Beta is Lindz26. Pre-reader is MichelleMMarie.
*One More Day*
The next morning, I awoke to an empty bed. Instead of getting up to go search him out, I merely stared up at the ceiling.
Last night had been tiresome. I'd spent hours trying to convince Edward that I would return once I knew my family was safe. He'd spent the same amount of time refuting my assuring words. He didn't believe me, convinced that as soon as I stepped back into my old life, I wouldn't want to leave. How wrong he was.
Everything about my old life, from what I knew, seemed foreign. Being rich, an heiress to a large company, having a well-groomed husband…it all screamed snob. That wasn't me. I wasn't a snob. I liked living the way I'd been for some time now.
This small cabin felt like I belonged in it. And the slightly rundown Redwood Tavern was like my second home. Los Angeles did not seem like home.
So, from henceforth, I would see it as a sort of temporary visit. To me, that was what it was, anyway. A temporary visit. Of course, Edward didn't see it that way. As ever, he remained certain we were done for. I supposed I would just have to prove it to him.
Finally out of bed, I found Edward seated at the kitchen table, drinking coffee.
"Get your stuff together," he said straight away. No hello. No good morning.
I folded my arms across my chest, stung by his words. "So, that's it. You're pushing me out?"
He set his mug on the table more roughly than he should've, a small amount of coffee tipping over the edge. "You're the one that wants to go," he snapped.
I sighed, realizing this was just his own defense mechanism. "I was thinking…maybe I could stay one more day."
I'd thought about it before I fell asleep last night. It might've been me just wanting to stall, but to spend another day with Edward would be one more chance at making him believe I'd return. Because I'd come back if it was the last thing I ever did.
The distant expression he'd been wearing changed slightly, infusing a touch of curiosity. "Why?" he asked.
Seeing he was caving, I took advantage and sat astride his lap. Surprisingly, he let me, moving the chair back a bit so I could fit between him and the table. He didn't dare take his eyes off my face as I wrapped my arms around his neck and combed my fingers lightly through his hair.
"Because I'm not ready," I admitted softly. "I just need one more day with you. Don't you want that, as well?"
By now, he was looking at me as a broken man would. "Petal, I want every day with you."
I frowned, knowing that wasn't in the cards yet. What I wouldn't give for that to be my life—just him, all the time. "Why do you say things that make me want to stay? You should be encouraging me to do the right thing."
"I know you have to leave. I get that. It doesn't mean that I'm going to jump for joy. I'm telling you, I want you here."
"And I'm telling you, I'm coming back."
He shook his head as he looked away.
I was tired, fed up. Nothing I said was getting through to him. "What do I have to say to make you believe that I'm coming back?" I questioned, near desperate.
"I think you think you believe it," he spoke in finality.
Frustrated, I stood. "You know what? If this is how you're going to act, then I might as well leave right now."
He got up angrily, knocking the chair back. His glare on me was fierce. And then his mouth was on mine, and his fingers wove ravenously into my hair. I gripped onto his shirt, needing to ground myself as I kissed him back with overflowing need. Need to win. Need to be with him.
He pulled back abruptly, a feral edge in his stormy eyes. "You're not going anywhere yet," he spoke gruffly, and swept me off the floor.
We made it to the bedroom, where I was tossed and covered by his warm body. Our joining wasn't gentle at all. And it was just what we needed.
A light kiss was pressed to my shoulder, bringing me out of my slumber.
"Wake up." His voice was a caressing whisper in my ear.
I breathed in deeply and shifted slightly, feeling the length of his bare body directly behind me. "What time is it?" I croaked.
Teeth nipped at my earlobe. "Quarter past seven in the evening. The sun should set soon."
I raised my arms above my head, stretching. My body was quite sore…in a good way. We'd spent the entire day making love on and off. There were times we'd stopped to talk and just embraced, soaking each other in...while we could.
Edward sat up and retrieved his boxers off the floor. "Get dressed. I'd like to take you somewhere," he said, and stood from the bed.
Moving onto my side, I watched him raise the boxers up to his hips. "Where?"
"Don't ask questions." He grabbed his shirt off the ground and tossed it to me. "Throw this on quickly."
I scoffed, fingering the white cotton. "I can't wear only this out."
He chuckled lightly, a stark difference from the anger he held earlier. "No one will see you."
In silent acceptance, I put it on, covering myself enough that there wouldn't be a free peepshow if anyone happened to see. He was also scantily dressed, only wearing his boxers with no shirt or shoes. I definitely had no issue with that.
His hand reached out to me, and I took it, letting him help me out of bed and lead me to the front door. He pulled me through the depth of the woods as the sky began to turn a light pink in the beginnings of a grand sunset.
Before I knew it, we stood facing the flowing river. My hand tightened around Edward's in security. Why had he brought me here?
"It's okay," he said in a soothing tone, and removed his hand from my fierce clutch.
Inwardly, a slight panic bubbled up, until he dropped his boxers to the ground. My mouth dropped, and I swiftly glanced up and down the river, just in case someone had seen him bare himself. Thank goodness we were definitely alone.
A carefree laugh burst out of me. "What are you doing? You're insane," I remarked.
His smile was mischievous as he discarded the boxers to the side with his foot. "Maybe I am," he said, and his fingers were soon tugging on the hem of my shirt, lifting it over my head.
A cold chill danced around us, but I couldn't feel it due to his warm hands moving up and down my sides. Those expressive eyes of his were trained on my upper half, taking me in hungrily. He breathed in through his nose loudly, not speaking a word as he continued his leering.
Following his lead, I smoothed my palms over his broad shoulders and began memorizing every part of him my hands touched.
He suddenly pulled my hips towards him as he took a step back. He took another step back, leading me along. When I realized he was edging us toward the river, alarms went off in my head, and I tried to stop.
"No, Edward," I urged in fear.
He immediately halted and rubbed my upper arms in a calming gesture. "It's okay. I'm right here."
I shook my head, my breathing uneven. "I'm not going in there. I can stand near it, but I can't be in it."
"Yes, you can," he encouraged, and swept his thumb over my cheek. "You can do anything."
I wanted to believe him. I really did. "Not this," I whispered.
"At least put your feet in. Can you do that?"
Not wanting to disappoint him, I let out a sigh of resignation. "Yes, but that's all I can do."
With his help, I managed get my feet fully in. He went ahead of me and led me slowly until the cold water surrounded my ankles. Doing this wasn't an issue for me, considering I'd dipped my feet in the water before. It was immersing my entire body that I knew I couldn't handle.
"You okay?" he asked, giving my hands a squeeze.
I nodded my reply and stared down as I wiggled my toes in the water.
"Now, how about up to your calves?"
My eyes lifted to his in concern. "No, I can't."
"Just try, and if it gets too much, we'll go back home."
With a heavy exhale, I agreed and slowly moved further into the water with him.
"That's my girl," he said proudly, causing me to smile. "Let's try up to your knees."
My smile instantly dropped. "Edward, stop. I see what you're doing. I can't do this."
His calm demeanor didn't change. "That's what you said before and look—half your legs are in."
I swallowed thickly and looked up the river. The flow was rough. "What if I get swept away?" I questioned, finally voicing my fear.
I still didn't feel completely at ease. "What if—"
"Petal," he interrupted, cupping my face, "you're going to be fine. I'm right here."
I frowned at myself. For whatever reason, he wanted to be in the river, and I was putting up a fuss. Just for him, I could try and put aside my fear. Determined, I let him pull me further in, him moving backward, me moving forward. The freezing liquid numbed my skin as I sunk into it.
When my entire torso was covered, Edward stopped and secured me to him so our bodies fit together.
"You made it," he said.
"I did," I spoke victoriously. The trick had been to not really think about it too much.
"It's not so bad, right?"
My mind drifted to a scenario of my body being tossed around…my lungs blocked.
"Relax," he breathed, his mouth an inch from my own. Long arms tightened their hold around me.
I calmed at his words and pressed my cheek to his shoulder.
"Cold?" he inquired.
"Freezing," I answered honestly.
"Give it a minute. Your body will adjust."
So, I did. And just like he said, my body did adjust. My teeth stopped chattering, and his hands grew bold, feeling me sensually along my spine and dipping down to the curve of my backside. His fingers wound around my thighs, and my legs were strategically wrapped around his waist.
"Lean back," he requested.
"Why?" I asked hesitantly.
Instead of answering, he pushed lightly against my chest, and I let him. My head rested on top of the rushing water, my hair becoming soaked and my ears dipping into the river. I could see straight up to the glorious, golden pink sky as it neared the demise of today's sunset.
Carefully, I moved my arms out to my sides, letting them float freely. The comfort of his presence made me relax. And I became so relaxed that I was able to close my eyes to enjoy the experience.
Edward's hands roamed my body slowly, trailing up my stomach and surrounding my breasts. I let out a small sigh of pleasure, letting him know I liked what he was doing. Soon, his tongue flattened over my hardened nipple, and I could feel him between my legs, poised right at my entrance.
In an unhurried movement, he slipped inside, causing a sharp intake of breath from me. His movements were languid, deliberate, as if needing our joining to last forever.
"I'll miss you," he said sadly.
I couldn't respond or even open my eyes for fear that I would ruin this beautiful moment, because of course I would miss him, too. With all my heart. And I was almost certain he knew just in the way he lifted me and brought me into him, needing our faces to be near.
He continued to move passionately within me, until he came, pulling out and releasing into the unrelenting river. For a moment, neither of us moved, our heavy breathing and tight holds doing the talking for us.
Later, as he carried me back to our warm bed, I knew for certain I was in love. And that would make leaving all the more difficult. For inside, I already felt dead, knowing I would have to be without him.
Our last day together had ended the way I'd imagined it to, with me in his arms. But now, I was facing the next day with a sense of utter dread—one, because I had no idea what to expect, and two, because if I didn't go through with this, whoever was after me might surely go after my family, as well.
The drive to the police department was one of resignation and solemnity. His hand was clasped with mine in my lap for the duration of the ride. We didn't speak. What could be said? This was happening, and that was it.
The truck came to a stop outside a white one-story house that seemed to lack occupants. There were children's toys scattered around the front lawn, though, which meant the householders would be back. I wondered briefly just how close I was with my family and how happy they'd be to see me.
"The station is just a block down," Edward spoke, his voice calm and unlike I knew mine would be.
Right. He didn't want to be seen. I would have to be on my own from this point on.
He suddenly opened the glove compartment, pulling out a tattered paperback. "I want you to have this," he offered, placing his Vietnam War book into my opened palm. His fingers curled around the book and my hand. "You'll remember me this way."
There was something in his words that tugged at my heartstrings in the worst way. All the pent up emotional energy I'd withheld until this moment came bursting through. I slid across the seat to him and flung my arms around his neck, hugging him to me.
"Quit talking as if you won't see me again." I'd tried to make it sound as if I was reprimanding him, but it came out more like whispered plea.
He sighed into my hair, but didn't offer a response.
I pulled back, grabbed the shopping bag full of my belongings, and opened it up to him. "Look inside," I instructed. "Tell me what's missing."
His hands rifled cautiously through the items in my bag, until he clearly found what was absent. "You have three dresses. Where's your third one?"
I closed the bag and set it aside for now. "It's hanging up in our closet at home," I said with a warm smile. "I told you that I'm coming back. If I didn't plan on it, I would've taken it with me."
His eyes searched mine, but I could see no change in belief from him. He was so set in his thoughts that I wouldn't return. It hurt me that he continued to think that, but I would have to bear it until I could, in fact, be with him again. Unless…
"Come with me." The words tumbled from my mouth freely without much forethought. But watching his downcast expression only solidified why I hadn't asked before. In his mind, I belonged to another, and for him, that meant there was no place in my life where I was going. "I'll find a way to come back," I continued, "because I only want you."
All my surroundings gave way as he lifted his hand to my face and caressed the apple of my cheek. His lips met mine in the comfortable, familiar, yet sweet way we'd grown used to. My heart broke in that moment. It felt like the kind of kiss that would be our last. I tried to assure myself it would only be our last for a short duration.
One final nip at my bottom lip, and he stopped the kiss. Our foreheads came together as our breaths slowed.
"I can't come with you into the station," he spoke regrettably. "But I won't leave until I know you're in there."
I nodded wordlessly against his forehead, for fear I'd alarm him with an outpouring of uncontrollable sobs. I wanted so desperately to tell him I loved him. I had no qualms about being the first to say it, given he might feel the same, but my reasoning for withholding those three words was much more complicated than that.
To say I loved him and then depart from his life for an unmeasured amount of time would be a slap in the face. He deserved my undivided attention when I told him. He deserved someone that would be his and his only. I would be that girl for him. But right now, it wasn't possible. That didn't mean that I wouldn't do everything in my power to ensure the doors opened for us. My determination would be unyielding.
"I have to go," I uttered finally, but was unable to move.
This pull we had to each other had its drawback, because now, when we had to part, it was near impossible.
After several minutes of sitting in silence, I finally gathered my things and wrapped my spare hand around the door handle. "Thank you for trusting me with your book," I said shakily, taking him in one more time. "I'll keep it safe for you."
The corner of his mouth lifted into a forlorn smile.
At this point, I should've been leaving, but…I just couldn't. My body wouldn't move any further. "Turn back around," I demanded abruptly.
"What?" he asked in confusion.
"Let's go home," I urged, tears building in my eyes and a sense of panic surfacing. "I can't leave you."
He took my hand off the handle and embraced it between both of his. There was a strong resolve in his eyes, and I was unsure where it had come from.
"Shhh," he consoled, and placed a chaste kiss to the back of my hand. "I may not want you to go, but this is the right thing. You're making the right choice. I know it was selfish of me to ask you to stay. It was a long shot that it would've actually panned out." He paused, appearing to be thinking about his words. "The thing is I've been alone for years…but the second you came into my life, I suddenly couldn't stand to be alone. I get it now that your family needs you more than I do."
"You don't need me?" My voice was husky from crying.
He shook his head. "I want you," he replied. "I'm a greedy man, Petal. Always have been. I don't think that'll ever change."
My nerves had calmed by now, and I gave him a small pout. "You don't give yourself enough credit. You're a good man, Edward."
His eyes dropped down to my lap. "You better go."
Knowing he was right, I brought my lips to his soft ones, memorizing the texture, cementing the feel and taste of him in my brain.
"I'll come back to you," I whispered in finality, and exited the truck before I talked myself out of it again. I was about to shut the door, when I remembered something. "Do me a favor. Tell Alice I'll miss her."
He nodded once, and his hand came up in a sort of half-hearted, unmoving wave.
Closing that door was one of the hardest things I had to do, but I managed to. As I walked away, I warred with myself not to look back at him. I knew that if I did, there was no way I could fulfill what needed to be done.
Unknowingly, I had made it to the police department and entered the building. The station was abuzz with several men and women dressed in dark police uniforms. Looking through a nearby window inside the building, there was a direct view to the street I'd just come from. A dark green, familiar truck passed by slowly, almost to a crawl, before it disappeared out of sight.
A lump formed in my throat, realizing how real this was. Coming forward with my true identity was something I'd thought of in future tense, but now, it was very much a part of my present.
With a slow exhale, I approached the front desk, where a hefty woman in uniform resided. She was intensely preoccupied by something on her computer, paying me no mind as I stood in front of her.
"Hi," I greeted meekly, uncertain how else to get her attention.
"Just take a seat over there, and I'll be with you in a minute," she spoke distractedly.
I cleared my throat, trying to withhold the animosity I felt at getting the brush-off. "This is actually important."
"And so is this," she said, annoyed, and finally looked up at me. Her eyes turned to saucers and her jaw went slack. She looked incredibly shocked.
"My name is Isabella Cullen-White."
- END OF PART ONE –
The beginning of part two will commence in a few weeks, no date determined as of yet, but follow me on Twitter (xrxdanixrx) and you'll find out when I know for sure.
In the mean time, I'll be sending out random teasers from future chapters of part two. For a glimpse, please review. If you're like me and don't enjoy being spoiled but would still like to comment on this chapter, then just let me know you don't want a teaser.
I just want to say a huge thank you to each of you for reading thus far. I hope you continue on to find out where they go from here. See you soon.
Off the Beaten Path by rpgirl27 - This is a multifaceted period piece about rivalry and forbidden love. Set in the early 20th century, the author makes you feel like you're really in that time.
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