Nathan and I thank everyone, for everything. He puts on a good act, like I didn't just stand up and tell everyone close to us that I'm still hung up on my Ex.
Rosalie scuffs when I refer to him as that, "My Ex". She doesn't even think what we shared is worth that much.
When Nathan and I get out to my car, I balance myself on the side of the car to take off these ridiculous sparkly shoes, and trade them for my slip on sneakers. Nathan took a cab from the hospital here, so the drive out of the city and back to my apartment is silent in the worst way. If I say sorry, I admit it. If I ask him if something is wrong, I open a can of worms. I notice his mouth opening then closing, like a fish there is no sound except the quiet pop of his lips parting. When he clears his throat the question I have been dreading comes out loud and clear. It's the harshest tone I've heard him take when he asks me point blank if I still want to be with Edward – I can't lie.
They say silence speaks louder than words. I can't bring myself to admit that to him, and I can't deny how I feel about Edward. Nathan stares out the front window, nodding softly as if telling himself he knew it all along. I can't imagine what he is thinking. Maybe about ways to end it, ways to make it okay for him to accept second best, or what his life will turn into if all this planning falls apart beneath him.
Finally he speaks, "Do you love me?" He doesn't look over at me until the question leaves his lips.
"Of course I do." I respond without hesitation, because it's the truth.
"I don't know if I want the answer to this next question, but I can't wake up and wonder about it everyday." He looks into his lap, his eyes closed, "Do you love me like you love him?"
"It's not the same thing," I try to avoid the question.
"Bella, are there connections you have with him that you don't have with me, ones that you miss or that you wish you had, ones that you might regret living your life without?"
I take my eyes off the road as I slow the car to a stop sign, before looking over at him. "I don't know." I admit meekly.
"I don't want to keep you from being as happy as you can be...Maybe you should take some time to figure out what it is exactly that you can and can't live with." Nathan's eyes are trained forward as he speaks the words trying to disconnect from them. It's like he has detached. He knows how to detach himself well being a doctor. He always said I was the first mistake he ever made, he let his emotions get too involved.
"So, you want to what take a break? I don't even know what that means. Do we see other people? Or do we just spend time apart for a little while?" I ask him.
"I donʼt want to see other people...I just think it be best to step away and really figure out if this is what you want." Nathan shakes his head in disbelief. "If this is even...you. I donʼt know Bella. I feel like I know you, but since he has been back, I also have seen this complete stranger. You are different with him. You seem more comfortable in your skin around him, you are more at ease...you smile more."
"Nathan..." I begin, but I canʼt argue. "I have always felt as if I belonged with him. Itʼs like nothing I have felt before. You know this! You were the one I talked to about everything between Edward and I after he left. No one else wanted to hear how empty I felt without him. They all said I was better off without him. I donʼt know if itʼs possible to be with him like that again. He has changed. I have changed. I also donʼt know how many people even find that spark or connection Edward and I shared. But, at the same time it was ruined when he left me broken, and you fixed me, and parts of me changed as I healed. Iʼm not sure where things are with you or him. You stitched me up, you got me to open my heart up again...thatʼs not just something I can pretend wasnʼt that big of a deal. So, yeah...a break sounds more like you stepping aside in some attempt to be this bigger man who isnʼt going to put pressure on me to make a choice."
"I donʼt want to pressure you to make a choice. I want you to do what feels right to you. Iʼm just trying to strip away the expectations, so hopefully you can figure all of this out. Bella, I knew the moment he walked into that bar, it was most likely over. I just don't want to accept that, because… you are my spark." He finally looks at me, and I can see how much he would sacrifice to make sure I am happy.
I stop at the stop sign a block away from my apartment, my foot firmly on the brake. My eyesight is blurry from the tears of his words, and by the fact that I canʼt tell him the same thing in return.
"I have an appointment to look at wedding dresses in the morning. Rose and Alice are coming to help pick out bridesmaid dresses. My dad just put the deposit down on the Peacock Pavillon at the Zoo..." He deserves better of me.
"Bella, do what you want. Iʼd love nothing more than to marry you surronded by roaming peacocks at the zoo, and see you in a stunning white dress, and if you feel like going to find dresses tommorow is what you should be doing, Iʼm not telling you you not to. I don't want you to follow through with this, if it's because you are afraid or don't know how to stop everything that's in motion. Your dad can get the deposit back, Rose and Alice and you can go shopping for shoes… Iʼm just saying, itʼs okay with me if you need to take a little while to figure it out."
I lean my forehead against his, my fingers tickle lightly along his jaw, then my lips softly touch his. It brings me back to the first time he kissed me.
I was breastfeeding Shay in the living room of my apartment. He knocked and announced his name, I invited him inside. I have always been comfortable with him, and it wasnʼt any big deal to have my doctor, who talked me into breastfeeding, taught me how to breastfeed, walk in on me doing that exact thing.
"My two favorite girls, " Nathan commented, he kissed my cheek as he normally did, then Shayʼs head. Her eyes were growing heavier and heavier until she was still and sound asleep.
"Want me to go put her down?" he asked me.
"Yeah, that be great." I was always quick to accept the help during my recovery. Moving around wasnʼt exactly easy or painless.
As Nathan took her out of my arms, I tried to conceal my boob quickly, but I wasnʼt successful. Nathan never seemed fazed by the peep shows he got while I was his patient, and even afterward. This time though, his cool and calm ' itʼs just another boob' demeanor vanished. He paused, his eyes lingering on my chest. When he looked up at me, I raised my eyebrows in question to his ogling. "Iʼm sorry." He apologized quickly and stumbled over his words, and awkwardly situating Shayne closer to him before walking away placing her in her crib.
When he came out of the room, he could hardly make eye contact with me. "Are you okay?" I asked him with hesitance.
"No." He stated bluntly, it was like he was sick of hiding it or acting like I was just a friend. " I think you are amazing. I know you probably arenʼt feeling the same thing for me. I know you are waiting for him to come back. I just think you are so strong and beautiful, and Iʼd hate to see you watch life pass you by waiting for someone that may never come back. I would do anything to make you happy." He confessed in one long breath.
"I donʼt know what to say," I managed.
"Say that you will consider it. Consider giving me a chance to be a man you deserve and is worthy of the love you have inside you. Iʼm not going anywhere...Iʼll wait." He walked over and sat down next to me on the couch. I cuddled into his side, like I had done so many nights before.
"I canʼt promise you anything...but you're right I can't just wait as life goes by." I looked up into his eyes, and his thumb caressed my cheek. I remember feeling butterflies, and excitement, and being nervous as he slowly brought his lips to mine. It was sweet and tender. He took his time parting his lips, the tip of his tongue slowly came into contact with my lips.
I hadnʼt kissed a man since Edward, almost a year. And I slowly gave him more. When it felt like the kiss would become hungry, Nathan pulled away. "Are you okay?" He asked me. I nodded yes, biting my bottom lip. " No pressure. Iʼm just here. If you want me to be, to be whatever you want. But I won't lie I think you are amazing and beautiful."
A car honks behind us, pulling me back to the moment. I double check that I can go, before putting my foot on the gas to get home. I pull off to the side of the road outside my apartment. I notice the car behind me pull over a few houses in front of mine.
"So, Edward is here with Shay?" Nathan asks me, pulling my guitar case from the back seat as I throw the pink sparkly platforms in my messenger bag. I try to collect as much of the binders with sheet music and other equipment as I can, kicking the car door shut with my foot.
Nathan struggles to open the front door to the building, his hands are as full as mine and trying hard to balance everything. As we make our way up the five steps to the first landing, I drop a binder, "Crap," I mumble bending down to pick it up. Nathan puts the stuff he is holding down and begins helping me. "Thanks," I tell him, our eyes meeting intensely in the moment. Nathan starts to apologize for tonight. "I thought once you saw it all come together, you would enjoy it." He says of the wedding shower.
"You know I just hate the attention, and being caught off guard. Plus, your mom still doesn't like me." I point out how uncomfortable it is to be around her.
"She just doesnʼt know how to act with you. She doesnʼt want you to feel like she is trying to be your mom, but she wants to be close to you," Nathan tries to explain for the hundredth time. What he doesnʼt get, is his mom and I have nothing but him and Shay to talk about it. I canʼt even hold a ten minute conversation with her. I just nod, as we gather our things back up and go up the next five steps.
As I turn the key in the knob, Edward pulls the door open. "Howʼd it go?" he asks, taking most of the things out of my hands.
"Wonderful," I tell him with no indication in my voice that I mean otherwise, but then I mouth to him "horrible" to spare Nathanʼs feelings.
"That good huh?" Edward smirks, he knows what that smirk does to me. I scold him with my eyes, not to tease me.
"How is Shay? Was she good?" I ask him, anxious to see her as I walk toward the bedroom.
"She is great. I gave her a bath, she sang a few songs with me, then just listened before falling asleep."
"What time did she go down for bed?" I ask, trying to anticipate if her schedule will be out of whack.
Edward scratches the back of his head, "about that...I know you said no later than nine. But we were just having such a great jam session and lost track of time..." Edward tries to avoid giving me the actual time.
"Edward, what time?" I ask him, no bullshit.
"Like eleven." he admits meekly.
"Shit, Edward! This is going to throw her off for like days!"
"Iʼm sorry...I just love spending time with her. I love watching her. It is so hard when I donʼt get to see her for days."
"Keeping her on schedule is huge. It makes my day so much easier, if itʼs wrong it makes the day a complete nightmare." I try to explain to him. He looks so sorry, and I can't take the look in his eyes. I sigh and tell him it's okay. "I guess when you start getting a few days with her you will see what I mean. We will do just fine." I assure him.
I excuse myself, anxious to put on something more comfortable.
I run in the bedroom, and push the door shut behind me. I pull off the dress and slip on a pair of shorts then start to rummage through my dresser for a tank top. I don't care that I don't have a bra on, cause I am so tired and just want to climb in bed, I can't even attempt to think about what to do with this wedding. As I pull the tank top over my head, I realize I didnʼt shut the door all the way and Edwardʼs gaze is locked on me. I can see the yearning in his eyes. Along with the torture of not being able to do exactly what I know he wants to do. I can picture what he would be doing right now if there was nothing stopping him.
He would walk in the bedroom full of confidence like a hunter stalking his prey. He would say something about not needing all these clothes, as his fingers tugged on the bottom of my shirt playfully, before he would pull it up over my head. His fingers would twist and pinch my nipples before he would palm them with his hands. I'd move closer to him, slipping my hands up his t-shirt to feel his chest . He would alternate back to teasing my nipples with his index finger and thumb, pulling, twisting, flicking. That's when he would give into me with a hungry kiss. I run my hand down the side of my neck imagining the feel of his lips biting and licking down to my collar bone, to the space between my breasts. His perfect hands gliding down my rib cage, over my hips, before pushing down my shorts. His tongue and teeth would alternate between my breasts, as his fingers teased my entrance and clit. When I began panting and pressing for more, he'd stop and back away, never losing eye contact with me. He would slowly undo his jeans, letting them fall to floor with his boxer briefs. God I miss seeing him in those. I'd go closer, desperate to feel all of him, he would let me close enough to help pull his shirt over his head. His mouth would meet mine for a deep kiss, with his hands on my lower back, making sure I was pressed firmly against his body and able to feel his hard cock pressed against my bare stomach. This would be the moment he tried, like several times in the past, to slide one of his fingers between my ass checks. The furthest I've let him go is teasing the entrance, while I stroked his dick. He would tell me to stop and ask me to play with clit. Right now, I want him so bad, that when he asked "Please Baby, let me fuck your ass." Instead of my instinctive answer of, "No." I'd say, " I'll try."
I can't picture what would happen from there, because I don't know how he would take control of things from that point, other than being totally turned on by my willingness.
A soft knock on the ajar door causes it to push open a little more, and pulls me from my fantasy. "Bella, you okay?"
I shake my head disapprovingly, but with a smile being playful. I'm really wet, and feel like shit having Nathan right in front of me after thinking all that stuff about Edward. I notice the blonde highlights in Nathan's hair, his square jaw, and then notice the outline of his abs through his shirt. I wonder for a split second how it be to have them both at the same time…So bad Bella I think to myself chastising my starved libido. Sex hasn't been bad with Nathan, but it doesn't compare to Edward. I need to get away from them both.
"Crap, I forgot my purse in my car," I announce walking past Nathan quickly out of my bedroom and toward the front door. I stop and grab my keys off the kitchen counter.
"Iʼll be right back." I quickly say, trying not to look at either one of them until I can get these mental images out of my mind.
When I get to my car and retrieve my purse, I let out a huge sigh of relief as I lean against the rear bumper lighting a cigarette.
I notice a tall, muscular man walking down the side walk toward me with a hooded sweat jacket over his head. I can't make out much more of him, other than being on edge. I reach inside my bag and feel for the small can of mace my father makes me carry around. I can't find it, and I don't want to draw too much attention. Or have anyone able to sense my fear.
He gets closer and I try to avoid him. I try to act cool, but I'm honestly scared to death. I just keep hoping he will keep walking, but he doesn't. When he approaches me, his movements get faster, swifter.
His arms go on either side of me his palms down against my car making it impossible to run. I never run. Not when the shooting happened, not from Nathan, and not twenty seconds ago when my mind was screaming at me to go back inside.
I try to act like this isn't scary for me, stay strong. Show no fear. I drop my cigarette, "Excuse me," I say attempting to break through his large arms.
His face is hidden by the hood and a baseball cap plus the dark street. He doesn't smell drunk or look like he is on drugs, which I was hoping for. Just a drunk ass, not my luck.
"Isabella Swan, daughter of a police chief."
"How do you know my name?" I ask with a surprisingly steady voice.
"There wasn't supposed to be any witnesses. Cullen was smart getting out of dodge. It left us clueless as to who you were exactly…well until he showed up again. Now he is all about fixing shit with the girl that should be dead…along with him. Cause, there can't be anybody around to ID my crew."
"I'm not talking to any cops, I swear. Please. Just let me go."
"I have orders to take you out quickly," he whispers close to my ear. "But you are such a sweet little thing," I feel something hard press against my hip. I don't have to look, I know it's the barrel of a gun. "I just might have some fun with you first." The gun pushes up my side raising under my shirt. It feels warm, not cold metal like I would have expected.
"I can get you whatever you want. Please, I'll disappear. Just….I don't want to die." I try to plead with him.
"Sorry, if I don't complete this job, I can't be trusted, and if I can't be trusted, well I'm dead. "
I try to be as still as possible as I search for the small canister of mace, I wish this street wasn't so empty and quiet. Which was one of the things I loved when I first signed the lease.
The man goes on about the job he has to do. "Get Edward, you, the kid…"
"She has nothing to do with this!" I tell him full of anger.
"See, you and Edward wouldn't abandon her, but it's conceivable you would run off with her to live your life together, with less complications, so she has to be a part of it. We want this to be a missing persons case as long as possible."
"You are sick." I tell him, as I finally find the can. My hand wraps around it and I don't want to make any moves at the wrong time. He might just shot me In the head right in this spot.
His hand grabs the back of my head with a fistful of hair, he yanks my head back, and he calls me a bitch.
I try to get out of his grasp by pushing him, but it's no use. I can hardly move him. I drop my purse but hold on tight to the mace. I spray it in his eyes, and his hands go instictivly to his eyes.
I start to run for the front door, but as I pass him he reaches for me, making me fall against the concrete stairs, hitting my head on the railing. I spray him again, then kick him away from me.
When I make it inside, I lock the door and start yelling for help. Before I can make it up the first five steps, I see my savior. Edward. I let my body fall into his arms.
I can hear the door being banged on, I have to stop Edward from going outside to kick his ass. I have to beg him. It won't be a fair fight, Edward doesn't have a gun.
"I'm not going to let anyone hurt you ever again," Edward tells me.
He reaches behind him and pulls out a small hand gun. "Edward no, don't! I can't lose you! Please just stay here with me! Don't leave me!"
He looks at me, "I'm never leaving you," he tells me. I don't even know what is happening when Edward picks me up, and hands places me in Nathan's arms. "Take her into the apartment, call 911, and keep them safe. I'm not fucking around with these pieces of shit, and I've waited a year to even the scale."
"Edward!" I yell, trying to get Nathan to let me go.
"I'm going to fine," Edward assures me, kissing my forehead. "Now GO!" he demands. Nathan takes the steps two at time until we are inside my apartment. He places me on the couch and tells me to sit still until he can look at me.
"How can I?" I cry, I feel so helpless, so full of dread and worry. Nathan calls 911, and I keep thinking if they were called here five minutes ago it would have been too late.
He sits down next to me, and starts cleaning up the scraps and the cut I can feel under my scalp on the side of my head. I can feel the blood dripping down my face. Nathan wipes it, and cleans it up. He moves my hair, and tells me I don't need stitches.
My whole body jumps when I hear the sound of gunshots.