WARNING: There is some violence in this chapter (only this one).
This is chapter 1 of a 3 shot.
This fic was commissioned in the FGB by amieforshort. She gave me a few prompts and I've been working on it forever. The domestic violence was already a small part of this fic, so we both decided that it would be a perfect addition to the compilation for FansAgainstDV. It was a donation from both of us.
Somethin' in your eyes, makes me wanna lose myself
Makes me wanna lose myself, in your arms
There's somethin' in your voice, makes my heart beat fast
Hope this feeling lasts, the rest of my life
If you knew how lonely my life has been
And how long I've been so alone
And if you knew how I wanted someone to come along
And change my life the way you've done
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong
Feels Like Home
~sung by Edwina Hayes (link on profile)
I sit up slightly on my elbows on the bed and look over toward Riley and immediately, I regret being here.
The clock reads four minutes past six, and the sun is just now peeking through a small crack in the thick curtains covering the windows.
I gently lie back down, careful not to touch him or move too much. He doesn't like to be woken up. Not. At. All. And that's the very last thing I want to deal with this morning. I can't stand that he gets so worked up about every little thing. It's like his anger is always under pressure, ready to blow at the blink of an eye.
He's so not worth it.
I slowly roll over onto my side away from him and steadily exhale a deep breath as my thoughts begin to whirl in my head.
I'm not happy.
Not even a little bit.
I don't even like Riley anymore, but nevertheless he's still my boyfriend.
I should break it off with him but anytime I hint that maybe we should take a break, he lets me know real quick-like that I shouldn't say such things. So here I am, never able to tell him no.
I wanted to last night when he called me to join him outside the bar on his way home after I'd already gone to bed.
I screamed 'no' in my head a thousand times when he insisted we go to his place for a night cap.
Then I wanted to do it when I got there, but as soon as I opened the car door he was all over me. His breath smelled like stale beer and his clothes reeked of weed. He made me feel cheap and trashy. My Daddy would be so disappointed in me that I was settling for this.
And then later, it was right on the tip of tongue when we were in the bed and he threw his arm over my chest and mumbled for me to stay.
But I didn't say it. Not out loud.
My disgust for him and my lowly desperation hung heavy all around me, it was getting nearly impossible to ever see the sun anymore.
Yet the saddest thing of all is that if I lose Riley, I really don't have anyone else.
My eyes tear up as I wonder if being alone would be worse than sharing myself with someone I don't even like.
I really just don't want to think about it anymore, so for the first time ever, I get up while he's still asleep. I grab my clothes from the floor and leave his apartment.
He'll be pissed.
But I can't find it in myself to give two shits anymore.
Sitting at the kitchen table drinking my tea, I hear the back door creak and then bang against the wall.
"Bella?" He yells like he doesn't know it's me in here.
"Who else would it be?" I return.
It's always... just me.
He pulls out the chair and slinks down beside me.
"Hey, you doin' okay today?" He doesn't even look me as he folds his arms on the table and rests his head there. I bet he was out all night, probably with his girlfriend Rosalie.
"I'm fine Bro." I rustle his curly hair.
"I'm sorry I didn't come home last night." His voice is muffled against the wooden table top. "It's just that I go back in three more days and I wanna see my Rose as much as I can."
"Em...," I cut him off- "...I live here every day by myself. Don't start."
I'm annoyed. I love my big brother – more than anyone else in the world but ever since Dad died a few years ago, he's so protective over me. I think I'm doing just fine on my own or at least I tell myself that daily. I just know that one day soon, it'll be true.
"Why aren't you with her now?" I roll my eyes.
Then he quickly falls asleep and snores. I just shake my head. I'll miss him when he goes back. He's going to be stationed in Germany for two more years. He's proud to serve his country and I'm proud of him too. It's all he's ever wanted to do.
And I would never think of holding him back from what makes him happy.
After my nap, I get up to start us something to eat. Maybe I can convince Em to bring Rose over here to eat tonight with us. We could have a nice sit down old-fashioned family dinner.
It only takes twenty minutes to have the lasagna in the oven and the salad mixed.
I hate that Rose can't make it – she has to work tonight. Emmett's in the shower, and I'm lost in thought wondering if I should sprinkle any cheese on the garlic bread or not.
I drop the butter knife when I hear a light tapping at the back door. It slowly opens and then I hear a soft clink of it closing.
Then my stomach flutters and I swallow hard as if it's programmed inside of me and I'm unable to control it.
"In here-" I choke out and slowly turn to look at him.
"Hey Smelly Belly." He winks.
I glare at him before I turn around hiding my smile.
I want to be mad because that nickname is the worst. I mean, it was years ago, and I couldn't help that we'd just had Taco Casa and I accidentally let one rip. A loud one.
It could happen to anyone!
But I can't be angry towards Edward, because, hello? It's Edward.
My brother's life long best friend.
The most gorgeous guy I know.
The one who has starred in my own fairy tale dreams for as long as I can remember.
The only guy, other than Em and my Dad, who has a permanent residence inside my heart.
The one who will always regard me as his 'best buds lil sis,' and sometimes as much as I hate it, 'Smelly Belly.' I teeter on finding it endearing that I have my own nickname in Edward Cullen's vocabulary or despising it so much I want to scream. It makes me think that he may never see me as more than just a little girl... that he won't ever see me as the woman I am.
Edward and Emmett are both five years older than me. Edward has lived off and on with us for most of his life and as close as he is to an older brother figure to me, I still think he must have been the one to hang the moon. Whether he knows it or not, I consider him one of my best friends and I don't ever want to jeopardize that.
Once again, I'm lost in my own head thinking of how yummy Edward is and how absurd it is for me to even consider liking him in that way that isn't so brotherly, I don't even notice that he's standing right behind me.
I hold my breath as I feel him move closer behind me. I can almost feel his body heat. Almost.
I want his arms around me circling my waist and pulling me close to him.
I know it's wrong. He'll never think of me that way.
I should get over it – I really, really should. It's just that I've felt this way for so long, I don't know how else to think of him.
He's only been back in Jacksonville for a month, his time served with the Army complete, but now... Edward's staying.
Hell yes! It's the best news ever, second only to Em doing the same. It makes me childishly happy. I'm giddy over it. It's the first thought that pops in my head as soon as I wake up in the morning and the last before I go to sleep.
I refrain from dancing in my spot. He's staying in Florida!
I look at the bread, and I've sprinkled way too much garlic powder on the tops. This is the type of thing I do around him. I can't think normally. I debate wiping some of it off or just saying the hell with it and putting it in the oven anyway when Edward reaches around me and sticks his finger in the tub of butter.
I slightly stumble back against the counter.
Then, I can't look away. I watch as he sticks his butter clad finger in his mouth and sucks the butter off.
I shiver right before I whimper.
Edward raises his eyebrows and I clear my throat repeatedly as if I was choking on my spit instead of thinking of Edward in ways I shouldn't and wanting him to do things that he won't.
"Ewww," I say, but I see the way his tongue is licking the butter off his lips and how his finger is wet and shiny.
So. Not. Fair.
"What?" He snickers and bends away from me to look into the den. "Where's Emmett?"
"He's in the shower." I feel the stain coloring my face, Edward being the only one who can do that to me. He probably reads me like an open book and thinks 'look at that silly little girl blush.'
It hurts my feelings a tad, so I just try and pretend he's not standing here beside me, looking all lick-able and tasting like butter.
Sweet, sweet butter...
"Do you need any help?" He shuffles on his feet.
I shake my head.
"It smells good." Then he places his hand on my bare forearm and leans forward to look me in the eye. "Really good, B. I've missed your cooking."
I shiver. Again.
I like the warmth of his touch – it's such a simple, intimate gesture.
I steadily return his stare, and my aggravation fades back to adoration. "I have to say, I've missed you both so much. It just isn't the same without you and Em here."
I want to tell him so much more. I want to open up and fill him in on the past four years that he's been gone, but more than that, I want him to want me to tell him. It's a connection I long for.
He steps back toward the table, grabbing onto the top of the chair. Then, as if he can read my thoughts, he says the words I want to hear. "I can't wait for us to catch up. It seems like everything changed while I was gone. I feel like I missed so much."
I smile, and my hearts throbs.
I can't hold back any longer. I turn around and in one step I jump him the only way I can that's appropriate. I wrap him up and hug him tight.
He holds me just as close.
I squeeze my eyes shut. I'm overwhelmed, and my emotions are caught in the bubble in my throat.
I don't want to cry, but I'm ...happy.
All my naughty thoughts are forgotten for now – because this right here, this is us – the family we've always been. We all three may be slightly dysfunctional and kookie and there are nights I cry myself to sleep wishing things were different, but then there are times like this – minutes I spend silently praying that time would just freeze and let me live like this forever.
The only thing missing at dinner is that dad's not here. Rose had to work. Em and Edward rave on and on about my cooking, which I secretly love. Sometimes I wonder if they even taste it and chew before they swallow.
They both stand to get seconds when there's a knock at the door.
Emmett goes to answer it, and soon Riley follows him into the kitchen.
My face falls, but I look down to quickly hide it. He stands over me and kisses me gently on the top of my head.
The kitchen is suddenly hushed.
Emmett doesn't like Riley, but he tolerates him because I've asked him to.
"Damn Bella, I must have missed your call when you called to invite me for dinner." His voice is laced with sarcasm as he fixes himself a plate.
I look up at Edward. He's stabbing his lasagna with his fork as if there are worms trying to escape from it.
I wonder what Em has told him.
If looks could kill, Riley would have been dead from the way Emmett's glaring at the back of his head.
It all feels so wrong and it's totally my fault.
He pulls his chair closer to mine and sits beside me. "I didn't hear you leave this morning." He reaches under the table and grabs the top of my thigh. His fingers curl into my skin, bruising it. It hurts, but I fight with all I have to keep a straight face.
I don't want Em or Edward to know how he touches me. "I didn't want to wake you," I lie.
Emmett and Edward are both watching us. Edward is slowly chewing his food, his eyes narrow and shift between me and Riley. Edward doesn't look away and Emmett stops eating all together.
I wiggle my leg, trying to get him to let go.
"You want a beer?" Emmett asks him, and finally he releases his grip.
I reach under the table and rub my thigh. Asshole!
I'm going to end this. I'm so over it. The next time we are alone, that's it. All I can hope is that there's someone else out there for me, so maybe I won't be alone for too long. Now I know for sure, being lonely can't be as bad as this.
"You little slut." Riley's standing beside me, pretending he's helping me wash the dishes.
"What are you talking about?" We both whisper loudly. Emmett and Edward are upstairs getting ready to go out. Somehow they convinced Riley to go with them. They are going to a club that's twenty-one and over so I can't go. I'm not so sure I would even go if I could, I don't want to be around him anymore than I have to.
"Please, Bella. Save it. I see the way you and Edward look at each other. How long have you been fucking him?" His voice is so cold.
I think I hate him.
"You are delusional Riley! He's like my brother. You have no right..." Edward and Emmett's footsteps are loud as they run down the stairs.
"Lying bitch. Just you wait," he whispers in my ear right before they enter the room, and then he kisses my cheek.
I want to wipe it off so badly. Instead, I scrub the hell out of the plate in my hand and fight back my emotions.
"You going to be all right here by yourself Belly?" Edward rubs up and down my back. I shiver, partly from fear, and partly from some other emotion I can't name but I soon begin to calm down. I don't look at Edward as I nod.
Riley clears his throat. "So, Emmett, when are you leaving out again?"
I wish Em would lie to him.
"Three days, man. Three. Short. Days." Emmett shakes his head.
"Hmph," Riley grunts. I turn to look at him and see the evil written all over his smile. "That's good. That's real good." His eyes are narrowed at me. He's up to no good. Asswipe.
"Why?" Edward asks him sharply, and Riley's smile slithers off his face. Edward's standing up to him and I feel uneasy. Yet, I want to stand behind Edward and be an united front.
Edward crosses his arms and rests his backside against the counter.
I almost sigh. Edward, my hero.
"I was just wondering, man. No biggie. You ready to go?" Riley asks, slapping Emmett on the back.
"Oh, I forgot." He grabs my wrist and pulls me in for a kiss. The dishwater from my hands flies everywhere. I quickly turn my head away from him. His lips are open and wet against my cheek. I cringe and fight the urge to cry.
"Mmm. Mmm. I'll be back later for more of this." He grabs my ass and tugs me closer to him. "Wait up for me, baby." Then he lets go and slaps my ass. Hard.
I wince from the pain.
"Don't even bother. You're not welcome here anymore," I quietly state into his ear.
"That's what you think," he says loudly. Then he winks, and I quickly look away.
I really do hate him.
Emmett left this morning. Edward's still gone, having driven him to the airport. This house is so quiet. I can't help but cry off and on all day.
The loneliness didn't take long to set in.
I haven't heard from Riley since he was at our house a few days ago. Em said he got really wasted the night they went out. I think there's more to the story they aren't telling me, but I don't care.
As long as he stays away, I'm fine.
The back door knob rattles, and I smile because it's got to be Edward. He must have forgotten his key to get back in. He's going to stay in his old room until he finds himself a new apartment. He's starting the police academy in a month. He says my father inspired him.
Isn't he just perfect?
"Hang on!" I yell. I quickly primp my hair and wipe all the tears and snot off my face.
As soon as I swing open the door, Riley steps through it forcefully. Anger and dread course through my blood. He's not welcome here. That effin sonofab... "Get out!" I try and push him back through the doorway.
He laughs and then pulls my back flush to his chest as he picks me up and slams the door closed. My anger is instantly replaced with fear. This can't be good.
"Put me down you-" He clamps his hand over my mouth. I kick and scream. My hands flail wildly behind me, trying desperately to claw his eyes out.
He throws me down in the kitchen floor. "I told you I'd be back didn't I?" His face says it all. This is going to be really bad.
My fight or flight instinct kicks in.
I scramble to stand and find something to knock his ass out with. Or a knife – I'm not scared to stab a bastard. I start screaming again. "SOMEONE HELP ME! YOU PIECE OF SHIT! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! HELP!"
I grab the only pot that's left on the stove and try to swing and hit him.
He cocks back his elbow and when I swing at him, his fist connects with my face. The thick tang of iron and blood rolls down my throat. I drop the pot and gag. I raise my hands to cover my face and try to protect myself.
But I'm not fast enough.
The pain is searing and then fading.
The light is dim.
The floor is closer.
I feel another blow and a new pain shooting down my back.
His grunts coordinate with his hits.
I can't hold my eyes open anymore.
"He won't want you now, bitch."
I'm on the floor. The cool tile is welcoming. The house is quiet. My body hurts everywhere. I can't move.
Tears leak from my eyes and I'm terrified. I've never been this scared in my entire life.
I try to scream but my voice is gone.
I lift my head as much as I can, but he's still there. "Tsk. Tsk. You shouldn't have woken up yet, little girl."
Riley grabs the back of my hair and slams my face into the floor.
The lights go out really fast.
My eyes won't open, but I hear the kitchen timer going off. I have to get up and turn off the stove. It's driving me crazy! I try and lift my arms – Oh God – then I try and move my legs, shit! The pain, it's so intense. It hurts...
The beeping gets faster. Wait! Maybe it's not the timer... What is it?
Where am I?
Oh no... Riley!
Behind my closed lids, I see his face. His fist getting closer. What if he kidnapped me? Terror floods my body.
Then I hear him. He's all around me. "It's okay, Bella. I'm here. You're safe now. Calm down, sweetie." His arms are around me. He's touching my hair. "Rose, text Emmett and tell him she's waking up. He's been aggravating the crap out of me for an update."
"Edward?" I ask as my eyes begin to cooperate and open.
"Yes Belly, I'm here. Are you in any pain?" The comfort of his voice washes over me, chasing away the fear, and I can't hold back anymore.
"Oh my..." I latch onto Edward's arm that's wrapped around me, and I cry with every ounce of energy I have left. I ignore the pain that radiates over every inch of my skin and bones, and I cling to him like there's no tomorrow.
Because there almost wasn't.
He's shushing me and rocking me, but I can't stop the need to hold onto him. He's murmuring into my hair, and I actually want to crawl into his lap and let him shield me from the world. "I'm not going anywhere. Calm down, Bella."
I want to, but then I think about my daddy and how I want him here, but he's not. And I think about Emmett and how he's gone too, and I'm just so alone and...and the whole fucking world sucks!
Eventually I do calm down a little. Edward's still sitting beside me on the bed. He's holding my hand, and his eyes, they never leave me.
He and Rosalie fill me in on everything. Rosalie tells me the beginning, how Edward came in and found me in a pool of my own blood on the floor. Riley was still there, but he ran out the front door when Edward returned. Edward called 911, but he didn't leave me to go after Riley.
I feel his grip slightly tighten on me. I look up and his eyes are wet. He's shaking his head.
"You scared me," he whispers, and I try to smile but my whole face feels wrong. My hands instinctively go to my face, but Edward pulls them down to his lap. "Don't."
What? Why? I panic and I can't begin to imagine the damage he done to my face. The beeping sound increases and I put two and two together – the noise is something monitoring my heart rate.
But my face!
"Tell me! How bad is it?" Edward's not looking at me now, and the look on Rosalie face is not promising.
"Please, just tell me." Defeat and misery rack my body. I close my eyes and try and relax back on my pillow, but then I realize just how bad I hurt. Everywhere. It's overwhelming and I just want it to stop.
Rosalie moves closer to my bed. Her hand is patting my leg. "Bella. Your face, it just doesn't look good, honey. Your nose is broken. They already set it while you were unconscious, but the bruising... and the cuts. You're busted up pretty badly."
Then Riley's words echo through my mind, "He won't want you now," and I am overcome with despair and rejection. That pain hurts worse than all these stupid wounds. Along with the rest of my body, my heart breaks completely in two.
Riley did it. He succeeded. It's not that I thought Edward wants me in the same way I want him, but now, that'll never happen. All because if my insecurities and weakness.
I didn't leave him soon enough.
I'm at my lowest, the only place to go now is up. It's time for me to just deal, one painful second at a time.
"Is there more?" I try and look at the positives. Bones, cuts, and bruises, they will all heal. My heart may take a while to feel anything but hopelessness, but at least I'm alive.
"Just bruises, Bella. Your back has a really bad one. He must have kicked you, but somehow nothing more is broken. And you have a few chipped teeth. Those can be fixed later."
"How long have I been out?" I run my tongue along my teeth and feel the sharp edges.
Rosalie looks at the clock, "About five hours. Not long, but you are pretty doped up, so rest."
Edward's quiet and stiff. I don't like it. I squeeze his hand and he gives me a small smile.
I'll take it.
"There's some good news, Bella. They got him. Riley's already locked up. He had a few warrants out for his arrest in Texas, so he won't be out of jail for a long time." Rosalie cell begins to ring in her purse, and she answers it. She looks at me once more before turning and leaving the room.
Edward shifts slightly in the bed beside me, and I wince. "Sorry, sorry, sorry." He looks at me with such pain on his face that somehow it hurts my heart even more.
I shake my head. "S'okay, just don't leave me." I know I sound desperate, but I don't care.
"I'm not going anywhere. But will you tell me something?"
"How long?" His voice is unsteady and pleading. "How long has he been hitting you?"
My eyes meet his, and there are slow tears rolling down his cheeks. I'm so disappointed in myself. I did this to Edward.
"He's never hit me before. He's always been demanding, and sometimes he's pushy and mean, but..." I swallow hard, and my voice is trembling. "He's never punched or hit me or anything. I promise. I was gonna' break it off with him. I hate him, Edward. I'm sorry...I'm so, so sorry."
Then he's gently holding me to him again. He's whispering in my ear for me not to apologize and that everything's going to work out. He's reassuring me that he's here, and that I'm safe now. His touch is both comfort and relief.
I love him. In all the right ways as well as the wrong, I love Edward Cullen.
"Ms. Swan, good to see you awake. I'm Dr. Denali. How's your pain?"
Edward starts to sit up and pull away from me, but I grab onto his arm. "Um, sometimes it's worse than other times. For the most part, right now it's manageable."
The doctor begins to look me over, her fingers touching the bandages on my face. I don't take my eyes off Edward as she checks over me, I need something to ground me. He's watching us and his face is pulled together like he's the one hurting.
She lifts the bed sheet to touch my side and my leg. Then his eyes settle on mine, they lock and I feel safe. I can't decipher the emotions swirling in his eyes.
"On a scale of one to ten, one being none and ten being the worst, what would you rate your worst pain?" The doctor shines a laser light in my eyes and I'm forced to look away from Edward.
"A seven, I guess. I have a high pain tolerance." I blindly reach around the doctor for Edward again. He gently holds my hand and caresses it.
She nods, "I need to talk to you about your condition." The machine beeps faster as panic once again takes over. I increase the hold on his hand. I don't know how much more I can take.
Her eyes jump over to Edward, suggesting he give us some privacy. He's hesitant, but he lessens his hold on me and begins to stand.
"No! Whatever it is, you can say it in front of him." I look to Edward and mouth,'stay.'
He nods and scoots over to sit in the empty chair by my bedside. Our hands still wound together, holding me together, inside and out.
"Well, the baby is fine, but in your traumatic state, your risk will increase for miscarriage. Especially if you are under an increased amount of stress because of your pain-"
"WAIT! What? Did you... did you say baby? Oh no, am ...am I pregnant?" My head spins and I think I must have heard her wrong. That can't be right. I can't be...
"Yes, around seven weeks. I'm sorry. I thought you knew." The doctor's face falls.
And so does my heart.
My hopelessness drowns out the noise of the room, and my world in that very second, crumbles right out from beneath me. Nothing is right, it's all wrong. My future is slipping away and I don't know what to do.
I can't handle a baby. I can't handle any of this.
I just want to wake up and this all be a nightmare.
My daddy's dead. Emmett's thousands of miles away. Edward probably thinks I'm a slut, a useless tramp who isn't worth the bother and I've been beaten to nothingness. What good can come of my life?
I'm not even sure tomorrow's worth it.
"Once you forget what you're worth, you forget what you deserve."
Next chapter is MUCH lighter, I promise!
Special thanks go to Amieforshort, fiftyownsme, & wytchwmn75 for prereading this chapter for me eons ago.
Also kikikinz & wandb_ff waved their beta pens and made this better than it was.
My wifey, beegurl13, whom I don't know what I'd do without, made me a banner and encouraged me and preread for me and listened to me grumble and all sorts of stuff. I'm so lucky.
-*Um, if you review before the next chapter posts, I will send you a snippet of an EPOV from this chapter in a reply!*-
Remember, it's only 3 chapters complete. Chapter 2 is with beta's now!