Even tho I am finding it hard to get back into my other unfinished stories, I fear not writing, so this is just an idea to keep me trying to regain my groove. I have no idea how long this will end up or even if anyone will like it.
A Year In Purgatory
An Edward and Bella Story
Chapter 1/ Prologue
Bella Swan Cullen.
You know what, it's nice to know that no matter how badly things can end, sometimes there can be a reason to go on and start again and have hope, because my life really was a dark pit of hopelessness until the day it rained and I ducked inside a little art gallery, and met new hope.
Or maybe it was old hope renewed.
Jacob Black was my friend growing up, seeing as how our fathers were best friends, and we played together and had a lot of adventures and fun together.
Until I met my husband, Edward Cullen.
I only intended sheltering from the rain until the worst was over, then dashing back outside but some of the photos in the showing caught my eye and I was impressed by their simplicity and the emotions they made me feel.
I shook myself off and hung my wet coat on the pegs at the entrance and walked inside, wanting to see more. The photos were mainly in black and white, or sepia and the moods were so clearly captured, my heart went from happy, to sad, to gleeful.
Each image evoked a feeling, maybe a memory lost in my subconscious and I followed from room to room, seeking more. I had not felt feelings like this for a long time now, and I liked it. It was like waking up after a long hibernation.
Then I saw it, the first photo that made me smile and laugh out loud.
I turned and saw Jake standing in the corner, silently watching my reaction and smiling the widest grin I had ever seen on his face.
"Bells, I knew it was you. What do you think?" he asked, pulling me into his embrace.
His lips found the top of my head and he kissed me quickly, like I wouldn't notice.
"I can't believe you still have that photo." I all but squealed.
"My two favorite girls, I will keep it forever."
I noticed then the small ticket announcing this one photograph was not for sale.
I laughed at the memory. Jake had rescued a very pregnant dog from the ocean, where she had fallen in and gotten weighed down by the weight of her pregnant belly, and he had dived in without a second thought and pulled her out.
A young girl had been taking her dog for a ride in a small wooden boat, clearly not realizing the danger, the waves may have been calm and gentle when she started out but they changed so suddenly and swamped her. Jake stayed beside the craft in the water after lifting the small white dog over the side.
The girl seemed to be about twelve or so, too young to be risking her life here on the sea, and Jake heaved himself up and into the boat and rowed her quickly back to shore. They were all safe and relieved the ordeal was over when the girl's father ran up and grabbed the child into a hug.
"Oh my God, I was too far away, up on the cliff. Thank you so much, I saw the whole thing. I owe you my daughter's life."
"Maybe your dog's life, your girl was never in danger really." Jake replied.
"I insist on returning the favor. What can I give you?" he asked. He was clearly not a man of means and when Jake mentioned he was looking for a new dog, the man immediately promised Jake the pick of the coming litter.
Nine weeks later, Jake had arrived at our house with a tiny, squirming bundle inside his coat. He pulled her out, a little white fluffball, and handed her to me.
"You have to name her for me. I am rubbish at choosing names for dogs. And I never had a female pup before."
"If it were a boy, we could name him Poseidon, King of The Sea. How about Posey?" I suggested, not knowing a single female sea Goddess.
"Perfect." Jake answered, and he snapped photos of the tiny pup as she jumped and climbed over me as I rolled on the grass and laughed at the licks her tiny wet, rough tongue inflicted on my face.
The best of these photos now hung in an ornate gold frame on the wall.
Jake showed me the remaining photos and I recognised many of the locations he had caught for all time. By the time I realized the rain had stopped, it was dark outside and he insisted we went to dinner together and I offered no resistance. Jake was a friend, one I had sadly neglected over the years of my ill fated marriage, and when we stopped at his big, fancy apartment, I was bowled over by how far he had come. He was semi famous, his photos were much sought after. He pointed at a space on his wall and told me that's where the photo of Posey and I usually resided.
I was humbled, it was spotlighted and situated in the very center of his sitting room wall, the first thing anyone entering this room saw.
"Come talk to me while I get changed." he suggested and he pulled off his suit and looked through his closet, grabbing a plain black button up shirt.
I gasped, hopefully undetected, at the sight of his new physique, the Jacob I knew was never built like this. He was enormous, stacked with muscles, and I realised he was also a lot taller than I remembered.
"Six foot four inches" he said, as if he had read my mind.
"Seriously, Jake, you have grown up rather nicely." I understated. The two year age gap had disappeared, he was all man now.
"Bella, I have been looking for you. Charlie told me about you and Edward. Are you two divorced yet?"
Damn, it hadn't been that urgent before. It was inevitable, but never something we needed to rush and neither of us had even filed yet.
Suddenly that seemed like something I wanted to rectify.
Some days I wish I could go back and not go to the supermarket that day, I mean, it wasn't like Charlie and I were desperately in need of groceries, I just had it in mind to make something new and daring, and see how my Dad reacted.
He was very much a steak and potatoes type of guy but I wanted to expand his horizons, so I was wandering down the aisles of the local mini mart and carrying a tin of coconut milk and looking for chili paste, and I noticed this gorgeous man watching me, openly, not even pretending to be discrete.
When I took my groceries to the checkout, he appeared behind me and smiled at me as I fumbled with my card and put in the pin code and naturally my card was rejected.
I mean, I used the thing every week, never a problem, I have this beautiful man god watching me and it rejects!
Lauren, a girl I knew from high school, sighed and ran it through again, like I was incapable of swiping the card myself. She was chewing loudly and then caught sight of the man behind me and almost choked on her gum.
I blushed all shades of crimson, I mean, I knew there was money in the account, my paycheck was as yet untouched, Charlie had deposited the weekly food money, there was no earthly reason for it to reject. Lauren normally would have told me to come by tomorrow and pay then but she was too dazzled to think of that and she stood there like a deer in the headlights.
"May I be of assistance and take care of that for you?" he asked, inches from my ear, his velvety voice sending shivers down my spine.
"Thank you." I answered, amazing myself. Normally I would have insisted she try again and again until the system worked and allowed me to pay myself, but somehow I wanted him to rescue me and I didn't even try to fight it.
"If you tell me where I can contact you, I will send you a check." I said, coming out of the haze of desire my body had fallen into, and wanting to make sure we would have to have further contact, even something as mundane and obviously unnecessary as paying him back the $10.47 I owed him.
He was dressed so beautifully and his whole demeanor spoke of wealth and complete lack of need for the paltry amount to be repaid.
"I would much rather you allowed me to take you out for coffee, then we could consider the debt cancelled." he said with a smile that probably stopped traffic.
I agreed, enthusiastically, who was I to turn down coffee from a God?
It's not like I had half the town banging on my door, begging me for dates. There was Jake but at two years my junior, I found it hard to take him seriously. And Mike Newton, but I had no intention of alienating Jessica by dating the boy she had crushed on for years.
So, he handed over his card that looked somehow different to any other card I had seen before, and my purchases were safe in my hand and we started to walk outside together.
"Um, Isabella, Miss Swan, could I have a quick word?" said Lauren, and I frowned and excused myself.
"He has an unlimited card." she hissed quietly.
"What?" I asked.
"His card, he could spend a million dollars and the sale would go through unchallenged. Maybe you should offer him more than coffee, if you know what I mean."
I glared at her, I was surprised she hadn't knocked me unconscious and made a play for him herself, as if there was one fantasy Lauren clung to, it was that a rich and handsome stranger would wander in and take her away from her boring and mundane life.
I scowled and turned back and caught him up outside where he waited patiently.
"My name is Edward Cullen." he said, smiling at me like I was as special as he clearly was.
"Isabella Swan, Bella really, that's what everyone calls me." I answered.
"Isabella, I like it. Though Bella is the more fitting, a beautiful name for a beautiful woman."
Okay, no man had ever called me beautiful before, I liked this.
I opened my door and dropped the groceries onto the passenger seat of my embarrassingly old red truck.
"Maybe we could take my car? I assure you I am not a serial killer or kidnapper."
I was glad he wasn't a serial killer but kidnapper? I had a feeling I could live with that. Being kidnapped by him could be fun.
He walked to a shiny silver Volvo and opened the passenger door and I smiled and slid inside.
"I like your car." I said as he sat in the driver's seat.
"This old thing?" he laughed. "then I can see you are easily impressed. I thought I might need to go home and swap it for one of my better vehicles."
He had more than one car? Okay, I was slightly impressed. But maybe the other cars were older or cheaper or on loan. I knew that wouldn't be true even as I thought it.
"I was thinking maybe Patric's in Port Angeles? They make a passable coffee." he said.
I had never been there, paying ten bucks for a coffee was never in my budget, but he clearly thought it reasonable, and I would never have this chance again.
"So, Isabella, tell me about yourself." he encouraged as we sped out of Forks and along the highway.
"Maybe I should wait until you finish driving, you may fall asleep from boredom and I don't want to end up wrapped around a tree." I answered, only half joking. He was driving way faster than anyone I had ever traveled with, and the trees were whipping past.
"I am sure nothing about you is boring." he said and I grimaced. Everything about me was boring, from my hair to my eyes to my life.
"I am an only child, my father is Chief of Police in Forks, my mother is remarried to Phil Dwyer, a baseball player you will never have heard of, because, yeah, he is that good. I attended Forks High, then escaped to SeattleU for college then just when I figured I could escape this town and spread my wings, my father became ill and needed me at home. He had a heart attack and he is only now back working fulltime."
"Where do you work?' he asked and I cringed, surprised he couldn't guess. I was a typical small town librarian, I kind of thought my job would be obvious to all.
"In the town library." I answered.
"Ah, a lover of the written word. I should have realized." he said, making my job sound much more romantic than it was.
I didn't exactly get time to read, I spent my days checking books out to the local residents, chasing up on the overdue borrowings, charging small fines to the tardy, and restocking the shelves as the returned books came home to wait for the next borrower to choose them.
"What do you plan to do with your life, Isabella?" he asked.
"Ideally, I want a chance to write a novel and see if it has any merit. I read a lot and love playing with words. I may flatter myself that anything I could write would be considered worthy of publishing, but if I don't try, I will never know."
"True. What would you write about?"
"Life. Love. Something with a happy ever after."
"Ah, a romantic at heart." he replied.
His tone implied it was all an improbable fable and I looked at his face, seeing his brow furrow and his mouth straighten, and his eyes laugh at the possibility that true love existed.
It was as if I had mentioned the story would be about fairies and wood nymphs and maybe a gentle giant who would save them from the bad gnomes. Cute, but not believable, simply a pretend world to escape to in the pages of a storybook.
"Don't you believe in true love, Edward?" I asked.
"I guess if none of us believed in love, then there would be a lot of books and movies that nobody would want to discover. Love is possible, I guess, for the chosen few who find another person willing and able to fulfill all your wants and needs and desires, but in my experience, that woman doesn't exist and I admit I have little hope that I am wrong."
He looked amused and maybe I read a challenge in his eyes that wasn't really there, but I felt determined to make this man admit, with love, all things were possible.
He must have had plenty of beautiful women available to him, he looked to be in his mid to late twenties, I was puzzled he was yet to find his ideal woman.
Coffee turned into a short stroll along the seafront and a cosy booth in Bella Italia and plates of delicious Italian nourishment but I noticed the conflict in his eyes and his mood changed from friendly and happy to almost afraid and guilty, then back again, over and over.
His words were pretty but I couldn't help wondering if he meant what he said, because at times the words lost their true meaning and sounded more like goodbye.
Clearly he had been attracted to me but had discovered already that I was not for him. It was no surprise to me, his other women would all be far more attractive and interesting than I was, I was never a real contender.
But I had experienced a great afternoon and evening, and I suddenly realized Charlie would have been home hours ago, expecting his dinner to be ready to serve.
"I can't believe I forgot my own father, I hope he managed to reheat something out of the freezer, and isn't still sitting there waiting for me to turn up with a hot dinner in hand." I laughed.
"You really love your father, don't you?' he said quietly.
"Sure, Charlie is great."
"But he can't keep you forever, away from your real destiny. You have to get out there and have a home of your own and find a job you love and write your novel." he encouraged.
"Maybe one day." I sighed. The chances of those happening were pretty remote. Chances are I would still be here, parenting my father, until the day he died. I would be in my mid forties by then and there would be nobody left for me, and I would buy cats and read my classics and write short stories about unrequited love or plain simple girls who once spent a day in the company of a beautiful man who touched their hearts and remained locked inside their memories forever, warming them as they faced long cold evenings of loneliness, with just the face on the television for company. And the cats, don't forget the cats, Bella.
I knew that was the most likely scenario for me, and until today it had been enough.
Suddenly I wanted more.
Edward dropped me back at my rusty red truck, and I paused and wondered if he would kiss me as I alighted. I admit, I wanted something more to remember, and when I stood beside him, he seemed conflicted again, then he resolved whatever issue was bothering him, and he pulled me to him and his lips touched mine, and I melted in his arms.
His mouth was warm and practised, he knew exactly how to kiss a girl and leave her head spinning and her lungs gasping and her heart in an uproar, wanting more.
He set me back down on the ground and looked regretful, not the best reaction.
"I hope I have the strength to stay away from you." he murmured.
Somehow I knew it was the crux of the matter. He liked me,maybe as much as I liked him, but he knew I could never be what he needed.
Better this way, for both of us. I had my memory now, and he could keep looking for that elusive perfect woman.
I climbed into my truck and never looked back, until I was out of the carpark and well down the road.
He was still standing there by his car, one hand on the roof, one hand on his lips.
Maybe I had left him with a memory as well.
xXx xXx xXx
Edward Anthony Masen Cullen.
It had started out such a mundane day, no bright spots on the horizon. I was missing New York, but not my almost fiancee, in fact, the longer I was here the more I breathed a sigh of relief and realized what a narrow escape I had experienced. Tanya Denali had seemed like the answer, but I could see the whole facade would never last, she would grow weary of pretending to be my devoted wife and I would never be able to stand her incessant lamenting about how she was unable to be with the only man she had ever had feelings for. She had been the mistress of a high profile New York Senator, who was a very much loved 'decent family man', never likely to tarnish his reputation by leaving his wife and adorable children, for her. They had dallied together in secret betrayal for the past ten years.
I was merely the man who appeared in public with her, and it suited me to be linked with her, because she neither knew nor cared about the reason I had no real girlfriend to display to the world.
I was her cover, she was mine. We were photographed at charity events, political fund raisers, anything newsworthy, and our photographs were quite common in the various society pages.
Speculation about when we would tie the knot had became more frequent, so we had debated between ourselves how far we were willing to continue the charade.
I bought her a $75,000 diamond ring and waited for her to decide if we were going to go public and announce our engagement. Obviously the next question would be, for the media, what was the date we would walk down the aisle: for us, whether we could allow it to actually ever go that far.
I was wary of introducing her to my parents and our engagement would make that necessary. I knew my father would be puzzled but it was my mother's reaction I feared. She would take one look at Tanya and know we were playing roles. My Mom knew me as well as I knew myself, except for my one secret.
She would never be convinced I loved and wanted to marry a woman like Tanya.
Tanya and I had spent a whole night, sitting in my bed, discussing whether we would go on as we were, call the whole 'relationship' off, or go ahead and marry.
There were as many reasons to go ahead as there were to back away, so we decided on some distance between us to work out in our own minds, and not be influenced by the other, what we wanted to do.
So, I delighted my parents by coming to their home in Forks, and staying for an extended holiday while I wrestled with my conscious, if such a thing existed. I didn't want to deceive my parents but there didn't seem to be another way to live the life I wanted while appearing to live they life they hoped I would.
Tanya and I would have to let them down by never giving them grandchildren, that was a step further than I would ever consider going, but I assumed they may like to see me 'happily married'.
So, that fateful day dawned and I stopped off on impulse at the small grocery store to buy cigarettes and a woman caught my eye as I wandered aimlessly, browsing to see if there was anything I could take home for my Mother. She was not a big chocolate eater and anyway, the quality of those offered was vastly inferior to what she was used to, and the wine selection was equally pitiful, so I was about to give up and just purchase my pack of nicotine friends when I caught a glimpse of an angel.
She was tripping down the aisle, smiling to herself as she spied whatever she was seeking, and she held the can as if it were precious, then she moved on to the spice section and collected a small jar of paste and added it to her basket.
Her face was a picture, to see a woman happy to find a tin of coconut milk, and smile with happiness and satisfaction over such a minor thing intrigued me. Tanya had looked less impressed when I had shown her the blue Tiffany's box, and she had torn it opened and assessed the ring inside, and found it lacking.
"Really, Edward, this is the best you can offer? If I was your real girlfriend, I would turn you down because of this bauble alone."
"That's as much as I am willing to waste on a fake engagement, sorry. Take it or leave it." I had answered.
I watched this girl as her eyes shone and she danced to the checkout, and I pushed past a large lady with a lot of purchases in her cart to be directly behind this vision. When her card failed repeated attempts, I stepped in and took the opportunity to play the hero and thus secure some time with her.
Isabella Swan. The name suited her. Her heart shaped face with those amazing deep brown eyes and the full and kissable lips lured me in.
I asked her the usual questions as we headed for Port Angeles and decent coffee and she talked and laughed and told me about her life to this point.
I couldn't help the visions that appeared in my head, her walking towards me down the aisle, her waiting for me when I got home from work, her kissing me and taking me to our bed.
That's where the reality hit.
Vanilla sex was all a girl like her would ever be comfortable with and vanilla sex was not what I could settle for.
As she drank her coffee and smiled and laughed at my jokes, I knew I had to stop now and walk away, for both our sakes. But my mouth disagreed and somehow we were walking to Port Angeles best restaurant and she was ordering mushroom ravioli and I was ordering their famous spaghetti bolognese and somehow the hour or two I had intended turned into an entire evening in her company.
She was delightful and intoxicating and very addictive, like my own personal form of heroin, and I knew I was going to find it impossible to do the right thing and stay away from her.
I dropped her at the carpark, and as she stepped from my car, somehow my arms reached for her, just this once, I promised myself.
Her lips tasted as delicious as they looked and I went back for more. She was captivating, and I had to tear myself away before I ruined her as surely as I knew I would.
She was far too beautiful and her soul too precious to risk on a man like myself.
"Walk away." I said in my head but my heart lurched when she did just that.
She drove away and I congratulated myself, I had not asked for her number, her address or for a further date.
Better she think me rude or disinterested.
I watched her truck until it disappeared in the distance, then I drove to my parents place, denying I would weaken and seek her out. In a town this size, it would probably be impossible to find anyone who didn't know where she lived.
I should stay away, I should leave her alone.
I acknowledged that even as I found myself looking forward to our next encounter.