Hello? ...echo...echo...echo... Anybody still here?
A few of you are, and for that I'm incredibly thankful and grateful.
I've been off being an adult for a while. I bought a house, I had a close family member pass away, I've been trying to change jobs. You know... just about anything that could come up to get in the way, did. But here we are, and it is my plan to get back onto at least a quasi normal updating schedule.
I do hope you enjoy, and thanks again for sticking with me!
I do not own Twilight, but hot hockey players are all mine. ALL OF THEM =)
Playlist: Demons by Imagine Dragons
"I don't know, guys. It's weird. I haven't really talked to her in a couple days," Edward sighed as he helped hoist his equipment bag onto the trolley at the train station. "I mean, I've talked to her. I know she's not dead or avoiding me; she's just been… distant."
"Women; will you ever stop trying to figure them out?" Emmett laughed, heaving his own bag on top of his teammate's.
Rolling his eyes, Jasper chimed in, "And when will you stop interrupting when adults are talking?" Emmett's laughter echoed in the night as he went over to join Boucher and Lafleur inside. "Cullsy, is there anything you can think of that might be bothering her? Like whatever was going on at her office maybe?" Jasper continued.
"No, that's all been resolved for the most part. And hell, I'd know if something else was going on if she'd just fucking tell me!" he growled, shoving his hands in his coat pockets and ducking his head against the wind whipping along the platform.
"She's skittish, you told me that yourself. No offense man, but do you think it could be something you did?"
"Me? I can't think of anything… unless she's just annoyed that I've been traveling a lot and maybe haven't had as much free time as I usually would. But that doesn't really sound like her, she knows what this life is like. She gets it."
"I don't know what to tell you then, bro," he said with a shrug.
"How about 'get comfortable' because we're staying here for a while," Emmett said rejoining them on the platform and slinging his arms around both of his teammates' shoulders. "Coach says the track is iced over. We've been delayed for at least an hour."
Grumbling, Edward and Jasper followed Emmett back inside to find a cup of coffee and get warm.
"Ho-lee shit boys," Emmett stated flatly, suddenly stopping all three of them short.
"What? What is it?" Jasper asked, looking around.
"I don't think I've ever been happier to have a delayed train in my entire life," he said with a grin as he started to swagger off in the direction of a tall, leggy blonde.
"Jesus Christ, that guy's dick is going to get him killed one day," Jasper laughed.
"Yep, especially because he has no idea what he's dealing with, with that one," he said, a slow smile spreading across his face as he jogged forward past his goaltender.
"Rose?" he called. "Rosalie Hale?"
The woman turned on her heel, her long blonde hair swinging around her slim shoulders in a graceful ring of gold.
"Edward?" she asked with a smile. "Oh my god, how are you?"
He wrapped her up in a tight hug and lifted her into the air, the toe of her expensive leather boots barely grazing the stone floor as they embraced.
"I'm great. How are you? Damn, it's so good to see you!"
"Yeah, you too. It's been way too long. It's completely on me, I've just been so busy and time got away from me. I'm sorry I haven't called or emailed," she said with a pout.
"Please, Rose. It's a two-way street. I haven't exactly been the best at keeping in touch either. But that really doesn't matter now, does it? What are you doing here?"
"I live here now," she beamed. "Well… not yet actually, but I will soon."
"Oh yeah? That's awesome!"
"Yeah, my folks wanted to expand the dealership franchise down the east coast, and they put me in charge of the newest expansion. I've got two dealerships here, two in Philadelphia, and three in Newark, New Jersey."
"Holy shit! Wow, congratulations! That's really great, Rose. I'm happy for you."
"Thanks, thanks. You… what about you? I mean, you're a big star now! That's… trippy. I get some really awkward looks from guys when I tell them we used to date," she laughed.
"Big shoes to fill, eh?" Edward chuckled, nudging her shoulder with his own.
"You wish," she laughed. "Can I buy you a cup of coffee or something? My train to New York got delayed because the track is iced over so I'll be stuck here a while."
"Sure, Jasper, Emmett and I were just on our way to find some, actually. We must be on the same train; we're headed to New York to play the Rangers tomorrow night."
"Oh, cool." She peaked around Edward's shoulder and gave a timid wave. "Hi Jasper. Hi Emm—"
Edward felt his friend quickly brush past him as he nearly tripped over his own feet to extend his hand to the beautiful blonde.
"Emmett McCarty. Very, very nice to meet you, Rosalie," he said, folding her delicate hand in his much larger ones.
"Here we go," Jasper mumbled under his breath.
"So I told him he was doing it too hard," Rosalie laughed from behind her fingers, tears welling up in her eyes and threatening to stream down her face. "But he didn't listen and the next thing I knew, she was squirting him in the face!"
The entire table erupted in laughter as Edward merely shook his head and grinned.
"It was my first time milking a cow, okay? It's not like pulling on gigantic cow nipples came second nature to me," he laughed.
"At least not back then, eh Cullsy?" Emmett joked, elbowing his teammate in the ribs.
"Oh yeah, now's a completely different story. Ass," Edward replied, landing a hard, retaliatory elbow into Emmett's side.
"Don't worry about him too much, guys. Under the proper instruction, it wasn't long before our Edward here was handling the ladies like a pro," Rose smirked across the table.
"Well, I'd like to think I had a pretty good teacher to show me the ropes," he laughed.
"So you guys really were… you know," Emmett asked after clearing his throat.
"We were what?" Rose pushed, rather enjoying seeing the near stranger squirm.
"You guys… I mean you and Ed… you two used to… be a thing?" he asked, wringing his toque between his hands.
Rose laughed and flipped her hair over her shoulder.
"Yes, Edward and I used to be a thing. But it was a long time ago and now we're just old friends who haven't seen each other in an absurdly long time. Isn't that right, Cullen?"
"Couldn't have said it better myself. We really shouldn't let it go this long again. Before we leave, let me make sure the number I have for you is still good and I'll call you."
Just then, a groggy but otherwise excited man in his mid-twenties nervously approached their table.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'm a really big fan. Huge fan, actually. I mean, I've lived and breathed Penguins hockey since before I can remember," the man babbled.
"That's cool, man," Jasper said, rising out of the booth and shaking the man's hand. "What can we do for you?"
"The guys at work will absolutely shit if I can get a picture with you guys. Would that be cool?"
"Of course! Rose, do you mind?" Edward asked.
"Not at all," she replied brightly as they all slid out of the booth and the man handed over his phone.
Edward, Jasper, Emmett, and the excited man posed for a series of a few smiling photos before another round of handshakes sent the man practically skipping off to check the arrival board for his train.
"Hey guys," Garrett called from across the café area, "looks like the track's clear. We'll be heading out soon."
Jasper dragged a reluctant Emmett off to the platform to give Edward a moment to say goodbye to his friend.
"I promise we'll keep in touch this time," Rose stated matter-of-factly.
"Definitely. You know too many of my dirty secrets to burn that bridge," he joked. She laughed heartily before throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly.
"I've missed you, Edward Cullen. I really have," she whispered in his ear before planting a chaste kiss on his cheek.
He smiled warmly and offered his arm to escort her out onto the darkened platform.
The snow seemed to finally have stopped falling but even with the stillness all around her, Bella simply couldn't find sleep. Angela's words just kept rolling around in her brain, not allowing her to find the relief she so desperately wanted and needed.
It had been a few days and though she'd had several conversations with Edward, she found herself subconsciously keeping him at arm's distance. During the day while she was at work, it was easy to stay distracted enough not to think about the emotional battle that was going on inside of herself, but in the evening when it was quiet and her most deep seeded desire was just to hear his voice and let its velvety softness envelope her in its warmth, or conversely, when she had him on the phone and all she wanted was for him to stop talking and stop stroking the exposed nerve of her uncertainty – those were the times when no distraction on earth was powerful enough to draw her attention away.
She didn't want Angela to be right. She didn't want to admit to herself that the one thing that was holding her back from experiencing true happiness was her own issues and hang-ups about commitment. What she wanted more than anything was for her insecurities to be right, for her hesitations to be warranted. On some level, she wanted Edward to hurt her so that she could at least say that she'd been right all along.
Stupid, stupid, stubborn girl.
She squeezed her eyes shut tight and took a deep, steadying breath.
You remember what it was like after James. You remember how it felt to be completely empty. You don't really want to go back to that just for the sake of being right, do you?
"No! I don't!" she shouted in frustration to walls of her empty bedroom. "I can't keep doing this. He deserves better and so do I!"
With renewed courage and conviction she rolled across her bed to where her phone lay plugged in and resting on her bedside table.'
Are you awake? She texted quickly.
Yeah, but not for much longer if I can help it. What's up? Is everything okay?
Of course, everything's fine. I just wanted to talk to you. Do you have a few minutes?
For you, babe, of course I do. Let me just jump in the shower real quick before Emmett gets up to the room and hijacks it.
It's okay. Don't worry about it. You should just shower and get to bed. I'm sure you're exhausted. It wasn't anything important anyway.
Bella laid the phone back down and hugged her pillow close to her chest. Not only was she insecure but she was spineless too. But after a few self-deprecating moments, she jumped when her phone rang shrilly in the darkness.
"I said it wasn't important," she whispered, doing everything she could to keep her voice from trembling.
"Bella, whatever it is, it's important to me. What's going on, baby? You seem upset. And you've been a little distant lately, is everything alright?"
"Yeah, everything's fine. I just… I miss you." A shaky laugh bubbled up from her chest and began to slowly warm her insides.
"I miss you too, babe."
"No, you don't get it. I miss you. I don't miss anyone. I don't need anyone Edward, and right now… I need you. I can't figure it out; the more I try to resist what I feel for you, the more I can't seem to ignore it. I'm so torn between wanting to love you and be with you the way I know we both want to be and shutting you out completely and forgetting you ever existed. But I knew the moment I laid eyes on you again that I wouldn't be able to forget you again. I did a shitty job of forgetting you before anyway.
"I've been selfish and I was scared and I guess I thought that maybe if I let you in a little bit that it would be enough. And for a second, while I was there with you, it was; we were in the moment and everything was perfect. But after I got home, little by little, every quick text, every five minute phone call, made me want more. I realized what I wanted from you was something I wasn't willing to give back to you in return; I wanted your everything. And you were giving it to me so easily, and yet I was giving you nothing. It was this vicious cycle in my head of feeling guilty, then thinking it might not be so bad to let you in, to getting scared and pushing you away again.
"Since you asked me about Christmas, I've been all over the place. Deep down I want to spend Christmas with you, and every other holiday for that matter. But I'm afraid of what admitting that to myself means. I know you know what happened to me, Edward, but just because I told you why I'm so damaged doesn't mean I'm suddenly all better. That's why I haven't been myself lately. I guess it became abundantly clear that letting you in just a little bit wasn't going to cut it.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry for being such a basket case. And I…" She'd run out of things to say so she let her words linger in the air between them.
"First of all, you aren't a basket case and you sure as hell aren't damaged," he said gently. "Bella, you told me what happened, and I'm thankful that you did. I got a whole lot of insight into what's going on in your head than I ever had before. I don't necessarily 'get' it, but I understand. I wish I could explain why I'm so willing to jump off the deep end with you, but I can't. All I know is that I miss you too. I need you too, babe. I don't want you to push me away, and I'll admit, it hurts to hear you say that you have been-"
"And see, that's what I don't want! I don't know how to be a good girlfriend to you, Edward. I just don't, and I don't know how to fix it."
"Bella, do you think I'm some sort of pro at being in a relationship, or something? Because I sure as hell am not," he laughed ruefully. "I have a job that makes me travel all over the country nine months out of the year; do you really think that that's conducive to putting down roots with someone? I don't know how to be a good boyfriend to you either Bella, but right now I'm just going with what feels right. If I want to talk to you, I call you. I buy you a gift when I want to know that wherever you are, you're smiling. When I want you to know that I'm thinking about you, I send you an email, or text, or something. I don't know if any of that is what I'm 'supposed' to do. All I know is that I think about you all the time, I want you to be happy, and I want to be the one who makes you happy. Outside of that, I'm just making it up as I go along."
"You're just so much better at this than I am," she sighed, completely aware of how immature and childish her statement sounded.
"I guess that's probably because I've never been hurt before." He paused for a moment and when she let the silence extend, Edward took a deep breath and continued. "Look Bella, I play games for a living; I don't have time for them in my personal life. Maybe that's why it seems like I'm better at this than you are; because I love you and I don't care how that makes me look. I'm not going to beat around and bush and pretend like you're not the most important person in my life right now because I'm afraid it'll scare you off or make me look weak, or whatever."
"I… I don't want to play games. I'm not trying to…" she mumbled feebly.
"So don't! Do what you want. Do what feels right. What do you want to do for Christmas?"
"I don't know-"
"I'm not trying to push you Bella, but I think…" he sighed. "I think I need to know; yes or no? Do you want to spend Christmas with me or not?"
She sat silent for what felt like a lifetime to Edward, simply breathing and vacillating internally between what her heart wanted and what her brain thought was safe.
"I want to spend Christmas with you," she finally whispered.
"What?" he asked, unsure if he'd actually heard what he thought he'd heard.
"I want to spend Christmas with you, Edward. I want to. I'm going to book a flight in the morning. You and I are going to spend Christmas together."
"And is that really what you want? Or are you saying that because you know its what I want?"
"It's really what I want. I want to be with you all the time. I want this." The resolve in her words growing with each passing second. Edward sighed and leaned back heavily against the headboard of his expensive hotel bed.
"Good. I love you, Bella. It's okay to be scared and be nervous about us right now, but I just need you to tell me. Don't hide what you're feeling from me, okay? Please?"
"Okay…" she breathed shakily. "I'm sorry, babe. I'm so sorry. I don't mean to be so… so… neurotic about everything."
Edward let out an exhausted chuckle. "I'll figure out all of your little neuroses eventually, if you'll let me."