Finally an update! Yes, I'm still alive. I'm so sorry it took forever to update, I'm hoping to update more regularly now but I can't promise anything. Life always seems to get away from me. I have the next chapter written, just need to do some editing. Please review!
Sitting in the small corner cafe, I watched out the window as the small snowflakes hit the ground. I was already on my second coffee as I sat there waiting for Emmett to show up, he was always late. My thoughts had been so jumbled lately, especially with the holidays, and I had asked Emmett to meet me to talk.
I had always been close with my brother growing up, especially when we were younger. Lately, things between the two of us hadn't been the same and it was hard to accept. I knew he was trying to take my side in the divorce, even though I hadn't wanted him to stop speaking to Edward, but I hated how much he butted into things. He was always so protective of me, but he didn't understand the full situation and it often led to us fighting. Thankfully, he had backed off lately and he and Edward were able to reconcile their friendship.
My relationship with Edward, however, was more confusing then ever. I was depressed about not spending Christmas with the kids, on top of wrestling with my decision about Edward's questions. Could we be friends again? Would I ever really feel like I could trust him?
He had left things in my hands, and I knew that I needed to really think about things before making a decision. It wasn't going to be an overnight process; as if we could just agree to be friends and that would be it. I knew it would take time and effort on both of our parts. Not only did I have some resentment towards him still, but I also had feelings for him. I couldn't deny it, I had loved Edward since I was a kid and I knew I always would. I wasn't so sure that we could be just friends. Things had been better though, well, we were talking. It was a start.
I was pulled out of my thoughts as I saw Emmett running across the street waving to me in the window. I waved, tapping my watch and earning myself his signature eye roll.
"Sorry. Sorry." he said brushing off his coat and sitting down across from me. " You how bad I am at time."
"I know. I'm surprised you ever got a job, Em." I joked taking a sip of my coffee.
"So, how is my little sis? It's not often that I get the pleasure of meeting you instead of my wife." he smiled stealing a sip of my drink. I snatched it back from him and sat back in my chair.
I wasn't sure how Emmett would react to my conversation with Edward, and I wasn't sure if I even wanted to tell him. I knew his opinion wasn't going to sway my decision and I definitely didn't want him to talk to Rose about it. She was not Edward's biggest fan.
"Things are okay, I haven't been able to convince mom to stop calling me since Christmas, but other than that."
"Well that makes two of us. I swear if you don't pick up, she just dials me for information."
"You're kidding me?" I asked annoyed. "I don't know how many ways to say I'm fine. She really is over doing it."
"She's worried about you Bells, so is dad. You were like a walking ghost on Christmas-"
"No I wasn't." I said slightly defensive. I had been quiet all day, worrying my parents. But that fact of the matter was I was depressed. It was my first Christmas without the kids and I just wasn't into it.
"Bella. Please." he said giving me the look. That look that says 'you can't fool me so don't bother.' "You were miserable, and she just wants to make sure you're doing okay."
"You're supposed to be on my side here, tell me you agree with how annoying she is and smile… that's why I called you." I said jokingly. I wanted fun Emmett not this. I didn't need to hear how depressing I had been and how worried everyone was.
"She is soooo annoying." he said with a smile making me laugh.
"Thank you." I nodded. "How is Rose's baby shopping going?"
At this he took a deep breath and rolled his eyes. I knew she had been stressing out lately over getting everything they needed before the baby came next month. She was being completely insane really.
"I don't know how she is still going. I mean I thought for sure she would run out of steam by now, but no. Honestly, she's driving me crazy."
"Well, you better enjoy your last night out then, this will be your last new year's eve without kids."
"True. I plan on getting shit-faced." I laughed at this; I hoped he realized there wasn't a new year's that I could remember when he wasn't completely drunk.
"Yea, something different. What's the plan anyways?" I asked curious. Rose had suggested that the girls do something and the guys do something together this year, instead of all of us together. She didn't tell me why she had suddenly decided this, but I knew it was because of the divorce.
"Just bar hopping, getting ridiculous. The usual." he said casually. "You know, I never really talked to you about it, you cool with this?"
"The guys and girls doing something separately. I mean we always do something together.. I just figured this would make things easier…"
"So this whole sha-bang was your idea, huh?"
"Yea, kind of." he said sheepishly.
"Em, it's totally fine. Really. You guys need to stop worrying about me so much."
"I'll never not worry about you bells, you know that."
"Besides, it's not like things between Edward and I are volatile. We're.. friends."
"Friends? You guys can barely be in the same room together Bella."
"That's not true. We've been getting along really well lately." I offered before cowering behind my coffee. He just looked at me for a minute before speaking.
"So you guys are going to try to be friends now?" He seemed surprised, but not necessarily upset.
"Maybe. I don't know. Would that be such a bad thing?"
"That depends I guess." he shrugged. I waited for him to continue but he didn't.
"Bella, if you and Edward decide you want to try and be friends, I think that's only going to be a good thing for the kids. It certainly won't hurt our group either. But I'm not so sure what it's going to do to you."
"You don't think it would be good for me? Edward's been my best friend for years Em, I didn't just lose my husband I lost my best friend. You don't know what that's like-"
"Yea, I kind of do Bells." he said sarcastically. I stopped my rant taking a deep breath. Emmett wasn't the one getting divorced, but he had lost his best friend.
"I'm sorry. I just.. I miss him. I miss my friend."
"Don't apologize to me Bella, it's not your fault that Edward and I have problems. I just don't want you to get hurt again- how did this even start, did he ask you for another chance. He's really got some nerve-"
"Oh stop, it wasn't like that… we were talking one night and, i don't know, it was nice Em. It felt like the old Edward ya know? He told me he missed me, but he didn't push. He just asked if we could try to be friends, he wants to earn my respect back."
"Well, i hope he knows he has a long ways to go."
"Why don't you let me decide that." I say giving him a stern look.
"I'm not going to tell you what to do Bells, and I know you wouldn't listen anyways." I smiled at that even though I tried hard not to. " Just be careful. I don't want him to break your heart again, and he might if you give him the chance."
"Friends Emmett. Just friends. We're not getting back together. I feel like I owe it to Charlie and Ness to at least consider what Edward is saying. I don't want us to be in this awkward dance the rest of our lives where we can't even have a conversation."
"Just think it through bells, that's all I'm saying."
We didn't talk about Edward after that, he changed the subject and I knew that was my cue to not bring it up anymore. I was lost in thought as Emmett continued on about the bars they were going to hit later tonight and how drunk he was going to get the stuffy doctors. I couldn't get Edward's words out of my brain and I realized I was really over obsessing about this.
There was nothing wrong with us trying to be friends again; if anything good came out of this situation it could be that. I knew it was going to be hard, and we certainly would never be as close as we used to be, but why couldn't we be friendly. Why couldn't we talk about things and be in each other's lives as a support after everything we had been through?
Maybe I was kidding myself, maybe it was to unrealistic to be friends this early but I knew I wanted to try. I missed him, but I knew that if I wanted to give friendship with Edward a real shot, i would need to let go of the anger I held towards him over the divorce. I just wasn't sure how to do that. Or if I could.
It was small. And quiet. And stuffy.
If this had been a year ago, I would have ran for my life. But I loved it.
"And back here is the office space, I'd be in the room here…" Jasper mumbles on giving me the tour of the space.
I had begged Jasper to meet me at his new office, I couldn't get my talk with Bella out of my head and I knew it was time to make some changes. I had lived and breathed the hospital for so long, it's what I had wanted since I was a kid and the fast pace was a rush I craved. But things were different now.
These past couple of months had been the best and worst of my life. I was taking my kids more often, I felt like a real presence in their lives after such a long time and it felt good. Really good. At the same time it only showed my how alone I was. Putting my career in front of my family for so long had left me with nothing, I could see that now and it was hard to think of how blind I had been.
If only, if only
I was miserable. I couldn't keep living my life thinking of all the 'if onlys', if there was any chance of me fixing the mess I had made, it started here.
"Earth to Shithead?" Jasper snaps, waving his hand in my face. "Dude you wake me up in the middle of night and drag me down here… you aren't even paying attention. Please tell me you were serious about this-"
"I'm sorry my mind is just running away on me, I'm serious about this, you know I wouldn't have asked you if I wasn't."
"Look, Edward.. If your really serious about joining me here, putting all you have into the practice then I'm thrilled man. Really. But are you sure you thought this through? It's a huge change."
"I know. That's why I need this Jasper. I need a change; I think we all know that. The hospital is swallowing me whole, I just can't do it anymore. I could be a real asset here."
He paused for a moment, studying me perhaps. I could tell he was hesitant, and hell, who could blame him. I had always shot down physicians who chose to work in an office setting, I couldn't understand it. But I did now. I just hoped he could see that.
"Alright, let me show you where your office will be." He says pointing behind me, leading me into a small work area.
Needless to say, it only took a couple of days to figure out all the business bullshit. I signed the papers, I ran the numbers. I would be taking a huge pay cut, that I had expected. Jasper and I would be partners, 50/50. I would only have to work four days a week, normal hours and we would be splitting call hours between four doctors in the office. It just didn't seem real. I decided not to mention the news to anyone, especially Bella. I didn't know what she would think, we had been making an effort to talk more, and not just about the kids. I asked her about work, she would even do the same. I'd throw a joke in here and there, just to see her laugh and when she did I felt like a teenage boy again. We had a long way to go, but for the first time in a long time, she looked at me and I didn't see hatred or hurt in her eyes.
I figured Jasper would spill the beans eventually, but I had asked him to keep this quiet until I wrapped things up at the hospital. They would need to find an interim chief and they were less then thrilled with my two weeks notice but I couldn't find it in me to care. That place had given and taken so much from me, it was time to close that chapter for good. My father couldn't understand my decision to leave, my mother couldn't understand what took me so long.
In two weeks I would be Dr. Edward Cullen, Family practitioner.
Christmas came and went, I had the kids for the day and as much as I loved having them I hated not having Bella there. So did they. Ness wouldn't smile no matter how hard I tried, even when I knew she loved her presents. Charlie was fine most of the day until dinner rolled around and we were missing Bella's famous pie. Needless to say, it didn't go as planned. I think we all cried ourselves to sleep that night.
It was new years eve already and I couldn't understand how the time had flown by so quickly. I would be starting my new position on monday and I had one last weekend to come to terms with the change. I had been dreading this night for so long, but now I was excited. I actually was looking forward to a new year, a new beginning. Emmett had a whole night planned, one I was sure to not remember the next morning. I just hoped we could have a night out that didn't end in us trying to kill each other. He and I had barely spoken since Charlie's birthday, maybe a text here and there to confirm plans but that was about it. I wanted my best friend back.
My parents had the kids for this night, they took them every new year so that we could all go out and have a night out. Although Bella and I wouldn't be together, I was determined to have a good night with my friends. When I walked into the bar on main st. I could see that it was not going to be a slow night. Emmett's neon 'happy new year' hat made it easy to pick him out in the crowd, but it was the row of shots being poured in front of him that had me laughing. It felt like I was in college again every time Emmett and I went to a bar, he would always be a big kid.
"I hope you plan on sharing, I'm not picking your ass up off the floor like last time." I yelled over his shoulder taking him by surprise. He jumped looking back before the evil grin spread across his face.
"Jesus, are you going to bring that shit up again? Everyone deserves a free pass, I'm cashing in on that night."
"Yes a free pass implies one Em, I can't recall how many new years eves we have gotten annihilated… how have you not been arrested?"
"Well good news for you little brother, is that these shots are for the ladies." He said turning back to the shot glasses and gathering as many as he could in his hands.
The ladies? What ladies? Rosalie would kick his ass if he was buying shots for some random bar girls…
"So wipe the sweat from your brow, tuck your shirt back into your panties." He said throwing me a half pat on the back. "Grab those will ya."
"Who are these for?" I ask grabbing the remaining two shot glasses, but before I can finish my sentence, I see them sitting in a corner booth.
She looks amazing, of course. Amazing red dress, her hair down in curls, smiling and laughing at something the girls are saying. She's wearing the earrings I gave her for her birthday. I can feel my palms start sweating and I know I look like a deer in headlights.
"My god what took so long?!" I head Rose's drunk ass screaming, pulling me from me idiot stare as I try to pull my shit together.
She looks over at me, as soon as we make eye contact I can tell she wasn't let in on this part of the plan either.
"Edward. Hi." She fumbles, standing up to meet me. I can see the blush running down her neck and I have to remind myself not to reach out for her.
"Bella." I smile, trying to look much cooler then I know I do right now. Emmett sits smugly next to Rosalie and I suddenly feel foolish. He told me it was going to just be the guys tonight, bar hopping and ending the night back at his place with poker. No mention of a certain blond or brunette joining us. Not that I mind, I want to see Bella but i just don't know if it's too soon. A night out, drinking, hanging out with our friends like nothing had changed when in reality everything had changed.
I sneak a peek at my sister who is suddenly very interested in the markings on the table. It's obvious that everyone knew about this except us and I'm sure Bella is fuming. I'm shocked at Emmett, I figured the last thing he would want to do on new years is spend the night with the two of us in the same room.
"I hope this is okay, I didn't realize you girls were going to be here." I lean to whisper so everyone else can't hear our conversation. I don't want her to be uncomfortable and if she is I'll leave. I want to strangle Emmett and Jasper anyways. But she just shakes her head.
"No it's fine, I thought you were going to be meeting them later.. I was just surprised to see you here." She fiddles with her hands for a minute. "Everyone was really looking forward to tonight, let's just... try to have a good time? We're only staying for a little bit anyways, Ali wants to go to the dance club."
I nod and smile, completely dying at how awkward it is to talk to this woman that has been the center of my world since I was a child. I hand her the shots in my hand and she smiles, rolling her eyes.
"Thank you. You know Rosalie, queen of the tequila shots."
"Lets hope this isn't a repeat of her 25th?" I joke thinking about that night. Rosalie was convinced that her life was over at 25 and she was determined to go out in style. I see Bella trying not to laugh out of the corner of my eye as Rosalie scowls.
"Edward Cullen, you swore to never bring that up again." She threatens me with an evil glare and I just laugh sipping me beer.
"Raise your glasses bitches..." Rosalie toasts as the girls grab their shots from the table. Alice, Angela and Bella all look at the glasses with disgust and Rose continues on. "To old friends, a new year, and new beginnings!"
I watch them all throw back their shots, Bella slamming hers on the table before looking at me, a hesitant look in her eye. I can already tell it's going to be a long night.