Disclaimers: S. Meyer owns all recognizable characters, plots, etc. Only original content, characters, etc. belongs to author. No copyright infringement intended. The song mentioned at the end is Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
A/N: This standalone O/S was my contribution to Fics For Nashville. Kind of angsty. Hope you enjoy. Thanks to einfach_mich and siouxchef or organizing this, every author who contributed something and, most importantly, all of you who donated to this cause. Finally, I can't forget to express my heartfelt appreciation for my betas, Vanessarae and EchoesOfTwilight.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think.
Lost In Regret
Her giggle rang out throughout her apartment, followed by a squeal as he bit her ass cheek, and she tried to scoot away from him. She almost got away, but he wrapped an arm around her waist, hauling her back before somehow flipping and twisting them so that she was laying underneath him. Tangled together in the sheets of her bed, lips centimeters apart, eyes locked, the playful mood from seconds before disappeared. It was replaced by a certain heaviness, full of lust, desire, need, want, and maybe even–she hoped–love.
The way he was looking at her let her know in no uncertain terms that the time for playfulness was over. He nudged her with his hips in question – Are you ready for me? She returned the gesture in answer – More than. Now, please. He slid into her with ease, and they gave themselves over to each other; to the physical. It was all push and pull and wet kisses and tongues stroking tongues as he stroked inside her, filling her and leaving her bereft until they reached completion. Satisfied, they lay in one another's arms, still entwined and wrapped around each other. It was peaceful. Until his phone rang.
"Don't get it, please?" she asked, knowing she would be ignored, but hoping all the same.
"You know I have to," he answered, annoyed. It was an old argument, and it tired him out.
He answered it, and she thought, once again, about what they were doing. They had been friends for so long she couldn't even imagine her life without him, but it was getting harder to see this working out or lasting, and she couldn't lie to herself anymore: this wasn't enough. She needed more than these stolen afternoons, and clandestine couplings. She wanted him to be able to acknowledge her in public as more than Ms. Swan, reporter with the Seattle Post Intelligencer, best friend of his sister, Alice, and long time Cullen family acquaintance. She wanted to be his, but there were 'complications.' Complications! Hah!
Suddenly, he was standing up from where he had been sitting on his side of her bed, and was putting on his pants. She tried not to let the anguish of him leaving her in a hurry, yet again, show on her face, but knew she failed. She had never been a good actress-or liar, for that matter.
"You're leaving." She said, her voice devoid of any emotion. Somehow, she found the emptiness more disturbing than anything. Needing a distraction, she slipped out from under her crisp but rumpled sheets and plucked her robe from the nearby chair to cover herself.
It was a statement, not a question, but to him it sounded like an accusation. He didn't know why she had to do this every time, as if he was being unfaithful to her when in reality that was the farthest thing from the truth. He sighed, rubbed his eyes, and then pinched the bridge of his nose trying to calm himself. He didn't want to fight with both of them today.
He answered without looking at her as he finished buttoning his shirt, "Yes."
She was pouting, and he hated when she pouted. She reminded him of a petulant child when she did. She wasn't pouting though; she was being reintroduced to reality.
"I don't understand why you have to go. You said we would have the whole day together."
"Do we really have to have this same conversation again? Fuck, Bella! What do you want from me?" His hands tore through his hair in frustration. He didn't want to leave either, but he didn't have a choice.
"Fuck you, Edward! What do I want from you? What do I want from you? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not now." She stared at him levelly, wanting him to know how serious she truly was, to make certain he didn't misinterpret her words. "I can't do this anymore. If you go this time…don't bother coming back."
He didn't take her seriously though.
This again. "Whatever, Bella," he sighed. "I gotta go."
He finished tying his shoe, stood up, and pulled her to him. She let her body melt into his – she would allow herself that much – and hugged him goodbye. He attempted to kiss her, but she turned her head, not letting him touch her lips, so he kissed her cheek instead.
"Bella…" he sighed again, and rolled his eyes. "I'll call you as soon as I can."
She didn't say a word. She turned her back, so she didn't have to watch him leave…again. The door closed, the tears welled up, one trickling down, but she refused to let the others fall; she had shed all the tears she was going to shed for Edward Cullen, because she was finally done. She wiped the tear away.
With a sense of determination, she walked over to her phone and dialed a number. The call connected, and before the man on the other end of the line could say 'hello,' she spoke the one word he'd been longing to hear from her lips.
It was several days, a week really, before he was able to call her. He was sitting in his office when he dialed her number.
'…the number you are calling has been disconnected. If you feel you have reached this message in error...'
He was certain he had reached the number in error. There was no way Bella's phone had been disconnected…unless she needed money, but he didn't think so. He was certain she would have said something if that were the case. She knew he would take care of her – not that she had ever let him, but the offer was always there. He chuckled, thinking about how obstinately independent she insisted on being, and then he grew angry that she wouldn't come to him with money problems. He was getting ahead of himself though. He dialed again.
'…the number you are calling...'
He slammed the phone down angrily, and punched the button for his secretary.
"Jane!" he bellowed. "Get me Bella Swan with the Seattle P.I. now!"
Jane didn't bother answering, as he was obviously in a mood. She simply did as told, and began the task of connecting the call.
"Bella Swan, please," she spoke into the boom of the headset she wore.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Swan resigned her position last week, and is no longer with us. Can I get you her replacement?"
"No, that won't be necessary. Do you know where she went to, or did she leave a forwarding number or address maybe?"
"No, I'm sorry. I could take a message in case for some reason she calls."
"No, that won't be necessary. Thank you for your time."
Jane did not wait to say goodbye. She didn't want to tell her boss that she couldn't get Ms. Swan on the line, and she especially didn't want to tell him why she was unable to do as he asked, but she knew she had no choice.
His voice shrieked in her ear again. "Jane! What the fuck is taking so long? The task couldn't have been that hard. I assume you know how to use a phone?"
She took a deep breath, and braced herself for his wrath; he was not going to be happy about this. "Mr. Cullen, sir…," she gulped, "Ms. Swan has turned in her resignation, and is no longer employed by the Seattle P.I."
She cringed at the string of expletives that pierced her eardrums. "Well, did she leave an address, or say where she was going?"
"Goddamn-Jesus-fucking-Christ-son-of-a-bitch-motherfucker! Cancel my appointments, hold all of my calls for the rest of the day, and call me a car." He slammed the phone down.
"What the fuck is she playing at?" he asked his empty office, choosing to forget that she had already provided him with the answer when he left her the week before.
"Yes, sir," she replied to the empty line.
He entered the front door of Bella's apartment building in a gust of wind and annoyance, going straight to the stairwell and, taking them two at a time, sprinted up them to the ninth floor.
His sudden entrance startled the doorman – not because it was so unusual, but because it had been a while since Mr. Cullen had arrived in such a snit. He was there one second, and gone the next that, had it not happened a million times before, Marcus would have wondered if he had been an apparition. As it was, it took him several seconds to realize what was going on, and another second or two before he got his wits about him enough to attempt going after Mr. Cullen.
By the time he pushed through the door into the stairwell, Mr. Cullen was already several floors up. Mr. Cullen wasn't going to like what he found, or what Marcus wasn't looking forward to telling him. He knew he was going to get screamed at whether he ran after him to deliver the news, or waited at his post by the door to deliver it, so Marcus decided to put it off, and stay where he was. He would rather not be shouted at while out of breath and wheezing, thank you very much.
Edward banged on the door relentlessly, alternating between sweet words, and shouted threats until he wore himself out. He finally stopped mid-knock – his upraised, fisted hand staying in place against the door, and his forehead joining it as his shoulders slumped in defeat – and let out a ragged breath.
"Bella…please!" he begged one last time, as close to tears as he ever came, but there was still no answer.
He took the elevator to the lobby, too tired to contemplate the stairs. Marcus was standing in the middle of the lobby, surprise written clearly on his face, when Mr. Cullen exited the elevator. He had been expecting fury, not the broken man that stood before him.
"Where is she, Marcus? Where did she go?" he asked in ragged, hopeless voice.
Marcus couldn't look at him when he answered honestly, "I couldn't say, sir. Ms. Bella didn't leave no forwarding address."
Something strange happened to Edward then. He felt a prickling sensation, and tears actually began to pool in his eyes. Edward Cullen couldn't honestly remember the last time he had cried. He didn't know if he could remember ever having cried, but he knew he must have at some point. "When did she leave?"
He knew that he shouldn't tell him a thing – he had watched the man jerk Ms. Bella around for too long – but he knew what a man who had lost the love of his life looked like. He saw the same look on his own face when he looked in the mirror every morning. Mr. Cullen might not know he was in love with Ms. Bella, and Ms. Bella might not know Mr. Cullen was in love her, but Marcus Addante knew it with certainty.
He didn't owe Edward Cullen a thing, the man was a ruthless prick, and a cheating bastard who didn't deserve Ms. Bella, but Marcus would never wish that kind of heartbreak on anyone. As much as he hated to betray the woman who baked him cookies for Christmas, and made sure to bring him a turkey sandwich when he had to work on Thanksgiving, he wanted her to be happy. He told Mr. Cullen the only bits of information he had.
"Two days ago. She left with a Mr. Jacob Black, if that helps, sir."
Hearing his name crushed him, and he realized that he had truly lost her. He didn't know how to let her go, didn't know if he could let her go, but he was going to have to find a way. There was nothing he could do to fix it, it was simply too late.
Knowing that the doorman had no more information to give him, Edward pulled a bill out of his pocket, handed it to him in thanks, and promptly left more empty-handed and even heavier-hearted than he had been when he arrived.
He couldn't go home and deal with his wife, so he went back to his office. Sequestering himself inside the darkened room, he poured glass after glass of scotch, and thought about regret until he passed out, mumbling the lyrics to an old Joni Mitchell song.
…don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot…