"Addicted to the love I found
Heavy heart, now a weightless cloud
Making time for the ones that count
I'll spend the rest of my time
Laughing hard with the windows down
Leaving footprints all over town
Keeping faith, karma comes around
I will spend the rest of my life

Catching my breath, letting it go,
Turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life,
I won't be told what's supposed to be right"

- Catch My Breath, by: Kelly Clarkson

Chapter: 20

-Rosalie POV-

You would think that everything I had been through lately would either turn me into a full-on basket case, or that I would be completely numb to my surroundings.

I guess I'm experiencing a little of both.

On one hand, I want to shut every single thing around me off and just…be. Just survive in a bubble where people like Royce don't exist and a place where men don't beat and rape the person they're supposed to love.

I can't though, because if I shut myself off from everyone and everything around me, I'll never be able to function again.

Royce will have every ounce of power he's ever had against me and my life will be over. Even if he isn't physically in it to torment me, he will be there in my nightmares, waiting for me to fall asleep so the attack can happen over and over again. I refuse to live like that. I cannot—no, I will not—let Royce King ruin my life.

So when Doctor Cullen suggested that I talk to someone and seek professional counseling to deal with the trauma inflicted on me from the attack, I agreed.

I know I'm only one person. And I'm not strong and fearless like Bella. I can't put on a brave face and act like everything isn't falling apart.

I feel like I'm dying inside. I'm terrified every time I fall asleep that Royce is going to be there when I wake up. That he's just waiting to finish the job he started and kill me.

That's the main reason I won't testify against him. No one stands up to the King family and gets away with it. They're dangerous. I'm praying that if I walk away and just leave amicably that he won't come after me.

It's a huge leap of Faith, but it's all I've got. It's the only thing I have left to hold on to. Faith.

Well, that and the people I love.

I look over at the slouched, lanky frame in the oversized chair next to my bed and smile affectionately at my sleeping big brother.

I don't know when he got here, it was obviously when I was asleep, but I've never been happier to see him.

Just having him here beside me makes me feel stronger, and it gives me a sense of peace that I've rarely found since waking up after the accident.

Well, without the morphine drip, of course.

With a deep, contended sigh, I feel myself drifting back off into a deep sleep.

. . . . . . .

I wake to a nurse checking my vitals and changing the bandage on my forehead. She's gentile as she cleans my abrasion, and she asks me quietly how my pain is doing.

My mind is still cloudy with sleep, and I feel a bit discombobulated, so it takes me a second to register my surroundings. I shift slightly on the bed and a sharp jolt of pain shoots through my slung arm.

My body feels like a raging inferno, as fiery pain tears through my center, causing me to wince and gasp for air.

"You need to press this when you start to get sore," she scolds gently as she nudges my morphine drip button closer to me.

"I know, I just…I didn't hurt when I woke up earlier, but now…I feel like all of the medication has worn off," I say through clenched teeth as I try to silently endure the pain.

Tears sting my eyes and threaten to fall, my skin is heated and slightly damp, and my pain is so bad I feel like I am having a stroke.

I hear the heart monitor kick up a bit, showing my state of unease, and unfortunately, it causes Jasper to stir.

The nurse quickly pushes the drip button for me and dabs my face with a cool cloth, trying to soothe me.

"I'm sorry," I apologize meekly. "It just hurts so bad," I whisper to her, hoping that Jasper isn't fully lucid enough to hear.

"Sweetie, you never have to apologize for being in pain, okay?" she says sincerely and gently pushes my slightly damp hair away from my face.

"How is she doing, ma'am?" I hear Jasper's gruff voice address the nurse, and I press my eyes closed as the tears finally slip down my face, trickling into my hair and tickling my ears.

"She'll be okay. She's awake if you'd like to ask for yourself." She smiles over her shoulder at him and walks around to the other side of my bed. She adjusts the cushioned strap of my sling and makes me wiggle my fingers in my casted arm, before jotting down something in her notes and excusing herself from my room.

It takes me another full minute before I meet my brother's gaze.

His eyes must mirror mine perfectly, crystal blue, slightly bloodshot, and full of tears.

"Jas," I whisper brokenly, my voice chokes on a sob.

"Oh God, Rose, I'm so sorry. I am so Goddamned sorry," he cries and clasps my injured hand in his as he leans over me.

"What are you sorry for?" I ask as I weep. "You didn't do this to me."

"I shoulda been here," he says firmly. "I shoulda protected you," he grits as his tears spill over and splash down his cheeks.

I shake my head slightly, wincing in pain. "You couldn't have. You tried to tell me back then that Royce was bad for me, and I didn't listen. I thought you were just being overprotective. Please, please, Jasper…don't beat yourself up. You didn't know…you couldn't have known this would happen." I sniffle as I plead with him to understand.

"I still shoulda been here," he whispers as he rests his forehead against the side of my face, trying to get close without hurting me.

"You're here now. That's all that matters to me," I say resolutely.

"I'm not goin' anywhere either. I'll do whatever it takes to make you safe again," he vows and squeezes my hand softly.

And even though the black cloud of Royce's release looms over us all, I truly feel safer knowing Jasper is going to stay. Maybe it's selfish of me to be happy that he's uprooting his life to protect me, but I can't bring myself to regret it.

Jasper and Bella are my safe haven. They're my home.

Author's note: Sorry for the delay. As usual, life has been crazy.

Tootles, Kittens!