Title: Marriage Ending
Rating & Any Warning Needed: M
# of Lyric Chosen: 16
Word Count: 4,603
Summary: When they say the split is amicable, do they really mean it? Is that even possible?
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or its characters.
How the fuck did I get here? How did things ever get this far, or this bad? If someone told me six months ago, I would be waiting for him in the office of his hatchet team because he refused to talk to me, I would have called them a liar. No, I would have called them a fucking liar and issued the beat down they deserve. But here I am, sans lawyer, ready to sign the final papers and walk away with nothing. It was never about his money and I wasn't contesting a thing, but that didn't stop the hatchet team.
A song kept running through my head, I couldn't remember the name but I knew it was an oldie. And now the times are changin' / Look at everything that's come and gone. I was pulled from my thoughts when the doors to the conference room opened. In walked my soon to be ex-husband and his team of lawyers. I couldn't believe he felt he needed a team of smarmy lawyers to deal with me…little ole Bella Swan.
The four men sat across from me in their Armani suits and smirked as they looked down on me. I have never met three of them. However, I am sure by the way they are looking at me that I do not measure up to their standards in my jeans and sweater. I could care less what they think of me, they don't know me and they have swallowed every one of his lies. Pompous pricks.
"I am Carlisle Cullen, Mrs. Black." The older man said in a voice that I'm sure was meant to put me at ease. Maybe it would have if it hadn't been in a condescending tone. "My sons, Edward and Emmett" he said pointing to a red headed man and then to a brute of a man that scared the shit out of me. I stood and shook their hands. "Are we waiting for your lawyer?" Carlisle asked and I stared at Jacob as I shook my head no.
"I don't understand why we are here if you didn't bring your lawyer." Emmett stated. I noticed all of their eyes hardened, probably wondering what game I was trying to play.
"I had a lawyer friend of mine look them over." I heard a snort from Edward, I think. "I am fully prepared to sign and end everything today." I pulled the papers from my bag as I spoke and a manila folder. "Before I do though, I have a story I would like to tell."
Jacob's eyes went wide and when he spoke it was with venom. "Just sign the fucking papers Bella; no one wants to hear your lies."
"They aren't lies Jacob and you know it. The rest of the world can believe whatever they like but here, in this room, I will tell the real story and maybe next time gentlemen you will take the time to fact check your client." Jake opens his mouth to speak and I raise my hand to stop him. "What are you afraid of Jake? They work for you and with attorney-client privilege they can't repeat a word that is said here. If you want those papers signed today you will shut up and consider yourself lucky I didn't go to the media instead. I mean, what do I have to lose at this point?"
They leaned in to talk in a huddle and when Jake nodded his head, they sat back. "Proceed with your tale Mrs. Black."
"The story is about a little girl and boy whose fathers are best friends. The dads love to fish and since both kids mothers had passed away the two were often thrown together to play. They were fast friends and very protective of each other. As they grew they became best friends, they told each other everything, shared their hopes and dreams for the future with each other. They loved each other as a brother and sister do, and as much as their dads hoped for more, it never came to pass.
The girl was small, like her mother, and very shy, a real book worm and often picked on for it. The boy wouldn't allow that, he would grow up to be huge, like his father and had dreams of being a football star. He promised the girl he would always be her absolute best friend and he was.
Throughout elementary, middle, and high school they were inseparable. She helped him get the grades he needed for a scholarship and he made sure she wasn't picked on. They shared everything, there were no secrets. They agreed to go to the same college and she applied to all the schools that were looking at him for football. In the end, they attended the University of Chicago, she for English to be a teacher and him for physical education, even though he dreamed of playing for the Chicago Bears someday. They led normal, happy teenage lives. They dated people, hung out and were living the lives everyone from their small town expected them to live.
Two weeks into the second semester of their freshman year, she was walking across campus to visit him in broad daylight when she was pulled into an alley and brutally attacked by three men. When they had finished with her, she was left for dead in that alley. A woman came across the girl and called 911. The girl was told the only thing that saved her life was the fact that she had been found relatively quickly.
She remembers very little of the attack itself. She remembers being pulled into the alley, and gave the police a brief description of them but it wasn't much. Yes, she is a police chief's daughter and had been taught how to defend herself, to take note of things, but there were three of them and she was terrified. The next thing she remembers clearly is waking up in the hospital and being told it was three weeks later.
The doctor's explained and showed her pictures of her original injuries. The girl didn't recognize herself, the bruising, the swelling and all that blood…she didn't see herself at all. The doctors told the girl she received a total of 257 stitches, most external but some internal as well. She had several bruised ribs and two broken ones, they removed her spleen and fixed a puncture lung. She had a skull fracture and swelling of the brain, that is what caused the memory loss. A plastic surgeon was called in to rebuild the girls shattered nose, cheekbone and left eye socket. She was bruised over 95% of her body with multiple bone fractures in her arms and legs. Then, they gave her the information that broke the girl. At 19, they had to perform a total hysterectomy on a girl who had been a virgin before the attack and had desperate dreams of a large family. The damage was too extensive and they had no choice in order to save her life.
The girl spent weeks in the hospital and almost two years in physical therapy recovering. Her mental and emotional recovery is taking much longer. The boy was by her side every step of the way, encouraging her, protecting her and loving her as only someone who offers unconditional love can.
Now the girl is 21, scared of strangers, totally terrified of men and trying to fake her through some semblance of a normal life. She wants to get her degree but can't handle the stress of leaving her apartment, college is definitely out. The boy is finishing college and talking to the Bears about the draft. He is living his dream and the girl is happy for him, she wants it for him because he wants it. She is bitter about her own life, but unconditional love can be a bitch and she is nothing but happy for the boy.
The boy signs with the Bears and starts to get pressure from his father to settle down, get married, stop his partying ways. He comes to the girl with a plan. She feels broken and has nothing to offer a man especially since she can't even find the courage to talk to a man. I mean how the hell would she ever be able to explain everything to someone…no romantic love and marriage were out of the picture for her, at least in her mind. The boy offers marriage to the girl, it is the perfect solution. She feels safe with him, they could adopt and it would stop the family pressure, because the girl knows the secret the boy is hiding, she agrees. He promises to do everything in his power to protect her, to continue to help her heal and she promises to be the perfect wife in public, to help him build the life everyone expects of him."
I look up at the men; three of them appear to be shocked by the story. The fourth lived it with me and he knows what is coming next.
"So, we married at 22 and each kept our promises, in the beginning at least. I continued with my therapist and at her insistence, we hired a female bodyguard for me when I was in public. Zafrina is a huge Amazon of a woman and hiring her allowed me to start to live my life again. She taught me self-defense and Ninjitsu, a very aggressive form of martial arts, at which I excel. She was with me every day for two years and continued to accompany me on campus until I graduated. To this day, she still accompanies me to press and media events."
I notice their eyes follow my movements as I reach for the manila folder. Jacob looks as if he wants to run out of the room. I told my dirty secret, now I was about to tell his. I removed the stack of news articles and photos, as well as the original photos, only Jacob could have supplied this information to his attorneys. I remove the top picture, it had been on the front page of some gossip rag, and I slid it across the table.
"This is how I found out that Jacob wanted to end our arrangement." I looked at Carlisle and his sons. "It is a good picture and the unidentified man is Riley. He came into my life a year into our marriage." I slid another photo across the table.
"This gentlemen is the original photo, as you see Jake is in the picture also." The picture was of Jake and Riley sitting on a lounge chair on the beach. Riley was sitting between Jake's legs facing him with his hands high on Jake's thighs. I had walked up beside the chair but slightly behind Riley. I had ruffled his hair and bent down to give Riley a kiss on the cheek, which is when the picture was taken.
"Zafrina took this picture when we were on vacation in Maui. We stayed in a villa with a private beach. Yes Riley was a lover, however he wasn't my lover, he was Jake's." If I hadn't wanted to cry at the fact that somehow this is where Jacob and I ended up, I would have laughed at the expression on their faces. They had no idea Jake was gay.
I slowly laid each published picture on the table, then proceeded to lay the original on top. Each picture showed me and a different man but unlike the published ones the original showed Jacob in every single one and in a compromising position in most.
"I can give you the names of the men in the pictures if need be." I told them as I sat a stack of papers on the table. "Perhaps these affidavits will suffice. I have a signed one from each man, in those pictures, stating they were Jacob's lovers, not mine. Stating the only reason they even met me was because of their relationship with Jacob. I also have one from Zafrina stating that she took most of the pictures and was present when every single one of them was taken."
"I had no idea…" Carlisle was trying to form a sentence; he shook his head and picked up a random picture. He turned to Edward before quickly shifting forward again. "Did you…" he said before I interrupted.
"I know Edward is the one that supplied the pictures to the media." Their faces were priceless, seems I wasn't the meek Mrs. Black Jacob probably portrayed me as. "I also know only Jacob could have given the pictures to him, with Felix's help altering them first of course."
"What would make you think I would ever stoop to that level Mrs. Black?" Edward said as if I had offended him somehow, but his face showed his guilt.
"Because you did and this isn't the first time." I ignored his angry huff and continued. "I am sure you thought you would have a media war on your hands and decided to cast the first stone, to get the media on Jake's side. That just proves to me Jacob has completely lost sight of who I am. It also made me realize I needed to concentrate on getting my ducks in a row. That is why I never answered any of the claims. I won't get into a he said, she said argument but I will fight fiction with fact and you should have checked your facts instead of taking his word for everything."
"That still doesn't prove…" Edward started and I held up a hand to stop him.
"I noticed, the first time each picture was published it was always in the same rag. I secured a copy of their employee list; imagine my surprise when the lovely Miss Stanley was on it." I pulled out some cut outs of different papers. "The same Miss Stanley that appears with you in these photos. Now what you may not know is that Miss Stanley's brother is married to a woman I knew as Lauren Mallory." Jacob's head popped up at that revelation. "We went to high school together and she knows about my attack, we have kept in touch over the years. She was more than happy to talk to Jessica for me once I explained what was happening, for all I knew Jessica had stolen the photos. She hadn't though; she confirmed that you supplied her with the photos willingly." I held up a piece of paper, "and this signed statement from Miss Stanley attests to that fact." Mr. Cullen was turning puce, I loved it – fucker. Don't be lazy in your research next time asshole.
That song ran through my mind again, it caught on one verse. Sometimes when I play that old six string / I think about ya and wonder what went wrong. As I looked at Jake I wondered where we had gone wrong.
I held up one last paper. "This has been signed and notarized by myself and my lawyer, once Jacob signs this I will sign the divorce papers." I pushed it across the table and Emmett picked it up.
"An Annulment. After six years of marriage you want an annulment."
"I have had sex, if you can call the attack that, exactly one time in my life and it was not with your client. I want an annulment based on the fact the marriage was never consummated." Jacob was shaking his head and Edward reached over Carlisle to grab the document from Emmett.
"Seth Clearwater," he shouted. "Your lawyer friend is Seth Clearwater, one of the top defense attorney's in the country." I watched as the three of them turn to Jacob with their mouths hanging open.
"Oh Jacob couldn't have gone to Seth for this." I said with a smile. "But yes, to answer your question, we grew up together." They looked at Jake again and the question of why was written all over their faces. I decided to answer the unspoken question. "You do know that Seth is gay. He was Jacob's first lover actually, in high school. They kept it hidden because the tribe would never have allowed an openly gay teenage couple. Jake couldn't go to Seth because he would have immediately known it was a lie, he would never allow Jacob to rake me over the coals the way I have been with this law firm."
"Mrs. Black," Carlisle started and I couldn't stand to hear it.
"Miss Swan," I corrected.
"Excuse me?" he questioned.
"I will be returning to my maiden name, which is Swan. Please address me as Miss Swan."
"Ok Miss Swan," he tried to continue.
"I'm sorry Mr. Cullen, if I could interrupt for one more thing?" I asked and he nodded it was fine. I turned my attention to Jacob.
"I can't believe it came to this Jacob." I held up the pictures to stress what I was talking about. He had the decency to look ashamed of his actions. "While I hold Edward Cullen responsible for not checking the accuracy of the information before he leaked it, I am sure you laid on the charm with the hopes he wouldn't feel the need to." I gave Edward a pointed look before turning my attention back to Jake.
"This is what I think happened. You knew you couldn't go to Seth and the Cullen law firm has a reputation for being pit bulls, especially for their high profile clients. You have a contract negotiation coming up and wanted public sympathy because you know the Bears management loves me. So you came here, armed with the photos Felix altered for you and told a tale of woe. Of the childhood friend you married that turned out to be a gold digger. The woman who put on the charm and schmoozed everyone while going out and fucking around when you were out of town for games, the woman your fans love only because she isn't the person she claims to be. I am sure you laid it on thick and they bought it hook, line and sinker." I turned to Edward.
"I'm sure you were told I would use the media to my advantage, being their little darling and all. You probably felt it was important to get Jacob's story out, before I could mine, and that I would hire a lawyer that would be out for blood. I never stood a chance." I focused my attention back to Jake.
"I'm not sure why you went about things this way. Is it in hopes of running me out of Chicago or do you truly believe the bullshit Felix has been feeding you? The one thing I have no doubt about is that Felix is behind all of this." I waved my hand around to encompass the table.
"It is Miss Swan to you." I said and Jake's head snapped up. "You and I are no longer on a first name basis." I picked up a box from the seat next to me and placed it on the table.
"I have been by the house and aside from my clothes this is all I want." I pushed the box towards him. "It contains mostly childhood memories and such but feel free to look if you want. I left all the jewelry and anything that you purchased during the marriage. I did take the books, I purchased those with my own money and have the cancelled checks to prove it."
"But you haven't worked…" Jake said and all I could do is shake my head.
"See, this should tell you the sad state of not only my marriage but our friendship." I said with a chuckle as I looked at Carlisle. "Have you heard of the author Isabella Dwyer?"
"Yes, she writes the crime novels. I read those books as well as my wife." Emmett stated.
"Bella" I said and pointed at myself, "short for Isabella. Dwyer, my mother's maiden name, I am the author of four bestselling books Jacob. The fifth hits bookstores in two months, you used to ask about my writing. When you stopped asking I stopped offering information. That income is what lets me be able to say to you, I do not want any of your money, not a dime even though I definitely earned my half of it. I don't want any of the properties. I actually closed on a house last month, so I have a place to live." Jake was in shock at what I just told him.
"We used to talk Jake. Remember when we would stay up late, watch bad movies and just talk. We haven't done that in years. The only time you talked to me in the last few years is to let me know when you needed me, for a public appearance or to cry on my shoulder after a break up. I talked about what was happening in my life but it is painfully obvious you weren't listening."
"I listened Bella, no I may not have been aware of how successful your books are but I did listen to you." I raised an eyebrow at him. "Maybe not as well as I should, but you are my oldest friend B and the only person to unconditionally accept and support me." He looked very earnest and it pissed me off.
"And this is how you treat your oldest friend." I said and held my arms wide to signal what was happening now. "The only person to unconditionally accept and support you. Wow, I would like to see how you treat your enemies." He hung his head and I almost felt bad for my snarky attitude, almost. I pulled an envelope from my bag and gently set it in front of me.
"Jacob, I know Felix is the driving force behind most of this. I'm not sure if he feels threatened by me or if he wants you to go public, but everything started going downhill when you started seeing him." I ran my fingers over the envelope.
"I debated with myself for weeks over this, I wasn't sure until just now if I would give it to you or not. I think you have the right to know." I slid the packet to him. "Felix is not who you think he is. You may think I am doing this to get back at you or start trouble. However, the truth is, a 28 year friendship is what has me giving this to you. I'm sorry."
"Do I even want to know what is in here?" He asked. I could tell he was hurting, but it wasn't my responsibility anymore to offer comfort. I picked up my pen and started to sign the divorce papers.
"Probably not, but he cost you a friend you have known since you were in diapers. Don't you want to know what his motives were for that?" I slid the papers to him to sign.
"What do you mean?" He asked.
"Sign the papers Jacob." Did he really think we could be friends after the last six months.
"What do you mean this cost me a friend Bella?" He signed and pushed my copies over to me. "Bella?" Even his lawyers were looking at him like he was nuts.
"Jake, did you really think you could take things as far as you have the past months and we would still be friends once the divorce went through. Have you even read the articles and things that have been said about me." He shook his head and laid it on top of his clasped hands on the table. I put my papers away and stood to walk around the table to him.
"You helped me through my absolute darkest days Jacob William Black and for that I will always be grateful." I laid my head on his back and hugged him. "Because of your love, friendship, and support I am a stronger person than I have ever been. It has taken me eight years to get here, but here I am." He sat up and turned his chair to look at me.
"I know and I am proud of the person you are. I am so sorry B." His voice rang with sincerity and regret.
"I know J, but you let him talk you into doing all of this. You know, all you had to do, at any point, was just talk to me. Had you just came to me and told me you wanted out, I would have done it in a heartbeat. Slandering me, making me the bad guy it was all so unnecessary. You let someone you have known a year, publically humiliate a lifelong friend. I truly hope he is worth it Jake, I do."
"No Jacob. I don't want to be rude but you are leaving me no choice. We aren't friends any more Jake. Friends don't do what you did to me and remain friends. After I leave here today do not contact me, I don't want to be involved in your life and I don't want you involved in mine."
What the fuck did he expect from me. I stood and began gathering my things. That song was still stuck in my head and a line about 'the best days of my life'. I knew these weren't the best days of my life and I hoped they didn't turn out to be Jacob's either.
"Miss Swan," Carlisle said and cleared his throat. "We will begin issuing retractions for…"
"No, please don't." I interrupted and the lawyers looked shocked. "There is no way to do that short of outing Jacob. The media frenzy is just dying down for me, do that and it will just be stirred up again. Please just file the divorce and annulment papers quietly, that is all I ask for myself." I looked at Edward.
"Next time, verify your facts before you set out to ruin someone's reputation. A simple Google search would have turned up the attack and pictures that would have had you questioning Jake's story." I turned to Carlisle. "Make sure this doesn't happen again."
"I understand Miss Swan."
"No Carlisle, I don't think you do." I said with more venom than I meant to. "The thing is, I have been broken. The attack is definitely my rock bottom. However, what if this happens to someone who has never hit bottom, I mean, I didn't want to live when I was at my bottom. Something like this could force someone to do things they normal wouldn't. When you set out to destroy someone's reputation, be sure that isn't all they to live for."
"Gentlemen I wish I could say it's been a pleasure but…it hasn't. I have a dinner I'm expected at, so have a good evening. Be happy Jake, it is all I have ever wanted for you." I gathered my things and exited the conference room. I was torn as I walked to my car. I was sad, I had just ended what I always considered my most precious friendship, but I was optimistic that the future I would be making for myself would be even better.
A/N: I do not own Twilight or its characters.
Thanks for reading & please review.