Chapter Twenty Seven: Confessions
Edward isn't next to me when I wake up.
It's the crack of dawn and he isn't next to me.
And I didn't hear him not be.
Didn't hear him leave.
Didn't feel it.
Didn't wake up.
When someone snuck away from me.
But I try not to panic.
Because maybe I did...
Hear or feel him go...
And that's why I can see him gone.
Because maybe he just left.
Me and my bed.
And is just down the hall...
In the bathroom. Or the kitchen.
Or maybe not.
Because when I rush to one, and then the other, I don't find him.
He's not in either.
Or in my living room.
Which I rush to next.
And then to the window of it.
To see where else he might not be.
Or his Tahoe.
That isn't in my driveway, where it was when he was still here with me.
The us that I run back down the hall to see if I'm still a part of.
Please still be here...
And find that I am.
Because she is.
Aly is still asleep in her bed.
Still cradled by warm and soft.
He didn't take her.
When he took himself.
And his Tahoe.
That I rush back to see gone again.
From my driveway...
That, even though he has his own, and a garage he could park it in, is where he always leaves it.
So I can see it there.
Where I don't now.
"What are you doing up?"
"Wondering what you're doing gone."
"Well, I don't know, so yes. Wondering."
"And the tears?"
"Come with the wondering."
"They already did."
"I see that. And I'm sorry. And I want them to go now because I'm not gone anymore."
"Did you forget something?" I ask him. Is that why you came back?
"Yes. I think I did."
"Well, don't let me stop you from getting it."
"I forgot how crazy beautiful you are."
"And you came back to see it one last time?"
"One last time, Bella?"
"It's what I asked."
"I heard you."
"I see I still have work to do."
"Is that why you left?"
"Is what why, Bella?"
"Me. Am I? Am I just too much work?"
"Is that what you think?"
"Would I have come back if you were? Would I be here now? Right now, ready and willing to do more?"
"I wouldn't have asked if I knew. The answers... or... "
"How in love with you I am."
"You're in love with me?"
"Then why did you sneak out while I was asleep?"
"Because I heard someone else. Sneaking... trespassing... outside. And I had to protect what was in."
"Someone was outside?"
"And that's why you left me and went?"
I know I should ask him who...
Who he found sneaking around...
But... "But you left. Went further than outside. Further than where I could see you... "
"To take them away, yes."
"But why? Why didn't you just call the police?"
"I don't need the police."
"I know how to work my land, Bella... and I know how to protect it. I don't need to call any damn police to help me. Or you."
"Who was outside, Edward?"
"And now she's not. And will stay that way. And a."
"Because I never will. And will protect what's mine."
"The land you claimed."
"Yes. And everything on it."
Everything, Edward? Even...
"Yes, Bella. Crazy. Beautiful. YOU."
"Alice was here. She was outside of my house. At–"
"I know, Bella."
"How do you know?"
"Because Edward brought her back to ours."
"Yes. He did."
"And she'll stay in it."
"Because you'll keep her there?"
"Yes, because I will, but... well, I don't think she'll try to leave it again."
"Why did she?"
"I don't know exactly. But–"
"Well, then why do you think she won't try to again?"
"Because I think she's scared."
"How loved you are."
"Someone who doesn't love her."
Someone who... but you do love... oh...
"I have to go, Bella."
"Wait... Jasper... "
"You have nothing to worry about. Everything's going to be okay, just like I told you it would."
Someone who doesn't love her.
Someone who doesn't love her.
He had to mean Edward.
Whether he loves me or not...
Does love Alice.
Does love me.
I can't deny it.
Can't–even though I still get scared–not see it.
Or hear it.
Whether he's saying the words or saying nothing at all.
And can't not feel it.
In everything he does.
And maybe did.
Because Jasper said Alice is scared.
And I think by telling me she was...
He was telling me I shouldn't be.
"Come outside with me for a minute, I want to show you something."
"Okay. Let me just grab my–" I'm about to say jacket, but Edward is already holding his up and open for me.
So once I'm in it... tucked into its warmth and its softness and its intoxicating Edward scent–the power of which it has over me I don't hide from him–I smile and look down at my bare feet. "Shoes?"
"I'll share those, too," he tells me, grabbing my hand and pulling me behind him. "Hop on."
I jump up on his back with a childlike giggle, and without a second of hesitation, and wrap tightly around him. I'm excited that he wants to show me something. Because, other than that day he let me see him leaving–okay, and that picture of his past he wanted me to see, that made me jealous before the thing he wanted me to see in it–Edward has never shown me anything bad.
Or anything I didn't love seeing.
Like now, when he carries me out my front door and down my porch steps and stops in front of the stake in the ground.
The one he put there.
Showed me while he did.
"Do you see that?" he asks me, gripping my legs tighter and leaning over, putting me closer to it.
"Of course I do."
"And have you ever not? Since the day I put it there? Have you ever seen it gone?"
"Then do something for me, Bella... and for your crazy beautiful self... the next time–if there ever is a next time–you wake up or turn around and wonder where I am, where I've gone...where I may have snuck off to...
"Before you let the tears come... and the fear...
"Come out here. And look. Because unless you don't see this... I'm still here, whether you can see me or not."
"Okay," I tell him. In a whisper. And wrap around him tighter. Bury my tearless face in the side of his neck. And close my eyes.
Because I've already seen everything I need to.
Because, even though the tears left them hours ago, he didn't stop working to keep them that way.
And me this.
Not afraid to close them.
Aly fell asleep on the couch. With her head rested against me. And Figaro at her feet. And on. Keeping them warm.
And our jar of good things in front of us. Keeping all of us.
And further in front of us, the movie none of us is watching anymore, not keeping our attention. Because on this day, reality is better than make believe.
Edward has been looking at me for all of it. And all night.
At my face...
That stayed bare after the tears left it. Because he likes it that way.
He, who's been motionless beside me.
Except for his fingers...
That have held mine.
Studied and learned.
While they laid fearless and trusting so he could.
Even though I couldn't help but wonder what he'd feel...
What he did...
Can hands tell stories?
Can fingers tell secrets?
Can skin make confessions?
I know that his have...
To me and for me and...
But do mine?
Do they tell him the things they've done?
The things I have?
And does he already know, whether they do or they don't? Can or can't? Did or didn't?
Would he still be here if he did? Know...
Would that stake still be pounded firmly in the ground?
Would his claim on it, and on me, still be so deep?
I know that he loves me...
But does he love me that much?
His fingers squeeze mine as if he hears my questions. The last one, at least...
And then they let go.
And he shifts himself away from me.
Out from under.
And gets up.
Still looking at me.
And then down and away from.
Gives Figaro a gentle scratch.
Which makes him move just a little.
To free Aly's feet.
Which lift into the space above me because he lifts her.
So much so that she doesn't wake.
Because she trusts those hands that I do.
Those fingers that grip.
Those arms that work.
To make us feel safe.
Protected and secure.
And never, ever alone.
And when they walk away with her, I follow.
And then rush ahead to lead them.
Pull back the covers on her bed so that they can lay her beneath them, before I pull them back up.
To warm her.
Like Figaro wants to do, too.
Because he just ran in and up to.
The place he sleeps every night now.
When he isn't sneaking around the house.
A little less quietly than Edward and I now sneak out of Aly's room.
And I start down the hall...
Before I'm stopped.
By long, strong, beautiful fingers. And a whisper. "Where are you sneaking off to?"
"I was going to go out and have a smoke," I tell him. Because, since Aly came, we don't do that in the house anymore.
"Can it wait?" he asks, and pulls me toward the open door of my bedroom. Looking at me. Again. In a way that...
"Of course it can," I tell him, and let myself be pulled. "Because I may be crazy beautiful, but I'm not certifiably nuts."
"Yes you are," he disagrees. And I get scared for a second...
But it's only that, because he still has that look.
The one that tells me he wants something.
Before he does. "I want a confession from you."
"What?" I can barely ask. Because the fear returns. Grips. Chokes...
"I want to know what your hands... your fingers... you... are capable of."
Please no... "I don't... I... "
"Yes you do, Bella."
I stand frozen in front of him.
Frozen in every way I could be.
But then he closes my door.
And tightens his grip on my icy hand still in his. Squeezes. Again.
And on my frostbitten heart...
Because he pulls me to the edge of my bed. And stops. His forward motion. Ours.
And falls back with only his own.
My hand falling free when he does.
And gets far enough...
To free the rest of me.
"Yes. You. Do." He repeats the words slowly. One at a time. So I can't misunderstand their meaning. Can't wonder about it. And don't.
And then confirms that my tears and fears are warranted this time. Quickly... "And so do I... "
Tears and fears that put me on the floor at his feet. Literally. And at his mercy... "So confess... " he says, sitting back up and looking down at me, "Not what they were... what you were... capable of... but what they are now. If I let you."
"I-i-i-if?" I ask him through sobs. Daring to look up at him. Really look...
At the man...
And the Agent...
Who's here with me now, too.
Who found what he came here for...
"Do we need to go back outside, Bella?" he asks me, wiping the tears from my face. "Do you need to see it to understand? See more than me right in front of you? In your personal space? Asking you to violate mine? Trespass all fucking over it? Because you took it from me already? And my will to take it back? Or anything away from you? But what you want me to have? Take? And keep? And drown myself in with blissful fucking ignorance... like I've been doing?"
Like he's been...
"Yes, Bella. Like I've been."
"You kn-kn-know... kn-knew... "
"Of course I do. And did...though I admit not quite as quickly as I should have...
"Your crazy beautiful was crazy distracting...
"But yes. Because I am good at my job. And because you're not good at hiding things. Not good at all."
"I w-was... until you c-came... I m-mean–"
"I know what you mean, Bella. And I know that you didn't want to. Be buried by those secrets... that you wish you'd never had to keep...
"But you need to know that I decided a long time ago to help you keep them. Long before I knew I had an accomplice... and then two...
"And long before I knew someone was hell bent on destroying you."
And something he wasn't looking for.
He found them both.
But only still wants one.
Who asks him to confess it to me... just to be sure. "S-someone that isn't y-you?"
"Bella... wouldn't I have done it already? If it was me?"
"I don't kn-know."
"Yes you do. You're just afraid to believe in anyone. Well...
"Besides your friend."
"He's been my friend for a very long time."
"I know that. And that when he told you he wouldn't let anything bad happen, you wanted to believe him."
"Of course I did."
"But that you didn't."
"Not because he didn't mean it... "
"No, not because of that."
"And not because he wouldn't try... to make it true... "
"No... not because of that, either. You didn't believe him because of me."
"Yes, Edward, but not because–" My words fall away as his mercy rises up.
And as I do...
Because he reaches down and pulls me up from the floor.
Makes me stand before him.
Him, my judge, jury, and executioner.
"I love you, Bella," he tells me, his hands fierce and strong as he holds mine. And me. With his words. "Do you understand that? I love you enough. And I love you better than he does. And I can protect you better."
And I'll let you... God, I'll let you... but "He–"
"Can hurt you."
No... it's her, not him... "He would never–"
"Listen to me!" he shouts but doesn't.
And it scares me... because he does know... "Okay... please don't get mad... I'm sorry... I'm–"
"Afraid of the wrong person."
"I'm not afraid of... ... " I can't say the words this time. Finish them. The words I've said before. The one...
"You don't want to lie to me anymore," he says. Declares. Because he knows everything, even though I've confessed nothing.
And "I never did," I whisper. "And I tried not to... "
"I know you did."
"But the truth in black and white... it... was... "
"Better left untold."
Better left... "That doesn't sound like you." You, who doesn't like secrets. Or...
"Better left untold by you."
Especially when they're mine. "It still doesn't sound like you. Even less now, actually... "
"Well, that's because your me is a little more open minded."
"My you?" I ask him. Out loud this time. Because I like the way it sounds. And wanted to feel that sound on my lips.
And because I want him to say it again.
Which he knows, of course... "Yes, Bella. YOUR me."
"That I get to keep?" I ask now. Because I can't not.
And because I've never gotten to keep anything.
And I want to. I want to so badly...
"Do you remember what I told you the other day? That I was the only person, circumstance, or thing that could take me from you?"
"Yes," I whisper, though I want to scream it. "I remember."
"Good. Tell me what else I sad."
"That I shouldn't be afraid."
"One more, Bella... "
"And do you believe me? Now, even if you didn't then?"
I stare at him.
And the tears fill my eyes again.
Tears that are warranted.
Because the answer I found there... here... right in front of me...
The only answer there is...
The only one he has for me...
"So, what now? I mean... you said you wanted a confession... but then you said–"
"There are different kinds of confessions, Bella."
"I wasn't asking you for the kind I could hear."
"You hear everything... "
"That's because I listen."
"So, you don't need to? Aren't asking me to? Weren't?"
"No. Not now. I may someday... if I think hearing it will help me protect you... but I can do that without it at the moment."
"Then what did you want? What did you want me to confess?"
"I told you. I wanted to know what you were capable of."
"You mean feel?" I ask now, remembering that look in his eyes...
What I knew it meant...
Before we got to the black and white.
"You wanted to feel it."
"Not past tense, Bella."
"You want to. Still."
"You... are in no position to tell me no."
Judge, jury, and merciful executioner...
And maybe a little cocky...
"You got me there. And wherever else you choose, it would seem. Forever... "
"Is that really what you think? What you feel? That you have no choice now? And never will?"
"I was kind of–"
"Kind of what?"
"Kind of kidding... "
"And kind of serious."
"No... I don't know... I... "
"You're not stuck, Bella. With me. Just because I know about when you were...
"That's not what your life is now. And not how I want you to live it. Or give it to me."
"Do you know that or don't you?"
"I WON'T hold it over you."
"Use it as some power... to control you... "
"You don't need to... you–"
"Don't want you that way. Living in fear of me. Fear that if you don't do everything I want... everything I say... that I'll hurt you with your own pain."
"I don't think that, Edward. But–"
"But you do, too."
"No... I just... "
"It's okay, Bella. You don't have to try to explain it. And someday you'll know that. That you'll never have to. Because you won't feel it anymore. The threat of it. Or of me, who isn't, and will never be one to you...
"But would still like that confession I asked you for. Not because you think you have to give it to me... but because you love me enough... and want me enough... to give it to me on your own."
"So, you really do just want to know what I'm capable of."
"I do. And I think it's only fair that you show me... you know... since I've shown you what I am. Many times."
"And it's only my hands that you want to show you?" I ask him. Knowing it's not like I know my own name...
And he laughs...
A deep, sexy chuckle of a laugh...
That flows through his mouth with it... "Oh, Bella... you are certifiably nuts... "
And that makes me smile in spite of its black and white truth.
And push him back on my bed.
With my hands.
And... "You have no idea... "
There's a U-Haul trailer in the driveway.
Mine this time.
And a bigger one than there was the last.
And Aly's new suitcase is in the back of Edward's Tahoe. The red one with white polka dots. Suitcase, not Tahoe...
And she's in the back seat. With Figaro. And Cleo. And the jar of good.
All ready to go somewhere...
Where there's no bad.
And no yellow.
And not so much black and white.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm not doing it to hurt you, Bella."
"Look at me when you say that."
"I know," I tell him again, my eyes locked on his this time.
"You do understand?"
"Yes. I understand."
"It's the only way I can protect you. For now."
"Okay because you believe me or okay because you're afraid to disagree with me? Or fight me?"
"Okay because you love me. Enough."
"You've come a long way, Bella."
"I didn't do it alone."
"You'll never do anything alone again."
"Because you don't trust me to or because–"
"Because you love me enough."
"I do, Edward."
"I know. Now go say goodbye."
"You're not coming?"
"But you said–"
"You'll never do anything alone again after this."
"Hurry up before I change my mind."
"Yes, Agent Cullen."
"Very funny, Ca–Miss Swan."
"You're so going to have to climb another tree later."
"I'm going to be that tree later, Bella."
"Is that supposed to scare me, Edward?" I ask with a smirk, and back away from him.
Towards an open door very different from the closed one he leans against.
To wait for me.
"Take care of–"
"I'm sorry... "
"I really am."
"It's my fault, not yours."
"The truth. The painful... ugly... truth."
"If I could go back... "
"Don't ever say that."
"You wouldn't have what you have now. And I'd NEVER take that away from you."
"I'm going to hold on to what I had."
Those words hurt.
Knowing their truth...
And they make me want to...
But I close my eyes and take a deep breath and pull away instead.
Because I can't go back.
And can go forward.
With my eyes wide open.
Because someone loved me enough.
When they were and they weren't.
And then take me with them when they went.
In the light of day.
Under a clear sky.
With everything staked and everything at...
And everything claimed.
But this ground beneath my moving feet.
That isn't anymore...
That's empty now.
Because Edward holds it in his hands...
And goodbye from me. Because that's it. How it ends. For now...
Which I'll now explain. Sort of.
This is the ending I'm giving you. The goodbye... until I decide to give you one last hello. Which will come, when I decide the time is right. Not before.
So, this, for now, and maybe for a little while or maybe for a long, is complete.
And before you share your thoughts about that... or this... I'm going to share a few more of mine: I know what some of you wanted for her. What kind of 'ending'... What you thought she deserved... but she's MINE. And I–with Edward's help and love–gave her what I thought she did. So, be mad, be pissed, or be disgusted... but know that I'll be just fine.
Thanks for reading. Goodbye.