AN: Thank you so much to each and every one of you who takes the time to review or let me know what you think of the story! Same to the Tweeters and people who post my updates anywhere. You guys are my driving force some days. I love you all!
Chapter 21: He Won't Go
There will be times
We'll try and give it up
Bursting at the seams, no doubt
We'll almost fall apart then burn the pieces
To watch them turn to dust
But nothing will ever taint us
He Won't Go by Adele
Bella twisted her hands in her lap, as her leg bounced up and down nervously. Her stomach was a ball of nerves and her chest ached as she thought about leaving Edward at home. All she'd wanted to do was help out her friend, figuring that a couple of hours wouldn't hurt anything. The more her mind spun, the worse she felt. She'd never even stopped to ask how long he was staying.
A hand gently touched her knee, stopping it's staccato movement. She glanced over and noticed a concerned expression on James' face.
"What's wrong, Iz?" he leaned over to murmur quietly.
"I want to go home," she blurted out.
He raised an eyebrow and eyed her carefully. "Okaaay," he drew out. "Why?"
"I- I just want to go back to Edward," she whispered so that the people milling around the room wouldn't hear.
James nodded slowly. "Okay, sure. Let's find Alistair, and he can take you back."
She placed her hand on top of his and smiled sadly. "I'm so sorry, Jame. I thought it'd be fine, but I'm a wreck. He's upset, and I'm here, and everything is a mess."
James smiled and shook his head. "It's okay, really. If anyone asks, I'll just say you weren't feeling well."
They made their way towards the back of the room, Felix and Alistair immediately showing up. James kissed Bella softly on the cheek and handed her off to her bodyguard before heading back inside. Alistair shot her a confused look but quietly lead them out to his car. Once they were on the road, she took in a deep breath.
"Do I even want to know?" he asked, glancing between her and the road quickly.
"I just—I don't know," she replied softly. "I just felt uncomfortable and want to go back to Edward."
The rest of the ride was completely silent. When they arrived at the house, most of the windows were dark, and Tanya's car was absent. Alistair went on to do his sweep of the house while Bella walked over and sat down on a couch, waiting for the go ahead to move around her own house freely. She rubbed her temples and sighed, her mind heavily weighed down by too many thoughts and worries.
"Coast is clear," Alistair announced, coming down the stairs and giving her a smile. "Edward's upstairs and is the only one here."
She felt a stab of annoyance at her uncle and Tanya for leaving him all alone in the hour she's been gone. She sighed and mentally chastised herself because she'd done almost the same thing earlier when she left him, going out with James instead.
"Thanks, Al," she replied gratefully.
After locking the door behind him, she dropped her small purse on the couch and walked over to the liquor cabinet. She pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniels and poured a shot's worth of the amber liquid into a glass tumbler. She recapped the bottle and closed it back into the cabinet before downing the alcohol in one swallow. It warmed her chest as it burned slowly down her throat.
"Hitting the hard stuff?"
Her eyes slid over to the foot of the stairs, where Edward stood leaning against the banister.
"Been a rough night," she replied, motioning toward him with the glass.
He made a noncommittal noise and began walking over to her. Taking the glass from her fingers, he set it down on the breakfront before reaching out to play with a strand of her hair.
"You're home early," he mused.
Tears stung her eyes, and she gave him a watery smile. "I wanted to be here with you."
His head cocked to the side slightly, as if trying to figure out a puzzle. "Then why did you go in the first place?"
She pulled away and wrapped her arms around her midsection. She kicked off her heels and started to pace around the room.
"This isn't as easy as you think it is, Edward. I told you before that my life was crazy. The entire outside world thinks that James and I are together, even though we've never confirmed nor denied it. Appearances are misleading, but they work to our advantage most of the time."
She paused by one of the room's large windows and rested her head against the glass before continuing. "I'm trying to sort everything out, gain control where I've never had it before. It's a headache and exhausting, but I'm trying. When I told you the other day that I put the plan to move in motion, I said there was a lot of other shit to deal with, and I meant it."
She looked back toward him, his face impassive, and the wind blew out of her sails. "I don't know what to say to make you understand," she replied shakily, tears beginning to drip down her face. "I love you, and I wanna shout it from the rooftops, but doing that right now will cause more harm than good. I need to get my career settled and the stalker thing resolved. Creating a media circus right now will give them the chance they need to get even closer."
"Stalker thing? Even closer?" he asked in a tight voice. "What are you not telling me, Bella?"
She wrung her hands and bit her bottom lip, holding back a sob. She was sure everything was about to blow up in her face. "I've received phone calls and flowers. I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry, states away where there was nothing you could do."
His jaw dropped, and his eyes blazed in anger. Before he could open his mouth, she started to pace and talk again.
"It was wrong, and I'm so sorry," she cried. "If our situations were reversed, I would have wanted to know. I fucked up, and I don't know how to fix it now."
He swallowed and clenched his fists by his side. He looked directly at her and shook his head before looking back to the floor, a mix of emotions crossing his face.
"Don't you trust me?" he asked hoarsely.
Her heart broke, and anguish tore at her. She knew she'd hurt him by not telling him what was going on.
"Of course I trust you," she replied, hoping he could hear the sincerity in her voice. "It's the media vultures that I don't trust. You mean everything to me; I just can't stand by and watch them try to destroy you."
"If you trust me, Bella," he interjected, his tenor still wary, "then you need to act like it. Keeping things from me and not telling me the whole truth isn't going to cut it."
He took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair, tugging harshly. "After you left, I sat and talked with Mac for a bit," he continued. "While I can say that I understand where you're coming from, I don't agree with the way you chose to go about it. Looking back over everything I went though with Angela, I don't think I can play second fiddle in a relationship again."
She glanced at him in shock. "Is that how you feel—that you're playing second fiddle?"
He nodded slowly. "Right now, yes, I do."
Tear welled in her eyes, and she felt her bottom lip tremble. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. "Hurting you is the last thing I wanted to do, but I told you I'd need some time to get my shit together. I just need you to be patient with me."
She leaned her hand against the veranda's glass door and looked out to the skyline. The lights of the city shone brightly against the dark night, only a few clouds in sight. She wished that at this moment she was back in Forks, where she could gaze up at the sky and see thousands of stars.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a plain, white mask and dark eyes stared back at her, drawing a blood-curdling scream from her lips. She jumped back just as Edward tore past her and jerked open the door.
"Edward! No, wait!" she called as he raced out the door. Bella rushed outside, just in time to see her boyfriend swing over the railing and onto a lower roof as he chased a figure clad all in black. She ran back into the house and hastily dialed 9-1-1, her fingers shaking violently. Once she was assured the police were on their way, she dialed Alistair, who said he'd be right over. She tried Mac and Tanya's phones, both of which went straight to voicemail. As a last ditch effort, she called Edward's phone, only to hear its ringtone come from her bedroom upstairs.
She slid down the wall farthest away from the veranda and started to sob. Scared and alone, she made one last call as she waited for someone to arrive.
"Shaggy?" she sobbed as her cousin answered his phone.
Thirty minutes later, Bella sat on the couch, her legs tucked underneath her and a blanket thrown over her shoulders. She stared blankly at the wall as a pair of uniformed cops checked the balcony and surrounding area. They'd questioned her and written down her answers, but her mind was preoccupied because Edward hadn't returned yet. She bit her bottom lip as it began to tremble and squeezed her eyes closed.
Her mind started to conjure the worst case scenario; the image of him bleeding and hurt on a random sidewalk popped in to her head. A sharp pull in her chest drew forth a gasp, and she brought her knees up, burying her face in them and sobbing quietly. She felt a hand rub her shoulder gently and looked up into Alistair's warm blue eyes.
"Hey," he whispered. "It's going to be okay."
"Bu-but Edward..." She stopped, covering her mouth with her hands to stifle a frustrated scream.
Alistair smiled sadly. "He's fine, Bella," he replied confidently. "He probably just got lost on his way back. This isn't the easiest neighborhood to navigate."
She blinked and scrubbed her face. "Do you really think that?" she asked in a small, scared voice.
He nodded. "I really do."
She took a deep breath and nodded, attempting to calm her nerves. The front door opened and their heads turned quickly. In walked Edward, disheveled and dirty, missing one sneaker. Bella cried out and flew off of the couch, launching herself into his arms. He closed his eyes and clung to her tightly.
"I'm sorry," he murmured. "He was too fast and I had no fucking idea where I was by the time I lost sight of him."
She sniffled, relief coursing through her veins. "Oh, God," she croaked in a voice sore and dry from crying. "I was so worried, Edward. Don't do that shit ever again!"
"Ssh, don't cry. I'm fine; it's all going to be fine," he cooed as he caressed her hair.
The officers stepped back into the room, one clearing his throat.
"Is this Mr. Cullen?" the officer asked.
Edward nodded. "I am."
"Could you please answer a few questions for us?"
Shortly after the police left, Alistair stepped out to run home and pack a bag so he could spend the night. After the night's events, Bella actually felt relieved to have another person in the house with them.
The house was silent as Edward and Bella just gazed at each other.
"You can't- you can't do stuff like that, Edward," she whispered hoarsely. "What if he'd had a gun or a knife or something? I can't lose you." She buried her face in her hands; the thought of losing him burned her chest like a hot knife.
He reached over, pulling her into an embrace. "Ssh, it's fine," he replied.
She pulled back and searched his eyes intently. "Now can you understand why I want to hide you? If I exposed you to the media, the danger would be ten times worse."
He kissed her forehead and sighed. "I guess I can see where you're coming from, but I don't agree with your keeping me in the dark."
Bella shot him a guilty look. "It wasn't just you," she mumbled.
His eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
She sighed. "I never told anyone back home about recent events. After you ran out, and I was all alone, I tried calling Mac, and when I couldn't get through, I called Emmett. After I tried to explain what happened, he was pretty pissed. Alistair showed up, and I promised Em I'd call him tomorrow. Knowing him, he'll probably be on a plane before the sun rises."
Edward chuckled darkly and shook his head. "Of course, you crazy woman. He loves you and wants you safe. I'd do the same."
She reached up and caressed his cheek. "I know you would," she replied softly. "I didn't want to make you guys worry. I was stupid and I'm so sorry for that."
"Princess, do you have any idea what could've happened if no one was here when that guy was on the veranda? I can't even-" He stopped abruptly and swallowed thickly.
He pulled her forward and crashed his mouth against hers. They pulled away, flushed and breathing heavy, as the front door opened once again. This time, Mac rushed frantically in with Tanya close on his heels.
"Bella," he called out, pulling her up from the couch and into his arms. "Christ, girl. I've been going crazy since I turned on my phone and got Emmett's voicemail. What happened? Someone broke in? Are you okay? Were you hurt?"
"One at time, Mac," she laughed lightly. "Someone was spying on us from the veranda. No, we weren't hurt, but Edward sprinted off like Spider-man and chased him down, but he got away. The cops came, took our statements, and said they'd get back to us."
The older man's shoulders sagged in obvious relief. "Shit, I was so worried. Tanya and I went to a movie and then forgot to turn our phones back on."
Tanya stepped forward and wrapped Bella in a maternal hug. "Oh, honey, are you okay? Like, really okay?"
Bella shrugged slightly. "I think so. Well, at least as well as I can be at the moment. I'll feel better once this fucker is caught."
She turned her head and covered her mouth, yawning quietly. Tanya smiled and kissed her cheek.
"Get some rest, dear. Mac, can you walk me to my car?"
Mac nodded and followed Tanya. He opened the door and came close to getting a fist in the face as Alistair was about to knock. The younger man stepped back and grinned.
"Sorry, man," the bodyguard replied with a laugh.
Mac chuckled. "It's alright, just walking Tanya out safely."
Alistair nodded seriously. "You can't be too careful," he replied gravely, sending a chill up Bella's spine, from all the way across the room.
Once Alistair was settled on the couch with a blanket and pillow, the other three made their way to their rooms to settle in for the evening.
When she awoke the next morning, Bella felt warm and safe. She slowly blinked open her eyes and came face-to-face with a wall of muscled chest. Attempting to turn her head and get better look, she found she was caged against Edward's arms. Being wrapped up with him was such a pleasant feeling that instead of trying to extricate herself, she snuggled closer to him.
She felt his chest move as he let out a deep chuckle. "Good morning, Princess."
"Morning, Edward," she whispered against his skin before laying a kiss over his heart.
"Any plans for the day?" he asked hesitantly after a few moments of silence.
She smiled and squeezed him tightly. "Other than staying here in your arms? No, not really."
He sighed and a ran his hand gently through her hair. "I'm happy to hear that, although I do need to go out and buy a new pair of sneakers."
She pulled back and rested her head on her arm so she could look into his face. "I noticed that last night. What happened to your other shoe?"
"It got caught on something, so I pulled my foot out and kept running. By the time I circled back, a dog was using it as a chew toy."
"So you just let the dog have it?" she asked, her eyes wide.
He nodded emphatically. "It was a big fucking dog, Bella!"
She leaned forward and kissed him. "Thank you for trying to protect me. I'll buy you a new pair of shoes today."
He rolled his eyes and shook his head. "I can buy my own shoes," he replied, a slight irritation in his voice.
"I know you can, but it's my fault you need new ones," she argued.
He closed his eyes, a small smile on his face. "Bella?"
"Yes?" She bit her bottom lip as she waited for his response.
His eyes opened and the familiar spark they contained took her breath away. "Shut up."
Edward cupped her cheeks and kissed her swiftly, his tongue seeking entrance, which she readily provided. He slid one hand down her side, stopping to hitch her leg over his hip and slide onto his back with her straddling him.
His lips trailed down her neck, sucking softy on her collar bone. Unconsciously, her hips pressed downward, looking for friction. Edward groaned and gripped her hips tightly, pulling her against him roughly. Bella gasped, heat searing her belly. She wanted nothing more than to lose herself with him, but her heart held her back.
"Edward, wait," she whispered.
He immediately stilled and looked up into her eyes. "What's wrong?" he asked in confusion.
"Shouldn't we talk first?" she replied hesitantly.
He shook his head in amusement. "Only you would cockblock yourself," he murmured, kissing her softly at the juncture of her neck and shoulder, bringing a shiver down her spine.
"I just- I don't want to rush this and have you regret it later."
He cocked an eyebrow and eyed her incredulously. "You sound like this is our first time, Bella. I know how your body tastes, how you arch your back and moan when touch you in the right spot. I'm not going anywhere, and I won't ever regret this—regret you."
Tears sprung to her eyes, and she swallowed the lump that suddenly appeared in her throat.
"I love you," she whispered hoarsely. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I promise to do better."
He smiled softly and brushed some lose strands of hair from her face.
"I know," he replied sincerely. "Now, will you kiss me so I can fuck my girlfriend properly? It's been too long, and I feel like I might burst."
"You've got that backwards," she taunted. "I'm on top, so I'm the one who'll be fucking you."
Edward's eyes narrowed in desire, and he gripped Bella tightly before flipping their bodies until she was underneath him and at his mercy. He reached for her hands and held them above her head, kissing her almost savagely.
"You're so wrong, Princess," he breathed against the skin of her neck, as he trailed his lips down to her chest. "I'm definitely doing the fucking, and I'm not stopping until neither of us can move for the rest of the day."
She let out a wanton moan and shifted her hips to press against him.
"Don't tease me, please," she begged.
He grinned, eyes shining with mirth. "I should, you know. God knows you'd deserve it."
Her heart sped up, and she felt the ache grow in her lower belly, desperately needing him to touch her. His hands caressed down her sides, sliding under the t-shirt she'd worn to bed, and tugged her panties down her legs before tossing them to the floor.
"I should, but I'm not. This time anyway," he teased with a wink.
Shifting his weight, Edward removed his boxers and knelt naked between her open legs. He reached out and pulled her into a sitting position, tugging her shirt over her head. His hands cupped her bottom as he pulled her onto his lap.
"I want to try something," he whispered, his lips barely brushing against her own.
"Anything you want," she replied softly. "I trust you."
He kissed her deeply as he lifted her hips, merging their bodies in one slow stroke. She wrapped her legs around his waist, somewhat awkwardly at first, but they quickly fell into a rhythm. Chest to chest, the position offered them a deeper level of intimacy; something the pair were in need of at the moment.
Gasping, groaning, faster, harder—soon it was all a blur of passion and ecstasy. Exhausted and spent, Bella laid her head against Edward's shoulder, letting out a shuddering sob. He caressed her back, letting her expel all of the pent up emotion. When her cries quieted, he nudged her with his shoulder, wanting her to look at him. He smiled and cupped her cheeks, wiping her tears with his thumbs.
"Feel better?" he asked quietly.
She nodded and smiled back, feeling a weight lifted from her chest. "Thank you," she whispered.
He leaned forward and kissed her sweetly. "Anything for you, Princess."
Curling up together, the pair laid back onto the bed and dozed off for little while. The sound of her doorbell pulled Bella from her half-asleep state. She yawned slightly and threw on a clean shirt and shorts before making her way downstairs. Alistair was already at the front door, speaking with someone who obscured from her sight.
She shot a quick glance at the couch, only to see the blanket he'd used nicely folded on a chair, along with his pillow.
"Everything okay, Al?" she asked from behind him.
Alistair glanced over his shoulder and smiled. "Sure, but you have a visitor though."
As her bodyguard stepped out of the way, her hulking teddy bear of a cousin came into view. He stepped into her house, giving her a relieved smile and opening his arms.
"Scrappy," he murmured with a sigh.
She flung herself into his arms and hugged him tightly.
"Oh, Shaggy," she whispered, burying her face into Emmett's shoulder.
Chapter song: He Won't Go by Adele
AN: Huge thanks to ysar for beta'ing and her immense patience.
Thank you, as well, to my awesome pre-readers: MinaRivera, SabLuvslogan, SammieLynnsMom, StupidlambTanya and 107yearoldvirgin. You ladies rock my socks!