A/N: So, this is the last chapter of this little prequel. I hope you've enjoyed it, even though it's been mostly depressing. Just have in mind that Edward will get his happy ending. Since this chapter will be EPOV, I'd like to put out a little warning. Like I've said before, there will be no graphic details, but there will be mention of child abuse and rape. But if you could handle 'Loner', you should be fine. Just make sure to have some tissues ready. Thank you all so much for reading, and remember that I love to hear from you. If you want to make sure not to miss the outtakes of the main story that I'm planning to do eventually, just put me on author alert, or follow me on Twitter. I'm NillaSwan.
I tried to listen to Carlisle as he kept assuring me I was safe and that he and Esme would be just down the hall if I needed them. But there were a million thoughts rushing through my head, all at once, making it hard to focus. I vaguely remembered him telling me about his house in Forks when we were still at the hospital in Chicago, but I never imagined it would be this big.
Not that I had any plans of wandering off by myself, but I was pretty sure that if I did leave my room, it wouldn't take long before I ended up lost. It had taken the Cullens nearly an hour to show me around this afternoon, and I had instantly forgotten everything as soon as they were done. Right now, I didn't even think I'd be able to find my way down to the kitchen if I tried.
Again, I wouldn't be going anywhere. I was tired and I just wanted to go to sleep. And the bed was really comfortable. My eyelids started to feel heavy and I yawned. Carlisle asked me if I wanted him to close the door when he left and I told him yes. After saying good night, he quietly walked out of the room and closed the door behind him.
I couldn't remember my mom ever saying good night to me. Thinking of my mom now just made me sad, so I quickly blocked all those thoughts out. It wasn't like she would be lying awake thinking about me. She was probably just happy I was gone. Well, that made two of us. I felt myself drifting off, and my last thought was that it was okay to relax, that James wouldn't be coming into my room tonight.
Footsteps out in the hall. Coming closer. The doorknob turning, slowly, and the sound of his heavy breathing as he steps into my room, approaching me without a word. Nowhere to run. And I can't hide. I squeeze my eyes shut, pretending to be asleep. It won't stop him, though. He always gets what he wants.
Please, don't. Just leave me alone tonight. I'm scared.
No one cares.
I feel like I can't breathe. It hurts. And I know the pain won't stop until he's done. It's like every time he's doing this, he's taking something from me. I'm not sure what, all I know is that I won't get it back. Every time when it's over, I feel a little more empty inside, and I wonder what's going to happen when there's nothing more for him to take.
When there's nothing left of me, will he finally leave me alone? Or will he just keep going? Why won't my mom stop him from hurting me?
Because I deserve it. Because I'm bad. But I don't know why. He won't tell me. If he did, then I could change. I could be good. Anything to make him stop.
He says it's my fault, that I give him no choice but to punish me. But if he doesn't want to do this, then why does he always look so pleased? His voice is saying one thing, but his eyes are saying another. He likes it when I'm bad, so he can punish me. But I don't understand why.
I don't understand any of this. And I'm scared.
No one will help me. Because this is what I deserve.
I'm bad. But I don't want to be.
It hurts. Will he ever be done?
Stop thinking. Stop feeling.
I need to be quiet. If I cry, he will get angry. And then he will hurt me even more. But it's so hard to be quiet when it feels like I'm being ripped apart from inside. It's better when he's just hitting me. That won't take as long, and after the first couple of blows, I feel mostly numb. And it won't make me feel as ashamed and dirty afterwards.
I feel sick to my stomach, but I can't throw up until he's gone. I want to scream for him to stop, but I can't do that either. I can't do anything but wait.
He's so heavy. And he smells of alcohol. It's disgusting. I struggle to keep from retching. But he notices what I'm doing and tighten his grip around my neck, pushing my face harder down into the pillow and grunts into my ear. Tears are burning in my eyes, but I have learned not to let them fall. Not until he's gone.
I can't take it much longer. Why won't he ever stop?
The pain just gets worse.
Esme and Carlisle knew about my nightmares. They'd have to be both blind and deaf not to, seeing how my screaming woke them up almost every night. It was embarrassing, but there was nothing I could do about it. It wasn't like I could just make the bad dreams go away, no matter how badly I wanted to.
They were always understanding, never getting upset with me even though they kept getting their sleep disrupted. I suspected they felt sorry for me, and I wondered how they would feel if they knew I wasn't as innocent as they seemed to think. If they realized I was so worthless that no one could love me, not even my own mother.
But so far they were being nice to me. They told me how they wanted me to feel at home here with them, and they never got angry or yelled. I knew it wouldn't last, though. Sooner or later, they would see what a disappointment I really was, and then they would send me away. The only question was, would they send me back to Chicago, or someplace else?
I couldn't allow myself to get attached to them and hope that I'd get to stay. It would just hurt too much when I had to leave. Because I had to admit that if I tried, I could probably learn to like it here.
Alice and Emmett made me a bit uncomfortable, though. They seemed nice and all, but I wasn't really used to being around other kids. Of course I went to school, but I would always do my best to keep to myself. There was no point in trying to make friends, because then I'd have to come up with some explanation why I could never invite them over to play.
That wouldn't be a problem with Alice and Emmett, since I was already living with them, but I still refused to let them come too close. Obviously, both of them were curious about me, and Carlisle had asked me if he could tell them a little more about 'my situation' as he liked to call it. I told him no.
If they didn't hate me yet, they sure would if they knew how bad I really was. Emmett always seemed eager for me to do things with him, but I turned him down every time. Surely he wouldn't like me if he knew the truth. And I didn't want to like him. It would just make it harder in the long run. Because it wouldn't last.
Esme asked me one morning - when there were just the two of us in the room - if I used to have many friends back in Chicago. I didn't like talking about myself, but it seemed like she really wanted to know, so I felt like I should at least give her something. "Not really," I told her with a shrug, not wanting to explain that I had always done my best to keep it that way.
Her eyes turned sad, although I wasn't sure why. "Oh. Well, you'll be starting school here next week. I'm sure you will make plenty of friends." She smiled softly.
The thought of starting a new school made me feel nauseous. Everyone would stare at me and wonder why I was suddenly living with the Cullens. They would see right away that I didn't fit in, that I didn't belong here. That I would never be good enough to fit in anywhere.
But I couldn't bring myself to tell Esme how I really felt. That would just lead to things I definitely didn't want to think about. So I just nodded, avoiding to look her in the eyes.
Of course, she noticed. "Sweetie, are you nervous about school? You don't have to be. Remember, Alice and Emmett will be there, so it's not like you won't know anyone. Everything will be fine."
I really doubted that. At least all of my bruises were gone now, so no one should be able to see what happened by just looking at me. But still, all it would take was for someone to bump into me, and then everyone would realize I was nothing like the rest of them.
Ever since the hospital, I couldn't stand anyone touching me. At least I thought that's when it started. Of course, before that, the only person who would ever touch me was James, and I couldn't stand that, either. But it wasn't like I had any choice. I couldn't exactly make him stop.
I had a choice now. Carlisle and Esme knew how I felt, and they would immediately back away whenever they saw my reaction. It made me feel stupid and embarrassed, but at the same time, I felt for the first time like I was at least somewhat in control. They wouldn't come too close, because I wouldn't let them, and therefore, they couldn't hurt me.
Deep down, I didn't really think they would. But it was like my brain would just shut down sometimes, making me forget. Like there was another voice in my head, a voice that wasn't mine, that would tell me things I realized later wasn't real. But it was more than real at the time. And everything else just disappeared. It was scary, and I didn't know how to explain it to Carlisle and Esme.
As if there wasn't enough things wrong with me already.
"Do you want some more scrambled eggs?" Esme asked, snapping me out of my thoughts. I wasn't really hungry but nodded anyway, grateful for the distraction. She had finished eating her breakfast but insisted to stay and keep me company while I ate.
Back in Chicago - I had stopped thinking of that place as home - I pretty much had to make my own breakfast and eat by myself while my mom and James were off somewhere. It was okay, though, I actually preferred it that way. There was always something to eat in the house, and that was good enough for me.
But Esme was nothing like my mom. She actually wanted to know what kind of food I liked, and she would always cook and bake whenever she had a moment to spare.
My mom never baked. She would try to make dinner every once in a while, but I didn't care much for her cooking. Neither did James, so we ate a lot of take-out. Of course, they never bothered to ask me what I wanted. I didn't care, as long as I didn't have to starve.
"This is good," I told Esme quietly, nodding at the eggs on my plate and watched how her entire face lit up. I didn't really understand why my words seemed to make her so happy, but I liked seeing her smile. It was nice. My mom rarely smiled. At least not at me. I suddenly felt a big lump form in my throat and put my fork down, unable to eat another bite.
This was nice. But I shouldn't enjoy it too much. Because it wouldn't last.
I squeezed my eyes shut, struggling to pull some air into my lungs. There were kids everywhere and I could feel them all looking at me. I wanted to yell at them to go away, but my mouth felt too dry and no sound would come out. I opened my eyes again, desperately searching the hallway for the nearest exit, but the main entrance seemed to be miles away and there were too many people blocking my way.
The walls were closing in on me and I quickly ducked my head as I started to feel dizzy. Panic welled up inside me, and as much as I wanted to run, I found that I couldn't bring my feet to move. I slid down to the floor, covering my ears with my hands as I tried to shut the noise out.
Someone touched my shoulder, causing me to jump, and I cried out in alarm. Then I heard someone say my name and slowly raised my head, my heart beating so hard it actually hurt. I vaguely recognized the woman crouching down in front of me, she was a teacher, but I couldn't remember her name. She was speaking to me, I could see her lips move, but I had a hard time focusing on what she was saying.
Suddenly she stood up, and I was relieved to see that most of the kids were gone. She asked me to follow her to the nurse's office, insisting it would be more quiet for me there while she called my parents. But she must have seen the confusion and fear in my eyes, because she quickly raised her hands, shook her head and blurted out, "I'm sorry, of course I meant Dr. Cullen."
I instantly felt some of the tension leave my body and nodded in acceptance. I didn't want to stay here. If she called Carlisle, maybe he could come and get me. I didn't want to cause more trouble for him, but right now, the thought of having to go back to class made my stomach turn. He might get annoyed, but I'd rather take that than having to stay at school.
Carlisle didn't get annoyed. It didn't take very long before he showed up, and after speaking briefly with the teacher and the school nurse, he just turned to me and said, "Let's go home, son." I let out a sigh of relief, eagerly following him out of the school building and towards his car.
Later that night, he asked me what happened. I felt pretty stupid, not sure what to tell him. The truth was, I didn't actually remember.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled, keeping my eyes on the floor. "I won't do that again." A part of me realized it was probably not a good idea to make promises I might not be able to keep, especially since I wasn't really sure what happened, but I didn't know what else to say.
"Edward, listen to me..." Carlisle paused. "Look at me, please?" I reluctantly obeyed. "There's no need to apologize - you haven't done anything wrong. Remember what I told you about these panic attacks? They are simply a manifestation of the trauma you suffered back in Chicago. I know it must be frightening when it happens, but I'm positive that in time, you will learn how to control them."
I swallowed hard, trying to understand what he was saying. He went on, calmly, "I was just hoping you could explain to me what set it off today. I want to understand, Edward, so I can help you."
It sounded good and all, and more than anything, I wished I could just tell him what was wrong so he could fix it. Fix me. But I couldn't do that, because I didn't know what was wrong with me in the first place. I was messed up somehow, and I obviously couldn't function like a normal person.
For one thing, I had never heard of someone who couldn't stomach being touched. But the mere thought made my skin crawl.
"You can't help me," I whispered. My eyes were stinging, but I wouldn't cry in front of him. I didn't deserve any help. I had brought this on myself. Whatever the problem was, it was my fault. That's what James always said. And I saw no reason to doubt him.
James wasn't here. He was in jail, almost two thousand miles away. But I could still hear him. He would still tell me what a screw-up I was, that I needed to be punished.
And I still believed him.
Watching everyone around me being happy and affectionate was hard. Every once in a while, Esme would ruffle Emmett's hair, kiss Alice's cheek, or slip her arms around Carlisle's waist, and I was torn between turning my head away in revulsion or stare in fascination. I didn't think they were trying to rub my nose in the fact that I could never have what they did, but sometimes, that's how it felt.
Esme would always get the saddest expression on her face when her eyes met mine during those moments. I didn't want her to feel sorry for me. It wasn't her fault I was screwed up and emotionally retarded - it was mine. And I would never admit to anyone that I envied them. I didn't have the right. Because no matter how much they would insist I was a part of their family, I knew I wasn't. Not really.
I used to have a family of my own. My stepfather would beat me and punish me, and my mom would ignore me. Maybe I didn't like it, but that was the family I had, the family I deserved. Not the Cullens.
They were too good for me.
If I would ever for a moment try to fool myself into thinking I belonged here with them, it didn't take long before I heard James' cold voice in my head, reminding me I was wrong.
"You're a disappointment to your mother."
"You can't ever do anything right."
"You're bad, and you need to be punished."
Most of the time, I had no idea why he was yelling at me, because I really tried to do everything he said. But it was just never enough.
Sometimes when I woke up screaming in the middle of the night, Carlisle would be there, trying to calm me down. Afterwards, he would all but beg me to tell him about my nightmares, but I always refused. He knew about what James did to me, most of it anyway, and he tried to encourage me to talk about it. But I was too ashamed. Besides, I didn't want to talk. I just wanted to forget.
"I can see you don't want to be here." Dr. Tanner leaned back in her chair, watching me thoughtfully. "Edward, I know you don't like to think about your past, but it won't go away just because you ignore it. You've been coming here for almost two months now, and basically, we're still standing at the same place we were at the beginning. You need to start acknowledging what happened to you."
I just pressed my lips closer together and turned my head away, refusing to look at her. I hated this. I hated coming here every week, but Carlisle and Esme insisted I needed therapy, so here I was. Hating every second of it. I wished I could simply tell them I didn't want to go, but they seemed so convinced it would be good for me, and I didn't have the heart to tell them how wrong they were.
Every once in a while, Carlisle would ask me a question about my past. Sometimes I answered him, and sometimes I didn't. Either way, he didn't push. I was okay with that, knowing it was up to me whether or not I had to tell him anything. He had made that clear right from the start.
That was why I had such a hard time to understand why he would make me see all these therapists. All they did was push, pushing me to talk to them, even though they tried to convince me we were doing it on my terms. Bullshit! I didn't want to talk. And I definitely didn't want to discuss my past with a stranger.
I had been seeing four or five different therapists by now, and so far, I had hated every one of them. Maybe 'hated' was a strong word, but they all made me feel uncomfortable. I didn't like them. And I didn't like how they kept trying to get me to 'open up'. I realized it was their job, but still. It just made me angry.
All of them had said the same thing - they were trying to help me, but what they failed to see was that I didn't need their help. They couldn't fix what was wrong with me. I was a bad person, period. Talking about it wouldn't change anything. I glanced at the large clock on the wall, willing the hands to move faster so my hour would be up. It didn't work. I wondered if maybe it was broken.
"Let's talk about guilt," Dr. Tanner suggested softly. "It's a very common feeling when you have suffered abuse by the hand of a family member. But it's important for you to remember-"
"Stop it!" I cut her off, glaring at her. "I don't wanna talk about this! You don't get it."
She leaned forward. "Then explain it to me. Please? I want to understand how you feel. What you're thinking." When I stubbornly shook my head, she sighed. "I can help you, Edward. But only if you talk to me. It's not healthy for you to keep it all locked up inside."
I looked out the window, ignoring her. She didn't understand, and I wasn't going to spell it out to her. So maybe she was right about me feeling guilty. Why wouldn't I? It was my fault. But it was the word 'abuse' that caused me to snap. I hated James for hurting me, but he did it because I was bad, because I deserved it. That wasn't abuse, it was punishment. He had made sure I knew the difference.
But that final night, he went too far. That night, he didn't stop until the police showed up. My memories after that were foggy - Carlisle said it was because I had slipped in and out of consciousness - but one thing I remembered was my mother's voice, yelling at them to let go of her husband. She wasn't mad at James for hurting me - she was mad at the police for taking him away.
She knew I deserved it. That's why she didn't want me.
And that was something I was too ashamed to ever admit out loud.
I knew people were talking about me behind my back. Forks was a small town, and rumors traveled fast. Most of my classmates avoided me like the plague, which suited me just fine. Then there were a few idiots who always thought it was funny to provoke me until I lost it. I tried to ignore them most of the time, but sometimes it just became too much.
Although I would freak out if anyone as much as attempted to touch me, I had no problem hitting someone who pissed me off. And I would keep pounding on them until they surrendered, not giving them a chance to strike back. That way I was in control. I wasn't trying to pick fights, but trouble had a way of finding me. I was used to it by now.
And these days, it didn't take much for me to snap.
Emmett confronted me about it one day after school, when he found out I had been suspended for two days after punching Tyler Crowley in the face. He wanted to know why I did it, and I told him - quite heatedly - to mind his own fucking business. It wasn't like he actually cared or anything. And frankly, I didn't want him to.
"Don't you ever get tired of being an ass?" he asked me angrily.
I flipped him off, and that was when Carlisle entered the room. He took one look at us and demanded to know what was going on.
"Nothing," Emmett muttered. When Carlisle looked at me, I shook my head in agreement. He sighed, but didn't push it any further. At least that's what I thought until I was about to follow Emmett out of the room, and he asked me to stay for a moment.
I tensed up in alarm, but knew I couldn't refuse. My stomach churned and I felt like I was going to be sick. I knew I was in trouble.
"Tell me what happened at school." He didn't sound mad, just concerned.
I shrugged, not sure what to say. "I don't know. I got pissed off."
"I see." Carlisle was silent for a moment. "I'll be honest with you, Edward. I worry about your temper. You always get so angry these days."
I just glared at him, frustrated, because I didn't have any good answer to his statement. It was true, though, I was constantly pissed off, and most of the time, I didn't even know why. Carlisle seemed to sense my inner turmoil, because his face softened and he went on in a low, almost pleading voice, "Tell me what to do, son. How can I make it easier for you? What do you need?"
He didn't understand. Why couldn't he just accept that I was a lost cause? There was nothing he could do.
And I didn't deserve his concern.
I heard his sharp intake of air as I just shook my head and turned my back on him. But he didn't protest or try to stop me as I left the room without another word.
"You know you can always join us for lunch." Alice sounded hopeful as she followed me through the crowded hallway. I just rolled my eyes, not bothering to respond.
If she hadn't figured out by now that Hell would freeze over before I sat my foot in the fucking cafeteria, she probably never would. It would just be a waste of time pointing it out to her. Besides, it most likely wouldn't stop her from keep pestering me about it, even if she knew how I really felt. She could never just take a hint and let the matter drop.
Alice refused to accept that I just wanted to be left alone. Giving her a warning look, I stomped off and left her standing in the middle of the hallway, heading for my locker to pick up my books. Not that I was that eager to get to class, I just wanted to get away from Alice and her annoying looks of sympathy and compassion that I didn't understand, that I had never asked for.
I didn't want her pity, and I sure as hell didn't want to be her fucking charity case.
Casting an annoyed look at my watch, I cursed to myself as I realized I had to hurry if I didn't want to be late for my first class. I was never late for class. Either I made it before the bell rang, or I didn't go at all. The thought of walking into a full classroom where everyone's eyes would be on me as I had to cross the room to get to my seat was enough to make my stomach lurch.
I hurriedly grabbed the books I needed and then looked wistfully at my watch again, wishing I had enough time for a smoke. It wasn't that I necessarily enjoyed the taste of the cigarettes, but somehow, I found it relaxing. Plus, it helped adding to my badass reputation, which I hoped would keep driving people away from me.
But unfortunately, with only a few minutes left to spare, I had to give up the idea. Letting out a defeated sigh, I was just about to step around a corner when someone bumped right into me, causing me to gasp in surprise and stumble back. My heart started beating wildly in my chest and my mind instantly cried out in alarm at the contact.
It was a girl, and I didn't recognize her. She had brown hair and her eyes were the same warm color as chocolate. Her cheeks flushed pink as we stared at each other, and for a brief moment, I felt like the world had just stopped. Then I snapped out of it, anger welling up inside me, and I took a threatening step towards her, although I really wanted to run the other direction.
But what really scared me was that a part of me actually wanted to stay.
"Watch where you're going, bitch," I hissed, glaring at her. As soon as the harsh words had left my mouth, I regretted them, which was totally out of character for me and frightened me even more.
And the hurt look on her face didn't exactly make things better. It bothered me, for reasons I couldn't comprehend. I was confused. And I didn't like the feeling one bit.
"W-what?" she stuttered, her face crimson now.
"Just get the fuck out of my way," I snapped and quickly stepped past her, not looking back once, even though I could feel her large eyes burning into my back.
The hurt expression on her face kept haunting me as I strode through the corridor, although I did my best to ignore it, telling myself that I didn't care.