Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyer created it all.
To my peeps and amazing pre-readers, Suzie55 and LemonMartinis, who encouraged me to put this out there, and TwiLoverSue who told me to venture in.
For those that might be coming over from my all vamp stories…hiding behind hands. I've caved. So here it goes, my venture into the all-human realm. I know…stories of Edward, Bella, and baby are a dime a dozen, but I hope you'll find a little to like about my twists. For those that have read my other stories, you know what I mean.
Downtown Seattle spread out before me like a sprawling disease. From atop the tower of Cullen Enterprises, everything seemed so insignificant…the city, the people, the business. On days when the clouds encroached, I couldn't see anything below me. I liked those days, when I could cocoon myself away from everyone, everything, and every feeling. Today, on this rare clear fall day, the sun shone brightly highlighting those far below me. September 13th…how appropriate that everything would be bathed in such a bright glow, it was a day to celebrate. Bella's birthday…
Chocolate brown eyes swam before me, while darkness and despair beat against me, taunting me with the things I'd done.
I knew now that I'd made a horrid mistake. Fifteen years ago, I destroyed my only chance for happiness, but I'd been unable to acknowledge it then. Fueled by the filth and lies insidiously implanted by a vengeful and jealous girl, I'd allowed myself to doubt…to doubt her love for me, to doubt the words she'd told me so unselfishly, and to doubt myself and my ability to be loved just for me, separate from the things and wealth my family could supply.
"Edward, please, if you ever felt even the slightest thing for me, call me. It's important."
I could still recite the first message with clarity. Only two more had come. The next was a few days later, an almost duplicate of the first.
"Edward. For the love of God. If you ever really loved me, I need you to call me. It is very important."
The biggest difference had been that the first message had ended on a soft sob. The second had held a trace of panic. It had taken me a long time to really decipher it…the emotion.
The third and last one had come a month later. Her voice had been hoarse, as if she had been crying but had waited out the tears to make the call.
"Edward. This will be my last call. I will not trouble you again. Your silence has made your desires quite clear. I make one last plea to you. Please call me or email me, just contact me please. It is a matter of importance."
But what made my gut clench was the way she'd ended the call.
"No matter what you believe, or have been told, I love you beyond all possible explanation. I always will."
I'd scoffed with my brother when I received them, or honestly I should say, I'd scoffed and Emmett had shifted uncomfortably. He hadn't believed Tanya even then. I shouldn't have either, but she'd been a family friend for years, and I'd been insecure. I'd believed her when she said that Bella only cared for me because of my money. Even at seventeen, I'd already seen what people would do for the love of it. It was why my mom had insisted that we leave Seattle in the first place and move to Forks. My dad teleconferenced for most of his business from home and kept a penthouse in Seattle for when it was necessary to be available for a meeting.
We were supposed to meet people who wouldn't look at our family name and automatically make assumptions…and we had. Emmett had been right, the rest of us had been wrong.
Of course, it had been many years later before Tanya admitted to her trickery. I'd fucked her on the bed where I'd taken Bella's virginity, attempting to wipe the memories from my mind. Even at seventeen, Tanya had been a pro between the sheets, and for at least a year I'd lost myself in her body and the drugs I used to mask the pain of Bella's betrayal. My mom and dad packed up and left Forks within a week of my meltdown at Forks High, and I couldn't be happier because it did give me better access to my blond fix and dealers. Eventually, I couldn't even look Tanya in the face, and it was then I realized she'd been after the money all along. Why I didn't know, because her family was independently wealthy as well, but I hadn't realized that money had been an addiction with her.
Years later, Tanya finally met Garrett, who turned out to be the true love of her life and in doing so came to her own realizations. The shock on my family's face as she told us of her betrayal was monstrous. She'd made up the story of Bella's betrayal. Bella had never cheated with Jacob, she'd never bragged that she was getting to the Cullen money, and she'd never laughed about us being gullible. The real monsters had been us for blindly believing such vicious and silly lies. The disclosure had come almost seven years to the date that I'd humiliated Bella in front of the entire school and called her a calculating whore. Actually, that was one of the nicer things I'd called her. I cringed even today to think of the filth that had fallen from my lips and the devastation in her brown eyes as she'd reached for me and I'd backed away.
Doubt of Bella's guilt had been rooted within my mind for years, having bloomed as soon as I cleaned myself out from all the junk I used in my attempt to erase her. Hearing Tanya's words that day only solidified the sick feeling in my stomach.
Alice had sobbed uncontrollably. She'd betrayed her best friend over a woman that we realized we hadn't known well at all. Bella's calls to Esme had gone unanswered, and Carlisle had had her escorted off the hospital property when she attempted to contact him there. She'd obviously given up and didn't even attempt to approach Emmett…which ironically, might have been her best avenue. I'd wondered in the years that'd passed if our doorman had ever turned away a brown eyed, brown haired woman. I doubted it. If Isabella Swan was smart, which she was, she'd stay away from my worthless ass. She did visit me in my dreams every night though, and most often in my arms as I took my physical needs out on the women I used.
I'd hired a private detective to search for her the day after Tanya's revelations, but then only allowed him two days to research before I regained my wits and paid him off. It had been seven years. Surely, Bella had gone on to meet someone and make a good life. I would not be a monster and ruin it for her. But in those two days, he'd been able to uncover some very heart wrenching information. Charlie had died a little more than six months after we left Forks. He'd been at work and received an emergency call from Olympia. He was hit by a drunk driver and killed instantaneously on his way. The investigator had also interviewed some of Bella's friends at Forks High. She'd never returned to the school after the day I turned into a raving lunatic. Neither Angela nor Jessica had heard from her at that time.
What had happened to Bella that she would disappear so totally? I could only imagine how she felt losing Charlie. Although she was friendly with Renee, she'd always lived with Charlie and they had been extremely close. Moving to Florida, which is what I'd assumed she did, had probably been like moving to a foreign country with a roommate with whom you'd only traded letters.
It was one more thing to add to my list of sins. I should have been there to cradle her in her grief. Instead, I'd been high on coke and screwing Tanya when it happened.
My family had attempted so many times to get me to look for her. As they saw me build the shell stronger and stronger around me, they'd thrown everything at me. Alice had almost broken me the day she came to my house and spent hours crying in my arms.
"How could I do that to her, Edward? I knew better. I still remember the day she came to the house and I shoved her down the stairs. She lay at the foot of them for a few minutes stunned, as if she was attempting to make sure she was okay. I was so angry to think that she'd only wanted me for what she could get. I watched her eyes cloud over as she gently pushed off the ground. Something died in her that day. She never said a word as she turned and walked away from me. I was calling her all kinds of names, and she never responded. Something close to panic filled me even then. The thought went through my mind that she didn't act like someone who was just looking for money."
"Please let me look for her," she begged.
"Alice, what do you honestly think we could say at this point to her that would make what we did right? What could we say that would undo the hurt we caused her!"
"You could tell her that you are still in love with her, that you never stopped."
I'd had to close my eyes at the pain that roared through me. Love? Certainly, I loved her. But I hadn't even realized in my naivety what that word really meant back then. Then, love had been the feel of Bella's lips against mine. It had been a moonlit night out under the stars and the feel that nothing could defeat us. It had been the look of total completion in her face as I took her virginity, as she'd clench under me and shattered, whispering my name in adoration. The feel of her velvet walls sucking at me…I'd never felt such completion…such lust and love combined. No…love…true love didn't slice someone open in front of a bunch of heckling teenagers and leave them bleeding on the floor for the vampires to feast off of.
Now, I loved Bella even more than I did then. Because after cleaning myself up and facing the sickness that had become Edward Cullen, I realized that my love for her had changed. In the memories of the last moments of our relationship, I saw what Bella had taught me as I destroyed her. I saw the tenacity that true love had. I saw the respect true love had. More importantly, I saw the wisdom true love had. Bella had never called again. She'd given me the opportunity, and I'd thrown it away, while I laughed drunkenly.
Now, I loved her enough to let her go. To let her enjoy the peace I was certain she'd found. I envied the man that had her in his arms. I prayed every day that he loved her half of what I did.
Before I came to my peace though, I'd done everything I could to burn her out of me. At first, it had been out of anger and cynicism. As the fog had cleared and after Tanya had admitted to her betrayal, my attempts had been as much to protect her. The need within me to find her had grown exponentially, and I'd funneled it into becoming a cad. I'd screwed more women than I could fathom. I'd never promised them anything, but that hadn't been a successful plan as many had done highly visible things to ensnare me. I'd embarrassed my family immeasurable times. Nothing had worked. Redheads blended into brunettes, and blue eyes faded to brown as I used them. Nothing filled the void her loss had created in my heart. My hand clutched at my chest at the throbbing hole there.
I leaned my head against the cool pane of glass before me. Somewhere out in that world breathed my other half.
A stirring at the door brought me back from my memories, and I turned to see my father. I couldn't help but smile at him. Sleek and fit, he looked more like my and Emmett's brother than our dad. He and Esme were enjoying the high life, loving the opportunities to play with their grandchildren. He adored Alice and Jasper, and Emmett and Rosalie's babies. Beautiful bouncing babies who were secure in the love that surrounded them. There's that pain again…
I looked back out the window attempting to realign my facial features, but I hadn't done it quick enough.
"Edward?" he said just to my side. "What's wrong?"
I shook my head and attempted to brush it off.
"Is everyone ready?" I asked, attempting to distract him.
It didn't work, but he respected me enough to not push me. He was exasperated though. It was apparent in his voice, "Yes, we were waiting on you. I came to see what had delayed you."
"Very well, I'm sorry to keep you waiting."
We entered the plush conference room and the eyes of my two siblings, their mates, and mother zeroed in on me. I saw Carlisle shrug from the corner of my eye. It was a clear message to leave me alone.
We all listened as the many charities came in petitioning for our support. It was one of the things we all did together – and if I surreptitiously arranged it for this day every year, no one knew the better. It was when one of the women mentioned the date that I heard Alice gasp. I knew she'd finally determined the reason for my morose behavior. She attempted to catch my eyes, but I ignored her. Finally she stretched out under the table and kicked me…hard.
I cursed out loud, embarrassing myself before the woman presenting on behalf of one of the children's hospitals. My mother's horrified face filled my view. I was going to pay Alice back if it was the last thing I did. I got myself into enough trouble, I didn't need her help.
"I apologize," I said to the stuttering blond. She was pretty, and I turned on my charm. It had never let me down. "Thinking of the kids that go without medical care, because of the lack of funding, upsets me. I will personally bank roll your request," I said, smiling. It worked. She sputtered the whole way out the door.
"Edward…" Alice started but then her words were interrupted by a noise outside the room.
Mrs. Brown, our receptionist, was arguing with someone.
"Miss, miss…you can't go in there."
We heard a soft voice muttering at her.
The door then shut, but we could hear the arguing escalate.
We were expecting the next person, but instead Mrs. Brown stepped in and looked directly at me.
"Mr. Cullen, I apologize, but there is a young lady here, and she insists on seeing you."
Emmett snorted something like "take a number" under his breath with disgust. He didn't appreciate my haphazard approach to sex. He thought I needed to find someone to settle down with. He, of course, knew why that was impossible for me.
Her face remained professional. "She indicates that she is your daughter."
That brought another round of comments from the table. I'd had numerous "children" show up over the years, egged on by the stupid mistakes in women I'd indulged in and their greed. After the first years, I'd been smart enough to use condoms, buying only the best ones, hoping that I'd never have the whole "broken one" episode. Luckily, all the imposters had turned out not to be mine. At least the latest episode attached to my indulgences had my mom glaring at me for something other than the outburst with the hospital administrator. She loved me, there was no doubt, but my refusal to speak about the things that haunted me worried her. She knew my sexual liaisons were just one of the ways I buried the pain. She groaned every time the newspaper featured a picture of me with someone new…which was often.
"I'll have security escort her out, and tell her to contact our lawyers," Mrs. Brown said softly. It wasn't the first one she'd had to do that with.
"Thank you," I said softly.
The door closed and then a ruckus occurred. "I don't care what he said; I'm here to see him!"
You had to give this one credit, she had balls.
There was the sound of a struggle, and I assumed security had arrived. But what happened next surprised us all. The door swung opened bouncing back against the wall and in stepped a ghost from my past. I lurched to my feet as I heard Alice gasp from across the table.
Bella stood in front of me, her chest heaving and a flush blossoming across her pale cheeks. Her dark chocolate hair swirled around her slim body. She was dressed in the jeans she so often wore, and the deep green of her long sleeved shirt emphasized her wide green eyes.
My green eyes…
So, I'm wondering what you think? Tomorrow is my birthday (NO! I won't share how many, because I'd be embarrassed to tell you). Best birthday present? Leave me a review! I would love to know what you think! Reviews will get a sneak peek into next chapter and a brief view of Carlisle's thoughts…