Disclaimer: I obviously do not own Twilight or else I would never have to work again.

-x-

NOTE: THIS CHAPTER IS NOT BETA'D.

-x-

The Slowest Burn

That awkward moment when… you're the only one who's high.

Ch. 38: Burning All The Bridges

Between school, cheerleading, Rose and Royce, and Edward… time is a valuable thing I don't seem to have enough of. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Oh that Macdonald Carey knew what he was talking about. Sometimes my life feels like a soap opera, the drama alone could spark some great ideas for TV show writers.

For instance, I'd barely been awake for 30 minutes this morning before I had three different cheerleaders screaming in my ear. First it was Tia bitching about having to share a room with anyone who was not Liam. I had to remind her – for the tenth time – that we were given strict rules to not allow co-ed roommates. In fact, the boys on our squad had to be on an entirely separate floor. Ridiculous if you ask me, Tia and Liam will find a way to hook-up one way or another. They always do. But this was one of the promises we all made in order to keep the chaperones down to two instead of five. Regardless, I'm staying with Edward and I've already made my sneaky plans in order for that to happen.

The second crisis of the morning came from Chelsea when she bawled for five minutes – this was before she was stable enough to speak to me in coherent, but choppy, sentences – because she couldn't find her lucky spanks. I literally had to talk her down from the ledge between sanity and crazy town. Then she called me back ten minutes later to tell me she was already wearing them… face? Meet palm.

Third call was from Jessica cursing up a storm because Constance "Connie" William, our Cheer Mom, wanted to change hotels due to the one we're booked at not allowing dogs in the rooms. Apparently Mr. Wiggles – her 130 pound English Mastiff – was a certified Service Dog. His service? Keeping Connie happy because she refused to take Prozac.

So it was no surprise that I was in a crabby mood an hour later when Edward pulled up and honked his horn from the driveway. The sheer audacity was enough to have me drop my bags in the living room and wait until his honking stopped and he began to bang on the door. One look at my father's pissed off face and his entire arrogant demeanor went from 60 to zero. I was nearly carried out on pillows after the lecture Edward got about how to treat a lady and how today's society was lacking in chivalry.

I love my dad. I just wish he didn't have to work all the time. I wanted him to be there for my competition, but he assured me he would if he could. But due to a shitty economy the town of Forks was short staffed… to about four officers and two of them were out sick. Yeesh.

"Anything else your majesty?" Edward had replied once we were settled inside his car and on our way toward Seattle. I had to use my Puss In Boots eyes to get him to stop at a Starbucks before we got onto the highway. He called me a baby and said I needed to work on my morning attitude when I grumbled for the ten minutes we waited in line for my drink.

I told him to bite me when we got back to the car and he did just that. Grabbed my arm and jerked me clear across the seat – by the way, seatbelts burn when they slide against your skin really fast – then sunk his teeth into the inside of my wrist. That sure as hell woke me up. But I still moaned and acted as if each swallow of my Vanilla Latte was pure pleasure in a liquid form.

I think Edward was jealous of the reaction because after Edward adjusted his suddenly tighter pants, he then said caffeine was hazardous to my health. I said so is marijuana. He said that marijuana was a plant – au naturale, something God made for us to use –so therefore it's not bad for you. I told him the same thing was true about coffee. He scoffed and said that coffee was so over-processed that it wasn't even a plant any more.

I said the same thing was true about pot.

We debated back and forth on this topic until we hit Port Angeles where he cranked the stereo up to a near deaf volume. Needless to say, we agreed to disagree. I found myself wishing Jake – or even Royce –were here. Royce could tell me embarrassing stories about Edward and as payback Jacob would tell Edward stories about me and then we'd both – Edward and I – would counterattack with our own Royce and Jacob stories.

If there is one thing I've realized so far on this road trip, it's that Edward is exceptionally good at playing road trip games. He's whooped my ass so far in I Spy, Name That Tune, License Plates, and if he hits me one more time while shouting "Slug-Bug!" I'm going to knee him in the fucking balls.

"You're a cheater!" I shout and point an accusing finger in his face with a gasp. "I totally saw you using sound hound just now!" I reach over and try to pry his phone from his deceitful hands.

He laughs from deep inside his chest and the vibration against my shoulder feels wonderful. "I was not, I'm texting Royce. Look." He holds it out to me and I snatch it away to check his open apps.

Damn him and his inhuman ability to know every song that comes on the radio regardless of the station. I make a mental note to try a Christian rock station later on. That ought to stump his smug ass. I grin at him and open an app on his phone where I can pick a picture and add any face I want from Edward's camera roll.

My first victim is Royce. I choose a picture of a huge violet Peacock and paste a picture of Royce yelling at the camera (from the look on his face I'm betting Edward paid dearly for this shot). At the bottom I add a caption that reads: "I'm like a peacock, Captain! You gotta let me fly!" Then I post it on Facebook and wait for the comments to star rolling in.

"What are you doing?" Edward asks suspiciously as I snicker into his shoulder and work on placing Jacob's face on a woman with huge muscles.

"Oh, God. No." He shakes his head. "What's been seen…" He grimaces and looks back at the road. "Cannot be unseen."

I post it to Facebook and crack up at the comments so far for Royce.

"What?" Edward pinches my thigh and tightens his arm around me. "Read 'em to me."

I bite his shoulder playfully as payback for him pinching me and then scroll through the comments on his phone, reading the funniest out loud. "Seth said: God gave me wings, let me use them! Haha! I love that kid." I scroll down and smile at all the likes that the post has gotten. "Oh! Look what your best friend Leah said—"

"You mean your best friend?" He teases.

I stick my tongue out at him and squeal when he digs his fingers into my side. "Okay! Okay! Uncle." I take a deep breath and push the hair from my face. "She said: I always knew he was a fairy. Oh! Burn!" I hiss and pretend the phone is hot.

"She has a lot of nerve." Edward twists his lips into a grimace. "She's the one who's been hot for Alice since we were in sixth grade."

"Noooo!" My eyes pop open as I turn to look at his face. "You're kidding me!" I shake my head in disbelief. It would explain a lot though if it were true. I shiver and push those thoughts out of my head. Bleh.

After two more hours in the car it feels like we've talked about everything except for the important things going on in our lives. Like meeting his mom. Or moving across country when it's time to leave for Vassar. I repeatedly keep telling myself that I have time to worry about Vassar later, to deal with things one at a time. But the closer we get to Seattle, the more I chicken out.

I know we need to talk about what's going to happen in Seattle. I know I personally need to prepare myself, but I haven't seen Edward bat an eyelash lately. "You nervous about meeting your mom?" I slink my arm across the seat so that I can play with the hair at the nape of his neck.

His shrug is slight, eyes staring straight ahead and lips perfectly pouty and kissable. Unable to resist, I lean over and do just that. His lips are addicting, so I end up kissing him about three more times before pulling away.

"You figured out what it is you're going to say to her?" I ask with my head against his shoulder and his hand on my thigh between gear shifts.

"Not really. I think I'm just gonna wing it, y'know?" He turns his head to look at me sideways. "What about you?"

I frown in confusion. "What do you mean, 'what about me?'"

"Are you nervous?" He enunciates each word as if I'm hard of hearing.

I pinch his side and roll my eyes. "I'm always nervous, Edward."

He chuckles and agrees. "True, true. I think I'm even starting to see gray hairs." He starts to poke at the flyaways around my face.

"You are not!" I laugh and grab onto his wrist to bring it to my lips. "You love me and my weird tendencies to worry about well, everything."

He pulls his arm from my hands to circle it around my waist and slide me as close as the seatbelt will allow. "It comes with the package." He kisses my temple. "I guess maybe I'm a little nervous…" he lets the sentence die off and gets lost within his own head for a few seconds before continuing. "I just keep imagining her looking like she did when I last saw her, you know?"

I nod and rub my hand up and down his arm.

"But that's not what she looks like on her website, she looks older—a lot older." His eyes widen as he says this. "Actually, she looked over tanned and a had shit-ton of makeup. It made me wonder if she's a trophy wife to some controlling bastard and that's why she stayed away. She had no choice." He shrugs. "Or... maybe she thought I was in better hands with my dad? Like, maybe she got into drugs and shit, or… fuck, I don't know. But I know she wouldn't have left me by choice." His frown makes my heart hurt. "She was the only one in that house who loved me."

I kiss his jaw and rest my head on his shoulder while I go over the possibilities of any of those situations being true. I think it's burned into a woman the moment she becomes a mom that she would rather walk through fire than allow anything to come between her and her child. Right? I mean, Renee wasn't mother of the year, but she never truly abandoned me. She could have left me with Charlie when she left Forks, but she didn't.

"What if you get there and she's not what you expect?" I say before actually considering what I'm asking. "I don't mean physically. But do you think she might be upset that you didn't say who you really were to begin with? Or what if she's a huge bitch?" I cringe at the last question and wish I could take it back.

He's quiet for a few seconds, chewing away on the corner of his lip in deep thought. He totally got that from me. I reach out to gently pull his poor lip free from his teeth and stroke the side of his face a few times for comfort. He shaved this morning so his jaw and cheek are smooth and soft, making me lean forward to press my lips against them. I feel so guilty for making him think about the negative possibilities about meeting his mother.

"I'm sorry, babe." I rub my hand against his arm and across his chest. "I didn't mean to scare you. I'm sure she's going to be so surprised and happy to see you. But just on the off chance that things don't go your way I want you to be prepared. Okay?"

He nods without looking at me, still lost inside his head.

"Hey," I touch his cheek so he'll acknowledge me for a moment, even though I know he's driving. I only need a second. "It's going to be fine, all right?"

He nods and I'm tempted to unbuckle my seatbelt to get closer to him.

"I love you." I tell him.

He smiles when our eyes meet and brings my hand to his lips. "Love you." He whispers against my knuckles.

His eyes are so green and so filled with the kind of emotion that makes you want to wiggle around and squeal like a happy child. He's not perfect, but he's so fiercely loyal and loving to those he trusts. It's amazing the things he'll do for the people he cares about. How could his mother not welcome him back with open arms?

-x-

Facebook Status:

Royce King I think this gas station is about to be robbed. This dude looks suspect.

Comments:

Jacob Black WTF? Get the hell out of there!

Rosalie Hale Is that why you wont answer your phone?!

Royce King No, that's on purpose.

Rosalie Hale You're an ass.

Royce King I love it when you get all mad. You're adorable.

Rosalie Hale Fuck. You.

Royce King Yes. Please.


FACEBOOK E-mail notification:

Between Emmett McCarty and Bella Swan

Emmett McCarty Kick ass, Cheerella! Wish I could be there, but my little bro is super sick and my parents are out of town. Big bro duty calls.

Bella Swan You're so sweet, Emmy. ILY.

Emmett McCarty Back atcha, Kid.


Facebook Status:

Seth Clearwater Wishing I were in Seattle so I could cheer for my boo during her competition. I am there in your heart my love!

Comments:

Jacob Black Your life makes me sad.

Emily Clearwater You're a dork, Seth!

Leah Clearwater Gross.

Paul Lahote I still don't know how you get away with wanting Cullen's girl and not getting your ass kicked.

Bella Swan It's because we plan to elope. Shhhh! Don't tell Edward!

Jacob Black hahaha

Seth Clearwater *dead*

Royce King Exactly, Seth. You'll be dead when Cullen finds out. Haha

Seth Clearwater Worth it!

-x-

Seattle is bustling with activity when we arrive and the hotel we're staying at is filled to capacity with cheerleaders from all over. Some are all dressed in their warm-ups, some in spandex, some in jeans, and some in things that are best left for nightclubs. I have to smack Edward on the back of his head when his eyes bug out at all the flexible and half-naked girls in the lobby.

"What the hell?" he grimaces and then laughs at my jealousy. "You're so fucking adorable, babe." He slinks his arms around my waist so that my back is against his chest and his lips are pressing in the crook of my neck. "You know you're the sexiest girl here, right?"

I hide a smile and search for Jessica who has my room key.

"Right?" he says again and starts to tickle my sides with his fingers until I'm screaming and squirming and we look like two idiots in love.

"Barf-o-rama." Jessica approaches with a look of disgust and a key hanging between two fingers. "You so owe me for this. I'm bunking with Bevin and Jennifer now, did you know Bevin sleeps with her mouth open and Jen talks in her sleep? Ugh."

"Thaaank yooou." I sing-song happily and pull Edward along with me to check out the room I'm technically supposed to share with my co-captain.

One of the girls on the teams mom has a friend who works for Marriot-Courtyard and hooked us up with a sweet deal. We're supposed to bunk two to a room, but there are always exceptions.

The room is simple, a bed, flat screen, balcony, and a bathroom. The white walls give the room a bright and clean look, but the maroon bedspread and wooden nightstand, desk, and dresser bring a warm comfort to my senses. Edward goes straight for the bathroom and pokes his head out to stare at me with a huge grin.

"I can't wait to fuck you in this tub." He points inside with a lingering look thrown my way that burns from my tummy to my lady bits.

"Charming, Cullen." I snort and start to unpack my stuff for the weekend.

Two nights alone with Edward-well, aside from the reunion with his mom and my national cheerleading competition… Shit. Who am I kidding, this is going to be stressful and I am at some point going to freak out. Not knowing when worries me even more.

I am such a nutjob.

"Bella!" Edward snaps his fingers in front of my face, causing me to flinch and jerk backward. He laughs his ass off when my hip hits the corner of the bed and I roll right off and thump on the floor.

"Stop laughing at me you jerk!" I pull one of my shoes off and chuck it at his head.

He ducks and it sails over him and slams against the wall. "Jesus, Bella! What the hell? I was calling your name and you went into zombie mod, how else was I supposed to get your attention?" He snorts and holds his hand out for me to take.

I yelp when he yanks me upright and into his chest.

"You know what you need, baby?" he smirks at me deviously.

I roll my eyes. "I am not getting in that tub right now."

He chuckles huskily and nuzzles the spot between my neck and shoulder. "Mmm… that's not until later." He nips at my skin and I shiver. "I meant a little herbal remedy?"

"Edward!" I smack his chest and go to set my things in the bathroom. When I come out Edward is going through the fruit basket like he's at a flea market.

"Hey!" I push him out of the way with a laugh and look for the card. "This is for cheer captains only, mister!" I snatch a brownie from his hand and take a huge bite. "Oh, wow! So moist!" I point to my mouth with wide eyes.

Edward's eyes are twice the size as normal as he gapes at me while I pig out. "Babe, give me that." He reaches for my brownie and I whirl around with a scowl. "Bella, I'm serious! Don't eat that!"

"Too little, too late!" I laugh at him and skip across the room, one hand full of brownie and the other holding the card that was taped to the basket.

Welcome Forks High Cheer Squad!
The Marriott-Courtyard is pleased to have
you as guests during this years 2012 NCA Senior and
Junior High School National Championship!
Good Luck and enjoy your stay!

I smile at the card and take another giant bite of the brownie. Damn this thing is chocolatey and delicious. "Babe, here, try this." I hold out half of the brownie and he quickly takes it from me and sets it down on the table.

"Bella! You just fucking ate half a special brownie!" He laughs at me incredulously and shakes his head.

"Hell yeah that thing was special! It was orgasmic!" I giggle and lick my fingers before sucking one between my lips seductively. "In fact…" I take a step toward Edward until he grabs onto my shoulders to stop me at arms length.

"Babe! It's a pot brownie! A guy at work gave it to Royce and he didn't want the temptation so I took it." He laughs. "Holy shit, Bella, you're about to be so fucking high."

I drop down onto the nearest chair and blink slowly. Everything slows down and it's so quiet, but it's also fuzzy. I still want to rip all of Edward's clothes off and lick-oh my God! I am high! I whip my arm out and push him as hard as I can.

"You assface! I have orientation in 20 minutes!" I scream at him.

He laughs so hard he grabs his stomach. "Oh fuck, this is gonna be good."

-x-

Facebook Status:
Jacob Black Someone PLEASE tell Mak NOT to buy me leather cowboy boots!
Comments:
Makenna Levine but they're so cute!
Quil Ateara Whiiiiiipped!
Paul Lahote Get a hat, too!
Royce King Oh, please tell me there are pictures of this.
Makenna Levine you guys are not helping!
Leah Clearwater Hilarious!
Makenna Levine No. It's sexy!
Seth Clearwater LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!


Facebook Status:

Chelsea Salvatore Someone is shouting in the room next to me and it's soooo annoying!
Comments:
Tia Kebi That's Bella and Cullen. They're fighting about something. I'm on the other side of their room, something about brownies?
Chelsea Salvatore OMG! What the heck! She got to bring her boyfriend?! Not fair!
Irina Denali What kind of brownies?
Liam Hunter I swear I just heard someone say weed brownies…
Bevin James WANT!
Irina Denali I'm going to go ask if Cullen's carrying. Come with me, Chelsea.
Chelsea Salvatore No way, Cullen scares me.
Kate Stone Leave them alone you guys geez!
Jessica Stanley I don't care wtf you guys are talking about, get your asses outside in the hall for lineup. It's time to go.

-x-

"God, will you fucking relax, Bella? It's not that big a deal. You act like you've never been high before?" Edward rolls his eyes and opens the door for me to walk out into the hall where people are lining up.

I feel like the floor is moving, like I'm walking on one of those conveyer belts at an airport. My knees shake and my hand flies out to grab onto Edward's bicep. Good God, my hand slips from his arm to his chest slowly, the boy is solid. I want to lick him everywhere.

"Uh, babe?" His head dips so that he can speak into my ear huskily. "You feeling me up in front of all your friends is making my dick har-fuck! Jesus, Bella!" His fingers wrap around my wrist to remove my hand from the front of his pants.

"Edward." I whisper with a pout and press my chest against his as I bring my arms around his neck and pull him closer. My nose trails up the side of his face and my lips kiss his ear. "I'm horny."

"God, I love how you get when you're high." He groans and twists us around so that my back is against the door and he hides us from everyone's view. "You be a good girl and I'll lick your pussy later, yeah?"

Oh, God.

I shiver and dig my nails into his shoulders. "Let's go now." I reach behind me for the door handle.

He chuckles and shakes his head. "Don't you have somewhere to be little girl?" His fingers tease the skin beneath my shirt at my back.

Now it's my turn to groan. "I don't wanna go."

"Well, you should have thought about that before you ate the brownie I was saving for later." He kisses the spot behind my ear that I love so much. "Now you're gonna have to sit through orientation while I wait for you here and rub one out in the shower until you come back."

Errr! Damn it!

"Bella!" Jessica snaps angrily a few feet away. "Get your ass over here and act like you're captain, damn it!"

My eyes widen as I pull away from Edward. "Geez, someone's bossy."

"I'll show you bossy later." He winks and sends me off with a smack to my ass. I should be embarrassed, or feel degraded… fuck that, it just makes me even more hot and bothered.

My legs feel like jelly as I walk down the hall toward the elevators alongside Jessica. My sluggish gaze looks for Kate and as if summoned, she comes up on my left and links arms with me.

"Don't worry," she whispers to me, "Peter and I have had a few brownies in our time. You'll be fine in a couple hours."

"That doesn't help me right now though." I grimace and push my way into the first elevator that slides open. "Snooze you lose suckas!" I laugh at the astonished faces of my squad as the doors roll closed on them.

"You could have fit like five more people in here, Bella." Kate's laugh bounces off the walls of the compact box hurdling toward the ground floor.

My fingers curl into Kate's sweater as I fight the dizzy feeling that comes over me before the elevator finally stops. I blink a few times to clear my foggy awareness then follow Kate as we blend into the crowd of teenage girls in tiny shorts and tops. I look down at my dark grey yoga pants and Edward's black hoodie and wonder if I'm overdressed.

"Bethany is totally giving you the stinkeye right now." Kate snickers into my ear and pulls me toward the front of the line.

I catch a quick glimpse at the captain of Northwood High from Oregon and wrinkle my nose at her fake blonde hair and spandex shorts. She's still bitter that she didn't make the top ten last year - oh and because her boyfriend hit on me… and Rose… and Tia… and… yeah.

"I'm so freaking high right now it's ridiculous. Kate, seriously... It feels like every minute is a new minute…" I lift a hand as if to catch time in the palm of my hand. "Like a completely new dimension where anything could happen."

Kate snickers and yanks me down into a chair toward the back of the room. "Yeah, there's a difference between inhaling smoke and inhaling the actual plant." She pats my shoulder sympathetically. "When was the last time you even smoked?"

I shrug and my body feels so heavy I wonder if my shoulder even moved. "A while ago. Like... months."

I mentally calculate how long it's been but lose focus the instant someone walks by with a bag of Flamin' Hot Funyuns. Oh, dear lord. They look so delicious! I have half a mind to jump up and snatch them right out of her hand. I don't realize that I had started to lean outside of my row until Kate grabs the back of my sweater and pulls me upright once again.

"Is she going to be all right?" Jessica appears out of thin air and drops into the seat on my left.

"Holy shit!" I shriek and whip my arm out to shove her away from me in a fit of panic. Not knowing my own strength, Jessica slips right off of the chair and hits the floor with a loud thump. She goes down like a feral cat and comes back hissing with sharp claws.

"What the fuck, Bella?!" Jessica roars with a red face and murderous eyes as Kate hops over me to reach for her hand.

"Chill out, it as an accident." Kate switches seats with me in order to keep Jessica from retaliating. "Hey," she looks at me with a smile, "remember that time we got high behind the bleachers with Jasper and Emmett and then had to do the pep rally? Oh my God and the speech!"

"The speech!" I holler as the memory comes to me. "Rosalie went blank halfway through and I had tried to step in and finish it but I couldn't stop laughing and eventually they just turned off the mic!"

Kate grabs her stomach from laughing so hard. "Oh my God, I thought Ruby was going to murder you two after that! Her entire face turned redder than her hair!"

"I wish Rose could be here." Jessica pipes in with a wistful look on her face. "She'd be a total bitch, but it just doesn't feel right without her."

I nod my head. "Yeah, but we're pretty kick ass even without her." I remind them.

"Hell yeah!" Kate bumps my shoulder with hers.

We all gaze up front to the stage when someone pats the microphone for our attention. Introductions are made, followed by the long list of sponsors this year. I'm excited to see what's going to be in our goodie bags after all of this talking mumbo-jumbo.

I wonder what Edward is doing right now. I'm tempted to pull out my phone and text him, but I'm not that far gone. I don't want my property confiscated thank you very much. But the image of Edward in the shower is imprinted in my mind at this very moment. I can almost hear the water, I can almost feel his fingers on my skin and his mouth on my-"Fuck!" I scream when a hand slaps down on my shoulder from behind.

Several girls whirl around to stare at me and I feel my face warm up. Kate scolds Bevin for purposely scaring me when she knew I was lost inside my head. She won't stop laughing into her sweater and as soon as my heart rate beats back to normal I am so going to kick her ass. Damn them all for fucking me with right now. They can't stop laughing and they sound like hyenas.

"Get it together, Bella!" Jessica leans over Kate's lap and hisses at me. "If anyone but us find out you're flying high we're all screwed."

"I'm sor-RY!" I yelp out the end of my apology when Tia punches my side from behind my chair. But her prank backfired because it was hard enough to cause my ass to jump up out of my seat. Suddenly the entire room is staring at me and I start to panic.

"Uhh," I force a small laugh and look around the room. I mentally channel Sandra Bullock from Miss Congeniality and throw my hands up. "I'm just so damn excited!"

Kate and Jessica jump up followed by the rest of our squad and soon the whole room is up out of their seats cheering and clapping. Holy shit, that was a close one. Edward is so dead.

-x-

"I already said I was sorry, babe. Calm down." Edward's arms wrap around my shoulders and we drop backward onto the bed with me on top. "You're lucky your squad saved your ass."

I wiggle around so I can place my hands on his chest and stare down at him. "It was still embarrassing." I pout and Edward lifts his head to capture my lips with his. "I think you should do something to prove you're really sorry."

I feel him grin against my mouth. "That can be arranged." His hands slide down my back to cup my ass and I rub against him to make him moan just before his tongue slides between my lips. "Fuck, baby, keep doing that."

I whimper and draw my thighs open until I feel him against against my clit. I'm so glad I'm in tights and he's in sweats, I can feel everything and it's amazing. His hands glide up the back of my shirt and soon it's flying across the room along with my bra. His lips wrap around one tight bud and suck hard, his teeth teasing. I rub against him harder and hug his face into my breasts.

"Edward," I whisper his name and shiver as he takes my other nipple into his hot mouth. He pulls away with a pop and pulls my face closer to attack my lips, his tongue delving in and curling around mine, sucking it hard as his fingers slide into my hair and grip the base of my neck.

"I need to be inside you, babe." He growls and we frantically begin to pull each other's clothes off until we're both naked and he's on top of me. He pauses, his nose nuzzling mine, "I love you, Bella," he whispers, one hand slides between us to bring him to my entrance where he enters me achingly slow.

I gasp and groan as he pushes in an inch and pulls out, pushes back in two inches and pulls out. His breath is hot against my throat, my fingers dig into his back and my feet press into his butt to urge him further inside. His teeth scrape my skin and then he drives into me to the hilt. My eyes widen and my mouth falls open with his name on my lips. I shiver and my pussy pulses around his cock in welcome.

"Oh fuck, baby. So good." His words spur me on and my hips lift to meet his thrusts. He rolls and I'm on top, hunched over him so that we can stare into each others eyes. My arms around his neck, his curled through mine with his palms flat against the backs of my shoulders.

I start to feel the pressure build higher and higher, I clench my eyes shut and fall forward so that my face is pressed to the side of his neck. He ups his pace and takes over from the bottom, driving up into me fast and hard so that the only sounds in the room are of our harsh breaths and the slap of skin.

"Oh, God. Edward!" I mewl and cry into his shoulder. His pelvis slaps against my clit and his cock hits that perfect spot inside of me, the one that makes my ears ring and my muscles tighten.

"Fuck. Oh, fuck." He swings us around and my back hits the pillows, he sits back on his knees and yanks me by my hips and guides himself back into me, using my waist as an anchor to fuck me hard and frantic.

"Ah!" I shout when his thumb presses against my clit.

"Come on, baby. Give it to me, Bella. I need it, baby, come on." He urges me to come and I can feel myself growing closer and closer to orgasm. "You're pussy is so tight, Bella. I fucking love it, can be in it all day. Ah, fuck! I need you to come. I'm gonna come, come on, baby."

Knowing he's so close encourages me to the end and I'm crying out, "Edward! I'm coming, oh!" My nails dig into his biceps and just before I let go I reach out to yank his head forward to meet my waiting lips. He pistons into me one, two more times I scream as my release hits me suddenly and powerfully. My body lights up and every cell buzzes as if electrocuted.

I tremble beneath him, my breath caught in my throat as I watch him find his own release. His jaw tightens and his forehead presses into mine, his lips open as he mouths my name and empties inside of me. I feel every pulse, every twitch of his cock, it makes my stomach clench and my hips lift involuntarily as small aftershocks hit me fast and hard.

"Shit," he laughs into my shoulder, "that was…" he's breathless, his chest heaving against my breasts.

My hand lifts his chin so that I can kiss him again, his arms circle my body and I feel safe and loved and it's a wonderful feeling. I feel so close to him in these moments, I don't ever want to let him go. From the way his embrace pulls me in I know he feels the same way.

"I'm all sweaty." I smile into his hair.

His shoulders shake with laughter. "Give me a few minutes and I'll wash you in the tub."

"Oh, the tub. I believe you had plans for me in there?" I tease him.

His lips press to the tops of my breasts. "I have many plans for you tonight, Bella."

-x-

My face still feels tingly the next morning from the fifth scrub wash I had in the past hour. We're meeting Edward's mother today and I don't want to look like a two cent hooker. So far I've applied and reapplied my makeup at least four times. I started with eyeliner and blush, followed by a simple light pink gloss over my lips. But when I walked outside the bathroom and Edward paused to look me over with eyes that made me shiver lustfully, I spun around around and washed my face. The second time I walked out with just mascara and Chapstick, but when Edward looked me over and said, "Are you gonna get ready or what?" and motioned at my face, I went back into my bat cave—aka the bathroom.

My third attempt made me look like a drag queen and I didn't even bother walking outside the bathroom. But now, I think I'm really ready. Taking one last look at myself in the mirror I decide to slick on one more coat of mascara before I walk out the door. My hands shake as I slide my hands down the front of my simple pale blue sundress, I don't know why I'm so nervous. Edward looks cool as a cucumber in a white polo shirt and pressed khaki pants. He looks like a total prep, which is what I'm pretty sure he was going for. Just seeing him change himself for this meeting makes my stomach twist into tighter knots.

How can he be so cavalier? Isn't he the least bit worried to find out why his mother has been MIA all this time? Because in my mind, I cannot find one single justifiable reason to leave a child behind. Mental illness aside, I don't get how Edward is so willing to meet up with her. She's obviously done well for herself without Edward, meaning she had a chance to go back for him. It pisses me off.

Well, at least I'm not nervous anymore. Now I'm irritable. Grr.

Forty-five minutes into the drive, Edward reaches over to take my hand. "Babe," he pops my chin gently, "Don't worry so much, yeah?"

I stare forward so he can't see the doubt written all over my face. I can feel it crawling over my skin like ants. It makes me itchy and now I'm twitching like I have turrets. I roll down my window for fresh air and look around the ritzy neighborhood we've entered. Green lawns with colorful flowers line pathways leading up to immaculate houses.

I looked Edward's mom up online, she runs her business at home in a guest house behind her home. A guest house Edward could be living in. Would we have ever met at all if his mother had decided to take him along with her? The pull I feel for Edward is so powerful, there can be no way in hell we wouldn't have at least crossed each other's paths at some point in our lives. It's like Edward always says, it's fate.

The further in we drive a large brick structure come into view with the name Kingswood Park carved in gold script. We eventually stop at a large black gate with a security both out front. Elizabeth had already warned Edward that he would have to pass through security before their meeting. Due to this, Edward had to get a fake ID in Royce's name. It's disturbing to imagine Edward as Royce in any way, shape or form.

"Well, that was different." Edward mutters as he moves forward past the gates.

"What was?" I ask looking behind us to see the gates slowly closing.

Edward's shoulder lifts. "Never been past a gate I didn't hop."

I bite my lip to keep from laughing at the irony of his statement. He's changed so much since we first met. I take his hand and pull it into my lap while I gently link our fingers together and sigh deeply. The closer we get to her street Edward's grip begins to tense. I watch the numbers on the houses as we pass by and hold my breath as we come to a slow stop in front of a beautiful two story home. It looks like it was straight from a "Home & Garden" magazine. Perfect landscaping with bright green grass and professional lawn stripes across the whole front yard.

"Wow," I whisper in shock. The house is easily worth over a million dollars, especially with it's exquisite brick foundation and colonial design. I can only imagine what kind of expensive vehicles lie within the three car garage.

"Come on, I don't want to be late." Edward mutters as he slips outside of the car. I turn in my seat to see a grim look on his face and I can't help but wonder if he's having second thoughts.

We walk attentively up the smooth paved driveway towards a flowery path with flat stones leading the way toward the side of the house. There is a large sign made from oak with the business name carved in elegant script. It looks handmade, I wonder if her husband made it for her or if she had it custom made.

Edward pauses a few feet from the entrance and tugs my hand back. "Wait." He replies hesitantly with slightly sweaty palms. "Maybe we shouldn't do this."

My heart breaks for him. I pull him a step toward me and circle my arms around his waist. "Hey," I shake him, "look at me."

His eyes dart from the sign behind me to my face and I watch his tongue slip out to coat his bottom lip. I lift a hand and press it to his chest where I feel his heart pounding rapidly.

I take his face in my hands and lift up to press my lips to his. "Whatever you decide, I'm with you. Okay? You're not doing this alone. I'm right here, baby." I kiss him again and pull away for him to make his decision.

"I know you think this is a shitty idea." His resigned tone makes me pull his hand to my mouth so that I can kiss his knuckles. "But I… I just need to know. I need to know why she never came back for me." He takes a shaky breath and we take the three steps up to the door.

I look at him and with his nod I press the doorbell.

The woman who answers the door is beyond beautiful and classy looking. I can instantly see the resemblance between this woman and Edward. If her green eyes and auburn hair didn't give her away, than her sharp cheekbones and jawline definitely would—and I'd know those full lips anywhere.

"Hello! You must be Royce and Bella King, correct? I'm so excited to meet you!" She leans forward and takes each out hands in a firm grip.

Her black Jimmy Choos make her appear even taller than Rosalie. Moving up I see her cream colored wrap dress is accentuated with a thin gold belt and bangle bracelets. She's elegant and soft, slim and coordinated.

"My goodness," she blinks down at the two of us, "you look…" she blinks again in hesitation. "S-so young. Are you first year college students? Please, come inside!" She beckons us through the door while talking a mile a minute about her first two clients that day. All while texting something on her phone at warped speed.

Her first clients were a couple from California who recently moved to Seattle for jobs in the city. They wanted her to design their apartment to remind them of home. She blurted something about beach sand and rural furniture and went on to tell us about the second client, an eccentric woman who was here before us. I stopped listening after she began to tell us about the woman's divorce history.

"So, what are you two looking for in terms of a budget?" Elizabeth ushers us to take the two comfy looking brown leather seats in front of her large and glossy mahogany desk. She pulls open a black binder and clicks a pen before she's poised to start her notes. Her large green eyes dart over to Edward and quickly down at the desk before she takes a deep breath and looks at him again wearily.

My stomach starts to knot up at the way she keeps avoiding direct eye contact with Edward. Only people who feel guilty, have some sort of social disorder, or autism have eyes like those. Ones that look everywhere but at the person in front of them.

Her phone buzzes on top of the desk and startles her enough to lose grip of the pen in her hand. It drops to the ground and she's so quick to check her incoming text she doesn't even bother to pick up the fallen comrade. We sit in silence while the sound of it rolling beneath the desk keeps us captivated. Only when it finally smacks against my foot do I exhale the breath I've been unintentionally holding.

"Uh," she looks up at us and forces a laugh, "I'm so sorry. I've been waiting for this client to get back to me all week. This will take just a moment." She presses a few more buttons and brings the device up to her ear as she brushes past us out the door.

At the sound of the door clicking closed behind her, I swing around in my seat to face Edward. "Holy shit, she knows its you." I whisper in shock and lean closer to my Greek statue of a boyfriend. "Babe," I snap my fingers in front of his nose. "Edward!"

He flinches and blinks a few times before he regains his focus. "What?"

"Are you okay?" I ask as I search his face for any signs of distress. He's completely without emotion, a blank canvas. "Hey," I touch his arm, "do you want to leave?"

He swallows and shakes his head. "No. I'm fine."

He's anything but fine.

I stand up from my chair and move to the door. "I'm going to—"

His hand whips out to grasp onto my wrist. "Where are you going?" The panic in his voice causes alarms to go off inside my head. Edward doesn't panic, not like this. He gets angry, not panicked.

"Relax." I gently pull away. "I'll be right back, I'm just going to see what's taking so long."

"Isn't it obvious?" His hoarse voice is full of resignation. "She wants me gone, Bella." He starts to stand.

"Don't you dare." I push him back down into his seat. "You don't know that. She could really be talking to a client. We've come all this way. Don't react until you know all the facts, okay? I'll be right back. Stay here, Edward. Please."

I don't give him a chance to answer before I'm out the door and walking down the hall toward the front of the office. Harsh whispering fills my ears and I pause when I see her pacing back and forth in front of the empty reception desk.

"How could you let this happen, Aro?" Her voice is breathless and broken. "We had a deal and now he's sitting in my office with some girl!"

I gasp and cover my mouth, praying she hasn't heard me then I quickly press my back to the wall behind a potted palm tree and two waves of flowers. The smell is overwhelming but I need to hear the rest of this conversation.

"I can't handle this right now, Aro… I told you that I would see him when I was ready. I'm going to have to call in an emergency meeting with my therapist because of this. I'm… I'm completely freaking out. He looks like me, Aro! He looks just like me!" She starts to cry. "You promised me this wouldn't happen. You promised!"

I can't hear but a slightly broken up mumble of what Aro says in response, but whatever he said seems to upset her more. "No, I don't need you to come and get him… yes… no… I don't know…" she continues to pace back and forth at a fast speed. "He carries himself with the same confidence as you, Aro. He even has your strong jaw and perfect lips…"

I cannot handle this anymore. I start to make sounds as if I'm coming down the hall and right as I round the wall that separates us she hangs up. She stands with her back to me a hand rubbing at her face, I know she's cleaning up as much as she can before she turns around.

"I'll be right there, dear." Her posture straightens once again into the confident women who opened the door fifteen minutes ago. When she finally faces me its as if she was never crying just two minutes before. Yes, her eyes are slightly red and a little puffy, but her makeup is still intact and her whole demeanor is back to normal. How the hell can one turn off their emotions like that?

Then it hits me. This is exactly how Edward is. Up and down. Happy and sad. Crazy and rational. It hits me like a freight train.

"Could…" I lick dry lips and clear my throat. "Could he have it too?"

Her eyes water but her face remains blank. "I have no idea what you're talking about, dear. Let's go back and discuss your condo, shall we?"

"Stop." I hold a hand out. "You know why we're here. I know you were talking to Aro. Just tell me if it's hereditary. What you have, you're… illness." I grimace.

"Up like he's high on something or down like his dog just died?" She says matter of fact.

I nod. "It's not as bad as it used to be… but, yes."

"That's because of you." She steps forward. "You ground him like my husband, Roger, grounds me… like… Aro." Her bottom lip trembles. "I know you must think of me as a horrible mother, but I was a danger to Edward and to myself. I was so unhappy, I swallowed a handful of pills that day I left and Aro had to take me to the hospital. He made me swear to get help, he called my parents and they took me back. But they wouldn't take Edward."

I scowl at her. "So that makes it okay?"

"No!" She shouts and presses a hand to her mouth. "No," she whispers softly. "His father promised to take care of Edward while I was away. It was always my intention to get him back when I was stable. But it took nearly a year to get better and then I met Roger and he's so wonderful—but he's traditional. He would never accept that I had a child before him. So I lied." Her face crumbles. "I lied and I was so guilty afterward that I planned to tell him the truth. I swear it, I was going to bring Edward home even if I had to do it alone. But then I found out… and then Aro told me Edward was doing so well, he was happy and if I took him now I would be taking him from the only family he knew."

"So you signed him away to Carlisle." I shook my head. "He was a teenager by then, Elizabeth. You waited way too long."

She shakes her head and presses a hand to her foreheads as if she has a headache. "I can't handle this. No, I can. I can do this. Yes." She says to herself and faces me once again. "Things were complicated. There are conditions and set agreements at stake. My parents are not good people and he promised to care of Edward. His father said—"

"Father?" Edward barrels out of the hallway with hands fisted at his sides. "You mean the father that left me behind? The one who left a six-pack of beer on the coffee table and twenty bucks? I lived in that trailer alone for months until the landlord called child services on my ass!"

Elizabeth stares at him in astonishment, "That can't be true. Your father promised me, I sent him checks! He said you had your own apartment and—"

"Who said?!" Edward screams.

"Aro! Your father!" She yells back at him with a tear running down her face.

The room falls deathly silent as this news sinks in.

"Excuse me?" Edward falls back a step and I quickly move to side for support.

Elizabeth's fingers dive into her hair nervously. "No. No, no, no—don't act like you don't know the truth. He sent me monthly reports and said everything was taken care of!"

"Does getting bounced around the foster system count as taken care of to you? Who the fuck are you? This whole time I thought… I mean…" he shakes his head incredulous. "I thought you were looking for me."

Her eyes tear up once again. "I did the best I could with the situation I was handed. Your file said some young counselor took custody of you. Aro approached him shortly after and set up a monthly payment. Who did you think was paying for your rent and bills, Edward? Certainly not the state and especially not in such a place as where you stay."

"And that makes abandoning me okay?"he laughs bitterly. "Wow," he looks down and shakes his head with a mocking smile, "you know you're a real piece of shit when your own mother doesn't want you."

"Hey," I pull his face to mine. "That's not true. I want you. I love you. Fuck her." I point at her with disgust. "She's trash and she knows it. It's why she's pretending to be this perfect person. Her own husband doesn't even know her!"

Elizabeth cringes with each accusation.

Edward's eyes meet my own and his face hardens to the very one I used to run from. "I want to go now." He tells me. "We're leaving."

Just then the sound of feet running towards the door followed by, "Mommy! Mommy!" breaks our thoughts and Elizabeth freezes. Edward freezes.

I lose my breath.

Little fists hit against the front door. Followed by a male voice who is obviously her husband, "You with a client, honey?"

Elizabeth shouts, "Uh, I-I—yes! Wait for me at the house, darling. Shelby left a box of cookies for the boys."

Edward curses and charges forward to look out the window, "I have brothers?"

Elizabeth looks over at Edward fearfully. "Please," she whispers, "just go. They don't know about you. I'm so sorry. No one knows about you, please." She begs him.

"You. Bitch." My mouth falls open in pure astonishment. She has a lot of damn nerve to ask him this. I surge forward to confront her but am pulled back into Edward's arms. "You really are something lady!"

Her husband sees the commotion and barges into the office, "What the hell is going on here? How dare you yell at my wife." He's quick to coddle her as if she is a fragile child.

"Roger," her shoulders sag as she breaks down into his arms, "please make them go. They came in here yelling at me and I don't even know why!"

Holy shit this lady is her own brand of crazy.

"You don't know?" I laugh at her. "Why don't you check her call history, Roger. You'll see she's been calling Aro Volturi to talk about the child they had that is standing right here!" I point to Edward. "The one you abandoned for your new perfect life while he grew up in group homes thinking you were looking for him!" I start to get worked up and my voice breaks, Edward pulls me around to face him looking calm as ever. "Baby, calm down. It's okay."

"How is any of this okay?" I ask but am shoved aside by Elizabeth whose nails dig into my arm like claws.

"Get out!" She screams. "Get out of my life! You ruined my life once and I'll be damned if you do it again! Consider my debt paid in full and pay for your own damn rent and food. If I'm so horrible then leave here and never come back!"

That's when Edward finally snaps.

"Fine!" He roars into her face and she flinches and stumbles backward in fright. "I never needed you anyway! I lived seven years without your help! Fuck you and fuck your money. I've only lived in that apartment for 18 months anyway!" His arm swings out in a wave that accidentally knocks down a vase of flowers.

"Get out or I'll call the police!" She screams and suddenly Edward is thrown up against the wall by Roger who threatens Edward and I wait for the bomb to explode.

"Edward, don't." I attempt to get through to him before it's too late, but I see those green eyes go black as he loses himself to monster I was so sure I'd never see again.

"Get off me!" Edward growls and shoves Roger away just far enough for his fist to collide with his jaw and Roger goes down like a twig. Of course, this isn't to Edward's satisfaction and he pulls Roger up by the front of his shirt to hit him again. And again. And Again.

Elizabeth cries out and I intervene to keep her away so that she doesn't get hit while trying to break them up. My eyes search for the kids and my heart stops at the fearful looks on their faces.

"Edward!" I scream for him. "Edward, please stop!" I run and throw myself onto his back, "Baby, please. The kids. Your brothers! They are right there." I say into his ear and motion to the two crying boys who look no older than four or five.

His body instantly tenses up before he drops Roger and his face falls in shame. "Oh, my God." He whispers as I slide down to my feet. He looks as if he's about to be sick as he backs away from Roger and looks down at his bloody hands. "Oh, fuck." He utters as if he's just come out of a dream only to realize it's reality.

I grab his face in my hands. "It's okay, We're leaving. Screw these people, they mean nothing. Look at me." I try to force his gaze away from the kids but fail. He pushes me away and pauses at the door. "I'm so sorry. I'm… fuck, I never should have come here." His fingers dive into his hair and he rushes past them toward the car.

I wipe away tears and look down at Elizabeth who is on her phone with the police while hovering over a groaning Roger. I quickly rush over and grab her phone. "Oh, my gosh. Everything is fine. My mom was overreacting. She's off her meds and she's hallucinating again. You can check her records," I pause to glare at her, "they'll tell you how crazy she actually is. Yes, I'm so sorry for all this. No, we're fine. Thank you." I hang up and toss her phone down the hall so that it's out of reach.

"How dare you!" She scoffs but it's half hearted, she knows this could have all been avoided. "Just leave. I don't want to see you or that boy ever again!"

I blink down at Elizabeth in disgust. "How can you be so cruel? Do you have any idea how long he's been waiting for this day? How can you give birth to a child and leave them behind like that? How fucked up can you be?"

Elizabeth shakily tries to sit up straighter. "I don't have to explain myself to you."

"You're disgusting and I feel sorry for anyone who believes your lies. I just wish I could inflict on you even a fraction of the pain you've caused for Edward." I step over Roger to get to the door.

"I was you once, you know." She calls after me. "If you're smart you'll put him and La Push in your rearview mirror and never look back. You're young and naïve and you think love is all that matters." I look at her as she shakes her head with a laugh. "I wish I had someone tell me at your age what I'm telling you. Masen men are like quicksand. Don't let him take you down with him."

"Thanks for the advice, Mother Dearest. We both know what a stupendous role model you are. And don't you mean Volturi?" I correct her in reference to Aro.

She wipes at her face. "Volturi is a name he uses for business. He's a Masen."

"Well then I guess it's a good thing Edward's not a Masen. He's a Cullen." I leave without a backward glance.

-x-

Edward is leaned against the side of the house with his head in his hands when I find him. I say nothing and set my hand on his shoulder so she knows I'm here. He sighs deeply and when I pull at his arm he gets up and we walk to the car together. He is silent, staring straight ahead, eyes red and watery with the threat of tears. Shame is written all over his face and he trembles from the anger being held inside of him.

"C'mon, baby." I lead him to the car on the passenger side and dig into his side pocket for his keys. He doesn't protest, he doesn't speak or hesitate. He does nothing but whatever I make him do.

But the number one reason I know he's not okay is the very fact that he's about to let me drive his car. His precious baby. Lord, I hope I don't stall the engine or crash into anything. His silence is deafening as we pull away from the house. No radio. Windows down.

It's only us and the sound of the tread on his tires rolling over newly paved side streets. Twenty minutes later it's still awkwardly quiet. I don't know what to do. I'm terrified to talk, what if he blows up? I can't just sit here though, it's not who I am. I need to comfort him. I need to… I need to call Royce. I reach into my back pocket for my phone when Edward finally speaks.

"Pull over." He mutters just before we get on the highway.

I slow as we begin to cross over a bridge that leads to the highway, but I don't stop. Is he serious? Where the hell does he expect me to pull over? We're about to get on the highway.

"Pull the fuck over, Isabella!" He slams a hand down onto the dashboard.

I scream when his hand darts out to the wheel and we swerve off the road. My heart is in my throat as terror seizes my body. I can barely catch my breath when we finally come to a stop and he pushes his door open and stumbles a few steps to the bridge railing. I watch as he bends over with heaving shoulders and sweat dripping down his face. Is he having a panic attack? I grab a bottle of water from my bag in the back seat and walk out to him.

"Edward." I say his name as I approach slowly, hesitant to set him off again. It feels like we've gone back in time. Back when I didn't know what I could and couldn't say before he'd flip out.

"Give me a minute." He says without turning around.

I stop and look down at the water bottle in my hands. I don't like unpredictable Edward, especially a quiet one. He never pushes me away. I make everything better, right? That's what he said before. So how come he's over there and I'm right here? We're both quiet for a few minutes, I stare at Edward and he stares out at nothing. I can see he's lost inside his head. It's starting to get closer and closer to the competition time, but I'm so not about to say that right now. I still have three hours, we'll be back by then. I hope.

His head drops and his shoulders slump. "Bella," he says my name like he's praying for me to fix everything.

I quickly close the gap between us and throw my around him from behind. I can feel him shaking and force him to turn around so I can see his face. Devastated. It's the only word that comes to mind when I look into his red rimmed eyes and clenched jaw.

"I'm so sorry, baby." I whisper and he crumbles instantly, his face diving into the crook of my neck, hands gripping my sides firm while his body shudders from holding in his pain. "Yell. Scream. Cry…" I tell him. "I'm right here. I'll always be right here."

"Fuck, Bella." His voice breaks and soon I feel the cool drops of tears on my skin. My arms tighten around him as he curses over and over into my shoulder. His voice grows louder the angrier he gets, but he never outright says the words 'mom' or 'Elizabeth.'

After a while he pulls back and turns his face away so that I cannot see him wipe at his eyes. There are some women who melt at the sight of man who cries, some think it's weak, but me? I know my boyfriend, and I've seen him angry, sad, happy... but this? This is something else completely. So when I watch his hand make a quick pass across his face, I feel something inside of me break.

"I love you." I feel the need to remind him of this.

He nods his head and reaches behind himself for my hand. "I know you do." He pulls me closer and turns to kiss my lips. When he draws back he pauses and stares at my collar, a deep frown rakes over before he says, "Give me that." He reaches for my necklace.

I push him away from instinct and shake my head. "No. Stop it."

"Take it off." He replies calmly, but it's a threat all the same.

I take a step back and shake my head again. "No. You gave this to me. It's mine, it's a special part of you that only I have." I try to explain the significance of his gift.

"Give me the fucking necklace, Bella." He growls. "I don't want to look at it ever again and I don't want it touching you!" He shouts. "Take it off or I will rip it off myself. Your choice."

Slowly, I remove my necklace and slip the pendant off the chain. "Here." I hand it over and suck in a deep breath to hold back the tears that want to spill over. I know he's going to regret this later, but I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing myself if I were him. To me it means I've had his heart since childhood, but to him, it's a part of Elizabeth.

So when he pulls back his arm and flings it forward, I close my eyes while it sails over the bridge and into the ravine below. I don't hear it when it hits the water, we're too far up, but I feel it. I feel the last part of the old Edward, the one with auburn hair and freckles and a boyish grin, as it sinks and drowns. It scares me because I don't really know what this means exactly. What happens now? I know Edward, I know him. He's going to close down and I don't know how long until we make our way back from it.

I gulp and run my fingers under my eyes to rub away my smudged mascara. I leave him on the bridge and make my way back to the car. Only this time I sit in the passenger seat, it's because I know him so well. I know he's going to come back and act like everything is fine. We'll both know it's a lie.

"I'm sorry." He apologizes, as the driver's side door slams shut. "I lost my shit. I'm okay now." He starts the car.

I nod my head and say nothing. I can literally feel those steels walls of his fall right back into place. He speeds over the bridge and onto the highway without a single word said all the way back to the hotel.

Not once does he take my hand.

-x-

If any word that I said

Could have made you forget

I'd have given you them all

But it was all in your head

And we're burning all the bridges now

Watching them go up in flames

No way to build them up again

Now we're burning all the bridges now

'Cause it was sink or swim and I went down, down, down

-x-

AN: This chapter's title (as well as posted lyrics above) refers to the song Bridges by Broods.

I can't even say how sorry I am for how long this took, and the fact that it's not Beta'd. I just wanted to get it out. I can't say how long until I update again, it's hard to update with the things life throws at me. But I'll still try.

Thank you to MariahajilE and IreenH for your help in the early stages of this chapter.

I will never pull TSB unless FF does. If this happens, I also post at: theslowestburn. wordpress. com

My username for anything is always: Typokween

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