A/N: Thanks for the warm welcome guys. I'm truly amazed by how many of you are still reading this! A lot of you have been asking for E's back story. I didn't want to reveal it yet because it would be angst overload, but I changed my mind based on your feedback. A big thanks to Mels for pre-reading this.
So here's the next angsty chapter - brace yourselves…this is it.
Recap: He suddenly dropped to his knees, grasping my thighs with his arms, pressing his face against my thighs. He didn't care that it was freezing, and the rain was pounding hard on us. His voice was hoarse with emotion when he spoke next, his words so strong that I nearly staggered with their force.
"Please don't do this, Bella. I can't let you go," he said brokenly, "I love you far too much."
Chapter 27 – Stunning Revelations
After weeks of Edward's silence, tonight was different. Tonight it was me that was quiet. Edward kept murmuring, apologizing as we walked through the heavy rain, but all his pleas fell on silent ears.
My mind held me back as I contemplated the basis of our relationship. Had the lines become blurred somewhere along the way, I asked myself. Had I confused my gratitude for Edward's support as affection? Had Edward's fierce need for protecting me been mistaken for love?
I turned towards him, watching him through the sheets of rain and knew right then that I was definitely not mistaken. Even with his dark hair matted against his forehead and his face bruised, he was so beautiful; it hurt to just look at him. I felt my heart break as deep green eyes full of self-doubt and guilt stared at me. Gone was the Edward who silenced people with just one look.
His lashes, wet with rain, lowered, as he turned his face away, so all I could see was the bruised side of his face. I pressed my lips as Edward's humiliation burned like a hot flame in my core.
All because of Aro, I thought as I silently glared through the rain. That thought alone made me stop abruptly in front of the Franco's house, and I dug my heels as Edward pulled on my hand.
He turned back, his face confused and weary with exhaustion. His eyes questioned my sudden hesitance.
"I need to know," I said while staring into his eyes.
And then I pulled my hand back.
Edward took in a deep breath, closing his eyes. When he opened his eyes, they were tired.
"Don't make me do this today."
"I want answers, Edward. This time I'm not backing down," I said, standing my ground even though it hurt to push him like this. But deep down I knew that if I didn't push him today, he would never tell me.
He turned away from me, his back muscles straining through his white shirt as he gripped his wet hair.
"You don't want to hear this, Bella. You're not ready," he paused then turned back around, his face suddenly vulnerable. "No, it's not you. It's me. I'm…I'm not ready," he said.
I couldn't help but think of him as a child with his hair messed from constantly pulling on them, his face open and fearful.
"If you can't tell me then you'll have to let me go," I said, my voice breaking as the words slipped from my lips.
Edward cringed slightly, shutting his eyes as though he was in pain. Perhaps some would say I should have given more time, given him the opportunity to tell me. But this was what was holding both of us back. I had reached my limit…I needed to know.
When he looked up at me, his eyes were fathomless. His jaw clenched as anger hardened his features. He whipped a cigarette out, lighting it and taking a deep drag.
My heart started to beat heavily in my chest. This was it. He was finally going to tell me.
"Elizabeth was raped."
Whatever I expected, it was never those words. I stumbled back, my back hitting the wall behind.
"Shocked?" Edward asked with a mocking smile, his face dark with hatred. "So was Aro. Want to guess who my father really was, Bella?"
I felt sick as a bout of nausea hit me.
"That's right, Bella. It was the rapist. The bastard got away, but he left me in his wake," he said harshly.
"Elizabeth had been in the middle of planning her wedding to Aro when it happened. And just like that, everything got destroyed," he said, his voice suddenly filled with sadness. "Remember that picture in my apartment? It was taken ten days before the incident."
He was quiet for a few moments, exhaling the smoke through his nose such that he was immersed in a white cloud, making him appear untouchable. Feeling strangely weak, I supported myself on the bench in front of the house, clasping the cool metal. Mercifully, the rain had stopped.
"It wouldn't have been so bad if Elizabeth hadn't been pregnant with me. Aro was supportive, but he wouldn't allow his future wife to have someone else's bastard child."
Edward let out a laugh although it was hoarse. I looked over his tortured face as he continued.
"It boggles my mind. I still can't figure out why she decided to keep me. It was a stupid mistake, she destroyed her life," he said spitefully.
"It was because she loved you," I said softly.
His head snapped up instantly, and he straightened from the wall he was leaning against. His fists clenched in fury. "No," he said with anger and pain in his eyes. "Elizabeth never loved me. She hated me."
"That's not true," I protested against my better sense, "No mother could ever hate her child."
"Wrong!" He said contemptuously, eyes blazing. "It's easy for you to say. Wouldn't you have felt the same way if you were in her place?" He asked, challenging.
"I have already been in her place," I said sternly, angrily looking at him. "That was a low blow, Edward."
"Fuck!" He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, "I didn't mean it like that. All this shit always gets the best of me. "
"What happened then?" I asked, suddenly desperate to hear more.
"What else could have happened? Francine insisted that Elizabeth have an abortion, but Elizabeth refused. In rebellion, she changed her last name to Masen. A few months later, she gave birth to me, and Aro retaliated by calling off their engagement."
"She wasn't a good mother, but then I would have never expected her to be. The family, too, never completed accepted me," he said quietly. "When I was a child, it really hurt. It started out in little ways, Francine's ever-present glare or family get-togethers where I was left behind. I couldn't understand the animosity against me. After all, I never had a mother who would reassure me at night."
"When did you find out?" I asked, wiping the tears on my cheeks.
"I was ten," he said, his voice distant, "I didn't even know what bastard meant. I just knew that I was one," he said bitterly, "I overheard Aro talking with Elizabeth. He had come to our house. I'll never forget the way she cried that night. When she noticed me standing in the corridor, she gave me this look. And I knew right then that she hated me, that she regretted giving birth to me. I had destroyed her life."
"Things changed after that. I was no longer the child hungering for his mother's affection. I hated her just as much as she hated me," he said venomously.
"Franco started working for Elizabeth as her right hand man. Somewhere along the way, he became a fatherly figure for me," Edward said, smiling faintly. "Always picking up the pieces when things went wrong," he said, shaking his head.
"I became a dare-devil, pulling dangerous stunts because I got high on the adrenaline rush. But it aggravated Elizabeth like hell. Maybe that was why it thrilled me because I thought she cared," he said sadly.
"I never thought things would end the way they did. One day we got into a harsh argument about my behavior. She said she was sorry that she had given birth me. You see, Elizabeth never yelled, she just said what she wanted to so calmly that it always hit harder than it would if she would have shouted."
"I told her that she was a sorry excuse for a mother. I told her that I was sorry I was born, and that maybe she should have aborted me while she could. She went all quiet and I left because I couldn't stand the sight of her." Edward became quiet, drawing in a deep breath.
"That was the last time I saw her. She committed suicide right after I left."
I drew in a sharp breath as my eyes flew to Edward. Edward's eyes were red, wet with tears.
"And now I'll always have to live with the fact that it was my fault."
I got up and went to him, wrapping myself around him, hugging him tightly to me.
"I'm so sorry," I mumbled against his wet shirt.
"You know what hurt more, Bella? She never included me in her will. I don't care about the money, but it hurt that she had practically disowned me."
"Shhh," I hushed, dragging my fingers through his unruly hair as he rested his forehead against my shoulder.
Taking his hand, I guided him inside the house. Once inside, I pulled out a chair for him before grabbing towels for us. I placed a towel in front of Edward as I used one to dry my hair and body.
"How did you start working for Masen & Cullen's corp?" I asked, frowning at the towel that sat untouched in front of Edward.
Edward smiled but it was without humor. "Ironically, it was Francine that wanted me to start working for Masen and Cullens. Alice and Emmett weren't interested in working for the company. In fact, neither was I. I always wanted to become a pianist, but she guilted me into it, making me think that it was the least I owed the family for paying for my education," he said, shaking his head.
"I was bright and did well at school. After graduating, I started working for Francine and soon she promoted me to CEO. And everything was going well until…" he trailed off, looking in the distance.
"Until I came into the picture," I said, my fingers clenching in the towel as a horrible realization began to dawn.
"And Aro found out about what happened to you. He tried to put the blame on me. Not only that, he tried to churn up the media about some background deal that we were trying to pull behind Lauren and Tyler's company. That man is one sick fuck," Edward said spitefully, glaring down at the table but failing to notice my expression.
Pressing my back against the wall, I try to calm myself knowing I was just being silly for my thoughts. Voice trembling, I began.
"Edward…you don't blame yourself for Elizabeth's death anymore…do you?"
Slightly alarmed by my voice, he looked up. "What's wrong? Why are you looking at me like that?" He asked, getting up, his face creasing with worry.
He began to reach for me, but I stepped back abruptly. Feeling dread come over me, I stared at him.
"What is this about? Of course, I blame myself for it, Bella. If I hadn't said what I did, she would still be alive."
He was quiet, then staring at me directly, he said. "I know it was my fault, Bella. It'll always be. My whole existence destroyed her life. And I can never forget that."
"You can't forgive yourself?" I whispered. "Is that why you married me?" I asked, clenching my fists as despair washed over me.
"Did you think that by helping a raped woman you would be able to lessen your guilt? That maybe Elizabeth would forgive you?"
Edward paled, stepping forward, reaching towards me.
"Don't touch me!" I shouted as angry tears began to run down my face. "Do I look like a fucking charity case to you, Edward Masen?"
He pulled back as though he had been slapped. I moved forward, grasping his wet shirt.
"Is there a sticker on my head that says 'atonement'? Did you ever think?" I cried as I shook him. "Did you ever for a minute think what it would do to me when I found that the man I was marrying…" my voice wavered, "…was marrying me because he feels some misplaced sense of guilt?"
"Fuck, Bella. It wasn't like that!" Edward protested, touching my trembling shoulders. It didn't matter what he said, I was beyond hearing.
"Shut up!" I shouted, pushing him away. I pushed my fists against my eyes as tears seeped uninhibited. How could things have ever gone so wrong?
"Listen to me, Bella," he shouted, aggravated. "That was never a reason! I married you because I wanted to, not because I felt guilty. It was the only way I could help you!"
"It doesn't matter what you were thinking," I said shaking my head, still feeling overwhelmed but slightly calmer.
"All your life you felt that you destroyed Elizabeth's life. To you it was a chance," I said sadly, "By protecting me from exposure, you were seeking redemption for a sin you had never committed."
Edward clenched his fists, "I swear, Bella, it was never like that. I wouldn't marry you for that. I wanted you."
I shook my head morosely, it didn't matter what he thought. His sense of guilt was so deep that he didn't even realize it was influencing his decisions in life. I realized that I couldn't blame him. His mind was conditioned in such a way right from the start.
"Oh Edward, what have you done? You don't marry someone just because you can't forgive yourself or because you feel that you deserve to be punished," I said sadly, regretting what I was going to say next.
"Look," he said, grasping my shoulders firmly, "forget everything I said. Forget everything that's happened. We'll move away, take a new start. Start a new page in life," he said earnestly, hope glimmering brightly in his green glassy eyes.
I hated that I had to be the one to break the dreams in his eyes. Maybe he could forget, but I would never be able to.
Besides, Edward deserved someone normal; not someone with so much emotional baggage. He deserved someone who didn't freak out at the thought of making love. He deserved to be able to live without guilt, to be able to choose his significant other without thinking of ways of pleasing his deceased mother.
I knew he might never get those things with me. After all, marriages shouldn't be based on sacrifices or guilt. They should be built on love.
Our marriage was a sacrifice and would always be one.
And I couldn't bear to live with that.
Looking up in to those bright green eyes, I forced myself to say the words that would change our destiny.
"I think we need a break, Edward."
A/N: I know…I'm sorry…it was always the back-story. You guys asked for it!
Don't feel disheartened, I promise things will look better soon. I am dying to hear what you guys have to say about this chapter – I was very apprehensive about posting it, I almost didn't want to post it.
Feel free to leave suggestions….trust me, it definitely influences what I write. Thanks for reading!