Summary: Edward and Bella had their future planned out, but uncontrollable events set their lives on different paths than they had planned. Bad decisions and reckless behavior changed Edward's life forever. Can Bella see the man he once was when they meet again nine years later? ExB, AU, AH
A/N: I have to give an extra special thank you to my beta Clarisa for her super fast beta skills! Thank you to edwardandbellabelong2gether for pre-reading for me!
Parkinson's disease is close to my heart as my father was diagnosed with it a few years ago. Watching him decline so rapidly has left our family heartbroken and helpless with no real medication to heal or even stop the progression of this horrendous disease. By donating, you've helped in funding research to stop this debilitating disease and I can't thank you enough!
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, Edward, Bella or the song lyrics below. There is no copyright infringement intended! I'm just using them all for fun! Just a warning: there is mild drug and alcohol usage in this one-shot.
~&~ H ~&~
You were my fire,
So I burned... til' there was nothing left of me
I... I touched your face,
I held you close... til' I could barely breathe
Why give me hope,
Then give me up... just to be the death of me
Save the rest of me...
Cuz I see you, but I can't feel you anymore - so go away
I need you, but I can't need you anymore - you hesitate
Now... now and then,
You come around, like there's something left for me
We were one... we were everything
I'm still here... but I'll just keep the rest for me
Cuz I see you, but I can't feel you anymore - so go away
I need you, but I can't need you anymore - you hesitate
We never made it... you hesitated... I don't believe
That I see you, but I can't feel you anymore - so go away
I need you, but I can't need you anymore - you hesitate
Cuz I see you, but I can't feel you anymore - so go away
I need you, but I can't need you anymore - you hesitate - hesitate
You were my fire, so I burned... now there's nothing left of me...
Stone Sour ~ Hesitate
The ominous sky seemed to part as the bottom dropped out and rain poured against the high rise in downtown Seattle, Washington. Bright streaks of lightning forked across the sky as the deep rumble of thunder rolled through the city.
Edward Masen sat in his corner office chewing the side of his thumbnail and staring out at the endless buckets of water as they streamed down the windows. An email that he had just received had his stomach in knots and tension formed in his neck from just thinking of the upcoming event he was expected to attend.
To: E.A. Masen
From: Angela Cheney
Date: May, 5 2010
Subject: Forks High School Ten-Year Reunion
I hope this note finds you well. I could not find a personal address for you and every attempt I made to send this invitation to your place of employment came back to me. So I do not hope this email is interrupting anything important. I knew that you'd want to know about this event almost more than anyone we graduated with. Please find the details below for our reunion. I'm looking forward to seeing you, as is Ben.
Forks High School Graduating Class of 2000
You are cordially invited to attend the Forks High School Graduating Class of 2000 Ten-Year Reunion. This event is black tie and will be held at the Millennium Hotel ballroom in Seattle. We will be convening for cocktails at 4:30PM sharp on June 5, 2010 followed by dinner and dancing. If you would be so kind to reply no later than May 31, 2010 with your RSVP and the number of guests you will be bringing I'd be greatly appreciative.
Your Class President,
Angela Cheney (Weber)
Edward glanced at the email again and promptly hit delete. Every attempt he'd made at ignoring this reunion was coming back to bite him in the ass and he was none too happy about it. His high school career was in the past and he preferred to keep it that way. He had no desire to return to see any of the people he'd graduated with nor did he want to associate with any of them.
Angela had always been nice to him as they'd been involved in some of the same clubs and after-school activities, but he'd changed so drastically since high school that he feared none of his past peers would recognize him and he was certain that none of them would be interested in the man he had become.
Thinking of the past thrust him into distress and he felt as if the rest of the day passed by him in a flash. He could almost see the colors of the muted blue walls in his office blurring with the tan leather couch he had situated in front of his desk. That evening he tried to recall what his assistant Heidi had come into his office for just before quitting time, but he couldn't remember the conversation at all. Panic started to set in as he thought of what he could potentially have missed during this time of hazy reality. He could very well have missed some important details or dates of upcoming meetings.
He hurried from his impersonal living room in his penthouse to his large master bathroom. Ignoring his reflection in the large mirror that hung over the double sink, he quickly stripped his clothing and entered the shower. The blast of cold water shocked him into reality as his mind swam with possibilities and memories.
"Come on, Edward," she said trying to contain her laughter. "You're going to be Valedictorian. Nothing is going to change that," she smirked and lowered her lips to his neck.
"Bella," he groaned.
"Let's get out of here," she whispered as the thumping music and chattering voices snapped him out of his bubble. She giggled as she lifted the hem of his shirt and kissed the curvy black letters of her name etched onto his skin stretching between his hipbones.
"Masen," she cooed. "Will you always be with me?" she pouted and her warm brown eyes gazed upon him from under the thick fringe of her jet-black lashes. A thin black line, drawn on with precision outlined her eyes. Her wavy mahogany hair hung down just past her shoulders and had streaks of black here and there.
"I'll always be with you," he grinned lazily as he rose from the couch taking her with him. They exited the house party and fell into his silver Volvo before taking off down the road towards his house. Green Day blasted through his speakers as he lit a cigarette and passed it to his other half. She took it and smiled warmly at him. Her eyebrow piercing was healing nicely as was his tongue. He felt like the swelling was finally gone, which made him happier than he had been in quite some time. He couldn't wait to test out the new appendage between his girlfriend's legs.
They pulled into his driveway and he smiled in silent victory noticing the absence of his parents' vehicles. He reached into the back seat of the Volvo and grabbed his skateboard before hauling Bella into the house and up to his room.
"Wanna smoke?" he asked her as she threw herself onto his bed.
"Yeah," she looked up at him and bit her lip waiting for him to pack the bowl. He was so beautiful it almost hurt her to look at him. He was truly her other half and she could not imagine what her life would have been like had she never met him.
"It's hot," he murmured before gripping his t-shirt and lifting it over his head leaving him in only his jeans, which sat low on his hips. She smiled at seeing the ink covering most of his upper body. He was a walking, breathing art exhibit. His muscles were cut and defined, but not overly so. She traced her eyes up his torso and stopped on his dark red kissable lips. His jaw was defined and covered with reddish stubble. Her eyes roamed further and finally stopped on his. He cocked an eyebrow and looked her over with appreciative eyes causing her to smirk. She had to get up and go to him. With just one look, he could call to her and make her come to him. No other person had that ability over her. She ran her fingers through the messy black hair on his head. Bella spent a good three days being mad at him for dying his hair black several months ago, but now the color had grown on her and his blue-green eyes stood out even more against the dark hue of his hair.
"So beautiful," he murmured as his lips met her forehead. "Let's smoke this," he said and led her to the balcony off his room that overlooked the backyard. He lounged in the chaise with one leg bent and sitting flat on the ground, the other bent on the seat. He made sure to leave room for Bella and she settled in between his legs anxiously awaiting her turn with the pipe.
"I can't wait until we can do this whenever we want. Just a few more months and then it's just you and me, baby," he said softly as his fingers tangled in the hair at the nape of her neck. She smiled and inhaled the substance from the pipe.
Edward worked tirelessly throughout the next few weeks, deleting several emails from his former classmate Angela. He finally called the IT department in his building and asked for Angela's email address to be blocked from their server.
"Mr. Masen," Heidi called as she walked through the open door to his office.
"Yes, Heidi," he mumbled staring at the documents spread out upon his desk.
"Your one o'clock appointment just called and asked if you could meet at Carmen's Bistro instead of here."
"That's fine. Please let Mr. Johnson know I'll be there at one," he barked as Heidi nodded and exited his office.
Edward hurried through his current case and rushed out of the office and then to Carmen's Bistro to meet Mr. Johnson for lunch. He wasn't sure what to expect of Mr. Johnson since he'd never seen him before. He only knew that he was a potential client and Edward needed to assess any risk associated with this client.
"Excuse me," Edward paused in front of an older gentleman. "Are you Mr. Johnson?"
The man shook his head and narrowed his eyes at the interruption.
"I'm terribly sorry for the interruption," Edward said quietly before making his way through the crowded Bistro.
"Edward," a bright voice echoed through the cafe as he was looking around for his client. He turned towards the woman and furrowed his brow.
"Angela," he whispered. "What are you doing here?" he bit as his mind raced with the possibilities of her lowering herself to stalking him about their reunion.
"I'm here for Mr. Johnson, he's my boss," she smiled sheepishly. He couldn't help but take note of her reaction of him. She didn't seem the least bit surprised about his appearance.
"Mr. Johnson got pulled into an emergency meeting about five minutes before he was supposed to leave to meet you, so he sent me," she added in explanation.
"Okay," he mumbled while approaching the table. An awkward silence settled over them as Angela fiddled with her napkin. They waited for their server to take their orders and Edward wondered why fate was so cruel to thrust his reunion into his face repeatedly.
"You don't want to come to the reunion," she stated after their server had left the table. "Please don't think that this is some evil plan of mine…being here today, that is," she muttered.
"I don't want to talk about it," Edward snapped. "We're here to discuss work and that's it."
"I just really think you should come, Edward. There are so many people that have asked me about you and they're all looking forward to seeing you."
"Angela," Edward sighed in exasperation.
"Listen," she started with determination in her voice. "I know you have ignored all attempts at contacting you that I've made. You even had my email address blocked from your server. I get it, but what are you scared of, Edward?"
Edward stared at her hard. He was willing her to read his mind, but she just raised an eyebrow while sitting back in her seat and crossing her arms.
"You have no excuses," she smirked realizing that he had no good reason for not coming and socializing with the people that he used to be close with.
"I just…I don't…" he stuttered. He cursed himself as he felt his resolve weakening. He had no real desire to attend the reunion, but it was clear that Angela was going to keep pushing him to go.
"That's right, you don't," she stated with finality. She placed a folder on the table and took a deep breath before speaking again. "My personal email address is in that folder. I'll expect your home address before the end of the week. Ben and I will be by to pick you up for the reunion."
"Angela," Edward huffed, but she was gone before he could protest any further. He buried his head in his hands and sighed. He was not looking forward to seeing anyone.
The days passed quickly and Edward kept busy with his work. He ignored the folder on his desk even though it contained all of Mr. Johnson's information. He was prolonging the inevitable as he had seen two of his former classmates at the market just days prior. They'd been excited to see him and begged him to come to the reunion as well.
Reluctantly, Edward finally opened that file folder late Friday afternoon. With just one day before the reunion, he sent his personal address off to Angela. He received an almost instant response from her laden with smiley faces and excited words for his agreement to attend, finally.
Sleep was proving hard to achieve on Friday night. He'd stayed up to watch the Late Show and then the Late Late Show, but he couldn't turn his mind off. Each time his lids slid closed; he was assaulted with images that only brought about pain, heartbreak and anguish.
"What do you mean you have to go?" he asked roughly. The lump in his throat was swelling to massive proportions as his other half explained the reasons why she couldn't stay with him any longer.
"Edward, I'm sorry, but Charlie had a heart attack. Renee is refusing to return from Phoenix to help him and he has no one else. What other choice do I have? I have to transfer to a college closer to home so I can take care of him."
"Bella," he murmured. "I…I can't let you go," he choked out. The tears were brimming in his eyes and he was powerless to stop them from falling. He felt as if his heart were being ripped out of his chest.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered. "We'll keep in touch. This semester is almost over and you'll be coming home to visit. We can make it work," she said dropping down beside him on the bed.
"Long distance relationships never work," he snapped and stood from the bed to pace his room. "You're going to find someone else and it'll be over. I'm on the East Coast and you'll be on the West Coast. We'll be in different time zones," he growled counting the ways in which their relationship could never work with them living apart.
"Do you want to just end it here then? We can both walk away as friends and maybe we'll meet again one day," she cried. She had no idea what to do. This was not something she had planned on when she left for college with Edward, but her father was important and she knew that she had to care for him as he had cared for her. Renee was too busy loving life with her new husband, Phil, to care about what was going on with Charlie, which left Bella to make some difficult decisions.
Bella's soul ached at the thought of having to leave Edward, but she felt that she had little choice. In her heart, she knew that if they broke up at this point, one day they would find their way back together. She truly felt that he was her other half and resigned to wait for him.
"I…I have to go," she mumbled. "My flight leaves in less than two hours."
"Yeah, see ya around I guess," Edward snarled walking to the door and opening it for her.
She approached him for a kiss or at the very least a hug, but he brushed her off.
"I'll call you when I land," she whispered through her tears.
"Whatever," he growled as she left his room and headed for the airport.
Saturday dawned with a pink and orange streaked sky. Edward woke from a fitful night of sleep; nightmares of destruction and desolation were fresh in his mind as he struggled from the bed.
Time managed to fly by as Edward fumbled through his daily workout. His normal weekend routine was being disrupted and he was angered by the interruption. As late afternoon approached, the nerves grew in his stomach leaving the chore of eating next to impossible. He resigned to eat at the reunion after he'd acclimated to his former classmates and proceeded to dress for the event. Thankfully, he'd bought a tuxedo a few months prior for a black tie event that his company had sponsored. He donned the white shirt and black jacket with cool confidence that he didn't know he had.
Promptly at four o'clock, the intercom in his apartment buzzed with Harold, his door attendant's voice, "Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Cheney to see you, Mr. Masen."
"I'll be right down, Harold," Edward said into the intercom before grabbing his cell phone and keys. The elevator ride to the lobby was shorter than Edward would have liked. He'd give anything for just a few more moments of solitude before having to face his former classmates.
"Edward," Ben cheered as Edward exited the elevator. "It's so good to see you, man. I had no idea that you were still in Seattle. I thought you'd stayed back East," Ben clapped Edward on the shoulder and offered a warm smile.
Edward grimaced as he tried to form a genuine smile. He really enjoyed Ben's company in school and considered him a close friend at one point. Edward was immediately struck with a twinge of regret as he took note of Ben's practically unchanged appearance.
"It's good to see you, Ben," Edward said.
"Well, gentlemen, it's getting late. Shall we head out?" Angela asked with anticipation while glancing at her watch.
The limo ride to the hotel was quiet with little interaction between the three passengers. Edward glanced at his companions frequently and found a true joy radiate from his heart. He was happy that these two were still together and had formed a life with each other. If any two people deserved happiness, surely Ben and Angela did.
"Alright, boys, I have to go check on a few things with the caterers, but go make yourselves comfortable and have some drinks in the lounge. I'll be in shortly." Angela led them to the lounge before disappearing into the back of the room.
"Your wife is very persistent," Edward stated.
Ben chuckled while ordering them a couple of beers, "That she is. In her defense though, she really wanted you to attend this event. After…well we know that you really had no interest in seeing anyone, but you don't have anything to worry about, Edward."
Edward nodded before taking a hearty sip from his beer. He glanced around the room looking for other former peers. He noticed several other people filing into the lounge for cocktail hour. Some people waved, but no one looked at all surprised by his appearance. This unnerved him and he felt vulnerable by their blasé attitude.
"How's it going?" Angela appeared next to them with a smile as she perused the room with her eyes.
"It's going," Ben said grinning at Edward. "No one has come to talk to us yet," he added.
"The night is young," Angela giggled as a hotel staff member approached her with a stack of papers.
"Edward," a shrill voice screeched from across the room. Jessica Stanley ran at him and had her arms wrapped around his neck before he could think about fighting her off.
"Jessica," he said flatly. Her appearance seemed to be stuck in the year 2000. He wondered briefly if she knew that the clothes she wore in high school weren't the least bit attractive today.
"I'm so glad you came," she screeched. "Is Bella here?" she sneered, her facial features morphing into an expression that soured his stomach.
"I…I haven't seen her," Edward breathed. The name he'd been hoping to avoid all night was uttered within ten minutes of his arrival. He should have known that people would ask him about Bella. They were attached at the hip in high school and while he was sure that news of her departure during their second semester of college traveled fast, he knew that some people probably didn't know that they weren't together and that he hadn't seen her in almost nine years.
"Well, she'd be smart not to show her face here. I mean, how dare she leave you like she did?" Jessica huffed.
Apparently, more people than he thought knew of their bitter break up. He couldn't deny that deep down inside he was holding out hope that Bella would show up tonight. He'd wanted to at least find some sort of closure for the poignant end to their relationship. Since the day she'd left his presence, he'd been unable to find a suitable companion and resorted to living his life recklessly to mask the pain he was experiencing. Drugs and alcohol became a bandage for his heartache and a crutch for his inability to stand alone. He'd forever pay for his recklessness and stupidity after Bella had left. He was certain she'd never want anything to do with him after she truly understood the man he had become.
"Bella didn't RSVP," Ben cut into the conversation harshly narrowing his eyes at Jessica.
"Good," Jessica turned her nose up at Ben as she looked around the room. "She wouldn't be welcome here."
Edward rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. He feared that if Jessica attached herself to him now he'd be stuck with her for the rest of the night. By this point, the room was bursting with excited chatter, welcoming hugs and boasting of accomplishments. Edward wanted desperately to speak to a few friends and maybe network for business purposes, but it seemed that Jessica was comfortable where she was.
"Let's head into the ballroom for dinner," Angela said as she appeared out of nowhere. "Good turnout," she nodded in Ben's direction. He grinned and nodded back before they made their way to the ballroom with Edward trailing close behind.
Dinner was a loud affair with boisterous chatter flying about the room in waves. Thankfully, Jessica ran into Lauren Mallory and was busy chatting with her at her table. Edward remained at the table with Tyler and Eric, the AV geeks, while Angela and Ben danced. He tried to keep up with their conversation on Counterstrike, but he had absolutely no idea what they were discussing. The most he took from their garbled speech was that it was a game they played together on the computer. Edward had no time for games of that variety so he mostly tuned their inane chatter out.
A few people approached him throughout the evening, but Edward couldn't help watching the double doors that led into the lobby. The evening was passing quickly and he was still hoping that Bella would make an appearance.
"Edward," Jasper Hale called as he approached him tentatively. "It's been a long time," Jasper said as Edward nodded his head once. "Mind if I sit?"
"Not at all," Edward said, but tried desperately to hold back a groan. Jasper was the last person he'd wanted to see as his involvement in Edward's reckless behavior was superlative. Edward didn't hold a grudge against Jasper as his path to destruction was his own, but seeing him brought back dolorous memories and urges that he'd resisted for years now.
"How are you?" Jasper leaned on the table wearing a serious expression and furrowed brows.
"As well as can be expected," Edward answered honestly. Jasper had been the only person to truly know the pain that Edward suffered when Bella left and he lamented severing contact with him after college.
"You know, I never had the chance to apologize. After the accident…"
Edward lowered his head and raised his hand cutting Jasper off mid-sentence, "It wasn't your fault," Edward said quietly.
"I can't help the feeling that I had a part in…your condition," Jasper admitted.
"You didn't. It was my own fault," Edward whispered roughly. "Please don't think you had any hand in my downfall. You were always a good friend, Jasper."
"Then why did you cut me out of your life?"
"It was too painful. I needed to remove all traces of those three and a half years from my life. It was eating me from the inside out and I couldn't handle it anymore," Edward ground out harshly. His intent wasn't to make Jasper feel worse, but the tone of his voice was involuntary.
Jasper gasped as he looked up to the entrance of the ballroom. Edward knew why the air left Jasper's lungs in a rush without having to turn his head. He knew she was here and apprehension grew from his heart until it reached the tips of his fingers.
"I didn't think she was coming," Jasper whispered so quietly Edward wasn't sure he was supposed to hear it. His admission solidified the fact that Jasper and Bella had contact over the years. Edward immediately felt jealous of Jasper and his relationship with Bella. He didn't need to know what their relationship entailed; he just knew that he was jealous that he'd had any contact with her when Edward longed for the same thing for nine long years.
"Jasper," her voice hadn't changed one bit since the day she left.
"Hey," Jasper coughed and his eyes jumped to Edward's before he stood and quietly excused himself. Edward felt as if the room had stilled. Conversation halted as all eyes were turned in their direction. Eric and Tyler stumbled from their seats and hurried away.
"Is this seat taken?" she asked quietly. Edward had yet to look at her. He didn't know if he could handle it. He had trouble forming words as he shook his head to indicate no one was sitting there.
"Are you going to look at me?" Bella asked as she took her seat. Edward cursed himself for not standing and pulling her chair out.
"I…" Edward started, but still couldn't form any coherent words. Images of mangled metal flashed through his mind as garbled words bubbled up from his subconscious.
"You look well," she stated ignoring his lack of speech. "How are the recovery efforts coming?" She wasted no time, cutting right to the chase.
She wanted nothing more than to look into his green eyes. She wanted confirmation that he was still inside somewhere. She wanted to see if the blue-green color his eyes once were had dulled or changed. She needed to see him. Nine years of absence tore at her soul as she longed for a normal conversation. She knew the day would come that they would find their way back to each other, but she'd hoped that it wouldn't take this long.
"Not as fast as I would like," he finally said. She smiled and let a small bit of relief wash through her. His voice was unchanged and still melodious.
"Can you walk at all?" she asked glancing at his wheelchair.
"For very short distances," he mumbled. She knew that he was hesitant due to the attention they were drawing. She could have cared less if every resident of Seattle was in the ballroom. All she wanted was to speak to him and look at him. She had resolved to fight her way back into his life no matter how reluctant he was.
"I'm on a very regimented and strict workout routine," he stated matter-of-factly.
"That's great. I'm glad you're sticking with it," she smiled as he glanced at her from the corner of his eye. Slowly, his head turned in her direction. She felt as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders as his eyes met hers for the first time in so long. The light in his eyes held a different hue than it did all those years ago. He had changed, that was evident in his physical appearance but he had changed on the inside too. She wanted to know him again inside and out.
Edward was briefly stunned at the beauty radiating from Bella. Time had been kind to her. Her features were a bit softer, but her brown eyes were brighter and wider with life.
"Bella," he whispered. It seemed as if the tension melted from her body as her name left his lips. She smiled and looked up at him through her lashes. Her eyes were still lined with black, but a much more muted line that blended into a creamy shadow. The crimson red dress she wore was modestly sexy and left Edward tingling in places that hadn't tingled in what felt like an eternity.
"I missed you," she whimpered as his eyes perused her body after thoroughly tracing her face. "I'm so sorry."
Edward's emotions were warring within as he tried to decipher happiness and relief from gut wrenching heartache. He couldn't deny the attraction he still felt to Bella and he wanted to see if she still fit him as she had in the past, but he wasn't sure how to live for her again. He'd spent quite some time living only for himself. Trying to incorporate another person into his regimented routine would prove to be difficult at best.
"You have no reason to apologize," Edward said calmly.
"I feel like…if I wouldn't have left," she murmured.
"No, please…please just…don't," Edward shook his head trying to dislodge the memories that were flashing behind his eyes. He sucked as much air as he could into his lungs. He suddenly felt like he was suffocating in his tuxedo.
"You want to get out of here?" Edward asked in a mere whisper. The words had squeezed their way out of his throat before he could stop them.
"Yes," she nodded and stood. They made their way out of the ballroom without so much as a goodbye to any of their classmates. Angela beamed and waved from the bar as they opened the doors to the lobby.
Edward hesitated as the cool Seattle breeze kissed his skin outside of the hotel. "I didn't drive," he stated remembering that he'd ridden with Angela and Ben in the limo.
"I drove," Bella breathed as she handed her ticket to the valet. Moments later a black BMW X3 pulled up.
"Nice," Edward complimented with a wide grin. He chuckled quietly as he rose from his chair and situated himself into the passenger seat. Bella would be in for a surprise when she pulled into his parking garage.
The ride to Edward's penthouse was filled with a charged silence. Bella fiddled with her iPod while Edward directed her to his home. She had to laugh when Edward directed her to a spot in his parking garage next to a green BMW X3.
"Is that yours?" she asked.
He nodded and smiled shyly while Bella shook her head. She got out of the car and walked to the back to unload Edward's wheelchair. Edward slowly slid from the passenger seat to a standing position. His legs were shaky as he waited for Bella to bring his chair to him. She appeared from behind the vehicle, but lacked the device he'd come to depend upon.
"What are you…" he started confusion coloring his tone.
"Come here," she beckoned with her hand.
"Bella, I…I've had a long day and I'm worn out. It's not the best time to…" he trailed off as she shook her head and crooked her finger at him.
"Come on," she grinned as he took a step in her direction. Her smile grew wider as his steps became more confident. "I knew you could do it," she said as he plopped into his chair and took off across the parking garage. She giggled and trailed after him.
"Would you like a drink?" he asked as they entered his apartment.
"Water would be nice," she stated as she glanced around his apartment wide-eyed.
"The kitchen is through there," he pointed towards his left. "If you don't mind I'm going to get out of this tux. It's strangling me."
"Go ahead," she motioned for him to leave as she slipped off her high heels and padded into the kitchen. He returned just moments later in a pair of track pants and a t-shirt that stretched across his chest snugly.
"What happened after I left?" she asked not wanting to waste anymore time. This was the pink elephant in the room and it needed to be addressed before they discussed anything else.
"You just cut right to the chase, don't you? When did you learn to be so assertive?" Edward asked with an uncomfortable chuckle.
"Edward," she warned.
"I…it was…" he stumbled as memories assaulted him.
"Dude, one more shot," Jasper goaded Edward loudly with a sloppy smile. "Then we can go," he laughed.
"I have a Statistics final tomorrow man. I should be fucking studying," Edward groaned his buzz heightened with the alcohol that slid down his throat. He felt like his head was swimming and he couldn't concentrate on any one thing in the room.
"Hey hottie," the blonde from his Chemistry lab breathed in his ear. "You want to go outside and smoke with me?"
Edward grinned lazily and nodded as she led him from the house. He leaned against the house they had just exited and smoked a bowl. Edward relished in the warm oblivion he was lost within. He shoved the blonde away as she tried to reach into his jeans. He had no interest in letting her suck his dick. He needed to get home and study if he had any chance of passing his final the next day.
"Jasper," Edward yelled as he entered the house. "I need to go home," he groaned as he searched throughout endless people for his friend. He fumbled with the buttons on his cell phone looking for Jasper's phone number. He had given up after several failed attempts and made his way back outside to his car.
"Fuck this," he mumbled as he stuck the keys into the ignition of his car. Reverse was hard to find as Edward's car protested loudly with a screeching groan. He finally found the proper position of the gearshift as he flew out of the driveway and onto the city streets. He laughed as he swerved violently heading in the opposite direction of his dorm.
Red lights were confused for green as he ran several stoplights and stop signs. He was fortunate to make it onto the block where his dorm was located before crashing into a large elm tree. Lady Luck was still on his side when the Jaws of Life had to cut him out of his mangled car and he was still breathing. Edward didn't remember anything when he woke in the hospital three days later with his melancholy mother by his side.
"Edward," Bella interrupted his story with tears in her eyes and voice. "I'm so incredibly sorry," she sobbed.
"Bella," he cried. "It wasn't your fault. I was the idiot that got behind the wheel of that car. I'm so thankful everyday that I didn't kill someone. I was happy to take a life confined to a wheelchair as I felt I deserved it. I was incredibly stupid after you left.
"Instead of just working on our relationship from a distance I thought we'd never make it. I wasn't even willing to try and that's my fault, not yours. If I had just tried we would have been fine."
"Edward, I could have tried too. I was so upset when I had to come home and after you didn't return any of my phone calls or emails, I gave up. The ultimate blow was when you changed your phone number," she sighed as she looked down at her feet.
"I could have gone running to your parents to ask for your new number, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Edward, you have to know…" she trailed off as tears filled her eyes.
"Bella, please…you don't have to explain yourself," Edward pleaded with her not to go on. He didn't know how much more heartache he could take this evening. He wanted to enjoy Bella's presence, not rehash his past mistakes.
"No, you need to hear this," she took a deep breath before continuing, "I ran into your mother at the market three months after the accident. I had no idea what had happened. I don't talk to anyone that we went to school with except Ben and Angela and they didn't know what had happened.
"Your mom assured me that you didn't want to be contacted. I didn't push the subject, but you have to know that I would have been there. I would have come and taken care of you, helped you…I should have tried harder and for that I'm sorry."
Edward couldn't look away from her. Genuine innocence radiated from her and enveloped him in warmth. She was so genuine and he could see now how much he'd really hurt her by not contacting her.
"If I could go back, Bella, I'd do so many things differently, but if that accident taught me anything, it's taught me not to live in the past. The present is all that matters."
"I couldn't agree more," she whispered as she approached him and gingerly sat down across his lap. "Is this okay?" she asked sheepishly.
"Yes," he breathed absorbing the heat coming from her. He took her arm and draped it around her neck as their lips met tentatively. Her lips molded to his in a series of sensual kisses. They were neither slow nor fast, but at a pace that was perfect for the revelations that had just been shared.
"I missed you," Edward said against the skin of her neck. "More than you'll ever know."
"I couldn't describe to you how much I've missed you," she moaned as his hand trailed up the front of her dress and cupped her breast.
What was slow turned heated and passionate quickly as Edward steered them towards his bedroom. Clothes were shed as Bella helped him out of his chair and walked with him to his bed.
"So beautiful," he murmured bringing tears to Bella's eyes as he lightly kissed her forehead. Memories of their time spent together flooded her mind as she lay down on the bed and waited for him to join her. She let her gaze linger on his abdomen and the black, curvy letters of her name that still resided there. The muscles of his upper body were even more defined than they had been in his youth.
The sparkle of his blue-green eyes returned as he looked upon her with adoration. Edward felt this reunion between the two lovers was somewhat bittersweet as their past slowly melted away and cleared the way for the present and future. He'd stated that the present time was all that mattered, but now, with her here in his bed he couldn't help but have hope for the future.
He struggled into a kneeling position on the bed. The muscles in his legs were sore and he felt the strain from his workout that morning, but he pushed forward, wanting to love her as he had in the past.
Lingering kisses trailed down her abdomen as Edward explored her supple skin. He felt his exploration would never be complete. He wanted to know her again, but it would take time and he resolved to take as much time as he needed. He would go as fast or as slow as she wished.
"Edward," she groaned as his lips met the apex of her thighs. "Please," she cried out her plea for her desperate need of him.
Edward grinned against her skin and took her cue as he rose above her and entered her swiftly. "Breathtaking," he moaned as their bodies joined once again.
"You fit me so perfectly," she breathed as her hips met his with every thrust. She could feel his body shaking with effort and pushed against him. He nodded with a lazy grin and lay back so she could straddle his manhood.
"So perfect," Edward moaned as she slid down his length and connected with him once again. Bella could feel herself at the precipice of passion and rode Edward just a bit faster.
Edward bit his lip as he peered up at Bella in her glory. After so many years of missing this connection, he finally had it back again and he committed her in this state to his memory. He never wanted to lose this feeling again. The part of his life that he'd been missing had been restored as it felt as if the shards of his heart and soul clicked back into place. He'd underestimated his ability to have someone else in his life because now with Bella in his arms it seemed impossible not to incorporate her back into him.
"Edward," Bella cried out as her orgasm washed through her. She continued sliding up and down trying to coax his orgasm out of him and soon after Edward was crying out in ecstasy as well. The two embraced as their bodies returned to their normal state. Edward immediately panicked thinking that Bella would perhaps regret being with him again so soon, but his fears were quickly put to rest as she smiled up at him and kissed the underside of his jaw just as she had in the past.
He knew in that moment that he'd wasted a good number of years living in the past and regretting his mistakes. He'd just preached to her about living in the present, but now he truly felt as if he could let go of the past. With Bella by his side, he could accomplish anything in this life. There would be no more time wasted between the two and the stones of the future were laid out in a clear, winding path. There would be no more hesitation and no more regret. The time to live was now.
~&~ H ~&~
A/N: Thank you so much for reading! I hope you've enjoyed!