"Alright, my sweet.", I finally said a couple hours later, "I think you're all milked out for now."
He was panting….and staring me down with a look that would have killed if I were still human. If he could sweat, he'd be soaked. But he just hung there, limply, and I left his chains in place, including the one at the base of his cock.
"You sure make a lot of noise.", I said coolly, "For someone who knows so much about control and discipline."
I grinned back at him.
"Maybe you just need more practice, boy.", I stroked his chest gently, "I have some time for you again tomorrow."
"When I get out of this…", his voice was low and deadly. I was almost afraid.
"Now that you're warmed up," I ignored his threats, "We can get to the real game."
Edward kept staring at me, almost snarling in his anger.
"What's that?", he asked, his eyes hard and piercing, "You gonna set my dick on fire or something?"
"Oooh, nice idea…", I grabbed his hair, "Or I could break it off and take it to another room to play with it…but not yet. First you better get rid of the angry face."
I stared at him and slowly, his face turned back to a blank expression. He tried to hide the anger, but I could still see it.
"Address me properly, pig.", I demanded.
He kept looking straight ahead, not in my eyes.
Then with a cold tone, he replied, "Yes, Mistress. Thank you for disciplining me Mistress."
He was like a robot.
"It needs work, slut.", I quoted Edward again, letting his hair go, "I'm not feeling the love."
He didn't answer…or look at me. What a brat. If I had done that to HIM…forget it!
"It's okay.", I kissed him and got no kiss back, in fact, he jerked his head away from mine, "I can always go back to milking you…"
"I'm sorry Mistress.", he made his voice softer…no edge to it.
I rolled my eyes and walked away from him, letting him worry about it for a few seconds.
"Please don't… milk me again…please, please…", he begged, "I'll do anything else…I'm sorry I was being angry…I'm sorry I underestimated you…"
"Alright !", I yelled, shutting him up.
He looked so relieved. He even smiled at me a little. I think that's a bit of respect shining in his eyes at me.
"The new game is called Interrogation.", I announced.
He paid attention but didn't catch on yet. God, he's pretty.
"I ask you a question.", I said, "You give a truthful answer. If not…I have ways of making you talk."
"Yes Mistress.", he agreed, "But may the slave ask a question?"
"Good boy." I was impressed by the nice manners, "Yes, ask."
"May I please, if it pleases you," he injected, "May I please have the chain off my…"
He threw his eyes down to his penis. Mr. Old Fashioned.
"Say it slave.", I enjoyed his goody two shoes attitude sometimes.
"Off my…penis?", he almost growled the word, embarrassed.
"Does it hurt, boy?", I asked, checking it.
"Well, not at the moment…", he began, "But—"
"To control a man's cock is to control HIM.", I quoted from Tanya, "No. It does not please me to release you. Now shut up about it."
He let out a hard breath, clearly not happy with my answer. Tough.
"First question.", I looked right into his eyes, in all seriousness.
He thought we were still playing…until I asked it.
"What did you do to my father?", I asked flat out.
His face went even whiter than it usually was. His mouth fell open and seconds later, his face frowned.
"I told you.", he said sternly, "I don't know."
"Wrong answer.", I turned to the table of toys.
"Bella…", he said, "You know that—"
"You know, Edward.", I began, cutting him off, preparing my tools, "The threesome we had last week was really educational. Not only did I get to see you work two girls at the same time…but I also picked up a couple tricks about…how vampires hurt other vampires…"
"Bella…", he warned, watching me closely.
"I knew Tanya would jump at the chance to play with YOU.", I informed, "And it seemed a lot smarter than going up to you and asking directly."
Then I lit up the little propane blowtorch thingy Edward had shown me awhile back.
Edward froze in place, recalling it.
"Remember this cute little thing?" I smiled as he stared back at me, and a touch of fear arose in his eyes.
"I remember you telling me all about this.", I played with it, careful not to let the blue flame touch my skin. "Branding…"
"Bet you'd never dreamed it would be the other way around, did you, pet?"
I walked around behind him as his head tried to follow me. I heard him gulp down a swallow.
"Now Edward…", I grabbed his hair and spoke into his ear, "You may not believe this, but I don't want to hurt you at all. Like I told you when we first met…I just want the truth. And you will tell me the truth. Please just tell me. We can handle it together, no matter what you say. And I won't have to hurt you."
He hesitated and almost spoke but then stopped himself, shaking his head…stubborn.
"Please Edward?", I asked, almost begged, "I love you, you can tell me anything."
Silence. He was a stern statue.
"Please don't make me do this.", I said one last time.
"Fuck you…Mistress.", he sneered, looking me up and down with disgust…waiting…not thinking I would do it.
"Okay.", I let out a disappointed breath, "I'll start off slow. I hope you'll trust me and tell me, though."
He was silent. Come on, good Edward…you should be able to break out of your cage now…your jailer is preoccupied.
I chose to start out on his toes that were already flexing to keep him balanced. I had seen Edward use this on Tanya during our threesome. He just placed it a couple inches away, and it would burn her, but it didn't scar the skin or do any permanent damage.
"One last chance.", I looked up at his eyes and they looked away, his jaw set.
Okay, time to be an evil bitch, I guess.
So I fanned the little flame across Edward's toes…steeling myself to withstand his screams and noises of rage.
An hour later, I still didn't have an answer.
"Come on, Edward, you can't take this forever.", I informed, twisting his hand behind him and letting the flame lick against his clenched fingers.
"RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!", he screamed out, trying to be strong. He was weakening, I could see it.
"YOU FUCKING BITCH!", he spat out suddenly, "You never cared about ME at ALL! This WHOLE FUCKING TIME! YOU PLANNED THIS WHOLE FUCKING THING?"
"I said, I ask the questions.", I replied, and placed the flame against his palm.
He screeched out again and I yelled over his voice.
"Talk, Edward, TALK!", I demanded, "Talk and it stops!"
"FUCKING WHORE!", he growled, "LIEING FUCKING WHORE!"
"What did you do?", I repeated, "TELL ME!"
"FUCK YOU!", he struggled, trying to free his hand.
"Alright Edward.", I informed, stopping the flame on his palm, "I'm tired of playing with you. Say AAAH."
I parted his ass cheeks and inserted the spout in, not turning the flame on yet.
"NOOO NO NO NO NO !", he begged, clenching his ass and struggling.
"Start talking then."
He wept and looked down. I waited.
"Ten seconds Edward.", I warned.
"ALRIGHT!", he shouted and the ground nearly shook.
I counted to ten in my mind…but I didn't have to.
He sounded like he was crying a little.
"He was going to come between us!", he shouted, "He arrested me !"
"Tell me something I don't know," I warned, "Or you're gonna have one hot ass !"
"Okay, okay, wait…", he sounded afraid, "Just…"
He tried to turn and look at me but I was behind him.
"Can I look at you, please?", he asked.
I came up in front of him and looked at him, wishing he could see that I was taking no pleasure in this and that I did care.
"What?", I asked, trying to keep my face like stone.
He looked so sadly at me and said, in this little voice, "Just please promise me that you weren't lieing all this time. Please. This whole time…you weren't just pretending to love me so you could kick my ass…I can't believe that, Bella. Please just say it."
"Of course I love you Edward.", I admitted, "You should know that…you should feel that without me having to say it. I will always love you. But we can't go forward blind. If you want us to have a relationship, then there has to be truth. I need the truth now. All of it. Now."
He looked relieved but still afraid.
"And…", he swallowed again, "You will still love me…no matter what?"
"No matter what.", I promised, "I'm a little stronger now, being a vampire. I have to know, Edward. I don't completely blame you. I hurt you…so badly. I was a fickle human but your love for me was eternal and unbreakable. I have to live with that everyday. I tore your soul in two…and now that I have you two together…briefly…like an eclipse…I can speak to both of you, appeal to both of you. Beg both of you for your help. Now…what did you do to my father?"
"Why do you think that it was ME?", he argued, trying to avoid it, "Anyone could've taken Charlie, he could've left YOU! Why accuse ME?"
I thought about that a second.
"You're right.", I agreed, "I have no proof, only a gut feeling, an instinct."
He seemed to relax.
"And then I remembered a dream I kept having of Charlie pointing into the woods.", I pulled out the box I found in the dirt and slammed it on the table in front of us.
Edward just stared at it, dumbfounded.
"These are your initials, right, Edward Anthony Masen Cullen?" I asked, crossing my arms, waiting.
"Bella…", he began weakly, trembling a little.
"Now I could be lying when I say that I didn't open this box yet.", I said, "Or I could be telling the truth…want to make any bets?"
He didn't say anything but he was clearly searching for a way out of this.
"This is your final chance to tell me before your dick is roasted like a weenie at a barbeque.", I sneered, staring him down.
"Bella, listen…", he tried to explain, "Charlie was going to move, he told me that! He said you were better off without me, he thought I was just some punk teenager that he could leave behind!"
"I will open the box if you don't start getting to it, Edward.", I threatened.
"No, please don't, Bella!", he begged, struggling.
"You can trust me, Edward…please.", I promised.
"He didn't know about us, about how deeply we loved each other !", he shouted, "I had to tell him the whole story!"
"So you told him about your…being a vampire?", I listened.
"Yes.", Edward breathed.
I opened the box as he screamed, "NO!"
I ripped out one of the items inside and ran up to him, sticking it in his face, the gold glow making his skin glitter a little.
He shouted out as if it burned him.
"This is my father's badge!", I shouted in his face, filled with fury as he yanked his neck in the chain and tried to free himself in vein.
"This is in YOUR FUCKING BOX !", I roared, "Like a FUCKING TROPHY!"
"I didn't WANT to do it !", he roared back, his eyes full of anguish, "He shot at ME ! He aimed for my HEAD! He said you'd get over me! He said I was a sick fuck who would never hurt his daughter again! He didn't believe me!"
"WHAT DID YOU DO ?", I screamed.
"I KILLED HIM !", he screamed back into my face, the monster raging at last.
"I FUCKING KILLED HIM!", he repeated, "And I'd do it again ! NO ONE IS EVER TAKING YOU AWAY FROM ME! NO ONE!"
This side of him is all sick Edward. A minute ago, it was both of them, battling…I would get the other Edward back in a few minutes. The pain seemed to work with that.
"What did you do?", I asked again, making myself stay strong.
"I knocked him out.", he informed, more quietly, panting as he spoke, looking at the badge I was still holding in his face, "I couldn't have blood on the road. I wanted you to believe that maybe he was still alive. I didn't want you to think he suffered or died. I didn't feed on him, though, Bella, I wouldn't do that to you."
I just stared at him, my face empty.
He took a breath. "I did it quickly.", he said, "He didn't feel a thing. I promise."
"I broke his neck.", he stated, his eyes sorry again, "It was instantaneous."
"Where is the body?", I dared to ask.
"Bella, no…", he looked heartbrokenly afraid.
"Edward.", I said sternly.
"I gave him a hero's burial.", he informed, "In Greece, they burned the bodies of their warriors."
At this, I was enraged.
"You BURNED my FATHER!", I shouted.
"He didn't feel it, Bella, he was already gone!", he begged, "I didn't want them finding body parts or a beheaded corpse! I didn't want to put you through that!"
I laughed like an insane person.
"So let me get this straight.", I took my badge away from Edward's face, "You killed my father, but you burned his body so I would be spared of any pain?"
"Please don't laugh at me, Bella.", he said with a mix of sorrow and anger in his eyes, "You can hate me, but please don't LAUGH."
"And you burned my house down.", I said, looking at him again, "I knew that when I saw my album pictures all over your bedroom."
"OUR bedroom.", he looked hurt.
I let out a ragged breath.
"Ours.", I said the word, not even knowing what it meant anymore.
"Do you know how many nights I sat up worrying about my Dad?", I asked, "Of course you do. You were there. Do you know how many TIMES I cried waiting for my DAD to come home? How many nightmares I had that he really DID leave ME on his own? Or that he was suffering somewhere, held by some psycho? And you were right beside me…watching me die inside…every minute…and you DID NOTHING!"
I thought of all the times he touched me, kissed me, made love to me during that time…
"If I were still human, I'd throw up all over you !", I shouted, and got the sad eyes in return.
"I'm sorry.", he said.
It was a quiet sound…but I felt something rise up inside me…something so terrible that I was afraid of it myself.
"I'M SORRY ?", I screamed and he shivered at my fury, "I'M SORRY !"
"LET'S GO SEE WHAT ELSE IS IN THIS LITTLE BOX, SHALL WE, EDWARD CULLEN?" I bellowed at him.
"No, please !", he shouted, helpless to stop me as I spun around towards it, taking another item out.
"What is THIS, Edward Cullen?", I roared, shoving it in his face.
It was small but so big.
"Carlisle's ring.", he said, numbly.
"YOUR FATHER'S RING, bearing your family crest!", I screamed.
"MY FATHER WAS EDWARD MASEN SENIOR!", he shouted back, a wild tiger again, "Carlisle was a fucking monster who FED ON ME while I was choking to death on my OWN FLUIDS ! HE was the worst FORM of a COWARD !"
"HE SAVED YOU !", I screamed.
"HE KILLED ME !", Edward raged in return, and I saw the monster and my Edward combined into one again.
"He didn't ASK me !", Edward accused, almost weeping, "He just bent down and BIT ME ! Because HE was fucking lonely and wanted a playmate !"
"He didn't want you to die.", I answered, not as loudly, understanding some of Edward's side of that story.
"It wasn't HIS choice !", Edward sneered, "I should have died! It was better than what HE DID TO ME ! I kept begging him to let me die! He just told me to be quiet. He kept READING poetry to me, like I was a fucking LOVER or something! I didn't even KNOW HIM! I know you thought he was perfect but he WASN'T! He called himself my father but to me, he never was. I lied to myself and told myself we could be a family…but then he turned on me again!"
"When he saved me and Jake…", I finished.
"You've seen how horrible the change is…", Edward pointed out, "How would you like a stranger sitting with you those three days? A stranger who FORCED you into it? It's like BEING RAPED !"
"What happened to Carlisle?", I asked, "What happened to the Cullens?"
"He raped me and killed me…and then he wanted me to call him Daddy.", his eyes began to wildly dart around the room, "The sick thing is, I agreed."
"Edward, it's alright.", I actually said to him, seeing his mind begin to slip. All these sensations, both emotionally and physically were becoming too much for him.
"Shhh…shhh…shhhh….", I put my arms around him, cradling him as he quivered against me.
"Baby…I know…I know you've been in so much pain for so long…", I said, "I want you to tell me…just say it…get that poison out, as much as you can. You've been carrying it for too long."
"I killed them…", he cried into my hair, crumbling now, "I killed them all. They chained me up and tried to take me away from you. The one person in all the world that I loved. Why would they try to steal you away from me?"
I was glad at that moment I was a vampire. If I were human, I might have fainted by now.
"I don't know.", I said, my heart breaking for him as I stroked his hair.
"Everyone else got to have their soul mate…", Edward said like a child, "Why was I being punished? I did everything they said…I obeyed all their rules…"
"I know, I know…", was all I could think to say.
"I thought they loved me.", he wept tearlessly, "They really acted like they did…but then they were so cruel to me. They said they were trying to help me. But they hurt me…Bella, they really did…"
I know to him, it seemed that way. I held him tighter, not having words to soothe him.
"Shhhh….", I tried to ease him…wondering what he thought of what I was doing to him now if he was so pissed at his family. I'm sure they didn't burn him to get information.
I saw the connection to all the victims in this who died. They all had one thing in common: they all tried to stand between Edward and I.
Did I want to push for more information about how the Cullens died? If they suffered? Did it matter now?
Didn't I see it in my nightmares?
"Your mother…", he cried and I closed my eyes, not sure how much more I could stand.
I knew there was a cameo in that box too, that was my mother's, given to her by my grandmother.
"Charlie said he told Renee all about me.", he let it all flow out now, "I went there to see how she felt about me. I read her thoughts. She hated me more than Charlie did. She was going to have you move in with them in Florida. I couldn't live there."
I wanted to cry, imagining my sleeping mother and Phil in bed while Edward read her thoughts, deciding her fate.
"I did her quickly, too.", he informed, "She never woke up. Phil…he woke up and started yelling. He didn't suffer, either. I swear."
"And you burned them too?", I asked, still holding him in my arms.
"Yes.", he answered honestly, unable to hide anymore, "I scattered their ashes in the ocean that night. You said Renee loved the ocean."
I broke away from him, feeling so sick inside. Just hearing him say my mom's name turned my stomach.
I slammed the damn box shut, feeling like Pandora regretting the notion of opening it at all.
"And Jake?", I gritted my teeth, my back to Edward now.
"I…", he swallowed, "I…couldn't…give him a hero's burial…he…he…."
A long pause went by but I waited.
"He made you fall in love with him.", Edward cried, "He ruined our love. Smashed it like it was garbage!"
"Edward…", I felt myself near tears, clutching my fists as I stared at the lion carved in the box.
"He LAUGHED AT ME BELLA!", Edward shouted, his voice livid, "He said you loved HIM! And he said you could've never loved a dead, sick THING like ME !"
"He told me he'd send me pictures of your wedding and your kids when they were born.", Edward said next, "And I stood there, and right in my line of sight, on the kitchen counter, was a box cutter. He was packing his things, getting ready for his big trip with you…"
"Alright, Edward.", I stopped him with my voice, "No more, I know what happened to Jake."
I could hear Edward behind me, crying….suffering…I didn't know if Jake said those things or not. Jake could say some stupid things sometimes when he was emotional. But even if he said it or not, didn't justify Edward killing him. But I also understood where Edward's mind was at then…how he had hungered for real love after over 100 years…and then felt he had to protect it at all costs.
"Please just tell me that you love me…please…", he wept uncontrollably, as if he thought he were human.
I couldn't move.
"I know you should hate me…", he cried, "I hate me. But please lie to me and say you still love me…even if it's just a little…"
You got what you wanted Bella. Now move on. The plan.
I let out a breath and turned to him. I went and bent down, releasing the silver chain from around his penis.
"I'm sorry I hurt you, Edward.", I said truthfully, ashamed of myself, "I'll never do that again."
I stood up and he looked into my eyes, lost and alone, like a frightened child.
This is not just my Edward. It is both of them…hurting…terrified.
"Yes.", I said, my face a hard shell, "I love you, Edward. I told you I always would."
He cried again, out of control. I took the chain off his neck, gently holding him as I removed the chains around his wrists, and then the bar and chains off his ankles.
"I think we've both suffered enough.", I said tenderly, massaging his flesh where the steel had pinched him.
He just slumped to the cement floor, like he had nothing left inside him to stand him up.
I'd broken him. Was this part of my plan?
"I'm sorry…I'm sorry…I'm sorry…I'm sorry….", he kept saying over and over again, his eyes dilated, as if they didn't really see ME.
I let him go on and on saying that…as I dressed him in his black jeans.
He still kept saying it even when I lifted him up in my arms, and I kissed him on the forehead, right between his precious eyes.
"It's gonna be alright, sweetheart.", I whispered, "I promise. I'm gonna make it go away."
I remember Edward telling me that once, at the ballet studio.
When he was about to suck James' poison out of my arm, he said "I'm gonna make it go away, Bella. I'll make it go away."
And he did. He overcame the thirst, the pull of my blood, his very nature, to save me. Now I would have to do what was right no matter how hard it would be. It was time to give Edward his peace…finally…peace. Not just after these last few years…but after the last 109 years.
I knew that once he told me about all the killings that either two things would happen.
One, he would rage inside and that monster would break free, and he would try to tear me apart until I stopped asking questions…and he would be a monster for all time…hurting countless humans…all because he lost his true love. And then the good Edward would die inside him.
Or two, he would confess it all, the heartache of the memories and fear of losing me would all be so great for him that he would crumble…and both Edwards, bound together, would beg for forgiveness….and his mind would snap, knowing he could never really get that after all he'd done. And he would be hopelessly trapped in that guilt and pain for all eternity.
Either way, life for Edward would be too cruel after this. And either way, the cure was the same.
I laid Edward down gently on the grass, stroking his cheek as he kept whispering "I'm sorry" over and over again.
He had a faraway look in his eyes and I wished I could cry, seeing him this way.
"Shhh….", I soothed him, touching his lips slowly, "It's alright…it's alright baby."
"Bella…Bella…Bella….", he whispered, not moving at all, his eyes darting everywhere…"I'm sorry…."
"Just rest for a minute, Edward.", I touched his chin, placing a small kiss there on the cleft.
I took the items I brought with me from the box…and began placing them around us.
Alice's choker necklace that bore the Cullen crest…Charlie's badge….Renee's cameo…Esme's bracelet…Carlisle's ring….my full journal.
"We're at our meadow, Edward.", I informed, my voice sweet and loving as I worked.
I looked at Edward and he was talking to himself, saying words so fast and quietly even I couldn't make it out. His eyes were dancing everywhere….and his whole body was shaking hard, like he was ice cold.
I closed my eyes tightly, going back to what I was doing.
Rosalie's necklace…Emmett's wristband….Jasper's wristband…
"I wanted you to have them…", he whispered, "I wanted you to have some piece of them…but I was scared…scared to give them to you."
I placed them around Edward, like he had put the pictures of them around me during the last days of my life. Whether he knew it or not at the moment, Edward was loved. These were Edward's family. And mine.
"Don't be scared anymore, Edward.", I knelt beside him and gave him one incredibly long, deep kiss.
"Never be scared again.", I shook my head and smiled at him…"Alright?"
He smiled back. So innocently…a little boy.
"Alright Bella.", he agreed, not moving to rise up. He looked like a child about to get tucked in and kissed goodnight.
I held him and cried, rocking him in my arms, his body weakly laying inside. Everything inside me felt evil and sick.
Bella! Stop being weak ! Do what you have to do!
Oh shut up!
"I love you, Edward.", I said again, wanting to say it as many times as it took for him to be okay again.
He smiled more. He laid on his back and placed his arms up over his head, as if relaxing in the sunshine.
"I love YOU Bella.", he replied, with all the love in the world.
I looked in his eyes and saw the two Edwards…both utterly exhausted from the hours of torture…both sexual and emotional…both loving me…both trusting me to make it all go away. Even the angry one…wanted me to do it. And he laid back…waiting…not fighting it. As a human, I would not see that in his eyes…but I could see it now.
I felt my face twist into a field of agony, but I turned away from the beaming face of my love.
The moonlight loved him and I was jealous as she bathed him in her kiss.
"Edward?", I turned his chin so he would look at me.
He waited, smiling at me, raising his eyebrows as if to ask, "yes?"
"Would you sing for me, sweetheart?", I asked gently, nodding my head a couple times.
"Yes Bella, if you want me to.", he agreed instantly.
"Yes.", I smiled, "And while you sing, I want you to count the stars for me, alright?"
His eyes lit up with excitement and he nodded, saying, "I would do anything for YOU, Bella. But there's a lot of stars!"
"Okay then you'd better get started.", I grinned, hiding my agony.
I went into my backpack to get the things I needed…a little plastic bottle of gasoline…and Jacob's silver lighter that Billy had given him. He had lent it to me before he died…and I never got to give it back to him. It seemed right that part of him was here too.
Edward was singing.
"There's a land of….beginning again…", he sang like a little angel, not moving a hair while I stood up and began to squirt the liquid on the grass, a few feet away from where Edward lay.
"Where skies are always blue…", he sang, "though we've made mistakes, that's true…let's forget the past and start life anew…"
I didn't recognize this song but it sounded very old fashioned. But it was beautiful…and perfect for now.
"Though we wandered…", he sang, "By a river of tears…where sunlight won't shine through…"
I finished emptying the gasoline and tossed the container off into the darkness, the lighter still closed and in my hand.
And I looked up at the moon, wishing there was some other way…hoping she would tell me how to save this angel. And I realized…this is the last night sky I'll never see. The last time looking at this moon. The last time I may hear Edward sing. So I stood there and just listened…feeling the wind on my face…taking one last moment…to say goodbye to it all.
"Let's find that paradise where sorrow can't live….", his voice sang, almost beckoning to me, "And learn the teachings of forget…and forgive. In the land of…beginning again…where broken dreams…come true."
I closed my eyes and wished tears could come. I hope we can find that paradise too, Edward. I hope it with everything I am. And I prayed that Edward's words would happen for real.
Edward was silent now and I looked up at the moon one more time.
"Thank you…", I whispered, "For life…for everyone you gave to me…for HIM. For love. Thank you."
I walked the five steps back to him and smiled as much as I could, kneeling down and sitting beside him, stroking his hair out of his eyes as he gazed back up at me.
"That was so beautiful, Edward.", I said, my voice cracking a bit as I spoke his name, lost in his magical eyes that shone like candles in the blackness.
"My mother loved that song.", he shrugged, "But I'm not finished counting the stars yet. Right now it's 823."
"Oh, that's good, Edward.", I grinned at him, wishing I could put off what I needed to do.
I touched the ring on my finger and refused to take it off. My fist tightened around it and would not change its mind.
"I need you to do something else for me now, alright Edward?", I asked, my hands unable to stop touching him, stroking his face and neck, holding his hand.
I could hardly say it…and my voice weakened on every word…but I made myself ask it.
"Can you please…close your eyes for me, Edward?", I asked, withering inside, "Remember…we can pretend to be human again…and go to sleep? Remember that?"
He brightened even more. "Yes, I remember that."
God, why couldn't he be angry and swearing at me now? No…I'm glad that both Edwards are allowing me to have the softer side of himself now…not wanting our last words to each other to be curses and shouts.
"Good.", I whispered, "And no matter what you hear, don't open your eyes. Keep sleeping. I'll be here with you…you hold me, alright? Hold me close."
"Alright Bella.", he agreed, and before he closed his eyes I kissed him…hard and with all the passion I had.
"Uhhh Bella…", he moaned afterwards and his eyes were already heavy with desire.
"Good night, Edward.", I put my fingers gently over his eyes, closing them.
"Good night, Bella.", he smiled contentedly, "I love you."
I held a hand over my mouth and then cleared my throat. "I love YOU."
He held me close as I laid my body next to his, placing my cheek on his chest, right over his heart. His fingers moved along my hairline, stroking me with love.
"Don't let me go, Edward.", I whispered…and he held me tighter, his lips smiling in peace, his eyes stayed closed. I prayed I would see those eyes again…someday…somewhere.
"Never.", he assured me, not afraid in the least, just resting.
I curled my leg around his legs, as if that would keep him with me, to wherever we were headed. Would we be going together? Or would we be separated? Not knowing killed me.
Just let him be happy, I prayed, wherever he is, even if it's not with me…let him find peace. He's waited so long. He needs it so badly. He was just a baby when death stabbed him…he's never truly been happy since that horrible day in 1918.
Then I opened my hand and my thumb pushed on the lighter top until it fell backwards, exposing the switch inside. I flicked it without waiting another second, knowing I was so close to chickening out. The little flame caught and rose up…and I threw it…high over our heads, towards the lines of gasoline I had painted into the flowery grass around us.
I clung onto my Edward, closing my eyes and burying my face in his lovely warm chest.
And I pictured it in my head…what the flames would look like from over our heads…the flame catching and slowly spreading…..forming a huge heart around our bodies as we slept in our meadow, just like the very first time…and I tried to keep the smell of the lavender flowers in my nostrils, ignoring the stench of gas and ash. I tried not to think of the oncoming pain.
Edward never tensed or moved, except to hold me tighter to him as the fire slowly danced around us….drawing closer and closer until at last it embraced us in her red hot arms.
We didn't scream…we didn't kick or struggle. We just slept. And slept.
I don't know how much time had passed when I opened my eyes again. Was it 5 minutes…or five thousand years later? Who knew ? Who cared?
I jerked up and looked around, wondering where I was…and more importantly, where Edward was.
I didn't have to look far. He was laying beside me, his arms wrapped around me like before. Only now…the sun was shining over us…and there was no fire…only flowers upon flowers as far as the eye could see. I looked at Edward…and he didn't speak…and he didn't sparkle either. And his eyes were green. The most beautiful green I had ever seen in my life.
I was going to ask him…where we were, what happened….but then I got the feeling in my heart that I didn't need to say a word. He was smiling down at me, his hands soft and giving gentle caress….I stared up and felt this deep sorrow…this powerful guilt.
We were dead…for real.
Edward shook his head silently and leaned down, kissing me tenderly.
But this was not heaven, although it looked and felt like heaven to us. Like the song he had sung to me, there can be no sorrow or guilt or hatred in heaven, or the afterlife, or whatever paradise awaited an innocent soul.
We both still had all those bad feelings living inside our souls. But perhaps, because our love was so strong, so everlasting, that we had been placed here, in our meadow, until we were ready to join all our loved ones again. I kept thinking about this and Edward has his own theories, too, but that was my take on it.
Edward said that some religions believed – once you died, your spirit would go to the happiest place and time of your life. And you would live in that moment for all time.
To him, being in the meadow with me made perfect sense. It did to me too.
We were not vampires. We were not humans. We were just…souls…trying everyday to talk about every single thing we had felt in our lives. All the hurts, all the pain, all the mistakes, all the times we hurt each other. There was nothing else to do and if we had all eternity, I felt like we should try to heal our every cut, as much as we could. Now that there was no mental illness or fear of breakdown to worry about.
But also, we relived every wonderful moment…every laugh, every dance…every kiss.
We never saw anyone else here. We walked and walked, and would always be in our meadow. Once in awhile, we'd even find fruit hanging from the trees. I was a little nervous about eating it, remembering the stories of the bible…but Edward laughed and assured me it would be alright. There were never any apples.
Some things were easy to forgive each other. Other things were not. I struggled for so long to say the words I FORGIVE YOU EDWARD…for killing my mother, my father…my friends? I could never really say the words and mean it. Edward understood, as he had never forgiven himself either. He forgave me for killing him…us…he even thanked me for it. He had no more thirst. He had no inner demons talking in his head. His mind was clear, for the first time since 1918, he'd told me. And he did feel at peace.
And could he forgive me for falling in love with someone else? For breaking his trust and his heart? He promised he would…he wanted to…but it would take time. The gentleman inside him would've said, yes, I do forgive you, in life. But here, where the truth meant everything and lies would only hold us back…I was glad he was being honest and showing his hurt, not covering it up as he used to do.
But no matter what, we were always together here, like it or not sometimes. We sometimes fought and separated and the skies would go black and the wind would roar as lightning slashed the air.
But, very soon afterwards, we always worked it out and sat down to talk again, trying to leave the anger and pain behind this time…and we would watch the sun set…it would always be twilight when we came to an understanding or resolved an issue.
We slept sometimes…and it got peacefully dark whenever we laid down to rest. There was no such thing as a day or an hour…a week. Time didn't exist here. We made love in the thick grass and drank water from a fountain while we bathed there together.
I sometimes wondered how long we had been here…and what year was it back in our world? Was it the next day? Or the year 5091 ? Would we always be here? Was this it for us? Not that I was complaining…I just wondered.
I was sitting down under a tree, in the shade now, and he was approaching from the other end of the meadow. He was still bare chested, in those same jeans, and he was smiling to himself, the breeze playing with his hair.
I just watched him…loving him so much it was painful. I honestly did not regret a single moment of our lives for a moment. I knew everything, I knew he had done terrible things to me and my family…but I also felt that they were all at peace now. And that they would forgive him…that they weren't hurting anymore. And wherever they all were now…they were happy…and maybe…missing us. I really believe that they understood…and did not wish us any harm. I hoped they were all in a place like this, having the time of their lives like us.
It may have sounded strange to everyone else…but we had been here probably for thousands of years….working at forgiveness. And now…I couldn't remember what had taken us so long to get here.
I waited for him to reach me so I could tell him. And I didn't care if we stayed here forever alone…that was fine with me. I just wanted him to know that I loved him…and I forgave him…for everything. Every single thing.
He finally was here with me…and sat down on the grass at my side, a funny little grin on his lips.
"Edward…", I kissed him, full of excitement, "Where have you been?"
"Walking.", he said, "Thinking of you…"
"I was doing the same exact thing.", I shared, "And I wanted to tell you something…"
"What, love?", he asked, his eyes so open and full of life.
And then his eyes moved to the left…past me…and his brow furrowed, confused.
I turned, and usually where there was just forest and trees…there was a lake…a huge lake going far out into the distance of the woods…and there was a little wooden boat there on the edge of the water, an oar leaning on each side.
"Where did that come from?", I stood up, feeling the air whoosh out of my chest.
"I don't know.", he slowly approached it as I grabbed his hand in mine.
Edward didn't seem afraid at all. He was about to touch it when I jerked him back towards me. Edward had become a believer since the day we died, saying that God answered his prayers, first with me…then with this chance to try again…with me at his side. Edward used to say we were God's new Adam and Eve…I liked that notion.
I had believed once…and had lost my faith along the way in life. Now, I wanted to believe again…but I always held back a little…afraid I would be disappointed again.
"No, Edward, don't!", I shivered and pulled him to me when he was about to reach out and touch the edge of the boat.
"What if this is a trick?", I asked…and Edward looked into my face, saddened by my sudden fear.
"What if this takes us to Hell or something?", I asked.
Edward smirked. "I think we've done Hell, Bella.", he replied.
Okay…maybe he was right about that.
"Wait!", I yanked him to me again as he was about to turn towards it.
"I'm scared.", I admitted, "I don't want to lose you…not now. I was just about to tell you…that I forgive you, Edward. I completely forgive you…for all of it. I love you…please…just stay here with me."
He smiled at me and then laughed.
"I was going to tell you the same exact thing.", he revealed with a smirk, "I can honestly say that I don't hate anyone anymore…I can't feel any anger at all in me. I think I even miss Jake!"
By this point, we knew each other inside and out…there were no secrets or lies or hidden feelings. We had worked hard to get here. And it was a miracle.
"I think…", Edward looked at the boat, "We're allowed to go home…if we want to."
I looked at it…in shock. We could see Charlie…and Renee? Alice, Carlisle…everyone? Even…Jake?
"But if you don't want to…", Edward said, and it looked difficult for him to say it, "Then…we don't HAVE to go now. We'll wait until you're ready."
"You want to go.", I said, reading it in his eyes. Why? Why? It's so nice here…just the two of us…why do I feel so afraid? Have I gotten too comfortable here? Or am I just trying to play it safe?
"Yes I do.", he said with no hesitation, "I mean, don't get me wrong…I love it here with you…but I think it's time for us to move on. I think this place is our…in between world…like when we changed into vampires. I think whatever we've done wrong on earth or to each other…well…I think we've learned from that and have finally shown ourselves worthy of seeing what else there is out there. That's why this boat is suddenly here now. But we don't go until we're BOTH ready. We've waited this long, we can wait a little longer. I don't think heaven's going anywhere."
I kept hearing the water lapping at the sides of the boat while Edward spoke. It's like the sounds are voices, speaking to me…calling me to follow and come home…like the second of time between my human life and vampire one. I'm feeling that same pull again. And I know Edward feels it too. I know he longs to see his human parents again…and the Cullens…and my family too…and Jake…so he can apologize…and try to atone for his past sins on them. Edward is always ready to do penance.
"What's wrong, baby?", he held me, closing his eyes and inhaling the smell of my hair.
"I…", I huffed, "I killed you. I killed myself. It can't be time already."
That was my real fear. That I didn't deserve to go. That I never would.
"Bella, we talked that out.", Edward reminded me softly, not letting me go, "You were right. I was meant to die of influenza in 1918. You were meant to die when that van came skidding at you. We cheated death and we've seen that doesn't give you a happy life. The only reason I wouldn't change it all is YOU. You didn't KILL US…you put us out of our misery. I was insane, Bella! Who knows what I would've done if I were allowed to keep going, with or without you?"
"And you could've just killed me and let me die alone…", he kissed my hand reverently, "But you DIDN'T! You came with me…giving up your OWN life! If I were capable of it at the time, I never would've allowed that. Don't make yourself sound like some psycho who murdered us for no good reason! You had mercy…God…or whoever is in charge here…believes in mercy."
"It was….", I repeated for the thousandth time, "The hardest thing…I've ever had to do in my whole existence…hurting YOU."
"Bella, we've been over and over this.", he looked into my eyes with a serious gaze, "We have forgiven each other. Now all we have to do is forgive OURSELVES. And until you do that, we're not going."
I thought about this and then Edward said, "The boat will probably sink if you sit in it before you're truly ready to go anyway."
And that made me laugh, imagining it.
"That or there's a shark in the water, waiting…or an alligator.", I joked.
"You told me…", he said, "That last night…that I'd never be scared again. And when that's true for YOU too…then we'll go. I won't force you."
I let out a breath, hating my stupid fears.
"I understand, Bella.", he stroked my hair, looking at me like an angel, "You fell in love with me and all the magic you thought I came with. You believed instantly…and followed your heart…and then it all went so horribly wrong. And you don't trust your heart anymore. I know. And it's okay. We'll wait. Just ignore the boat."
Edward began to take my hand and walk me away from it…but I stopped him.
He looked at me, waiting, wondering what I was thinking.
"I trust US. And we didn't go so horribly wrong…we're here. I do want to go.", I admitted, "My heart is bouncing up and down like a kid on Christmas morning…you're right, I am scared. But I'm going to face my fears and try trusting my heart again. I'm not letting myself be trapped anymore…by ME."
I took his hand and led him towards the boat…slowly.
We looked at it for awhile and finally I climbed into it, sitting down. No flames burst out of it…nothing happened.
"You're the man.", I nodded towards him, "You get to row."
I just hope the trip isn't a ten thousand year journey.
He laughed and crossed his arms, "Oh, is that so? And what's YOUR job here Miss Swan?"
With a firm shove, Edward guided the boat into the water until it floated…and then he climbed aboard.
"Ummm…", I looked up at the sun and blue skies full of clouds, "Sitting here looking pretty."
I laughed and he smiled at me, taking the oars into his hands, making a huge circle and pulling them through the sparkling water, moving our little boat firmly forward.
"You do it well.", he smiled at me, his face so peach warm and healthy looking.
"So do YOU.", I shot back at him.
"Ugghhh….", Edward looked away, not happy with my statement.
"I hate when you call me pretty all the time.", he informed, "I'm a MAN, I'm NOT pretty!"
"When we get to heaven, or wherever….ask for a mirror and you tell me what that's called.", I argued back, poking his perfect nose.
"Handsome maybe…", he gave me some other adjectives…"Manly…macho?"
I laughed…"Macho? I wouldn't use that word on anyone if you PAID me. Macho."
"Well, alright…but pretty is no compliment either.", he said, rowing us away from our lovely little meadow.
"You're really gonna argue all the way there, aren't you?", I asked, rolling my eyes.
"I might.", he countered, "Especially if we DO end up in Hell, if I take a wrong turn…I don't want to go there being called PRETTY, if you know what I'm saying…"
"Oh I suppose MACHO would scare the gay demons away?"
We kept going…talking to each other as we always had before….bickering sometimes like an old married couple…and then other times we were so young, alive, and wild! I hoped we were right…and on the way to a place where we could be a family again and leave all the past behind. It could only truly happen in heaven. And even if we were headed to Hell, we'd be there together…and we'd be the sweetest devils there.
I wasn't afraid. I argued and bickered with my love and laughed without regret. Deep down, I knew we were on our way to somewhere great. And I think Edward knew it too. My heart was open…and it trusted like it was never hurt before. It felt nice…believing again. And I felt alive…so alive.
Hey guys! Yes, it's the end. Not your typical happy ending but I like the tragic type end…don't shoot me for killing them…it all turned out for the best.
Love you guys, thanks for the reviews! I won't be gone as long as before, I promise. Maybe I'll do the sequel to Red Line soon. That should be fun.
Bye for now !