However far away, I will always love you.
However long I stay, I will always love you.
Whatever words I say, I will always love you.
I will always love you.
Love Song, Adele (cover)
Shaking, I stood up and vacated to the Cullens' kitchen, a long, open, and now mostly dark room. The only light was coming from the bulbs turned on in the living room that managed to sneak their effervescence into the un-lit eatery, but that light was minimal considering its only method of access was through the obstacles of the doorway in the living room and the stretch of hallway that then met the opening into the kitchen.
My shaking hands clumsily opened a cabinet to grab a plastic cup (I wouldn't have dared to try my hand with a glass one right now) and I got myself some water from the fridge. I hurriedly gulped it down my dry throat, and then leaned my weight heavily against the counter in the darkest corner of the kitchen, trying to escape the sounds coming from the other room. I squeezed my eyes shut.
And I just knew he was behind me then.
"So when are you going to stop lying to me?" he seethed quietly.
His hands appeared on the counter on either side of mine, his chest only an inch or two away from my back. I knew because his breathing was very close. And it was not in any way relaxed.
I turned to face him, drawing in a deep breath for courage. He shifted away as I moved in order to maintain our chary distance.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked quietly through lips he barely opened. I tried not to look at his face, instead focusing on the blackness of his shirt.
"I already told you - " I started slowly.
"Stop. Just stop," he fumed, "if all you're going to do is just continue feeding me your bull - your made-up reason." In my peripheral vision I saw the skin of his throat flex and undulate as he swallowed and clenched his jaw.
I had to close my eyes for a second. Even when he was furious he wouldn't curse in front of me. It was strange to think the word 'cute' in this moment where I was in agony, with my love so close but so far away at my own request. God, how could I do this? How could I resist him?
I called upon my flimsy-at-best acting abilities.
"Listen," I said, carefully avoiding his face still, "I'm sorry you can't accept this, but I just don't - don't want to be with you anymore."
I felt a shift in his demeanor then, a dangerous tilt: for me. His hands gripped the counter top on either side of me more firmly.
"Is that so?" he murmured, his lips barely moving from their slight part. "Then look at me."
I couldn't help but to obey, useless to do anything but stare up at his jewel-like eyes that were burning me with their ardency. His body was so close to mine without actually touching me that the moment we did the electricity bouncing between us would flare up and burn us both, no doubt.
His face started to lean down to mine then and I knew I should pull back, but I was frozen as my heart pounded and my breath shallowed out. His lips hovered an inch away, his breath mingling with mine. His eyes were half-lidded, alternating between glaring at my eyes and lips.
"Tell me to stop then," he breathed raggedly.
He moved in closer until his mouth was a hair breaths' way and I answered my earlier question. I could not resist him. I closed my eyes.
A few moments passed without anything happening, the only movement being the pounding of my heart and the rapid rise-and-fall of our chests. The light and noise coming from the teenagers in the other room seemed a million miles removed from our dark corner.
I finally opened my eyes to see his squeezed shut, a look of abject torture on his features.
"Why?" he breathed at last. "Why, Bella, why are you doing this to us?"
I couldn't say anything. If I did I would give myself away more than I already had. I wanted him so much in this moment, wanted his arms grabbing me, his mouth on my skin. His promised love whispering sweet things in my ear.
We never touched once by the time he moved away from me, and I gasped as if I'd been wrenched from the most hypnotic spell, resurfacing from the delusion of solitude I'd had while he'd been so close. He walked towards the kitchen's other exit to escape to the stairs, but before he left completely he stopped. Turning around, he fixed that piercing glare of his on me once more.
"When you're ready to tell me the truth," he said rather calmly, "You know where to find me."
And then he was gone as I collapsed against the counter under the weight of guilt and loneliness.
How had I gotten here?
"Cutting it close Miss Swan," Mr. Weaver murmured as he passed back our last calc test.
I mentally cringed when I saw the seventy-one, almost a 'D.'
Only September of my senior year and already I was managing to fall behind in this class.
"Ouch Bella," said Mike Newton, cringing too when he looked over my shoulder. If I had known he was going to look I would've tried to hide my abysmal score better. For some annoying reason Mike was excellent at math, but I kicked his butt in the English department any day. "This is only our second test."
"Don't remind me," I groaned, feeling distinctly inferior.
"You know, I'd be happy to help you with the homework," Mike offered. I didn't miss the dirty look Jessica Stanley shot me. "But," he grinned, "you have to help me with the King Lear essay in a few weeks."
I hesitated. Edward would not like this. But I had my reasons. "Sure," I smiled. "Sounds like a plan."
We arranged to meet next week after school in the library and then parted ways. Half-way to the lunchroom I encountered Edward in our usual rendezvous spot and we walked to lunch hand in hand.
Edward. My gorgeous, smart, gentlemanly, incredibly sweet and brilliant boyfriend. I have no idea what I did to deserve him. I must have saved an influential figure in history in a past alternative-universe life or something. Like MLK or JFK. Or Kurt Cobain.
"How was calculus?" Edward asked on our way to the lunchroom.
I paused before answering, mentally wincing over my poor test score. But I was hesitant about telling Edward about that. Not because he would think less of me but because it was hard not to think less about myself. When I said Edward was brilliant, I wasn't exaggerating. Academics were something he caught on to quickly and excelled at, along with athletics and music. He achieved and maintained perfect grades even though he was in all the advanced classes.
It wasn't that I was a poor academic. I was above average, but he was exceptional. And it was hard feeling unequal.
We would be applying to college soon and I knew Edward and his parents had high expectations on where he would go. And it wasn't far-fetched either that he would be accepted to most of them. Edward had begged me into promising that I would apply to the same places but I had my doubts on the merits of it. I had barely any extra-curriculars, my grades were only okay, and in lieu of volunteer hours I had gotten jobs instead. In other words, I was nothing special. I was not Ivy League material. But I promised anyway.
It hurt to imagine him leaving, going off without me. It was a reality I tried not to think about.
"It was fine," I shrugged. I figured I might as well tell him part of the truth though before he found out about it from someone else. He could get a little crazy sometimes. "I'm trying not to fall behind though, so Mike and I are going to study after school next week."
"What?" he snapped, holding the door open for me as we got to the cafeteria. "Why can't you study with me? I'm better at math than he is." His mouth twisted. He had his own personal vendetta against Newton and hated that he excelled at anything. They were on the same mathletes and track team too, which really irked Edward for some reason. I thought Mike was nice enough even though he used to hit on me when I first got here, but the very mention of him made Edward's lip curl.
I chose my words carefully. "If I were to study with you..." I decided to go something that wasn't the truth but wasn't untrue either, "I don't think I'd be able to concentrate properly. And it's really important for me to not fall behind. Don't you want me to go to Dartmouth with you or something?" I asked sardonically.
Edward pouted, but said nothing. I guess he couldn't come up with a counterargument that didn't make him sound unreasonable.
We stood in line and got our food in silence, but I was hopeful that he would forget about the whole thing when he put his arm around me at our lunch table, though I did notice that he pulled me tighter to him than normal.
"So are you guys excited for tonight?" Alice asked a little too excitedly herself, and then took a swig of the herbal tea she brought from home. Dr. Cullen, Edward and Alice's adoptive father, said that it might help relax her a little. "I know Edward is but he would never admit it to you guys."
"Alice," Edward muttered, then shook his head. "You guys are still coming right?" he asked a little shyly, which was rather uncharacteristic of him. The rest of our table mates nodded their heads enthusiastically. There was Alice's boyfriend, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie, and Angela and Eric. We were kind of the unofficial senior couple table, with the exception of Jessica and Mike, but that was because they weren't always a couple.
It also might've been the way Edward had once asked Mike in front of Jessica how Lauren had responded to Mike's texts from the other night, or the time that Rosalie gave us a dissertation on the pros and cons on ProActiv, using Jessica as an example for how it doesn't work for all oily skin, but for whatever reason neither of them wanted to sit with us anymore.
"We wouldn't miss it Edward," Angela beamed at him. "I even convinced my parents to let me stay out to eleven, which is kinda hard to do on a school night."
"Thank you," Edward said, genuinely touched. I squeezed his side, smiling up at him.
He looked down at me with emerald eyes and then raised an eyebrow, the corner of his mouth lifting. "Are you coming?" he asked teasingly.
"Hmm..." I considered to ponder that, then pulled out my phone to look at my calendar. "I don't know Edward, I'm kinda busy...those mines aren't going to sweep themselves, you know..."
He just rolled his eyes at my nonsensical antics because we both knew the truth. I wouldn't miss it for the world.
At seven o'clock that night I was sitting on my front porch in a pair of nice jeans and a black mid-sleeve shirt, elbows resting on my knees. It was kind of chilly but the only jackets I owned were either baggy or poofy affairs, and I actually wanted to look decent tonight. It was important to Edward and I wanted to make a bit of an occasion out of it, even it didn't really matter what I was wearing.
Down the street I could see the tell-tale bright xenon headlights of Edward's car coming down the street, and I stood, excited to get going.
Edward pulled up and I walked towards the passenger door to get in, but Edward was already out and beating me to it, opening the door for me. He looked amazing in black pants, a white t-shirt and an expensive and stylish grey cargo jacket. I made to get inside but Edward grabbed my arm, bringing me against his warm body.
"And where do you think you're going so quickly?" he asked, quirking that eyebrow of his.
And then his lips were on mine, his hands trailing down my arms to encircle my waist.
If I could, I would have Edward kiss me forever. I couldn't get enough of it. I didn't even care that my dad was in the house, very likely peeping out the window. Edward's lips were soft and sweetly moving against mine, gently opening them to press his tongue against my own. He was the sweetest candy, the most addictive supplement. We responded so perfectly and naturally to one another, which was maybe because we learned from each other, but it felt like something more. Like we were made to be together like this.
Without meaning to, the kiss got heated quickly, Edward's hands trailing questionably low on my body while my hands kneaded against his chest and in his already-wild copper hair.
A car driving by honked and we jumped apart, startled.
Edward cleared his throat, trying to recapture his breath, and gestured me inside the car, trying to act less ruffled than he looked. I giggled, face red and breath short as well, getting in.
The ride to Port Angeles always took at least forty-five minutes, but the time often flew by too quickly for my liking when Edward and I were together. If we ever ran out of topics to discuss, we always enjoyed the question game, a chance to get to know each other even better.
"What would you rather be, happy or successful?" he asked.
"Well, to me that's the same thing," I answered. "I think you're only successful in life if you're happy."
He frowned contemplatively.
"What would you rather be?" I asked.
"Happy," he said. "I guess my definition of success is a little more textbook, you know - good job, money, security."
"Doesn't sound so bad," I joked.
"It sounds empty," he murmured, staring off at the road. His thumb ran across the skin of the back of my hand.
I rolled my eyes. "You only say that because you've grown up in the lap of luxury your whole life," I laughed. "You would be trading happiness in a second if you ever had to, I don't know, buy knock-off jeans or something."
"Thanks," he said sarcastically. "I'm glad your opinion of me is so high."
"Call it like I see it babe." I paused in horror. "Holy crow, am I starting to sound like Emmett?"
He laughed at that and then moved on to another question.
Not too much later we arrived in Port Angeles and parked at our destination. It was a sizeable but cozy coffee shop, known in the area for allowing amateur musicians to play on weekday nights. It had taken a little while, but we had all finally convinced Edward that he should at least try it once after I had seen him staring at the advertising flyer on the wall every time we'd come here.
He slowed us down as we approached the coffee house, staring at it unsurely.
"Are you nervous?" I asked him incredulously, looking up at him.
"Well yeah," he laughed hesitantly, running a hand through his crazy hair. "I'm not made out of stone you know."
"You have nothing to be nervous about though," I said confidently. "You are going to be amazing, and it is going to be the privilege of everyone in there tonight to hear and watch you play."
He stared at me, his eyes brimming with emotion. His crooked smile appeared, albeit a little subdued. "What would I do without you?" he asked quietly, pulling me to him to kiss my forehead. I wrapped my arms around him in a tight hug, sliding under the guitar strapped to his back.
"Now go in there," I instructed to his chest, "And be the next Thom Yorke or Chris Martin."
Edward laughed, rolling his eyes. "As long as we're not making this into more than it is."
Walking inside, we met up with Alice and Jasper sitting at a table near the small stage in the back corner. "You're going to do great!" Alice reaffirmed to her step-brother, absently patting his shoulder as she looked around for the manager so Edward could get started.
"You have nothing to worry about," Jasper agreed in the soothing way that he had, grinning confidently at his male friend. "If it makes you feel better, there's only like ten people in here anyway, so if you suck, no one will be any the wiser."
"That's the spirit," Emmett laughed as he and Rose walked up to us, having just arrived. It startled me a little, even though I had heard the jingling bell sound behind me when the door had opened. It went off again and I was a little more prepared when Eric and Angela came up, a little out of breath.
"What!" Eric yelped as they approached us. "We thought we were late and ran here from the car so we wouldn't miss anything and you're just sitting here chitter-chattering!" He was very accusing as he pointed his finger at Edward. "I declare shenanigans."
Edward didn't get a chance to respond before the manager came up to greet him and get him started. We fell back into our table and I watched as Edward set up. Then I looked around at my immediate circle of friends.
My life now would've been unrecognizable to me even a year ago. It felt surreal as I sat against the wall and observed at how they all casually interacted with each other, talking, laughing, joking. It looked so effortless and I wondered how I became a part of this world when I had always been alone and hadn't expected it to change when I moved. But everything had changed. When I met him.
My eyes drifted back to Edward again, tuning his guitar carefully even though it was nearly perfect anyway. He played a few notes on the small piano as well and I could tell by the slight down curve of his mouth that he was comparing this upright to his gorgeous and formidable baby grand at home. I laughed softly to myself. And then it struck me how much I knew about him, a person who in all realistic respects and in any other reality I should know nothing of, and I was humbled back into silence.
And then he began to play.
There may have only been ten other people in the shop besides us, but they all stopped to watch him play song after song. He was mesmerizing, and I was clearly not the only one who appreciated the way his eyebrows would furrow when he reached a more difficult note, or the soulful timbre of his voice, or the beauty in his long, elegant fingers firmly strumming the guitar or gently pressing into the keys of the piano.
For over an hour he played, and unbidden, thoughts floated around in my head that had plagued me for as long as we'd been together. He was perfect and desirable in every way and had so much to offer. I had nothing. I watched him with ever-increasing certainty that I did not deserve this, or him.
At last, he leaned into the microphone for the last song. "This is the last song for me tonight, and it's for someone special," he murmured, and then his fingers strummed familiar chords that instantly had me gasping, as Alice looked around at me with a smirk and Angela a sweet smile.
"Honey, you are a rock,
Upon which I stand.
And I come here to talk.
I hope you understand.
That brown eyes,
Yeah the spotlight, shines upon you.
And how could, anybody, deny you?
I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter now I met you.
And honey you should know,
That I could never go on without you.
It completely did not escape me that he had changed green eyes to brown in his rendition of Coldplay's "Green Eyes."
He continued the song, picking up the pace and singing the long notes with more soul than he had all night, which was remarkable in itself. He glanced up at me intermittently, grinning a little at whatever wonder my expression undoubtedly held.
And when he finished, everyone in the house clapped enthusiastically, a few girls letting out wistful sighs.
The ride home was quiet on both our ends. I had congratulated and fawned over Edward enough that his silence was contemplative on the performance, and he didn't notice that mine was much more solemn as I thought.
It hit me more than ever that Edward belonged to the world; not to me, a nobody.
He could ace every math test, sing any girl into a swoon, make it into the Olympics if he wanted with his running. He was going to whatever college he wanted and he was going to do whatever he wanted with his life because he could.
I was none of those things. And I never would be. All I had to offer anybody was myself, and that seemed woefully weak, all things considered. All I had was all I was and it was not enough. Especially for him.
He was wasting his time with me.
It hit me just like that. The thought flitted across my mind verbatim and I was struck with the truth of it so hard that it almost knocked the breath out of me. I did stop breathing for a second, and I felt Edward glance over at me. I forced myself to relax.
But he was wasting his time with me.
There are some thoughts that once you think them, you can not unthink them. And this thought would not leave me.
He deserves more than you.
Edward dropped me off, walking me to the door.
"Thank you," I whispered. "I loved that song."
"I know." He smiled his crooked grin at me and I smiled back sadly. His brow furrowed. "What's wrong?" he asked, concerned.
I sucked in my breath. I just wanted one more night of happiness, though it was cruel. But was it so much to ask for?
I controlled my inner turmoil. "Nothing," I said, smiling. "Just...in awe of you."
He smiled, pulling me closer. "I'm always in awe of you," he said quietly as his lips neared mine.
And for the next few minutes I forced myself to forget about anything except for the feeling of Edward's hands on my skin, his hard body forcing mine to meld to it, and the irresistible sin of stealing his kisses. I ran my hands through his hair for the last time and kissed him like I loved him more than anything. Which I did. He responded to my passion just as thoroughly, though I'm sure he misconstrued its origin. My name escaped his lips in a sigh between these stolen embraces of flesh and I could've cried.
He finally pulled away, kissing my cheek and muttering his regret at having to get home. I watched his departure with a heavy heart and then went inside. Once I closed the door I leaned against it, holding my hands against my eyes.
"Bella?" Charlie said as he walked around the corner on his way to bed. "Are you okay?"
"Not for long," I muttered.
The next day, I somehow managed to keep my composure at school, and my distance from him. I was relieved it was at least Friday, so I would have the weekend to pull myself together. Edward seemed confused by my behavior and I felt another pang of guilt in my already miserable gut.
I knew he did love me, even if it was just a high school, first love. But I convinced myself that his feelings would fade. After all, when he went to college he would be around people just like him, of his own caliber. And he would meet someone who made him forget all about me. I winced at the very thought but told myself it was for the best.
This had to happen.
And yet, all day I was trying to talk myself out of it.
How awkward is it going to be for the next year? You have all the same friends! Well, I had lived most of my life without friends. I could do it again.
You love him! He loves you! I'm failing to see the real issue here. Why do this to yourselves? Loving someone meant wanting the best for them. And I was not the best for him. I could see that, and one way or another, sooner or later, he would see that too.
What are you going to do when you run into his dad? Dr. Cullen and I were frequent companions at my routine trips to the hospital. But I guess it would just have to a be a professional relationship. Or I could get a new doctor. But my heart was sad. I loved both his parents, and I didn't want to lose their affection.
It felt like I was losing so much more than just him, as if losing him wasn't bad enough.
He deserves more than you.
I just had to keep reminding myself of that.
School ended and I drove home, but made a quick pit stop first for something I would no doubt need later.
Finally arriving home, I pulled out my phone in my bedroom and took several deep breaths, my hands suddenly shaking and my heart pounding. As cowardly as it was I couldn't break up with him to his face. If I had to watch his reaction and tell him I didn't want to be with him to him, I wasn't sure I wouldn't break.
After about half an hour of just staring at the phone, trying to calm down, I admitted defeat and called his number anyway.
"Hello," he answered, sounding way too happy to hear from me. I knew this was going to be hard, but the reality of the struggle in front of me was too much to simply know when faced with dealing with it.
"Hi," I responded nervously.
"What's wrong?" Edward asked, picking up on my tone immediately.
"Umm...I just..." I had no idea how to say this... "I have no idea how to say this so I'm just going to say it I guess...It's just that I've been thinking a lot lately and I...just think..."
"Wait," he interrupted, "Is this about applying to the Ivy Leagues again? Because I'm telling you Bella, you could definitely get in, there's really no reason - "
"We should break up," I blurted out.
"What?" There was no emotion in the word.
"I...think we should break up," I repeated, cringing as I said the words.
More dead silence.
"And why is this?" The voice on the other line was so politely detached I almost wondered if he'd understood me and then realized he probably had.
"I just...don't want to be with you anymore I guess. I just don't see it going anywhere, and honestly I don't want to waste our time." I hated myself more with every word that came out of my mouth.
"It just seems rather strange. That's not what you were saying yesterday."
"Well I've been thinking about it a lot," I said, trying to explain my abrupt behavior. "I just hadn't decided to act on it yet."
His detached demeanor broke, and suddenly he was pleading with me. "I don't believe you," he said desperately. "What is this about Bella? Please talk to me, I know this can't be how you really feel. Is this about the other night? Was the song too much? I didn't think it would be but you know sometimes I don't see things the way other people might..."
"Stop," I said, louder than I meant to, but only because it was killing me to hear him so vulnerable over this. "It's not about that. I just don't want you anymore, and there's nothing to talk about."
"So you're breaking up with me over the phone?" he demanded to know, his voice cold enough to send a chill through me.
"Y-yes?" My voice sounded small even to my own ears.
"Fine," he finally said, his voice almost scary calm. "I guess we're broken up then. Have a good weekend. I'll see you Monday." It sounded as much of a threat as a promise, and then he hung up.
The worst conversation of my life had probably spanned two minutes at best, but I watched my world break in that short time period.
Picking up the package I had picked up on the way home, I put the CD in my computer.
There was only one thing for this. Curl up in a fetal position, cry, and listen to Adele's new album on repeat for the rest of the weekend.
I considered my earlier thought that I must've saved someone influential in history to deserve Edward. Maybe I had saved someone, but obviously it was someone who had earned me this curse to find happiness and then let it go. Like Hitler or Idi Amin Dada. Or Courtney Love.
This was going to be a one-shot, but you know I get carried away, so now it will be a short story. Pretty short. I hope. Please review, and I will update faster. A good portion of the next segment is written already.
- The Romanticidal Edwardian