The Black Balloon Contest
Title: Lost Like Tears in the Rain
Your pen name: VampiresHaveLaws
Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight and all it's characters. I just like to play with them.
This story contains sensitive subject matters that may be upsetting to read.
Huge thank you to my beta SusanQ - she is amazing. Also, the most ginormous thanks to Sobriquet. I can't even begin to explain how many hours she gave up for me. All-nighters describe it pretty well, if not wholly. She is the best Spock-loving friend out there.
The rain was comfort and peace. Its sharp and icy beads brought feeling to the numbness I found myself feeling as of late. But after a while the numbness would be back, this time in the touch of frozen skin and limbs. To me, there was no better feeling than wrapping yourself in warmth after being so cold... so alone. It was the only comfort I would allow myself. The one person that wanted to give me that feeling, who was completely willing to do anything for me, wasn't an option. I wouldn't allow him to do that for me. I was not deserving of his care.
I was sitting with my back against the rough bark of the old moss-covered tree positioned at the edge of the meadow I had stumbled across early last spring. It had instantly become a favourite spot of mine to and come and think. Nobody bothered me here, I had told no one about it. It was my own special place that was safe enough for me to expel my regrets and fault without creating pain to others. The area was filled with the scent of wild-flowers, all pinks and blues, attracting the busy bee and occasional bird. The colours were a painful reminder of what could have been.
Today was my twentieth birthday... but I would not be celebrating. I knew he would have some gift waiting for me at our small apartment with its ever-fading curtains and mismatched furniture, even after the serious talk we'd had last night while staring helplessly across from each other in our bed. The small distance between our bodies had felt like the expanse of the ocean, dangerous depths to be crossed before reaching the other. This detachment had been inevitable.
The first time I'd laid eyes on Edward Cullen was on my first day at Forks High. I was fifteen, shy, and had just transferred schools. He had immediately seized my attention. He was so beautiful, even back then.
"Is that all you're having?" Angela asked, nodding to the bottle of lemonade in my hands, a worried expression stamped onto her face. I wrinkled my nose at the sodden lettuce on her own tray before meeting her eyes.
"Yeah, I'm sure," I replied. She glanced down at her own plate before letting out a soft giggle.
"Can't say I blame you." We smiled at each other before she led me to a table with a few recognisable faces from the day so far. A girl with a head of particularly frizzy hair was eyeing me warily, her head cocked to the side, her lips puckered.
I kept my head down as I sat, my fingers playing with the paper label on my bottle.
"You're Isabella, right?"
I hesitantly raised my eyes, the frizzy haired girl now seated next to me.
"Bella," I corrected with a smile.
Before she had chance to ask her next question, a group of three boys burst through the doors, catching the attention of not only me, but everyone else at the table as they all turned toward the noise. Apparently I wasn't the only curious one here.
It was three boys, all being completely different in size and appearance, but if I was being truly honest, I didn't even take much notice of the other two within of the group. My focus was solely on the one in the black shirt. I suddenly felt as if I couldn't breathe. His head was thrown back in laughter, his eyes shut and crinkled slightly at the sides. His laugh had a musical lilt to it; I could have listened to it for hours and not once gotten bored.
"They're all so dreamy," someone stated breathlessly next to me. This girl had short, black hair and was wearing paint-splattered dungarees. She had her chin resting in her upturned palm with a "far away" look on her face. I was glad I wasn't the only one who seemed to be so wildly affected.
"Who are they?" I asked, my eyes flicking between the two girls at either side of me. They both snapped out of their almost trance trance-like states, and leaned towards me, more than ready to start talking. I was incredibly grateful.
"Sorry, I was honestly about to introduce myself, just before I got... distracted. I'm Alice," the girl in the dungarees greeted me, with a genuine grin upon her lips.
"Yeah, I guess I should have done that too." The frizzy haired girl chuckled. "I'm Jessica." I was relieved that I would no longer have to refer to her hair as a label for the inquisitive looking girl.
"Bella," I responded again, with my own small smile directed at them both. It felt as like that was the only word I'd said all day, what with the amount of times I'd had to say it.
Jessica shot a quick glance over to them before leaning in further. "Well, the big one, that's Emmett — plays football and likes to play pranks, so watch your back," Jessica warned. I nodded my head, feeling a little panicky at the thought of him doing something like that to me.
Alice was practically buzzing to get her next words out. "The one sitting at the middle of the table is Jasper, he's from the south and seriously has the best wink ever. I've been lucky enough to receive it twice now, once in history when he caught me staring at him, and the second time when I accidentally bumped into him at the store when buying my mother bleach. He told me his mother mom used the same brand. It's fate." That far away look was glazing over her eyes again, threatening to take her off into a Jasper-filled la-la-land.
While it was good to know who the other two were, they were not the ones I wanted to hear about. I chanced a surreptitious peek at them again while taking a mouthful of my drink, the fizzy lemon hissing away inside the bottle, froth gathering at the top. There was now another small group sitting with them, three people in fact. The pom-poms at their feet gave them away. Cheerleaders. I figured those boys would all have glamorous girlfriends, so I couldn't really say it came as a shock to me.
"And the other one?" I asked while looking back down at the table, my eyes trained on a particularly odd-looking knot in the wood. "Who's he?" It felt like they were taking forever to answer, but in reality I knew it was just my eagerness to find out making it seem that way.
"That's Edward Cullen. He's smart, dazzling and just... exquisite. He seriously has the most amazing smile you will ever see, like it crooks to the side ever so slightly and everything," Jessica said excitedly, her hands moving in a circular movement, presumably for emphasis. I could only imagine what it would look like, and felt a fleeting pang of jealousy at not having witnessed it. I was being utterly ridiculous. It was at that moment of internal chastisement that I looked up and all thoughts stopped.
He was looking our way, his eyes simply travelling from one person to the next. Then my eyes met his, so very green. I took everything in greedily, not wanting to waste this lucky situation I suddenly found myself in. His hair was mainly brown, the fluorescent lighting hinting at a natural bronze tint. It was a little wayward, messy even, but it somehow looked so right. His jaw line was perfection; the urge to run my fingers over his skin was so strong I had to ball my hands into fists in my lap. I blushed profusely at my line of thought and immediately broke eye contact, my hair falling around my face, creating a protective curtain.
"Edward Cullen is staring at you," Jessica half half-squeaked, half-hissed, her excitement over this fact evident. I couldn't help but take one last peek at him, letting out a gasp when my gaze had refocused on his form.
He was smiling at me, that very same crooked smile Jessica had previously been describing. She was completely right; he was dazzling.
I glanced at my watch and knew it was time for me to head back to him, to see the concern in his features, his pain, the very same pain that I was responsible for. I had been in love with Edward from that first day. I remember when I was little; I would constantly hear those stories of love at first sight and always scoff, never once believing them.
I was wrong.
I was living proof that it was in fact true, that it was possible and did exist. He'd been my best friend and soul mate just shy of those five years. He had always been my first concern, and in some ways always would be. We did everything together, never wanting to spend one minute apart. He even climbed through my bedroom window at night for those first few years, always when he knew Charlie would be asleep, simply so we could be near one another. I'd fall asleep with his arms encasing me, my head resting on his chest, the thump of his heart-beat my music of choice.
We both had stubborn personalities, often leading us into petty fights and spiteful glares. It would never last long; we needed each other too much to ever let it go further than a few hours. It was always Edward that found me first.
A simple kiss on the cheek from either one of us would begin to dissolve the tension, loving whispers and tender apologies spoken passionately in between.
But there was a time when he hadn't been my only thing, my only responsibility. There was a time I was carrying another, a child, his child.
8 months earlier
I was late...
I was never late.
I had bought a home pregnancy kit, opting for the digital kind. Lines and dots meant nothing to me, I needed to see the result in words for my mind to fully accept what could possibly be happening... growing. I was nineteen, only nineteen. I couldn't be pregnant, there was just no way, we were always so careful. I had taken the pill pretty much religiously for the last three years. I suppose I could have forgotten a day or two, but those days weren't apparent to me now.
What would Edward say? What would my parents say?
Charlie would be so disappointed in me. My mother, oh God, I couldn't even allow myself to fully imagine what she would think. She would most likely sneer at me, or worse than that, not even care. She'd never wanted me, I'd always known. I think she took me with her when she left Charlie just to spite him and leave him all alone in the world.
I was a responsible person, but I wasn't ready - I knew I wasn't ready. There was work and college. Where would we live? Would Edward leave me... No, I knew he wouldn't. He'd get a no-prospects job, I'd wreck his future. His parents would loathe me. My friends would look at me with pity. The town would look at me with disdain. I would hate myself.
I picked up the white stick, a thought pushing itself to the forefront of my mind, a snort escaping me. White... white represented purity, innocence... untouched. I was no longer any of those things. No-one who had to use this stick could be described as such. Just another sick example of the universe fucking with us. I hesitantly looked down. My breath stopped. There it was, the word I'd prayed not to see.
My breaths resumed, quicker, louder. I knew I was hyperventilating, one step away from having a panic attack. Sobs tore their way from my throat, a pain in my chest like nothing I'd ever felt before. I started to pace, the small confines of the bathroom not helping with the sheer panic coursing through my body. The words "oh God" were repeating themselves like a broken record, playing over and over in my head, falling from my lips, pumping through my veins.
Tears streaked down my face, bile rose in my stomach, wanting, needing an out. I rushed to the toilet, expelling the symptoms of fear and stupidity into the white porcelain, the colour once again not escaping my notice. This time I did not snort, or find humour in the situation. Even if I'd wanted to, it wouldn't have happened. I was scared.
I wasn't that girl, the one who got knocked up by her boyfriend at such a young age. I wasn't the walking cliché of someone living in a small town. We had plans, and now they were all about to change, drift out the window and ultimately disappear like smoke.
When I was sure my legs wouldn't give out beneath me, I stood shakily, my pale and sweaty hands clutching onto anything in my path until I could reach the sink, my hands finding the tap and greedily drinking down handfuls of cold water. The face staring back at me in the mirror wasn't mine. Sure, the outward appearance was mostly the same, but the eyes, they were different. Eyes are the windows to your soul, and mine were filled with dread.
I numbly stumbled into bed, not even bothering to get under the covers, the proof of my situation resting on the purple sheets, sticking out like the worst case of sore thumb. My knees automatically came up to my chest, my arms protectively wrapping themselves around my frame. I couldn't stop staring at it... that simple piece of plastic. The tears started again.
That was how Edward found me, minutes, maybe hours later. I wasn't counting the time. His voice was filled with love and despair, his fingers softly stroking my cheeks and face, my hair. I knew the exact moment he had noticed what held my attention as his ministrations froze. I watched on as his fingers picked up the source of my current state, a shaky breath drifting through the space around us. I couldn't take it any more and finally found the courage to look at his beautiful face.
I immediately wished that I hadn't.
His smile was so genuine, filled with joy. The nauseous feelings returned.
"Oh, Bella," He smiled, shifting so he could rest beside me, peppering kisses over my eyelids, his lips attempting to heal me. He looked so happy.
I couldn't help the whimper that escaped me when his hand pried my knees gently away from my chest, placing his palm above my navel, his fingers moving ever so slightly, a gentle greeting no doubt just given. He bent down, pulled the hem of my shirt up to expose my stomach, and placed a solitary kiss to my skin.
It very nearly killed me.
I knew then what I would have to do. I would tell him it was merely shock that had me acting like this, and that inside I was just as happy as he was.
I would lie to him.
The words I could never say out loud as he held me close would not stop their torrent. I didn't want this baby, I wasn't ready.
My fingers clamped around the wheel of my 1953 Chevrolet truck in a tight embrace, my knuckles paling. The truck had been given to me by Charlie as a sort of moving-in gift. It was old and had the loudest engine I'd ever heard in my life, the roaring deafening. The seats had smelled of peppermint and engine oil, but it was mine. It saddened me to know I would have to leave it behind.
My mother had shipped me off here without a second thought, having finally had enough of me. I couldn't help the bitter laugh that escaped me. I would hardly see her. She was with a new man practically every few months, mostly staying wherever her new "boyfriend" was residing. She'd said I'd cramped her style, and that nobody would want to get involved with a woman with baggage. I remember being made to stay in my room whenever she had company over, and under no circumstances allowed to come out.
I remember the longest period being three days. I was twelve.
I stepped into the kitchen, a book in my hands, not looking where I was going. I was being stupid, not thinking. I was always so aware and observant, but I had been so utterly absorbed in this new story.
"Who do we have here then?" The voice was sickly, like syrup. I slowly pulled the book from my face to see my mother and a man sitting at the table.
He was new.
"She's no one," my mother immediately answered, the look she shot me filled with malice. I had forgotten her rule, and now she was angry.
"You didn't tell me you had a kid," he accused, pointing a grubby finger at her. I wanted to walk backwards, turn back time. I hadn't realised that she was home.
"It's okay baby, she won't be in our way." Her eyes were scared as she looked at him. The emotion seemed foreign on her face.
He stood from the table, his dirty baseball cap placed back on his head. "Well, she's bothering me now." He burst through the back door, its hinges screaming in protest.
We both seemed to be frozen in place, but as always my mother snapped out of it. She was suddenly in front of me, angrily ripping the pages from my book. Shouting. Whenever she was home, there was so much shouting. She never once hit me... but her words... they were always worse.
I ran to my room, her footsteps following me. I closed the door and climbed onto my bed, curling in on myself, the last words before I placed my hands over my ears ringing through my head.
"From now on, you don't leave your room when I have company over! You stay out of sight!"
I'd learned pretty fast to keep water and snacks in my room from then on. I would sneak to the bathroom if they happened to go out. It hurt at first, the fact that my own mother could treat me that way, but like everything with enough time, it became more manageable. I had asked her about Charlie once, and she'd completely lost it, shouting at the top of her voice while trashing my room and all its my minimal possessions. I'd never brought him up again.
I'd been so hesitant around him at first, mostly keeping out of his way and doing as much housework and cooking as I could, hoping he would let me stay. He'd been nothing like Renee. He was quiet and unassuming, liked the simple things in life, and would always spend his weekends fishing and watching sports. Still, he never once acted like I didn't exist.
I enjoyed his quiet company immensely, and often found myself silently wondering what it would have been like to grow up here in this small town, with him as my caregiver. He'd never outright asked me about my mother, for which I'd always been incredibly grateful. I think he sensed the pain locked away there. I'd thrown away that key years ago, the locks now rusted and in no condition to be opened. It would have been far too painful to unseal the damage that lay dormant, and, for the most part, hidden.
I'd never been able to have friends in Phoenix, knowing I wouldn't be able to keep them. It wasn't worth the awkward reasons I would have to repeat as to why I couldn't have them over, or why some days I hadn't been at school. That's how I'd come to love and depend on books. I would forever be reading, escaping to a place where there were balls and country walks and people to talk to. It was fiction and I would frequently lose myself in the Darcy's and Rochester's of the world. However ridiculous it sounded to me now, they were the nearest thing I had to a companion at the time.
Maybe that's why I'd found it so unexpected almost four years ago when Edward first told me he loved me. No one had ever said those words to me before. They sounded strange and foreign to my ears, my heart thumping an uneven rhythm that I didn't know how to deal with. I knew I loved him, but found it inconceivable that he could ever love me back. Even after all the hurt that had resulted from my non-relationship with my mother, I still in some form loved her. I think it's hard, or even impossible, not to love the person that brought you into this world. I occasionally felt weak knowing I could never hate her, and often found myself wishing I could. But Edward loving me was simply astonishing.
"I can't believe you're reading that again," he chuckled. His eyes were dancing, watching my face, waiting for my response.
"Why not?" I asked, pursing my lips. I proudly clutched it to my chest. "It's a much loved classic." I stated. The bind was worn, turning from black to white, then eventually a pale beige from years of being exposed to dust.
"It's an awful representation of love. So much pain and hate, that's not how it should be," he said clearly, his gaze unwavering, suddenly very serious.
"I don't believe that," I whispered, toying with a dog-eared page. "Love can come in any form, theirs just happened to have a destructive intensity."
He took a deep breath and licked his lips. "Maybe so, but the way they treated one another... I could never do that to the person whom I loved," he voiced, dropping his gaze to the dark blue carpet at his feet. "I mean, I could never do that to you." My breath immediately caught in my throat. I was hearing things that weren't there; I knew he couldn't mean what I thought he did. Why would anyone love me?
He raised his head back up to meet my shocked expression, his Adams-apple bobbing.
"Yeah, I couldn't either," I murmured eventually, clearing my throat and sliding off the bed to pad across the room to slot my book away. Charlie had made me the bookcase upon my arrival with the odds bits of wood he had lying around spare in the garage. It wasn't all the same colour, and was slightly wobbly in some places, but he'd made it for me with his own hands. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me. After thanking him, I had immediately locked myself in the bathroom so he wouldn't see the moisture that filled my eyes.
When I had turned back around, Edward's features with were marred with confusion and... anger? Of course, I'd seen him lose his temper before, but we hadn't been arguing now.
"Did you not hear me?" he ground out from between clenched teeth. I took a shaky breath as he shook his head, his features fading to one of utter sadness.
"Perhaps if I gave it to you in terms you'd understand," he said, rising off the bed to stand in front of me, his words delivered like a whisper being carried along with the wind. "I cannot live without my life, I cannot live without my soul." My eyes started to fill with helpless tears that I knew wouldn't fall, my arms wrapping around myself in a form of comfort. "Do you understand what I'm trying to say to you?" he breathed, the backs of his fingers tenderly stroking the apple of my cheek. "I love you, Isabella Swan."
His hand caught the one lone tear that had escaped and rolled unhurriedly down my skin. I hadn't cried in years, knowing it was useless. It would never change anything, never made a situation better. Tears would simply stain your face and drip lifelessly from your chin.
His forehead came to rest upon mine, his skin so warm. "Don't you feel it? You feel it, right?" he questioned anxiously.
I could only nod as he pulled back to look at me, his palms resting on either side of my face.
"Say it," he pleaded, "out loud."
I briefly closed my eyes, shutting off my own personal forest of green, and swallowed the lump in my throat. With the fluttering of my opened lashes, I whispered the one thing he wanted to hear.
"I love you, always will."
I pulled noisily into the lot, cutting off the engine. My ears were ringing from the sudden impact of quiet, only the pitter-patter of rain against the faded red metal of my truck, and my shallow breathing were audible. I knew what would be waiting for me inside, and how I would feel. I just didn't know how I was going to deal with it.
With tired and heavy footsteps, I ascended the stairs to the apartment, forgoing the lift. Nothing about this was going to be easy, so I opted to feel my muscles burn from the many flights I had to climb. Also, I was stalling again, just like every other time I had decided upon a course of action.
Except this time, I would be going through it.
The door to our apartment was a faded green, the paint having chipped off in some places to reveal the pale wood that lay beneath. I gently placed my palm against it, a sad smile tugging at my lips, remembering our silly argument about what colour to paint the entry to our new home. He had wanted to stain it a dark brown, keep it traditional and boring. Brown didn't represent happiness for me, it symbolized sadness, the earth in which we were buried. It held no life, whereas green embodied everything I cherished and held dear. It had given me reason to believe and hope, it showed me love every single day.
I jingled my keys between my fingers as I stared at the lock, almost feeling like a stranger as I focused on the dull brass, so much so that I had to resist the urge to raise my fist and knock. With a shake of my head I inserted the cold metal into the slot and twisted until I heard the tell tale click.
I expected to hear his usual calling of my name as I closed the door behind me, my spine stiff with the anticipation of that familiarity... but nothing came. With a furrowed brow, I hung my sodden coat on the old fashioned stand in the corner, a house-warming gift from his grandmother. Her own home resembled something of a museum.
I turned down the corridor and froze, my limbs ceasing all movement. Edward was leaning against the plum-coloured wall, his arms crossed loosely across his chest, the dim lighting of the table-side lamp casting a halo of burnt orange around his head. He was my angel.
"Where have you been?" he asked, keeping his stance against the wall, his eyes unmoving from my face. I just stared back at him, and shivered from the chill of my wet clothing clinging to my thinning frame. "You've been gone for hours."
I could only nod at his words, my hands gripping onto the ends of my sleeves tightly. I couldn't stand to look at the pain in his eyes, my gaze directly dropping to the hardwood floor. I finally found movement in my legs, walking forward and ultimately brushing by him to enter the kitchen, my mouth dry and in need of water.
The light of the television from the lounge reflected blues and greens as I passed. My eyes fell upon the cake and few gifts that lay abandoned on the table, my fingers shaking as I removed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with water from the tap. I kept my back to him, knowing he would have followed me in. My gulps seemed so loud to my own ears – he had never been like this before. Even during our very worst time, he had always tried to smile when I was around. It was almost as if he subconsciously knew everything was going to change.
"Are you going to talk to me?" he asked, so very near me now. I set my glass down and closed my eyes, the warmth emanating from his body igniting embers within myself. We hadn't been intimate in months; I'd constantly shot him down. He had been so patient at first, but the longer my reluctance went on, the more fervent for that connection he seemed to become. I could see the want there everyday, and so desperately wanted to fulfil that need for him, but I just didn't know if I could.
"I wasn't not talking," I whispered, slowly turning to face him. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to sink into his embrace and stay there forever. The frustration was evident in his tight jaw and dark eyes. I was breaking him.
"Bella," he breathed, shaking his head. "It's your birthday, and you've been gone most of the day. You didn't tell me you were going out, didn't leave a note or take your phone. I was worried." His hands found his pockets as he looked away, focusing on a loose piece of wallpaper in the corner of the room.
"I didn't mean to make you worry," I said truthfully, holding back the words I should have voiced instead. It would have been too hard to stay by your side all day.
A loud sigh permeated the room, his fingers running through his already wayward hair.
"You're shivering," he whispered, his eyes softening slightly. With one last tug of his hair, he left the room, coming back only moments later with a large indigo towel. He made his way towards me slowly, almost cautiously, as if I'd take flight like a frightened bird at any sudden movement. I knew why he would be hesitant, so I made no comment.
He swallowed audibly as his body came in line with mine, his arms at either side of me as he drew the towel together at my front, the action similar to closing a pair of curtains, protecting what was on the inside from darkness. His hands moved to my shoulders, sweeping down the length of my arms, obviously trying to create the friction to warm me up. They soon moved to my back, my face coming that much closer to his chest, his scent of honey and sun assaulting my senses. It was familiar and home, submerging me in a calm I shouldn't feel, and a desire that would end up being sacred, needed and cruel to us both.
I allowed him to continue his ministrations, even going as far to take another step forward until my face was lightly pressed into his shirt. He was wearing the plaid one I'd bought him two years previous for Christmas, sleeves rolled up to the elbows. I knew he most likely had it on because it was a favourite of mine, wanting to do any simple thing to make this a nice day for me. I could hear the rapid beating of his heart, quickening when his right hand found the bare skin at my lower back. He momentarily froze, exhaling a shaky breath, before bringing his left hand to join his right. I gasped softly. His fingertips lightly traced the area, random patterns drawn, a shiver travelling straight through me.
The towel was soon forgotten, slipping hastily from my shoulders to the ground, a light whooshing sound filling the silence. His palms rose up the simple cotton of my shirt until they rested on either side of my head, gently coaxing me away from his chest. His thumb rubbed the swell of my cheek, the look on his face one of love and sorrow, my eyes abruptly closing at the sight.
I felt him lower his face to mine, his breath hitting my lips and bathing me in anticipation. I knew this would hurt when looking back, but I wanted it so much, wanted him so much. I needed him like a plant craved water, the feeling necessitous and demanding and completely unstoppable.
His lips trailed along my jaw, breaking their path to kiss my cheeks and forehead, his nose delicately nudging against mine. His lips were suddenly right there, brushing lightly over my own, soft and feather-like, weightless. I could practically taste him on my tongue, the sensation similar to the sweetest liquor; addictive and potent.
He finally closed the distance, pressing gentle kisses to my lips, a sigh of contentment falling from my mouth, an unconscious invitation for more. His tongue ran over my bottom lip before entering my mouth, a whimper of approval immediately given. My tongue tangled with his, my hands moving to fist in the front of his shirt as our actions grew more frantic. His left arm wrapped around my waist, bringing me flush against him, while the other clutched onto the back of my head, fingers tangling in my hair and causing me to moan. It had been so long since I'd felt this, and now that my body was registering the pleasure, it became a frenzied flicker of flames, the dormant embers now ablaze and rapidly spreading like wild fire.
My hands found purchase at the hem of my wet shirt, immediately tugging it upwards, wanting, needing it to come off. Edward broke away from my mouth, panting as he watched me with dark eyes. I stood before him in my black lace, silently giving permission. He watched the movement of my hand as I slid the straps from my shoulders, falling to collect at my elbows. For a moment I worried that he'd reject me, like the so many times I had him, but as soon as the thought came, it was dispelled.
His mouth came crashing back to mine with new force, impatient hands reaching behind me to unclasp my bra with ease. His hand grasped my breast, his palms teasing my peaks, groans leaving us both. His touch was heavenly and sinful, a maddening fusion of both.
I wasted no time in reaching for his shirt, loud breaths mingling with moving fabric, pushing and pulling. I hectically fumbled my way through his buttons, hands sliding cotton down shoulders and arms, floating and drifting to an unseen spot on the floor. I felt myself leaving the ground, my legs wrapping themselves around warm skin, and hands tugging bronze silk.
My mouth latched itself onto his neck as he carried us out of the room. I bit down on salty skin and shifted my hips against his, my back suddenly slamming into that plum wall, the colour all sensuality and seduction.
"Bella," he groaned, his prominent erection evident against my hip. "Are you sure you want to do this? I can't... couldn't handle it if we went any further and you told me no. I need you."
The look on his face along with his admission only fueled me further. My mouth sought out his, hands instantly going to the button on his jeans, fingers brushing against the soft hair located just above his waistband. Our tongues battled while I attempted to pull down the denim, a moan of appreciation reverberating into my mouth as I brushed against his hardness.
"I want you," I promised, gripping his shoulders as I used my feet to free him of his jeans. The way he was staring at me in that moment had me panting audibly, my teeth roughly digging into my bottom lip. His eyes zeroed in on the movement, licking his own in response.
"I'm yours," I whispered, knowing what those two words would do. With a wild look in his eyes he slid his hand down my chest, keeping one arm wrapped tightly around my waist, the other brushing the side of my breast as he went, leaving a tingling trail in his wake. The button to my own jeans was swiftly undone, his hand sneaking under the denim and lace, teasing me.
"Let me make you feel good," he murmured, sucking on the skin behind my ear, no doubt leaving a mark, an unknown unknowing parting gift given. His finger circled my readying center before slipping inside. I grasped his shoulders tighter as he continued moving his hand up and down, using the wall to push back against his hand. I could feel the coil build in my stomach, waiting for that final moment to snap.
"Edward," I gasped, moaning as he added a second finger, the sensation and pleasure growing that much stronger. He didn't take his eyes off my face, the look of hunger shining back at me, his thumb applying pressure to my nub. I pulled his mouth roughly to mine as I unraveled, my body shaking with its release. He pulled his fingers out of me, his face resting in the crook of my neck.
"I need to be inside you, right now," he pleaded, gripping my ass and carrying me into our bedroom. He set me on my feet, immediately pulling off my jeans and underwear until I was standing bare before him. His eyes greedily took in every inch of my skin, goosebumps springing to the surface. He pulled down his boxers, freeing himself, before moving us towards the bed.
His weight rested upon my own as I lay backwards, his lips paying special attention to my breasts - nips, and licks on an endless repeat. My head was thrown back against the pillows, breathy moans leaving my mouth, my hands fisting the sheets. I reached down to grasp him, a grunt of satisfaction echoing in the room as I began to stroke him, his skin so warm.
"I'm not going to last long if you carry on doing that," he groaned out as my thumb passed his tip, halting my movements and reaching into the bedside table drawer beside us. I took the foil package from his hands and pushed him back on the bed, straddling his hips. I wanted to give him this, and would be selfish this one last time. I loved him with everything I had left, but I couldn't be enough for him. Inside I was different, damaged – I didn't want to taint him with my faults. He was precious and deserved so much better than what I could give him. I was making the decision for both of us, and though it would kill me even further to do it, I wanted him to be happy. If I stayed with him as I was now, I would be responsible for ending another life.
He closed his eyes as I rolled the condom down his length, his hands running along the skin of my thighs. I lifted my hips, lining myself up, taking calming breaths, Edward's impatient whispers of need floating between us. I literally ached for him, but I couldn't help but feel a little fear — not of him, never of him — but of the connection I knew I would immediately feel. I was scared I would change my mind once again.
I slowly lowered myself onto him, Edward's fingers digging into my hips as he was finally fully buried inside of me. I placed my palms on his chest and lifted myself once more, a steady rhythm soon forming between us. His hands would guide my hips as he raised his own off the bed, groaning lightly at the loss of heat each time.
"You're so beautiful," he said reverently, pulling himself up into a sitting position to rest his forehead against mine. Our lips were touching, but not in any rush to do anything more. My fingers were in his hair, softly tugging, while his were pushing the strands from my face, stroking my cheeks.
His eyes held my own, constantly searching, his the colour of precious gems... holding so much emotion I almost couldn't breathe. I honestly didn't know what he saw reflected back in mine, my feelings a confusing swirl of different emotions, but whatever it was he found made him increase his rhythm. His actions became frantic, arms encasing and meeting behind my back to swap our positions and lower me to the mattress.
His thrusts became harder, faster, punctuated strangled breaths released as he nipped the skin at my neck. "Do you have any concept of just how much I love you?" he choked, his arms shaking as he held himself above me, his pelvis meeting mine again and again.
I whimpered, opening my mouth to answer him, but no words would come out. I averted my gaze, swallowing the lump in my throat, focusing on the pleasure coursing through me. I wanted to repeat the sentiment, shower him with words of affection, but they wouldn't help matters now.
He pulled my leg from the mattress and hitched it around his waist, the change of angle allowing him to go deeper.
"Oh, God," I breathed, squeezing my eyes shut as that familiar surge of pleasure threatened to crash over me in violent waves. His mouth found my nipple, sucking hard, while his free hand stroked the place of our joining, ultimately sending me over the edge. My breath caught in my throat as my hips left the bed, hands grasping his back and bringing him closer to me.
I could tell he was close, the tell-tale signs all being there. His breathing had become that much more erratic, lips parting as he stared down at me with love-filled eyes. His face would show concentration, brows drawn slightly together as he pushed through that final barrier. I adored watching him like this – it was beautiful to see him so free.
His groan was muffled against my breasts as he thrust one last time inside me, his hand tightening on my hip as he stiffened, finding his own release. His breath tickled my damp skin as his head rested in the crook of my neck, my hands stroking through his chaotic hair, a favoured ritual not forgotten.
When our breathing had somewhat calmed, he pulled out of me, the connection lost, no longer being at one with him. He didn't leave for the bathroom to clean up as he'd usually do, he simply removed the condom, dumping it into the waste-paper bin, and turned back around to pull me into his chest. I think he was scared I would pull away, or disappear if he left the room. His worries weren't fallacious. They were quite real. I would most likely have left the bed, him coming back to find the sheets cold and barren.
We were lying on our sides, his face pressed into my hair, his hold on me strong, secure. I knew he'd been desperate to hold me like this, especially at night when we would come to bed. He found it difficult to sleep without touching me somehow, whether it was wrapping himself around me like ivy, or simply holding my hand. The comments from our friends and family about the dark circles under his eyes, the tiredness etched into his face, never once escaped my notice.
Soon enough his breathing had slipped into the even rhythm of sleep.
I slowly pulled back from him, gently lifting his arm from around my waist to rest in between us. My hand rose to sweep my fingertips across his cheek, softly trailing down to his slightly stubbly jaw, remembering the first time I'd actually spoken more than two words to him, and just how nervous I'd been.
5 years ago
"Alice," I hissed, taking an anxious glance to at the house in front of us. "I can't go in there. Go without me," I pleaded. "I've changed my mind, I'll just go home and speak to you tomorrow." My feet had only moved two steps down the pathway before her small hands were turning me back around and practically pushing me towards the front door.
"Now, Bella, you know how long it took me to get this outfit just right. You promised to be my wing-woman." This was true. Ever since Jasper had made an announcement in the cafeteria at the beginning of the week about how everyone was invited to a party he was throwing, Alice had been a ball of energy. She was wearing a sleeveless red fitted top that ended just below her ass, her legs printed in a decorative pair of black leggings with red puckered lips assorted across the material. A pair of mid-calf flat boots and black denim jacket completed the outfit. It would have looked ridiculous on anyone else, but as always with Alice, it just worked. She was like a less slutty version of Betty Boop.
I looked at the lit windows, movement everywhere, music reaching my ears, the bass heavy. I assessed what I was wearing. I didn't really have that many nice clothes, only a few pieces that I'd bought when Charlie insisted I needed some new things. I was wearing a simple blue shirt I had found and a pair of tight- fitting jeans that the lady at the store assured me were supposed to fit me like that. They had looked far too tight to me.
What Alice didn't realise was the reason behind my hesitancy to enter the modest sized home. Jasper wasn't throwing a party at his own house, oh no, but Edward's. The very same Edward with the magnetic green eyes and alluring smile. The Edward that made my heart flutter every time I saw him. I was a coward... and completely smitten. I never thought I'd be the type of girl to get crushes, or even pay enough attention to someone to feel that emotion in the first place.
He was in most of my classes and would sit with his usual group, or some flirty cheerleader type. In study period, I would sit by myself, or with Angela if she didn't have a music lesson. I hadn't realised that people would sit in the same spot everyday, and had unknowingly chosen the table next to his. I never looked up, and no one ever acknowledged me.
I allowed Alice to push me the remaining way, watching as she straightened out her clothing before knocking. The big one, Emmett, answered the door, a red plastic cup in one hand and his other arm tightly around the waist of a blonde.
"More girls, awesome!" he shouted brightly, my cheeks instantly burning with embarrassment from the stares of the people already inside. I could see Jessica waving to us from what she liked to call "the scoping step." She was towards the back of the DJ's raised block, perfect vantage point. She'd most likely been one of the first people to arrive, her inquisitive nature not wanting to miss a moment.
I followed Alice inside, side-stepping around the crowd, keeping my gaze to the floor. I resisted the urge to scan the room and find him, but soon enough, Alice was tugging at my sleeve and surreptitiously pointing to a corner of the room. I looked over and there stood Jasper along with Edward... and a bunch of girls. His crooked grin was on full display as he listened to them babble away.
"I don't care if he doesn't know I exist, just being in the same room as him is enough for me." I smiled at Alice as she shrugged her shoulders, secretly agreeing with her. Jessica came over and relayed the night's events to us. The gossip of the evening apparently being that Edward was going to ask Lauren Mallory to the Halloween dance. I felt my stomach sink just a little at her words, but I wasn't that much of an idiot to harbour any romantic ideas when it came to the two of us. I was happy enough to just think of him as the most attractive boy I had ever seen and leave it as that.
"I'm going to go get some drinks," Alice announced, Jessica tagging along with her. I smirked at the fact that Jasper was currently standing next to the table with which the drinks were on. I watched her for a second as she examined what was on offer, my grin growing when I saw Jasper looking her way. Perhaps her time would finally come tonight. Feeling awkward just standing there, I started walking around the room, eventually ending up in the deserted hallway.
It felt weird to be here, not actually knowing him, and yet looking at his photos on a wall, or a coat on a hook. I didn't notice someone was behind me until a familiar sounding velvet voice whispered into my ear.
"I was five, and hated the water," he said, while pointing to the current picture I had been observing. He was sitting on a small upturned boat with a frown on his face, arms crossed angrily across his chest. I just kept staring at it, so terribly nervous and excited from him merely talking to me.
"I'm Edward," he said after a few minutes. "You're Isabella, right?" My breath caught in my throat. He knew my name.
I realised I would have to turn and face him, I was being rude. I took a deep breath and slowly twisted myself around. His eyes were soft, and just that little bit amused. "Bella," I corrected.
This time I did not feel the hardship of having to repeat my name.
"Well, Bella, what are you doing out here by yourself?" he asked with that dangerous knee-buckling smirk. My mouth was completely dry, so much so I thought my tongue would stick to the roof of my mouth when answering him.
I stared at the floor, feeling my cheeks heat. "I was just wandering around. I'm sorry, I swear I wasn't being nosy or anything," I said hastily.
The silence seemed to drag on forever, my hands nervously fisting the hem of my shirt.
"That colour blue looks lovely against your skin," he said softly, almost hesitantly. My head snapped up, my blush deepening when I made eye contact with his intent expression. He looked pretty serious, so I didn't think he was making fun of me.
Suddenly, a smile was threatening to break out across my lips, an honest to god cheek-hurting one at that. I hadn't had that feeling... well, I couldn't actually remember the last time it happened, but I do know that it had been a while. At that moment, one of the girls that had earlier been keeping Edward entertained swept through the doors, her manicured fingernails wrapping themselves possessively around his arm, pink painted lips whispering in his ear. I didn't bother looking at his face, not wanting to delay the inevitable awkwardness that would follow when he would ask me to leave. I wordlessly turned away, my footsteps echoing with each stride. This is what happened when you got your hopes up, when something nice occurred and made you want to smile. Sooner or later it would all come crashing down around you, once built-up notions would soon turn to rubble, and, if left long enough, disintegrate to dust.
"Bella! Bella, wait!" I ignored his voice, disappearing through the crowd to find Alice.
I pressed my lips softly against his, lingering for just the slightest of moments, my words low and whispered. "I love you, I always will."
I carefully slid from the bed, my body trembling the whole time. My eyes didn't leave his face as I stood, my heart racing inside my chest. It was screaming for me to go back, stay in his embrace, to never leave.
I slowly picked up the pile of clothing that lay discarded on the slightly worn chair, cursing myself for not thinking of this earlier. I thankfully had a pair of jeans to put on, but the only shirt available was one of Edward's. It was white and soft, and smelled just like him. It was both a blessing and a curse to have to take it with me.
I dressed quickly and silently, my fingers shaking so much it took me several attempts to finally tie my shoelaces. I padded over to the closet, the creak of the door causing me to hold my breath. Please don't let him wake, it would be too painful. I peeked over my shoulder to see him sleeping soundly, my breaths coming out as gasps as I struggled to control myself.
I was going to fall apart, it was only a matter of time. I just hoped I could wait until I was away from here.
I grasped the already packed suitcase, the weight feeling more substantial than before. Edward would not have noticed it was packed, full of my clothing and few sentimental keepsakes I couldn't bare to leave behind. It always lay there at the bottom of the closet, seemingly forgotten and waiting to fulfill its purpose.
He would not have known I was leaving him.
I took one last look around the room, my gaze stopping at the picture of the two of us smiling at each other, my hands clasped in his as we stood in our graduation gowns, surrounded by his family and Charlie.
He was another I would be leaving behind, guilt the main emotion weighing down on me when it came to my dad. He had done so much for me, given me a shot at a normal life, one that was filled with a love that I never expected to receive. I would call him and let him know I was safe when I arrived wherever I was headed. I still had no idea. I would make sure to check in with him every few months, and perhaps when his disappointment had faded, he could come see me. I would just have to make him promise not to tell anyone my whereabouts. Although, I'm sure if I left it long enough, people would forget about me altogether, and the fear would be unwarranted.
My eyes filled with tears as I stared at the sleeping form in our bed, my side now empty and rumpled. However much it hurt to even think about it, I hoped that someday the side would get filled again, be occupied with easy laughter and bright smiles - someone that would make him as happy as he so wholly deserved.
I bit my lip to suppress the sob that was trying to burst its way free from my chest, and turned to leave behind everything I once thought I knew. I shifted the suitcase to my left hand, my right now clutching the door handle, and took one step forward before the imminent nightmare began.
"Bella?" My body froze, blood turning to ice, the jolt to my heart so painful I thought it would knock me down. "Bella, what are you doing?"
His voice was filled with sleep and panic, and sending my own pulse into a frenzy. I could hear rustling behind me and knew he was getting out of the bed, the sound of a zipper swiftly being pulled mingling with the ringing in my ears.
I knew I would now have to face him, to say things that weren't meant to be said, things that would be so awfully painful to us both. I wasn't worried about myself; it was all for him, all of it.
"Why do you have a suitcase?" he asked, moving towards me. There would be so many more questions like this, all beginning with "why" and "what," answers that would be filled with sorrow.
I dropped the luggage to the ground, squeezing my eyes shut as tight as they could go, before dizzily twisting to face him.
He was dressed in a pair of jeans, nothing else, one leg slightly rolled up at the bottom. His eyes were flicking back and forth between me and the item next to me, his eyes wild and fearful. "Answer me!" he shouted, making my whole body flinch.
I immediately opened my mouth, almost choking the words out.
His face lost all its colour, his eyes widening further, the alarm shining back at me.
"What do you mean you're leaving?" he said, his words strangled. "Bella, this makes no sense," he snapped angrily, tugging manically on his hair. "Come and sit down and talk to me," he said, holding out a hand to me. Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I shook my head, declining his offer.
"I can't. I have to go," I whispered, my chin trembling with my silent tears. I went to grab the handle once more, but he was suddenly in front of me, hands around my biceps, pulling his face down to me.
"Please, don't do this. You can't leave me, you can't," he pleaded, his Adam's-apple bobbing, tears streaming from his eyes, his grip on my arms tightening with his resolve.
I was going to have to tell him; he left me no choice. That's why I had wanted to take the coward's way out and run. I knew he wouldn't let me go easily. I was like a poison, seeping into the his bloodstream, leaving damage and destruction in its wake.
"You don't understand!" I replied, physically shaking from his touch. He was making everything so much harder.
"And whose fault is that?" he shouted, removing his hands, the hurt evident in his voice. "You don't talk to me any more, Bella. You've shut me out ever since —-" He paused his words, realising what he was about to say. I let loose a whimper, turning my face away from him.
"See, that's what you don't get, Edward," I replied, my own voice rising in pitch with distress. "I killed our baby, I didn't want it, it was all my fault!" I sobbed, tugging at the material over my heart. "It hurts, it hurts so much."
His own tears had started to fall, his eyes filled with anguish. "I didn't know," I bawled. "I didn't know that I would want it. I didn't realise how I would feel. I was just so scared." This was it. I was breaking, my walls were shattering and I was bleeding inside, so much blood.
6 months ago
The laundry basket fell from my hands, spilling the contents across the floor, a mass of different colours blurring my vision. I felt a sharp, cramping pain tearing its way through me, hands holding my stomach, panic-stricken eyes seeing blood trailing down my legs. Why would there be blood? I shouldn't be bleeding. This shouldn't be happening. Something was wrong. Oh God.
My hands shakily reached down to my bare legs, red tainting the skin at my thighs. No, please, no.
"Edward!" I screamed, my heart racing, nausea hitting me, the smell and sight causing a familiar ringing in my ears. I had never dealt well with blood, but this, this was different, too much. Where was he? "Edwaaaaard!" I howled, my voice cracking as I collapsed, legs giving way beneath me. I could feel myself falling, but couldn't do anything to stop it, my vision turning from red, so much red, to a horrifying black.
All I could hear was a constant beeping, my nose feeling itchy. My body felt heavy, my eyelids not wanting to cooperate. I raised a hand to my face, feeling something cold and unfamiliar running across both my cheeks. The beeping noise became marginally faster as I tried to open my eyes. What was going on? I could feel something stuck in my hand, not painful, but unpleasant, awkward. My mouth was so dry, I was thirsty. If I could just open my eyes, I would be able to get a drink.
Then everything hit me at once, playing itself back to me in a cinematic quality, a stark light as its backdrop. The pain I'd felt, the panic... the baby. Oh God. Edward, where was Edward? The beeping got faster still as I started to get restless.
A voice was calling me, almost sounding distant, but getting clearer. It was nearer now, warmth touching my face, my hands. I heard my name; I knew that voice. I licked my dry lips, needing, wanting to speak. The warmth was moving at random across my cheeks, but also mixed with wet skin. Was he crying? The only reason he'd be crying would be if... our baby.
My eyes fluttered open, squinting at the harsh lighting. I recognised this feeling, clarity setting in. I was in a hospital. I was searching, my gaze sweeping from one side of the room to the other... then there he was. His eyes were red... pained. Then I knew, I could feel it. I felt empty, a piece of driftwood floating out to sea, its destination unknown.
He wanted to say it, I could see his mouth opening slightly before closing once more. I could feel the burn of anguish wanting an out, but I didn't cry... I didn't deserve to cry right now.
The tears that ran down his face were separate drops of heartache, each one caused by me. The feeling of me being so unhappy when I first found out I was pregnant, the words I had said to myself flooded my system. This was punishment for that – it was my fault. I had killed my own baby.
My mother was right. I was a poison, the worst kind of venom. After all those times she'd told me I had ruined her life and that I would continue to infect those around me. I realised now she hadn't been wrong.
I wanted to tell him I was sorry, that I was so very sorry. But how do you tell someone that? Words didn't seem capable of explaining what I felt right now.
He just continued to look at me, his hand tightening around mine. The agony in his face matched the one that was encasing my heart.
"I'm so sorry, sweetheart," he whispered, swallowing thickly. Why was he apologising? He hadn't done anything wrong. His lips were on my forehead, my eyes wanting to close and relish in the feeling, but I fought against it. Things were different now.
"You'll always have me. I'm going to look after you no matter what." The monitor was going wild as he whispered calming, loving words against my skin, softly stroking my hair.
That was the very first time I doubted him. I had been so fortunate since leaving my mother. It's funny how everything can change so quickly. For the first time, I realised love may not be enough.
"Please, we can work this out," he begged, motioning between the two of us with his hand. His words cut through my daze, the movement of his hands making me dizzy. I was shaking me my head, begging inside for him to just stop.
"Is this what you've been feeling the whole time?" he asked, the words garbled with tears.
I scrubbed my eyes, wanting to disappear.
He took a step towards me, reaching out to me.
"No!" I shouted, backing away from him. "Don't touch me. I don't want you to touch me." His face crumpled, anger and sadness welling in is eyes. I was screaming on the inside, warring with myself. I had to do this. I had lied to him once before... and now I'd have to do it once again.
"You don't have to do this, you know. You can stay here with me, let me love you. I'll take care of you, I promise, just please don't leave me."
Tears were streaming down my face in an unstoppable torrent, coming in choking sobs that would rattle bones. I was biting my cheek, the taste of rust filling my mouth, bringing nausea with it, reminding me of why I was doing this.
"I don't want to stay with you," I replied, wiping my cheeks manically.
He dropped to his knees, shaking his head. The sight was pure torture. "You don't mean it. You love me, I know you do." He was staring at me with so much intensity, trying to force confessions from my mouth... my heart.
I didn't give him what he needed.
That's when I saw it, that shift in his eyes, the detachment setting in. He was trying to distance himself... shut everything out. It was a sign of not being able to cope.
I grabbed my suitcase, instantly running out the door. It was cruel.
I was cruel.
I hoped the trail of shed clothing I passed in the hallway would act as a trail for someone to find him.
My arms slipped back into the still sodden coat, not caring, welcoming the cold chill. I hesitated with wanting to take my keys, the sight of them by the door so tempting. I palmed my eyes, my head falling to the door. I couldn't breathe.
That's when the sound of screaming and destruction came. I could hear things being smashed, our possessions broken. This immediately spurred me back into motion, the door slamming shut behind me. I pounded my hand against the elevator button, not having the time to use the stairs. It pinged straight away, the relief that I should have felt swallowed by much more potent emotions. The last thing I saw before the mirrored doors closed, was the peeling green paint on ours. It felt symbolic of what had just passed in our bedroom. Green being torn-apart.
People were running around outside, trying to get out of the rain. They were hiding under newspapers and briefcases, not one of them having an umbrella.
No one paid attention to me as I dragged my luggage through the lot. No one noticed my distress. I turned my face up towards the sky, the tears that ran down my face lost to the rain. And as I stood waiting for the approaching bus, I realised I was just like those tears.
I was so utterly lost.