Chapter Sixteen

I couldn't stop laughing at Edward's nose.

"Could you at least keep it down until we get to your house?" he demanded.

I tried to calm myself, forcing my lips to mash together so that the giggles didn't burst free. "Hey, that reminds me...look, I think it's best if you don't pull into the driveway where Charlie will see you."

"What?" he asked.

"You heard me, and you know why," I said dryly. Don't play dumb, Edward.

He looked straight ahead, his face void of emotion.

"So," I continued. "Unless you want a shotgun shoved up your ass..."

"Okay, I get it," he snapped.

Uh oh, must have pressed a button. I smirked. "Am I getting under your skin, Eddie?"

His jaw clenched and his hands tightened on the steering wheel.

I rolled my eyes. "What is it?" I demanded seriously, although I don't know why I cared.

"Nothing," he mumbled.

"Bullshit," I said, calling him out on his crap.

"I said nothing," he snapped at me, his green eyes alight with fury.

Whoa...

"Edward, what's your problem?" I demanded.

"Can we just be quiet, please?" he asked, clearly irritated with my questions.

Okay, maybe I had pushed him too far tonight.

I sighed. "I'm sorry."

"What?" he asked as if he thought he had heard me wrong.

"I'm sorry I broke your nose, and I'm sorry I asked the doctor if it would look like a flaccid penis," I clarified. "I wanted to see you hurt. I mean, I didn't set out to break your nose or anything, but maybe subconsciously...I'd been waiting for it?"

Edward glanced sideways at me, looking unsure as to how to take my strange apology. "I thought we already established I deserved that?"

I shrugged, looking out my window. "I guess I'm sorry anyway."

He didn't say anything after that, and neither did I. Minutes later, we came to a quiet stop right down the street from my house.

"I'll wait for you to make it inside before I leave," he said.

I nodded as I opened the door and hit the cool night air.

"Bella?" he asked before I got out.

"Yeah?" I asked, turning.

"Um...I don't really...I mean, I wanted to ask..." he rambled, clearly trying to word whatever he was going to say carefully.

Edward Cullen, nervous. Huh, who would have thought it? It was actually very amusing. "Ask what?"

"Could I see you tomorrow?" he blurted.

I raised an eyebrow. "I broke your nose and embarrassed you in front of your doctor. You have to go home and explain to your parents that a girl, Bella Swan no less, broke your nose. I've insulted you all night long. And you want to see me tomorrow?"

He nodded eagerly. "Yes, I would...very much so. Believe it or not, tonight was the most fun I've had in a long time. You're a very intriguing person, Bella."

I took a slow, deep breath and sat back in the seat, shutting the door gently. This was going to be an awkward conversation.

"Edward," I began. "Thank you for being there when those men tried to attack me. The truth is I was scared shitless, and I have no idea how I would have escaped them if it hadn't been for you, so thanks. But I don't think tomorrow is a good idea."

"Why not?" he demanded, looking straight into my eyes as if searching for a long, lost truth there. The truth about what I did not know.

"You know why," I said pointedly, and thankfully he had the decency to look ashamed.

"If I could just prove to you that I'm a different person..." he trailed off, his eyes intense as they burning into me.

I shook my head, taking another deep breath. "Edward, I don't doubt you've changed or that you feel guilty."

His eyes looked hopeful at my statement, but I knew I was about to crush that feeble light of hope.

"But I don't want your guilt," I told him. "I forgive you, okay? No need for you to feel guilty or try to atone for what you did back then, okay? I won't lie...some of the memories are still on reply in my head. They're humiliating and they hurt, but I'm trying to move on with my life, and you should, too."

"Guilt? You think this is about guilt?" he demanded, sounding angry and frustrated.

"Well, isn't it?" I asked simply. "You feel guilty for what you and the others did to me."

"That's true. I do hate myself for the person I was back then, but that has nothing to do with why I want to see you again, Bella," he insisted. "I like you."

For a moment, I was simply shocked. My freshman year came flooding back, and I remembered how I had pined over Edward before the bullying started when Tanya noticed me looking at her man. Then I became very angry. I was finally starting to move on, and he was dropping this on me? What head game was he playing?

"Tonight doesn't change anything," I told him grimly before getting out of the car without so much as another word or another glance back.

No one would surrender tonight.