The Jukebox contest

Story Title: Voices of Angels

PenName: il-bel-mondo

Song choice: She Talks To Angels

Rating: M

Word Count: 6711

Pairing: Edward and Bella

Summary: Tragedy and grief set Bella and Edward on paths that will collide. Can two understanding strangers help heal each other's souls?

Disclaimer: SM owns all things Twi.

She never mentions the word addiction

in certain company

yes, she'll tell you she's an orphan

after you meet her family

chorus:

says she talks to angels

they call her out by her name

oh yeah, she talks to angels

says they call her out by her name

she keeps a lock of hair in her pocket

she wears a cross around her neck

yes the hair is from a little boy

and the cross is someone she has not met

not yet

she paints her eyes as black as night now

she pulls those shades down tight

oh yeah, there's a smile when the pain comes

the pain gonna make everything alright, all right

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

I drove down the road, the windows open and the radio blasting in a loud attempt to keep me awake at the wheel. It had been one of those really hellish days and the deepening hues of the night sky were colored with the lighter purples and reds of a promising storm.

There had been too many sleepless nights and countless memory-filled dreams that left my mind begging my body not to surrender to fatigue. My work had started to suffer again and all I wanted was to find some solace...peace...anything but tortuous nights and years of moments playing on repeat behind my eyelids.

So I went out for a drive, seeking some sort of escape.

Have you ever driven somewhere so many times that occasionally you get sidetracked and somehow past repetitive motions take you where you intended to go anyways?

Yeah. I hadn't even realized where I was headed until I saw her.

There, standing in the middle of the road, hair still silky soft and every strand in place- even though the wind should've been whipping it around her slender face. I was so busy taking her in that I had to jam my foot on the brakes, hard, to stop before I hit her.

My eyes clenched tightly closed and I refused to allow them to open until the squealing of tires and the crunching of gravel no longer won out over the pumping music from the stereo.

Only there was no more music.

The silence was deafening and being terrified I peeked through only one eyelid. The car was dark and quiet-in an attempt to stop I'd forgotten to down shift and stalled the car. Unknowingly, I must've shut off the radio because not only was it silent but the green power button glowed the blaring red of it being turned off.

My eyes flashed toward the windshield, a hint of my own reflection was all that I saw. She was gone, no longer in the middle of the street.

And deep inside myself, I heard that voice telling that she wasn't just gone from the road but gone...totally gone.

She had been for almost a year now.

That's when I finally saw the arc of the bridge a mile or less down the road. Lightening cracked and had backlit the scene. It almost reminded me of those old scary movies and the castle on the hill where the monster was hiding...almost.

My hand sought out the door handle, wrapping the tips of my fingers over the cool metal I paused. The warm summer's air was thick with humidity, yet a gentle icy breeze blew softly over my left cheek and neck.

Instantly my body froze, my muscles refused all of my brain's commands to move.

I'd felt that same icy touch on my face before...always right after I had sworn that I'd seen her. Broken fragments of memories shattered the walls that I'd tried to build. Tears filled my eyes until I was sobbing in the front seat of my unmoving car.

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

I'm not sure how long I sat there, but somewhere close to sunrise I was stumbling-sleep deprived-through my apartment door. My vision was blurry, but somehow I managed to see the blinking red light on my archaic answering machine.

With my left hand I slapped the machine, betting that one of my fingers hit the play button. When the static-laced, automated voice popped on I knew I'd guessed right.

One message. Yup, I feel the love. I'd been gone, what two days? I had one message. It was laughable but it was what it was.

"Mr. Cullen," a gravely, smoker"s words rang out, "this is Rita from Dr. Thomason's office."

Ohhh, Nurse Rita, how could I have forgotten that sweet sing-song voice of yours? I smirked at a moment of hilarity while she hacked out a wet sounding cough into the phone.

"The doctor wanted me to check in with you to see about rescheduling your appointments. You've missed four and have yet to attend one of the group meetings. Mr Cullen, if you're not going to keep your appointments at least attend a meeting, you can stay anonymous but you need to..."

She droned on and I tuned out as I walked toward my bedroom. I bypassed the bed and went straight for the shower. My mind trying hard to expunge the thoughts that assaulted it.

As the steam tendrils curled around me and filled my nostrils, I resolved to check meeting times. I didn't want to be the guy sitting on some other guy's couch discussing why I felt the way I felt about the things that were going on in my life and how I chose to deal with them.

"How could I have let things get this bad?" I mused to myself, grief washing over me in the same way that the water was now covering my skin.

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

BPOV

The hard, uncomfortable feel of the steel chair's seat made me want to squirm upon it. I was seated as far back in the room that I could be. If there would have been a chair at the donut and coffee table I would have sat there.

I'd been to thirteen of these meetings-all on the basement floor of the hospital-and had yet to share my name, story or any other information that the other people here gave voice to. Good thing they don't mandate that you talk.

Sometimes I would listen to the others but usually I just didn't see why I was even in the same room as them. Subconsciously, I must have been getting something from being here because I had attended every weekly meeting since I'd been told about them.

Maybe it was easy to come since I didn't feel like I was part of it all, since I hadn't told them of what had happened and how broken I felt deep down to my core.

I looked up from the floor and tried to focus on the woman speaking now. She'd barely gotten her name out before she burst into tears and said that she still wasn't ready to share.

The guy running the show stood and walked to her, handed her a tissue and told the room that we'd take a quick five minute break. A majority of the room would make this break a quick run to puff on a cigarette before we all herded back in the room to dwell on our negatives for a little more time.

Even though I was the closest to the door, I wasn't the first one out of it. I pressed out the door behind a few of the group and headed toward the rear exit. I didn't smoke cigarettes but I did enjoy mundane chatter that wasn't 'group' related and the evening breezes.

I strolled to the bench that curved around a tree trunk. The seat was just as hard and much colder than the folding metal one. The night's wind caressed my face and carried the smells and sounds around me.

Two men standing next to where I sat were talking about new movies that were about to come out. One of which apparently starred a bald John Travolta playing a bad ass. I stared at their feet and saw two sets of shoes that, in every day life, probably would never have ventured a conversation.

One wore battered and beat up checkered Vans, the other had on a pair of what looked like snake skin, hand stitched loafers. My eyes traveled up full on in curiosity mode.

Ripped jeans, snugly fitted to skinny legs. Pressed and clean slacks that hung straight legged from the hip.

Studded black leather belt versus tanned, unadorned belt cinched at the waist.

Some obscure graphic tee and again a polar opposite with a starched button down and maroon silk tie.

I tried to focus on their faces to see if it would further their social standings in my mind but failed. Ever since all the bad shit happened I hadn't been able to really see anyone. Each person I passed or met wore only a blur from the neck up.

At first I thought maybe my vision was skewed but I could see every other feature and aspect of the world other than people's faces. Now, it was simply an expected part of my day to see and rarely make myself speak to headless people.

I turned my attention from the mismatched pair and their thoughts of Travolta's villain portrayals. A few cluttered women whispered and did what I call a chicken coop session: a bunch of old hens gathered around clucking about someone else.

By the sideways glances I was pretty sure it was about me this time.

I feigned looking at my nonexistent watch and got up to walk back inside. The smell of body odor and tobacco smoke filled my senses as we all squished through the doorway.

The hens lingered near the back of the room, and I eyed them skeptically. One of them decided to voice their early conversed opinions to me.

"Bella, is it?" She reached a hand up to place on my shoulder, and I instinctively took a step back. I did not like to be touched-especially not when I could see a condescending speech a mile away. "I just wanted to let you know that you shouldn't worry about sharing your story," she turned and four faceless blobs nodded, "we are all here to listen and support you."

She sounded sickingly sweet and clasped her hands in front of her very rounded tummy. I looked quizzically at how her high waisted jeans accentuated the pooch just below them, and I spoke without a filter.

"Those aren't very flattering." My voice was almost a whisper, but I was sure all five of them had heard it because there was a collective gasp as I turned and sat quietly in the very last chair of the very last row.

I blocked out the rest of the share session until it was all a hum in the background. My thoughts went back to the chain of events that brought me to the point I started attending this crap.

That was a big mistake.

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

I filed out of the room and instead of wandering through the doors I knew everyone else took, I hid in the elevator. On the second run that it took to the basement I stepped back off and slowly walked toward the exit.

As I peered out the door-I was sure that I looked like one of those crazy paranoid people keeping an eye out for the spies, aliens or ex-boyfriends who were hunting them down.

"Don't worry, the coast is clear." A rough voice sounded just to my left. My head snapped around and my face almost smacked right into his arm. He was holding the door open for me.

I hesitated briefly before I said anything. If he was standing outside this set of doors-leading into the basement-he was most likely in my same situation. Add to that that he may be one of the chatty over-sharers made me pause again until I realized that he had yet to speak again.

"Crap," I stammered, very articulate. "I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I'm not crazy, I swear." Now I was just rambling.

"No worries," he said and I was certain I heard the gruff in his tone go smooth, "I more assumed that the small grouping of women that were waiting to 'speak with that girl' might have been waiting for you."

"They're gone?" The void where his face was bobbed a yes. "Good, I didn't want to hear whatever intervention they had concocted."

He laughed one of those short 'I get it' laughs. The laugh sounded almost melodic and for the first time in a long time someone actually got and kept my attention. My eyes did the usual scan.

Shoes: Nike sneakers.

Pants: classic blue jeans that hung low on his hips.

Shirt: A black shirt with a large blue rectangle with arms, feet, a big circle nose and a green hat. Under the character was written "What, this is my happy face?"

I couldn't help myself; I almost giggled. I easily recognized the character from the Robert Hargreaves book series.

"Your shirt is great." I stepped back and told him, but as soon as I said it it triggered another round of memories. While I fought the tears back, I blurt out at him, "Thanks for getting the door for me."

Then I did what I'd been doing for the past few months...I ran.

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

EPOV

I'd looked online to find the closest meeting to my apartment and then chose to walk there. I figured that I couldn't unknowingly walk myself back to painful places. That and I doubt that I'd fall asleep and hallucinate while upright.

I know it all sounded irrational but it was what it was.

No sooner had I walked in the small courtyard outside of the hospital's basement doors than I overheard a group of women chatting about someone that was in one of their supposedly anonymous group meetings.

Yup, I was glad that I had set my expectations so low for this. The women saw me, eyed me and a few gave me some very awkward smiles while the others toyed with their hair or gave me a flirty look.

Jesus no, I did not need this shit tonight.

Quickly I headed toward one of the closest trash cans. It smelled awful but I was positive that none of the prissy, uppity women at the door would come near it...and all the flies swarmed the air above it.

When all was quiet behind me I started to head toward the door. I'd barely began to open it when a petite woman with brown hair popped her head through it. Her head swiveled both directions, searching the area.

She checked once over her shoulder before eyeing the smokers outside once more. Her eyes were wide one second, then suspicious and narrowed the next. It was fascinating to see and I realized that I was staring openly at her, but I'll be damned if she didn't look like she was running from the cops...or a group of gossiping, nosey women.

"Don't worry, the coast is clear." My hand was still gripping the door when I spoke, and I spooked her with my sudden presence.

The next few minutes flew quickly while we clumsily tried to converse. She liked my shirt and then it was if I had spooked her again because she ran.

After I stood there holding the door open for probably two minutes, I decided that I wasn't ready for these meetings. I let go and watched the door close shut before I turned and left.

The entire walk back to my apartment I spoke to myself. The show outside the hospital had made me question my reason for being there. A very frightened woman was hiding from a group of people that were supposed to either be in her (and my) same situation and be a support system.

What I saw instead was a crowd of head hunters willing to try and force someone in their group to act and react on their time frame.

Definitely not ready for that. Or for some strange woman going through what I was trying hard to hide from.

I'd survived a year with the way I was handling things, why should I change that now.

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

For the next three months I went through the motions. I researched and learned about sleep cycles. I couldn't not sleep anymore but I also couldn't deal with the dreams that I knew would come.

I started to set an alarm clock to wake me every hour-like a concussion patient would need-I could get a little rest before falling too deep asleep that I'd experience the dream stage known as REM.

My body was still sluggish and I was constantly exhausted but in my mind it was an equal trade-off. A fair trade-off.

Then it happened...or rather she happened.

Outside of my favorite coffee shop, I ran smack into someone. Startled brown eyes looked up at me. They were so familiar to me, but I couldn't place where they belonged.

No, it couldn't be her. My brain twisted and turned trying to figure a way to wrap around it. Other than her eyes, she didn't look at all like I remembered. Maybe I had glorified her in my head.

No. She had changed and not just her appearance.

Gone was the meek timidness and the scared, frightened woman. Staring back at me were hard eyes and a set jaw, full lips pressed into tight line. I couldn't even look any further at what she'd done, it was too drastic.

There was a second where I thought I saw recognition in her gaze and acted upon it.

"The coast is all clear." I said, trying to remember the exact words I'd used before.

"It's you?" The woman stopped staring daggers at me and let her mouth fall open. The silence felt like it was an all encompassing bubble that had sucked us in.

"How've you been?" It was a lame attempt at an ice breaker but it worked.

"Haven't seen you in awhile Mr. Grumpy," she referenced the character shirt I'd worn when we first bumped into one another. And she completely avoided the question I'd asked.

"I decided that the whole meeting thing wasn't for me." I had to take a step back when the door opened and some guy stood there and gawked at the two of us to quit blocking the doorway. I was the only one that moved.

She shifted her weight between her feet and suddenly took great interest in the ground. It was the first moment that she'd broken eye contact. I was waiting for her to bolt when she looked back up at my face.

"Really?" I couldn't decide if she was actually asking the question or it was rhetorical. Either way she didn't wait on an answer. "Those meetings are good for some people, but people like me who went to them and never uttered a word...not so much."

Her face transformed back to the lady I'd encountered before, but only for a flash. The vulnerability I saw there in that moment was enough to make me look away. It was too private and too much like I knew I looked to feel comfortable with.

"I still haven't been to one. I can't even bring myself to listen," I shrugged and kept my eyes on the day's sidewalk traffic that was passing by us, "let alone speak on what would bring me to the basement of a hospital."

"You...ummmm," her fidgeting movements in my peripheral brought my focus back on her, "you wanna grab a cup of coffee?"

Just as the question on wasn't she just leaving started to form in my head, I pushed it away. I found myself really wanting to sit and talk-or not talk-to her.

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

BPOV

You know how they say misery loves company? I never believed that bullshit until I ran into him again. The man with the funny shirt and the conspiratorial look out had a face.

I could see his face, and it wasn't until he spoke about not being able to handle meetings that it came into focus.

On one hand he looked every bit the cherub grown up. On the other he looked as if the baby angel hadn't slept since departing Heaven and growing older. It was an odd analogy but it what was stuck in my head.

The afternoon sun reflected off locks of hair that would make mortal men pray for-even in it's unkempt state. Green eyes were dulled by dark bags that lined his lower lid. His skin was pallid, and he made me want to draw the back of my hand against his forehead and check for a temperature.

But I knew better and tucked my fingers into the pockets of my pants. When I'd asked to get a cup of coffee, it wasn't because I was attracted to his attractiveness. I was attracted to his pain.

That's sick, I know. But have you ever felt so alone and lost only to find someone searching for their path just as you? That's what we were. Two pieces on a chess board that for some uncanny reason kept getting moved together.

If he was willing to share just a tiny bit of his pain with me it wouldn't make me feel like such a monster. But that's just what that would make me, feeding off of his pain, emotions.

I was a fucking lonely succubus, and in that moment I was okay with that.

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

To my surprise (and given the way I knew I looked) he agreed. A few of the people in the coffee house gave me odd stares. I mean, hell, I'd just left a few minutes earlier only to return with another person just like me. I could swear that they could read the pain and patheticness in my face...but could they his?

He asked me what I'd like to drink and kind of smirked when I told him that I liked it black. While he was standing at the order counter I had the urge to run away. That creepy feeling ran up my back in warning.

An eerie thought formed in my head that since I wanted him to let his emotions roll over and share them with me, he might want the same in return.

A emotional buffet was not really what I had in mind, but fuck it he was the first person I'd really been able to see since everything happened. The barista called out the name Edward and I watched as the grown cherub reached across the counter to get the drinks.

I could feel eyes on me and when I checked around me I not only saw the looks but saw them darting between the two of us. When he got close to the table I stood up.

"Please don't run again." Edward looked right into my eyes. His voice sounded pleading-or at least I imagined it that way.

"Oh, I wasn't," I fidgeted with the frayed edge of my shirt's cuff, "I was just going to suggest maybe taking a walk. As you can see I have trouble sitting still."

"Sounds like a plan...," he paused and looked at me, his head tilted slightly to the side.

"Bella, my name is Bella."

"Well then, Bella, shall I hold the door open for you again?"

"Ummm, thanks," I stopped short of the door and tapped the side of my cup, his name was written there in black marker, "Edward."

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

EPOV

The sun was shining brightly in the sky when we left the cafe. I led the way down the sidewalk and the slowed my pace to be just a step behind her. After all she was the runner and I wanted to make sure that I didn't scare her away.

Looking at her in brief glances I tried to take in the changes that she'd made to herself. Gone was feminine skirt and blouse. She was dressed more like a boy today. She had on a pair of ratty tennis shoes with very baggy jeans on. Her shirt hung loose and shapeless on her frame.

Her outfit looked to be swallowing her up, but that wasn't the most drastic change. Her hair. The long flowy locks of brown wavy hair, they were gone. Either she'd done it herself or went to a barber for the near buzz cut she was sporting.

Maybe she'd gone through chemo? My brain echoed that thought around for a bit, but I stared more openly now and saw that more likely...she'd erased herself.

"I had to cut it off." That was all she said, and she said it with such finality that I couldn't question her reasons, yet.

Instead, I said something that I hadn't said to anyone, ever. "My girlfriend killed herself."

Bella stopped walking and since my eyes were downcast I knew because suddenly I had stepped past her.

"I'm so stupid," I spit out, my gaze was stuck to the knots in her shoelaces, "I shouldn't have just blurted that out. I didn't plan on it coming out like that."

"S'okay, Edward," Bella's voice started softly but then got more forceful, "You can't help that. Sometimes it's just too much to keep in."

"Yeah," I agreed and knew that she understood me without me having to spill every detail out. She never asked me why or how and if I was okay...she just got it.

She took a few steps forward and then turned to look back at me. She stayed there until I caught up to her and we were, once again, walking together in silence.

There was a park close by and nestled just past some bushes was a grouping of cement tables. We sat and drank our coffee.

I wanted to tell her, needed to be able to share it with someone.

"My girlfriend killed herself," I said again. I looked past our table and watched two birds swooping in and out of a bush near by. "she killed herself and I didn't help her."

She was looking at me, I could feel it. "What, help her kill herself?" It was a whisper on the breeze and her voice didn't sound at all like hers.

"No, I didn't help her." My eyes shut and I took a deep breath. Bella was my 'meeting' and if she'd listen I'd tell it all, just so that I didn't have to be the only one who knew. "I've never told anyone that she killed herself. I mean the cops told me, the doctors at the hospital, my shrink. They all told me but I've never once told anyone else."

Thankfully, Bella, didn't say a word. "Neither of us had any family left. Since college, it had been the two of us...alone."

The birds were now swooping at each other, fighting over what they had found in the bush. The tiny brown bird was dodging the larger black bird with ease.

"She'd been," I shrugged, wanting the right word, "she'd been not well. Depressed. And since I'd known her for so long I just didn't understand what she had to be depressed about."

I shifted, uneasy with the fact that I was about to reveal what an awful person I was.

"We both had good jobs, lived in a nice place and we were good. But over a few months she started getting sad and then worse than that, she no longer cared. I would hear her in the shower crying-and that was on the days she would get out of bed and try to shower."

My hands wove through my hair and down over my face, my palm stopping over my mouth. I pressed it there, afraid of what I might reveal to an understanding stranger.

"Some days she wouldn't eat, she stopped going to work and I didn't know what to do. So I was angry at myself and at her. I tried to fight with her but she's only sit there and stare through me. It was like she didn't hear me at all."

The tears began to well up in my eyes and even I could hear the quiver in my voice. "One night, it was a Thursday and that used to be the night that we'd order in and cuddle on the couch, watching television. Well that Thursday she was sitting on the couch in the dark and when I walked in and turned on the lights she didn't even react."

I could feel the hot tears start to run over my cheeks. "I tried to get her attention and see what she wanted to eat or watch. She didn't move and in anger I said something I shouldn't have."

On the bench I turned so that I faced Bella. Her eyes were slightly damp but her face was solid, strong and understanding. "I told her that if she was so damned unhappy she should just leave me."

Bella's crossed hands twitched on the table top but she stayed steady. "That night I woke up to someone pounding on my door. The police detective that stood on the other side told me that she'd jumped off a bridge."

I blew out a breath and my hands were frantically running up and down my jean covered thighs. "I didn't believe I laughed and told him that she was on the couch-where she'd been all day. Switching on all the lights I stupidly searched the entire apartment for her."

The pain was too strong and I almost broke before I could finish but if I held that one last bit in I'd keep being lost forever. "The only I found," I chocked back a sob, "was a one line note on the take out menus I'd left on the counter."

You always made me happy.

"That's all it said, no good bye or I love you. Nothing, I did nothing to help her."

The birds were no longer fighting each other and the sight of them had been replaced by two older men shuffling down the path. I stood up so fast that the back of my knees banged against the stone bench.

"Please don't run, Edward." It was Bella's voice that stopped me, "we can walk if you'd like but please don't run."

Stepping away from the table I waiting for her to get to her feet. "We're close by my apartment, do you mind if we start walking in that direction?" I asked her, I didn't want to be out on the street-crying-for any longer that I needed to.

"Of course," Bella nodded and then added, "lead the way."

-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-o-

I hadn't meant it to be an invitation, or a way to get her to my place, but thankfully she asked if we could keep taking at my place.

My apartment was much smaller than the one I had shared with my girlfriend. It was a small studio where you get reach each part of it within ten feet of the couch.

We sat there and I watched as she took in the bare walls and sparse furniture. I'd thrown everything out after her death. I'd only kept a few mementos that were tucked away in a box, in my basement storage room.

Our coffees had long since been replaced with bottles of water from my fridge. We'd sat in silence for a full twenty minutes before I heard Bella clear her throat.

"Earlier this year I was in a car accident." Her voice sounded wrong. She spoke like someone reading out of a text book-void of inflection or emotion. "Some woman had fallen asleep at the wheel and swerved in our lane."

My mind registered that she'd said our and i knew why she'd taken to matter-of-fact tone.

"It was a head on collision. When I woke up I was in a hospital room. I was confused and scared, my leg was wrapped in a cast from hip to toes."

Her fingers worked rapidly at picking at the cuticles on her other hand, her bottom lip was being chewed between her teeth-turning them all a rosy pink.

"I tried to get out of the bed and must have pulled out something because suddenly there were nurses rushing in trying to get me to lay back down." Her eyes darted back to her hand-and the now bloody cuticle-then back to me. "A doctor came in and told me that I had a compound fracture and that a policeman was on his way up to speak to me."

I swallowed hard. In all my grief I never understood that someone could feel as much pain as I had...was. Selfishly, I just assumed that because I never spoke about and wasn't blubbering on about it, that I hurt more than others did.

"I began to scream at them-the nurses and doctor-I demanded someone tell me why I was there, what had happened. As they were forcing me to lie back, a policeman walked in the room. I could see it in his face, he didn't have to utter one word."

Tears ghosted over her cheeks and all at once she appeared very fragile. I wanted to reach out and tell her to stop-that she didn't need to say anything more. I didn't want her to break. At the same time I understood what she was feeling.

"The woman who'd hit our car was fine...just a few scratches. My husband," Bella voice gave out to loud sobs, "my husband...and my son were both killed in the crash."

Her sobs grew louder and when I inched just a touch closer to her, she held up a hand for me to stop. So I sat, with my elbows on my knees, and waited for her to speak. For her to set her own pace, as she had done for me.

"Sam-my husband-had found me on a hiking trail one summer. I had tripped over an exposed root and sprained my ankle. He carried me out of the woods and every day after that we were together."

Bella never told me the specifics of her family's deaths but just having said it must have been hard enough for her. I never asked(she would tell me if she could).

"Our son," she paused there. She couldn't say his name. "Our son was six and was the spitting image of his father. He was a boy's boy. After they died I tried to do the grief group but I couldn't."

My mind flashed back on seeing her outside of the hospital. A broken woman, hiding out from a group of her so called support team.

"My mom had run off with some guy when I was little, my dad has long since passed. Now Sam's family, there's a lot of them but after the funeral I saw how they all stared at me. I coudln't tell if it was pity or hatred that I hadn't died with them."

My stomach was in knots at what she was telling me. This woman was so strong yet so weak and she had no idea how to deal with her pain.

"Sometimes, I'll get a letter or a voicemail from one of them. But they sound too much like him, I can't even return their calls."

Her nail beds were raw and her bottom lip was now a bright cherry color. I was studying her when she looked up at me.

"That day I saw you was the last NA meeting I went to." She paused and watched me carefully before she continued on. "After I got out of the hospital, and I tried the grief counseling, I decided that the only thing that was keeping me numb to it all was the pain pills."

I took a deep breath, afraid of hearing what she was going to say. Was she in trouble the same way as the woman I'd lost? Was she on that same path? One of her hands was balled tightly around something and the other toyed nervously with a tiny gold cross around her neck.

It must have been tucked inside the over sized shirt because I hadn't noticed it until now.

Bella sniffled and pushed the tears roughly from her cheeks. "The pills took away all the pain and the thoughts that were circling my head. I got as many refills as I could and medicated myself. Then one day I swore that my baby boy was sitting in our house calling to me. My angel was calling for me."

Her brown eyes blinked back a new rush of tears and she shook her head slowly. "I tried to search for him. I could hear his sweet voice telling me he was okay and all I cared about was that I was too drugged up to get up and really look for him."

I reached over to the coffee table and plucked out a tissue from the box I kept there. Handing to Bella, she grasped my hand and squeezed it tightly.

"I went looking for my first NA meeting that day, but as I sat and listened to other people I realized that I needed to change. So I let go of the old me, everything about me that Sam had loved. I needed Sam's Bella to go away so I could get better. Do you understand?"

I nodded, because I completely understood.

"He used to buy all these pretty feminine things for me because my father raised me like a son. So, I trashed all the skirts and dresses and went back to my roots."

Everything inside of me wanted to ask her about the pills. I wanted to make sure that she was okay.

"He loved my hair, used to play with it while he lay in bed, so I chopped it all off." Her sobs were now wails of grief and pain and I no longer could hold back.

I pulled her to me and even though she struggled against the contact at first, soon she had both hands gripping the sleeves of my shirt and her face pressed tightly against my chest. Her tears soaked through the fabric and the sick bastard I was felt lucky that he had someone to share his pain with.

I felt Bella's lips press into my neck. At first I wasn't sure if I was hallucinating again or not. I hadn't told Bella about the ghostly images that haunted me awake and in my dreams. But I was sure that she knew of those angels.

Soon I could feel her teeth scraping the skin over my collar bone, her hot mouth devouring the flesh there. The pain had been too much and she was looking for refuge...for relief in me.

But, I knew sex was not the way. It would only cause her more hurt. It would either drive her over the edge or become a new added pain relief-distraction.

I hugged her close to me and soothingly ran my fingertips over her scalp and short hair.

"Bella, I'm here for you," I spoke low and close to her ear, "however you need me to be, but I don't think this will make it hurt any less."

I prayed that I hadn't said anything that would force her away. I hadn't been able to help before, whether it was out of ignorance or selfish stupidity. Bella was another chance for me to mend my soul...and possibly hers in the process.

She slumped against me but her hands still held tightly on to my clothes. Soon her breathing had slowed and the cries had become soft sobs stuttered out on her breaths.

We both had our own grief and angels, Bella had her addiction and she could become mine-at least until we had time to heal each other.

We could make each other whole again.