Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns everything Twilight related. No copyright infringement is intended and there is no financial gain by myself in this story. The original characters, plot, and setting are the property of the author, NTJB. Please do not reproduce this story without the express permission of the author.
A/N: Hi :(
This is heavy.
I'll warn you of the angsty chapters with a "Hi :(" in my A/N. This means that it is heavy and I'm sorry. Unfortunately, there are a bunch coming up.
This chapter contains abuse. It's not graphic but I didn't want that to surprise those who can't bear that.
Chapter 29- Rocks
August 14, 2010
"This is Edward Cullen. Please leave a message after the beep, especially if you have lots and lots of money."
I cursed. Then, I tapped his name on my screen again, watching his picture come up from his Facebook page. I never took a candid of him. I may never if Ben was right.
"He takes the truth seriously. One lie and he'll never forgive you. Might as well be a malignant tumor to him.."
Ben said everything I had been thinking ever since I spoke to Ms. Evanson in July. He told me everything that I knew was right. The truth was what brought absolution. The truth did lead to happiness. I should've stuck with my instincts. How could I expect to control this shit like I was some sort of god?
No, he will understand. He will forgive me.
Of course, there was traffic on 6th Ave. all the way to 59th. The cab driver was nice enough, attempting at small talk in his broken English. But I couldn't understand a word he was saying and by the time we reached Central Park, I begged him to shut up.
I needed to think. How was I going to tell Edward the truth without crushing him? Right now, the truth was as dirty as the lies.
When we arrived at 880, I threw a couple twenties at the driver. "Keep the change." I kicked the door shut, running inside. At the front desk, Vincent, the doorman, greeted me with a warm smile.
"Miss Swan, Mr. Cullen left a gift for you." He took a while to bend down behind the desk. When he stood up again, he held a white rectangular box with a red bow in his craggy hands.
"Thank you, Vincent." Gently, I took it from him. "Is Edward home?"
"Did you see him with his friend?"
"Yes, fifteen minutes ago," was his hoarse answer.
Last week when I was coming back from the supermarket, Vincent handed me a much lighter box wrapped in red ribbon. Inside were the embroidered hand towels for the kitchen. A week before, coming back from the bookstore, the box was much heavier. It was the stand alone mixer. Both had cute little notes to them about how I'd put these to good use. This box had a tiny note hidden in the folds of ribbon. It was very different from the others.
You will be great. - Edward
I didn't want to open the gift. Whatever was inside had to be returned because I was nowhere near as great as Edward deemed.
Rushing to the elevator, I pushed the button to our floor. The box's weight was fair enough, five pounds at most. I could tap the wall with this box, which was what I did until the elevator dinged and the light behind "PH E" went out. When the doors opened, I ran out and bumped into Ben.
I shoved him back into the hallway.
"What did you just do? What did you do?"I hollered, using my entire body to push him into the wall over and over. He was so big, he barely moved. Instead, he just stared at me with wide blue eyes, silent.
"Say something, goddammit!"
"Bella? Is that you?" I heard my favorite baritone voice from inside the penthouse. He didn't sound angry. Edward didn't sound sad, either. He sounded normal.
Ben had left the door ajar, white light from inside flooding the dim hallway. The voice might as well have been from God himself.
"Yes. I'm coming," I called back. Ben backed away, then, as if he had just seen a ghost. He jumped when he hit the wall, spinning around and stumbled inside the car.
"What happened?" I asked Ben again. But he was in the elevator, punching the button for the ground floor. "Ben!"
The doors shut, and I got no reply. I expected self-righteousness from the most blunt man I knew. Instead, he was stunned. Fifteen minutes was a long time to ruin a girl's life. Ben's reaction looked like he did more than that, though. He looked like he had seen death incarnate. Now, I would have to go face death blind and bare. This could be the end of my life, and I didn't know the first thing to do.
You do. The truth. The only thing to do is tell him the truth. He loves you. He will forgive you.
It was as if the why girl were speaking to me.
That's when I saw him. He wore a white t-shirt and blue jeans, both covered in splotches of red paint. His hands had a melange of colors: yellow, green, purple, but mostly red. It looked like he had washed them off a long while ago, but the essence of the paint remained, faded into his skin. His cheeks were smooth, which meant he probably got some on his beard. His face was clean and so young. He looked so young everywhere but his eyes.
The bliss had been replaced.
"You have something to tell me?" He sounded fine. I didn't understand it. His voice and his eyes didn't match. Then again, it was a mere glimpse. I didn't dare look into his eyes for more than a second.
Maybe he was okay. He wasn't happy, but he wasn't at his limit.
"I do?" I walked into the apartment, hugging the box to my chest, the bag of tomatoes banging against my side with each step. The foyer was as serene as it ever was. But the living room...
"You do." He slammed the front door behind him, and I jumped with a squeak. When I peeked over my shoulder, he was leaning against the door with his hands folded behind his neck. I turned away as he dropped his head back on the wood. "Tell me everything."
"Edward..." I looked out the terrace doors. Well, what was left of them. The glass was shattered into pieces, the summer heat blasting into the living room. The curtains billowed from the wet heat. It was never as hot up here as it was today. Ever.
My former visions each morning of what his eyes would be like the moment I told him the truth flooded my mind. The dreaded viridian awaited me. But I was afraid the visions wouldn't compare to the haunting reality of it. My breath caught in my throat. What if it was worse?
No, you've already seen him at his worst. You have a scar on the back of your neck to remind you of what will never happen again.
"I don't wanna hear excuses." His voice was closer to me now. He wasn't in the foyer anymore.
"I don't have any." I remembered his eyes every morning throughout our entire summer. My green pools. They steadied me.
"Yeah? That's not how Ben tells it. I hear you've come into some money."
I lowered my left arm to let the bag fall to the floor. My heart thrummed.
"I haven't. Not yet." Then, I walked up to the edge of the terrace steps. The midday sun brought the whitest light into the room. It was the sole source of warmth. The man behind me was cold.
"Not yet? What do you mean?"
"I would've gotten it today if..."
"If what?" His voice rose and became so loud. "If Ben lied to me?"
I tightened my grip around the box. It wasn't that long. It ran down from my chin to my breasts. It had no scent, either. I thought of all its possible contents because I couldn't think of an answer to Edward's question. I was just kidding myself, though. I had no choice but to.
I heard his heavy steps behind me right before he grabbed my arm and whipped me around.
"You think if you don't look at me, the lying will be easier, don't you? You need time to come up with more?"
"Please... don't." I couldn't look up at him, staring at his heaving chest instead. Inside was a heartbeat he kept calm when he wanted to. He was a master of controlling his desire. Now, the beat raced and pounded in him. His hands trembled on my bicep where he held me. It was a rough hold. It was stone cold. The last time he held me like this was in his old apartment.
No. No, Edward would never hurt me like that again. He's not what they all want me to think he is. He's good. He's pure.
His voice became calm again. He could've been talking about baseball. "Ben had a funny idea about you. He thought you wanted to be a co-producer for my play. Isn't that the strangest thing you've ever heard?"
"I would never-"
"I asked him why would he even think such a thing. You never spoke to me about it. Why would you wanna help me produce this play and not say one word to me?" His voice was low and steady. He sounded so calm. The only reason I knew he wasn't was because he gripped my arm so tight, I was numb from my forearm to my hands.
"I can't feel my hands."
Edward ignored me.
"He said, 'If we have another Jane on our hands because of you...' and I stopped him. I wanted to punch him in the face for that fucking shit. Where did he get off accusing you like that? I almost punched him in the face, Bella." His voice faded into a whisper as if he were nearly done recounting his conversation with Ben. But no, he was getting revved up.
"He didn't believe me." He continued, not registering my apology. "He swore you'd be able to get your hands on ten grand real quick. I told him you don't have access to money like that.
"'Drug dealers do,' he said. He was laughing but totally serious. He even thought your family was in the mob. Can you believe that?" He snorted. Then, he laughed, sounding eerily like he did when he played Hamlet.
"No, I can't." My voice was small compared to his. His filled the room like an anvil.
Vehemently, he snatched the box from my hands. I winced from the charged energy. After a breath, he rolled his shoulders and tossed the box over to the couch across the room.
This couldn't be like it was last time when I spied on him. He wouldn't hurt me. Ms. Evanson and Alice were wrong.
With the box out of my hands, I had nothing else to concentrate on. I searched the room for something else, anything. My gaze fell onto the coffee table.
"That's what stumped me." He began speaking so quickly, his words bled into each other. "How could you get ten thousand dollars so quickly, huh? Who do you know? Your mom doesn't have it. Who'd you ask? Your dad? You never talk about him. Did he win the jackpot? He a gambler?" He pulled me into his chest, yanking my face up to his. "Look at me when I talk to you, dammit!"
"I-" I couldn't catch my breath. My lungs felt like they were filling up with rocks. He already figured out where I got the money. I knew this because on the coffee table was his Iphone. His screen's backlight was on with a list of recent calls. And at the top of the list was the girl he demanded I never see again.
"Edward..." I whispered with my eyes squeezed shut. His forehead jammed onto mine. His breath was sweet. He smelled like paint and milk and chocolate cake.
"Your daddy doesn't have any money, either, does he? Who's left in your group of lame-ass friends? Jacob? There's the winner. He get a record deal yet?"
Hearing Jake's name pulled me out of the frigid water I was drowning in. That 'lame-ass friend' told me countless times about what real love was. I gasped for air, pushing Edward back, remembering Jake's words to me last April.
"She really makes me happy. Don't you see that? I don't think I will ever meet another girl like her."
I told him he was a fool. How could he trust a woman who betrayed him? Now, I was the woman who betrayed the trust of the man I loved. I was Leah. Here was a man who loved me more than Jake loved Leah. If they could make it work...
All you need to do is tell him the truth. He'll forgive you.
"I'm sorry." I openly sobbed, my emotions flowing like lava down to my legs. My tears were burning. From my limbs to the strands of my hair, I could've melted any second. My heart could've exploded from the heat. This was all before I made the mistake of opening my eyes.
This close, I saw the viridian was no more. What coated his eyes was much worse.
"Sorry? That's all you have to say to me?" He grabbed my arms again but immediately let me go. Still, my arms were frozen from his chilled palms. I shook them, unable to reconcile his frost to my fire.
His shoulders tightened. Everything tightened, especially his eyes. His eyes spoke in volumes of fury that could break the sound barrier. Up my legs, that fury climbed and seeped to my fingertips like icy Arctic water. It weighed me down until I had no more energy left to sob.
"Sorry? After you asked that fucking cunt for money?" Balled up fists formed at his side.
"You... needed it..." All of a sudden, my legs swung off the floor. Edward flung me onto the couch nearest us. My body hit cushion, rebounding, then sunk into the leather as he climbed over me.
"Alice told you I needed her fucking money, didn't she?" he shouted down. "Fuck!" He punched the wall to his right, cracking the plaster. His muscles were taut. His skin was crimson from the edge of his ears to the tips of his fingers. "She must've told you everything I ever did to her."
"God..." A wave of nausea swept over me. I had to shut my eyes to keep steady.
"She was afraid for you."
"She doesn't matter, baby. I'm not."
"She must've told you I beat her..."
"No!" I gasped.
"... That I sent her to the emergency room and almost killed her." He leaned down, seething into my ear. His cold breath made me shiver. "I bet she was afraid I'd do the same thing to you."
"You think I will, too! Don't you?" His hold around my jaw tightened then his thumbs slid down to the middle of my throat. His voice became dull like a blunt object, like a baseball bat to my skull, pounding it until it became sand. "You think I'll hurt you."
"Never," I choked out. "You wou-" His thumbs pressed down mid-sentence, cutting off the airflow. I was glad for it. I didn't want the air. I didn't deserve it. I failed him and Emmett was right. I couldn't be his stability.
When he released me a second later, I swallowed as much air as I could into my heavy lungs. He pushed himself off of my chest.
"After... I would never..." he whispered. I opened my eyes to see him shut his. All color drained from his face. His chest rose and fell so quickly, as if it were about to blast off. Then, he began to talk and never stop.
"You and- you aren't... her. You ar- were- You-"He opened his eyes and looked into mine as if he were lost, but in his next breath, his fury returned.
"Alice had to pay. I beat her for all the shit she put me through. But it wasn't enough. She's alive, and Jasper's dead. And if it wasn't for my dad, I'd be in jail for doing something no one else dared to do to that bitch. I wish I killed her, Bella. And look what she's doing to you! Yet you doubt me? Me!"
"No." My heartbeat slowed. I saw him through the sliver of my eye.
"Why the fuck did you talk to her? Why?" He grabbed my shoulders and shook me like a rattle.
And here lay a dirty truth that would turn his fury into the deepest sorrow.
I covered his hands. As if my touch were a soothing salve, he loosened his grip.
"You needed to focus, Edward." I breathed. "You needed the money for the play... to escape."
"What the fuck are you talking about? Escape what?" The vitriol in his voice brought me to the brim. When his next wave of pain poured into me, who knew what would come of me, of us both?
"My dad?" He released my shoulders, and I felt his weight shift back to my thighs. He sat back on his heels with his arms crossed. "What the hell does he have to do with any of this?"
"Baby. Your dad..."
"What?" he bellowed. "What happened?"
I clawed at my neck, already seeing it, already feeling it. It was down in my bones deeper than the fury had just been or the joy that had blossomed all over my body this summer. All of those emotions we wordlessly shared were on the surface and easily replaceable. But the sorrow would remain in my bones because it had been in his for the last ten years of his life. The darkness would shroud him again.
"What happened to my dad, Bella?" He didn't yell. He spoke so softly, I almost missed the end of his question.
"Baby, Carlisle's dying."
The change in his eyes wasn't immediate.
"No, it's another lie. Why should I believe you?"
"Who told you? Alice?"
"And Esme? That's who you believe? That bitch and her conniving mother?"
Listening to his accusations was like getting stabbed repeatedly. I felt bloodless. Every minute left me weaker and weaker.
"After Jasper died, Alice told everyone in L.A. that I raped her. I never touched her. I would never touch that bitch. But everyone else believed her. She was a thirteen year old saint to them, even my father. No one sees her for what she really is. She will be a cold-hearted pathological liar until the day she fucking dies. Fuck!"
I didn't know how to absorb any of this. Alice was so sincere every time I spoke to her. She told me she slept with Edward, a topic that he continued to deny but never broached until now. And he was telling me this convoluted story about rape and beating Alice? I didn't understand any of it as these words fell from his lips like rocks. I didn't have enough time to shield myself from them, either, as his fury rained down on me.
"Why can't you see it, huh? She wants something from you like she wanted it from Jasper, and she will destroy you."
"Call... Emmett." I was exhausted. My body was a gelatinous goop. He still sat back on my thighs, but I felt like all his weight rest on my chest. Every breath I took was a belabored one. I couldn't keep my eyes open.
"What? You're still gonna believe Alice?"
I did. She was too worried about Carlisle when I saw her on Wednesday. She wouldn't put on an act like that, twice. She couldn't. And Ms. Evanson couldn't either... right? Now wasn't the time to second guess them, anyway. Whatever the truth was was on the West Coast.
"Ed- Emmett, please...Emmett."
He jumped off the couch, swiping his iPhone off the coffee table. He jabbed the screen with his forefinger and began pacing.
"Yo, where's dad? I need to talk to him." He rubbed the back of his neck. "What you mean I can't? Where is he?"
"Tell me what the fuck is going on."
"Emmett, tell me the fucking truth."
The phone slipped from his fingers.
There it was.
My vision was blurry, but I could see it. It swirled within his green pools. It altered the hue completely and snuffed out his light. The old wounds reappeared, replacing the shine.
The sorrow possessed him.
The sorrow destroyed me.
He screamed. He screamed so loud. His words were like blades slicing me into pieces. I became a loosening bundle of fragments.
I shielded my face with trembling arms. I couldn't feel my hands, anymore. I felt only sorrow.
I tasted blood in my mouth when he gently pulled my arms down off my face. I wasn't sure if it was because he struck me. My mouth didn't hurt. Nothing hurt. I swallowed the thick blood.
My heart sank to the earth when he pulled us to the floor and wept on my lap. He was all red, like the paint on his shirt, like my blood. His face was drenched because his tears mixed with mine.
His voice was soft above me. I didn't understand his words. When he stroked my cheek, his fingers were as cold and hard as ice.
I pinched the inside of my arm repeatedly when I heard the front door slam.
I lay on my side on the couch, the heat from the terrace lulling me to a sleep I didn't want to come. I knew once my subconscious took hold of me, I'd have nightmares of what transpired an hour ago.
My body was sore. My throat was cool. I saw blood on the floor and on the rim of a glass in front of me. I tasted it in my mouth but didn't feel any pain.
The tingles were like sparks all over my body.
The first time he left was for his workshop that never was. Even though it lasted a few minutes, a fever set in. Then, came a dizzy spell. Finally, a dry cool emptiness in the pit of my stomach that slowly spread throughout my body. The distress and dread galvanized the emptiness, which was when I ran after him. Now, I couldn't run and was afraid I would become nothing but a shell, waiting for my final breath.
But this wasn't the end.
Edward was inside of me, and I was inside of him. Our love was more potent than lies or truths or death. My heart beat the way it did right now because of him, and it would continue to beat because it was sure of his return.
The pain was still coming, but I could handle it. This wasn't the end.
He was my life. If he left me for good, then my heart would've stopped beating.
The fever seized me, making me drowsy. Too easily, my memory of his screams tore through me. They were out of sequence, though. At least they seemed to be. They might have been...
"You thought you were protecting me? My father could die tomorrow, Bella."
I blinked, the rest of the conversation hazy. With another blink, I recalled hearing Beethoven's joyous second movement play softly in front of me. His voice was outside. Maybe half a dozen flower pots smashed on the concrete. Maybe a dozen?
"I'm getting on the next flight to L.A.You don't need to worry about Bella. I won't."
That's when the tingles started.
Every few minutes, Beethoven came on but I didn't bother picking up. I checked my phone the first two times and knew the next few would be from her. Every time I brought her into my life, Edward pulled away. No, I would never pick up another call from Alice.
He was everywhere in this penthouse, but he wasn't. Each remnant of him was hope. I blinked, trying to stop the room from spinning. The ceramic horses circled in my vision a couple of times before I closed my eyes. He wouldn't have left so many things behind if he planned to stay gone.
Eventually, memories of his words washed away my hope like the rain.
"Ben was wrong. You're worse than Jane ever was. You're a liar. You let Alice turn you into a fucking liar."
I was hollow, the scorching hot air doing nothing to warm me. The wind blew the glass down the steps and beneath the coffee table. I couldn't even get up to call the maintenance man to replace the doors. These were all things anyway. The glass was just glass. The wood floors could crack, and I could fall right through.
He was no longer inside of me. A shadow of him was left, a ghost untethered. I grappled with the chains to keep him inside, but it was of no use.
The dread coated the emptiness, then.
This was the end.
And that's when I fell.
"Maybe I never knew you. Bella Swan, you're a stranger. I never saw you. I never loved you."
June 20, 2011
My life left me that day.
In the following months, so many things changed. And every moment over the course of those months led to my decision to leave him.
So many people surprised me, especially Jake. He taught me so much about love, about ideals that I thought I'd find in Edward. But Jake had them all along. And more than that, he forced me to see me again.
Jake was crucial to my decision, but Alice changed my life. I wish I could have heeded Edward's warnings, but I couldn't. I had to understand Alice's whys. And in that process, she changed the way I thought about myself, about the world, and about Edward.
Without Alice, I would've never been able to leave him.
A/N: This is the end of part 2, which started out with "Fleeing." Part 3, "Growing," is the next update.
"Growing" is a continuation of what happened in "Fleeing." So, this means there is a time shift to the present. If you remember in"Fleeing," Bella had just left Edward and ran out to the stormy city streets, alone, with no idea what to do or where to go.