Chapter 1: The Horrifying Past
"You know, I was going to pick a more delicate time to tell you this. I was going to sit you down, and though we wouldn't be happy, we wouldn't be so angst-ridden already either. I was going to do this right, if there ever was such a thing. But you're going on again but being a monster, and I can't take it anymore."
"No, just let me say this. It'll be hard to say, and I imagine it's going to be hard to hear, as well. But you need to let me say it all, because you want me to marry you and I want you forever. If either of those things are going to happen, you need to understand just how truly damaged I am."
"Bella! You're not-"
"Edward, please. This is so…Difficult for me. Just let me say this…" His jaw locked and his beautiful eyes grew steely, as though he was trying to stop himself from interrupting me again. He nodded, looking straight at me, and I drew in a jagged breath, my eyes dropping to my lap as I prepared to tell him of my horrid past he knew nothing about.
"When I was four, Renee decided she was ready to start dating again. It has been three and a half years since she'd divorced Charlie, so, to her, it was long overdue. She had given the death of her marriage a respectable grieving time, and now it was time for her to move on. She went out, dressed like the single twenty-something woman she was and went for love again - my mother was beautiful. It wasn't hard for men to love her. She didn't fall in love easily, but she grew infatuated easily. She went from one man to another - until she met Chase. She said it was love at first sight, and when I didn't understand that, she told me that Chase made her feel like a princess. Like he would give her the world, and like she was the most beautiful woman to have ever lived. She spoke of him like he was God. When I met him, despite his good manners and his friendly smiles and the way he let me get as many candy as I want - I never trusted him. There was something in his eyes. Something evil, and sadistic. I didn't know those words, I was just four years old, but I told Renee that he was evil. She waved it off, saying that I was just unhappy she was with someone other than my dad. She said that children with divorced parents often felt that way, and that it was normal. She continued to see Chase, and fell in deeper every time he'd insisted on bringing me with them to restaurants. She'd swoon when he paid extra attention to me. She'd say how unbelievably incredible he was when he'd tell me how beautiful I was. But I knew better, and she was under his spell. Just six months later, two weeks before my fifth birthday, Chase moved in with us. And on the eve of my birthday, I found out what 'monster' really meant."
"Bella," he choked out. "Don't tell me…Don't…No. Not you."
I swallowed the ever-growing lump in my throat painfully and continued, despite how my heart was shattering inside.
"My mother…Well, you've met her. You know her. You know how scatter-brained and naïve and ignorant she could be. I never blamed her, of course. She was just a woman who wanted to be loved. I could understand that, now more than ever. But I was terrified. Every night, when my beautiful mother slept peacefully, the monster came into my room. In the beginning, it was just to tell me goodnight, to give me another evil smile, to kiss my forehead and tell me to have good dreams. Then it grew. A kiss on the forehead, a kiss on the cheek, a kiss on the lips…A hand under my shirt. I called him the boogeyman. I drew him in pictures at school - shapeless black blobs with evil red eyes and sadistic sneers. My teachers grew worried. They saw how withdrawn I'd become, how I'd flinch away from human touch. They called my mother - and Chase - in to talk about it, and the whole time, behind my mother's and teachers' backs, Chase would glare at me, as if daring me to tell them anything. I wouldn't. I couldn't. I was just a five year old girl - he was a twenty-eight year old man. He'd told me that if I told my mother, she would be so disgusted with me. She would despise how dirty and evil I was. She would throw me out and no one would love me. So I kept quiet, and Chase stayed. He was the perfect boyfriend for the next four years, and the perfect monster for the next four years. I was eight when my mother found out - she came home early to surprise me and Chase - her 'perfect family' - and found us both in my room, our pants discarded, his hand over my mouth and tears running down my cheeks. She threw him out, and made me go to therapy. A year later, she found another perfect guy. His name was Joshua. She was careful this time. She took all the extra precautions. She read up online about symptoms to look out for. She had a support group she went to. A year went by before I even met Joshua. Another six months before she tentatively let him stay over from time to time, though she made sure my bedroom door was locked at nights. He moved in with us right around my birthday, again. Everything went by smoothly, and my mother started to relax. Then, one day, she decided that instead of ordering out or letting me cook, she was going to make one of her crazy inventions. It was some sort of crazy Mexican mix that she'd thought up during work. It didn't go so well, just like her other inventions, and when Joshua came home from work, he saw that there was no food on the table, the kitchen was a mess and Renee was exhausted from trying to cook for the past few hours. He got angry - and he punched her. I was scared, and I screamed because I saw the blood on her lip. He didn't like that, so he punched me too. You know what they say? About abused women living in denial? How they keep thinking that the man they loved had to be somewhere inside the monster, that he was just having a bad day, that he didn't really mean to and that the flowers he'd bought must've been so expensive so he clearly won't hit her again? Well, Renee went through all of that. She decided that Joshua was really a good man, but I was too aware of that same evil glint. I knew he was just another boogeyman. She wouldn't listen, of course. This continued for another year - Joshua would get angry over the littlest things like how he wanted Chinese food instead of burgers, or how he'd lost a bet at work, or how she dared disobey him by being too tired for sex - until Christmas rolled around and he beat her so badly that she was admitted to the hospital. I tried - I always tried to protect her, but I was still so small, so young. I just couldn't win. It tore me up inside because while Renee was oblivious, she was still my mother, she was still a beautiful heart and she didn't deserve what happened to her. I was admitted to the hospital, too, that night. When I got out, over a week later, social services took me away from Renee. They said they needed to make sure that she was a fit mother enough to care for me. While they did their evaluation, they needed to put me in a foster home. Charlie was out of the question since we barely even saw each other. Besides, they thought that with what Joshua had done, I wouldn't be comfortable around men. And they didn't even know about Chase. I stayed in a group home for six months, and sometimes I'd get to stay with a family, but that never lasted long. The foster system in this country, by the way, is horrible. The kids are mean, and the few foster parents I'd met only did it for the measly amount of cash they'd get. They never cared for the children. I was reunited with my mother right before Joshua's trial was to start. But Joshua wasn't the last evil she'd encounter. They always say that battered women fall into a cycle, and that was exactly what my mother did. I was thirteen when Renee, free from Joshua, met up with an old high school sweetheart. His name was Jack. Now, she knew Jack well. She'd been friends with him since they were children, and they'd gone through everything together until they'd gone their separate ways for college. I supposed she saw it as a second chance with him. He was kind and sweet and always cared for her in high school, so she trusted him. But the one thing she didn't take into account was the fact that Jack was human. And humans, over time, change - who could really tell if it was for better or for worse? Jack, as it turned out, changed for the worst. He, too, had the evil look in his eyes. Renee was still oblivious as ever. How could sweet, wonderful Jack ever be anything but an angel? Their relationship, fueled by their long-lost love for each other and the ever present lust, progressed quickly. By three months, they were in love, living together and engaged to be married. She was deliriously happy. I was anxiously awaiting for the exact moment he'd show his true colors, because I can see the demon in him - there was no way for him to hide his malicious side from me. Renee's a kindergarten teacher, and Jack was a businessman who had taken over his father's company - he was his own boss. He worked at home most days. The day after the engagement party, when Renee was at work, Jack came up to my room once school was over. He gave me a smile, and I knew immediately that something was wrong. He told me that he felt we needed to get to know each other better. He said we should watch a movie, make a slumber party out of it - wasn't that what girls my age liked to do? He told me to change into my pajamas, grab a blanket and meet him in the living room and he'll get the popcorn. You know, when you've been around monsters for so long, you start to recognize them. It didn't matter what mask they wore - if they were kind or friendly or small and unthreatening-looking or if they were beautiful and charming. When you've been around evil for so long, it only takes one look for you to know, and see past the pretenses. So I told him no. I said I had a lot of homework; that I was tired and I wanted to take a nap before dinner. But you know as well as me that I'm a terrible liar. Jack dropped his smile, his eyes grew cold and hard, and he told me sternly that in no uncertain terms should I ever say no to him ever again. He slapped me across the cheek and told me to do exactly as he'd asked - he'd be waiting for me downstairs. I did so unwillingly, my entire body shaking and tears streaming down my face. I prayed that I would be unharmed. But luck had never been on my side, and that didn't change that day. Right there, in the middle of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movie, Jack kissed me. I screamed for him to stop, and pushed at his shoulders until he moved back but he was stubborn and, with a hard voice, he'd told me to 'shut up and let him do as he pleased'. For the first time since I was eight years old, I was raped again, right there in my mother's living room floor, Moon River in the background. This went on, without my mother's knowledge, for a few months. Sometimes, Jack would bring his poker buddies over and they'd take turns with me. Renee walked in on such an incident once and Jack tied her up, made her watch. She didn't dare tell anyone or go to the police because, believe it or not, he was even more demonic than Joshua who had landed her in the emergency room, hanging to life on a barely-there thread. So she kept quiet. Just four months after my fourteenth birthday, Renee and I discovered something very frightening - I was pregnant."
The grip that Edward had on the arms of the wooden chair tightened, and both came off with a rather loud 'snap'. I didn't look at him as I continued my story. I knew that when he'd heard it all, he would be very disgusted with me, and that he wouldn't want me around anymore. The thought alone drove steel spikes through my heart, but I had to let him know. He couldn't tie himself to me when I was clearly so damn worthless of his love.
"I was pregnant, and I didn't even know who the father was. I spent four days in my bedroom, the door locked and the windows shut, as I screamed and tore at my skin. I…I'd lost my mind. I didn't remember much of that time, it was all pretty much a haze, but Renee told me that I kept screaming for someone to 'take this thing out of me'. I was sobbing continuously, uncontrollably. I was lucky that Jack was on one of his business trips because he would've knocked the door down and beat me up for making such a ruckus. Renee wanted me to get an abortion, and after I'd stopped screaming, I wanted it too. So she scheduled an appointment at the clinic and, quietly, we went. T here were protestors outside, throwing garbage at us as we passed and screaming at us for being such horrible monsters for wanting to kill an innocent being. They yelled that I should rot in hell if I walked through the doors. I kept my head down and I strode right in. Five minutes later, when the nurse called my name, I stood up from the uncomfortable plastic chair, slid my sunglasses back on and walked right back out. The protestors cheered for me. I couldn't do it. My heart had been pounding the entire drive over and I'd felt so…Suffocated when the nurse called my name. It just…I just couldn't go through with it. Renee and I had a big argument that day and it didn't end until the next day when it had to end - Jack was back. He took the news angrily, like he did everything else in the house, and though he slapped me a time or two and called me a whore, it was Renee that he took his anger out on most. Renee still wouldn't - or couldn't - leave him, but she wanted to be there for me. She took me out of school to save me from humiliation. She almost quit her job if Jack wouldn't have been so angry about that. She picked up the slack where I couldn't. She even seriously thought of ways to leave Jack so that her grandchild wouldn't have to go through what we went through. But Jack had a tight grip on us both, and he was a very prominent businessman. We had nowhere to go, nowhere to run. So we stayed. Renee went to work though she worked less hours, frantic that something should happen while she wasn't at home. Jack was upset that he couldn't sell me out to his friends while I was pregnant since no one would want me all huge and disfigured. And I…I did all the work in the house. I became a house slave. Then September rolled around. It was Thursday night, I remembered. Jack was supposed to be working late, having gone to his office that day. He came home, barely able to stand up because he was so drunk, and started screaming, red-faced that he had a very bad day. His mistress had dumped him for a richer man. He'd made a very bad investment and now he was out six and a half million dollars. He had a brainless nobody as a fiancée and a worthless knocked-up idiot who would spread her legs for anyone as a soon-to-be step-daughter. He was in a bad mood. My mother tried to protect me, because I was pregnant, but Jack was strong even when he was drunk. Someone, a neighbor perhaps, heard us screaming. The whole neighborhood must've heard us at some point many times over the years and I didn't know why this was the first time they ever reported him, but I couldn't be more grateful. I spent my fifteenth birthday in the hospital. They had to do a C-section to get the baby out of me. It was early by several weeks but if my baby stayed inside of me, we'd both die. There was some sort of complication during surgery, and that was the first thing they told me when I woke up. I started having a panic attack, thinking that something had happened to my baby. I'd resented its presence for many months but I'd just only started thinking of the baby as mine. Not Jack's, or one of his bastard friends, but mine. Just mine. I wasn't going to give my baby up, like Renee and Jack thought I was - the only reason Jack had allowed me to stay. I was going to run, even if Renee wouldn't. I'd been saving up money, hidden away in a loose floorboard way down in the basement. Jack would've never found it. Once my baby was here, I was going to take him or her and I was going to run. I didn't know where. Maybe to Charlie's. Maybe out there on my own. I didn't know. All I knew was that as much as I loved my mother, I loved my baby more. I'd do anything to protect the innocent child. The doctor told me to calm down - the baby was fine. I had a healthy baby girl. The nurse was going to get her while I rested in bed. The complication in surgery was about me. As it turned out, there was some damage done to my uterus. I'd gotten so many blows to the stomach…I couldn't bear any more children. The doctor told me he was sorry and, before he left the room, he threw me a disparaging look, judging me for having a child so young in age. I knew I'd get it all the time but I didn't care. Nothing mattered. Not Jack, not Renee, not the people I knew were going to give me a hard time because they didn't know the full story and thought I was just another careless silly teenager who had sex and got herself pregnant. It didn't even matter that I couldn't have kids anymore. All that mattered was my baby girl. They brought her in, and she was so tiny, so beautiful. To my shock, when I held her, and when I looked at her…I loved her. I mean, I already did, but I was prepared for the revulsion I'd feel. I was prepared to feel even a tiny bit of hatred or disgust because of how she'd gotten into this world. I was prepared to even fall out of love with her. But there was none of that. I looked at her, and all I saw was me. She had my curly brown hair, and though her newborn eyes were blue, they were shaped like mine, and a cute little button nose. She had my lips. I even saw a little bit of Charlie in her. She was beautiful, and she was just mine. It was…Staggering how much I felt for her. I was just fifteen, just turned fifteen; it didn't even feel like I was a year older yet. For all the things that had made me older and wiser than other kids my age…I had no clue. I just didn't know that such a love existed. But there I was, with my baby in my arms, and it was so…Overwhelming. I couldn't grasp how unbelievably warm and happy and sane she made me feel. I cried as I held her for hours. The nurse was worried and asked if I wanted her to take my baby from me, but I couldn't let her. That baby…She was my whole world. Do you know how amazing it is, to be able to hold your entire world in your arms? I didn't. It was an eye-opener. It was…Indescribable. I held her to me, cradled her close, and kissed her forehead. She smelled…Pure. Innocent. And there was no way in hell I was going to let her be anything but that. That's exactly what I told Renee when she came to visit me, red-eyed and tearful. I told her that I was leaving, and that I was taking my daughter with me. I told her that I loved her, but I couldn't stay. I needed to put my baby before me. She broke down, then, and told me that she should've done the same for me. She told me that she'd kicked Jack out. The police had arrested him and she was going to file a report against him, get a restraining order against him and get a lawyer to make sure he gets thrown in jail for what he'd done. She begged me to stay, and told me that things would be different. She and I both knew I had one foot out the door, ready to flee the moment she took back her words. She left me with my baby, knowing I wanted to be alone with her, and left to take care of the mess at home. I stayed blissfully unaware and happy, alone with my baby. I named her Kathleen - it seemed fitting since it means pure, unsullied. Her full name was Kathleen Angelica-Lovette, which loosely translates to 'pure angelic little loved one'. It was exactly what she was. My beautiful, brilliant star. She was the most beautiful creature to have ever lived, and I was lucky enough to have held her and loved her for as long as she'd lived."
"Lived?" he asked, his voice a broken, hoarse whisper, his eyes as dark as the first time I'd seen them.
I nodded, still not fully able to look at him. "She was alive for almost two weeks. On her thirteenth day in this world, she closed her eyes, went to sleep and turned blue. She never woke up."
There was a very stagnant pause in the room, a very deafening silence, where neither of us said a word to each other. I couldn't look at him, and it didn't seem like he could look at me, either.
"Bella…" he said, a very long while later. "I'm…I'm so sorry."
I sucked in a deep breath, stilling my hands from where they were picking at invisible lint on his golden bed spread. I forced myself to look up and was startled by his eyes boring into mine.
Clearing my throat, I said, "That day, in Biology, when you looked at me with blackest of eyes, and glared at me as though I was either a demon or a really good meal…I was still calm. I was still unafraid. I was…Safe. It isn't stupidity or ignorance or even a desire to die. It was because, even in your darkest moment, with eyes as black as night…There was no evil in you. All I saw in that moment was your eyes, and there was no evil glint. There was no monster. There was just…You. You might've done some things you're not proud of, and you might've strayed off the right path for a while, but Edward…You're a good man. I am not blinded by beauty, nor am I so infatuated with love that I can't see what's good and what's bad. I am not my mother. I don't just accept the false masks. I see past the pretenses. If there had been even an ounce of evil in you…I would've known. I don't know if…my story made you become disgusted with me. I understand it if it did. For a long time, it disgusted me. It still does. I don't know if it made even the slightest bit of difference about the way you feel about yourself - or about me. But I beg of you. If somehow, even after everything I am, everything I'm not, you still want me…"
"Of course I do! Bella, no, you're not…You're not dirty. You're not anything but beautiful. You're so perfect, Bella. You are. All I want is to be with you. And all I want is to find those bastards and rip them limb from limb."
"You don't have to do that. I'd very much like it if you were to let it go. And if, you still want to marry me, and my mother's around and she's thinking about everything that's happened to us in the past…Please just let it go."
"I can't. Bella…What they did to you…It's unacceptable."
"Yes, it is. But if anyone were to kill them, it'd be me. But I don't want to. I just want to let it go. So, please…If you want me to be happy, and if you want to be tied to me, promise me something."
"Don't call yourself a monster. Don't think of yourself as anything but a good man. I've seen monsters, Edward. I saw them for years. I looked them in the eyes, and I felt sullied by their very presence, by the air that they breathe. You, on the other hand…Are the best soul I'd ever met. You hold onto your humanity better than most humans do. I wish you'd see it, too."