Twilight Post Secret Challenge
Title: Unfold Me
Word Count: 5,108
Summary: Bella has dealt with selfish people all her life. When she finally leaves that behind to fulfill her own desires, things take an unexpected turn.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Rosalie entered her home quietly, knowing by the serene silence that her four year old had to be sleeping. There was no possible way things could be so calm if he was awake. He was going through a monster stage. As in a - be the biggest monster you can possibly be as soon as mommy walks through the door - kind of stage.
She walked into the living room and saw her two babies asleep on the couch together. Her daughter was nineteen now and not nearly a baby, but would always hold that place in Rosalie's heart. She was ready to be out on her own, but refused to go to college. She wanted to be an actress, she said. So, Rosalie indulged Bella.
Rosalie had been feeling like she was taking advantage of Bella's indecision lately, letting her stay home with her little brother while Rosalie worked and dated. It should be Bella working and dating, she thought, but as time went on she let things keep going as they were. Thoughts in the back of her mind reminded her that the situation was getting out of control, and she knew they would be until she put her foot down. Rosalie had done nothing to change it thus far, but she hoped that the news she gave Bella that day would push things in the right direction.
Rosalie had lived a hard life, she thought, comforting herself. It wasn't like she'd planned on getting pregnant at seventeen and being forced to make it on her own. Still, her main goal had been for Bella to be happy and satisfied. She was glad she'd called that guy she had dated a few months back to help her out with Bella's new audition. It made her feel like she was being a little more parental and useful to her daughter, at least.
Her son, Killian, adored his big sister. Bella was, much to his actual mother's dismay, like a second mom to him. Mothers make mistakes, too, she constantly told herself. Another baby out of wedlock was never in the plans. She also never thought she'd get pregnant in a relationship with a man that would tuck tail and leave.
She thought she'd learned her lesson over the years. Then her beautiful boy came along and both she and her daughter were smitten. After that, she'd had no regrets. Things would never be easy, she thought, but they would always be worth it.
Bella woke up and saw her mother standing in the room with an indulgent smile on her face and a large makeup case in her hands. Oh, no, Bella thought. What kind of crazy scheme did she have on her mind, now?
"I got you an audition." Rosalie gushed with a huge smile on her face. "This is big, Bella. This could be huge for you: a TV show! If you get it you go to New York as soon as possible to film the pilot! Come on, let's get you ready. It's at four o'clock." Bella looked at the clock and groaned. She had roughly three hours to get ready and be to Boston two hours away. This wasn't the first time her mom had found her a last minute audition and it wouldn't be the last.
Some scum bag talent scout her mom had worked for through a temp service, and then had subsequently screwed, was always trying to get back into Rosalie's good graces and would use finding Bella "auditions" as often as he could. Bella didn't understand why her mom couldn't see a spade for a spade but she went along with things. If it's terrible, she thought, I'll go out for coffee and come home with a sad story about how they wanted a blonde. Her mom loved that excuse.
Rosalie was tall and naturally platinum haired with ringlets that she stubbornly tamed into submission, constantly flat ironing, although she looked much younger when she let them free. She still had the body of a twenty year old, though she worked at it incessantly, which Bella could never understand. Exercise was a nuisance in Bella's eyes and if she had an inch or two of muffin top it didn't bother her much. She liked curves, and thanks to her moms DNA, she was blessed with a small waist and womanly hips. Her breasts, though, would never measure up, which her mom pointed out constantly. "You need to save up for implants, Bella, if you ever want to make it in Hollywood," Rosalie would nag.
The two of them got along more like sisters and always had. Bella knew they always would.
They were attracted to the same look in men; tall, brunette and broody. They liked the same clothes, though Bella's were always a bit less painted on than her mother's. They bickered like siblings but Bella always tried to be respectful. Her mother had taught her manners if nothing else, and respect went hand in hand with manners.
Bella's 'Aunt Liz' was their saving grace, the referee when things couldn't be worked out logically between the two of them, even if it was only over the phone. She wasn't really an aunt but Rosalie's best friend since middle school. She lived two states away but tried to visit often. Aunt Liz had gotten mixed up in the same mistakes Rosalie had at that age: she fell in love with a boy. Bella's moms tryst didn't work out, but Aunt Liz's had. Bella loved most when they would road trip to see Aunt Liz and her family in the summers. They hadn't been able to afford it in a few years, but she had the best memories of those visits.
Mostly memories of Edward.
But things had been different the last time Bella saw him, so she tried not to think of him too much. She'd just make herself miss him even more.
Rosalie had grown up in upstate New York but ran away to Maine with Bella's father when they got together and had never managed to leave. Bella couldn't wait to leave; she just couldn't imagine abandoning her baby brother. Maine was cold and isolating, though she did love the ocean. She had always felt so alone but also so exposed. Everyone knew her family's business, or they thought they knew and had made up the rest. Her father had stuck around for only two years, which Bella had no memories of. She only knew what her mother would tell her, which was little. Once her mom joked that the man they had come to Maine with wasn't even her real father, and looking at pictures, Bella had wondered. She'd never had the guts to bring the subject up with Rosalie.
They'd lived off less than most, but more than some. Bella had always wanted more, but never had to go without what she absolutely needed. Rosalie hadn't always been the best role model, but she'd been very open with her daughter about her mistakes and Bella had tried her best not to repeat her mother's decisions.
Bella was jarred from her thoughts when Rosalie re-entered the room and shooed her towards the bathroom for "prepping," or what Bella liked to call, torture. She was dolled up, dressed up and rushed out the door. Part of her hoped the audition went well so she wouldn't have to stay stuck with all the responsibilities she had been given but mostly she didn't want to leave her brother. She promised her mom she would do her best and she did. That audition changed her life.
New York City was bigger than she had remembered it being last time they'd went there for a long weekend, maybe because Bella was alone this time and didn't have her mom leading the way. She had been there for three weeks and had surprisingly been having a pretty good time. She had made friends at the studio, and even found a tiny apartment above a Chinese restaurant that smelled constantly of fried egg rolls and onions. She'd been fitted for wardrobe and had busied herself with memorizing her lines. Really, she had been too frantically occupied to even miss home except Killian, whom she called every other day no matter what. He was her little light at the end of the tunnel, what had kept her grounded.
She was coming home late on a Saturday night after rehearsals when Mrs. Choo, her surrogate, if unneeded mother/landlord, stopped her on the landing of the back stairs.
"There a boy here for you." Mrs. Choo seemed to accuse, rather than inform.
"A boy?" Bella asked. She had met many men in her three weeks in the city but none of importance.
"Boy on motorcycle with guitar and cigarette. You no be that kind of girl, you. I raise rent for cigarettes!"
Bella stopped to think then turned and saw the bike in the parking lot. She shot up the stairs more excited then she had been in months as Mrs. Choo yelled "You no be bad girl, I raise rent for cigarettes!" but Bella could only laugh. She made it to the door in a rush and almost fell on top of Edward who was sitting on the ground. He looked just as Mrs. Choo had described and just as Bella remembered from the last time she saw him: guitar case at his side, cigarette hanging half out of his mouth.
"What are you doing here?" Bella practically shouted, with a smile in her voice.
Edward unfolded his lanky frame slowly and stood up, throwing his smoke over the railing. "I came to make sure you stay out of trouble, what do you think? I hope the couch is comfy."
And that was how Bella and Edward came to live together.
She hadn't really needed him; she thought she was doing fine on her own. They would fight, bicker and argue about his presence constantly, but she never really considered asking him to leave. They were not always home at the same time. Edward played his music at junky bars all over the city and Bella's work schedule was vigorous, but when they were together they always had fun.
They would go to movies and he even took her to a play on her twentieth birthday. He was so sweet to her sometimes, and always a pleasure to look at. Once in a while, she would catch herself staring at him and then have to shake herself out of a trance.
He was just too beautiful, she thought, one night sitting at the small kitchen table, watching him strum his guitar. It wasn't just the way he looked, it was all of him. He was so tall and trim, but also muscular whenever she had the rare opportunity of seeing him with his shirt off. His hair was insane but it fit him perfectly and his eyes would hypnotize her if she would let them. Deep down, what she loved about him most was his soul, just pure goodness hiding behind a bad boy image. And his voice, it was aching and longing and sugar and grit all rolled into one perfectly imperfect baritone.
Edward never knew what she was thinking and it frustrated him to no end. They had been roommates for weeks, yet he still knew so little of this woman he had called his best friend since childhood. He had all the memories, the scraped knees and the glasses she wore for a week before she broke them and declared her own eyes perfect out of frustration. He remembered her ratty pig tails and seeing her for the first time in a bathing suit once she got her boobs. But she was different now. Everything was different.
She was so mature, so focused and brave. He came to her with a duffle bag of clothes and his guitar and she welcomed him. Neither of them had much money because living in the city was hard unless you were rich. But they cohabitated as friends when really deep down he wanted it all. He'd never tell her, he had decided long ago. When she and Rosalie had come to his parent's house the last time a few years back, he had known that Bella was more than just a friend, but he refused to let it show.
He played his crappy gigs and tried to keep an eye on her. He slept on the couch and yearned for her in the shower silently like an adolescent boy rather than a man of twenty five. She was too young and too perfect. She had so much going for her and he had an empty wallet and a notebook full of songs. Not really a shining example of what a man should be, he thought.
He quit smoking, mostly, and helped pay the rent. He took her to movies and held her hand during the scary ones. He made coffee every morning because he knew she needed it, although he went back to bed as soon as she left for work.
Edward tried to be the best protector and friend he could possibly be until one night the control finally snapped. After one too many shots at the bar and a pair of shorts that were sinfully short, he finally let her see.
He fell into the front door at three AM, an early night for him. He was shocked to see Bella in their tiny kitchen holding a mug of tea and reading a magazine. She was sitting crossed legged on the counter top and the shorts she was wearing were indecent.
"What are you doing up?" Edward asked with a scowl on his face.
"What does it look like I'm doing, grouch? I have the morning off tomorrow and I thought I'd wait up for you. It feels like I haven't seen you in days. You're always at some gig or another; I was thinking you must have found some hot girlfriend." She smiled a bit, but really, she was hinting for clues to his life during the times he was out and away from her. He'd never brought a woman around and she knew from the past that Edward was never without some sort of friends-with-benefits type of pal. He just wasn't a celibate kind of guy and it had been months since he had moved in.
He didn't want to talk to her about women, but more importantly he wanted her to get off the counter and change her shorts. He could practically see her pussy peeking out at him with the way she was sitting and he was much too drunk to resist.
He braced his arms next to her and laughed as she sniffed him and scrunched her nose. "Geez, fall into the keg?" she asked.
"No, I didn't. What are these shorts you're wearing? I've never seen these before." He asked, slipping his finger under them hem on the outside of her thigh. She visibly shivered and Edward smiled.
"Edward…" she whispered, as his mouth moved closer to hers and his whole hand moved over her thigh. "What are you doing?"
"Kissing you…" and his mouth brushed hers very softly only to be interrupted by the shrill ringing of his cell phone in his pocket. "Ignore it." He tried as he breathed in her scent, his mouth skimming her bottom lip, but it rang again.
Bella never understood the point of funerals. She knew that they were never for the dead and that made her sad. She'd always wondered why the living did what they wanted instead of what the dead would prefer. They weren't the ones that had to die, and her Aunt Liz would have never wanted all the hubbub of a funeral. She was too cool for that.
She stood next to her mother, holding her little brother as Edward helped his father say goodbye to his mom. Aunt Liz had been broadsided by a Semi when, for some unknown reason, she'd crossed over into the wrong lane of traffic. She died on impact. The autopsy wasn't back from the coroner, but they assumed it was a stroke or seizure of some kind. They had been crying for days.
Bella had never felt so helpless, seeing Edward hold his mothers cold hand, witnessing him drink his way through the nights while she sat beside him in his old bedroom. She agreed to take him with her when she went home to Maine for her last few days off work before they headed back to the city. He couldn't be alone in his mom's house, he said, so they left that afternoon, following Rosalie and Killian in Bella's car.
It was nice to be home, Bella thought, but she was glad it was only for three days. The house looked the same; a little messier, maybe, but mostly just as she had left it.
"I declare it party time!" Rosalie said, turning on the stereo and dropping the bags in her hands to the floor. Edward carried a sleeping Killian in from the car to his bed and joined them in the kitchen. Rosalie poured three shots and held one up to Edward. "Your mama would have wanted us to celebrate her, not to cry, so the crying is done." She said cheers and they all downed the vodka, Bella couldn't help the shudder that ran through her body, nor could she ignore the look in Edward's eye when he witnessed it. Was it time to go home yet, she thought.
"Let's bust out the books, come on Edward." Rosalie sauntered to the living room, sat down and patted the floor beside her. She proceeded to take out her many photo albums for what Bella was sure covered the last thirty years. It was going to be a long night, Bella could tell.
Bella opened the cabinets and then went to the fridge. Nothing edible, just as she figured. She told her mom she was going to get some groceries and received a nod from both Rosalie and Edward. They weren't paying any attention to her; they were already working on their third shot of Goose and reminiscing over pictures of Aunt Liz. She'd be lucky if they were still sitting up straight when she got back.
Walking in the front door she heard the noises immediately and rolled her eyes. Her mom must have called her flavor of the week over for a drunken rumble. Rosalie was like a twelve year old boy couldn't keep her legs closed for one day, not even on the day she had buried her best friend.
Bella's bedroom door was closed so she assumed Edward was passed out in there. She put the groceries on the table and then crept down the hall. She was worried about Killian. She didn't want him to have to hear those sounds and wake up wondering if everything was okay. She went past her room and to her little brothers and saw thankfully that his door was mostly closed. She peeked in to make sure he had his covers on and then quickly closed the door. The sex coming from down the hall was getting louder.
She quietly went to her mother's door intending to shut it so she didn't have to hear anymore but the sight that greeted her stopped her short. Edward's belt in the hall, Edward's leather jacket in the doorway, finally Edward's body on top of her mother.
In one part of her mind she could smell the liquor spilled on the carpet and the sweat and sex mixture coming from the couple in bed, but most of her was breaking inside. He was supposed to be hers. She had already decided it long ago and thought it was finally happening before they got the call about his mom, before in the kitchen that they had shared for five months when he had almost kissed her. He was to be hers and now he never would be.
She couldn't tear her eyes away from them. There was no awkwardness like there had been in Bella's experience with sex, there was only pure raw lust. She had seen it on TV, seen it in the clubs, seen it on porn that her one and only partner had enjoyed, but lust… lust for the sake of only lust, was something she had felt inside herself, but never been able to act upon. The tiniest part of her that wasn't devastated was riveted because they were so beautiful. For a full minute that seemed like an eternity, she couldn't look away. The muscles bunching in his shoulders, the grace of the woman's thighs wrapped around his hips, she saw beauty in lust, a beauty she knew she didn't possess, but wanted to.
She gently kicked Edward's jacket that was blocking the way into her mother's room and closed the door. She turned towards her own door but stopped just as the first and only tear fell. As she wiped it away she made a promise to herself that she would never allow her heart to feel this way ever again, never let herself be broken by someone who hadn't even realized that she had probably loved him her whole life long.
Bella straightened her shoulders and tuned out the muffled sounds coming from her mother's room. She quietly packed her small bag and left her mom a note on the kitchen counter saying she had to go back to the city and that her boss had needed her. She didn't sign the note with the words 'I love you' for the first time in her life.
She found Killian's favorite teddy bear on the sofa and entered his room to say good bye. If anything in her world would ever be right and beautiful and perfect, it was him. She kissed his forehead and left the house, got into her car and drove back to the city, not caring that Edward had no way home. Her mind played the scene she had witnessed over and over again. She got angry and wondered how the fuck two people who had just lost one of the most important women in their lives forever, could let themselves do what they had done. She banished it from her mind and thought only of her brother and how much she would miss him. Never did she ever think that she wouldn't see him again for over three years.
Bella, unknowingly, walked into the bar Edward was singing at. Even years later, when she heard his voice, it instantly shot through her like daggers, but she didn't care. She wouldn't allow it. She had fucked him out of her system, she told herself. Drugs, booze, sex, whatever it took, and she made him fade from her mind. He didn't matter. His eyes landed on her immediately, but she didn't let herself feel the heat. Edward felt the fire though, and the beauty of her hadn't been taken over by time.
She shined like sapphires in a blue dress, prettier now then she was on TV, standing out because it was so evident that she didn't belong in such a casual place. She was glory and light and everything he could never have, yet she was here, glowing brightly in the shadows while he sang her song that she would never know was hers across the smoke filled room. She didn't even look his way but he could see the stiffness in her posture, the rigid line of her sculpted naked back peeking between panels of dark fabric that, in his estimation, covered not at all enough, and entirely too much.
He sang on as she laughed politely at her companions joke then shyly looked his way. When their eyes met, hers were dull, yet vivid in their flatness. Her solitude spoke volumes across the small club, though she was surrounded by people. Her soulless expression made her look so alone; he felt he could see right through her.
She had drastically changed, that he could see. She was thinner and vacant both in body and expression. He wanted to wrap her up in a warm cocoon of heat and safety and never let her out of his sight again, but he knew she'd never allow him that close. She was beyond his touch, beyond his space of time and want. He'd had his chance long ago and they both had known it wasn't something that could be repeated. Now she'd never know that he had gotten better for himself because she had made him want to be sober. That after the last night they had seen each other he had almost drank himself to death, but thought of her when he finally decided to fix his life. She had made him want to feel both the pain and the joy that he had seen just once in her smile.
She didn't smile now, but he could feel a bit of his wonder slipping out and curving his lips. He hadn't expected her to be kind if they ever crossed paths again.
She touched the arm of the man next to her and whispered in his ear. Edward's jealously snapped his features back into their more common melancholy expression. As the song came to a close, Bella rushed toward the back of the bar and Edward assumed she had went to find the restroom. He said a quiet thank you for the applause and stowed his guitar. When she still hadn't returned to her party a few minutes later, he couldn't help himself but to search her out. Just to say hello, he told himself.
He slid the bathroom door open after seeing that she was still inside and realized what was keeping her. The small glass tube in her hand filled with white powder and the wand used to pull it out and help it up her nose were on full display. She wasn't even trying to hide the fact that she had so obviously just snorted coke, she just stood there staring at his reflection in the mirror, wiped her nose delicately and screwed the top back on the container.
"Bella," he whispered.
"Go away." She shouted and then threw the drugs at him. She stumbled on her heels and fell backwards, he tried to reach her but she hit the wall before he could.
"What have you done to yourself?" he asked as he pulled out his cell phone and called for an ambulance.
"What have you done to me?" she whispered with her eyes still closed.
Rehab wasn't all bad. There was no freedom, no privacy, no secrets, but it was freeing in a way, to hand over the reigns of your decision making for a time. Bella chose a ninety day program. With the money she hadn't snorted and had saved to buy an apartment in the city, she instead, got clean. It didn't happen overnight. People smuggled things in sometimes, and it was hard to resist the temptation of just forgetting for a while, but she did. All in all, she was a model patient.
The difference between her and the people who would repeat the program or go on to kill themselves slowly was that she wanted it. She really did want her life back. She had stayed away from the one person that had mattered most to her in the world, her baby brother. He was no longer a baby, but she knew that getting clean and happy for herself meant that he could be part of her life again.
She didn't try to make friends. It was a confidential place meant for people in the public eye. Even though she knew who most everyone was, in the back of her mind she knew that if she did try to get close to any of them, it was unlikely and unadvised that she would see them again after she left.
She had been told by her therapist that long term plans weren't much of a priority, so she put the future off for the first two months and concentrated on her insides. Questions like, why she felt so alone in a crowd, why she couldn't see the star on the rise that everyone else saw, were studied as if under a microscope. She wanted to find love eventually, but knew that there had been only one person she was meant for and that they could never be. She wanted to be giving and creative, she wanted all the things she knew she could be, but hadn't been because of the pain.
She confronted her mother for the first time during family day, but then asked her never to come again. She threw her father in Rosalie's face, screamed at her for what she had done with Edward, but mostly she made Rosalie see how selfish she had been all her life. In the end they would be better for it, the both of them apart and together. It would take time.
She sat in the window seat of her room during her rare quiet times. She read Edward's letters repeatedly, especially whenever she found herself longing. Longing for drugs, longing for sex, amusement, comfort or oblivion. Mostly longing for Edward himself. He had helped her through things with only his support and kind words, she wished she had been there for him when he had walked this same path. She decided to write him back for the first and last time. She was going back to the real world within the next week and wanted to say one thing to him before she got home and had to see him face to face.
The page was mostly empty, except for a few words she needed him to hear, words of a song that said everything:
Wrap me up.
And she wasn't speaking of the paper, she was speaking of herself. She had forgiven him somewhere along the journey and she wanted him to know. She was ready to go home, and the only home she had ever really wanted was in his arms.
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