Wrote this for the FGB's Autism Awareness compilation. It's an EPOV of chapter 18 "He Moved on from Me."
Beta is Lindz26.
*SHE PROBABLY FORGOT ABOUT ME*
I was wide awake, my breathing shallow. I hadn't blinked in about a minute and a half, trying to keep my mind numb from the racing thoughts that had been on replay for what seemed like ages now. It wasn't working. Nothing worked.
Looking at the clock on my nightstand, I saw it was around six-thirty in the morning. There was no way I'd be able to go back to sleep. So, I got up and left my bedroom. After rubbing my eyes, I saw there was already someone in the kitchen.
"Morning," Irina greeted warily. This was now the normal tone every morning. A mixture between pity and caution.
"Hey," I grumbled, my voice not entirely awake yet. I leaned against the counter, my eyes watching as she made a pot of coffee, but my mind barely registering it.
She sighed and grabbed two mugs from the cabinet, then poured coffee in both. "What do you want? Sugar? Cream?"
What I wanted wasn't exactly in this kitchen. "Black is fine," I said, and took one of the mugs. I cupped my free hand around it, welcoming the sting of the heat and allowing it to warm me. "Kate still asleep?"
"She sleeps like a log. Of course she's out cold," she replied, and chuckled lightly, causing me to crack a small smile, which soon vanished when I thought of how Bella used to sleep. She was an early bird, unlike me. "Edward, what's going on in that head of yours?"
Was I that transparent? "Nothing," I lied.
"Are you thinking about your dad?"
I frowned. Surprisingly, I hadn't been thinking about my dad…but now I was.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said sympathetically. "You're thinking about your girlfriend, aren't you?"
I glared at her. "She's not my girlfriend." Not after I dumped her and refused to have anything to do with her. Why the hell would she be my girlfriend after that?
"Right." She paused, observing me. "Want my opinion about this Bella girl?"
Big mistake telling Kate and Irina about what happened between Bella and me, because they both wanted to give me their words of wisdom all the time. None of which I ever retained. "Not really," I answered blandly, and took a sip of coffee.
"Alright," she replied, dropping the subject. Thank God. "Just to let you know, your fridge is a disgrace. What are you going to do when your mom comes?"
I shrugged. I hadn't really thought about the food issue. I would've probably just figured it all out when she came.
"Unacceptable," she huffed. "Stop by Canlis after I finish work and we'll go to the store." I nodded, and I could feel her eyes on me as I stared down into my cup. "I probably shouldn't tell you this now, but Kate and I are thinking of leaving tomorrow."
My eyes shot up to hers. "Why?" I asked.
"Well…not that we don't like coming here and spending time with you every year, but…I think we've outstayed our welcome."
Shit. This was my fault. "No, you haven't," I assured. I'd spent weeks trying to keep my mind off not only the impending anniversary of my father's death, but also my break up with Bella. I'd been working out quite a bit, going for runs, and fixing up the house even more than before. I hadn't meant to make either of them feel unwelcome in the process.
"It's okay, really. We've been here already a few weeks. It's just time for us to go. We both need to be closer to our jobs, anyway."
"Oh," I said, my eyes dropping to the ground. I could understand that, but I didn't actually want them to leave. If they were gone, I'd be…alone. Really alone.
"We're just a call away, you know that," she spoke earnestly. "And try to keep more in touch with Kate now that you live here."
"And what about you?" I asked with a small smile. I hadn't known Irina as long as Kate, but she was still pretty cool to talk to. Plus, Kate's free spirit and Irina's practical nature were a good match. They sort of evened each other out. Kind of how Bella and me were. Shit…not again.
She chuckled. "Yeah, me, too." She glanced at her watch. "I've gotta go if I want to make it on time. You'll come after work, right?"
"Yeah," I agreed, and watched as she gathered her belongings to make a race out the door.
Soon, I was left by myself, the empty sounds filling my ears. Now that they were leaving, there were going to be a lot more moments like this, where I wouldn't be able to block out my thoughts as much. And I needed to block out my thoughts.
I wasn't angry anymore. Well, not much, anyway. I just felt so stupid having put in so much time, energy, and emotions into starting a relationship with someone who would always belong to someone else. I mean, how fucking dumb was I? I knew she was hung up on Jasper—any idiot could see that—yet I continued to pursue her like the pathetic shithead I was.
And of course she dated me. I mean, I took her mind off Jasper, right? I was the perfect rebound guy. Why was it that rebound guys never realized they were a rebound? Probably because I was a selfish jackass and was only thinking about my happiness. I hadn't really ever thought once whether she actually wanted a future with me. Well, I learned the hard way, hadn't I?
The worst part was that it probably hadn't even fazed her. She most likely went back to Jasper as soon as he was ready and willing, which he fucking was. That asshole was ready and willing as soon as he knew I was dating her. In fact, I was near positive that was exactly what she did. I wanted to hate her for it, but I only had me to blame for putting myself in that sort of situation.
Okay, maybe I hated her a little.
Damnit, even I couldn't lie to myself. I didn't think I could ever hate her. Again, I was pathetic.
The rest of the day passed by unceremoniously. I went for a long run, followed by getting some work done around the house. Kate and I hung out for a bit until she had to go to her waitressing job later in the day.
I'd followed through and met up with Irina at Canlis. We went to a grocery store in the city. The place was so packed. Apparently, everyone had the same idea to go to the store after work. I wasn't used to city life anymore, being up north, out of the way of everything. It was what I liked, and I didn't think I'd ever live somewhere like this again.
"You should just stock up on some essentials for now," Irina instructed by my side as I pushed the cart down an aisle. "Flour, sugar, salt, and your mom will probably want to cook, so maybe some other spices, which we can look at…"
I wound up tuning her out. I wasn't the best company right now, or probably ever. It wasn't that I wasn't grateful for the help, but I didn't…like being here, so close to Bella. It hadn't been that long since I last saw her, but she lived just down the street from here. My eyes had been on high alert since I entered the city limits, trying to subconsciously spot her out, like she would magically appear where I was. So, I was a bit on edge, lost in my havoc thoughts.
"Okay, we should probably buy some stuff for tonight," Irina continued. "I was thinking of making a fruit salad as an appetizer, so I'll probably head over to the produce. Can you get me some milk? Kate likes reduced fat."
I scratched the back of my neck. All I'd heard was fat and milk. "Uh, yeah," I said, and abandoned her, heading for the refrigerated section.
When I got there, I grabbed the first two cartons that said "fat" on it and made my way to where she said she'd be. I saw her straight away and wondered if she'd realize I hadn't paid attention to what milk I was supposed to get. What was the different between all these nonfat, low-fat milks, anyway?
"Irina, did you say you wanted nonfat or low-fat?" I questioned, looking down at the cartons in my hands. When she didn't answer, I lifted my eyes. And then I wished I hadn't.
No, no, no.
She was here. Bella was here. Right in front of me. What the hell kind of luck did I have? So many thoughts were going through my head all at once.
God, she looks good.
Did someone set this up?
She's looking right at me. Crap.
I don't even want to see her again after what she put me through.
Shit, I can't believe I've gone weeks without seeing her. Am I crazy?
Don't act like you even register she's here.
Someone really hates me up there.
I managed to not freak out or visibly look affected as I made my way back to Irina. It took all my strength, though. I tore my eyes away from Bella and kept them directly on Irina.
"Low-fat will work," Irina spoke, and took one of the cartons from me to set in our shopping cart. "I was just bugging this poor woman about pineapples."
I tried to muster a smile to show that I'd heard what she said, but all I could register was how close Bella was to me after all this time. It wasn't too long ago that I was able to wrap my arms around her, kiss her…
Don't go there. Just…don't.
Anyway, she was probably with Jasper now, doing all that same stuff. Yeah, that brought back the anger in full force. I was glad I broke up with her. Very glad. Yep. Because now, I wasn't any more emotionally involved with this woman. Looking back, I had really been on the verge of…well, of falling in love with her. Now, that would never happen…
"Edward," I heard her sweet voice say.
My eyes shot to her like a dog being beckoned by their owner. It seemed that these weeks had only taught me that I knew how to stay away from her, not that I could stop being affected by her any less. Why couldn't I be like one of those guys that just didn't give a shit? Back when I was in college, I didn't care. What the hell kind of pansy ass was I now?
"Oh, you two know each other?" Irina questioned.
I knew she was going to hound my ass with questions as soon as we left here. She knew of Bella, but she had no idea this woman was her. It wasn't like I showed her a picture. I didn't have one of her, anyway. Well…except the one on my phone. I still couldn't find it in me to erase that one. I'd tried on numerous occasions…but…it just wasn't happening. I'd get lost staring at it.
I didn't want to say anything, but unfortunately, I couldn't just not answer Irina. I also didn't want my voice to show any of my uneasiness, because I didn't want Bella to have that kind of satisfaction, seeing me suffering. "She works at the auction house, as an assistant," I found myself saying. Even to me, the words sounded impersonal and harsh. A part of me felt like a dick, but another part felt satisfied that I might've hurt her in the way she hurt me.
Irina began yabbering on excitedly about the auction house, unfazed by what I said. I tried to act disinterested, and really, I was. I could care less about that dumb auction house, regardless of the fact that they helped me sell my dad's collection.
At the moment, I didn't think I cared about anything. Things I cared about always disappointed me in the end. Even my mom. As much as I loved and cherished her now, she'd managed to hurt me with her words, which was why we went years without talking. But that was just how things went in my life. I cared, and then I'd get burned.
When Bella brought up that she'd bought something from the collection, I knew it was a way to get my attention. How dare she…? After humiliating and using me? Who was this woman? Had I really been so obsessed with her that I hadn't seen what she was truly like? This heartless, calculating, two-timing person that just didn't give two shits about me?
So, I did something to really get it in her head that I didn't care. I placed my hand on Irina's back. Irina stiffened, no doubt confused as to what I was doing, but she didn't question it. Somewhere inside of me, I also wanted to make Bella jealous, just to know what I went through, but I didn't think it'd matter if she'd started dating Jasper again.
Irina began discussing some antiques she had that she wanted sold, and that was where I had to draw the line. I just wanted to get the fuck out of here now.
"I'll give you their number when we go home," I interrupted stoically, and kept my attention anywhere but on Bella's breathy voice that used to warm my entire body.
However, when she uttered, "Goodbye, Edward," I couldn't help looking at her. Something in her voice sounded so final. I wasn't sure why that threw me off, but it did. There was pain and longing laced in her words, as well, and I was positive I was just imagining what I wanted to be there.
She walked away, and my eyes followed the back of her, my heart clenching with every step further she took out of my life. After all this time, she still evoked these feelings from me. Walking away from her had been easy at the time, because I'd been angry and it was all in the heat of the moment, but seeing her walk away from me now…well, it broke my heart all over again.
"Okay, what was that?" Irina asked haughtily, breaking me out of my yearning stare.
"What was what?" I questioned, looking back at her.
"You…and her," she replied. "You acted like she was Satan's spawn or something."
I sighed. "That was Bella."
She raised an eyebrow. "Bella? The Bella you said was a heartless bitch?"
I brought my hand to the back of my neck. Had I really said that? I'd been really angry, so that sounded about right. I still thought she was heartless, but maybe not a bitch… "Well—"
"You made her out to seem like she was some evil, cheating harpy," she spoke, and crossed her arms over her chest. "That girl not only looked like she couldn't hurt a fly, but she seemed absolutely terrified of you. And there you were, ignoring her."
I shook my head in denial. "She's not terrified of me."
"Oh yeah? She looked like she was about ready to cry."
My eyes dropped to the ground. I didn't like the sound of that, but what reason would Bella need to cry for? She'd gotten what she wanted in the end—to get back with Jasper.
"Tell me," she started, "when you broke up with her, she was at her ex's apartment, right?"
"Yeah," I answered reluctantly.
"And you caught her in bed with this guy?"
I scowled at the image. "No."
"So, she was kissing him?"
I groaned. "No."
I furrowed my brow. What the hell was she getting at? "No."
"What was she doing that made you break up with her?"
"She was…" I began, but stopped, trying to remember. "She was there at his place when she was supposed to be with me at hers."
"So, then, why weren't you at her place where you were supposed to meet?"
"I was getting her damn blender!" I exclaimed, getting angry.
"Why were you getting her blender for her, when she could've done that herself?" she questioned, scrutinizing me.
I shrugged. "I was doing her a favor," I lied. That wasn't exactly the truth. Irina seemed to know that, because she shook her head. "Okay, I didn't want her to see Jasper again. I went to get her blender for her, so she wouldn't have to."
"You're an idiot," she remarked, and chuckled, finding some sort of humor in this that I couldn't see. "Actually, you're both idiots. See, she's too nice to tell this ex of hers where he can shove it, and you're too stubborn to realize you jumped the gun."
"She was using me the entire time," I growled.
She began pushing the cart. "I don't think so."
"You talk to her for all of two minutes by some pineapples, and suddenly, you know her?" I asked angrily. She wasn't in the relationship with me and Bella. She didn't know anything.
"I'm just saying what it looks like as an outsider," she said casually. "I obviously don't know all the facts, but neither do you. You chose to see what you wanted to see."
"So, her in the apartment of her ex, barefoot, when she's supposed to be on a date with me—that's me seeing what I want to see?" I questioned, baffled.
She picked up a cantaloupe and brought it up to her nose, smelling. "Yep."
I huffed, but shut up. She didn't know a damn thing. I knew what I saw. It'd always felt like Jasper would swoop in and take her again, and he had in the end. Asshole.
When we got back to the house, I took a long shower, needing to wash off the day. It allowed me to not think of Bella as the water pounded over my head. She was out of my mind now.
Afterward, I helped Irina with dinner, until Kate arrived, looking haggard. She fell on the couch with a loud huff.
"I'm beat," Kate said. "Teddy, throw me a beer, will you?"
I took two Coronas out of the fridge and went over to her. After I pushed her legs off the couch, I sat next to her and handed her one of the beers.
"We saw Edward's ex at the grocery store," Irina called out.
I groaned and rested back against the couch.
"Who? Carmen?" Kate questioned. "God, I hated that bitch."
I rolled my eyes.
"No. Bella," Irina said, and walked into the living room.
"Uh oh. What happened?" Kate asked.
"The girl was as cute as a button. Nothing like Edward painted her out to be."
I pinched the bridge of my nose. "Irina," I warned.
"Yeah, but she was seeing some other guy while with Edward, right?" Kate queried.
"She wasn't seeing him," I snapped.
"You made it out to seem like she was cheating on you," Irina said.
"She wasn't seeing him while she was with me. She was just at his house, and she still had feelings for him, okay?" I finished, squeezing my eyes shut from the world.
"There was no way that girl had feelings for anyone other than you," Irina commented. "If you weren't so busy trying to ignore her, you would've seen how she was looking at you, like you broke her heart."
Somewhere deep inside of me, I wanted to believe that Bella had feelings for me, but there were too many signs showing she didn't. "She broke mine," I said.
"Maybe you should talk to her," Kate suggested.
Absolutely not. Not only was I still upset over everything, I wouldn't know how I'd act around her. Like an idiot who still doted on her, most likely. "No," I replied firmly.
"How will you get closure, then?" Kate questioned. "I mean, you've been sitting around, moping over her. Don't you want to put it all behind you and move on?"
I furrowed my brow. Move on…? I hadn't even considered it. Did I really want to move on? Did I want to stop thinking about her? Maybe try to date someone else eventually? Could I really do that? The way I'd ended it, it didn't allow for any of that. I was still just as hung up on her as ever. In fact, even more so than before. The time apart hadn't helped my feelings disappear at all. So, given that, was it possible for me to have closure?
"He doesn't want to move on," Irina spoke for me. "He's in love with her."
"What?" I balked, glaring at her. That was the most inaccurate thing anyone had ever said!
She chuckled, really finding something amusing. Apparently, so did Kate, 'cause she was also laughing. "Oh, yeah, definitely," Kate agreed.
"I'm not," I practically growled. Why would I be in love with someone who never wanted me? Maybe I would've been in love with her if we'd still been together, but thank God it had ended when it did, for that purpose alone.
"You're so in love with her, you couldn't even look at her today at the grocery store," Irina spoke, her tone amused.
I shut my eyes, deciding to block them out. What she was saying, it was causing my heart to clench in familiar ways.
"Aww…okay, sorry, Teddy. No more taunting," Kate spoke, her tone empathetic. She always knew when to back off. "Can I help make dinner?"
I felt Kate get off the couch and heard her and Irina in the kitchen. I stayed on the couch, my head pounding, because part of what Irina said was getting to me. I hadn't wanted to even look at Bella today. At the time, I chalked it up to being angry at her and not wanting her to see how fazed I'd been, but now…it was hard to admit that my feelings for Bella were just as strong as ever.
Before I broke up with her, I already knew I was falling for her, but I hadn't imagined myself in love. We'd only been dating for a couple months. How could anyone be in love with someone that quickly? But seeing her after all these weeks, it killed me to look at the face of the woman I cared so fucking much about. If I didn't feel so strongly for her, I could've looked at her. I could've faced her. But I couldn't.
What if I was in love with her? What would it even matter? We weren't together anymore. Those would just be wasted feelings. Feelings that I could never share with her and had no desire to. It wasn't like she'd return them. Never in a million years. So, why the hell would I be in love with her?
Shit, now I was just depressed, because I was sitting on a couch, with a beer in hand, debating to myself whether I was in love with her.
I reached in my pocket and took out my phone, needing to see her picture and prove to myself that I wasn't feeling this way about her. But as soon as I saw her flawless face on my phone's wallpaper, I couldn't deny anything.
I was so damn in love with her.
For those that don't know, my new story, Washed Up, has been posted. It's a couple of chapters in now. Check it out if you want. Thanks for reading!