SM owns.

Everything grammatically correct is thanks to Sunflower Fanfiction and Mari. (I love you both.) All the mistakes are mine.

This is the final chapter. I'll be posting an epilogue soon-ish.

Enjoy.


Chapter 25: Speaking Up

"Your words will either give you joy or give you sorrow.

But if they were spoken without regret they give you peace."

Shannon L. Alder. ~


After Charlotte's departure, I try to create a new routine. Many of my afternoons were spent with her, talking, reading, and working on my homework.

Now that she's gone, I don't want to spend my time in solitude feeling sorry for myself. Edward's always here for me, but as much as he's kind of my everything, I don't want to make him responsible for 100% of my happiness.

Plus, he's been spending a lot of his free time with his father, allowing himself to enjoy the things he took for granted in the past. His anger at his dad's expectations made him bitter towards all the conferences and hospitals tours he had been to in the past. He wants to relive it now, and I'm so glad that he's gotten the second chance.

Still, he knows I'm in a bit of a funk because of Charlotte, so he promised to do something to cheer me up.

"It doesn't involve sex, so get your mind out of the gutter," he joked earlier while he dropped me off at home.

I'm both intrigued and excited, although the fact that he's doing something at all is enough to make me smile.

I'm so lucky.

"Bella, Edward's here!" my father yells from downstairs. I take a last look at my outfit before walking out of my room. Old habits die hard, I guess.

"Hey," I say to Edward as soon as I see him. He kisses the back of my hand, then my forehead, keeping it PG13 in front of Charlie.

"We'll just be having dinner with my family," Edward says to Charlie, who's looking wary from the corner of the living room.

He nods, and orders Edward to bring me home safe, sound, and early. I smile at his efforts and kiss his cheek before we leave.

"You shouldn't have lied to Charlie. He trusts you," I say to Edward once we're outside.

"I didn't," he says, winking at me. I frown, looking at his nicer jeans and dress shirt.

He chuckles at my expression, and then leads me to my backyard. We walk to his place hand in hand, through our secret passage.

"You should've told me we were coming to the backyard, Edward. I wouldn't have dressed up," I tell him, but he ignores me.

We enter his house through a side door that is almost never used. When we go in, I realize why. It leads straight to a studio-like room.

The room is big and empty. There's only a black, grand piano in the center of it.

"Oh my God," I breathe, looking at the stark contrast of the white room and the black piano. Edward's also wearing black.

"It's usually filled with a bunch of crap, but I cleaned it up," he says. His hand leaves mine to rub the back of his neck. "I didn't want the other stuff to be distracting."

I nod at him, understanding right away.

It's about the music.

It's about baring it all.

He hasn't touched the piano keys, but he has already overwhelmed me.

We walk slowly to the bench and sit. He doesn't say anything before he starts playing.

And he doesn't really have to. The first few notes are soft and sweet, and then the song evolves into a myriad of different emotions. Intense feelings intertwining, chasing each other; wanting to catch up.

It's bewildering and beautiful, just like him.

This song is a self portrait.

Edward finishes playing and we both stay quiet for a little while. The last note still hangs in the room, sharp and sweet at the same time.

"I'm so glad you finally played something for me," I whisper, breaking the silence. His breathing is shaky for a second, before he chuckles. I know he's nervous.

I grab the back of his head and pull him in for a fierce kiss. I pour as much passion into it as he did to his song, trying to convey how moved I am by this. I whisper I love him in between nips and playful bites, wanting him to be sure of it.

"I've written songs about you," he says, kissing down my jaw.

"I loved this one," I say.

He continues to kiss a path down my body, igniting my skin aflame. I want to make a smart-ass comment about sex not being involved, but I'm unable to speak.

"Edward, your mother—" Dr. Cullen's voice makes us jump apart.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know you had company," his father says, looking away. I fix my blouse while Edward messes around with his shirt.

"What was that about Mom?" Edward asks, standing up.

"She needs your help with something," Dr. Cullen says, looking at me in a way I can't quite figure out.

Edward nods and gives me an apologetic look before walking out of the room.

I'm left alone with his father. The tension that fills the room once Edward is gone is undeniable and unpredictable.

I'm glad Edward has fixed his relationship with his father. I'm okay with him wanting to be a doctor. But I just have this feeling that Dr. Cullen has never approved of my relationship status with Edward. For some reason, I can't forget the way his dad confronted me when he decided to quit the football team.

And now, he has caught me in a compromising situation with his son. Needless to say, I'd rather be somewhere else right now.

"It's been a while since I heard him play," Dr. Cullen's voice brings me out of my thoughts. My head snaps to look at him, noticing he's farther inside the studio.

I make a humming sound, not wanting to admit that, technically, I had never listened to Edward play.

"He's really good," he says, smoothing his hand down the piano.

"He's perfect," I say with a little snark in my voice. Apparently I've forgotten about being embarrassed and moved on to being annoyed.

Dr. Cullen chuckles and nods his head.

"We might be biased, right?" he says, smiling.

I soften at the pride I see in his eyes and return his smile with a small one. It must come out weird looking because his posture changes from relaxed to serious.

"Listen, Isabella—"

"Bella," I correct, not liking where this is going.

"Bella," he concedes. "I know you and I may have been in disagreement before, but we both want the same things, do we not?" He inquires, cocking his head to the side, "Edward's well-being, and his happiness?" he adds when I don't answer him.

"Of course," I say, looking down.

"Let's focus on that," he says.

It's not a definite truce but it's a start. I can live with that.

Edward finds us in silence, but it's not tense. I can see the relief on his face when he meets my eyes.

"Mom's making unhealthy food just for you," he says, smiling, as his father laughs.

"I don't think that's just for Bella's benefit," he jokes, giving Edward a look. Edward shrugs and holds out his hand.

I smile back and stand up. We walk together towards the dinner table where we have a pleasant evening.


"Boy, do I have news for you," Peter says, sitting down next to me on the floor.

I arch an eyebrow at him.

"Gossip, you? Since when?"

He tries to play cool, waving me off, but then he talks.

"Char left and I really feel like I'm losing it, so I'm trying to distract myself."

I squeeze his fingers in support.

"So, what's the thing?" I ask, wanting to help him with his distraction.

"Turns out, the pregnancy test from a few weeks ago wasn't for Tanya… it was for Irina."

"What?"

"Do you remember back at the start of the school year, rumor had it Kate and Irina did a photo shoot in LA?" he asks, playing with a piece of fabric wrapped around his wrist.

I nod.

"Irina went back there for winter break, and slept with the photographer that hired them," he says and I drop my mouth in shock.

"So, is it his?" I ask, way more curious about this than I should be.

"She wasn't even pregnant, Swan. It was a false alarm. But, yeah, she claimed it was his, though we all know she probably had no idea whose it was," he says, chuckling. I nod and realize I'm glad she isn't pregnant.

I don't wish her to go through that right now, nor do I wish the kid to be brought into the world this way.

"How do you even find out about this stuff?" I ask Peter, nudging him.

"I told you, I watch people a lot."

"Right, you claimed that's how you found out about me and Edward."

"You two were so fucking obvious I'm surprised no one caught up. Not even you two," he says, shaking his head. "Idiots," he adds in a lower voice.

I nudge him again.

Edward finds us in the same place, minutes later, complaining about the injustice of his almost-detention from his History teacher.

"Damn old man," he says with a frown on his face.

He's adorable, and I tell him so while I rub soothing circles on his back.

"I'm going to leave you two before I puke," Peter says as a way of goodbye.

Edward and I wave, and then walk away from him towards the car.

"I want to leave," Edward says, while we're driving around.

"Where?" I ask.

"Really far away from this place, like, the other side of the country," he answers.

I tense up, not wanting to discuss this subject. I also don't want Edward to feel like I'm not supportive of him, so I make a humming sound.

"We should go to New York, or California," he says right before he parks in front of my house.

"Yeah," I answer and kiss his cheek before stepping out of the car.

It's obvious we need to talk.


In a silly attempt to get my mind off things, I clean the entire house and do all of my homework. I have a tendency to become super girl when I want my mind to shut up. It rarely works.

Besides, I've been trying so hard to avoid thinking about my impeding talk with Edward, that there's not much to do at all.

I Skype with Charlotte for a few minutes, but she's too busy to talk.

She looks good and she sounds okay, so I'm left feeling a bit better at her expense.

Before I let that good feeling go away, I busy myself with making dinner.

"Hey Bells, I brought pie," Charlie says when he enters the kitchen. I smile at him and tell him to put it in the fridge while we eat.

"How was work?" I ask once we're both sitting.

"Busy. We found a missing girl that was hiding. She came all the way from Seattle to stay here," he says, pushing the food around on his plate.

"Oh my God."

"Yeah. Turns out her father beat her up and she ran away. Child services took her," he says. I stop eating altogether.

"Dad, I'm sorry," I start. He looks up at me and shakes his head.

"It comes with the job. Not your fault, kid."

It's my turn to shake my head before speaking.

"I meant about me. About making this harder on you than it needed to be," I say. I don't know if I've ever thanked him for caring. I've been so busy blaming him for not knowing how to show it. It makes me feel sick with guilt, knowing how many people have had it worse.

"No, honey, you've been better than you've had a right to. I'm so happy I got you," he says and grabs my hand. I squeeze tight for a few seconds before letting go.

He goes back to eating.

"Look at us, getting all sentimental," I joke with a lump in my throat.

He chuckles and nods.

"Your mom would've approved."


Friday night finds me curled up in Edward's lap, basking in our post-coital glow. We've been silent for a few minutes, just enjoying each other's company, until we stand up to get dressed again.

I really don't want my father to find us naked in my room. After we're clothed again, I get back to Edward's lap and rest my head on his chest.

"Remember when you tried to learn how to skate?" Edward asks, tracing the skin of my small back with his fingers. I laugh.

"That lasted like a day."

"You fell and scrapped your left arm," he says, and grabs my roaming fingers; kisses them.

"Mmm."

"I threw the skates in the garbage after that," he confesses.

"What? But it was so cool," I say, sitting up. The memories of the black and white skates and an excited Edward come to mind.

"Yeah, well… I didn't want you trying again," he says, shrugging. I stay silent for a moment thinking how it's something he would do. It's part of his obsession with keeping me safe.

"Edward, we can't go to New York," I say, hiding my face from him. It comes out of nowhere. No warning, no slow build up.

"Okay. We'll go to California then. My dad knows someone at Stanford University. I think I can try to get in. You could apply for a scholarship, right? Your grades—"

"No, no Edward," I interrupt. "You can go to NYC or California or wherever you want. I can't."

His fingers grab my jaw, forcing me to look at his confused face before he asks.

"What are you talking about?"

I take a deep breath, ready to launch myself to a never ending tale of reasons. He speaks before I open my mouth.

"You can't or you won't? I thought you wanted to leave with me."

His eyes are soft and young and I suddenly feel ten times older than he is. His fingers are wrapped around my jaw, burning me. He's being extra gentle, careful not to tighten his grip. But it's his voice, low and unsure, so unlike the confident boy I love, that makes my heart ache.

"I do. And I wish we could. But we want different things. You want to run far away from Forks and I want to stay close." I play with the buttons of his shirt, wanting to make myself small and pliant against his body.

"Since when? Why in the world would you want to stay close to this place?" He asks with obvious disdain. There's the hint of betrayal in his voice. He can't believe he didn't know.

"I can't leave Charlie, Edward," I say, then take a deep breath and phrase it better. "I don't want to."

He lets go of my face and moves me out of his lap. His touch is soft and measured, but the action hurts.

He rests his elbows on his knees, breathing deep for a few seconds.

"What does this mean?" he asks. His posture is so rigid and tense, and his voice sounds helpless, as if I took the breath out of him.

I scramble on the bed, reaching towards him; desperate.

"It doesn't have to mean anything," I say, rushing my words. "Not right now. We still have this summer, and the entire senior year ahead. We have time." I touch him and try to sound reassuring.

It doesn't work.

He stands up so fast, I almost fall.

"What kind of bullshit answer is that?"

"Edward," I whisper.

"You've been listening to me talk about this for months now, and you just let me get my hopes up for nothing?"

He's livid.

"After we promised to talk about things," he mutters, shaking his head, tugging his hair, pacing the room.

I stand up.

"I know. I'm sorry. I didn't know how serious you were at first. I mean, we're young and—"

"And what, Bella?" He cuts me off and stops pacing. "Finish that sentence."

I don't dare. Not because he's mad, but because he's not anymore. His body sags and the tension leaves him.

He's no longer angry and it's worse.

He leaves before any of us has the chance to say another word.


It's been so long since Edward and I have argued that I don't know how to deal with it. It's not even the fact that we had a fight. God knows we've fought before. But fighting as friends and fighting as a couple are two very different things.

This doesn't even compare to what went on after he had that lunch with his father. We didn't fight then. We didn't talk at all.

Last night was different because we did talk. I was honest, and my truth hurt him. And his hurt, hurt me.

So when I say I don't know how to deal with it, I really don't. I haven't been in this position before.

In true angsty, teenager fashion, I spend my Saturday holed up in my bedroom, with my phone in my hand. The hours of the day go divided between making a case of why I should call him, and making a point of why I shouldn't.

I fall asleep before settling my mind on something.


"Where's Edward today?" Charlie asks on Sunday afternoon when I finally got myself out of bed.

"I don't know," I say, and feel sorry for myself and the truth of my words. He arches an eyebrow.

"You guys had a fight?

"It wasn't a fight." I sit next to him on the couch, sighing.

"We kind of had the college talk," I start, desperate to talk to anyone who'll listen. "And yes, I know we're getting ahead of ourselves, but we had to talk about it."

Dad shakes his head. "Senior year's right around the corner and it's going to be hectic. It's best you guys figure those things out now."

"I guess."

We watch television in silence, an old fashion comedy, until the credits roll. He turns the TV off and faces me.

"Bells, I know we're not drowning in money, but your mother and I did have some money saved for this," he says.

I mirror his position on the couch.

"What?"

"It's not a lot, nevertheless, it's there. And it's yours to get you started with that whole college thing. I'll try to help if I need to. Call in some favors …" he trails off, gesturing with his hands. Whatever I need, he'll try to help.

I'm speechless and warm all over.

"Oh my Go-, Dad, thank you!" I say, and hug him.

"You could go anywhere," he says, patting my back before retreating.

"Well, just to Seattle," I say.

His face scrunches up in confusion.

"I thought you'd go farther…"

"I want to stay close to home," I say and will him to change 'home' to 'you'.

He mulls over my words for a few seconds, before he talks again.

"You don't have to."

"I want to," I say and grab his hand.

The small twitch in his lips makes it worth it.


On Monday, I wake up and go through the motions of my morning routine at the speed of a turtle. I don't feel like going to school, so after my shower, I eat breakfast wrapped in a towel while watching the news.

That's how Edward finds me.

"Why aren't you ready?" he asks, walking into the living room. He got in through the kitchen door. Seeing him makes me want to cry again. I haven't talk to my boyfriend in two days.

"I didn't know you were picking me up," I say, getting up.

"I wasn't going to let you walk to school," he says under his breath. I ask him to give me a few minutes to go back upstairs and get ready.

I get dressed in record time.

Inside the car the air is heavy with our silence. I want to say something, but I'm afraid I'll make it worse. When we arrive at school, he turns off the engine of the car, and stares out the window for a minute or two.

"I understand, you know?" he says eventually. "About Charlie… I get it."

My shoulders sag with relief. I remove my seatbelt and inch closer to him, searching his eyes.

"It's okay if you're angry," I say, and take his hand in my hand. The connection is enough to put me at ease. His touch usually has that effect, no matter the circumstances.

"It hurt," he says and my heart twitches with pain. "You made it sound like we don't matter; like I don't matter."

Assuming things and knowing things for certain are two different things. Edward's confession about how he felt that night is a punch in my gut. I kneel on the seat and take his face in my hands.

"Edward, I love you. Of course you matter. You're everything," I say before kissing him. We kiss for a long time, and in the back of my mind I'm aware we're going to be late for class.

I don't care.

My whole attention is devoted to making this beautiful boy understand how I feel. After all of our communication problems, kissing has always sent the right message. My lips mold against his as we give and take all we have.

My fingers in his hair, his hand on each side of my face, the low sounds that escape us are my salvation right now.

"We'll figure something out," he says, kissing my neck.

I can feel the promise in his touch. I believe with all my heart that we will.

"We will," I say, echoing his sentiment.

We miss first period in a haze of lazy kisses and conversation. When it's time for second period, Edward gets out of the car and opens my door. I stare up at him for a moment, studying his face. He smiles at me and gives me his hand to take. Without hesitation, I let him help me get out the car.

We walk hand in hand, across the parking lot, towards the building, avoiding holes and puddles of water. We bump into a few careless people along the way, hitting the back of some cars with the side of our bodies.

At some points our hand-holding gets in the way, so we let go, but we always search for each other back, gripping tighter and tighter each time… until at last, hand in hand we make it.


I think I'll save the thank you speech for the epilogue, but in case you need an early reminder, thank you so much to everyone, for everything.

The epilogue is half written, but I don't want to rush it and end up disappointing you guys. So... if I can't update next week (as is my plan) be patient (even more) with me.

My next story, Stripped Desire, is also in the works, and I donated the Prologue and First Chapter to Fandom4LLS.

In case you want to read that before it starts posting... you can go here and donate:

fandom4lls . blogspot ?zx=6f5a68b03b1cb653

It's an amazing cause and there are lots of amazing authors donating amazing work.

Till next time;xx