PrologueMy palm was sweaty and my knuckles were white as I gripped my cell phone in my hand, pulling at my hair with the other. Why the fuck isn't he answering his damn phone?
Have the symptoms already taken over? Has he finally reached his breaking point?
I listened as the ringing droned on in my ear, going straight to voicemail each time. I'd already left countless messages, and I needed a new tactic. I had to get to him; he shouldn't be alone at a time like this. I remembered all too well how it was for me when I'd gone through the same hell, and I would never have wished that upon anyone.
My stomach clenched and my heart dropped as the tears that had built in my eyes began to fall. I would never forgive myself–or them–if something happened before I could reach him. I had one last option, and as desperately as I didn't want to use it, I had no other choice. I hurriedly dialed the number into my phone and prayed that they'd pick up.
"Calling to bitch me out more, Bells?"
"Cut the shit, Emmett. I need to know where the fucking spare key is."
"Oh, what's the matter? My wonderful brother shutting you out now?"
Just the sound of his obnoxious, hateful voice made my blood boil. "I swear to God, one day you're going to regret everything you've done and said about him, and you'll be begging him for forgiveness. And to answer your question, no, he's not shutting me out. He wouldn't do that, not to me. Something's wrong, and if I don't get to him I'm going to lose my fucking mind," I sobbed, my voice panicked and stomach sick.
There was a long pause of silence before the dick spoke again. "I don't know why you care so damn much about him. Why the fuck are you defending him all the time, knowing what he's done to this family?"
"God dammit, Emmett! I don't have time for your bullshit! Do you know where the spare key is or not?" I shouted into the phone, having had enough.
"I have the key, Bella, but I don't think you should go alone. If he's under the influence…"
"I am going alone, Emmett. None of you fucking deserve to be anywhere near him, and besides, I know how to handle him if he is; I've fucking been where he is right now. And he won't hurt me; he has more control than any of you give him credit for, and that's not the kind of person he is. Anyway, I'm on my way. When I get there, you'll give me the key and let me go. I don't want any shit."
Without giving him a chance to say anything back, I snapped my phone shut and grabbed my keys from the bar before racing outside to my car.
As I sped toward Emmett and Rose's, I continuously dialed his number, hoping to God that he would answer.
But he never did.
Each time I heard his soft voice through his voice mail, my tears fell harder and the fear settled deep in my stomach, eventually rising to my throat.
When I pulled up to their house, I jumped out and found Emmett waiting on his front porch, arms crossed over his chest. "Why didn't you ever mention that you were an addict?"
I wanted to fucking hit him. I'd had my quota of Emmett's stupid questions and the concerned faces of the rest of the Cullen clan; I couldn't stand anymore. "Do you really think that I would volunteer that information after seeing how you've treated him because of his addiction? None of you have given him the fucking time of day. None of you have even tried to understand what he's going through, and I know for a fucking fact that none of you ever asked for his side of the story about what happened two years ago. So back the FUCK off," I spat at him as I snatched the key from his hand and ran back to my car.
The rain pelted against my windshield as I pushed my old Ford pickup at a furious pace through Forks. It felt like I was in a race against time. I had to reach him before he gave in and had another fix. The angry words his family had spewed at him over dinner could have very easily ruined all the progress he'd made in the past day or so. It had been his decision to try and get clean, but that was when he assumed he'd have their support. The withdrawal symptoms had already begun to set in before dinner, and I was fairly certain without seeing him that they had multiplied in intensity since his abrupt departure from his parents' house.
Nearly forty-five minutes had passed before I finally pulled into his drive. All the lights were out, but my heart faltered at seeing his Volvo haphazardly parked. At least I knew he was here. I jumped out of my pick-up, grabbing my purse and the key Emmett had given me.
My body was one big ball of nerves as I approached the front door, not knowing what to expect. I pounded my fists against the door, screaming his name. Getting no response, I took in a deep breath, entered the key into the lock and felt my heart freeze, not sure what I would find on the other side of the door.
I very slowly eased the door open, and opened my eyes to his darkened entryway. There wasn't a sound to be heard and that alone frightened me. I kept walking, cautiously looking over my shoulder and around every corner so as not to startle him when I found him. The soles of my shoes squeaked against the smooth marble tiles of the floor as I stepped into the kitchen. I had yet to see anything out of the ordinary. My heart was beating at a fast pace, and I could feel my body trembling with nerves as the adrenaline coursed through my body.
After finding nothing in the kitchen, I made my way into the living room and as I rounded the side of the couch, my heart slammed into my throat. There, on the floor next to his crumpled body, was his 9mm. His hair, skin, and shirt were completely saturated in a cold sweat, and he was breathing unevenly. I ran to the edge of his coffee table, falling to my knees beside him. But as I focused on the weapon beside him, there was a sickening feeling growing in my stomach. What had he been about to do with that gun?
I was brought out of my panicked thoughts as his muscles spasmed violently, causing him to let out an anguished cry and curl up into a fetal position. I wiped my nose on my sleeve and hooked my arms under his armpits, pulling him with all my might into my lap. He groaned and started to weakly fight against me until I placed my lips against his dampened forehead and ran a hand through his hair.
"Shh, Edward…I'm here," I cried. "You're going to be okay."
"B-Bella, you s-shouldn't b-be here. Y-you d-don't need to see m-me like th-this," he stuttered with a strained voice that sounded alien to the velvety softness I was used to hearing.
"I'm not leaving you, dammit," I told him, clutching him tightly to me. I felt him fist his hands in my shirt and struggle to pull himself closer. I watched as his eyes fluttered open, bloodshot and glazed with the excruciating pain he was under as he looked at me.
Tears fell heavily down his cheeks as he struggled to swallow, his eyes pleading with me. "Help me, please," he cried out hoarsely.
"I will, I promise," I whispered, brushing a few strands of damp hair from his forehead. "I need to know, Edward…what were you doing with that gun?"