Alright! New chapter! Dunno when the next one will be up, I apologize for any mistakes as I have no beta, and thanks very much to 1dreamkeeper, twilightfan888, TBug (my first anon review on this story, so thanks TBug, sorry I couldn't reply to you), and RangerRainbow! :)
(Remember, this is going back to Bella's POV, and it's right after Riley kissed her.) Enjoy!
"Um…whoa." I said helplessly, sitting up and folding my legs underneath me in a crossed position. "What…what was that, exactly?"
"I don't really know." Riley said to me, sitting up as well as brushing sand out of his hair. If I could still blush, I'd be tomato red by now. As it was, I was looking down at the ground, embarrassed. Riley shifted backwards an inch or so. "Do you…regret it?"
"Regret it?" I asked sharply, looking up. "Of course not! Do…do you?"
"No." he replied, breaking out into a small grin. Well, scratch mildly pleased off the 'happiest-Riley's-ever-looked' list, he was now practically ecstatic! "Not a second. Though I think it is weird that we're confessing our love for each other and we've known each other about five days total."
"You're right." I though aloud, scrunching my nose. "Isn't it strange? Do you suppose we actually are mates? I only just found out you liked- loved- me back a few minutes ago, but the thought of being without you kind of scares me."
"It doesn't scare me." Riley said, and my heart fell. He laced my fingers through his and hastened to correct what he'd said when he saw my mood shift. "I just mean…Bella, you can handle yourself. I trust you. I don't feel like I need to be with you every minute of the day, I just feel like I need to know you're okay. I want to see you every day, but I understand if something happens, you know? I don't doubt your loyalty or anything."
"This is kind of surreal." I admitted, tightening my grip on his hand. He looked at me with questioning eyes and I tried to explain. "Edward was just…very overbearing, now that I think about it. He was all, 'Blah-blah-blah, Bella we are together forever, you can never leave me, I need you like a drug I don't trust you I need to be there to protect you blah-blah-blah.' It never occurred to me that someone else might not need me there every minute of the day. That they'd feel like I could handle myself by myself. Even Jacob was like that…so intense and unrelenting, though to a lesser extent."
"Jacob?" Riley questioned, and I internally cursed. Damn him for being so good at picking up my little slips! Though I supposed it was time to tell him, it's not as if I wanted to keep secrets any longer.
"Remember when I said I had two someones?" I prodded. Riley nodded and I saw him look curious as to who this other romantic partner could be if Edward was so protective. "Well…it's kind of a long story. Basically, he was my best friend before I learned about vampires. He kind of indirectly told me about them, actually. Well, Edward left me last year after a close call involving a paper cut and his loosely-controlled brother…it was all very messy. When he left…I was a shell of myself. I started spending time with Jacob, as a friend, and he slowly brought me back to myself. Then I had to go and save Edward from killing himself over this whole misunderstanding thing, and I found out he still loved me. We got back together and Jacob still wanted me. Romantically, I mean. He…he'd never accept me as a vampire, though. He made that clear before."
"You bring out selfish tendencies in people, don't you?" Riley astutely remarked. I just gaped at him and his bluntness. He elaborated. "I mean, Edward wants you like some kind of love-slave who can never leave his sight, Jacob wants you as his fantasy-come-true in spite of the fact that you just wanted to be friends. Even Alice earlier, wanted you to drop everything you had to go back and be with her and the family. You said earlier that your dad never wanted you to leave him, and your mom expected you to be the parent. Doesn't anyone in your life cut you some slack?"
Speechlessly, I shook my head. One side of Riley's mouth quirked up.
"Well, they do now. I do, I mean. You don't have to do anything you don't want to around me, kay?" he murmured, and I pulled him into a silent hug as answer. We must have looked strange there, sitting on the beach, tangled up in each other's soggy, sandy grip. I ran a hand through my bedraggled hair as I felt the sun warm my back a little. I sighed into our hug and simply melted into Riley. We were at peace- until my eyes snapped open again.
"Shit, Riley!" I panicked slightly, pulling away until we were half an arms length from each other. "The sun. We didn't get back in time! What do we do?"
"Hey, hey, it's alright." Riley whispered, rubbing my cheek with his thumb and looking into my eyes. I could feel his touch going straight to my heart as if it were electrically wired. I bit my lip, but he eased my mouth open slightly and I let go of it. "It's okay. We don't need to get back in a hurry. In fact, we don't even need to get back. Not if you don't want to."
There it was again, that phrase. Not if you don't want to. It etched itself in my mind, reshaping and molding, helping my brain rethink all of its previous idea on what, exactly, I did or not have to do. I smiled, a quick smile, and it made Riley smile back, and it was like bringing out the sun. I took a moment to study him. He was gorgeous. Stunning, handsome, breathtaking. Not that I needed to breathe, but well, you get the idea. I won't say he was perfect. That's not true. His mouth was a little wider than conventional standards, and he had a lopsided smile, and his eyelashes weren't very dark, but he was amazing nonetheless. It was his imperfections that, to me, stood out the most. All I could remember of Edward was loving unconditionally, every single thing about him was sosoperfect, and there was never a flaw. He'd hide them from me, like I would from him, though that was a lost cause since I'd been so pitifully human at the time.
Still. Riley saw my full top lip and my funny scar and my tendency to blink a little too much- though being a vampire had helped with that, I guess- and he loved it. Loved the things that Edward would have immediately classified as inherently weak and striven to change. Riley wasn't like that, and I was immensely glad. I suddenly gave him a brilliant smile, leaning forward and capturing his lips in mine. Another thing I loved about him- our lips held our own, but at the same time it was like they were one. It wasn't me constantly trying to find good purchase on the equivalent of a cold iron bar.
There were no tongues, no open mouths. Just me pressing my lips to his for what seemed like infinity, both our mouths curved up into smiles. It was blissful. Until, of course, something had to come along and ruin it.
"Bella?" I heard a choked voice ask, and it took me a moment to put the pieces together in my head. I leaned away from Riley slowly, promising with my eyes that I wouldn't leave him, and slowly turned my head to look at the speaker. Him.
"Edward." I returned coldly. He flinched a little, and I tilted my head, looking him over. My earlier judgments had been wrong. Edward was, obviously, more handsome with my vampire vision. But at the same time, he was more pitiful. Nothing about him looked warm, kind. He was made up of shiny skin and shiny hair and shiny features, really giving him the illusion of someone's Ken doll dipped in glittery hair gel. I wrinkled my nose in distaste before allowing my unemotional face to come back.
"Bella." he repeated, voice cracking. I rolled my eyes; vampire voices didn't even crack. This was clearly all an act, as fake and plastic as the rest of him. I hated myself for ever giving him the time of day.
"Are you going to keep saying my name, or talk to me?" I asked, my voice that ringing bell I'd heard the first time I'd spoken with Riley.
"Bella, how could you do this to me- no, to us?" he asked, sounding horrified. "I loved- love you! What are you doing?"
"You cut things off a long time ago, Cullen." I snapped. He visibly flinched at my use of his surname. "I owe you nothing, there is no longer an us. And what I was doing was enjoying a peaceful and happy moment with the man I love, before you barged in."
"But, you love me." Edward protested, eyebrows furrowing.
"No, I don't." I explained. "I love the idea of you; the perfect man who will stop everything he's doing at the drop of a hat for you, who will protect you and open doors for you, and who will put his coat on a puddle so you can step onto the sidewalk. But I realized I don't even want that. I don't even want the idea of you, Edward. And you don't even want me, just my idea."
"But I do all those things for you, Bella!" he argued, apparently not understanding.
"Exactly." I said simply. "You will drop everything just because I snap my fingers, like a dog. You will protect me, like a dog. You will ruin your perfectly good coat just so I can step onto the sidewalk, even though I could have hopped over the puddle. You are not a 'gentleman', you're a belittling man who refuses to let me do things for myself. If I'd let you, you would have held the spoon up to my face so I could eat and scrubbed me in the shower. You wouldn't let me do that stuff, Edward. But it's irrelevant now since I found someone who does."
"What, him?" Edward sneered. "Did you even think about why he was around this area? Seattle, Bella! Seattle! He probably has something to do with the newborn army!"
I sniggered and Edward's eyebrows flew up to his forehead.
"What?" he exclaimed.
"Just leave, Edward." I sighed. "You're not going to find what you're looking for here. Dependant little Bella who constantly needed to get your approval is gone. And you'll never see her again. I'll be realistic- there are a lot of girls out there who would kill to have you, and would do exactly what I used to do; whimper for you, beg for you, need you in unhealthy quantities like a drug. You'll find another Isabella Swan. But it won't be me."
Edward did nothing but look at me stonily before hesitantly walking to the tree line. I felt an arm slip around my waist, and I fought a smile. He looked back once, just once, before walking into the forest. I knew he wasn't out of my life, he'd crop up again. Probably very soon. But he was gone for now, and that was all that mattered.
A/N: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Are you wearing green? If not, *pinch*.