes and imagined his lips on my ear, my neck, all over me. When he tugged on my wrist to look at my watch, and then laid my hand on his thigh to let it rest there, I thought I might fall off my bar stool. When he decided he wanted to play a game of pool, I followed him inside to watch and in between his turns, he stood directly behind me. His hand sometimes cradled my waist, as his thumb teased the sliver of skin above the waistband of my shorts. With each touch, smile, and stolen glance--his or mine--the fire burned hotter and hotter amid us.
Later that night when I stood outside my cottage door, alone, I was frustrated, and a bit dejected. Edward had walked me home and said he had fun. He had said he would see me in the morning and then he left. No hug. No kiss. Nothing.
I stripped everything but my undies and fell onto the bed outside of the covers. Fuck me!
After an anticlimactic night with Edward and an even longer night filled with sex deprived dreams, when I heard him banging on my door, I didn't even bother covering myself. I answered the door in all my naked glory. Take that cockblocker! I stood there watching his expression, one arm propped on the door, the other on my hip. "Good morning sunshine," I teased.
I think Edward forgot how to talk.
After finally regaining his ability to speak, he murmured, "Holy Hell."
I took pity on him, crossed my arms over my breasts and leaned back to rest on the wall. "What's up Edward?" I looked down at his crotch which was covered by thin black swimming shorts.
This was fun. I slowly walked away from the wall, "Come in."
I reached the bed and sat down. Within seconds, it appeared Edward was able to gather his thoughts. He tilted his head to the side, squinting his eyes ever so slightly, and puckered his lips. I suddenly felt vulnerable as the hunter became the hunted. He licked his lips before he spoke, his eyes now piercing mine. "Do you have a two piece?"
"Put it on." He turned and headed toward the door. "And bring a towel."
Fuck me again!
Forty-five minutes later, I was on my way out to sea on a speed boat, alone with Edward Cullen. He told me he had rented it for the day and thought I might like to sunbathe while he fished. Hot-diggety-dog he was right! I loved being out on a boat. My dad used to take us out every year before he and my mother split. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.
I suppressed my perverted thoughts of Edward way down deep so I could enjoy this day spent among 'just friends'-obviously.
While anchored, I laid out on the back of the boat as he fished. I watched him through my over-sized sunglasses. How his muscles ripped when he cast his line and his forearms flexed when he reeled it in. How his swimming trunks fell low on his hips, hiding very special things. How the sweat would bead and roll down his chest. How his calf muscles were tone and even his feet were...cute.
I also saw the way he looked at me when he thought I wasn't looking. The attraction between us wasn't one-sided; he wanted me just as much. I wouldn't push myself on him, but if he ever gave...I was taking.
After a couple of hours, we both jumped in to get relief from the scorching sun. The ocean was cool and calm and the water was a beautiful color. As I climbed back into the boat, I wondered if this vacation could get any better.
Edward put on a baseball cap and then pulled a cooler from the back containing our sandwiches and drinks.
After we had eaten, we laid on the back of the boat, and we easily fell into a deep conversation. I confessed all to him. I told him all about college and my studies, my parents' divorce and their situations now, my boring life and the wishes I had for my future. I even told him about Jacob Black, and Edward promised to protect me if he happened to show up while he was here.
There was even more we didn't speak off. We didn't talk about our mutual attraction. We didn't mention what was going to happen after we both left. There were a lot of unspoken things. Important unsaid things.
Edward hadn't offered up much about himself. He attended Berkley--was almost done--but was undecided what he should do after that. He confessed that most of his life was spent trying to please his parents, yet feeling as though nothing he'd done was ever good enough. Under the brim of his hat, I saw the sadness in his eyes when he spoke about them. He grew quiet, and I didn't know what to say next. I laid my head down and closed my eyes.
Soon enough, Edward pulled the anchor and drove us back to the dock.
We stopped by a small diner on the drive back to the cove. The repartee between us was once again light and fun.
It was twilight when we reached the cottages. The sky was clear and the stars shimmered above us. The moon was already full and lit up the beach, our shadows leading our way. We walked in between our cottages toward the beach. I kicked off my flip-flops and felt the cool sand under my feet. We stopped at the edge of our patios, pondering our next move, neither of us wanting this day to end.
"Wanna walk?" Edward asked as he nodded toward the beach.
"I'd love to."
We strolled the edge of the shore as the white froth rolled forward and claimed the territory we had just invaded. We walked side by side, sometimes so close our shadows merged into one. Our footprints in the sand mirrored the other. Then, after minutes of ambling down the beach, Edward reached down and grabbed my hand. Our fingers entwined and then he gently squeezed. "Is this okay?"
I looked up at him after gazing at our joined hands, "Yes." My pulse began to race when I felt his thumb ghost over the sensitive skin on the back of my hand. I swallowed hard.
We continued our walk and unexpectedly a big wave crashed into our thighs. I squealed and Edward reached down, cupping some water and splashed me. I kicked water back at him. He reached out for me and I took off running--which in sand it's really harder than it looks. His arms circled me and before I knew it I was on my back on the sand. Edward lay beside me, his hands under my tank, grasping a hold of my waist. Our breathing accelerated as the passion storm between us raged.
"Is this okay?" He whispered.
I nodded, reached up and pulled his lips to mine. My hands went to his hair and his were all over me--my stomach, my waist, down the outside of my thighs. Everywhere.
The water sometimes lapped around us, but we were too busy to notice. He was soon between my legs, his hardness pressed against me, confirming that he wanted this too. His warm lips devoured me, kissing my ear, my neck, and my shoulder. His sharp teeth nibbled at my skin making my body shiver. I rolled on top of him and licked the salt water off his sternum. I sipped the water that had pooled at the base of his neck and ran my hands over his forearms, abs, and nipples. I felt his breath shudder as I teased the thin hair that extended downward from his navel.
Someone yelled "Get a room!" My head fell to his chest and we began to giggle. I rolled off him and we laid side by side on the sand, gazing at one other. The moonlight danced off his wet skin, and he practically sparkled. I just wanted to touch him, my hands all over him. Feel him.
"Will you promise me something?" He grabbed my hand and kissed each fingertip waiting on my response.
"Yes." Who gives a shit what I was promising, at this point it really didn't matter.
He took my hand and placed it over his heart. I felt it thrashing against his chest, and I knew mine was doing the same.
"Promise me that no matter what happens in the next few days, what you might hear, what you find out, no matter which direction we may or may not go when we leave here, promise me that you won't forget the way you feel right now. The way that my heart is thumping wildly. Bella, only you have ever done this to me. The way your blood is zinging through your veins and every cell is screaming out for release, mine are doing the same. You did this to me, and I did this to you. Bella, together we have it all. You realize that right?" I swear I saw tears in his eyes twinkling through the darkness. "Promise me, Bella."
"Edward, I...I promise, just tell me whatever it---"
"No," he shook his head. "I just want you to remember this. This right now. This moment. Promise me."
"I promise. I swear."
"You've done this to me, Bella. You're the only one. Ever."
He gently kissed me again. I wrapped my arms around his neck and held onto him. I didn't want to let go.
"Let's go for a dip and wash this sand off." Edward suggested as he caressed my cheek.
As he stood, he reached for my hand and pulled me upright. We slowly walked into the warm water, the gentle waves sloshing around us. The incredible softness of the wet sand squished under our feet. We waded out until the water was at my chest. Edward then pulled me to him, and I wrapped my legs around his waist. We stayed entwined, our mouths tasting, our hands mapping and exploring, our lips always touching until the moon was at full mast above us.
"Let's go inside." I suggested.
Against my lips, he agreed. The current had caused us to drift down fairly close to our cottages. He rose from the water, and my legs never let him go. My arms wrapped around his neck and I kissed his ear all the way to my cottage. He pushed me up flush against my back door with a moan, and his hands trailed down to cup my ass, pulling me even closer to him. I reached behind me to twist the knob to open the door, and we fell into my place with a thud.
We remained there on the cold tiles of the entryway floor, never even making it to my bed. He was inside of me, pushing into me, taking me higher and higher. Panting and spent, no energy left to even speak, I reached out for him and laid my head on his chest. He caressed my wet hair until our breathing slowed.
"Shower?" I asked as I looked at him and wiggled my eyebrows.
I quickly rose from the floor, kicking my shorts and bathing suit bottoms off my ankle. Edward tried to stand forgetting his trunks were around his ankles and fell back on his ass. I couldn't stop laughing at his half naked body on my floor.
"You little ..." he growled at me, and I took off running for the bathroom.
The next two nights and days we passed doing the same. Our insatiable lust for one another traded for food, drinks, and sleep. Fingers, hands, mouths; all were used for pleasure. The kitchen table, the floor, the couch, the bathroom vanity; no place was off limits for us. Edward behind, me on top, side by side, six ways from Sunday; our sex was exploratory and mind blowing. Never in my life had I been so satisfied yet so hungry for more.
I knew I wanted more. More of him--more of us.
We would occasionally venture out into the ocean or stroll along the beach, but Edward preferred we stay holed up in my cottage. I didn't complain one bit, but I sometimes wondered why.
I couldn't deny what I saw. During the times when he thought I was asleep, or thought I was watching television. The worry in his brow would just appear and he was especially nervous when he checked his cell. When he would close his eyes and bury his hands in his hair, I knew there were things about Edward Cullen I might not want to know. But I still wanted more. I wanted it all.
One night lying naked in bed, the television on some random reality show, my lids became heavy. I felt Edward shift beside me and I turned to look at him; the sadness that was apparent in his eyes broke my heart. "Edward? What.."
"Stay awake with me." His eyes searched mine for some sort of answer, some kind of contentment.
No longer tired, I cupped his rough cheeks with my palms.
"Please just stay awake with me. I don't want to waste a single second with you spent sleeping. I don't...feel you then. I see you in my dreams, but it's nothing like being...looking at you now." His eyes began to brim with unshed tears.
"Edward, if you just tell me, we can figure something out." I was desperate; surely there was something we could do to find a solution to ---.
"Just stay awake with me Bella. Hold onto me. Please, don't let me go. Listen to my heart beating your name, it belongs to you now. I know this sounds crazy after just a few days, but I never thought it could be like this. You make feel alive. Will you? Stay awake with me, as long as you can?" His hands shook as he wrapped them around my waist.
I just didn't understand, why he couldn't just tell me? "I don't want to sleep either, Edward. I just wish you would confide in me."
He gently rested his head on my chest as his back began to tremble. I felt the wetness of his tears seep onto my naked breasts. I held him tighter, my hands clutching to him as if he were the key to my survival. His cries were silent and soon ceased as the night dawdled on. We snuggled side by side gazing into each others eyes. Something inside of me alarmed that this might be the last time I would ever be in Edward Cullen's arms. I fought the exhaustion that was trying to overtake me. I wanted this night to last forever. My lips lingered on his nose, his cheeks, and his forehead. I took my time as I kissed each one of his fingers and his palms. My fingertips memorized the curvature of his arms, his chest, his back, and his hips. I never wanted to forget how he felt under me, over me, and beside me.
"Bella...Bella...Wake up, let's go watch the sunrise."
"Edward? What time is it?" I stretched and felt his warm bare skin next to me.
"Come on sleepyhead. Let's go, we have about fifteen minutes before daybreak." He kissed the tip of my nose. "Get up."
I shivered at the loss of his body heat. He was up and out of the bed, slipping on his sleep pants and a t-shirt. I found a shirt and shorts crumpled on the floor. As I put them on, I remembered how they got there and my body temperature immediately rose thinking about our trysts.
Edward tugged on my hand to rush me out to the beach. He threw down a large beach blanket. He sat first and pulled me to his lap, nestling me between his open legs. I lolled my head back to rest on his chest. His nose nuzzled my neck through my messy hair, kissing me over and over.
I barely turned to face him--the sadness was still there--his eyes were red from last night. "Good morning," he whispered. I touched his cheek with one hand and traced his bottom lip with my thumb. I lifted up slightly to kiss his beautiful mouth.
We sat there for the next hour in total silence. The embrace we shared was enough. Every so often he would sigh and kiss me, somewhere. Anywhere.
I teased his arms that were wrapped around me, just wanting to feel him, skin on skin. When I heard him begin to speak, a lump lodged in my throat. I didn't know how to handle the dread that loitered between us. What was happening?
"Bella," he paused and blew out a long breath. "I have to drive into the city and take care of a few things this morning. But I'll be back. Wait for me."
"Sure Edward, I'm still going to be here for three more days." I laughed nervously. "Do what you need to do." I'll wait forever.
"Just don't leave, okay?" I heard it, the fear in his voice, the uneasiness as he spoke.
"Okay." I turned to straddle his lap and kiss him. Tears were once again slowly creeping down his face and soon mine were doing the same. The anguish rolled off him and absorbed into my pores, stinging me.
This kiss held it all, everything I had. I loved him already, and I longed to tell him that I was his. I would forever be, but I left that unsaid. Whatever was upsetting him and weighing on his mind, I didn't want to add to it.
Seven hours later, I was sitting on the beach, waiting on Edward to return. I had accomplished a lot in his absence. My cottage was clean, my laundry and dishes done. I had showered and eaten.
It didn't escape my attention that there seemed to be more traffic than usual driving into the cove, but then again it was Thursday, and some new guests may have been arriving. As I sat on the lounge chair, sipping on my drink, a striking blond walked up and stood not too far from me. I glanced at her and smiled. I noticed she had a small, round bump her hand rested on. She smiled back and walked toward me, her long cotton dress blowing in the breeze. Her hair was tied behind her head and she lifted her hand to shield the sun.
"Hello." She practically sang.
"You must be Bella?"
Confusion immediately crossed my face.
"I'm sorry, that's rude of me. My name is Rose. Edward told me he had met someone who knew the place well and had showed him around. He failed to tell me you were so..pretty."
I bit my lip as I grinned, thinking about Edward and that he mentioned me! I noticed she was no longer smiling and was rubbing circles around her protruding belly.
"Um yeah. You said your name was...Rose?"
She threw her head back and laughed. "Yes, I'm Rose, Edward's fiance. We are getting married here at the cove on Saturday. He invited you to the wedding, right? Any friend of his is a friend of mine. Please tell me you'll attend."
My world fell apart. The ocean was no longer visible to me nor was the woman standing next to me. The blue sky I knew was there had disappeared, and all I saw was Edward's face as he cried. I honed in on the sound of the waves to calm me, but it became too overwhelming and the constant roar deafened my ears. I couldn't breathe. I didn't want to. I was filled with so many emotions. Anger. Betrayal. Hurt. Disgust. Loneliness. Desolation.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I shrugged it away. "Excuse me. Hey! Bella! Are you alright?"
She retracted her hand and apologized. "I'm sorry, but will you come? To the wedding?"
I stood, "No, I won't be here, something has come up...I have to leave...today. Thanks for the invite...I...jus-...tell Edward I said congratulations," I barely choked out as I nodded toward her growing stomach. I ran back through the sand to the safety of my cottage. I slammed the door behind me and locked it, collapsing onto the floor.
The floor. Edward and I--
Everywhere I looked, I saw him. I hadn't even realized I was crying, but I felt the tickle of tears as they soaked my face. I wanted to scream. I wanted to find him and beat the shit out of him. I wanted to take out my rage on his perfect face, but I settled for pounding my fists on the floor. I crawled my way to the bed, fell onto the pillows and was instantly assaulted with his scent. The room began to spin so I jumped up and ran for the bathroom to throw up. I heaved and gagged long after the contents of my stomach were expelled. I sobbed relentlessly as the question of 'why' repeated in my mind. Why?
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
I heard voices outside and panicked. Car doors slammed and somehow, I picked myself up off the floor and looked around for my exit. As bad as I wanted to pummel the fuck out of him, I didn't want to see him again. Ever. The voices seemed to be getting louder. He'll be able to find me here! Did I lock the front door? Think Bella! Think! The Black's. I knew where they hid the spare key. It was the only chance I had. I would have to sneak back and pack my things later, but first, I needed to get away and hide. I grabbed my cell phone and crawled out one of the side windows. I wasn't going to chance seeing Edward. I ran to the front door of Cottage number five and was never happier that Mrs. Black loved big ol' ugly plants; they masked the entryway perfectly. The key was still there in its hiding place and I let myself in. I didn't pay attention to the details of the room, only looking for darkness. Because that's what I felt.
I slunk down into the far corner of the room in between the bed and the nightstand. I pulled my knees up to my chest and began to cry again. It hurt so badly. In just four days, everything I knew about life had shifted and was tied to one Edward Cullen. I raised my arms together to brush my hair from my face and saw it there mocking me. I slowly turned my arm over and glared through my tears at the small love bite Edward had left on the inside of my elbow. I wanted to claw it off. It felt as though my throat was closing again. No air.
Why did you do this to me? I fucking fell in love with you! And I thought you...
Fuck him! Fucking men! I knew better, first my father and now....
I held my breath as I heard someone shouting. It was Edward. He was calling my name. It sounded as though he was beating on my door. I cried harder, silent but harder and I hid my face in my hands.
I heard more yelling and screaming, I couldn't make out what they were saying, but I could hear Edward. He was angry. Desperate even, still pounding on my door.
It finally grew quiet. The room darkened and a loud rumble of thunder cut through the silence. I felt it resonate through my bones, reminding me of Edward.
Edward and I.
I closed my eyes and wailed some more. I pulled at my hair and anything else to distract from the pain I felt inside my chest. The emptiness. The desire to go to sleep and never wake.
Then, as if my living nightmare couldn't get worse, I heard my broken prince crying. Edward was sobbing and through his tears, he was pleading, begging, "Please. Please Bella. Come back. You...promised."
I shook my head as I laid down there on the floor and whispered to him, "I'm sorry, Edward. I'm sorry."
Three months later it hadn't gotten any easier. I couldn't forget him. It was impossible for me to move on. All my friends had heard the story, well most of it anyway, and they encouraged me. They tried to pull me out of my depression. It didn't work. I attempted to party, to drink, to laugh, but it was all a façade. My soul was damaged beyond repair.
I had seen other girls after a break up, and I used to think they were so pathetic. Now I was the feeble, paltry and lifeless mess.
Literally everything reminded me of him. The sun! The grass was the color of his eyes. Thunder and lightning! Clear blue skies brought to mind the day of our boat trip. Boats! Sandwiches, beer, bottled water, my towel, my shoes, men's feet, denim... everything! The moon and stars! The rain! Everything... Every time I looked at my body, I saw his lips on me. My love bites had long gone, but I wept for them too. I hated them when I could still see them, but as soon as they'd faded away, I wished to have them back. They had been my last visible reminder of ....
I would never be able to return to the cottage much less the ocean. Never.
What did I have to live for?
There was no escaping our memories. I cried. I cried so much that I always wore sunglasses with my head in a constant state of pain. I lost myself in my misery, longing for answers I would never have. Closure I would never receive. Lips I would never kiss......
Jessica set me up with a friend of her boyfriend. I ended up drunk before the date ever started. I remember calling him Edward and soon after, had puked in his lap.
I quit talking to my friends. My mother was worried and called every so often to check on me. Finally, one day out of the blue she asked what happened. I didn't give up any details, but then she started to talk. She asked me if it had anything to do with my trip to Sunrise Cove. I had squeezed my eyes shut and seethed, "yes."
"That was one crazy week from what I heard. Did I ever tell you about that?"
"No mother, you didn't." I whispered. Did I want to hear this? She had potential information to push me over the edge, stealing the ounce of life I was using to get by on every day. I held on tight to my cell phone, my palms sweaty and tears dripping off my cheeks.
In full gossip mode she began, "Well from what I heard, there was supposed to be a wedding, but the entire family got in a huge fight or something, and the wedding was canceled. But not before the cottage next to us--number three I think it was--was destroyed. I mean whoever it was just tore that place up on the inside. The windows were broken and holes in the wall. One of the doors was ripped off the hinges, I heard it was like a pack of rabid wolves ran through there...."
She continued on about the destruction while I silently cried.
"Evidently, the Blacks got there right as all this was going on and Jacob, you remember Jacob right? Well he tried to calm them down. Then he ended up getting in a fight with some young man, Edwin I think his name was. Jacob had to go to the hospital...."
I almost dropped the phone. I covered my mouth in an effort to silence my sobs.
"Mom I have to go." I hung up and threw my phone. I curled up, wrapping myself in a blanket of despair that welcomed me home.
I didn't get out of bed for five days. I was failing all my classes. I didn't give a fuck. I was just a shell. There was no life left in me. Somewhere on this planet there was a handsome man named Edward, my spirit was there with him. Forever.
Then life got worse.
I finally went to class, weak and tired. I hadn't slept well because of my dreams. Edward was always there. Most nights he held me, whispering promises in my ear, speaking of love and forever and feelings. He would touch me and pleasure me, just as he had before. God those were good nights. Then there were times that I dreamed of him, seeing him in another's arms, speaking the same sweet words he'd told me, into her ear. Those nightmares--when I woke from them--haunted me like a curse.
One night, I sat down to work on a literary final term paper that was due. I had put it off until the last minute. My laptop bag was beside me, as I searched it looking for a blue ink pen. I pulled out my copy of Romeo and Juliet to skim for inspiration, and an unknown envelope dropped from its pages.
I froze, thinking about the last time I had the book out. The cove. My hands began to shake, and if there had been anything in my stomach, I would have vomited. I dropped the envelope to the floor and stared at it, not knowing what I expected it to do. For hours, I stared at the simple rectangle that had "Bella" scribbled on the outside. I eventually picked it up and hastily tore it open. A small, folded piece of lined paper sang out for me.
I don't remember unfolding it. I don't even recall having read it, but within minutes, I'd had it memorized. He must have left it for me while I was in hiding in the Black's cottage.
You know now.
Oh my God, I am so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you and I wanted to tell you, I swear on my life I did. But I didn't want to taint our precious time together. I love you Bella. I always will. I don't love Rose and she knows it. And I want you to know, the baby is not mine. She says it is, but I KNOW! The timing, her due date, it's physically impossible. We have already had a paternity test and as soon as it comes back I am going to have this marriage annulled, if we even go through with it all. She was just an old friend, I swear. I don't love her. I never have. My parents are forcing me to marry her, they think the baby is mine. They threatened to cut me from the will if I didn't, but now, I don't care if they do. I want you Bella. You.
You promised me you wouldn't leave me and you did. You didn't let me explain.
I'm afraid you forgot your promise to me on the beach that night too. I pray you haven't.
Together, we have it all.
Only you, Bella.
I hope it's not too late.
I love you,
Too much. This was too much.
That night I tried to end it all. I was tired of the tears and the pain and of the hollow feeling inside my chest. I just wanted the darkness to swallow me and take everything away. I needed my mind to be silent. I longed for rest.
My roommate's medicine cabinet had a plethora of over-the-counter medication. Three handfuls of pills and a bottle of vodka later, I had filled my body with the deadly concoction and waited to be plunged into the deep, dismal murk. The eclipse came, overshadowing my Edward sun, but it never got dark enough. I saw the demons arise from the pitch black; they held and coddled me. They sang my name and petted my hair. In the distance I saw the brightness and I smiled. That is where I want to be. I drifted toward the warmth, but those damn little hellions held me back. The pain from their grip ripped through my body and I screamed out in excruciating pain. When my words echoed in my ear, I knew...I knew I was still alive.
I spent three weeks in a halfway house after being released from the hospital. While I was there I put on a good face. When forced to take my anti-depressants, I obeyed. When asked to talk about my feelings, I gushed about my blues. I cried fake tears, wanting to be alone.
My mother insisted I stay with her and Phil for a while. I had no fight left in me. At this point, I had forgotten why I was so tormented because it seemed that now, everything was wrong. Everything.
Four weeks later, my mother announced that we were going to stay at the cottage for a week to celebrate her and Phil's ten-year wedding anniversary. I had a panic attack. I couldn't do it. I couldn't go back there. It was the beginning of the end. My end.
My mother never let up and I became numb. The anxiety of facing all those memories had worn me down to nothingness.
We'd spent the first night outside of the cove, my mother had a guest that was due to leave the next morning and then the cleaning lady would come through.
Even doubled, my medication wasn't enough. My knee bounced on the back floorboard. My fingernails bled from constantly gnawing on them. I fought to down the obstruction of nerves that had lodged in my throat.
As we turned left toward Sunrise, I began my breathing exercises to keep from hyperventilating. When the car stopped in front of our cottage, I opened my door and threw up.
"Bella," my mother whined. "Are you going to be alright, honey?"
I swallowed hard, the taste of vomit in my mouth making me gag again. "I...I will be." I squeaked out. I wanted to conquer this hell. This was my beach damnit! I wanted to claim it back from Edward.
I slowly stood out of the car and looked at his cottage. The sound of his cries rang through my ears. I closed my eyes and whispered to him, "Edward, I'm here."
My expression was blank as I ghosted through the motions with my mother. I tried to look past everything and not focus on the things that made me think of Edward. I never got in the ocean. I didn't walk barefoot in the sand. I refused to marvel at the sunset and watch the sunrise. My heartbreak was back. Every time the wind blew through my hair, I remembered.
Every crush of the breaking waves translated into his laughter.
The sun warming my face reminded me of his searing touch.
The next evening after the anniversary dinner, I wore my red sundress. Red made me think of that first day with him.
I walked up toward the top of the hill on the inside of the cove. Today, I had felt complete serenity. It'd been like it was, when he and I had spent our time together. The dark clouds moved in quickly, covering the setting sun, and I took it as a sign. This was right! I climbed over the short fence that read "Keep Out, Dangerous Cliffs." I kicked off my shoes as I skipped on the soft green grass.
The closer to the edge, the louder the crashing...the louder the crashing, the clearer his laughter.
I had not seen him since I left, but my memory served me well. His face vibrant behind my closed eyes. My skin tingled as if he were touching me. The wind whipped my hair around and tickled my neck, just as he had. My mouth watered, longing for his taste.
A powerful crash of thunder cut through the sunset, and I swirled around as a bolt of lightning clashed with the eventide. The rain began to pelt my skin, and I laughed.
I stood at the edge of the cliff, looking over to the tumultuous water below.
"I remember, Edward."
Then I fell. No, I soared. On the wings of love. The water embraced me. The thunder sang out a deep tune as the warm salty ocean surrounded me. The lightning flicked off allowing the darkness to finally claim me. The deeper I sank, the more at home I felt. I heard him calling my name in that singsong voice that reflected his love. Edward. I opened my mouth to answer him, "I'm coming, Edward." His hands were all over me now, just as before, yes.
Edward, I'm here.
(We all know what happens to Bella when she cliff dives....)
Special thanks to Spunky & FragileLittleHuman for the pre-read.
Much love to Corrina, who beta'd this, then held my hand and encouraged me as I wavered. I love you.