So sorry for the delay, loves. Again, RL has kicked my ass, but things are so much better. I'll be starting regular updates again, which means they'll be coming your way bi-weekly, except for the week of May 17. I'm having surgery, so the update will be delayed a week, unless I can crank out another chapter before then. I'll attempt it, but I have 2 other stories I DESPERATELY have to update, too. This is part filler, part not, but it was needed.
Anyway, I wanna thank my wifey, Sophy, for always being there. I have no idea what I'd do without you, bb. ILY! I wanna thank j_carroll7 for prereading over this last minute for me. You rock, girly! ILY! And last but not least, I wanna thank my readers for sticking with me. I know it's been a long, tough road, but I'm not quitting until this bad boy is completely finished, and I'm so grateful for your continuous support. Much love and I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 13: Is it Fate?
"Lonely Road Of Faith"
Up and down that lonely road of faith
I have been there
Unprepared for the storms and the tides that rise
I've realized one thing, how much I love you
And it hurts to see, see you cryin'
I believe we can make it through the winds of change
"You're fucking kidding me, right?" Tact was not one of my strong suits, but that was a moot point.
The old man grinned, the type of grin that made you want to beat someone with their own goddamn arm, simply because it said they knew something about you that you didn't. "I bet you aren't accused of being word graceful with that mouth of yours."
"No, but I'm accused of being other things with it." Again, tact was not on the scene. Not fucking surprising.
I figured I'd derail him a bit with my response, or at the very least piss him off – I was okay with that - but nothing about his expression said he was surprised by my comment. In fact, the smirk he had in place told me that he'd expected it. "I see some things haven't changed." He cocked his head to the side, eyes slightly squinted as he studied me. Once again, I felt like he was seeing through me. I didn't like it, and I was about to ask him what his goddamn problem was when he full on smiled. "And some things do change."
"What the fuck does that mean?"
He laughed. "That angel of yours been working wonders on you, boy." I knew what he said wasn't meant as a question.
"That's none of your business," I growled.
His smile remained. "Oh, I wasn't expecting an answer from ya. Not when I already know it."
"You don't know shit about me."
He shook his head as he chuckled. "We both know that to be an untrue statement. But if that's what you need to believe in order to sleep at night, then you go right on ahead with it."
How I managed not to fly over the counter and punch the fucker in the jaw was a miracle in itself. "Why don't you do us both a favor and keep your nose out of things that have nothing to do with you. Instead of opening your mouth and saying shit no one wants to hear, why don't you actually do your job and find a book I need."
He came around from behind the desk, but his eyes remained on me, smile still present. "You need a book, heh? Tell me what it is, and I'll let ya know if I have it."
He stopped directly in front of me, but I took a step back before answering him. He was invading my personal space and shit. Not fucking okay. "Pride and Prejudice."
He laughed, the guttural sound echoing through the poorly lit room. "Interesting choice, but I happen to have one copy left. Follow me."
I wasn't too keen on following the asshole – he could be a serial bookstore killer for all I knew – but the book was important to Bella, and I'd already exhausted every other bookstore near Forks. So, if I was going to die in the pits of a rundown bookstore, at least it would have been for a worthy fucking cause. Unfortunately for me, Bella wouldn't know that fact because she'd never get the book if I was dead, but I digress. I mean, it's the thought that counts, right?
I followed behind as he weaved through book aisles in search of Bella's book. I didn't walk too closely, though. I left enough space just in case I had to make a quick escape. I may have been following him, but I wasn't a complete dumb ass.
After we'd made it halfway to China and back from this one little book store – the aisles were fucking endless and apparently road mapped to other countries – he stopped mid aisle and reached upward, grabbing a book off the top shelf of the book case.
Dust particles came tumbling down, polluting the air. I could feel the asthma settling in my fucking lungs. "Jesus, do you ever clean this shit?"
"I don't get many customers these days," he chuckled.
"No kidding? That wouldn't be because coming here is hazardous to their health, would it? Come for a book and leave with asbestos? That's a sweet deal if I ever heard one."
He narrowed his eyes. "I don't see comedy in your future."
I pretended to be disappointed and frowned for effect. "There you go ruining a young man's dreams. Now what am I gonna do when I grow up? I have nothing to fall back on."
"Smart ass," he mumbled. He held the book out to me. "Here's what you're looking for."
I reached for it, but he gripped the book tight between his fingers, keeping me from pulling it free from his grasp, as he stared me dead in the eyes. "I can't imagine someone like you wanting anything to do with a book like this, so I'm venturing a guess that's it's for your angel. The fact that you're here getting this for her proves you aren't completely lost, boy." I rolled my eyes, probably because I didn't have anything clever to fucking say at the moment – that was a goddamn shocker - but my hold loosened on the book, anyway.
"You care about her, and someone who is lost, they don't much care about anything, let alone another human being. Love is a wondrous thing, boy. It heals a person's soul in ways you never expected. Like I told you before, you can fight all you want, but when an angel comes along and sets her sights on you, fighting is a waste of energy - it's just counterproductive. You gotta let her heal what's broken."
"You have a point with this shit?"
"Point is, she's your fate, and you can't fight fate."
I had no idea why I stood there listening to the shit he was saying, and even more, why I responded back, but my legs held me in place and my mouth opened, spilling words out. "You keep going on and on with these sermons, but the thing I can't figure out is why you care. My life doesn't affect you at all."
He let go of the book, sighing loudly as he stared at me. "You're right. What happens to you technically doesn't affect me at all. I could keep to myself and let the cards fall as they may, but I've been down the road you're headed, and if interfering where maybe I shouldn't keeps you from making the mistakes I did, then I'll live with my choices. Some mistakes you just can't take back. You need to remember that."
"I'm not you," I spat.
"No, you're not," he agreed. "But you could end up like I did, and that's something I'd wish on no one. My angel saved me, and I've been doing a lot since to try to redeem myself for the things I've done in my past. As I said, some things you can't undo. But you, you still got time to change. You aren't that far gone yet, and you're younger than I was when I self-destructed. Trust me when I tell you that you don't wanna go down that road. It leads right to hell."
"I hate to break it to you, but I'm already there."
He smirked, and again, it was the type that said he held the knowledge of something I didn't. "You haven't seen hell yet, boy, but it'll welcome you with open arms if that's what you want. The choice is yours to make, just be sure you're ready for what's to come." He pointed toward the book. "The one you came here for, she's your second chance, and throwing it away would be in vain.
"I'm trying to help you, maybe because I want you to have the choice I didn't. You can take my advice or leave it. The decision is ultimately yours. But know this, if you continue down that road, you aren't the only one paying the price for it." His eyes shifted down toward the book, then back to me. "She'll pay the price, too, along with anyone else who cares about you."
I was done, I'd heard enough, and I was ready to leave. I reached into my pocket, pulled out a twenty and tossed it at him. I had no idea if it was enough for the book, but I didn't fucking care. "I don't need your help, and I sure as hell didn't ask for it. Keep the fuck out of my life."
As I turned around and headed toward the door, I heard him say, "You do, more than you know, and you'll be back, boy."
After leaving the bookstore, I was in a pretty shitty mood. I gripped the steering wheel tight within my hands as I traveled back to Forks, trying to relieve some of the frustration I felt before I met up with Bella.
Buildings, cars, street lights, pretty much everything was a blur as I drove. I couldn't focus on my surroundings too well because I was too lost in my head and how I was feeling.
The old man had a way of getting under my skin, making me fucking angry, yet I'd actually mull over what he said. I sure as hell didn't get why, because I couldn't stand that he seemed to see right inside me like Bella could, but then I thought a part of me, the part that Bella opened up, figured if he turned out okay, then there was still hope for me.
I knew that I was tired of being tired inside from wanting all the pain to hollow me out so I couldn't feel anything. Feeling like that was so goddamn exhausting, and when I was with Bella, she made me realize that everything wasn't so bleak or blanketed with pain; there were things worth living for. Hell, there were things worth feeling for. And I wanted it all with her, I did, yet I constantly questioned whether I deserved it.
But I was still angry at how the old man picked me apart, dissecting every piece and learning shit about me I didn't want him to know. I was angry yet hopeful at the same time. Maybe that made me a walking contradiction. I guess I was angry at myself for feeling hopeful at all. My mom wasn't able to feel anything anymore, and here I was actually feeling something good. That shit wasn't fair.
I pulled into the parking lot of the store five minutes before Bella's break started. I was still stewing over the bookstore incident, not to mention the other shit going through my mind like a repetitive horror flick. It was a vicious cycle.
When I was alone, that's when everything that threatened to weigh me down sunk its hooks into me, letting me know it was still there, always there, waiting for its time to tear me apart. But when I was with Bella, I almost felt like someone else. I felt more anchored.
Even still, I knew that the dark in me constantly warred against the light I found through Bella, but I had no idea which part would win and where that would leave me.
I took a deep breath, running my hands roughly down my face, before I opened the car door and made my way inside the store. I went through the back because I didn't feel like dealing with anyone but Bella. I waited by the time clock for her.
As soon as she saw me, her eyes lit up and she smiled. "Hey. You haven't been waiting long, have you?"
I shook my head. "No." My tone was gruffer than I intended.
The smile fell and worry settled over her features. "You okay?"
I ran my fingers through my hair. "Can we just go out to my car?"
Her eyes traveled over my face, like clues to what might be wrong could possibly be embedded within my skin, before she nodded slowly. "Okay."
I turned around and headed out the back door, hearing the time clock as I pushed my way outside. I stood looking toward the darkened sky. Seconds later, the door opened and shut behind me. "Edward?"
My focus locked on a star that was brighter than others surrounding it. I wondered if it was a coincidence. "Yeah?"
She sighed, then I felt her hand on my back. The warmth of her touch permeated through my jacket. "Is something wrong? You seemed okay in the texts earlier. I just… Did I do something?"
I didn't turn around. "No."
"Then what's wrong?" she asked. "What happened from the time we talked until now?"
"Bella, I really don't want to talk about it."
"I understand. I just thought that maybe if you-"
I turned around, raising my voice. "I said I don't want to talk about it. Leave it alone." My anger wasn't meant for her, but it ended up directed at her, anyway. The words, the anger, it happened before I could stop it, proving the old man right, and that just pissed me off more.
The look on her face, like I'd slapped her, causing pain, it immediately sickened me to the pit of my stomach. She was the last person in this world I wanted to hurt, yet I'd just hurt her.
She walked past me, finally stopping but with several feet distance between us. I hated the fucking distance, and I hated that she was disappointed in me because I once again had to act like an asshole. None of this was her fault, and disappointing her was like ripping out my guts. "You can't just act like that with me, Edward. Not now. Not after everything. We're not breaking ground between us, then back stepping. I won't do that. You don't want to talk to me, okay, but I need you to at least trust in me."
"I do," I told her, trying to emphasize through my tone that I was telling the truth. "You're probably the only fucking person I do trust, Bella. Do you realize how hard that shit is to admit?"
She turned back around, nodding. "Yes, I do." Her eyes were staring into mine and not beyond me, thankfully. "But I think-"
I shook my head as I stepped forward, reaching for her. I just needed to feel her and the strength her touch gave me. "I don't think you do realize what it's like for me. It's you, Bella." I wrapped my arms around her waist, pulling her body against mine. She didn't fight me, just sighed, and I was thankful for that shit because I needed her. "Jesus, I can't even fucking breathe without feeling you run through my veins. Do you have any idea what it's like to be so consumed by one person that you feel them in everything you do?"
Her right hand came up to caress my face as a single tear slid down her cheek. "Yes."
My eyes closed at her touch. "You do, heh?"
I felt her warm breath on my skin as she spoke. It sent these goddamn electric chills up my spine. "Yes, Edward, I do. It's not any different for me, you know? I always think about you, always feel you around me..." She swallowed thickly as she paused. "I always miss you to the point my chest aches if I'm not near you. It terrifies me to feel this way about you."
I opened my eyes, meeting hers, before asking her the same damn question I'd been asking myself. "Why does it terrify you?"
"Because you're so unpredictable." She glanced away briefly before looking back at me. "And because the way I feel about you, it makes it possible for you to hurt me in a way no one else could. You could break this heart in my chest. It may not really be mine, but you could break it… and I'd feel it."
"That's not going to fucking happen, Bella. I'm not going anywhere." No matter what else I tried to lie to myself about, the one thing I did know and couldn't deny was that leaving her wasn't a possibility now.
"You don't know what will happen. Neither of us have any idea what the future holds."
"You're right," I agreed. "We don't, but I know how I feel right now… about you. I know what the fuck I want. Doesn't that count for anything?"
Her eyes cast downward as she drew her bottom lip into her mouth, biting it nervously, still so unsure of herself and how I viewed her. I didn't like the doubt she carried, not when it came to me, but I guess my asshole tendencies didn't help that much. "How… how do you feel right now, Edward? What do you want?"
"I know that this shit between us, Bella, the way I feel when I'm with you, that's something I don't want to lose. It took a long time for me to admit that to myself and to you, because we both know I can be a major dick about things, like tonight, but I want you. I always want you. That's how I feel, and that's what the fuck I want."
Her eyes shifted back upward, looking right into mine. More tears glided down her cheeks. "But how do you-"
I shook my head, immediately silencing her words, while gripping her chin and forcing her to keep from looking away, because I knew she was about to. "No buts, Bella. You told me that I needed to trust you, but you gotta do the same with me. I know I don't make it easy, and I'm gonna try to do better with that, but trust that I want you, that I'm going to keep wanting you, because I do. You're the only thing in this goddamn world that I know I can't be without, angel eyes. I never thought I'd be able to say that shit and mean it, but I do. I can't go back now. You're too important to me."
"Then why did you shut down on me tonight? Why were you so angry with me when you got here?"
I held her in my arms still, but glanced off into the darkness beyond us. "I was angry, yeah, but it wasn't you I that was angry with. That's not an excuse for why I treated you like I did. There are things, Bella, things you don't know. There's shit inside my head that fucks with me in ways I can't begin to explain."
"Edward, please look at me." The way she pleaded with me, I couldn't deny her what she asked, so I gave her what she wanted. Her eyes stared into mine, always searching. I could also tell she was starting to get cold. "Is that… what happened tonight?"
I shrugged. "Yes and no. I mean, it didn't just happen. I kinda had some help."
She shook her head, her forehead creased in confusion. Her teeth were starting to chatter from the cold. "I d-don't understand what you m-mean."
I took a step back, dropping my arms from around her, and reached for her hand. "Come to the car with me where it's warm and I'll explain."
She followed behind willingly, and as soon as we were seated inside, I started the car, turning the heater on high to warm it up. She was shivering, and I hated the idea of her being uncomfortable in anyway. I'd already done enough tonight to make her feel that way.
"You still cold?" I asked. She nodded. I scooted the driver's seat back, making more room, then motioned to her with my finger. "Come here, baby." I reached for her, pulling her onto my lap, and wrapped my arms around her. Once she was seated comfortably, she rested her head against my shoulder – her legs were stretched out onto the passenger seat - and snuggled into me.
"You smell good," she whispered against my neck.
I kissed the top of her head, inhaling the strawberry scent that was Bella. "Mmmm… So do you."
"So what happened tonight?" she asked.
I chuckled. I should have known she wouldn't let it go. "You don't forget anything, do you?"
I felt her shake her head against my shoulder. "Nope."
I exhaled deeply, then wrapped my arms around her, holding her close. "The morning after what happened between us in the hallway at my place, everything was getting to me, mostly how I felt about you. I couldn't fucking sleep because it was all I was thinking about. I knew you were in Alice's room, right there, and I wanted you so much, but I told myself it couldn't happen. It got to be too much, you know, so I got up and put some clothes on, then took off. I ended up in the woods across the street. I kept on, figuring I could somehow outrun everything, and I ended up running into this old man. I really don't know how to explain what happened, but the asshole seemed to just know shit about me."
She lifted her head to look me in the eyes. "Like what?"
"Like everything. He knew I was running away from things I didn't want to shoulder. He said he could see pain inside me because someone who knows pain well recognizes it in others. He knew about you." Her eyes widened. "Well, at least that there was someone who was good for me that I didn't want to let in. He told me I wouldn't be able to shut you out, that I wouldn't be able to stay away from you. He was right about that, wasn't he? I couldn't stay away from you. But the whole conversation was still odd."
"Yeah," she agreed. "Even if he was pretty accurate. They say everything does happen for a reason, though."
"You mean, like, destiny?"
She shrugged. "I guess. Or fate."
"I don't know if I believe in that shit, Bella."
"I think maybe you do, you just don't want to admit it to yourself. We all have a destination, Edward. Some people believe we control our fate, but there are some things we can't control and some things we can't change. You and I both know that. We have choices, yes, which is part of free will, but our paths are already laid out for us. The ending destination will always be the same, even if some choices take us down other paths."
I suppose I shouldn't have been so shocked by what she said. "When did you get so deep on me, Swan?"
She smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. "When I realized time wasn't on my side."
"Don't say that shit." I didn't even want to think about what that meant.
She cradled my face within her hands. "You know what I meant." She pressed her lips against mine, and not that I didn't love kissing Bella, I knew it was meant to distract me. "Was that all that happened with him?"
"Huh?" Obviously I'd been thoroughly distracted.
"The old man you were talking about, was that all that happened?"
"Oh, yeah, pretty much. He just went on to give me advice and shit. It was unwanted, but he didn't seem to care."
"So all of this tonight was about what happened then, when you came across this man?"
"No." I shook my head. "I saw him again tonight when I went looking for your book."
I nodded. "Let me tell you, that book was not fucking easy to find, and the last damn bookstore I end up in just happens to be his."
"Really? So what happened?" she asked.
"We recognized each other, of course. I asked about the book, he said he had it, I followed him to get it, then he proceeded to do what he does best, which is interfering in my life."
"Well, what did he say?"
"What didn't he say? I mean, it was pretty much the same shit as before, but he said he could tell I was different, and that it was obviously because of you. He said I needed to let you heal me, whatever that meant. He told me I still had time to change, and the only reason he was saying anything was to help me."
"And what did you say to that?"
"I told him I didn't need his help, but he seemed to think differently. It just… The whole thing pissed me off, Bella."
She pressed her forehead to mine, smiling. "It's because you don't like being figured out, Edward. It sounds a lot like the way you were with me." I started to cut her off, but she stopped me. "Just hear me out, okay? I'm not saying that it was that man's place to interfere or that it wasn't strange, and I know there are things you haven't told me, like what happened with your mom, but I'm hoping eventually you will. Sometimes talking to people helps in ways you don't expect.
"Telling you about my transplant was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I felt lighter after I did, like I was free…" She paused, contemplating something before she began speaking again. "Maybe, maybe your paths crossing happened for a reason. Maybe you were meant to meet him."
I didn't believe meeting this man had anything to do with fate. "I really don't think meeting him has anything to do-"
"That's all I'm saying. Just think about it," she interrupted. "I have to get back to work now." She started to move off me, but I gripped her hand, holding her in place.
"Hold on a second," I told her. "I have something for you." She leaned back against the steering wheel as I reached around to the backseat, grabbing the book off the floorboard. I turned back around, handing it to her, and the smile I was rewarded with made that familiar warmth suffuse through my chest.
"Thank you," she whispered before leaning forward and pressing her lips against mine.
"Anytime." I meant that shit, too.
I walked her back inside, because I didn't want to leave her, stealing another kiss before I left. The moment I stepped back into the cool darkness, thoughts started running rampant within my head. I knew I was in for a long fucking night.
I barely heard the alarm when it went off, but that fact didn't negate the damn thing ending up on my bedroom floor. I hadn't gotten much sleep because of the commotion inside my head. I had a lot to think about, and unfortunately, my mind wanted to dwell on it when I should have been sleeping.
I drug myself out of bed. It wasn't an easy fucking feat, but I managed. After a ten minute shower, mostly to wake my ass up, I got dressed and left without any breakfast. I headed to straight to Bella's – I really needed to see her - but when I got there, her truck was already gone.
I was a bit disappointed, because I'd wanted to spend a little time with her before school, but I knew I'd at least see her for a few minutes before final bell.
Her truck was already in the parking lot when I got there, sitting empty, so I parked beside her. She wasn't waiting at her locker when I made it inside, so I figured maybe she'd be waiting at mine. She wasn't there, but Alice was.
She smiled, though cautiously, when she saw me. "Bella wanted me to let you know that she had to talk to Mr. Berty about something to do with her report, but she'd see you between classes."
"Yeah, thanks. But why didn't she wait for me this morning at her place?"
She shrugged. "I don't know." The smile she tried to stave off told me otherwise.
"Right. Anyway, I have to get my books and get to class," I told her.
She actually bobbed up and down on her heels as she smiled at me. I was waiting for a ray of sunshine to burst out her ass. The shit was seriously creeping me out. "Yep. I guess I'll see you later."
I shook my head as she walked away and proceeded to open my locker. As soon as it was completely open, light from the hallway reflected off something that was sitting on the top shelf of my locker, catching my eye. It was a glass shaped heart.
I leaned back, looking down both ends of the hallway, before picking it up and noticing there was something inside it. I lifted the lid, and inside was a folded yellow paper, a small silver key beside it.
I knew then this little glass heart was the reason behind Alice being a bit too lively toward me this morning. I opened the paper, instantly recognizing Bella's handwriting.
I thought a lot about our conversation last night. You know, the whole fate and destiny thing? So much has happened since I moved here to Forks, but I can honestly say that I'm glad I did, mostly because of you. It hasn't always been easy, but I have no regrets.
I guess that's what all this is about. It's about me doing what feels right in the moment, while I can, so I don't have regrets later. I don't want to miss a chance I should have taken. Meeting you made me realize that. Only God knows what time I have left on this earth, but I want to truly live while I'm on it. I know what you're thinking, and I'm okay. Nothing is wrong. That's not the reason behind this letter, so you can put that worry to ease.
I just wanted to tell you that you gave me something I never thought I'd have, Edward. You gave me the opportunity to truly feel for someone else. I'm sitting here looking at this paper, scared at what I'm admitting, and I can't believe I'm writing these words, but it doesn't change what I feel. I know that might scare you, to know that I feel that way, but I needed you to understand that no matter what demons you carry from your past, how damaged you might believe yourself to be, you still have the capacity to make someone feel something so deeply for you. You're a good man, and I believe in you.
That glass heart represents what beats inside my chest, what I feel for you. I've given you the key, Edward. As you can see, it's fragile, but this is me trusting in you enough to hand it over. Please take good care of it.
I stood there, staring openmouthed at the letter Bella wrote. In my other hand was Bella's heart, figuratively speaking. She was trusting in me to keep it safe, not to break it, and I'd be lying if I said that being responsible for something so precious didn't scare the shit out of me.
I was feeling a whirl wind of emotions slamming into me one after another. This heart represented so much more, meant we were more, meant I had to be more for her. As I stared down at the glass heart, seeing the silver key lying inside, I knew it also meant that I finally had to admit to myself what I felt for Bella. I had fallen for her.
Next update will be in Bella's pov. Hope you enjoyed.