I'm going to leave all my thanks at the bottom, so I'll see you at the end. :)
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its characters.
This room is a glass box. The sounds are too intense, a wave of voices that echo and fall; that crash and drown and numb my thoughts blue.
In its very center, a couple spin: gaze, breathe, kiss—smile, laugh, touch. They are newlywed hearts, air walkers and ticking clocks; our eyes don't leave and they turn us around the room without us ever leaving our seats.
I swirl golden bubbles by a delicate stem in a space where everything glistens: lights, eyes, smile, kiss, smile—a snowflake dream that transforms worries to shimmering petals of ice.
But the problem with dreams, where, for the tiniest moment we exist among the clouds, is that they never last. Reality has no choice but to push and shove and creep through the gaps of consciousness—through this self-inflicted happy bubble that fills the void of sleep with an intensity that feels a lot like a broken heart.
Awareness is a cruel blessing: a too straight spine in a too bright room with the reflection of too many faces; pattern formed within a crowded street, body hailed with the design of our own making.
Clarity soon begins to thaw, seeping through my skin like ink to paper, a remembered tattoo that colours a path to its red composer; a circus of wires, a continuation of beat after beat, hand steady as one name rises above the orchestra of others.
Edward made a speech today, holding a room captive with his honey coated lies. But I shut down and shut off—I didn't listen. I couldn't. I filled my head with the roar of silence; the consume of a wave that blocked out everything but the sound of my beating heart, my one man marching band busy at work inside my chest.
I became the sun, his words evaporating like water as I shaped my thoughts to confetti and set them free, a flurry of orange blossoms that imitated wings and migrated to a safer place.
And then it was over, and I could breathe and shake off summer, a kind of desperation that settled under skin and tunneled through hollow bones, blurring out recognition under the intensity of its rays.
Only then did I look up and encounter spring, his eyes all mine while my heart bled and soul questioned—while my thoughts rolled like ribbon, cursive satin silhouettes of why are you always so far away, the things we don't say out loud sometimes as powerful as the things we do.
Only then, with his head bent and brows knit, did I wonder if his muted words had been for me alone.
I miss him in simulated sleep and when dreams die; when I refuse to dream another dream, washed ashore with salty cheeks and crumbling tears, a collapse of a castle, safe harbour swallowed by sand that is described as quick.
I miss his eyes and our shared mornings, his green undertow and stormy kisses. I miss the boy who promised me forever. Keep me under your skin. Keep me in your heart.
And this is why I can't give up, why I can't stop sinking—why I can't help but be reminded of what we were.
Because life is never perfect, the cracks always appear, and even the strongest of dreams can fail to become enough.
But I still sleep, I still breathe... I wish and want and dream bigger than I ever have before. He's still here.
The floor begins to grow bodies, couples merging to gaze, breathe, kiss—smile, laugh, touch. I see a pattern forming; sweethearts and first impressions, old love and brand new.
Mine is somewhere in this room, obscured because I maybe refuse to see, a distortion of glass, a hollow wound waiting to be filled with honest lips and please, don't let me go.
Edward is no longer in his seat, a restless wanderer who takes my heart on his travels, weary with pretense, weighed down with a refusal, with an unwarranted escape.
Kate, however, remains in hers, devoted to sunbeams, to her friend; still beside me, still too close.
She is invisible, she is a monument—she is all too present.
This room is a boat, a cacophony of rising laughter and gentle sway; the sweetest song, a lonely dance.
I pine and exist, but unable to wait and watch, I stand and pretend, feet aimless in their departure and contradiction to be found.
Minutes pass and I begin to worry I have become forgotten, an unfavoured ritual that is as familiar as any other, though not as preferred. The feeling is ugly and painful and loud. It takes over with a speed I wish would slow, a practised orbit that stops and starts at the heart.
But then a different type of familiarity cuts through the fog of despair and disintegration of ruby, and I can't see, not yet, but I don't need to. I always know when he is near, an intricate necessity in this buried life.
I feel his hands first, palms gliding from the top of my arms to the tips of my fingers, thumbs brushing wrists from behind as his chest meets my back, prayers held and released, sun kissed and not so alone.
His nose sweeps the side of my neck, hot and cold and shiver, ghostly chills as I lean and fall, lids weighted with relief, a tether of fibres and fold of lashes.
A soft trail and a blocked throat: my cheeks warm, my head tilts, my world follows.
"You weren't listening before, were you?" he murmurs, his lips pausing at my ear, my fingers tightening around his.
My gaze meets the ceiling, caught up in all those glistening lights, dazzled and dizzy and fearful of upcoming decisions. "Your speech?" I question slowly.
I feel his breath... his pause... his, "Yes."
His face drops lower, parted mouth meeting the curve of my neck as I blink and breathe and allow gold to blind a little more. "No, I wasn't listening," I whisper, pushing words up and up and up. "I couldn't. I didn't want to hear happy lies."
There is a lull in sound; in voices that are not only our own as one song ends and another begins; as his touch leaves, but he doesn't.
"Turn around," he says softly, my feet submitting despite the apprehension that causes goose bumps to detonate across my skin.
He's closer than I expected, vision clouded by white cotton, a stark comfort that tries to lure me into hold. But his hands are in his pockets, tucked safely from reach, and so I take a step back, consoled with his expression.
He doesn't move as I do, he simply examines my face, eyes wandering with a dark intensity; midnight control and an inner trembling.
I follow his lead and pay close attention, his top button undone and tie-knot loose at the collar; his jacket discarded like I've been so many times before.
A deep inhale and his chest expands, drawing my eyes to his mouth, to the clean shaven line of his jaw.
My hands want to touch, palms itching to capture this picture forever. He looks so much like the boy I fell in love with; who caused me to tumble like a house of cards, hearts one side, diamonds the other.
His lips part and my pulse quickens, an assault of memories that brandish two hearts as one in this adjoining ache... as I wonder if there will ever be a time when it won't physically hurt to look at him.
Hesitantly, almost as if I'll scare him away, I raise my hand to his face: fingers to skin and eyes that glisten. "I know this boy," I whisper, drowning in recognition that plucks weary strings and causes my voice to falter.
He pulls his eyes from mine, leaving me alone, blind without his assurance, like hands reaching out into the night.
I'm tired, breakable, a shell of sugar already chipped around the edges. And he doesn't look, but I still see; his swallow hard as he takes that extra step forward, the smoke clearing, his chest warm against mine, thumb gentle against my bottom lip.
"Are you ready for that dance?" he asks, and I immediately start to panic, his words of yesterday barreling through a funnel of red. It speaks of endings and broken promises; of goodbyes and a pain I don't want to consider.
There is pressure against my lip, harder but not hard, and I grip his wrist and shake my head, his mouth suddenly closer as he whispers, "Don't look at me like that... it's okay." But my heart isn't so sure.
He's lied before, the nature to forget not so potent here by the sea, in this crowded room, cushioned by the din of voices.
His palm cups my right cheek, coaxing and persuading, bringing us forehead to temple, his eyes falling shut before mine do the same, following him into honeyed darkness.
"Don't make me beg," he breathes, tone hushed and already imploring, relieving me of choice with his rough whisper. "We're at a wedding... I just want to hold you."
His sentence is disjointed, words a blissful surrender as his thumb strokes high on my cheek, enticing my lashes to lift, resolve immediately weakening beneath his steady gaze.
My eyes tear and lips tremble, breath a broken stutter while I grasp the front of his shirt and tell him, "You're holding me now."
His exhale is shaky, his words strained, heart-box cracked open. "I want to dance with my wife," he pushes out, trying again, trapped inside this cocoon of green and white and beating pink.
I get lost in my favourite colour, in this wilt of petals and sweetened sorrow. "Don't say no," he murmurs.
He is thirst and pleading eyes, and I am too full with this vocal feeling... too weak to deny him anything.
I hear his breath... his own lump in his throat as he swallows; as he continues to stare in that overwhelming way of his, the same intensity that held me to him at our beginning suddenly not so favourable in this vanishing light.
"Okay," I concede, awash in relief; in lips brushing hair as he straightens and leads me forward by the hand without another word.
Our movements are unhurried, my waist caught, a hardness present in his grasp while my palms slide high, gentle and unsure. His skin is warm beneath his shirt, the tips of my fingers carrying his heat as we begin to sway under the cover of artificial stars.
He stares down into my eyes, exposing me within seconds, his face unreadable, a contrast to my own, the pages of my book left open for his inspection.
My hands relax, and I can't remember the last time we did this; where he held me in a room because he wanted to, and not because he had to.
His brow furrows, lines forming at outer corners, his expression bordering on painful, gaze dark to match the expanse of his lashes.
"It hurts to look at you sometimes," he says, almost sounding wounded as he trails the back of his finger down my cheek. "Have I ever told you that?"
And it becomes all too much. I'm glass. I shatter at his feet and glisten in the sun; collect tears from the sky and let them roll down my cheeks.
His touch glides to my neck, igniting goose bumps and a wayward heart as I shake, and shiver, and tell him no.
"You're beautiful," he breathes, setting me alight with a droop of lashes: sunlit showers and golden gates. "You always have been."
My palms find his chest, feeling his warmth there, too, living in his accelerated beat. "So are you," I whisper, his lips brushing across my forehead, feather light in a not-quite-there kiss.
I feel his smile against my skin and nothing has ever felt so good—my eyes squeeze shut and I'm not sure anything ever will.
I want to stay in this moment forever; take up residence in the curve of his lips and live out my days in this thing called happiness.
Time begins to drift and we sail with it, weightless and content, and then he's kissing along my jaw... and this is better: flicker, flame and shudder.
Hope remains fragile, this soft intensity refusing to wane; despite the sounds that let me know otherwise, there is no one in this room but us.
There are only two hearts and two sets of lips; two broken dreams and two lost souls.
My fingers dig into his chest and curl into his shirt, the ache in my throat dissolving with the caress of his mouth, bitter words rendered to powdered sugar that taste like salt.
Hands slide and noses brush, hushed secrets and timid sparks, his voice thick as he presses, "I thought about you all night."
He pulls me closer and I go all too willingly, breath warm against lips while my eyes remain closed; while I continue to be led down this dark tunnel devoid of light at its end.
"Tell me," I say quietly, wanting his truths, his prayers... palm to palm confessions that bare no sound; that live inside his head, his heart, my own desires.
His lips pause at the edge of my mouth and I think I've forgotten how to breathe; smoke and mist and I'm drifting.
"I thought about how soft your skin is," he starts, bringing his palm back to my neck, "and about the sounds you make when I touch you in places only I get to see."
I flush and flutter beneath ribs, my cheek adorned with light strokes of his thumb, his voice firm, but breakable, as he implores, "Look at me."
His nearness overwhelms: cinder toffee on cold autumn nights as I feel my cheeks begin to heat, his eyes intent on mine between the cover of lazy blinks.
Colours bleed, lips meeting skin, and I hold back my music, harmony trapped within a brittle maze, skin pulled between teeth as he sucks softly.
Thunder follows, vibrating with his careful attention, fingers chasing pathways designed by a wanting mouth, stance shifted, head tilted, way found with a cascade of kisses down a column that feels.
"I fell asleep thinking about your mouth," he shares, his own parted against my throat, breath hot as he pants against skin, "and how it's the prettiest fucking mouth I've ever seen."
I warm all over, a moon shaded outside the lines with crimson felt, kisses circling lips, driving my heart insane and my pulse crazy with the scatter of stars.
Passion speaks, his expression a slow work of art, lids lazy and eyes without their usual green; words ethereal white but the opposite of cold. "You haunt me," he adds quietly, ghostly secrets that glow warm in darkness.
My lips part and I want him to tell me again, and again, his touch only a little more than light. He's giving me more than I expected, but I dare not dream, or sleep—not yet.
Heart grasping wildly, he pulls back ever so slightly, clearer view gained, eyes still mine as he looks at me in a way I remember; as he tucks loose strands back into place, mood softened but still relentless.
As, for now, I'm all he wants.
But it doesn't stop the ache, the blur of tears that stream my vision... the way he turns to something else... something pain provoking and familiar; the reason for frost and glittering gazes, freezing a scene in tears.
His attention lowers, melted snowflakes caught by thumbs, face cradled within sure palms and caressed by whispers of, "Do you dream of me, Bella?"
Silence settles and shifts, straining to make out sounds that have yet to come, my secret a lazy tide, my answer rising from the ground-up, like those of the dead. "I don't want to," I murmur, truths and smudges and admissions that pinch. "When I do, on those long nights afterwards, I can't sleep or close my eyes, because dreaming of you, while trapped in that forgetful moment... it makes me happy."
A breath follows, his expression a potent mix of something troubled, something relieved. But I haven't finished. "It all changes when I wake though," I add, broken by reminders that snag like thread; that transform from white to red, refusing to weave these thoughts to something worth keeping. To something that doesn't hurt. "My heart races... and that joy is so much worse, because it's then that I remember you're not next to me... or mine... that you're different."
We're no longer swaying, balancing on delicate memories instead of rope, invisible bindings pulled taut beneath our feet. I want to look away, his eyes showing me too much, but my mouth—my stupid, stupid mouth—it outlines truths and practices sounds, concepts I want to sail away in green and watch float.
"I miss you," I breathe, drowning in gazes made of thunderclouds and this business of being a grown-up that I hate.
His expression shifts... and this... this he doesn't like. He focuses on my lips instead, almost as if he wants to halt their movement with words of his own; a paper chain of letters adhered with glue.
"It's partly my fault," I say, watching his blinks quicken, his control slip. "We were young... and I loved you too hard. I held everyone up to your standards, even myself, which is why this shattered illusion is so hard to accept."
We are alone among these dancing couples, for our faces don't smile and our laughter is not sweet. We don't laugh at all.
"Don't," he says, shaking his head.
"No, I need..." I draw in a deep breath, pushing forward, bumping walls and scraping skin. "I put too much pressure on your shoulders without thinking... because I was just feeling. And that wasn't fair. I didn't care about anything but you. I still don't."
My throat feels tight, filled with airborne choices that soar kite-high, these shifts loud and clear. I focus on his forming frown and breathe life into forgotten lungs, dusting off inner troubles, truths swept like cobwebs from my tongue.
He says nothing, this dam threatening to give way and burst as he holds me like he used to... in a way my fingertips like as they stroke the hair at the nape of his neck.
And maybe that's a good thing... maybe I don't want him to say a word; masts still lowered and flags rolled up tight.
We all lose ourselves in different ways, and I think he chooses his moment now, to fall, to hide, his eyes momentarily closing, a brief reprieve as my heart drops and anchors under the weight of his hold, his mouth, our gentle sway.
Everything makes sense like this, his kiss temporarily eradicating worries, this crazy world topped and tied with a pretty satin bow. It's soft, then hard, and I never want to leave his arms, reminding myself to stay strong amidst this current that pulls at my lips, swirling with the colours of our past mistakes.
But that would be too easy, and I get swept up in ocean levels that rise inside my chest; saltwater blue and sandcastle-keeps that desperately try to hold my tears at bay.
Then his mouth is gone, laboured wilts and sugar cube kisses, lumps dissolved as his lips find my temple, pressing against skin once more, softly, softly, an azure sky streaked with weightless white.
It's all too good and too much, crashing into place; a barrel of lightning inside my heart, a rumble of thunder inside his chest, both powerless against these grey clouds that linger and promise.
And it rains.
"I know you can feel this," he murmurs, holding his lips to my cheek for emphasis, penetrating disappearing acts of the past. "I'm right here."
He repeats his words again and again, intermittent with faultless kisses, a summer breeze that is meant to reassure, but fails to melt the ice caps inside my chest.
I take a small step back: shift and sway and get dragged back by the tide, his hands my steady feet as he holds me a little tighter, refusing my movement.
It tears at my clear sky resolve, at my cliff edge beat... at my sunset desire to find what we once were. Because kisses can't last forever, and those cracks keep appearing—there's only so much pain a pair of lips can heal.
I raise a palm to his cheek, holding his eyes captive as the tips of my fingers press into his skin, our stars stretched to shine on us alone.
His swallow is thick and I look... I look so hard, watching how his own tears form, but don't fall, bound between dark protectors.
"No," I say shakily, not immune to the expression he's giving me, my voice wavering, but free, like a kite without its string. "I miss you... your laugh and sleepy smiles... your good morning, beautiful and coffee stained kisses."
His blinks are quick, his breaths shallow, my own following, this choice to follow not a choice at all.
It's wanting to feel all there is to feel.
And maybe I should stop, but as the sun starts to set, I can't help but touch the apple of Edward's cheek, my fingers sure in their whispered movement. "There is so much wanting between us," I say, tracing his skin without hesitation, every selfish bone in my body willing for him to hear me.
"And I'm so tired. It makes me feel crazy and I can't think straight. Everything clouds... everything apart from you, because you're always in my head—in my heart. And nothing works, nothing changes... Being apart from you is like trying to breathe underwater."
The shadows around us dance and edge closer, night closing in before drifting once more, a chorus of revolving figures that live in periphery alone.
"I miss feeling alive and not breaking," I say on an exhale, coveting more than just breath. "But most of all, Edward, I miss seeing you happy. You used to be so, so happy."
His jaw locks, muscles clenching along with teeth as he tears his gaze from mine, refusing to look at me any longer. But I don't give up. I press myself closer, haunting him tight.
A crease forms between his brows, his hands tense at my sides; a body made of stone, his expression an erosion of control. I'm left feeling cold: a storm of frozen glances and whirlwind of snowy confusion. He's shutting me out, caught up in the web of his thoughts, woven with black and spun with the unfeeling attempt of blue.
Butterflies run through my veins, their delicate and dusty wings trembling at wrists as I hide my face against his shirt, breathing him in, experiencing home.
He's standing so still, a contrast to my hands that grip that harsh white cotton. But his heart... it gives him away. It's beating so fast, his own butterflies present behind bars, my lips their button of control as I kiss and soothe and evoke memories he'd rather not remember.
"Please come back," I whisper, my voice small and broken, eyes squeezing shut against this overwhelming need to fix that coasts heavily through my blood. "Please. It's all I want."
I'm floating inside my skin, his silence sliding to my heart, settling like rock, heavy in more ways than one. And then we're breaking apart, a little girl with messy curls and smudged cheeks tugging at pant legs with small and twisting fingers, giving him an escape.
He murmurs to a sweet face, his smile reserved for unaware youth, my heart punishing at the seams, spectator to this side of him.
Shadows follow like memories, surrender easily supplied with this expression he wears, the one that makes me long for something we may never have.
My presence is remembered, or maybe never forgotten, a line to hang onto as I dangle in this stilted moment. "I'll be right back," he promises, staring in a way that makes me want to believe the lie. "Don't leave."
He waits and watches, and I nod and try to stitch this pain closed, my disappointment hidden behind an unsmiling face. He doesn't go far, his gaze flicking to mine as little feet rest atop his shiny shoes and small hands clutch larger palms.
It's surreal and agonising—revered and something I didn't know I wanted—a secret unlocked with the flare of an unexpected scene.
Dark waters rise, the ocean at night, moon-lighting and pearly skin, cheeks kissed under the influence of a muted white sun.
I float all alone, drifting to sidelines as a silent plea is answered by a stranger in heart, but not by name, drudged up from sea beds like forgotten shells that aren't quite special enough to be treasured.
Jasper pauses beside me, fatigue pulling at the strings of my resolve, my strength filtered to sand as the very person I've been aiming to distance myself from tangles around my senses like pollen on a too hot day.
I feel on edge with his proximity—cliff drops and choppy waters as he dapples night with his silver spark and insistent gaze.
He's standing too close, igniting goose bumps born from tension rather than wanting his eyes, his touch, excitement replaced with this compulsive need to drive him away.
"Can we talk?" he asks, warmth cutting through cotton sleeves, pebbling skin as his arm brushes mine.
His words are simple, spoken softly, and his is touch light, not intentional, but their meaning carries weight, greater than feather and equal to stone, enticing warning signs that flash soundlessly through a rapidly beating heart.
I stare through the crowd, faces more apparent while concealing the only one I want, search hopeless; lost out at sea as the mouth of a wave hovers precariously above my head.
"I'm not sure that's such a good idea," I manage, fingers curling as I turn to face him, tempted by fear and reacting from touch.
His hand is resting atop my shoulder, his eyes a plea of grey skies and rocky shores, weakening the conviction of my words with a tilt of his head. "I just want to talk," he assures, noticing my preoccupation as I continue to look, the ghost of unbroken love swallowed whole by a rainbow of swirling fabric.
Scales tilt, options weighed and other misplaced as I nod and say, "Okay, but only for a moment."
Gazes follow while hugs and smiles continue to be exchanged, a never-ending cycle fueled by potent amber and sparkling bubbles with our disappearance through a white wooden door.
Sounds dim with a click, distance created with the advance of unhurried steps, minimal privacy gained as we settle beside glass.
A window overlooks the street below, my focus drifting between the scene outdoors and the one attached to glass, lost despite knowing exactly where I am.
"You look nice," he says, voice low as he follows my stare out the hotel window.
I shake my head and grip the sill before me. "Don't," I say hoarsely, cutting him off as nerves and guilt shake like leaves in autumn.
I'm being unfair, treating him this way: cold, hurt, wronged. But my panic doesn't waver, and my feelings don't change, even though I'm just as much to blame for a kiss that should never have happened.
I'd been too wrapped up in my own sadness; too busy wondering what it would feel like to be with someone else that way... to let another boy kiss my mouth. For someone other than Edward to own that part of me.
But it wasn't worth it, and would never make up for the broken look that is now etched behind lids.
A line has been crossed, and however much I want to pretend nothing happened, that nothing is different, it did, it is, and there's no taking that back. I've lost a friend that maybe always wanted to be more, and he risked a connection that is steadily beginning to unravel like thread.
"They're just words, Bella," he adds quietly, his breath easy, his assurance misplaced.
His swallow is hard, his eyes unblinking—we both know they're not.
Sadness lingers inside my chest as his gaze catches mine; as I find something I think I already knew would be waiting. "Maybe before," I agree, wanting to erase this fleeting mistake; the misprint in a book and page I want to watch curl with a burn. "But not now."
He looks at me like always, a pressure present in the back of my throat as he tugs and tugs for things I can't give: bruise and ache, weave and stitch.
His pain is selfish—shame on you.
And some part of me wishes I could make it better—shame on me.
Time passes, and those questioning whispers from last night are nothing but static now; a course of feedback hissing inside veins. For my heart has its own memory, tethers in place long before Jasper entered my life; hands tied and smiles joined with the security of a ring.
There can be no more midday coffees; no more loaded conversations that perhaps I wasn't so blind to after all. Because the world turns and we go with it, collecting memories from behind a lens... in the blink of an eye—a kaleidoscope of colour that flares to life and blurs over time.
It's the way life works; it's how things get left behind. It's the difference between being enough and nothing at all.
When I look at Jasper, there is a box filled with split wire and frayed ribbon that will never quite form a bow.
There is nothing; there is not enough.
There is a cut above his lip that wasn't there before.
"What happened?" I ask softly, angling myself closer.
My fingers want to touch, my question stupid—I already know who gifted him this.
A new layer of guilt begins to form while I allow my eyes to scan a forming bruise that lingers to the right, jaw smudged with muted colours, the cut above his lip small, but there.
He simply stands and watches, my stomach twisting as I think back to last night; to Edward's anger that blinded like the sun, my gaze instinctively dropping to unfamiliar knuckles before rising back to forced smiles that eradicate doubt.
"Don't worry," he pushes out, sensing my thoughts. "I didn't touch him." His laugh is more of a breath as he slides his hands into his pockets.
He sounds defeated, concern shifting while I follow with a slight nod. "When?" I question.
He stares at me for a second longer before turning his focus back out the window. "Last night, not long after you left," he replies.
I think back to closing doors and silent tears; to green eyes following my departure through a crowded room.
It's then I wonder if my tears had dried... if my face had been clear of the anguish I could feel cracking my skin: shattered glass and reflections I didn't want to meet.
"Did he say anything?" I ask, voice low and heart heavy, conscious of arrivals and departures through the door to our right.
His frown is present, his silence oppressing; shackles around ribs and screams outside of lungs. "He didn't really talk," he answers, palm raised to scratch the back of his neck.
Disappointment—shadowed by confusion—immediately settle inside a thundering beat. "He said nothing?" I press, the current tension in his jaw leaving no doubt to the direction of his thoughts; a crazy kind of tide that doesn't stop as he turns, storm-grey pulling me back once more.
"He told me to stay away from you," he explains with a slow exhale, my pulse racing as he watches me carefully, the expression on his face promising me the sun where there can be nothing but the pitter-patter of rain.
Confusion continues to taint the surface of my thoughts like dust, and I want to retrace steps and close my eyes... pretend that there is no fear... assure myself that not always being able to see what is ahead of me is a comfort.
"Then why are we here right now?" I whisper, vision blurring beneath the weight of unshed tears, hands squeezing tightly as I bite the inside of my cheek, tasting Edward's fury and the flavour of fault.
"Because it's not that easy for me," he answers, his frustration evident with a rake of his fingers through his hair.
I look away and stare to heights I can't reach, blinking back tears, easy a forgotten word and unplaced emotion.
I can't remember what easy feels like.
"You get under skin," he continues, dragging his palms over his face.
I take a breath, forcing myself to speak, throat tight with unrequited feelings. "We hardly know each other... This is nothing."
Tiredness sticks to his features, his expression one of frayed frustration with the rub of his palms along the line of his jaw. "I can't help the way I feel about you, Bella," he says quietly, his words too much, his tone laced with the very same guilt that lingers within me.
I concentrate on the boy standing in front of me, time seeming to crawl when I want it to speed, or stop... fade away to weightless wisps of smoke while taking this moment with it.
Jasper is the language I never got to learn. My tongue doesn't know how to pronounce his words, his sounds backwards, cradled within the fog of forgotten thoughts.
Our friendship was built upon ruins created by another, its foundation never strong enough to withstand the balance of futile advances and a stolen kiss, because my heart bleeds for someone else, and nothing this boy can offer me will ever be enough.
"My answer is still the same," I tell him slowly, "... my feelings are still the same." I force myself to keep my eyes open, refusing to let my tears fall in this moment.
His brows furrow, his sigh audible. "I know," he says lowly, searching my gaze for something we both know he won't find.
"I'm sorry," I whisper, hating that I'm hurting him.
He shakes his head. "I don't want you to be sorry."
He's making this harder for me, and maybe I deserve it. "I'm sorry," I say again, firmer this time, taking a step back when he reaches out for me, his expression confused... wounded; he looks how I feel, our reasons opposites.
"I can't even touch you now?" he questions, that anger... that sadness seeping into his tone.
"You've never been able to touch me," I say shakily, upper skies raining tears as I quickly swipe at my cheeks.
He doesn't stop searching, his words hard, but not unkind. Honest. "And yet I did," he answers.
This distance is not enough, this reminder pinching muscle and punishing red. "I didn't know what that meant before... and now I do," I explain.
His demeanour flitters, features creasing. "Don't make me out to be that person... preying on a married woman. That's not fair."
I wrap my arms around myself and look away as I swallow my tears, my regret, this boy undeserving of my blame. "I didn't mean it like that," I say, whisper strained. "And I don't want to hurt you. I'm so sorry."
Silence hovers over tongues, words shredded and left to fall, this day drawing energy and scarring hearts.
There is a whisper of movement before I feel his heat, his hands resting lightly on my shoulders as he presses his lips to my temple, my eyes squeezing shut as he murmurs, "Be happy, Isabella Cullen. Okay?"
I nod, and then his touch is gone, tears streaming cheeks as he continues down the hallway instead of rejoining the wedding party. But maybe that's a good thing, because I'm not the only one who catches his form disappearing around the corner, door closed with forced control, the clench of Edward's fists visible at his sides.
My nails dig into my palms, cursing bad timing while trying to calm breaths and halt sadness, emotions tangled up in salt... lashes drowning at sea. Because Edward doesn't pause like last night. He wastes no time in making his way towards me, his body immediately closing in, his face a mixture of so many things as he stands above and around, a storm cloud ready to wreak havoc.
My pulse races, my back pressed to the wall as the muscles in his jaw lock, suspicion scorching rationality with an unbeatable force, his palms braced either side of my head, fists curled and knuckles white: hands that heal, hands that bruise.
I can feel his stare, his green-burning: a ring of fire cradled within a determined gaze as he traps me inside this smothering cloud of hostile silence, punishing me for so much more than just today.
His temper is thick, crowding airways and irritating pupils, his breathing barely in control, this situation scarcely in his grasp; one wrong word and everything stops, implodes: a warning, a bomb, a consumption.
"What the fuck did he do?" he demands, his voice deceivingly low, worse than roaring sounds, a detonation of syllables that travel over skin and get caught in the crossfire of shivers.
His anger is an illumination of flames: bright and intense and alarmingly beautiful as heat licks its way from the invisible shackles at my wrists to the fluttering pulse at my neck, branding skin and tempting ire.
He glows in this harsh light—in this severe love—and I want to taste and touch, but instead I try to tame, lashes fanning fires as I blink up at him slowly, acrimony in the air with a whisper of, "Nothing, Edward. He did nothing. We were just talking."
I'm met with a refusal, a sardonic smile—he carries this mutual pain with heedless palms, uncaring of ticking sounds and explosive hearts. "Bullshit," he snaps, spitting embers with hopeless abandon, a flurry of sparks that set fire to this dimming world. "You're upset."
And I don't know why I say it, instant conviction and defences raised, arrow poised with a gleaming silver tip. "You've caused worse," I breathe, pink dynamite and blazing lips.
There is a swift silence; a blanket of tension as regret coats my tongue and lingers within the echoey grave of first love.
Roots entwine, his expression holding, nothing changing until something does: a furrow of brows, a map studied, a destination left wanting.
"Right," he says, accepting without feeling, refusing to lay bare the colours that streak his horizon.
Fatigue mists the air, overshadowing fight; hovering below eye level, but above hearts, and choking everything with its pewter-grey enervation.
Another moment slips away as Edward's tongue touches his bottom lip, his assessment still in progress, and I don't want to look, but it's impossible to retreat, permanence taken for granted as I will this veneer to crack.
"He doesn't have the power to hurt me, Edward," I whisper, holding back tears as his mouth tightens at the corners, jaw muscles flexing in time with the clenching of his teeth. "If I'm upset, it's not because of him."
My heart is racing, his resulting silence tainting breaths and shaking bone, splitting at the seams with the stroke of his fingers through my hair, moving from beside to touch, weaving into hold as he forces me to see and not just feel.
His eyes darken, a change of seasons and stifled desperation; an eclipse of simmering resentment and nighttime determination. "I told him to stay away from you," he says, staring down, down, down, exhaling truths that pinch and crumble masks.
I shake my head, wanting to laugh and scream and cry, my whole body aching from this form of loneliness that lingers like the cloying scent of smoke. "I already have enough people staying away from me," I whisper, sharing breaths as his mouth rests above mine, refusing to touch but willing to take as a point is made quietly.
There is a stillness, there is a shake—there is a brush of lashes that feather cheeks and entice pink as his head tilts and words follow. "You tell me that I'm the reason for your tears," he starts, the soft before the kill, his voice hoarse, scratching more than his throat, "and you accuse and accuse, leaving me torn, so what do I do?" he questions, skin tempting skin with the sweep and sway of lips.
His fingers press and my eyes sting, one not in conjunction with the other. "Would it make you love me more if I stayed away?" he asks, tugging at the intricate web of ties that path our future. "Would it make you happy?"
I turn my face into his, nose trailing cheek: a pressure, a longing burden, searching for more than the warmth of his skin. "No," I rasp quietly, muted sounds that breathe and bubble under water. "It would kill me. It's already killing me."
He makes a sound that I recognise; that I feel vibrate and grow with my own song. "Then tell me what to do, Bella, because I can't carry this anymore. I can't..." He trails off, voice a broken plea, desperation shattering strength and showing me what lies beneath.
I lift a palm to his chest, fingertips sliding to belt loops as I curl and hold, slowing down exits and prolonging the inevitable. "You be with me," I say simply, his breath filling my ear, shading fear with the bright hue of someone who wants to feel more than air; who wants to fly. "And you love me," I add, closing my eyes, basking in this returned emotion. "You make me feel important and don't let me go."
A hand finds mine, fingers barely brushing, testing recognised desire that neither sinks nor swims. "What if loving you is the problem?" he murmurs, so quietly I almost miss it.
Stitches unravel, a retreat of thread while he watches and waits, but I don't have an answer, volume dulled, his words cementing fear and uprooting foundations.
"But that doesn't mean I don't," he states, folding silence into pockets; oceans swum and lines drawn. "Or that I can stop, even if I sometimes think I want to."
Truths are always hard to hear, and this one is no exception, even if he is the exception to everything. I forgive, but don't always forget, the mirrored walls of my heart reflecting too many scars, too many sutures, too many open graves. But still I choose; still I bleed and spin and prick patterned skin on glittering needle points.
I run my fingers over his knuckles, holding his palm close to an unsteady beat, this pain not symmetrical as I trace infused pink and running blue with a gentle touch down the back of his right hand.
He flinches, but doesn't stop me, allowing me this quiet moment of reflection, a magnitude of dizzying ideals and future consequences.
There is a softness, there is a sense of relief; there is an influx of wavering energy, those wrong words finally making their appearance. "You shouldn't have hit him," I murmur, focusing on rainbow knuckles instead of the colour of new life.
He tenses immediately, fingers curling inwards towards his palm, the lack of warmth against my cheek alerting me to the hold of his breath.
I try to draw him closer and melt this frozen form, but he's unmoving and unwilling, statue-still as this stony façade is no longer such a front. "You're joking?" he laughs, the sound humourless, the sight painful, eyes raised and freeze.
I can do nothing but stare, locked inside this arctic vault, the chill of misguided lips and numbing words solidifying painfully tender moments to black ice.
He grips my chin with his thumb and forefinger, too many emotions hidden inside that unyielding gaze, his tone laced with bitterness and finished with sarcasm. "I'm sorry for hurting your boyfriend's face. It won't happen again."
Lips press shut and colours blur, angry shades of incensed brown and defiant green, the earth quaking as I push and push, aiming to sever roots and detach. "I didn't mean it like that, and you know it," I say, saturated in this blind sadness that longs for new eyes.
He takes a step back, hard and hard... with his expression, with his shoulders. "It was only last night you were kissing him," he reminds me, his voice carrying that anger, that coiled sickness. "I'm not sure if I should know anything."
I groan and stare to new heights, sensing the lie in more than his eyes, his pride wounded, his stubborn heart falling to familiar lows. "You do," I counter, louder this time, tears of frustration filling borders below lids. "You're just using that as an excuse so you don't have to deal with this... because you're a coward... because you can't give me a simple answer."
Our gazes match, water lined and brimming at the edges. "What are we doing?" I cry, swiping angrily at my cheeks as salt paths the way to lonely hearts. "Do you even want to be with me?"
He's mute, he's stone, I'm colourless. His breathing is harsh and it feels like mine has stopped altogether. I taste grey and solitary nights, longing for malachite and open arms, crying out for that boy I know is still in there somewhere.
Where are you, Edward?
Eyes are unmet, souvenirs uncollected, but as I watch, his lips do move. His words, however, are not the ones I need to hear. "You don't know me anymore. I'm not even sure you know yourself."
He's deflecting, running scared while completely motionless, dominated by the reckless voices inside his head I wish I could flick off with a switch.
"I know what I want," I say quickly, whisper strangled, throat constricted. "I want you. I've only ever wanted you. But not like this." I shake my head. "I don't want to carry on being buried under a future that isn't going to happen."
It's hard to watch something decay, hard to live it, my eyes pleading with him to speak, chest rising and rising, tears an agonised burn, like the steam of the sun. But he simply watches, keeping me suspended, merciless and cruel in the face of someone he claims to care for.
"You don't love me," I whisper, wiping cheeks dry, time dripping from fingertips in translucent bubbles as those words cause him to pause, his shoulders tensing, his inhale audibly slow, look suspended beneath a bent head and lashes that cast mocking shadows.
"Stop. Talking." His tone is clipped, a voice like gravel, his demand falling on deaf ears.
"If this is your version of love," I start, the lie braced on the tip of my tongue, refusing to lie down and drown in the waters of this suffering, "then I don't want it." I take a deep breath and will my voice to hold. "Give it to someone else."
He's stunned, incensed, or maybe relieved, this retaliation his for the taking: a world emptied of me. Because this isn't living, it's surviving: basic instincts. It's forcing a hand and waiting for the outcome, swapping one purgatory for another.
"Sometimes I think telling you I loved you was the most careless thing I've ever done," I croak, rusty hinges and the taste of blood. "But this is me being brave now. I'm not waiting to be saved anymore... because you're not coming, are you?"
Realisation dawns, sinking below the clouds, cradled inside this moment, its wings delicate, its heart beating too fast. Edward may be present, but he's not really here, and until he is, the sky will never know the sun, dusk no longer enough or quite so pretty.
I push myself from the wall, commanding my feet to move, whimpers caught and held with the brush of his fingers as I pass, the back of my hand tingling from his feeble touch. I pause and wonder, but that's all I'm awarded, his attempt hurtling towards ground; and so I force myself to ignore, suppressing the wave of devastation that climbs bone-white bars in this jungle of feeling until I can be completely alone. Only then will I give in to this roaring current, letting it pull me under and block out everything but the rushing sound of an elevated pulse, the one that tries to rebuild something that has been sanded down too many times.
Our hearts are ruthless, and sometimes fickle, dictating a situation only to change its mind once the dust has settled, consequences cushioned with fleece, this garden fully in bloom with its thorny reminders.
I wonder if that's how my heart will feel when the realisation I am no longer enough finally sinks in.
There is nothing but carpet and creaking doors, stairs that seem to never end, my hands shaky as they unlock and close and support a downturned face that is streaked with tears.
I am alone; shadow lost and ticking loud. My chest feels like it's caving in, those sobs unleashed, tightening and pushing and pulling as they give life to a pain that cripples, too quick to hold, like a burning star falling from the sky.
This room was booked for two, but under unthinkable circumstances, now only holds one, my suitcase alone by the door, bed sheets smooth and towels unused; shoes discarded and heart broken.
I think of younger days and how we let it get so wrong, the ring on my finger mocking with its significance; with its shattered promise as I lower myself onto the bed, lips sore, eyes unseeing, breaths faltering.
I want to tear this feeling from my chest, fingers curling into cotton sheets as haunting sounds vibrate inside this keeper of broken dreams and quivering beats. There is a hole that can't be filled; that can only be healed by the one who put it there, ignorant of inner pleading as it refuses to stop hurting.
He looked away... he let me leave... this driving force nothing but despair: black, black, black. It takes over like midnight, cloying to instrumental necessities that enable this pain to subsist, rippling cruelly until the only existence is this unbearable feeling that does not show any signs of stopping.
But then sounds are set apart, the noises not made by my hands, mouth, heart sifting through the crystallised veneer of thoughts that bear running cracks as a door is opened and a form appears, this design of nightmare carrying a dark fringed sun.
Edward lingers outside the doorway, hands braced either side of the frame, still refusing to look, but here he is, the slow burn of anger that escapes through the fractures of sadness suddenly beginning to blind, propelling me from white sheets to face and exile spring back into winter.
"Get out!" I cry, exhaustion muting preservation as my voice breaks, words tearing at an already sore throat.
Desperation begins to mount, and it's not fair, these games he plays, string dangled teasingly above my emotions; back and forth and circles run, misguided fun losing its never-quite-there smiles.
His gaze lifts, hostage seized, steps taken and door closed, exit blocked; a standoff in motion. "Did you not hear me?" I shout, anger rising like the type of balloon that breathes fire. "I said get out."
His tongue sweeps across his bottom lip, insistence ignored as my focus drifts to gliding pink, blood heating two ways with his determination. "No," he says easily, stance relaxed but features strained.
My fists clench, this kind of pain recognised with the flick of his gaze from legs to arms to chest to face. "Stop looking at me like that," I choke out, his advancement the noose around my neck, the weakness inside my soul as he starts to close this haphazardly crafted distance that is suddenly nowhere near wide enough. "You don't get to do this to me again," I add, countering his step forward with a backwards shuffle of feet.
"I'm sorry," he says tightly, the expression on his face threatening to crumble my resolve; walls stripped down and a heart laid bare.
His eyes are granite, a dark hunger that results in goose bumps and a racing pulse; the pursuit of a beat and show of want. "It's too late," I whisper hoarsely, swallowing against the ache that rises inside my chest like the swell of a wave. "You're too late."
I can hear his breaths now, sense his warmth, skin flushed and heart crazy as he leans closer. "No," I refuse, shrugging away from his outstretched hand. "Don't touch me."
Tears trail my cheeks, advantage gained for mere moments before he reminds me that I'm hurting him, too. "You make me feel insane," he murmurs, holding me captive with his dark burden. "Here... now... every time I see you... it's like looking through a window at all the things I want, but can't get to, because I'm three floors up and there is all this glass in the way, stopping me. And I'm so fucking tired of fighting it, so let me touch you."
I laugh bitterly, the sound morphing to something else, rope bindings and metal pincers; ribs caving in and a strength so weak.
He reaches for me again, and this time my voice is a scream, a shock to the heart and crash of cymbals, echoing and vibrating against walls that exist both outside and in. "Don't fucking touch me!"
But he doesn't listen. His palm finds my jaw, his thumb my cheek as he tilts my face to his, keeping me trapped; keeping me his under this tormented expression that tugs and tugs and tugs, tightening around bone and tethering me to a pain that is too much to hold on to.
His lips part, lids heavy, my own half-closed. His attention in this moment splinters courage, cowardly lions with the feel of his skin on mine, its appearance distressingly perfect. It's yearning in the simplest form, a brush of fingertips collecting tears, a sandpaper form of comfort with a soft but calloused palm.
I'm tired and dreamless, and wanting to return the favour, I destroy souls and inflict, gifting my pain with a roll of bright yellow ribbon so I can breathe. "I don't want you anymore," I lie, cheeks damp as he lowers his forehead to mine, pressing his eyes shut with force, rejecting and digesting.
Guilt begins to furl like smoke, squeezing lungs with its weightless fist as cages form and doors lock, faces so close our lashes brush and tangle.
I raise my hands and push at his chest, wanting this feeling gone, but it's futile, my strength no match for his, hopeless aspirations coursing easily through a maze of red as he presses us forward, my back to the wall, his words another dictation. "Stop it," he snaps, eyes hard, my own sore and weeping-hurt.
Our noses touch and I want to shake him off and keep him exactly where he is; I want to crush this sob inside my chest and bury its ashes beneath soil in its very own forgotten garden.
"Stop hurting me then," I say, closing my eyes, safety net momentarily back in place with the cover of darkness. "I can't do this anymore. It hurts too much."
I can feel his breath on my lips, trying to tempt and distract, but my words, they don't stop. "Every time you walk away, or act like this is over, you take a piece of me with you," I tell him, hands inflicting once more as I strike out as his chest. "You've taken it all... left me empty." He touches my other cheek, and I blink lazily, lashes heavy with the weight of tears. "Does that make you happy?" I ask quietly.
His teeth grind, his swallow deep, deceit coating my tongue with the taste of his shuddering exhale. "Yes, that makes me happy," he says roughly, his thumb and forefinger resting either side of my mouth. "Just like you kissing Jasper made me happy," he chokes out, brushing his lips against mine, more breath than touch; charred secrets and a bitter kind of pain. "Just like this fucking hole through my chest makes me happy."
I don't get time to react, mouth busy as he leans closer, more pressure behind his lips this time as he kisses me properly, his palm sliding to the side of my neck, holding me still while groans are exchanged and touches turn soft.
"There," he murmurs, stopping briefly to take a breath, a cruel bitterness present in his tone as he releases his next words. "Does that make it all better?" he questions lowly.
There is sadness swirled within green, but still I push at his face, keeping my fingers pressed against his cheeks as my face crumples and my words punish. "I hate you."
His control continues to slip, his anguish a glinting star, my lie a burning planet, our pain linked in darkness. "Well," he voices raggedly, washing away one of my tears with the pad of his thumb. "I don't hate you."
He blazes, but not in anger, the sensation of this coveted union as it trickles away too much for either of us to handle. I'm breaking down and try to step around him, but his arms are an instant cage, stopping me, barring my escape.
He holds me close and ignores my struggles, his fingers tangling through my hair as I press my face into his neck. "Let me go," I say weakly, plea muffled against skin, conviction eroded within the cave of his arms; overturned castles made of sand and still water blue.
"I can't," he responds lowly, his breath an instant dismissal as it washes up and over strands of driftwood.
Tears spill from the corners of my eyes, the arm around my waist pressing me closer, keeping me afloat. "Loving you is too hard," I say with a whisper, struggling for air with the pinch those words bring.
His kiss starts at my temple and trails to my cheek, his hands gentle but insistent as he tilts my face higher, bringing my mouth under his. "Am I not worth it anymore?" he wonders, searching like lights out at sea.
I shake my head, but not because he isn't. I would take his hurt over and over, breaking point reached time and again, sick and caught up in this net of fucked up that labels me his alone. Because love isn't always happy. It's the tears collected at midnight and the grey clouds that promise rain; the claws inside my chest and the screaming words released when my heart is breaking.
It is Edward. It is me. It is this feeling right now and the look in his eyes.
He's showing me what he has left to give, insides like mine; matching seashells that echo the voices of distant cries, coloured enamel bearing the scuff marks of my name.
His love is found in my sticky cheeks and his pained expression; our mingled breaths and racing beats; the rings on our fingers and the dark places we don't talk about.
He drags his palms from my neck to my shoulders, and it's carried there, too... from my arms to my back... to the buttons of my dress and the skin between each opened one.
"Don't tell me to leave," he says lowly, lips a feather light distraction as they barely touch my own; as my lids fall shut, unable to withstand the look on his face. "Don't tell me I'm not worth it."
Even with eyes closed, his expression lingers, his words twisting breaths to something faster—loud and hot—spurring desire as I taste his pleas: his hopeless despair and quiet desperation.
His fingers curl under the straps of my dress, and I don't stop him, shivers trailing spine as gentle hands brush sensitive skin, bare breasts exposed to cool air and the slow descent of familiar palms.
His touches are light, a breeze of dandelion cotton and the first hint of summer, a warmth that spreads while time progresses, nipples teased with the languid trace of thumbs.
This night is streaked with regret, anguish clinging to the beat of my heart, but his hands are here to heal, to chase shadows, skin and bone worshipped and beautiful.
"Don't hide from me," he implores, enticing the flutter of opened lashes as eyes meet, dilated pupils to dilated pupils, drowning in crazy tides with the pull of a trigger. "I love you," he presses, the back of his knuckles following the line of my collarbone, his gaze never leaving, his intensity never wavering. "And I'm not going anywhere. My forever still stands if yours does."
I soar, diamond shapes made for the sky, for wedding bands and wanting fingers as his touch heightens, travelling the distance of pale skin, up and under until his thumb finds my bottom lip, pressure earned, tip touching tongue touching heart touching low, low, low. "I'm so completely yours," he breathes, kindling fires: ember red and sunset orange.
Broken sobs shade the walls as silent tears track my cheeks, relief spiralling, need dizzying, this ride carrying so much love that fear uselessly prompts my heart to jump, instinct ignored and strings still clutched inside the safety of palms.
Words are strangers and my tongue stays wary, unprepared for his honesty and untamed truths, breathless and dreamless and stuck in the clouds.
It feels like I'm falling apart and breathing life all at the same time; wrong and right and I don't want it to end, I don't want it to stop.
His hands shift, fingers caressing soft curves and sweeping nipples, my pulse racing and shudders gaining as he talks and talks, sharing secrets and gifting memories. "The very first time I saw you... I knew I was ruined for anyone else; with your ready smile and brown eyes and blushing cheeks. You had me so fucked," he says, gaze dipping as his thumb flicks, whimpers drifting with its return. "You still do."
I fade and falter and clutch at his shirt, twisting cotton as breaths accelerate and lips tremble. "Edward, I..." He shakes his head and I trail off, path forgotten as I stay right where I am, allowing him this moment, accepting this gift.
"There is nothing in this world that is more important to me than you are," he says hoarsely, swallowing thickly as he continues to look back at me with so much intensity I think I'll stop breathing, his words a whisper, their sound a burning tear. "I'm sorry for every single day I've ever made you doubt that."
He cups my cheeks and wipes away my hurt as it falls and falls and falls, a downpour of too much feeling and soundless regret. "I'll be whatever you need me to be," he presses, driving his point home with unquestionable sincerity. "You've given up so much for me. You deserve your fairy tale, and I want to be in it, so wherever you're going... take me with you."
He kisses my forehead and I can't remember what it feels like to wake up and not love this mouth, this face, the mornings his distance left a heart in ruins still not enough to eclipse this feeling that is as familiar to me as my shadow.
I raise my palms and trace his brows, his lids threatening to close as I touch and soothe and find my voice. "Fairy tales aren't real, Edward," I murmur against his lips, sliding buttons through holes and pressing skin to skin with breathless relief.
"Then we let everything else go," he returns, whispering into my mouth as his palms curl around my hips. "I don't care about obligations or work or what anyone else thinks. I don't want to lose you."
He pushes my dress down, down, down, fabric rustling in its descent as it falls to the ground, his shirt following quickly while mouths become desperate, teeth and tongue and take, take, take, time no longer sympathetic as hunger claims its victims.
His arm slips around my back, his other rising, hair grasped and moans swallowed as I push and arch and pull at his belt, buckle loose and pant-zip lowered, these months and months of heart-fueled wanting suddenly more than a possibility.
Strong hands trail over lace, down and down to the backs of my knees, my fingers tangling through favoured hair as he lifts me off my feet, thighs cradling hips: warmth to warmth, hard to soft.
"Tell me you love me," he pants, shifting and pressing, groans and loud wanting, this dark purple thread of patience getting thinner and thinner.
I push his hair from his forehead, gaze lingering on damp lashes, holding focus before his eyes dip to my mouth. "I love you," I tell him, and not just because he asked, but because I feel.
He kicks away barriers, moving from wall to bed, my head supported as he lowers me to the mattress, knee between thighs, tongue between lips, my palms greedy as they slide over back muscles and squeeze shoulders in an attempt to bring him closer.
Touches kiss hearts, his mouth warm and wet and mine, lips red and poised above, purposefully out of reach while eyes capture; key inserted and door locked.
His look is long, and hard, our breaths loud in this room filled with humming ticks as his palms rest either side of tangled curls; as he flexes and pushes hips, knees spreading, movement slow and so, so good.
Lashes flutter and chests heave: more air, more touch, more everything.
He presses his chest closer, warm skin to warm skin. "Your heart is beating so fast," he murmurs, staring down at me.
I bring my fingers to his lips, touching what I can't taste, outlining their softness and feeling his kiss. "That's because it knows you," I say quietly, volume diminished under the intensity of his gaze.
He shivers, cold winter mornings and snowy desperation, his hands grasping hair as he tilts back my head, his lips at my throat, fiery brushstrokes that paint me his.
"Does it beat like this for anyone else?" he wonders, knowing but still asking, teeth nipping at skin, my body trembling.
I run my fingers over muscles to his face, forcing him to look, his eyes hinting to things I want to erase with words and lips and adoration. "No, Edward. Only you," I promise while stroking the line of his jaw.
He swallows thickly and lowers his mouth back to mine, kissing me slowly before dragging his lips down my chest, open mouth pausing over my heart. "I want to live right here," he breathes shakily.
I taste the tears at the back of my throat when I assure him, "You already do."
I feel his exhale and the press of teeth, need bleeding into skin, love sketched and sealed with a trace of pink.
He studies soft curves with his eyes, with his tongue, undersides and peaks, pale skin and a purse of lips. I grip sheets and urge for speed as his fingers curl into lace and slide slowly, impatience potent—drinks that are clear, but not like water—wanting to match his level of undress.
Thoughts cloud, his purpose evident, time taken and hand between us, between me, teasing and giving as my hips lift and push for more. But it's not enough. "Edward," I whimper, shifting and pulling at shoulders, bringing him back, tugging him closer.
He casts shadows, his gaze drifting low, low, low, this anticipation almost unbearable as his hard slides against my soft; as his mouth parts and head drops, moans tinting the air.
And then he's there, and he stills, looking up beneath lashes and wayward hair as I pant and lick drying lips, his gaze drifting from heaving breasts to lock and hold and tell me words all without speaking as he finally starts to push himself inside.
His jaw clenches and my breath leaves, the expression on his face torn between pleasure and pain, giving me time to adjust before moving forward, and back; and again, and again.
I make a noise and he stops, but I shake my head, and tell him, "No, no, keep going," in a voice that doesn't sound like mine because it all feels so good, and my skin is hot and my heart is racing, and his cheeks are flushed and I can't stop staring at his face.
I trace his brows, his lids hooded and gaze dark as he takes that final thrust forward, so deep, my lips parting and back arching, eyes still locked on his, drowning inside this ardent and reflected need.
Nothing else compares to this feeling, to the weight of his body as he groans and presses himself closer, arms lowering either side of my head, suffocating me in nothing but him.
"I love you like this," he pants, focus shifting across my face as he pulls his hips back just to push forward again, "flushed and breathless beneath me." He accentuates his words with a soft grunt, his breath hot on my cheek. "You feel so good," he tells me quietly.
My lashes flutter, but I don't close my eyes. I don't want to miss the way his brows furrow and straighten; the way his lids fall and open; the way his mouth parts and noises sound.
He whispers that he never wants to stop, and I whimper, my love a nonsensical plea that gets trapped in the space between us.
Lips find lips, breaths lost and shared, reaction gained as I wrap my legs around him, forcing him deeper, urge met and skin grasped.
He keeps his eyes on my mouth, his exhale quick as he moves above me, grinding and pushing and teasing and Oh, God.
"Fuck," he breathes, his nose brushing mine as he traces my bottom lip with his tongue, sigh tasted and pillow grasped as he raises himself up on his palms and thrusts forward—once, hard, twice, again—breath stolen before he slows and taunts and presses his open mouth to mine.
I shiver, but not from the cold. He kisses me so softly, eyes opening to meet as he takes my top lip between his, mouth lingering as he gazes down at me. His eyes are so green, and his cheeks are flushed and his kiss is so good.
I try to remember a time without him, a life without this feeling inside my chest.
It's a roaring blaze and a tumbling world; blue flamed desire and smoke signals in the sky.
He's the connecting dot in all my memories, my inner compass covered in skin: north and south and east and west.
My nails dig into his sides, his kisses raining from chin to temple and back, head cradled as they trail down my throat, my eyes drifting closed, skin worshipped with sure palms and an eager touch.
He's a moment, a kiss, a smile; the laugh that follows and cheeks that ache: my airless wonder, my dreamlike state.
His lips find my forehead, my hands spreading over his back, his breath hot as I shift up to meet him, groans chasing whimpers chasing air.
I smother in his flames and accept his warmth, fire shared and sparks caught. He circles his hips and my body reacts; a heart made of cinders, my bones formed of ash.
"Bella," he says lowly, reaching for my left hand, palm against palm for moments that don't last as fingers trace creases before tracking vows, wedding band followed with a gentle touch.
Tears prick my eyes, my voice weak, my throat tight. "Don't stop," I whisper, my lips against his ear.
He buries his face between my neck and shoulder before sliding his palms down my legs, hands curling around thighs; movements faster, stronger, breaths shallow, this need travelling deeper.
Murmurs stick to sweaty skin, his whispers too low for me to hear; my sweetheart and soul spinner, my white gold and promise lips.
I close my eyes and he spreads my legs wider, touch inside of thighs as he rocks and rocks, passion, desperation: fear and spite and silence. A good kind of ending chased.
Edward is my good, my bad, my always: first light blessings and the pull on eyelids when darkness conquers blue sky. He carries my heart from sun to moon, from cloud to star, and I follow.
My hands smooth down his neck, attempting to erase the jagged edges that line his thoughts and cut his gums; that poison tongues and dig graves.
He lifts and looks, exhale slow, quick, slow as he moves above me, his breath stuttering when I push up to meet him.
And it's too much, for us both maybe, his heavy gaze and warring emotions, these cursed missed opportunities trapping without chains.
He keeps his eyes on my lips, but my hands coax, tugging at bronze, face lowered, cheek against cheek while we push and pull, rhythm gained and lost.
Tears form at the corner of my eyes, and I moan softly, imagining a different outcome, my days without him, an empty shell filled with rapidly fading photographs and a frozen beat.
I think about him loving someone else, his affections gifted to another, his lips and tongue and hands ghostly feelings my skin can't remember.
Sounds choke, his forehead pressing to mine, his back muscles straining. "Are you okay?" he whispers, breathing heavily.
My hands slide up his sides, violin strings that tremble, his hips slowing as he runs his thumbs across my cheeks.
His touch makes the tears fall faster, a whimper present while my lips part, throat sore and love an airtight desperation.
"Shh," he murmurs, resting his open mouth over mine, boat rocked and wave rising. "I know. I know."
He kisses my saltwater pathways and tastes my tears, my sadness held on his tongue as he strokes my hair and assures me with light brushes and gentle sways.
I guide my palm to his heart, nails digging into skin, my chest an echo of quivering breaths and twisted knots. "Let this always be mine," I plead, his eyelids lazy, my words low. "Please."
He takes my bottom lip between his teeth before pushing his tongue fully into my mouth, a low whine trapped inside my throat, breast squeezed and promise given, tips to skin and not letting go.
This answer is better, and worse, and his hands, they press and take and remind me I'm his, with his gaze, with his control as he pulls back, searching and trapping, lips reaching lips: to rest, to feel. "It's always been yours, Bella," he murmurs against a cushion of pink. "That's never going to change."
Souls aren't so lonely, smooth and rough, patterns formed with a crease of skin, the draw of a tongue, lines drafted and hearts connected.
I wrap my arms around his neck, pressure growing and moans swallowed, bodies slick and position shifting, his hands curling beneath my shoulders, a hook of palms and push of hips.
Fear fades with every form of embrace, small and still and breathe, lashes catching nightmares as he keeps his face close, watching intently, pant and pant, my open mouth, his, desperation blanketing his tongue tonight. "Don't ever leave me again," he says breathlessly, staring and holding. "I couldn't..."
His eyes squeeze shut and my fingers trail from thick brows to smooth cheeks to strong lines. "I'm never truly gone, Edward," I say, sliding my touch to his neck, hair stroked at the nape, his exhale shaky, this comfort more than coveted. "I don't think I know how to not be yours."
He gives and I take; my lips part and roles reverse, words bestowed with a beating heart. "You're my whole world," I say, truths that tear and light up the sky, his thrusts getting harder, our breaths loud between and against. "And I'll never not want you. But sometimes I'm scared this isn't normal... this feeling... us hurting each other."
"I don't care about normal," he groans, kissing down my neck, his teeth scraping flesh. "I just want to be yours."
His attention lifts and I can't look away, his gaze my connecting ache and adhesive need, silence unsealed for short moments as a different kind of urge takes precedence. It builds and builds, his hand sliding down my stomach, high between my thighs while my back arches and hips circle, pressing into his touch, head thrown back and chest heaving.
He grinds, pace increasing, whispering words that make me moan, and I'm cotton, frayed and unfolded, unravelling beneath his touch as seams give way and passion threads, nothing ever feeling this good.
And then my attention is all on him, his head bent, watching and cursing before I capture his eyes and witness his fall, hands reaching while he shudders and groans, his face pressed tightly into my shoulder, my arms tied loosely around his neck, resting skin to sticky skin.
Darkness blankets windowpanes as we lie and hold and catch our breaths, his weight comfort and heat, tethers present in more ways than one, our bodies bathed in lamplight gold. I run my fingers through the sweat dampened hair at the nape of his neck, feeling the beat of his heart gradually begin to slow, this breakdown finding momentary peace.
Puzzle pieces fall into place, and my eyes burn, tears gathering as I sift through memories like photographs, knowing this particular moment will become smudged over time with the eager print of my thoughts.
I feel the brush of his lashes and the press of his lips, this kiss not feeling like goodbye despite the fact he begins to pull away.
He doesn't go very far, his body shadowing mine as he holds himself above and really sees, assessing the damage, ready to collect the pieces worth saving.
The way he watches, scrutinizing every blink, every tear that rolls, it makes my heart ache, like kiss-sore lips, the kind of pain that is so, so good I can't turn away. Because there is no bitterness here: his expression is soft and intense and full of something I remember.
It is a midday proposal and a smile against skin; a good morning, a wake up, a yes.
It is a younger face shielded in raindrops, a whisper of I think we're safe, a low promise of always.
His thumb sweeps my cheek, his tone belying his expression, but not in a bad way. It just shows he's carrying his own memories, too. "I hate these," he says, speaking of the reason for my damp lashes as he lowers himself to my side, coaxing me to face him with his palm still cradling my cheek. "All those nights I'd lie awake and listen to you cry, knowing your tears were for me... because of me... the guilt... I couldn't handle it." His breath comes out in a rush. "But then some small part of me also liked it... because it meant that you were hurting as much as I was."
I make a strangled noise and turn my face away, bloodlines carrying shards of glass that twist and remind.
"Don't do that," he chokes out, wrapping his arm around my waist, pulling me closer. "Don't you know how much I love you?" he questions, pausing with his lips at the edge of my mouth.
I nod and tear and turn on my side to face him, meeting his eyes, his pained expression. "It still hurts to hear, though," I say quietly, running my fingers over his chest.
"I'm not doing it to hurt you," he sighs, proving with his words, his gentle touch. "I want to be honest... I want you to still love me knowing the truth."
Defenses shatter and walls fall down, this need to talk spurring open desire and promoting regret. "I'll always love you... but sometimes it's almost like I can't bear to know those things," I say shakily, my smile small and watery, trying to soothe.
He brings his lips to my forehead, slow and hard and soft, his mouth lingering as he speaks. "I'm going to be better for you. I promise."
Staccato beats echo and vibrate, bones wrapped around bones, adrenaline skipping stones and sinking ships.
I ghost a kiss over his neck, living in his pulse, drowning in his scent. "You've always been the best for me," I assure him, every blink shifting grey and tempting yellow. "I just want you home... You stopped coming home."
Bodies shift and faces level, his breath my breath, fingers laced and knuckles swept, honesty surfaced and focused. "Sometimes I had to stay away," he says, his brows furrowing under a moment relived. "Every time I saw you, my heart would fall a little more than the day before, your pain so visible, even when you were attempting to hide it." He draws air, slow and deep. "It was like being trapped under stone. And sometimes, this," he says, resting our joined hands over his heart, "it got so far down while trying to protect itself, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find it. But then you'd walk into a room, or do something as simple as give me a look or say my name, and there it was again, hurting and aching, for you."
"You could have told me," I whisper, throat thick and ribs bound with red cotton.
"I'm not sure I could. I don't think either of us were ready to listen. So, even though I wanted to be with you... sometimes it got too much. Because while I hated feeling like that... it was your pain I couldn't handle."
My face crumples, his truths coated in thorns. "So you knew and let me carry on thinking you didn't want me?" I say, struggling fruitlessly in his arms, his hold tightening, refusing to let go.
"Stop," he breathes, parting his lips over mine, trying to calm this possible storm. "I know it was wrong, but I told myself if I was able to hurt you, it meant you were still mine. Because I wasn't the only one who stopped communicating, Bella. You did, too."
His lashes glisten, diamonds inside this pain, his gaze cutting through my own sadness to bear witness to his as thunder-beats drum inside my chest, this battle a dying breed, white flags waved and held high.
Our life is not packaged. We make mistakes, boxes cluttering hallways, keepsakes left in vulnerable positions, teetering on ledges and crashing from great heights. I was careless. I pushed. Fault lies within me, too.
A fall day changed everything. We exchanged keys and opened locks, permission granted in dark rooms as we cried, and shivered, bloodlines plucked like strings, an atlas studied, a face remembered, anguish orbiting like the earth in which we live.
"I wasn't naive," I start, pushing a piece of matted hair from his forehead. "I didn't think we could outrun sadness. Or maybe I did. Maybe that's why it was so hard to accept, because never once did I think we would get to a place where we didn't talk or listen." He looks and looks, my fingers telling him I'm right here. "I'm so in love with you," I whisper, "and I'd question myself constantly. Like, how does that work? How can this happen, if I feel this strongly? I hated it and just wanted it to stop. So I guess I did, too."
He swallows thickly, eyes tightening at the corners, his breath deep. "Loving me?" he wonders.
I shake my head. "No," I say lowly. "The part where I was making you so unhappy."
His lips part and I wipe away his tears, comforting him this time with soft whispers to cheeks and lashes and a wanting mouth. His kiss turns angry, desperate, hands grasping skin, punishing and pressing, darkness chased, his exile within. Because this battle is not mine. He's searching himself, between shadow and smoke, and so I simply give him what he needs without fight, kissing and tugging and pulling him closer.
Night continues to hurry by with moments like these, fingers talking when tongues can't, the blizzard of stars beyond glass washed away with sunrise, chalky orange smudging the sky.
Another page in our book turns, hours passing with a scratch of lead, blank pages filled with quiet murmurings that scream so loud from whispering tips, this form of grey welcomed.
Edward's eyes are bright with the appearance of morning's first light, his tongue dampening his bottom lip as he traces the undersides of my breasts.
"Will you go with me somewhere?" he asks, flicking his gaze to mine, his form highlighted in weak citrine as he hovers above, skin bright while shielding the sun.
I blink slowly, this sight blinding. "It's early," I murmur, taking him in. "Nowhere will be open."
His smile is soft, and slightly higher at one side of his mouth, my heart stumbling, unsure if it's big enough to hold this sudden wave of feeling that rises within its scarlet walls. "I know," he answers, lowering his face to mine, nose nudging nose touching heart.
I stroke his jaw and shiver, outlining the curve of his smile as my fingers move to rest at his mouth. "Then where..."
He shakes his head. "Just say yes," he implores, holding me captive with his green persuasion.
I think back to first meetings and first impressions; to a choice stolen so easily, at one with this moment, this face, this heart, his lingering stare.
"Okay," I breathe as his touch sends sparks across my skin. "Yes."
The room is quiet apart from the whispering turn of pages, a domino effect of curled shoulders and furrowed brows as textbooks are studied and essays are started.
Lead presses to paper; a break, a crumble, a pressure too great, breath held and released... slowly... silently.
My mouth feels dry and my focus drifts, the presence of the boy beside me panicking movements and carefully cutting wires, while we sit... and wait... hour mark coveted by hands that don't bear fingers.
His throat clears and my muscles tense, glance stolen in time to witness the bounce of his right knee, my left leg instinctively pulled closer before sliding back into place.
My cheeks heat and the hand on his thigh curls into a fist, action not unnoticed, this tension not unfelt.
His eyes dart to mine, a tug of green that weaves its web and claims its victim, my lips parting, his own licked, this moment waking up emotions that have yet to be assessed.
He wears that same furrow of brows as those around us, my pulse loud in my ears as I take a deep breath, aiming for calm, attempting to pull away.
My tongue presses to the roof of my mouth, words kept at bay, small smile offered in place, instincts in motion with this vault of looks I don't understand; that I want to stop and start and never end.
His gaze drops lower before falling away altogether, fingers raked through wayward hair, strands grasped and pen scrolling.
Relief and dismay battle against eyelids and a too quick beat.
There is a drum inside my chest; a riot of repetitive hits and resulting vibration.
His knee bounces. My palms sweat. Pencil lead smudges. Words remain unseen.
There is shyness.
There is indifference.
There are fleeting looks that pass the time until an hour mark is grasped and a moment stolen.
I've begun to think life is a path of narrow misses and curved hearts, enabling us to learn once mistakes are made, that crimson slope ensuring our fall is not so great that we can't recover.
It's not about finding the person who won't, at times, be cruel, or, on occasion, make us cry; who won't fight and shout and shatter dreams, causing our pulse to sing off key and our soul to dismantle.
It's about finding the person who will still be there at the end of it all; who will wipe away our tears and kiss our eyelids dry with apologetic lips and rueful tips.
It's about finding the person who will continue to love us even when we're not so loveable.
Silhouettes shade golden grains, this view familiar, a canvas of ocean painted with brushstrokes of dark blue and water that holds remnants of fractured moonlight as the sun pushes its way up into the sky.
I was here yesterday. I was here years before. I'm here again today.
It's not yet summer, but heat kisses my skin in the form of a warm palm as sand shifts beneath my feet, not quick enough to claim and sink these tethered limbs.
Edward leads the way, leaving me content to follow, his untucked white shirt whipping at the hem, this breeze unapologetic so close to the water.
My dress is still peach, and our feet are bare—our minds too full to speak—our inner clocks still working, ticking away in their love and heartbreak, little and big hands continuing to spin and heal.
Our scars remain, memories that can't be erased, screams that resonate through flesh and bone with a war that has already been won. For our truths carry weight, our love unbeatable, this thread still intact around and between.
Heat pries apart my fingers, palms linked as we settle front to back on sand that has yet to warm, my hair tangling about my cheeks, my heart ensnared by the boy behind me with his green eyes and unbreakable bond.
I rest my head on his shoulder and close my eyes, feeling his stare, his lips as they pause just below my ear. "Are you tired?" he asks, drawing his name with invisible ink on the back of my hand.
My lashes flutter open, the sky caught between, this form of blue held amongst blinks. "No," I say honestly, shifting for a clearer view of features I know as well as my own.
His fingers tease curls from wind-pink cheeks, movement slow and gentle, prickling skin and pulling strings. "I wanted to ask you something," he starts, and while I don't freeze, I can't help but feel a little wary, searching his face for clues that will help me understand.
But he hasn't yet learnt how to fully be open, his front cover still guarded, so I swallow down my fear and ask, "About what?"
He turns his face further into mine, pressure steady, query released. "I'll be staying here, in Seattle, for a few extra days." I feel my heart stop, my brows furrow, confusion settling bone deep. "Will you wait with me, instead of going back?"
Hope soars, carried within weightless cotton, but I'm not so sure I can trust it. "Why?" I question, tasting tears at the back of my throat, ones that threaten to choke and take me somewhere that may not be real.
His exhale hits my parted lips as I become caught up in expressions that fail to put out that bright flame of belief. "Because I have a job interview here in two days time," he answers carefully, his eyes searching for reactions that have no place to hide, trickling from corners and trailing clear.
"Why?" I ask again, unable to form coherent thoughts in light of his admission.
He looks and looks, my free palm clutching his shirt. "Because you love it here," he replies, his gaze unyielding. "You run, I chase, remember?"
My vision instantly blurs, a world of watercolour and change that no longer dangles just out of reach. "Your mother thinks I should let you go," I say, wanting these ghosts gone; for nothing to come back and haunt this moment.
He pauses, his inhale deep, his anger controlled, his words resolute. "My parents have never understood what's best for me."
I process and love and try not to break, no longer alone, or simply trying to survive. I ache and dream and squeeze his fingers, pulse surging and moment lived.
"Why are you crying?" he whispers, stroking my cheek with his thumb, with his lips.
"Because this feels real. I feel alive."
He presses his forehead to mine, feathered secrets that carry the warmth of the sun. "We were never dead, Bella," he murmurs, his voice getting carried away by the breeze. "We were just sleeping, that's all."
Sometimes I think to love is to walk on air. Our eyes may be open, and our arms may stretch wide, nothing beneath our feet in this thing called life.
We try not to look down, but inevitability crosses our path and obstacles hit, our balance wavering as we stumble and fall—we dust off our hearts and try again.
And maybe that makes us stupid; maybe Edward and I are stupid, because we keep walking and walking, directionless and utterly consumed by this miracle; by this consequence; by a love that can't be cured.
There will continue to be cracks in our pavement; we won't always be perfect, we won't always be okay, but this time, we'll know, because there is something stronger than the fractures that threaten to block our path.
It helps build bridges and conquer doubt, ensuring our feet of where to step, of where to find that solid ground.
For we are tethered: we are the sea, we are the shore.
We'll keep coming back.
I want to thank each and every one of you that has read, reviewed and shared this story; their own experiences.
It hasn't always been the easiest to write; I've never been in their situation. But I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've loved writing it.
Susan and Jen deserve all the awards. They've supported me so much and reassured me more times than I can count.
Thank you girls. I love you.
Judy is the best pre-reader ever. And Meg leaves the best comments.
I love them both, too.
And lastly, a few people have asked if I'll be starting anything new.
I currently write a collab with the lovely iambeagle titled: Stubborn Love. We'd love to see you there. :)
Also, I am in the process of writing and planning a new story.
Working title: Basic Space. It will be a little angsty and a lot teen. I'll have more details nearer posting.
Again, thank you all so much for reading.