Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or these characters.
Streams of moonlight bathed the window seat in muted light. The beams were just enough to light Isabella Cullen's face as she stared out into the darkened night. The ticking clock in the hallway chimed once, alerting her to the late hour. She clutched her running laptop to her chest as tears streamed down her face. It was time. He had passed the imaginary deadline she'd set in her head.
Slowly opening the laptop and brushing her silky mahogany hair behind her ears, she logged into her husband's email account. She knew that being a doctor would keep him away from his family for endless hours, but now that he had a private practice, she assumed he'd be home more regularly. She was apparently mistaken. She almost preferred him to stay away from the house and their children, as his attitude as of late was less than pleasant. He was withdrawn and miserable. For months, she'd assumed that it was something she had done. She took to fixing his favorite meals several nights during the week, but when that didn't work, she took extra steps to assure he received extra attention. She'd assumed his workload was weighing him down so she planned massages with exotic oils. She'd planned special dinners just for the two of them to enjoy after the children were in bed. Nothing would snap him out of the doldrums he seemed to be experiencing. As his attitude became nastier, she in turn paid less attention to him.
Only recently did she suspect he'd cheated on her. She tried to avoid him when he was home because she didn't have the energy to fight with him any longer. She couldn't take the rejection any longer. He'd broken her heart into a million pieces.
Scrolling through his emails, she warred with herself. She knew she should feel guilty for invading his privacy, but the guilt wasn't coming. The only emotion she was feeling was panic. She clicked on the first email from a woman named Carolina Huffington. Her heart sped as her eyes greedily took in the words contained in the email.
Meeting you has been the best thing in my life. You found me during a very bad time in my life. I can't thank you enough for saving me. You've saved not only my heart, but also my soul.
I really hope we can meet again soon. I had a fabulous time – who knew that hole in the wall diner had the best food I would have ever eaten! The pier was just magical. You really know how to show a girl a good time. I hope to hear from you soon!
She quickly closed out of the email and shut her laptop down. The motions were forced and methodical as her brain seemed frozen in place. She stared out into the night unblinking and unthinking. Words slowly ran through her head as her brain began to restart. Memories assaulted her and squeezed her heart.
Twelve Years Earlier
"Come on, Bella," Edward cried. "This place has the best food. You have no idea how good it is until you try it. You're always the one telling me not to judge a book by its cover." He smirked as she huffed and crossed her arms.
"Edward, it is literally a hole in the wall," she pointed to the diner behind him.
"It is, but we need a study break and it's close to the dorm. The food is great. I promise you." He pouted slightly with his hands pressed together in front of his chest mimicking a praying position. "After we eat, I'll take you to the pier for a walk," he added.
"Fine," she breathed as he laughed and cheered before slinging his arm around her waist.
"You won't regret it," he murmured into her ear.
Breath wasn't coming so easily now as the flashes of passed time ran in and out of her brain. She wanted to turn the clock back and erase the email from her brain. She didn't want to know if he had cheated on her. While the words within the email didn't confirm a physical relationship, she wasn't stupid. If he hadn't cheated on her yet, it was only a matter of time before it actually happened. He'd at least cheated on her emotionally.
Beads of sweat broke out on her forehead as she pressed her head between her knees trying to take deep breaths of air. She gulped in the oxygen as fat tears dropped to the floor. She was livid with him. He was such a selfish bastard. They had two children who loved and depended on him for support. Granted, he wasn't around that often for them, but when he was, he was wonderful with them. At that moment, she hated him. She'd given him ten of the best years of her life. She'd never get those years back, and while she'd never trade her children for those ten years, it didn't lessen the anger bubbling to the surface. She felt that sadness had overwhelmed her anger for too long now.
She placed her laptop on the floor and retreated to the master bathroom to pop an Ambien. Within the hour, she had slipped into a restless sleep. She begged for the nothingness of sleep to take her under so she could just forget about him for a while, but he plagued her dreams.
The next morning she woke to sunlight streaming through the same window that bathed her in moonlight just hours prior. Her husband was snoring lightly on his side of the bed. She took a moment to observe him, trying to recall what drew her to him at the beginning of their relationship. He had rugged, sharp features with an angled jaw and perfect red lips. His hair was an array of brown and red. The thing she loved most about him was his green eyes. They were so bright and full of life, the windows to his soul. Those windows had been closed to her for some time now.
Furious energy filled her body as she narrowed her eyes at his sleeping form. She wanted to punch him in the mouth. Instead, she removed herself from the sheets and showered to prepare for her day. She had some things to take care of today and for once she was putting herself first.
After dropping her children off at school, Bella found herself in a dance studio. She'd worked at this dance studio through college. At one time, dancing was her life. She loved gliding around the room in a ballroom or salsa type fashion. A few years after she'd graduated, the studio had been sold. She knew that a man had taken over the space, but he kept the menu of options the same for the studio's students. From what she'd heard, the transition had been seamless.
"Can I help you?"
"Hi, I wanted to see about salsa lessons." Bella smiled as the man approached her. Her lips turned down and her eyes widened as the man neared her. He was gorgeous. The first thing she noticed was his jet-black hair. It was slightly longer and styled into a messy mohawk. His blue eyes were dark and deep in hue, the color saturated. He was tall as well, reaching well over six foot she'd estimated. He offered a warm crooked smile that contorted his entire face into a mask of joy.
"Ah, the dance of lovers," he chuckled. "Trying to please your man?"
Her face shifted as she thought of the cheating bastard that probably was still lying in their bed at home.
"No," she shook her head firmly and furrowed her brow in anger.
"Oh…I just…I thought," he stuttered as his eyes flashed to her left hand. She glanced down and huffed before rolling her eyes.
"I'm not trying to impress him," she snapped.
"Alright then," he said quietly. "I have some time now if you'd like to start today."
"Absolutely," she smiled once again and nodded happy with herself that she'd worn workout attire.
"May I ask what your name is?"
"Bella," she replied.
"Beautiful," he hummed. "I'm Tre." He extended his hand in greeting. She offered hers as well. He shook briefly, but didn't release her as he laced his fingers with hers and led her onto the dance floor. He placed her in the middle of the room and patted her shoulders before jogging to the stereo system in the far left corner. Pulsating Latin music filled the room as he hurried back over to her.
"Follow my lead," he murmured and placed his hand very low on her waist. She gasped and closed her eyes as warmth flooded her body. He pulled her closer to him so their lower bodies were connected. Before she could think twice, they were moving across the dance floor in a seductive dance. She focused on the hard planes of his chest that were outlined in his shirt as she avoided his face or eyes.
"This would work better if you had heels on." He leaned down and spoke directly into her ear sending a shockwave of pleasure through her. "Please wear them tomorrow," he whispered, his lips caressing her earlobe.
She took the chance and glanced up at him. Lust and want were clearly present in his features as he smiled down at her.
"You're a natural," he commented with a wink.
"I…I've taken lessons before," she offered. Her eyes refused to move from his face. They drank in his features, even more enticed with the closer view.
"You're gorgeous," he blurted.
That broke her trance and she looked down, color flushing her cheeks.
"Hey," he stopped moving and lifted her chin with his finger. "You are and it's a damn shame that whoever you're with doesn't tell you that enough to keep you from blushing at the compliment."
Her eyes welled with tears. It was certainly a damn shame that Edward didn't find her beautiful any longer.
"No, no, Mama. No crying," he cooed while wiping the tears from her cheeks.
The music changed suddenly from the fast-paced Latin beat to a quiet song.
"Let me get that," he whispered. She grabbed his hand and shook her head, cocking her head to listen to the tune.
Help, I have done it again.
I have been here many times before.
Hurt myself again today.
And the worst part is there's no one else to blame.
She closed her eyes as they started swaying to the music.
Be my friend.
Wrap me up.
I am small.
Warm me up.
And breathe me.
Tears cascaded down her cheeks again as they moved silently around the room. Tre's hands worked their way into her hair as he tilted her head up. Her eyes slowly opened as his lips descended and pressed against hers. Time seemed to slow down as their lips molded together effortlessly. The pressure was gentle and wanting, but not pushing. Her eyes slid closed just as his tongue traced the seam of her lips. Without thinking she opened up to him, and for the first time in a long time she felt wanted, needed, cherished, beautiful.
Ouch, I have lost myself again.
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found.
Yeah, I think that I might break.
Lost myself again and I feel unsafe.
She breathed into the kiss, letting herself go, releasing the anger and just feeling the euphoria of the connection. As the song ended, she broke away from him and opened her eyes. His fingers caressed her cheeks with a gentle pressure.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I couldn't help myself. You…there's just something about you."
"It's okay," she laughed feeling lighter than she had in ages. "It's okay. Same time tomorrow?" she asked as she walked backward to the door. He nodded and smiled. She skipped back to her car with her mind clear. Briefly, she wondered where the guilt was and when it was going to creep over her.
Weeks had passed and she'd continued to see Tre at regular intervals. While the dancing was seductive and beautiful, she never let things escalate between them even though the lust was present in every move they both made. She didn't allow him to kiss her again, but she did allow his hands to travel her body in the most erotic ways.
She wasn't certain if her husband had noticed the change she'd gone through, but she was willing to bet that he was clueless. His schedule had changed somewhat and he'd started to come home earlier and earlier in the evening. The children were overjoyed with the extended time with their father. Bella was happy for the distraction as she worked in her basement dance studio every evening. She felt her body transforming, becoming more svelte and toned.
She was partial to salsa, but had been practicing several types of dance trying to perfect her techniques as well as for the release. Her stress levels had been greatly reduced since that day she'd decided to take up dance again.
"What are you up to?" Edward asked as he entered her basement studio.
"Dancing," she answered flatly, spinning across the room.
"Yeah, I can see that," he chuckled. She rolled her eyes as she continued her fluid movements. "I'm glad we soundproofed down here," he pointed out lamely.
She huffed through her nose and turned to face him. "What do you want?" she asked.
"I…I just wanted to talk," he stammered, taken back by her harsh tone.
"I don't really have anything to talk to you about," she snapped and turned her back on him, effectively ending the conversation.
Days had gone by with Edward trying to make small talk with Bella, but she refused. If the conversation wasn't about their children or concerning their household, Bella couldn't be bothered. She spent her time in her dance studio as well as with Tre perfecting her moves.
On a particularly sunny day, Bella found herself lounging on their backyard deck waiting for the children to come home from school. She busied herself with reading a novel and humming along to the music she'd put on in the background. She jumped as her phone rang and startled her. Checking the screen she immediately answered when she realized that it was the children's school calling.
"Hello," Bella answered, panicked.
"Mrs. Cullen, this is Regina White, the school nurse at Littlewood Elementary School. There's been an accident and Gracie has been rushed to the Emergency Room. I think she'll be alright, but you'll have to head down to the hospital now."
"I'm on my way," she rushed as she raced into the house and grabbed her keys to her SUV. She was at the same hospital that Edward used to work at in less than ten minutes. As she rushed into the ER in a panic, she was greeted by her husband.
"What happened?" she asked breathlessly.
"She fell off the jungle gym. It looks like a fracture in her wrist. She's alright, but they're going to have to cast it," Edward spoke in his calm, reassuring doctor voice and Bella wanted to smack him for it. She knew he thought he was being helpful and keeping his emotions under control, but this was their child. He should have some worry or panic surfacing.
"Where is she?" she cried. Edward grabbed his wife's hand and laced their fingers together giving her a reassuring squeeze before leading her into one of the partitioned areas.
"Oh baby," Bella cooed as Edward pulled the curtain back revealing their daughter.
"I'm okay, Momma," she cried quietly. "I fell off the jungle gym. I wasn't being careful." She pouted and started to cry, as she was sure that a scolding would be sure to follow.
"Sweetie, it's okay. Accidents happen. I'm just glad that you're all right."
"Dr. Cullen," a woman with blonde hair came into the room holding a chart.
"Dr. Denali," he nodded curtly as she started to examine Gracie's arm.
"We'll get you wrapped up and you'll be good to go, dolly," the doctor said with a warm smile. "What color do you want?"
"Pink, please," Gracie said softly.
Gracie's arm was casted soon after as Bella was handed a stack of release paperwork and aftercare instructions.
"Let's get you home, sweet pea," Bella said quietly as she led Gracie out of the hospital. She could feel her husband following behind them, but she didn't turn around to question him. Once they arrived at Bella's vehicle, Edward strapped Grace into the back seat and closed the door softly.
"Bella," he called before she could open the driver's side door, "I think we need to talk tonight." For the first time in months, she really looked at her husband. The purple bruises under his eyes and the sallow color of his features threw her. She'd not noticed him looking so dejected until now.
"Okay," Bella sighed. "When will you be home?"
"My PA is finishing the rest of my appointments for the day. I'll go pick Charlie up from school and then I'll be home."
Bella nodded and got into her vehicle before driving off, leaving her husband in the parking lot of the hospital. She could feel a sense of foreboding wash over her, but she wasn't exactly sure what it was stemming from. The panic that had raced through her blood only a short time before was now absent, leaving her drained and thankful for the health and well-being of her daughter.
As she unloaded Gracie from the truck and set her up in the living room with a snack and some cartoons, she started on dinner. The task left her mind open and the wheels to start turning. Her spirit felt deflated as possibilities of losing her family galloped through her mind. As much as she despised her husband at the moment, she could not imagine her life without him. She'd made the decision several weeks ago to ask him for a divorce, but hadn't called the lawyer yet. Something within her was stalling and she just sat back and waited for the proper time, but now she wasn't so sure that it was the right thing to do. Perhaps they could work through their problems and become the couple they once were. While she knew it would take time to forgive him, she wondered if he'd ever forgive her. She'd cheated. She'd kissed another man and in turn broken their marriage vows. She hadn't thought of the repercussions as it happened. Now she was feeling heartbroken all over again, waiting for the ultimate rejection that she was certain would come.
A bottle of wine, half consumed, sat on the dining room table between Bella and Edward. She stared into her glass waiting for him to start the conversation. Their children were in bed and the evening had descended into night.
"Did you cheat on me?" Bella blurted as the silence stretched on.
"Wh…what?" he stammered. "Why would you think that?"
"Who is Carolina Huffington?" she questioned angrily. Edward's face paled at the name as he swallowed hard.
"How do you know that name?" he asked quietly.
"I asked the first question here and you've not answered it," she pointed out dodging the question of her discovering Carolina Huffington for as long as she could.
"She's my therapist and no, I have not cheated on you."
"You…your therapist?" she asked in disbelief. "Since when did you start seeing a therapist?"
"Since I couldn't deal with my past," he admitted quietly.
"What do you mean?" she asked in confusion.
"Bella, there are some things that you don't know about me, things that happened when I was in high school."
She waited calmly trying to decipher if he was going to continue or offer any other information. He stared silently into his wine glass; his eyes glazed over as his mind took him elsewhere.
"When I was seventeen I got my girlfriend pregnant and I paid her to have an abortion," he blurted without removing his eyes from his wine glass.
Bella was speechless. The words rolled around in her head for several moments as she stared unblinking at her husband.
"I have struggled with it ever since she had the procedure done. I have struggled for the last seven years. When Charlie was born, it wasn't so bad, but once Gracie came along the guilt took over. I felt like I didn't deserve them. I still struggle with feeling that I don't deserve them. I don't deserve you either, Bella," he said quietly and finally looked up from his wine glass.
Bella's mouth hung open as shock froze her features. "Why did your therapist send you an email thanking you for a wonderful evening at the diner? Why did you take her to our pier?"
"You…you read my email?" he stammered disbelievingly. She nodded and looked down in shame.
"It was an exercise to help me accept compliments. She was trying to help me to realize that I can be loved, that I do deserve my family," he sighed and rubbed his hands over his face. "She does things in a rather peculiar way, but she's helped me more than a traditional therapist ever could."
"I'm sorry," Bella said quietly. "I'm sorry for doubting you and for invading your privacy."
"It's okay. You can go read all of my emails right now. I don't have anything to hide."
"Where have you been?" she asked hoping he would realize what she meant without having to further explain herself.
"When my day at the office was over I was volunteering at the hospital. It sounds a little ridiculous, but the cancer ward is an amazing place. The strength and positive energy there is astounding. I've been spending a lot of time with the kids, which probably seems hypocritical, but Carolina thought that spending time with children that have received the short end of the stick would help me wake up to see what I have right in front of my face. It worked, but I couldn't just leave them after I'd realized what an amazing group of little people they are. So I continued to spend time with them as often as I could."
"I kissed another man," Bella cried out as silent tears trailed down her cheeks.
"What?" he bellowed. "You cheated on me?"
Bella could only nod, leaving her head bowed in sadness.
"Let me get this straight, you thought I cheated on you so you went out and cheated on me? Did you fuck him?"
"No," she trembled and looked up, absorbing the fury in his face. "He kissed me, once. I admit that it felt like payback after I read that email, but I would have never slept with him. I couldn't do it. You mean too much to me, Edward. I love you," she whimpered.
Edward stood abruptly and exited through the front door leaving Bella shaking with tears and an aching chest. She downed the remainder of the bottle of wine as she crumpled to the floor in the dining room. Sobbing breaths were the only thing escaping her and she knew she should pick herself up and get upstairs, but she couldn't move from the floor. She was the sole reason for the demise of their relationship. The only thing she was left with was hope that he would forgive her.
Bella slipped into a dreamless sleep on the dining room floor. She felt the tears soak her face even in her fitful sleep. She wasn't sure how much time had passed, but what felt like moments later she was being lifted from the floor by a pair of strong arms.
"Edward?" she asked her voice thick with sleep.
"Shh," he said softly. "Go back to sleep, baby."
"Edward, please. I c…can't handle you being mad at me. I'm so sorry. I'm sor…sorry," she hiccupped.
"I know, baby. I'm sorry too. We'll talk about it in the morning after the kids are at school. I took the day off and we're going to spend it reconnecting."
He gently laid her down in their bed and pulled her jeans from her body. She snuggled into his side as he lay beside her. "I'm sorry," she repeated before she drifted off again.
The next morning Bella felt as if she had only slept for an hour. Her eyes were swollen and her throat was hoarse and dry. The bright, cheery sun that filled their room was the complete opposite of how she was feeling. She looked over and realized that Edward wasn't in the bed with her and the tears sprung forth again. When she looked at the clock, she panicked and raced down the stairs to check if Charlie and Gracie were still home as their school day started twenty minutes ago.
"Where are the kids?" she asked breathlessly.
"At school," he offered with wide eyes and a raised eyebrow.
"I'm so sorry. I must have slept through the alarm."
He shook his head and grinned, "I let you sleep. I woke up about an hour ago and turned your alarm off. I figured you needed the extra sleep after the night you had. You cried through most of the night."
"Sorry," she apologized sheepishly.
"S'okay," he replied. "Coffee?"
"Please," she nodded and gratefully accepted the cup of steaming liquid. "Gracie was okay to go to school?"
"Yeah, she was a little sore this morning, but said she wanted to go. I gave her some Tylenol and sent her on her way with a note for the nurse to administer more at lunch time."
"I'm sorry, Edward. I'm so sorry. I can't apologize enough. There aren't words to describe how awful I feel," she rushed out, quickly changing the subject. She couldn't avoid it any longer.
"Bella, please stop. I know you're sorry. Honestly, during my freak out last night I discovered that I couldn't honestly blame you for seeking affection from someone else. Granted, I'm still pissed, but I was being such an asshole. I'd felt like shit for so long and I pushed you away countless times. You tried so hard to reach me, but it never worked. I continued to block you out and reject you. One person can only take so much rejection before it starts to really affect them mentally." He smiled warmly before setting his coffee cup down then retrieving hers and doing the same.
"I love you, Isabella Cullen, and nothing will ever change that," he murmured before cupping her face and pulling her in for a passionate kiss. "We will get through this together and intact. We'll be stronger because of it."
"I can't believe you're not angrier with me," she whispered and pulled away from him slightly. "I broke our marriage vows."
"You did, but I did the same by treating you so poorly. I'd like us to see a counselor and start with a clean slate. I'll talk to Carolina and see if she knows of anyone that she can recommend."
"I love you," Bella moaned as Edward's fingers laced into the hair at the nape of her neck. She wound her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss. "I'll never love another, Edward Anthony," she cried as his lips nipped at her neck.
His tongue traced the shell of her ear as he relished in her scent and being in her arms once again. "You're the only one for me, Bella," he admitted while nuzzling his nose into her neck. "Let me prove it to you," he begged as he started walking slowly towards the stairs. "Let me prove to you that you're mine."
Bella groaned as she latched onto his lips hungrily. Their tongues collided with force as lust flowed freely through their kiss. Edward worked to remove Bella's button down shirt with her bra following closely behind. She briefly wondered how her pants had been removed from the night before, but dismissed the thought as Edward's hands traveled the expanse of her thighs. When he reached the edge of her panties close to her core, he groaned, feeling the heat radiating from within her.
"No one can ever make you feel the way that I do," he growled as he pushed her down onto the bed.
"No, there is no one else," she moaned as his lips attacked her breasts. "Please," she cried and he quickly sat up and removed his t-shirt, jeans and boxers. Before he situated himself on the bed, he yanked her panties from her legs.
"Edward," she cried as he thrust into her.
"Fuck, baby. I missed you, I missed this," he panted as he pumped into her. He drew her legs up and around his waist while he spread his fingers around her hips pulling her onto him. She sat up gripping his shoulders and moving her hips erratically as she searched for his lips.
He crushed her to his chest as he enveloped her lips with his. She writhed on his lap, desperately searching for friction and release as their tongues tangled. "Edward," she screamed as his fingers rolled over her sensitive bundle of nerves quickly. "Oh…god," she whimpered and dropped her forehead to his shoulder.
"No, no. Look at me," he scolded as he lifted her chin with his finger. Smugness washed over him as her half lidded eyes gazed up at him. "Who do you belong to?" he demanded as his eyes darted from hers down to the connection shared between them.
"You," she shouted.
"Fuck," he groaned as her walls clamped around him tightly.
"Edward," her voice cracked as her orgasm washed over her.
"Yes," he hollered as he emptied himself into her. "Bella," he said softly fusing their lips together once again. He laid her back gently and rolled to her side never losing the connection between their mouths. "I love you."
"I love you," she replied sleepily.
"We'll get through this," he reassured her while stroking her hair from root to tip. "Our connection is too strong."
She nodded against his chest and nuzzled into him further. "I'm sorry," she repeated.
"No more of that," he stated as he lifted her face to his. "I accept your apology. I only ask that you don't see him again."
"Never," she shook her head, "I promise."
Edward nodded and placed a chaste kiss to her lips. "Sleep, my love. We'll worry about the rest later."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this one-shot! Song used in the chapter is Sia ~ Breathe Me. Thanks to Clarisa for her awesome editing skills!