DISCLAIMER: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters, they belong to SM. However, this story is mine, please don't steal, it's not nice.
This is the last chapter. Thank you for reading!
Chapter 5 – A Decision Made
On the thirty-third day away from home, I woke up with an ache in my chest. I untangled myself from Edward, as he had taken to sleeping on the bed with me since the first night I'd arrived, and trudged into the bathroom. Something was off; I felt, off. I didn't feel ill, and it wasn't an ache that made me worry about my health, it was something else. I tiptoed through the bedroom quietly after I finished in the bathroom and made my way downstairs. Edward preferred coffee in the morning, but I liked tea, so I set up the coffee pot to brew and I put a pot of water on the stove to boil.
Edward woke about forty minutes later and made his way down to the kitchen. He greeted me with a hug and a peck on top of my head. I smiled at him and pointed to the stool at the kitchen island's bar.
"I made chocolate chip waffles for you and cut up some fruit for breakfast."
Edward moaned and dove into the plate I set in front of him within seconds. I grabbed my own and sat beside him, methodically picking at my waffle. I had no appetite and still couldn't pinpoint what it was that was bothering me so.
"Are you alright, Bella?" Edward asked me as he swallowed a bite of waffle.
"I'm okay. Just not feeling very well today. But I would like to talk to you tonight, about finding some kind of work for me. I want to contribute. And thank you for asking about me," I quietly mumbled.
Edward nodded and we finished the rest of our breakfast in silence, well, Edward finished. I barely managed five bites. I took our plates to the sink and began to wash them while Edward went back up to the bedroom to get ready for work. He returned twenty minutes later ready to go.
"I'll call you at lunch time, but call me sooner if you need me, okay? And feel better, Bella."
I nodded at him, "Okay."
He gave me a peck on the cheek, grabbed his messenger bag and keys, then left.
The remainder of the morning was spent cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, and by the time eleven o'clock rolled around, I had nothing left to do. I decided a shower would be nice, and by the time I was finished with that, Edward would likely call.
Just as I thought, my phone rang shortly after I was showered, but not yet dressed. I quickly ran from the closet in my robe and down into the living area, where my phone was plugged in.
"Hello, this is Isabella," I answered.
There was a low chuckle on the line, then, "Hello to you, Bella, it's Edward. How has your day been?"
"My day has been good, a bit boring, but good. I think I need more things to do while you are at work. I don't feel as though I'm pulling my weight," I stated. I hadn't meant to unleash all of those feelings, but they kind of just flowed out.
"Yes. I think we can talk about that soon... Not that I think you owe me, not at all. But I was wondering myself if you were getting bored. But we can talk about that another time. I called to see if there is anything specific you would like to do tonight."
"Whatever you have in mind is fine, I'm sure."
We spoke for a few more minutes and hung up. I quickly went back upstairs to get dressed; I drug my fingers along all of the new clothes that Angela had picked out for me and Edward paid for. They were all so colorful, and I couldn't deny that I felt more alive, and maybe a little pretty when I wore them. The thought of actually thinking of myself as pretty brought an onslaught of guilt. I was plain. I couldn't forget that, it's who I was. As my fingers flitted over the clothes, they came to a rougher material. My Amish garb, my dress. I fingered the material and felt the tears spring to my eyes; I finally figured out what it was that had bothered me all morning.
I lifted my black bonnet from the shelf above my dress and left the closet. As I made my way down the stairs, I fingered the cloth strings used to tie it under my chin. When I got to the living area, I sat on the couch and fingered the bonnet. It was a plain black bonnet. No lace, no frills, just black cloth that was made to fit my head specifically. Back at home, I had one more.
Home. What did I call home? Where was home? Where did I feel at home? I couldn't say. What I did know was that I missed my family, my mother and my sisters most. I thought about the turmoil that they must have been going through, and that I was the one that caused it. I thought of Jacob, and what he must think of me. I knew for a fact that there would be horrible rumors going around about me. But then Edward's face came to mind. I thought about how patient he had been with me and how he made me feel comfortable and important. I thought about the way it felt when he touched me, and what those little kisses on my cheek and the top of my head meant to me. They meant everything. They made me want more, and part of me felt guilty about that, but mostly, it made me feel something else; something I couldn't describe.
I don't know how long I sat on Edward's couch, crying and memorizing every last millimeter of my bonnet. After a while, I heard a knock on the door and was startled out of my reverie. I had only ever had one visitor while Edward had been at work, and that had turned out to be the mail delivery man. I quickly made my way to the door and peeked through the little hole that allowed me to see who was on the other side before I opened the door. I saw the worried face of Angela.
I wiped away my tears and opened the door for my new friend. "Hello, Angela. What brings you over today?"
"Hey, Bella. I got a call from Ben, who was talking with Edward. I guess he's a little worried about you. He - wait. Have you been crying? Are you alright?" Angela questioned.
"Oh. I'm alright. Just a little homesick, you know? I just woke up feeling different this morning, and I'm not sure how to get out of this dark spot I've fallen into," I explained to her.
Just then, I noticed that Angela held a hanger with a long black plastic bag draped over it. "What is that?"
Angela flitted around me, avoiding my eyes, and quickly began to walk up the stairs and toward our bedroom. Did I just call it our bedroom? "Wait, Ang. I'm not sure Edward..."
"Relax, Bella. Edward gave me free reign of the closet and the master bathroom," Angela reassured me.
"This was Edward's idea?" I inquired.
"Yep. So relax. You know that neither he nor I would steer you wrong." She continued into the bathroom with me trailing her. She pointed at the commode. "Sit."
I complied and Angela immediately went to work. She began to plug contraptions into the wall outlets and set several little black squares of make-up on the counter. The last few items in her shoulder bag were hairspray and perfume. I grew nervous at the site of the perfume, I wasn't allowed to wear it - at least, I never used to be.
After all of Angela's "equipment" was warmed and ready to go, she started on me. I had no idea what kinds of things she was applying to my face, but as I sat there, I worried that I would soon look like one of those clowns from the circuses I'd heard about growing up. Time passed quickly with Angela talking to me as she worked. When she finished my make-up, she moved to my hair and began to roll long cylinder-like objects and pinning them to my scalp. It hurt a bit, but I didn't say anything. I've endured worse pain. She told me it would take a while for my hair to be ready for the "curlers" as she called them, to come out, so we went down to the living area and turned the television on. Neither of us really paid attention to the show, but we talked instead. She told me about how life was with Ben, and being away from the rest of her family. I told her how much I missed mine, and she understood, but said that she could never give up Ben, even as much as she loved her parents and six siblings.
I understood completely.
By the time I looked at the clock again, an hour had passed and Edward would be arriving home shortly. I still had the curlers pinned to my head and didn't yet know what was hidden under that plastic bag that now hung in our closet. Again with the "our." "Ugh, Ang? Shouldn't we finish with my hair?"
"Oh! Goodness, yes! When do you expect Edward home?"
I glanced at the clock. "In about thirty minutes?"
"Shit! We have to hurry," she replied as she pulled me toward the stairs.
I stared at her wide-eyed as I followed her; I had never heard her use a swear word before. A part of me wanted to try it - sometime...maybe.
In the bathroom, I once again sat on the toilet and Angela immediately began pulling the pins and rollers from my hair. It felt good and my long hair held soft waves. When she was done removing them all, she immediately began twisting little pieces and pinning them to my head with what she called bobby pins. They weren't as painful as the roller pins.
With only minutes to spare before Edward usually walked in the door, Angela pulled me from the bathroom and shoved me into the large closet. "Put the dress on," she demanded.
I was confused; she wanted me to put my Amish dress on? She must have read the confusion in my face because she shook her head at me. "Not that dress, the dress in the plastic. Now hurry!" she said and shut the door.
I quickly went to work removing my clothes and lifted the plastic from the dress. It was a rich blue color, and my eyes had never been graced by something so beautiful, at least, in the clothing area. I quickly lifted the dress over my head and maneuvered myself to zip up the back. I looked down at my feet, unsure of what shoes I should wear. I opened the door and saw Angela sitting on the end of the bed, waiting for me. "What shoes should I wear?"
"Oh! I forgot." Angela grabbed her bag from the floor and riffled through it. She pulled out a pair of blue flat shoes that matched the color of the dress perfectly. "Edward didn't think I should do heels, so I got these. Try them on."
I took the proffered shoes and slipped them onto my feet. They fit perfectly. Just then, the door opened downstairs. Angela quickly went into the bathroom and with one sweep of her arm, had all of the make-up and hair torture devices in her bag. I made my way toward the stairs to welcome Edward home, but Angela quickly walked in front of me. I let out a nervous giggle.
By the time I got to the top step of the staircase, ready to descend, Angela was already at the bottom. I glanced over to Edward and saw him staring at me intently. I quickly looked to Angela and saw her smiling.
"Alright, I think I am going to head out. Ben and I have plans. You two have fun tonight," Angela said as she turned one more time to look at me. She winked, then turned and left.
I was nervous and refused to look at Edward again, but slowly walked down the stairs, being careful not to fall.
Edward was at the bottom of the steps to meet me. "Bella, you look...so incredibly beautiful."
I smiled up at him and told him thank you. He reached over to the table at the side of the staircase and produced a bouquet of flowers, but they weren't just any kind of flowers. They were wildflowers. I felt tears well up in my eyes, but knew that Angela had put some kind of product on them, so I did my best to rein them in.
"They're beautiful, Edward. Thank you."
"Not nearly as beautiful as you, but you're welcome. Ah, do you think you could give me a moment in the kitchen? Have a seat, Bella."
I didn't know what he had up his sleeve, but I complied. I was afraid that if I sat down I would wrinkle the dress, so instead, I wandered over to the window in the office area and looked outside. The sun was still bright in the sky, but beginning to make its way more to the west. It would soon be twilight.
A throat cleared behind me. I turned around and saw that Edward had laid a blanket out on the floor of the living room, along with several pillows. It was reminiscent of our day at the waterfall. I smiled broadly at him and he returned it.
"I wanted to cook for you, but I had to work a little late, so I ordered us a meal in. Have a seat?" he requested.
I walked over to our picnic area and lowered myself, careful to lay the dress out under me and across my legs, both so it wouldn't wrinkle and I wouldn't expose anymore of myself. I noticed that Edward had changed his shirt and wondered how long I had been staring out the window. I must have been absorbed as I hadn't heard him do any of this.
Edward and I ate a lovely meal, he said it was Italian; it was incredibly delicious and filling. When he finished, he brought out something that he called tiramisu. After the first bite, I didn't want to stop eating it.
When we were finished eating, Edward pulled me up onto the couch beside him. I snuggled into his side, loving the warmth and security I felt with him. I didn't want it to end, ever.
"I have something for you, Bella," Edward whispered in my ear.
I turned to look at his face, and saw that his hand furthest from me was holding his telephone. I didn't understand.
He smiled at me, then said, "Flip it open and hit the nine button, then read the display."
I took the phone from him and did as he requested. "Esme Cullen" popped up onto the screen.
I quickly looked up at Edward, excited, yet nervous. "Really? It's really her?"
Edward smiled and nodded, but said nothing.
"Does she live here? Is she nearby?" I flung the questions at him, but I couldn't help it.
He chuckled. "Yes, she lives here, at least, the area code of her phone number says so. I'm not sure how far from here she lives though. You could give her a call and ask?"
I smiled, but felt the butterflies take action in my mid-section. I nodded, unable to speak.
"I'll give you some privacy. I'll just be in my office if you need me," Edward said, then left me with the phone.
I held my finger over the send button, nervous but excited. It had been years since I'd last spoken to my Aunt Esme. I missed her dearly. I hit the button.
As it rang I debated on hanging up, but before I could, the call connected.
"Hello, Cullen Residence?" a smooth male voice answered.
"Ah, ah, um, is this the residence of Esme, uh, Swan? Or Cullen?" I stuttered through it, nervous. I hadn't thought about a man answering the call.
"It is. May I tell her who is calling?" he asked.
"Um, tell her this is Bella." I told him. There was some muffling over the phone as I waited.
"Oh my goodness, Aunt Esme! This is Isabella! How are you?" I flung the words at her at once.
"What? Isabella? Charles' daughter, Isabella? This is she?" she asked.
"Yes! Yes, it's me!"
"Oh my goodness child, you sound so grown up! The phone won't do, I have to see you! I assume that I can see you, since you are using a telephone?"
"Um, yes. You can. When?" I inquired.
"Tonight, of course. I can't wait to see you! Is that convenient for you?"
"Um, let me check..." All I had to do was look at Edward. He had heard it all and smiled at me, nodding his head yes.
"...yes. We can come over tonight. Where do you live?"
Esme gave me her address and Edward assured me that I didn't need to get directions. We planned to head over there immediately, so I quickly ended the call and promised to see her soon.
When I hung up the call, I felt my stomach turn a little. I wasn't nauseous per-se, but I was incredibly nervous. Why? I wasn't sure. It was my Aunt Esme, the least judgmental person I knew. She also left the Amish, and so I knew that she would want to talk to me and figure out was going on, as well as help me. I prayed that she could offer me some insight.
I debated changing for a moment, but I didn't want to waste any time, and I kind of liked the dress, and how Edward looked at me in it.
The drive to Aunt Esme's seemed to take forever. I asked Edward several times if we were almost there. After the fifth time, he was finally able to tell me yes.
We pulled into the driveway of a large white house about twenty minutes after we left Edwards'. As we walked to the door, I became more and more nervous. Edward must have noticed as he put his hand on the small of my back in reassurance.
I climbed the concrete step to the front door, took a long, deep breath, and knocked on the door with the little brass knocker. I turned around to look up at Edward. He gave me a dashing smile, a subtle nod, and just like that, my nerves dissipated. With him at my side, I knew that I could face anything. The thought both scared and excited me.
I didn't have much time to think about how I felt about that as the large red door was pulled open by a tall man with blond hair. He looked to be in his fifties or so, but I couldn't be sure, and wore a brown sweater with khaki pants.
"Hello. You must be Isabella? I'm Carlisle. Welcome to our home," Carlisle said as he waved his hand, inviting us in.
"Hello, Carlisle. It's a pleasure to meet you. This is Edward, my...uh..." I didn't know what Edward was. I didn't want to make him angry by saying the wrong thing. If I were home, I would say he was courting me, but I was playing in a new field. It was a whole different game.
"I'm Bella's boyfriend. It's a pleasure to meet you," Edward finished for me, not missing a beat.
My mouth dropped open at his confession and I watched Edward as he stuck his hand out and shook Carlisle's. At that moment, I heard a throat clear.
Seeing my Aunt Esme that way, uncovered and wearing "English" clothes, was one of the most extraordinary and startling things I had ever witnessed. I had only ever seen her in our traditional Amish garb, and rarely without her hair covered. I couldn't remember her ever being so beautiful, which made sense, since none of us were allowed to appear beautiful. Her hair was something of an auburn color and cascaded down over her shoulders in soft waves. She wore a black skirt that fell to just below her knees and a red blouse that had shell buttons and soft ruffles around the neckline. Her shoulders were left bare, as were her feet. I couldn't seem to look away from her bare feet until I felt Edward nudge me from behind.
I ran to my aunt and she enveloped me in her arms. I hadn't felt so at home since I had left the farm. Without meaning to, I began to cry. Esme walked us from the foyer and into the living area and sat us on the couch. For a quick second, I worried about Edward, but then heard Carlisle strike up a conversation with him. The voices became quieter until I no longer heard them and Aunt Esme sat back from me a little.
She handed me a tissue and I wiped at my face with it. I had so many emotions running through me, and there were so many things I wanted to say, but she beat me to it.
"I cannot believe what my eyes see, Isabella. You have grown into such a gorgeous young woman. Not that I'm shocked about that, but I am shocked to see you here, like this. It makes me so happy. How is everyone?" She paused, and I knew who she really wanted to ask me about. I gave her time. "How is Charles?" She finally asked.
"Father is fine. Working like usual. He has had Emmett McCarty and Jasper Hale helping him since last year. I think Emmett will be courting Rosalie soon, and Jasper may court Mary-Alice. I'd overheard Father speaking to Mother about it on a few occasions. But I think both of my sisters will be happy with that arrangement."
My aunt nodded. "So, you are here. How did you get here? I assume it has something to do with the handsome young man speaking to Carlisle?"
I felt the heat flood my cheeks and I quickly looked down at my hands, resting in my lap.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to embarrass you. Why don't you tell me about it?" she requested.
And so I did. I told her the whole story - from the day I accidentally met him while picking flowers, to our day at the waterfall, and up until he found her for me. As I told mine and Edward's story, she sat with rapt attention, never interrupting me to ask any questions. When I finished, she had a glorious smile on her face.
"Why are you smiling? Is something funny?" I felt a bit self-conscious under her gaze.
"Not funny at all, my dear. I'm just happy for you. Happy that you have found love, and so quickly," she stated.
"Love? No...I - I don't...I..." I couldn't finish. Was I in love? I mean, could I love Edward?
I thought about all the time that we had spent together, his confessions of the fear of losing me at the waterfall, and the way I felt in his arms every night and morning. I thought about how leaving him to go back to my family might possibly ruin me, completely split me down the middle.
After looking around the room but not seeing anything, I finally looked back at Aunt Esme. She wore a knowing smirk on her mouth, which grew to a full smile when I finally looked her in the eye. "You love him."
I bit my lip and nodded, then whispered, "I love him. Please don't say anything."
"I would never say anything, dear. I promise. But you have to tell him, let him know how you feel. I'm pretty sure he feels the same way."
"Really? Do you really think so?" I asked.
"I do," she said as she stood up. "Come help me get dessert on the table, you've eaten supper already, haven't you?"
I nodded and followed her into the kitchen.
Over dessert, the conversation was light and fun. Edward and Carlisle seemed to hit it off quite well and so the topics went from commercial electrical jobs, to Carlisle's responsibilities at the hospital, and to the organization that Aunt Esme ran. When we finished, we all went out onto the back patio. I sipped at my first glass of wine ever. The first sip burned and I gasped at the tingle on my tongue. Esme chuckled and patted my back.
"The taste gets better after time." I just nodded, still stunned by the flavor.
We talked for a while, but it was getting late. I knew that Edward had plans in the morning, and I also saw him hide a few yawns.
"I think Edward and I should be going now," I stated.
Esme nodded, then said, "Could I have a private moment with you, Bella, before you go?"
She walked me out to a little sitting garden and we sat on a wrought iron bench.
"Bella. Is it okay if I call you that? I heard Edward call you that earlier, and it suits you."
I nodded. "Yes, I like it too."
"I want to tell you a few things. They are important, so please, listen carefully."
I waited for her to continue, giving her my complete attention.
"Deciding to leave my family was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. I hadn't even met Carlisle when I left. I knew no one. But I knew that I couldn't endure that lifestyle for the rest of my life. I didn't believe in the things that we were taught. I wanted more, and I felt that I shouldn't be punished for that. Now, I don't blame them or think badly of them for what they believe. That is their choice, but this was mine. No one can make the decision for you Bella. The choice is only yours. To live Amish, or to live free. Whatever you decide, make sure that it is what you truly want. And please know that whatever you decide, I will always love you and I will always be here for you."
I threw my arms around her and hugged her tightly. I didn't know how she knew what I was feeling inside, but everything she had said made me feel so much better. "Thank you so much for saying that. It is exactly what I needed. I know that I have an important decision to make, but to be honest, I think it is already made."
I pulled away and wiped away the stray tear that slid down Aunt Esme's cheek. "I love you dear girl."
"I love you too, Aunt Esme."
We quickly said our goodbyes and I promised that I would call to get together again soon. The drive back to Edward's was quiet; I had much on my mind. Edward seemed to as well.
By the time we got home it was almost eleven o'clock. Edward and I quickly changed, him in the bathroom and me in the closet, and tiredly climbed into bed. For the first time in a long while, Edward fell asleep before me. His breathing evened out and I felt his warm breath fan over my cheek. And just with that, something in me changed, something I couldn't pinpoint. The only way I could describe it, was to say that I wanted to drink his breath, his air. And I wanted to kiss him.
I pulled his hand away from my waist and pressed my lips to the back of it, leaving a soft kiss. I turned to look at him as he slept, admiring his features and the way he wanted to protect me, even in his sleep.
And I whispered to him, "I love you, Edward." Then I closed my eyes. We would need to have a talk tomorrow.
Edward was up early and out of the house before I could make him breakfast. I wasn't offended as I had a task that needed to be completed. I needed to write my family, and tell them that I wouldn't be coming home.
I sat down to write the letter with my glass of warmed milk but was unsure of where to start. The first sentence was the hardest; just writing Mother and Father had me in tears. After that, the words just flowed. I told them about how I never felt like I had fit in, never made the right kind of Amish girl. I wanted too much from the world when I wasn't supposed to. I told them not to worry about me, I had found Aunt Esme and she was well and promised to help me. I also told them that I had found love, and I couldn't walk away from it. I also asked them to not believe any of the rumors they would hear, because they would hear them, and they wouldn't be pleasant. But most of all, I asked them to trust that I loved them, and that I never meant to hurt them, but I needed this. Like Aunt Esme said, I needed to live free.
When Edward returned home, I handed him the letter and asked him to read it before I sent it. He went and sat on the couch and began to read. When he finished, he looked up at me with tears in his eyes.
"You love me?"
I nodded. "I do. With all of my heart."
"Oh, Bella. I love you so much. I think I have since that first day, and I don't believe in love at first sight. But you're it for me," he said as he pulled me to his chest.
"You're it for me, too, Edward."
After several moments I pulled away from him, so I could look in his eyes. I didn't know any other way to convey my sincerity. Slowly he began to lower his face toward mine, and a bubble of nervousness lodged in my throat. I refused to give it attention. Edward was going to kiss me, and I was truly scared, but I also wanted it more than anything.
He came closer and closer, and finally, it was up to me to move the last little bit. I reached up on my tip toes and slowly, softly, brushed my lips against his. Just that feel, that sensation, was enough to drive me crazy. It was and wasn't enough. I felt his hand come up to cup my cheek and he kissed me this time, with a bit more pressure. It was a sweet kiss, and my lips rejoiced at the feel of his on mine. They were soft, full, and smooth like satin.
We kissed like that for several moments, but my toes began to hurt, and I assumed Edward's neck began to hurt, because he quickly pulled us over to the couch. He fell onto the couch and pulled me onto his lap; his lips immediately returned to mine. This time, our kisses turned a little more urgent, with both Edward and I angling to get better access. I felt his tongue on my lower lip and I gasped, shocked. I had never kissed a boy before and I wasn't sure what all it entailed. I grew nervous again, but then remembered, this was Edward, and I could trust him. His tongue licked along my lower lip and I slowly slipped my tongue out to meet the tip of his, ever so gently.
Edward moaned. "Oh God, Bella. More. Kiss me more. Please."
I kissed him more and stuck my tongue out to lick his lip. He groaned in pleasure and stuck his tongue against my mouth, putting pressure against my lips. I opened my mouth to him and his tongue was immediately in my mouth, seducing my own tongue. I had heard about this kissing, but up until now, had found the thought of it disgusting. This was anything but - Edward's lips on my lips and his tongue in my mouth, dancing with my own, was pure beauty. I wanted to kiss him forever.
At that thought, Edward removed his mouth from mine and I whimpered at the loss, but he began to trail kisses down my neck. I started to squirm at how wonderful it felt. Part of me worried that I was committing horrible sins. Sins that I would never be forgiven for, but the rational part of me knew that Edward would never lead me to hell. He loved me.
He loved me.
We continued to "make-out" as Edward called it, for a while until we both broke away from each other, gasping for air. I broke out into a fit of giggles and Edward prodded at my sides, tickling me. That was when I knew, without any doubt whatsoever, that I had made the right decision. The decision to stay.
Life was so odd. I felt like I had been going through my days like a body without its spirit, its soul, before I met Edward. Then, everything had changed. It changed for the person it wasn't supposed to change for, but I couldn't stop it, didn't want to stop it. I lost a lot in my decision to stay with Edward. I lost the respect of my parents and I lost the companionship of my sisters. But I knew above all else, that I hadn't lost their love. I knew that they would always love me, no matter what, even if they couldn't show it or speak of it. I chose to leave my Amish family to be with Edward because I knew that I couldn't let him go. I felt my future in him and that was not something I was willing to give up.
Like Aunt Esme said, it was my life to do with it as I pleased. I took her words to heart and knew she was right. If the rest of my family chose to stay and live the Amish way, I accepted that, understood that. It was the only way they knew and it was how they wanted to live their lives. It wasn't the way I wanted to live my life, so I changed it for the better. I decided to choose a new path, with Edward; a new path to Living Free.
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