Once I arrived back to the table, our lunch had been served. While I picked at my small salad and zucchini cakes, (it was the only thing on the fancy menu that resembled a burger) I proceeded to tell Esme everything that I knew, with the condition, that she, in turn, had to inform me of everything she knew.
By the time I finished with the gritty details as Edward had described them, Esme was flushed with anger or embarrassment, I couldn't tell which. She immediately excused herself to the restroom and was gone for several minutes.
Upon her return, she was much more put together.
"I'm sorry about that," she offered.
I nodded. "It's understandable."
She looked out the window again. "I feel like my entire life has been a lie."
I had no idea how to respond to that, so I didn't.
"I was so happy for Edward when he brought Jenna home. I thought after his divorce he would never really date again, or not seriously. Jenna was so lovely and pleasant to be around. At the time, Emma was really involved in cheerleading in middle school and I really didn't get to spend that much time with her, so it was nice to have Jenna around. She was also a really great housekeeper."
She took a sip of her water and talked down to her plate instead of looking at me.
"I never even suspected anything. Nothing. Carlisle and I were high school sweethearts. We were in love, that crazy and all consuming type of love. I thought we still were. I mean, sure things are less exciting as you age, but I thought we were doing well. So, when Edward called me and told me that Carlisle was cheating with Jenna, I thought it was the most absurd thing I'd ever heard. I admit I kind of brushed it off at first, but of course I asked Carlisle about it."
"He said what?" Carlisle asked.
"Edward said that you and Jenna were having an affair."
Carlisle laughed. "Oh, Esme. That is funny. I'm assuming he didn't tell you about our argument?"
"He stopped by the house this afternoon and we were discussing his career and finances. He said he and Jenna had been arguing a lot lately and he was going to move out of the apartment complex that she managed because he didn't think they would last much longer and he didn't want her to make his life hell. So, he came to me looking for money. He couldn't afford to move and pay rent on his rookie salary and he couldn't find any other apartments with openings for security. I told him, like I always had in the past, that our bank accounts were closed the day he decided to become a police officer and forego his education. Of course, he didn't like that and he threw a huge temper-tantrum and walked out and slammed the door."
"Why couldn't you just give him a little something to help him out, Carlisle?"
"You know our policy, Esme. No education, no money. He only told you those lies to try to get you angry with me so you would give him the money. He's being a selfish little brat and he should've thought about his financial needs before he made his career decisions."
"I believed Carlisle. I had no reason not to. So, based on what he had said, I didn't think it was that unusual that Edward hadn't called or come by. When I eventually tried to call him to check on him, he would never answer or return my calls. Every so often, Carlisle would mention that he had heard from Edward, or tracked him down, but Edward was still angry at us for not lending him any money and he was giving us the cold shoulder until we relented."
"You really thought Edward cared about the money?" I asked.
"I didn't know to be honest. Obviously, he had never been that concerned about it before, but he had also never been in that position before. He was having to truly make it on his own without our help or the help of a significant other. I'm sure it was an adjustment for him, so I wasn't that surprised to learn that he was upset with us for not helping."
I placed my napkin over my plate so they waiter would take it away.
"It just all happened so fast. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years. After the first year or two, I was more angry and hurt than sad. I sent Christmas cards and birthday cards and he never responded. He never called. I always sent a check for his birthday. He never cashed them. Carlisle said he was done with us, that he didn't want to be apart of the family. I had no reason to not believe him. Even Jenna was upset at first. She said she and Edward had an argument the night before and when she tried to find him on Sunday, he was gone. The apartment was empty and he dropped the key in the mailbox at the office. She seemed genuinely upset about the break up for weeks following Edward's departure, so Carlisle's explanation made sense at the time."
"You never had any inclination that Dr. Cullen and Jenna were seeing each other?"
She looked down and shook her head. "Maybe the signs were there and I didn't see them. Jenna and I spent a lot of time together, but I also spent a lot of time volunteering and whatnot. Nothing had changed between Carlisle and I. He never lost interest in our sex life. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except Edward. After a couple of years, it turned to hatred. I hated Edward for abandoning our family like I thought he did. He never even spoke to his sister and she was greatly hurt by that. So, after time, we just came to the realization that he wasn't a part of the family any longer, and that's how things were. We didn't speak to him, we stopped trying and that was that.
I didn't know what to say. I mean, she gave a decent explanation, but it wouldn't have kept me from my son. She obviously didn't know him well enough back then to know that Edward has never cared about money. "What about the accident?" I asked. "I mean, nobody even . . ."
She nodded. "I didn't know things were as bad as they apparently were. I thought he just had minor injuries. Carlisle assured me he was checking in with the hospital in Seattle. I was hurt that Edward hadn't even reached out to us in all those years and then when he was hurt, he still didn't even phone me."
I scoffed. "He was in a coma. He couldn't call you."
She looked away. "I know that now."
"Well, I hope you got the answers you wanted. I need to be getting back."
"Oh, yes. Of course, dear."
The waiter came by and asked how we wanted the check and I said separate and Esme said together.
"No, really, I can pay for myself."
"No, Bella. It's my treat. I asked you to come."
I relented, especially because it was twenty-four dollars. How can lunch be that expensive?
We walked out to the parking lot together where Esme thanked me again. "I mean it, Bella. Thank you. I've got a lot to figure out. I mean, I don't even know how to survive without Carlisle. I don't even know where to start, but our marriage is definitely over."
I didn't know what to say, except that I felt bad for Emma, but I didn't say that.
"Tell Edward that I said hello, and that I'm sorry."
I nodded. "Okay."
. . .
I rushed to make it back to Seattle in time to have a few minutes to run by the hospital to see Edward. I couldn't forget the disappointed tone in his voice from when I had last spoken to him.
I was nearly out of breath by the time I rushed into Edward's room. He was sitting up in bed watching something on TV.
"Hi," I smiled, as I caught my breath.
"Hi, you made it," he grinned.
I stepped further into the room. "I did. I've just got a few minutes." Then, I saw it. A single pink rose in a slender glass vase on his bedside table.
I got so excited. Someone sent him a flower! "Who got this for you?" I asked excitedly.
He rolled his eyes. "Bella," he warned.
"What?" I asked seriously.
"I got it for you. I'm sorry about yesterday."
I couldn't even pick my jaw up from the floor.
. . .
Author's Note: Progress? We'll see. Thanks for hanging in there w/ me. And, as always, thank you for the reviews.